Sunday, 27 November 2016

When my Dad came home

Dear Reader,
                                                                                William Trevor, CBE

The Ballroom of Romance

                                                                      A More Romantic Ballroom

I read with great sadness about the recent death of my old friend William Trevor, the writer of novels and short stories.  His short stories have been likened to those of both Chekhov and Maupassant, with his themes being lost opportunity, self-deception, alienation, and regret.  He once said he was "interested in the sadness of fate, in the things that just happen to people".  I think his most well-known short story was "The Ballroom of Romance", certainly one I have read and re-read and really enjoyed.  It is set in rural Ireland in the 1950s.  The girl Bridie has been attending the local dance hall for years hoping to find a good husband who could help her on her family's farm.  But now, surrounded by younger and prettier women at these weekly dances, she realizes that all the good men of her generation have either emigrated or have got married, and her only remaining hope for marriage would be with the alcoholic and undesirable, uncouth Bowser Egan.  We don't know what choice she makes, but if it were I a single life, however hard, would be mine.


When my Dad came home

he nodded off
in the old armchair,
any time,
forgot everything,
could name no names.

Tobacco smoke from woodbines
filled the house,
he drank malt whisky,
came home unsteadily from the pub.

He talked of cricket, he whistled
and hummed old country and western songs,
rocked in the rocking chair
and potted up red geraniums.

He ate junket and white fish
had headaches,
and he wept sometimes.

But we were good friends, my Dad and I,
night times he told me stories,
and tucked me into bed.
I never asked him about the war,
and he never said.


Very best wishes, Patricia

Sunday, 20 November 2016


                                                                        Emma Deguara

Dear Reader,

I hope you will allow me a little indulgence this week, because I want to say a word or two about my granddaughter Emma.  There is so much adverse news about young people today and the terrible things they get up to, I thought, for a change, it would be a relief to know about an ordinary girl who brings so much joy to other people, through hard work, and great generosity of spirit to everyone she meets.  She went to the local school, gained good A-Levels,  then attended Brookes University in Oxford studying Graphic Design, and obtained a Distinction.  In the holidays she did some au pairing and worked as a waitress to earn some money to spend on her gap year.  Emma has had problems with her heart, but she never complains, accepts the situation, and gets on with her life.  In two weeks time she is going to Australia.  She is going on her own and intends to find work where she can.  In all those 1930s' plays people used to say to each other when one of them was going abroad:  Bon Voyage, have a good journey.  So I too say to Emma:  Bon Voyage, darling, and keep safe.

From Granny with love.



the little one
frightened to be left
at night
shared my bed
snuggled up with me
listened to nursery rhymes
on an old tape recorder

we went to the swings
sat on a bench
ate crisps
she grew and we went to
the Wildlife Park
stared at the monkeys

we watched Maizie Mouse
over and over again
and in her teens
The Sound of Music
she worked hard at school
had problems with her heart
but never complained

She went to college
got a Distinction
will continue her studies in Brighton
in September next year
is helpful, enthusiastic
puts her all into everything
is engaging and funny
she is Alpha plus

I loved her and looked after her
and now she looks after me

With best wishes, Patricia

Links to my new book:


Sunday, 13 November 2016

Thanks, Private Norfolk

Dear Reader,

                                            Private 1432, Cecil Ernest Bullimore, who joined a Norfolk Regiment.
                                                        Killed in action on 12th August, 1915.

During my summer holidays in the 1950s I lived in a small cottage in Norfolk, next to a river, and really in the middle of nowhere.  My sister and I had ponies to ride, and in those balmy days there was little traffic on the roads or in the lanes, so riding through the wonderful, large golden wheat fields was a great delight.  Sometimes we would take a picnic, dismount and eat it sitting among exotic wild flowers before going home.  We also had a yellow pony trap and a small, fat, cross pony called Joey to pull it along.  Sometimes we would harness Joey and trot off to Buxton, our nearest village, to watch the farrier shoe horses,  and I can still remember the strong smell of burnt hoof and metal.  Our cottage had no mains electricity and we had to pump water into a tank by hand.  My father gave us a sixpence for 100 pumps.

Norfolk in those days was a very quiet and peaceful county and had its own ways and its own accent.  I suspect it wasn't much different from the county, rivers, roads and lanes that the people who lived there in 1914-18 knew - those people, kind, uncomplaining and innocent, getting on with their lives in a traditional way.  The brave young men of Norfolk who signed up in 1914 and went to war would have had no idea what, for them, was to come.  In the two minutes silence today, when we remember those who died for us, I always say thank you to them all,  and hope, somewhere, they can hear me.


Thanks, Private Norfolk

You left, singing, with your pals,
marching for good and glory.
You hadn't yet dug a trench,
killed an unknown soldier,
seen dead bodies, smelt their stench,
heard comrades' last sickening cries.

You gave your life with generous heart,
believed the lies
dispatched by loftier ranks.
And so to you, dear Private Norfolk,
I give salute,
and my deepest thanks

for swapping your mauve rain-skies,
your white-breast beaches, and beckoning sea,
your level fields of ripening corn,
to fight in foreign fields, for us,
for me.

With best wishes, Patricia

PS.  Links to buy my new book below!


Wednesday, 9 November 2016


Dear Reader,

over the last few months, I have been working on an exciting new project with my granddaughter. I wanted to produce a new book with an updated collection of poems and illustrations, some of which have been published on this blog. 

It is with great pleasure that I can now announce that it is officially for sale. If you click on either of the links below, you will be taken to Blurb or Amazon, where you can buy it online.


Best wishes, Patricia

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Bridal Red

Dear Reader,

                                                                               A Maasai Girl

Years ago I watched a documentary about a young girl from the Maasai tribe in Kenya.  I have never forgotten it and still think about this girl sometimes, even now.  She lived in a village, keeping watch over the cattle, playing in the river, loving and being loved by her mother and father and many brothers and sisters.  But then, when she was about fourteen, men from a neighbouring tribal village, about eighteen miles from her own, came looking for a bride and, after hard bargaining, she was sold. The girl was devastated and cried racking tears.  But she was covered in red sand, decorated in elaborate beads, and was made to walk over the mountains to join the man she was to marry.  The documentary did not show her in that village, but informed us at the end that she had died after being there only six weeks.  It did not tell us what the young girl died of, but I suspect of a broken heart.  The poem this week is one I wrote later, in great sorrow.


Bridal Red

I saw
a young girl smiling,
laughing, threading beads, minding goats,
chasing chickens, pulling feathers from their tails,
holding hands with sisters, friends,
chattering, gossiping, rough and tumbling
in bright sunlight.

I saw
scrub-plains, white rocks and blue,
blue mountains, straw huts,
men on haunches, chewing,
and thin dogs, fat babies,
loving families, happiness.

I saw
men, suddenly, appear from a distant village,
offering cows and sheep as an exchange
for a shepherd in need of a woman, a wife.
The girl was chosen,
a bargain was struck.

I saw
her stand silently, acquiescent,
red ochre paste and mud
plastered on her shaven head,
necklaces of golden wire
wound tightly round her neck,
ankle bracelets in profusion.

I saw
her sisters, her friends, not laughing now,
offering presents
a carved stick, a beaded purse.
At dawn she would leave as the sun rose,
to walk over the mountain pass
to an unknown bridegroom,
an unknown life.

I saw
as she left
her grief, her tears trickling,
then flooding through the paste and mud.
I saw her sorrow as the colour red,
and a crown of thorns her maidenhead.

With very best wishes, Patricia

PS.  Look out for a blog post announcement shortly.