Sunday, 26 February 2017

Recipe for Blue

Dear Reader,



Have you been visited by an army of moths this winter?  I haven't but my daughter has, and they have chomped their way through cashmere jerseys, fine wool suits, bedspreads, and much of the carpet.  She told me that moths don't seem to like cheap materials, and that they much prefer to munch on anything precious and expensive.  She has now fumigated the house, and put the jerseys into the deep freeze, where they have to stay for a week or two, presumably to kill the eggs.  And although we humans find moths infuriating (or at least I do) they are food for a wide variety of wildlife, including other creatures like spiders, frogs, toads, lizards, shrews, hedgehogs, and birds.  In fact, some of Britain's favourite garden birds rely on caterpillers to rear their nestlings, with blue tit chicks alone needing an estimated 35 billion a year!  Moths are a major part of our biodiversity and play vital roles in the ecosystem.  So remember, when you are cursing the moths, that our friends in the garden and undergrowth love and need them, would be hungry and find life difficult without them.


Recipe for Blue

Take blue from the mountain

and dye my bones,

crush lapis lazuli,

mix it in my hair.

Plunge my heart in forget-me-nots,

soak my maidenhead in blueberry juice,

add a pinch of larkspur.

Wrap me in the Blessed Virgin's Dress,

shake over star sapphires,

fold in the clouds,

and bake slow.

With best wishes, Patricia                                                                            

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Crosby - a poetry prose poem

Dear Reader,

                                                                                   Madeira Cake

I think the world has got into a muddle about what is real and what is not; we don't seem able to differentiate between the two these days (I am not talking about "fake news" which I can't understand at all).  No, this is back to "The Archers", the radio soap I listen to and have listened to for over forty years.  Apparently a number of academics will speak at a two-day conference in Lincoln, wondering why, as I understand it, no-one in "The Archers" gets fat with all the cake, biscuits and tea they seem to eat and drink throughout the day.  And the academics think the listeners should be told about this worry.  But I myself love hearing that Eddy Grundy is settling down to a piece of Madeira cake at someone's kitchen table, enjoying a bit of village gossip.  What these pernickety academics don't seem to understand is that this is a drama, an entertainment, thought of and imagined by its author, and not reality.  We, the listeners, don't want to think about the characters getting fat because they have eaten a biscuit or a piece of cake.  We want to lose ourselves in the fantasy of the story, uplifted sometimes and sometimes sad, but not wanting a lecture on how much we eat and whether or not it makes us fat.  These academics should have a two-day conference working out what is real and what is not.

Crosby      (Sculptures by Antony Gormley on Crosby beach)

I pick up white shells from the beach and put them into the pocket
of my dress.

They stare out to sea.  Tall and dignified they stand, all weathers,
undisturbed.  Gulls perch on them, sea salt encrusts their faces, the
tide laps at their ankles, and in the winter fog obliterates their forms.
I wonder, do these statues whisper in the wind to each other?
Talk of important things?  Do they run along the beach when the
crowds have gone or have a swim at midnight?   Perhaps, after dark,
they stare out to the horizon, star-directed, seeking eternity?
And, are they ever lonely?

I walk back to the car park wondering again about what is real
and what is not.


With best wishes, Patricia

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Waiting for Geoffrey

Dear Reader,

                                                                           Beautiful loaves just out of the oven

The Food Police have been on the march again, warning us against eating crispy roast potatoes and fluffy rice.  Both of these favourite foods could do us damage, they assert.  Perhaps even prove fatal!  I suspect that most people reading this absurd piece of information must think it is a joke, as I do. And, in addition, we have to be on our guard with bread too, all sorts of dangers lurking there, it seems.  I was wondering what the Food Police would think of bread as described by Tobias Smollett in his popular novel, "The Expedition of Humphry Clinker" (1771): "London bread is a poisonous compound of chalk, alum and bone ashes, insipid to taste, and destructive to the constitution." Apparently sacks of old bones were not infrequently used by some of the bakers.

Bread in the 19th century was enormously important; it wasn't just an accompaniment to a meal, bread was the meal.  For a poor family the daily diet was likely to consist of a few ounces of tea and sugar, some vegetables, a small amount of cheese, very little meat, and bread.  A parliamentary investigation of bakeries in 1862 found that many of them were filled "with masses of cobwebs, weighed down with flour dust that had accumulated upon them, and hanging in strips" ready to drop into any passing pot or tray.  Insects and vermin survived along walls and counter tops.  Gosh, what would our Food Police make of all that?  But here they would have something serious to contend with, instead of the nonsense they write about food and its preparation in the 21st century.


Waiting for Geoffrey

Waiting frustrates us, angers us,
even small waits like
waiting for eggs to boil,
waiting for the bath to fill,
waiting for the postman,
for the broadband to work.

Or the long waits.

Waiting for something to happen,
waiting for someone,
waiting for spring,
       the first cuckoo call.

Waiting for a new beginning,
waiting for the good times promised,
waiting for the loss of pain,
and the longest wait of all,
waiting for eternity,
the last breath.

Or waiting for Geoffrey.

Waiting for him,
to start, to stop, to sing the song,
or a hundred other things.
Me, sitting on the stairs,
ever reading a book,
until he finally appears.

Waiting for Geoffrey,
not first, but last.
But waiting for Geoffrey
is different,
me, accepting him, loving him.

And what does Geoffrey say?
He says the mills of God grind slow
but grind exceeding fine.                                                                       

With best wishes, Patricia

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Truth Modern

Dear Reader,
                                                                               Patterns from a Kaleidoscope

When I was about eight I was given a kaleidoscope for my birthday and it was my prize possession.  It was quite my favourite toy.  I loved looking at the wonderful shapes and patterns it made just by shaking it, and I remember taking it to bed with me so that my sister couldn't borrow it.

Kaleidoscopes were invented in 1816 by a Scot, Sir David Brewster.  An inventor, he was studying many aspects of physical sciences, including polarization optics and the properties of light.  He named the new invention after the Greek words meaning: beautiful form watcher.  He discovered that attractive and pretty symmetrical patterns were made when loose pieces of glass and other objects were reflected by mirrors, in a tube-like instrument which resembles a telescope.  Following its invention, the kaleidoscope grew in popularity in Western Europe and became a favourite toy for children, but also an entertainment for adults taking part in parlour games, one of them being charades.

Truth Modern

Through a kaleidoscope
shifting bright colours,
set close to the eye,
the viewer's truth reflected,
assuring the mind of its veracity,
acknowledging its fantasies
as realities,
seeing truth
not as it is, but as we would
like it to be,
spinning words,
detaching truth from its moorings,
setting it loose in murky waters.
Illusions of truth
sandwiched between lies
is the authentic truth
of our times.


With best wishes,  Patricia