Friday, 27 July 2007

Watching the waves break on the shore can have a mesmeric affect until the mind is open to ideas that come unbidden from an unknown source -

Pebbles on the Shore
July 2007


no sound but the sucking of the sea
pulling the pebbles on the shore


peopled with the presence of the past
no longer tangible yet real today


crowding and crying 'come
join us and be one with us'


must belong to those who follow after
make of it what they will
the sea will still be there
pulling the pebbles on the shore

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Last night West Country News showed a bus load of elderly people whose nursing home was threatened by rising flood water. They were being moved to an unknown destination, while others still living in their own homes nearby could be seen watching from upstairs windows, waiting to be rescued, pale faces staring out on a watery world.

I woke in the night remembering Northcote House where, for a while, I was the lay chaplain. The staff always had so much to do, checking drugs, making beds, washing and dressing the residents and filling in report forms. There seemed to be no allowance in the daily programme for time to treat each individual as a real person, to listen to them, for each had a story to tell. Miss C whose voice still carried the Irish lilt of her childhood and who had spent the war years as a governess in Paris. Sister E a house mother in a Methodist children’s home who was visited regularly by the children she had bought up, all successful in their own right. Mr S. who could not forget the boyhood friends who had been killed beside him on the Normandy beaches and mourned them till he died. Among them was a lady who said to me ‘It takes a lot of courage to be old’ and it does. Each lived with daily pain and needed help with tasks that most of us never think about, many too stiff to pick a fallen object from the floor, too fragile to get to the toilet on their own. All grieving quietly for the homes they had left, the personal treasures and the books they had collected over life time.

My mind moved to memories of my mother-in-law. She cut the apron strings that might have held her sons and set them free, earning the love and admiration of her two daughters-in-law. Never once did either of us hear any criticism of anything we did. She had a subtle way of letting me know if she disapproved of a plan I had in mind but if I persisted she would support me to the hilt. She gave me a silver sixpence, a keepsake from a young man she had watched march bravely off to war with Kitchener’s Army. He never returned.

I reached out in the darkness
Your presence real to my waking mind
But you were gone.
All that remains is aching emptiness,
But just as wounds are proof of injury
So this deep pain confirms the memories
Renders them precious
And yourself more dear.

Monday, 23 July 2007

Unseen Reality

What is a ghost?
A thought – a song – a sigh
Upon the wings of time
That echoes down the passages
Where you and I first met
And others who pass by
Will wonder why they pause and smile
Unknowing that the peace they feel
Was born in our content.

I wouldn’t call my self psychic although half a century ago I could be persuaded to read palms and I do own a crystal ball. You can read so much about personality in a palm but I found that casting the future is dangerous, especially when it turns out to be right and I soon gave it up. The problems of today are quite enough.
I inherited the crystal ball from my mother and keep it in a silk drawstring purse beside my desk. It has already featured in a novel I wrote for younger readers which lies unpublished waiting for a final editing. It will appear again in a historical novel which so far exists only in my head.
Psychic or not, I have found that many people claim to sense good or bad atmospheres when they are house hunting although they would deny any ghostly presence as nonsense.

Sunday, 22 July 2007

As the rain falls and flood waters rise across the country I remembered my own experience of flooding in January 1986 as we became refugees when our home was uninhabitable for six weeks while walls and floors slowly dried out.


We have been in this refugee camp for a month now. It is a terrible place, mud ankle deep, full of the sound of crying children, no one has enough to eat and there is only one stand pipe for every hundred families. They have come from all over. Some have primitive tents; some have dug themselves tunnels into the banks around the camp. We’ve tried to dig latrines but many just squat and relieve themselves where they are and the stench is appalling. At least we are alive and we can dream and work for a better future once we have found the others.

It wasn’t always like this. We used to live in a fine city with wide clean streets. It was a well ordered society where each one of us had a purpose, everyone had enough to eat, everyone was employed. Central Control saw to everything and we were happy. Life was good and we were confident that it always would be, until the day of the earthquake. The maternity unit was at the top of the city near the warmth of the sun and felt the first tremor. Suddenly the walls fell in and the floor cracked. Midwives were running everywhere carrying newborns to safety. The top section of our citadel was destroyed but Central Control took charge and we rebuilt deeper into the earth. I and some of my term mates had just been trained to fly so when the order came to scramble a squadron we were detailed off to join the unit. We were above ground when the hot rain came. Steam and scalding water from on high destroyed all we had known. There was a great silence and then we heard a voice like thunder high above us

‘I’ve always hated ants. One more kettle of water should put paid to this lot.’

Saturday, 21 July 2007

A rolling stone gathers no moss? I began my life in central China, I’ve made my home in Australia, New Zealand and Italy as well as in the UK and packed up all my belongings at least twenty nine times but I have still managed to gather plenty of moss. Among my treasures are a sea washed shell from the Gulf of Carpentaria, a paeu shell I found on a beach in New Zealand, a small piece of knotted tree root that rises up like a sea serpant. On my shelves are four generations of children’s books some belonged to my great grandmother, one dated 1829. Over a door into our garden is the head of a green Chinese devil which came back from China with me in 1937, it is his responsibility to prevent any other devil from entering our home. A velvet frog belonging to my father’s childhood sits in a basket on my bedroom floor together with a tiny and almost hairless koala bear, a faded blue rabbit with only one ear, a moth eaten panda and Eyore, all of them companions of my childhood and watching over them all is my great grandmother's rag doll.


Climbing the attic stairs I found a child
Head in hands weeping among the cobwebs.
She had found a long forgotten trunk
Iron bound, its leather rubbed and worn.
Within were dolls no longer loved
For those who loved them are long gone
A teddy bear, a rabbit with one ear
Still waiting to be remembered.

Where are they now
The children who once dreamed of days to come?
Their days are gone
We never knew them and we never will.

Friday, 20 July 2007

Tribute to a Distilled Spirit
A novel, like an evening with a friend
Accompanied by tankards of good beer
Allows us to develop themes and share
Love, laughter, jealousy or fear
And contemplate a carefully crafted end.

A glass of wine, a connoisseur’s delight
Will be remembered for bouquet and taste
And for the dinner that it graced
Never a drop allowed to go to waste,
A story shorter than a summer’s night.

But for a poem I would choose
A glass of single malt to be my muse