Archive for the ‘family’ Category

3030 Poetry Challenge Day 7

Prompt for April 7th


She was from the valleys.
That made her small town
but she had big ideas.
Trouble is, when you’re born in the valleys,
it’s tough to shake it off.
She never really made of her life
what she had wished for so hard.
When I moved away,
to a warm Mediterranean island,
I learned that here,
‘the valleys’ translated as ‘village’ .
‘She’s so village,’ they might whisper
about a less popular girl,
including me in their precious clique.
‘But so am I,’ I thought,
at my roots.
Because however high
my grandmother climbed,
she was very village too.


3030 Poetry Challenge Day 4

Prompt for April 4 –

sometimes you have to walk away

“My future starts when I wake up every morning. Every day I find something creative to do with my life.”

― Miles Davis


Sometimes you have to walk away, she says.
Shakes her head like she is wise.
Wise old she-elephant.
Slow and deliberate, jowls flapping,
that amber pendant of hers shifting across her chest,
chain catching across remnants of salmon-en-croute
in asparagus sauce,
on the front of her blouse.
The one we bought her when we came visiting last year.
I wonder if she wears it to show that she remembers,
never forgets,
or if she pulled it out of the drawer by chance.
Or is it all she has to make a show of dressing up
for a family occasion?
We do not visit as often as…
we should.
We do visit,
based on a complex algebraic formula
calculated via emotional osmosis.
Hope and hurt replacing integers,
x = trust and y = disappointment
We visit.
But running away is all I’ve ever seen her do.
This time I’ll take the advice.
Sometimes you have to walk away.

3030 Poetry Challenge Day 3

Prompt for April 3 – out of luck
“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”
― Maya Angelou

Out of Luck

You were born out of luck.
By which I mean,
not that you have none left,
but that, through luck,
because of luck,
you were born.
My bad luck.
Bad time, bad man.
But luck turned to good.
They say the more you use your creativity,
the more creativity you possess…
and that is true for me,
because in you I find a melting pot
of all the things my procreation has produced before,
but more.

3030 Poetry Challenge Day 2

Day 2:
Prompt: On the Couch.
“Every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up.” Pablo Picasso.

Picasso Girl

Stanley is an etching,
you hardly notice him at first ,
but when you take the time,
you will find fine lines that make up light and shade,
cross hatching that defines his mood.
He is clear and clean.
Rachel is a watercolour,
some people think her dull,
but she has subtlety of tone.
Her colouring can take you to hazy meadows or Italian cities.
She is older than she looks.
If you give her space she glows,
move in close and you will find secrets that other people miss.
Sarah is an Impressionist painting.
Her presence caresses the eye.
Soft textures and swathes of light and colour.
‘Most everybody’s taste,
and yet with that comes a loneliness.
Nobody takes their time to look up close
and see the brush strokes that create that sense of ease.
Robin’s a Pollock
First glance you think he’s loud and brash
but up close you’ll find a peace between the splats and sparks.
And my girl?
It is an acquired taste that finds beauty
in two eyes where one should be,
one open, one half-closed,
nose off-set and rather elongated,
ears that could be violins,
skin splashed with, not strawberries and cream,
but aubergine left too long in the heat
and a smile like a half eaten pomegranate,
a smile nevertheless,
and one reserved for those that see.

Swan song

There were swans flying over the motorway as huge as gliding jets.
Sudden reminder that nature belongs more than we do,
with our outlandish modes of transportation.
They flying ‘as the crow’ and us having to follow roads.
They seemed magnified, and out of scale
with the stuff that went below.
Thoughts of mating for life, swan song
come to mind
and leave me thinking even more
I am not for this world
I cannot glide.

Another starting point for a poem

freewriting in an attempt to get the flow going again

Key of Me

At ten years old I used to sing

and hit that C above top C.

My mother didn’t call up Richard and Judy

because they were still in school

and book clubs and over-night sensations not yet a twinkle in their eye.

Instead she sent me to a choir

where I sang ‘negro spirituals’

alongside ladies in A-line skirts and pastel sweaters.

All the men had beards,

or at least moustaches.

Because I could not sight read

I had to mouth the words until I’d caught the tune.

Then I would sing it loud and strong and close my eyes.

In the break they’d stop for tea and biscuits

talk about work or their fiancée,

sometimes smile and ask about my day at school,

but mostly I stayed quiet until we sang again.

We sang in German and Italian “Mi piacce re re.”

I don’t know what it means.

Soon I stopped and stayed at home

because it was lonely

standing between elbows,


I have not sung,

I do not sing,

beyond the in-the-bath type

or with-my-friends.

It often surprises and so embarrasses, when a big voice comes out,

so I have learned to keep it down,

sing in someone else’s key, not mine.

That’s much easier.

But this last year, I’ve started tuning up

and doing things in the key of me.

I find I cannot hit that note, I’ve lost the chance.

I should have used it while I could.

But I will find a new key, sing in that,

maybe find another way to shine.


I am feeling rather grandmotherly as I prepare for the imminent arrival of two little-ings from Paree… the step-children. A bouncy boy (more of a Tigger than a boy reallly), who smiles at everything unless it displeases him in which case we get a quick scowl before the smile returns (he can’t keep it up for long) and his sister, for whom I believe, life is a series of puzzles and conundrums that she is forced to deal with at the hands of adults. Whilst her brother bounces around crashing into the day, she eyes it up, assessing the pros and cons, gauging the players in it before responding to them – the result being, when she does accept and react to you, a feeling of such satisfaction, it makes the wait worthwhile. I’m covering all bases here as far as sleeping arrangements go… pink bedding in The Lovely J’s room, put-you-up at the side for one or two boys, or… girls dorm and boys dorm with the two boys top-and-tailing in Curly Boy’s room, or… visitors in our bed with dad, and me in Lovely J’s bed or… “I expect,” their dad says, “you’ll all end up in one bed, with me on the floor.”

Now I’ve done this stepping thing before… sadly it has all come to an abrupt halt due to, I do not know what… since their father and I parted ways I have not heard a whisper from either of them… less of a concern for the older one who is now almost 30, but for the younger – we met when she was 7 and now she’s 18 – it is like losing a part of the family. I have no way of knowing exactly why she has chosen not to respond to cards and letters and emails, even texts. The break up with her father was an extremely complicated and dramatic one, involving lies about being hospitalised, which uncovered a web of lies stretching back over 10 years. I am left, well actually we (friends, family, children) have all been left wondering what was true and what was not – sadly the little girl I have watched progress from long white socks (which she wore with everything) to having her first tattoo, seems to be a casualty of it all.

My nature is to be persistent, to let the people I care about know that I care, but in this case I am wondering if it might just be best to let it all go and leave that decision to her.

My step-daughter (who we discovered after the event, suffers from vertigo) stepping out in happier times



Following instructions…

A rare weekend to be shared with Curly Boy, no plans, no distractions, usual chores, but they can wait. “What shall we do then… you and me?” I ask him, expecting the usual suggestions.
“Let’s just drive,” he laughs, “we could go to France, get on a boat…”
“We could…” my mind racing over the details of the spreadsheet imprinted on the inside of my eyelids… income, expenditure. Little room for manoeuvre on these shores, let alone ABROAD.
He shuffled off to bed, leaving me a-Googling. St Malo, Zeebruge, Dublin, Caen… Dunkirk! £17 day return! An adventure for under £20 (yes I know there’s fuel on top) but adventure on foreign shores for £17? All I need now is a hi-vis jacket, warning triangle, first aid kit, fire extinguisher and I’m sorted.

The holidays…

And so I find myself on Day 1 of The Holidays. Eight weeks stretch before me. A tatty, untidy, rather grubby house surrounds me. An unpublished novel and unanswered mail wink at me from a pile on what we laughingly call ‘the dining room table’.

I was woken by a solitary magpie doing sentry duty across the skylight at gods know what time (watch strap broken, not wearing watch, must get new strap). In the street I can hear the deafening tinkle of glass being hurled into the bin truck by the recycling men (quick, put bin and glass box out before they get to us).

The phone rings, it is school: can Tall Boy and Lovely J please return their text books today or tomorrow or their results will not be released (don’t be ridiculous! They can’t NOT give results because a few text books are due – YAWN – school never changes, empty threats about nonsense whilst the bullies and cheats go unchallenged).

There is a strange odour coming from under the floorboards, reminiscent of last year when the soil pipe cracked and leaked under us. Please let it not be the same again!

The blue Ikea bags full of ‘to do/to sort’ seem to have multiplied. Tall Boy appears in boxers, his head banging into the paper-sphere light shade (which I keep promising I will change to spare him the indignity of it falling onto his head every time he passes and knocks it) – ‘anything for breakfast?’

Eight weeks? I can get it ALL done in eight weeks can’t I? Get novel published, finish second one, tidy house, paint house, get first year accounts sorted and tax done, MOT car, swap it for bigger one, go on Arvon course, go to Wales for ‘holiday’, keep on top of allotment, rebuild rabbit hutch, phew!
Happy Holidays.

Greetings February…

So we had a summer holiday… proof above… coasteering, a new experience. Writing hasn’t had much of a look in – back to school, back to work, health issues for the other half, put curly boy into a Steiner school for a while – complete disaster – Christmas came and went, New Year too, then worst birthday ever and now here we are in February. Perhaps now I can get on with life. Had a definite ‘NO’ from two small publishers for novel, which is now called Fugue State – maybe I’ll publish it myself? Hey there’s always Macmillan New Writers.