Sunday, 30 October 2016

Feels like cheating ...

Off to Spain for five days! Temperatures in the mid-twenties. Yes, it does feel like cheating, as if God gave me November to endure and  I'm giving it the slip ...


Monday, 24 October 2016

I Haven't Written A Poem About Damon Runyon

I haven't written a poem about Damon Runyon

This, is an omission, so

Without his permission, (being impossible to obtain because

Nothing remains except, this figure in my head:

In short, he's dead)


I am thinking, as would he, eternally, In the present continuous, of mobsters

And their molls. Those Guys and Dolls, who are singing and dancing and murdering each other

With rampant inhibition - it being Prohibition - through

The highways and byways of New York

Through Speakeasys and Vaudeville,

Racetracks, playhouses and

This and That on Broadway:

Anyhow: here and there.


Cheesecake at Mindy's, out of town hucksters

Young ladies with high hopes,

Dealing them off the arm -


Safe-crackers. Pie-eaters, old ladies with attitude

Babies with Pop!




Love 'em all. New friends in a New World.

Delightfully, deliciously, sailing close to the wind

In a world of Romance and Danger. To which

I remain,


A stranger.


(Funny, where inspiration comes from.


Don't you think?


And now


I HAVE written a poem about Damon Runyon.)


I have also made the cheesecake. All the better for having ' a story that goes with it'. So this is for the cheesecake experts out there:










Sunday, 23 October 2016

Identity Theft

I remember the excitement of waking up one morning  and realising I was a citizen, not only of the United Kingdom, but of the European Union, too.

It meant something to me, it really did. Through the EU SOCRATES programme  I have worked with colleagues in France, Spain, Estonia, Romania and Austria. I have enjoyed the commonalities of our lives, and savoured our  differences. I have benefitted form freedom of movement and from ease of transfer. I have appreciated the work the EU institutions have done to maintain peace, secure human rights, and foster understanding between nations. 

And now it's over. I am not reconciled. I will never accept that this stupid, vicious, manic, forced separation from the Eiropean Union, that stole my right to citizenship from me, with the lies of egotistical, ambitious freaks like Boris Johnsom and xenophobic demagogues like Nigel Farage, was anything other than a woefully stupid act of political vandalism. 

The United Kingdom will break up. Our influence in the world will diminish, our prestige vanish - for what? So that some very stupid people, who are about to become immeasurably poorer, can say, "We've got our soevereignity back?" Dupes. Fools. Morons.

The worst aspect of the whole disaster, for now, are the hate crimes. People attacked on our streets for speaking another language. A man killed buying a pizza because he was Polish, a woman having her hijab torn from her face because she's a muslim. 

Frankly, I am ashamed of being Britiish right now. Deeply, deeply ashamed. If this is what, "Having our sovereignty back" means, you can bloody well keep it. 

So to the readers of this blog who are citizens of the European Union, who  must be wondering what the hell the British were thinking, all I can say, is: Your guess is as good as mine." Cherish your national identity AND your EU citizenship, and if you're ever tempted to throw it away, take a look at the disaster unfolding over here, and think again. 

To sum up: 

Brexit is Brexit 


Unmitigated F***ing Disaster is Unmitigated F***ing Disater

There! I've said it. 

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Motes and Beams

Today is Buble Study Day. 

A small group of us meet once a month at Chris' house in Aston Ingham. We catch up over tea and homemade cake, then sit together in silence for five minutes, allowing ourselves to just be, revelling in contemplation of the Author of Love, who is my dearest and closest friend. Some who read this will think me deluded, or crazy, but that's OK, you create your reality around your Significant Other and I'll create mine, and may you be as blessed as I am by it.


We are examining our worldview around the Gospel of Luke and we are, after many months, wrestling with Chapter Six. It's serious stuff, Jesus gets down to the nitty-gritty with anti-capitalist heresy like, "Blessed are the poor ..." We rich are a tad uncomfortable with the implications of THAT, and so we should be. We concluded that if Christians paid as much attention to the eight Beatitudes as they do to the ten Commandments, we'd have transformed the world a millennia ago. But there you are, we don't and we haven't.


Today we are hitting up against 'Do not judge.' This is some deal, because we judge the behaviour of others all the time, usually with the intent of making ourselves feel better at their expense. I can see we're going to have fun with this.


The Carpenter takes the metaphor of a speck of sawdust and a plank of wood. How we delight in offering to remove the slight blemish that obscures true vision in someone else, whilst ignoring the the bloody great plank that blinds ourselves to our own faults.


I got to thinking about this. 'Do not judge' isn't a wish, or an aspiration, or a polite suggestion:it's a command.


Wouldn't it be amazing if we Christians actually obeyed it? 

Buddhists routinely practise the cultivation of a non-judgemental mind. We Christians could do with the humility to recognise this as a great spiritual insight, and do likewise. 


I talk to God all the time, and sometimes I even wait for a response. Here's one that is relevant for today:


"You can have judgement, Mary, if you want it. I'll start with you, shall I?"

Tuesday, 18 October 2016


I read once that dreams help you to process experiences, and that you cannot dream about someone you don't know or haven't met. I can't say how true this is, but as I can't recall strangers in dreams it might be so.


I am scraping the barrel here. I have determined to write a blog post today, but my mind has gone blank, and a quick delve into my subconscious, has dragged up this really weird dream I had last night. Something must be going on, but what it is, I have no idea. I was back in a school that I worked in forty years ago, and I was incensed because I was the headteacher, but had just been ousted in a coup led by my good friend and all -round lovely person, Angela.


A little background here. I was never the headteacher of Newtons School, nor did I aspire to be. Angela is the sweetest person I know, and Pauline, a complete nonentity that I didn't know I'd remembered.


I was mad! I reasoned, cajoled, threatened, but Angela was adamant, a decision had been made at a meeting of The Church Singing Group that I had to go, and that was that, Pauline was taking over, and would I like to see the 'Situations Vacant' list?


Being a dream, the vacancies were on one of those rolling calendar ring-binder type of things that seemed to display only houses for sale. No-one thought this odd.

The situation was ludicrous, the plot incredible, but the FEELINGS! My, they were real! Anger, frustration, disappointment, futility, betrayal ...

It was a relief to wake up.

Maybe there IS something I need to come to terms with here. Stuff I thought I'd dealt with ...

Nope, not going there.

Thank you for reading everybody! See you in my dreams!



Friday, 14 October 2016

Johnny Appleseed Cake

It's windfall time, and Newent is awash with apples. My friend Jenny tells me a kindly soul in her village puts out bagfulls of Bramley apples with an invitation to fans to help themselves. Anyone who cooks with apples, knows that the huge, tart Bramley is the perfect choice, so this free supply is a godsend, and I am going to be a beneficiary. Thank you Jenny.

In return for the apples, I am giving away a great recipe. Americans will be familiar with it, and European readers who try it, will, I'm sure, love it. It's Johnny Appleseed Cake. It's the best fruit cake ever, and it's embarrassingly easy to make. Ta Ra!

Johnny Appleseed Cake


1/2 cup margarine or butter
1 3/4 cup sweetened applesauce
2 cups plain flour
1 cup sugar
1teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
1 3/4 teaspoons  mixed spices


Preheat oven to (350F 180C Gas 4)
Grease 8" square pan on bottom only
In a large saucepan melt the margarine/butter
Remove from heat and beat in all the remaining ingredients
Pour batter into tin spreading to the edges

Bake 30-35 minutes or until top springs back when touched

Serve warm with cream or ice cream 

NB Brits: Bake  like your Victorian great-great grandmother. Use a teacup!

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

I Went For A Walk

Squirrel Time

They they were, the little buggers,
Clasping - whatever -
Acorns and whatnot -
Between tiny paws and SCAMPERING 
Hither and -wherever.

Myself, I did a bit of foraging on
My own behalf. For I live
Amongst orchards, hemmed in by hedgerows
And there were blackberries. 

I have no more words for this yellow day,
So what I have to say is here in 

Number Five!

Grandchildren! What a delight!

When I, rather involuntarily, left work in 2009, one of my colleagues said, "Now you can spend more time with Rosie." And a light came on. With almost total recall, all the things about being the headteacher of a very small school that I DIDN'T enjoy (teaching NOT being among them ...) flashed before my eyes ... Taking the temperature of the water and logging it, so that nobody died of Legionnaire's Disease, putting salt down on the playground on frosty mornings, explaining to an inspector who should have known better, that serious inferences cannot be drawn from cohorts of eight ... And on and on ...

Rosie is the eldest of my grandchildren: she was the only one, back then, but now there are five ... And I adore them all. The latest addition to the clan was born a week ago today, and already it's as if he was always coming: we were just waiting for him to be here. He's the star in the photo below.

I have visited with them all this week. Here are the highlights:

Rosie, 9, now singing in her daddy's choir talking about the Christmas repertoire.

Abigail, 5, listening, wide-eyed through my dramatic re-telling of The Three Billy Goats Gruff, then remarking, "You used LOTS of adjectives, grandma!"

Sam, 2, running away and hiding under the table in the middle of a nappy change, "Go away! I''m busy!"

Frank, 8 months, giving me his stellar smile before crawling off commando -style to investigate the vacuum cleaner.

And now, Finley, a lovely warm bundle, sleeping soundly through all the fuss as he meets and greets his extended family.

I'm proud of them all, and am very thankful to my amazing daughters and sons-in-law, for allowing me to be part of their lives!

Finley, Auntie Kate and Mum, Hannah.



Tuesday, 4 October 2016


Abigail (5), Sam (2), and me (65) were out and about on Sunday evening.

"They've been fed and watered, they just need exercise!" my daughter said, handing me Sam's reins.

Fair enough, so did I.

We exhausted the possibilities of the limited play equipment at the local park, escaped it's confines, and headed for the bank that separated the tamed land from the wilds. 

"Conkers!" cried Sam, as my two joined the children gathering horse chestnuts by the handful. Then we had to throw them, catch them ( if we could), play hide and seek with them, roll them down the slide to hear the clatter, and, finally, pocket them and set off on other adventures. 

"Look grandma! A green tunnel!" Abigail was picking dandelion clocks and had discovered the shaded portal to the rest of the world - a footpath that led out into the fields.

So we ventured into the unknown, following the path through the hedgerow, watching our shadows lengthen as the sun sank behind us. 

When was the last time you went berrying? "Strawberry!" Sam cried, putting an unripe blackberry into his mouth and immediately regretting it. 

We ate our fill, staining hands and mouths, incidentally practising all kinds of fieldcraft, like identifying stinging nettles and avoiding them, no matter how tempting the nearby berries were. 

I continued Abigail's instruction on the identification of native plants. She was mildly interested .
Our most exciting find was an orange spider, which was unfortunate enough to catch our attention. I'd never seen one quite like it. 

I expect the children have already forgotten our excursion, but I won't. They grow so quickly, and soon dandelion clocks and the screech of a pheasant will hold no mystery or delight - but I shan't forget. Young children are enchanting companions: it was wonderful to shed sixty years and scoff blackberries and tell the time by dandelion again.