Thursday, 28 February 2013

Apple Chapel

In the Atrium of iPads all the golden rectangles pulse with the life I seek for my old MacBook. I see it, don't hear it: wax dumps of each ear canal are thick with the blended oils of Earex. Arachis, almond, camphor. Smelling of mothballs then, I open my case on the problem desk. The grub of my screen, all the dirt of the faithful machine, it is hilarious in here. Even clean, the specs are laughable. I run a finger over the fault line that is held together by tape and a sticker from a Thornton's chocolate. The assistant in his saintly blue t seems genuinely, gently amused. I am too fond of my laptop to be embarrassed anyway. We try a new charger and Everything Lights Up. For a power lead, ouch, yes, that's pricey: but for a live machine and for the union of the internet, oh, yes, a pittance.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Hold Tight

A roll of images from our walk, through woods, along the collapsing river bank, are the first thing I think of, presumably to block the possibility of everything else that might be lost to me. It might only be a loose connection or a sleepy battery that is not making the spark that wakes my laptop up. I have borrowed Boy's Inspiron, which is fine but unfamiliar. I am stumbling over keys that didn't even get a notice on my grubby aged Mac. Anyway, this short post is to let you know, if I seem to have disappeared, I have not. I am busy solution hunting and will be back.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Tribe Of The Bobble Hat

Little Granddaughter stomps to each park shelter post, hits every one in turn with two sticks, previously collected from under the giant fir trees.
'Hahahaha! Dongdongdong!' She chants. 'Doggle, woff woff woff shtay.' A group of cold teenagers lean into the wind, listening for such sounds, out on a music project. They are barred from sharing any shelter by the pink and fiercely bobble-hatted priestess. She stands at the head of the snaking path, shouts 'No!' They shall not pass, but edge on, gloveless and shivering. Dog lies on the grass, exhausted from her chain of commands.

Monday, 25 February 2013

The Path Of Contented Resistance

So much going on with work of various kinds, distraction is medicinal. I have wandered through some old papers, found this poem and written a sort of postscript to it. A bit rushed, a bit distracted, but happy.



I cannot fall in love today

It will only live in one house
And I won't stop moving

The day before I may have

Stood at the gate, wishing
Dearly to be let in

But the air outside

Was fresh and the view
Needed exploring

Tomorrow my boots may be

All worn down
My head spinning with sights

Then I will choose my loveliest place

Lay down with the flowers
Who comes to me there can stay

And a love that is real doesn't care

At all for cement and fences
It moves easy as grass under breezes.



Moon overhead

Heavy with shine
Follows a gravity

A fidelity

Pull and lustre
We see it as we feel it

We move with the lug

Through the swell of it

Smiling under

The weight of
This light


Sunday, 24 February 2013

Super Badger

Woke up, a whole ten and one half hours after the day had begun. One lazy bit of a busy Sunday. The big picture is in my head but the bits keep falling under the mind-sofa (represents an obstruction here, not comfort.) Mr says we shall go to the woods to find some refreshment of purpose and to fell trees with our bare hands because we are quite Super.
On the way home I think about the old path we found and how deep it is pushed into the ground. Once upon a time the king of the badgers reached the massive age of one thousand years and it was time for him to travel out of his woodland kingdom. As he walked, his wiry buttocks dragged tracks, and these became our country roads. Because: an entirety of logical sense is not required to enrapture.

Saturday, 23 February 2013


Mr and I were early for the wedding. This is unusual behaviour.
I did forget to wear my wedding ring (more expected: it is often boxed, as I can't wear it for work. Sometimes causes hilarious misunderstandings, that I work evenings and must not wear a wedding band.) It snowed, a little flurry only. The bride and bridesmaids, even with the faux fur stoles, were bravely cold. It was easy to huddle us in for the big photo, seeking some communal heat.
After the warming effects of a three course meal, sleepiness is inevitable. Little Finley half snoozes on his Auntie's lap: he's not been well lately. None of us were expecting him to vomit though. The bar staff handed over lukewarm soapy water and paper towels: luckily for them I am an adept sick handler.
Then comes the disco and the dance floor covered in colours of light and twirling tinies. George does his first knee slide. Molly kicks her Uncle. Logan and Nathan stand on a windowsill shrieking at the wild rabbits bobbing tails across the lawn.
On the drive home we laugh, we are saying how cute, how happy: were we really early?!

Friday, 22 February 2013

Play For Today

Circa 2012

My shoulders are pinched, uptight: not a finger pinch, something with more pressure per square inch, something like a vice or a blunt hammered nail. 
Over the day it distends from scrunch to pain. 
I drive to work and I think: I won't manage this
Only when I get there and set the roof mounted heaters going in a sorry attempt to warm the floor, and I'm lugging kick pads, and my flask of coffee sits on a chair, even before my students arrive, thought has nothing to do with it, this is a burst of spirit: All the world's a stage. 
Across the cold wood I tread, bold, sure of my character. 

Circa 2011: didn't have my camera at work today. Sorry about my fangy teeth.  

Thursday, 21 February 2013


Iced and singing the wind, slender as a blade, slivers through every chink in every wall, drags through clothes and skin, etches over bone, turns muscles to flint. Shoulders are tight packed gravel. Coffee swallowed, teeth grit. Under the rib cavity, a heart squeezes.
Moans of weather, beats of heart, thick-headed fretting.
Somewhere a memory shimmers: Longleat Safari Park? Legoland? A dream? A sort of park recalled. There is me and my two children walking round a maze. We are bored, in the hedge shadows. Boy is quite small so we hold him up to spy a bigger picture, a clear route.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Siren Song In Spring

Flat scales of ice on shaded roads.
Plaintive, the wind sings; catches in the slung wires, in the spokes of the old aeriel, a natural and an alien sound.
Out of the blue, mist veils the river, blows across rooftops.
Washing is clamped to lines: see it strain to fly, the arms of shirts waving like drunks at a wake: danse macabre.
Spring pushes up in pointed buds: sallow, amethyst, velvet-white.
On the stems of wild strawberries, petalled eyes open.


Ice laces the edge of Roadford Lake, it breaks like sugar glass as Dog pads through. Little Granddaughter sparks giggles.
This is how she shares the joke with us. Boy is trying to photograph still water but no one can be cross.
Boy has the smile of the gracefully defeated. There's a tail wagging, a child laughing, a warm sun in a clear sky.
Girl has sunglasses big enough to reflect the lake. Everyone tries on my hat, my candid heavenly-blue hat.

Monday, 18 February 2013


 Monday evening. Boy is on the sofa, hustling friends for a midweek half term party. Dog sleeps off her wood walk exertions. Cat is in a box, also sleeping. Mr has removed his trousers for the purpose of stretching. I love my home. Beyond this remarkable family scene two things I have done today deserve a note.

Thing One: Black Belt promotion application form filled out and handed in. Officially training for 2nd Dan grading in April.
Thing Two: ISBN application form filled out. To bring my Tae Kwon-Do stories to the world, I am becoming a publisher. Black Belt Books: that's me, with the design guidance of my brother. He lives in Taipei so we are quite the international concern. First edition of The Time Travelling Tae Kwon-Do Tour Bus due out as soon as the final proofs are set and the printing price agreed. Soon will be wondering how to store one thousand copies of a niche market book.

Fear and pride mix up like stage fright.
Misfortune is an option. My misfortune though: I would still be proud of that. Once when I had no tools I put shelves up with a flat rock and a butter knife. There were more presentable shelves on the planet, I can believe that: but none more fun.

Sunday, 17 February 2013


The house is swept from top to toe, cobwebs flicked and dark corners scrubbed. Original colours restored: the bath suite white as it would have been last time it saw a serious cleaning cloth. Grumbling spiders withdraw. Every window is open to the lively wind till the cold gets dark and the riddled fire is lit. The oven smells of bread, the hob of soup and strong coffee. A critical eye would find plenty more to do. Tired eyes, satisfied, rest under eyelids while the espresso brews: dream of chaos and order: a typhoon moving in gridlines. Wakes in a wave of character notes ~
The construct of the isolated self longs to escape. It seeks the Other.
Caffeine, alcohol, love, all kinds of drugs are the things that compress and unfold the self, that flex to break, that break to open, that open to hope to fill that emptiness within. That's how it begins. Fear of this abyss can push a person to anything. This deconstructed self has broken boundaries, has lost control, is boundless, in flux, open to potential. To survive, a reconstruction must be made. The old self is fragile. A more complex form develops, ideally. But caffeine, alcohol, love, all kinds of drugs are the glue of fragile surfaces. Not everyone can deal with dust.

Newquay Late Winter

A lone writer sits on a town bench, swipes wet sand from a foot with a stripy sock. Other foot, other sock. Further up the street on a similar seat, a man in a purple t-shirt is sleeping off a liquid lunch. Seagulls outside food outlets watch for opportunity. In the air: onions frying, sea-salt, a urine-dampness. The gulls pace. In shops hang t-shirts, rainbows of t-shirts, shining t-shirts, print-your-name-here t-shirts and hooded tops with hand pockets and holes for wires for headphones for your life sound track. Two boys stand outside a coffee shop, un-ironically play air guitar, sing to some music they love: it communicates something to them to provoke this signed response: a generational marker. One lone writer laces up boots and walks on to join friends. In the amusement arcade they post rapid coins into a cascade game, laughing and laughing till the campervan toy prize tips, on a tide of pushed pennies, down into the tray.

Friday, 15 February 2013

Adventure Brings A Return To Form

We woke up under the river mist. Fingers of sunlight wrung the damp air, squeezed the water back into the fat flow of the Tamar.
Dog's tail was a fur propeller. We walked under our own steam in the bewildering bright day, down to the woods and up through the top path where we prepare to hack through fallen trees with Spiderman (Godson's alter ego) and his Mum.
'I'm not really Spiderman,' he says, eyeing the slain trunks that lie askance across the path, green with scales of moss and pine-spiked. 'I can't really climb that.'
'Have you tried, though? See here, how you can stand on this low branch?' I hold his weight until Mr leans over to take him.
Mr says, 'Do you think you will fit under the next one?'
Godson ponders. 'I don't know.' He ducks his head. He thinks again. He strikes the pose of a superhero edging on a high ledge and goes sideways through the arch of dank wood.
'Are you all right, lad?' his mother calls.
'You can call me Spiderman,' he says.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Kooky Valentine

A relocated False Start Friday project: here a group of dedicated bloggers share either previously unrevealed or rejected writings; and there are few subjects that cause us as much trouble as LOVE or the frequently icky Romance.

Here's how romance works in our house~

Mr: I bought you roses! From a petrol station (giggles.)
Me: You know you can't eat the shop bought ones- they put spray on them!
Mr: Perhaps you could put them in a vase?
(Both laugh hilariously.)
It has a sort of Theatre Of The Absurd vibe to it.

Here is a poem, untitled, written once upon a time before Mr. I like it a great deal but it only existed before now as biro lines in an old notebook. It deserves better. As a love poem, it's unorthodox. It's more about freedom from the tyranny of love.

This is not the girl
Whose song you sing
Not the one you think of
Not the one you love
She's the one who walks alone
Who sings where no one ever hears
And what she dreams you'll never know
And if she ever leaves that path
Her footprints always bear that witness
Where she's been brings her where she is
And the feel of cool rock
Lasts as long as songs and love.

Time And Toast

A disappointment with the cornflakes is soon forgot. Godson loves marmite and butter toast. He also loves Dog, who benefits from a slyly dropped crust. We make plans to view some cows (not many of those wander through his city life) and go off the path adventuring in the woods. He has a sonic screwdriver and I have some pruning shears. For now though I drive my houseguests into the wet slap of a small February town, leave them to continue the rounds of visits and I'll get them back all dizzy and in need of a rest tomorrow.
All the spare bedding is persuaded back into the airing cupboard, a tangled solid mess that makes me feel like I've just hidden a body.
There's a suitcase in my front room, a gauzy cerise bow wrapped at the handle to make it easy to locate from a train's luggage stackpoints. Several times this morning I look up from typing and smile at it.
And then work time appears on the clock: the day has been swallowed up as crafty and swift as Dog took the crust.

'One crust? I'll just lie here, wasting away.'

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

The Distracted Host

Out come the frying pans. Dog must have her lead on to go next door for eggs, lest she succumb to cat chasing. A telephone call is made to fetch milk. There are two kinds of flour in the cupboard.
I have vinegar smeared books propped in sun traps. A sense of responsibility has prompted a salvage attempt. Maybe the picture books could be scanned. Here's Cinderella and her rescue complex. It's not the story that enamours, after all: it is the pictures. The first dress is pale pink silk: prettier than anything I had ever seen (circa 1975.) The second dress is pale blue satin: the most sophisticated thing: a girl, looking beautiful and feminine: gathered net in a masculine colour. The third dress is silver and gold lace. There could be nothing more glamorous. Or there could: all ready I had seen such wonder and it had drawn out the idea that the world stretches further than you know.
Meanwhile, distilled white vinegar diminishes mould spores and my houseguests need pancakes.

Glad you enjoyed the pancakes Lady Victoria :-) 

Monday, 11 February 2013


At the foot of the fat-trunked ash one starling lies, open-chested dead. Emerald edges of the wing feathers catch the sun. In the branches above, the life of chatter persists. One starling barely expects to be missed, and it need not be a gloomy thought. A raw bravery it takes, for a person to be content with such; starlings are born to the mass, unquestionably, expendably part of something. I turn the still bird over, gently, into the grass where the ice twinkles: commend it to the earth.
Ice under sun throws uncountable gems: Dog and I crunch through a fortune.
I seek distraction. Back at the cottage, a combination of mould and bad housekeeping has made an unfortunate impression on my bookshelf in the little office room. The shelf of comfort books: some held since infancy.
Up through the brook, over the wide curved field. The ice is melted here, except in the shadow of the old barn. Ice in shade has no light to refract. When the sun moves to find them, each crystal here will shine into extinction.
What is gone, is gone. Keep the lesson, not the textbook.

Always Awake To The Smell Of The Coffee

In the dark the stars
Find no cover and must shine
Between their light and my eyes, this
Car window, smudged with old rain
Here I sit
Settled in the passenger seat
Tipping espresso from the worn pink flask
In the dark the trick is
To stick your thumb just inside the cup:
When the thumb is hot, stop pouring.
Drink up, think of
Rain smudge: what it could

Saturday, 9 February 2013

The Flip-Flop Mountaineer

To both satisfy and provoke curiosity, contained herein are the illustrations from my newest foray into print. Always I will tell people that I cannot draw or paint, only illustrate within a fairly limited scope. They look at my pictures- the pen and inks are the better examples of this- and curl lips.
There's no hook for compliment cast intentionally.
The bit missing from the statement is that I could: if I could be bothered to pursue and practice: sketch convincingly whatever is set before me.
Why don't I practice?
Because writing is the deep obsession.
So, why not just write?
While I draw, a wordless refreshment happens, a buoyancy, a reaffirmation.
Each picture is a push past the comfort zone due to this lack of technical skill. It tests the nerve, the verve, the whole composure.
If you find the right path, climb the mountain in flip-flops.
At the summit, out the brilliant words fly.

Friday, 8 February 2013


Sketch of Mrs White: from 'Why Do We Have To Move.'

(Today the pen etches secret prettiness: a wedding commission. Can't divulge yet!)
The fire is lit. Piping, strong and pitch-black I drink up coffee: slap mustard and garlic all over my food. I am feeding a cold. I think it's dying. If needed, there are offers of sympathetic soup, to drown it.
I am well enough, after yesterday's rest, to go out to work: encased in vest, shirt, over top, leggings, trousers, scarf, ski socks and baseball style boots.
To my reflection I say, 'It's a look.'
I get a look back, unconvinced, but warm.
To my students I say, 'I smell of garlic, mustard and Vick's Vapour Rub. Any of you have difficulty breathing, it's either because of me, or you need to stand next to me, and I'll clear those airways.'

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Duvet Day

Rain bounces on the lean-to roof. Dog barks. One eye opens. Eventually I realise that it's my eye. Watch the tall fronded trees sigh in pale grey daylight. Tea is fetched to my bedside.
Hours, somewhere, are ticking by. I can't hear them. I sleep.
Hunger puts my feet on the stairs. Feed a cold, that's the old wisdom. Starve a fever. What does a cold like to eat? Fruit and yoghurt is what it gets.
In the post today: my copy of the book I illustrated. Sense of achievement prompts further action.
Pour coffee into brain. Write. Stories for papers about our students getting new belt levels- done. One essay required for request to take Second Dan grading- done. One chunk of novel- done.
Three ticks earns a rest.
Trees wave, eyes drop, dog woofs, rain drums.