We have retreated into ourselves


It is raining, autumn is in full techni colour, and winter looms. The white sky merges with mist over the sea. Bardsey, the holy isle of the bones of a thousand saints, disappears from view completely leading us to speculate it has magical qualities or that a secretive organisation, ‘them’, dedicated to the preservation of the bones deciding what measures are best needed has reeled it away for cleaning. Sometimes it appears to float like a spaceship, or be twice as large as it is, or as today, abscond entirely. We joke and speculate what it can be this time.

And so another day passes. The forced togetherness affirms and destroys the relationship we thought we had. New rules are set, new habits formed over the long months it has so far been.

We hear of others’ weekends spent visiting, mingling together, or away, or following interesting new pursuits such as book binding, potting, yoga, I wonder if it is us who has fallen through the net, who doesn’t realise that Covid is so over and it is possible to live as ever we lived in the wider world.

Offers of visits, attempts of socially distanced gatherings, even of under six and outdoors are rebuffed. I’m surprised we are not consigned to Facebook friends with lonely birthday messages accruing annually on the page with infrequent photo updates bathed in the colours of the flag of the country where the latest tragedy or assassination attempt took place to show that perhaps we still exist for real.

Maybe, when this latest garden project is satisfyingly finished and planted, when the latest clutch of recipes has been shopped for, cooked and consumed, the next box of wine sent for and shoulder-shruggingly quioffed with a what can you do nonchalance, we will venture out.

The chance of reprieve is lost as once again we slide with relief into lockdown. It is not just us who is avoiding everyone. We are not so antisocial after all.

And then comes another reprieve: the first dose of vaccine.

The Joy

Having taken the decision to eschew Facebook (WHAT KEPT YOU? you might well ask) and turn again to WordPress and a neglected blog.  Among a legion of drafts, many more than published posts, I click on this title: The Joy.  The page is totally blank and I wonder what I could have been contemplating so many weeks, months ago and decide to appropriate the title, today of all days, in my stand against the pernicious Facebook on whom I have relied, turned to for publicity since publication of a first book seven years ago.   If it has done any good, or served a useful purpose is impossible to tell.  The joy I feel at renouncing its middle of the night scrolls in search of sleep I hope will not be short lived. And then a cold voice of reason prods me. What about friends? What about WhatsApp, to which in these Covid times especially, I am slavishly devoted? Facilitated by Facebook: I make allowances for my faiblesse.

Reblog Peace

I am impressed by two poems currently.  One, an ancient prayer and a hymn, a Celtic Blessing that was played at my mother’s funeral, sung by Aled Jones to the tune by Rutter. The prayer, the music and the occasion deeply imprinted until time slowly erodes the memory to the bare bones.   The other, probably also a song,  new year wishes by Jacques Brel.

Both are love songs. Unconventional, in a way, but surely, to wish anyone the deep peace of the universe with or without the inclusion of Christ is an act of love. So too the fervent wish for at least one bounteous dream to come true.

Deep peace of the running wave to you.

Deep peace of the flowing air to you.

Deep peace of the quiet earth to you.

Deep peace of the shining stars to you.

Deep peace of the gentle night to you.

Moon and stars pour their healing light on you.

Deep peace of Christ,

of Christ the light of the world to you.

Deep peace of Christ to you.

New Year wishes by Jacques Brel

I wish you dreams with no end and the furious desire to realise some of them. I wish you to love what should be loved and forget what you need to forget. I wish you passion, I wish you silence, I wish you to hear birds singing and children laughing when you wake up. I wish that you respect other people’s differences because the merits and value of each person are worth discovering. I wish that you resist getting stuck, that you resist being indifferent and that you resist the negativity and righteousness of our time. Finally, I wish that you never renounce discovery, adventure, life, love because life is a magnificent adventure and no reasonable person should renounce it without a courageous battle. I especially wish you to be yourself, to be proud of who you are and happy because happiness is our true destiny.

Interlude in blogs


Monday’s the day blog spots drift in like falling leaves clogging time. When it’s poetry though, it’s pleasant to kick through the traces.

Thanks to Lindsaystanberryflynn.co.uk for this Elizabeth Jennings Song at the Beginning of Autumn.

Now watch this autumn that arrives
In smells. All looks like Summer still;
Colours are quite unchanged, the air
On green and white serenely thrives.
Heavy the trees with growth and full
The fields. Flowers flourish everywhere.

Proust who collected time within
A child’s cake would understand
The ambiguity of this –
Summer still raging while a thin
Column of smoke stirs from the land
Proving that Autumn gropes for us.

But every season is a kind
Of rich nostalgia. We give names –
Autumn and Summer, Winter, Spring –
As though to unfasten from the mind
Our moods and give them outward forms.
We want the certain, solid thing.

But I am carried back against
My will into a childhood where
Autumn is bonfires, marbles, smoke;
I lean against my window fenced
From evocations in the air, kickin
When I said Autumn, Autumn broke.



A rather sweet fourteen year old started to follow my blog. I am out of touch with fourteen year olds; maybe I always was . When my children were of the age, I don’t think I had time or energy what with career, aged parents, menopause, to appreciate their freshness and joy. Unless I don’t remember well enough.

I am impressed by the brio, the energy, the verve and perhaps for a while I will follow her too.

There are blogs I like and may have mentioned to the point of being blocked. In many respects would agree parallels between social media and stalking. One prolifically blogs uplifting sayings, sometimes from people no one has heard of, several times a day, rather like tweeting I suppose. These I like. Perhaps there is a book of aphorisms that he plunders, I don’t know but the supply seems at present thankfully inexhaustible.

There are bloggers who simply publish photographs, often of flowers, that arrive like gifts and one who writes daily and optimistically about her book, her writing group and how to write. That too is uplifting, a tour de force. I imagine being her; I imagine her upbringing and her parents, aunts, uncles, whoever, who gave her such unshakable faith in herself but recognise that it is differences that make the world. That sounds like sour grapes; it isn’t truly, but that is why I don’t succumb to Twitter, for fear of blurting out something unpardonable that I would regret as soon as out there.

I take heart from this community, glad when people have looked at my blog, pushed the like button or taken time to write a comment.



A delight on waking and reaching for the iPad to find a new post from Richard Gwyn.  He’s been reading his  poetry in Delhi. I like the mix of personal and exotic.  I like where the blog leads, to new books, old books,   other writer’s blogs. It even inspires new blog spots   At Christmas he wrote of killing his darlings , having kicked a book to touch. Then it seemed unimaginable, now, barely four months on, I am so close myself.

So this morning, early and quiet, Sunny boy and most , it seems, still sleep,  I follow George Szirtes as recommended who in turn leads me to Stephen Foster and the sense of loss overwhelms all over again.

I met Stephen Foster on my first ever writing course in Norwich and was helplessly in love- with writing, with his encouragement, with those on the course.

I had it in mind to be a writer. A period a way from home, a period of solitude, had freed inner voices that I interpreted as an urge to write.  Stephen encouraged me. For at least a year I sent stuff and he commented, so gently letting me down, never once a put down.

A virtual affair continued after life convinced he must still be blowing in the wind.


The quiet and permanence of the printed word.


Before I was a writer, I had the measure of blogs, or thought so:  blogs are for self publicists, whether or not they have something other than themselves they wish to promote.  That I would have to publicise my first (only) book myself came as a surprise just a few months short of the publication date.  All the creative writing courses in the world never mentioned that glitch.  The writing, the finding a publisher, a mere nothing compared to the lengths required to sell the finished article.

Jonathan Franzen has been in the news recently, ( new book out, I guess,)  speaking of ghastly self publicising , ‘yakking and tweeting and bragging’ as ‘intolerably shallow forms of social engagement.’ He doesn’t mention the necessity for many new writers  to promote their work themselves. Obviously less well connected, less gifted, than he is, it is a struggle to make a name/find readers to whom we are not related.

Since starting to blog, a trap, that I have almost willingly fallen into, more time is spent blogging than writing, creating not writer’s block, but writer’s blog:  a time gobbler into which vast tracks of time, truly hideous amounts, disappear.

Then there are comments from other blogs, tantamount to a cheery little wave, ‘over here, I’m over here.’ from complete strangers, aka potential readers.  Keeping abreast of ‘The Greats’ (JF?) comments is bad enough, never mind actually reading their work.

I swear, one day, my footprints will lead to dense, internet wilderness and not come out the other side. No trace will ever be found, as if I have disappeared into the ether.

Then there is the garden – but that is a different wilderness.