Monthly Archives: June 2012

My Father-In-Law


Born in India,
In the time of gin and quinine,
Feathered hats and feudal Officers
This curly haired son of the Empire
Now dozes in my easy chair
Oh the joy at watching him eat
my puddings;
Love and custard doled out of a Sunday
To a man who is my daughter’s grandfather
A man of layers, mostly wool.

His eyes still belong to the boy in short trousers
Mad about steam engines;
They came home in a troop ship
Months of slow chugging back,
Torpedo drills and dry-mouthed fear for their lives
This is the boy who played beetle
And slept in a metal box
Courtesy of Herbert Morrison
Spent summers in the gardens with dogs who ate the butter
And sicked it up in the flowerbeds

Waved off to Marlborough in a boater, just a baby,
He still can’t face damp toast and won’t eat milk puddings
The things those blue eyes must have seen,
The dust he must have touched…
He sits now at the head of our family,
A bizarre mix of Yorkshire practicality
And old guard class

His Uncle’s hands have touched Churchill’s;
They delivered his children
And when I hold his hands,
Its like reaching back to then
When we went to war for the pink bits on a faded map
And went without, and understood duty
He remembers The Blitz, and for this alone I am prepared to love him,
But that’s the least of it.
He can explain, in entirety
The private lives of steam engines-

How they got hot enough to drive the pistons,
To pull the mail, the milk and Kentish strawberries
To the suburbs, clackety-clack over the bridges
He would design as a man
I love to think of this mop-headed
Boy, licking sun-warmed strawberry juice from his lips
And I wish I was alive to love him,
Back then.

Unfinished Business


As my momentous birthday approaches, I feel compelled to write a list of things I have yet to do…but would very much like to.

As ever in this blog, this list springs from the immediate and present, and as such I reserve the rights of author and therefore to edit and change my mind. Ask me in a ten years, five, or even next year and these may have changed; if you’d have asked me last week I would have had no such hopes that my life would afford me any of the experiences listed below; but after nearly a week’s rest and peace I am able, once again, to aspire.

Things I would like to do before I am dead (in no particular order)

Buy a 1930’s property (Beaufort Road, Bare, to be exact)
Decorate said property authentically
Stay in the Ritz, Paris
Sleep on the Orient Express
Have two more children
See more of my work in print
Eat more veg
Lose 4st
Go to New York, Bruges, The Seychelles, Russia
Go back to Cuba
Stay in a Gypsy Varda (Caravan)
Have my own cake stall at a farmer’s market
Learn to jive
Learn to waltz
Join and be active in a 1940’s society
Organise all my photos and put them in albums
Move to Bare, (Lancs)
See/shake hands with a senior Royal
Run a breastfeeding support network in Cumbria/Lancs
Be an aunt
Design and oversee the fitting of an entirely new kitchen at least once
Know the joy of seeing my babies reach adulthood
Go on a professional pasty chef/confectioners course
Be active in politics
Be well

Ho hum…

Night Terrors


Night Terrors

They say it’s a stage you go through
Between one and two,
The dreams coming thick and fast
Some so terrifying
That you call out to me

I roll over to hold you,
To let you know I’m there
But at first you fight me,
Still in your nightmare
Your tiny fists clenched and pounding

You come too a few seconds later,
And allow the mother-comfort to filter through,
And your body relaxes, safe again.

But there’s still those moments when nobody can reach you,
And your abandonment to fear
Frightens me too

For although I want to reach through the black to fetch you back,
It’s your own journey to make, and here I am,
Just another Mother, holding her little girl,
Guiding her through the space between sleep and awake.