Category Archives: Books

Discovering Albion: 199 steps…

scotland trip jan 15 140I’ve always had a soft spot for Whitby. Even the trip to get there from my childhood home takes you across the North York Moors and if you are lucky enough to go in summer, chances are the heather will be in full bloom from horizon to horizon. This time, however, we just had the bitter winter wind. Not that this was a bad thing at that moment… it made the climb up the 199 worn sandstone steps less of a warming experience. In summer it is hot work. Like all such things, there is the tradition that you cannot count them. I, at least, have never managed it… I get distracted.

scotland trip jan 15 134From here there are wonderful views over the little town and its harbour. Whitby still depends on the sea for most of its income, though the whaling and herring fishing has long since declined to be largely replaced with tourism and the manufacture of jet jewellery… and fossils of course. There are so many to pick up on the beaches here, released by the constant erosion of the cliffs.

scotland trip jan 15 135As we climbed up to the church and saw the disappearing cliff face over the town, I recalled that it is not only fossils that the wind and rain releases. That cliff face has eroded by a good distance since I was a child and human bones from the graveyard have been sent into the streets below by the landslips that have placed homes beneath the cliff at significant risk. If that sounds like something from a horror movie there is reason for that too… Bram Stoker set much of his book Dracula against the stark silhouette of the Abbey and church atop the cliff.

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Discovering Albion: Whitby…

scotland trip jan 15 124A bitterly cold day in mid-January is not, I have to say, the ideal time to go to the seaside. Especially not in North Yorkshire. But go we did. I have fond memories of Whitby as a child… sitting on the beach in summer, huddled in a sweater and drinking Horlicks brought on a tray from the café at the top of the slip. I brought my own children here when they were very young too, though to be fair, it was at least slightly warmer. Probably not quite as icily cold.

scotland trip jan 15 125Not that I cared. I love Whitby and it has roots in my family: I pointed out the house one of my ancestors used to live in a few centuries ago. I had been delighted when I traced the family back to a specific house still standing from seventeenth century Whitby and one of these days may see how far back that association went. My companion too has links with Whitby, though they are of a more mysterious nature and my lips are sealed… First things first though. We needed a pub. With lunch… and a fire.

scotland trip jan 15 193We found both in the Dolphin, right beside the swing bridge that allows the fishing boats out of the Esk and into the sea. Yes, another Esk… first Cumbria, then Scotland… now Yorkshire. There was something a bit coincidental about that. Of all the rivers in all the country… we get three Esks in special places.

scotland trip jan 15 190After lunch we wandered into the old town to the south of the river estuary. Even here there were few tourists. Not surprising given that the temperature had dropped even further, though we were at least sheltered from the wind. I needed a Lucky Duck. It’s traditional. They were first made half a century ago as lucky charms for actors at the theatre in the town. I was given one every time we went to Whitby. I bought them for my sons. Now I needed one for my granddaughter.

Continue reading at France & Vincent

Chanteater…

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It was probably foolish, I know…

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But I took a liking to this ‘little lady’.

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Who, if the board is correct, could have been supporting the capstone’s weight  for over six thousand years.

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Which is some feat, as you can probably see…

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We call it stone technology and we have been experimenting with sound in a number of these ‘chambers’.

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I was expecting the chant to have little vibratory effect because the tomb was clearly, in part, wrecked.

What I wasn’t expecting was for both the sound and the breath to be sucked from my being, like something or someone was thirsty…

Like I said, foolish, but maybe it also served…

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Moons of Mountain Ana: Never…

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“So when do I get that drink you owe me?”

“Soon…”

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The warmth of silence as she threads the eye of a needle.

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“I like your owl.”

“It’s Minoan.”

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It would have been a privilege

to spend

the rest of my days

here, forever.

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Never.

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It never was

so good,

again… ?

Moons of Mountain Ana: Nestle…

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Gemma’s warmth as

she links my arm and

the world stops screaming…

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You are an island dark with life;

A swan-hatched dream, taking flight;

A blue-shot cormorant, nestled in night.

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Gemma’s warmth when she talks about

the sort of house she wants, her bottom

drawer, and the colour of christmas decorations.

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The warmth of a smile

 when I look at her crotch:

 earth / urge / air / care.

  *

O’ for another storm stressed day,

when the sky spoke and

our world yielded… to rain.

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‘I could have run much faster.’

‘You should have been here over Christmas.’

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Of all the things

I’ll never get chance to do…

Moons of Mountain Ana: Vamp…

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Becky is beautiful

but kind and cruel,

in turns.

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Her eyes flash when I call her a vamp,

and when I bad mouth her boyfriend.

 “You make me laugh,” she says, “can I kill you?”

 *

She has the hair of a teenage friend,

the eyes of an old love, the profile and

features of a desirable aunt, the body of

the goddess Parvati, and a smile like paradise.

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Her mischief resembles that of a childhood adversary.

 “I’m going to turn you into an ass,” she smiles.

*

 Her hoot face is reserved for her most cunning lies,

 “I thought I’d see you there,” yet she still

succeeds in soothing the situation.

*

 ‘Does she really sleep with him?’

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“I’m sorry about your Grandad,”

she says, like Mum at such times.

*

Warmth floods the room…

 

Moons of Mountain Ana: Rituals..

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Regardless of content, our most intense moments have a habit of assuming ritual clarity.

Together, the figures our characters cut are colourful, and bright, and amusing;

the wheel-spinning white car which your mother read about in my story, or Roma’s amber earrings, Louise and Paula, uncharacteristically, dressed in black.

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Gemma,

who plays football,

and for whom love… is too painful?

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Did I really say that?

She wants to travel, or that?

‘Me too! ’/ ‘that’s how I drink’/ ‘I do.

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If only it,

and you,

and I

were true!

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Even Sandra

mimicking my mudra,

and Mimi’s mint.

Moons of Mountain Ana: Laburnum…

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With almost perfect symmetry little Josh

wants to take some flowers back to Mum.

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 He plucks from the two Laburnum

grown together over a garden gate;

harmonious estate,

or the strain of embrace,

stretching… to cleave ?

The scent from the cups is intoxicating,

and yellow… Becky’s colour…

 *

O’ my tyger tree,

 your blossom

 will spread that smile

over lips which profess to disdain flowers.

 *

…On the way back Josh has an idea: he wants to visit his Dad.