Forever serving

There were fanfares and bands

the day you left town

and kisses and hugs

and marching.

Ladies waved flags and

pinned flowers to their hats

and cried in their hankies

with pride.


There were little girls smiling

and boys following the band

There were girls pressing notes in your hands

There were men standing wishing

their age would allow them

to join you in some foreign land.


There were fathers  so frightened

but having to hide it

and mothers with tears in their eyes

but for you there was pride

as you marched side by side

and no thought for the terror ahead.


And after you fought through

the mud and the blood

and reality hit home at last

you lied to your mothers

and thanked God it was others

who bought it and fell to the ground.


After the war, the land scorched and raw

threw up its tribute to you

For every blood drop

A poppy grew up

and hid the place where you fell.


Fragile and proud and a symbol

of men lost in the madness of war;

who lie in the ground,

still young and still proud

and still, forever serving.


To the students of Cambridge University.

To the students of Cambridge University.

My Father was probably the most intelligent man I ever met. He didn’t get the chance to go to university. At aged 16, and looking about 12, he lied about his age so he could do his bit and go and fight for his country. During his time in the Army during the war, he lost many young friends. At The Chateau de la Londe, he did what no young man should have to do; he buried his best friend Gordon “Lofty” Russell. When the war was over my dad tried to get on with his life, but he never forgot the friends he lost. Remembrance Sunday was his chance to spend some time thinking of the friends who hadn’t been as lucky as him. They hadn’t come back to their parents, or to sweethearts and wives and children. They lay buried in a country that may as well have been at the other side of the world as far as their relatives were concerned. They had no chance of visiting and placing flowers. They’d had no funerals to help them say goodbye. Often they only had a vague idea of how their boy had died. Or in the case of those still deemed “Missing, believed killed in action”, no idea at all where their boy lay.
Don’t tell me that Remembrance Day glorifies war. Remembrance day is not to remember the war. It is to remember the young men who gave their lives to fight for the freedom you enjoy now… which includes the freedom to do what they didn’t have the chance to do, and that is to go to university.
Lest we forget.

Obi was my teacher.

Yesterday I learned some things I never knew before

and Obi was my teacher.

I learned about Neanderthals and how they weren’t quite man

That they were  Homo neanderthalensis and we are Homo Sapiens,

and Obi was my teacher.

I learned that an unmanned spacecraft is on its way to Mercury and won’t arrive until Obi is quite grown up, sixteen, in fact.

and Obi was my teacher.

I learned about some dinosaurs, whose names I can’t remember; and when they lived and what they ate, and how they became extinct.

and Obi was my teacher.

I learned that even when reading is new, a wine list isn’t scary. If you can work out English words, then French and Spanish words aren’t that different.

and Obi was my teacher.

I learned that nine year olds can be shy, but still polite and friendly, and order drinks from waiters.

and Obi was my teacher.

I learned all this despite the fact he’s never been to school. He’s never seen a classroom and he doesn’t have school rules. He spends his time researching, but he doesn’t know it’s that, he plays and he asks questions, and he’s learning all the time.

and yesterday, on his 9th birthday,

Obi was my teacher.

Say her Name

You said “If there’s anything I can do, just ask”

So here I am now, my face a mask

of grief .

And I’m asking, “Say her name”.

If I cry, it’s not because you said her name

It isn’t because you brought her to mind-

She is never out of my mind,

And sometimes they are tears of happiness

that for a short time she was given to me.

My beautiful baby girl.

When you send our card, I’m asking this

that you write her name,

If I cry it’s not because you wrote her name

It isn’t because you brought her to mind,

She’s never out of my mind.

And sometimes they are tears of happiness

because you have remembered

my beautiful baby girl.

Say her name, say her name.

Matilda Mae.





Sing me a song

Sing me a song

Sing me a song

Sing me a song of perfect love

Sing me a song of God above.

Sing me a song of things in the past

Sing me a song of love that will last

Sing me a song of quiet dreams

Sing me a song of forests and streams

Sing me a song

Sing me a song.20150818_201355.jpg

Dear People on Armistice Day

19760596-002-233x300Dear people in the Marie Curie shop,

There’s a song called “It’s a pittance of time”.

and it’s a pity you’ve never heard it, or if you have, you’ve never listened to the words.

This morning, when the lady in the  shop asked us to observe the two minutes silence, it seemed to me to be, as the song said, a pittance of time.

Two minutes to stand and remember the people who fought for you and gave their lives for the freedom you now enjoy.

After the two minutes silence was announced, a couple in their forties rushed out, practically running, in their haste to avoid having to stand still for two minutes, and no doubt disturbing the people outside, who were also observing the silence.

The woman across the aisle from me, in her sixties, who said “What for?” Then resentfully stood, but rifled surreptitiously through the nearest rack of clothes, disturbing the silence anyway.

Two minutes. It was a pittance of time.

I miss you, Les.

22539894_2005119899514856_5951162012747563630_n12985349_1390339460992906_8026350811457797346_nI miss the baby you were, eight months old, rosy cheeked still from your nap,

sitting in the middle of the train track, eyes wide, as you watched the headlights

on the engine as it went round and round you in the dark.


I miss the toddler that you were, running through the forest

wearing your cardboard-feathered headdress.

Suddenly falling, head first, and even at that age, 18 months or so,

feeling embarrassment, and hiding your face in your hands when your daddy

lowers his Box Brownie to the ground to photograph your discomfort.

When you thought he’d given up, you lowered your hands, pouted and

were immortalised in that moment.

Blond curls peeping round the edges of your cardboard feathers

and toddler anger in your huge blue eyes.


I miss the little boy you were, lying with your head on my lap

in the back seat of the car whilst I stroked your hair

and practised my mothering.


I miss the man you were, – intelligent,  interesting  and opinionated, but also

always, my little brother.

I miss you, Les.


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