Tag Archives: poetry

Newsletter – July 2019

Welcome to the monthly newsletter of author Tim Walker. This month he has no news, and so will handover to two excellent guests…

Welcome guest author, Michael Pearcy – Mike has been a fan of George Orwell for many years. He has just completed a play called Mrs Orwell which was long listed for in the Kenneth Branagh Playwriting awards. He is working on a one-man show which will explore significant moments in Orwell’s life.

Mike’s plays have been performed in the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Greece, Gibraltar and Singapore. There have been many performances in the UK including The Union Theatre in Southwark where The Gatekeeper’s True Religion was described by Time Out magazine as ‘…a unique gem’.

His short stories have won awards in various festivals and competitions including the Berkshire Arts Festival and the Woman’s Own short story competition.

As a journalist Mike has covered many and varied subjects ranging from Charles Dickens living in Slough with his young lover, to the story behind the making of the film The King’s Speech.  In his non-fiction writing he is able to combine his experience as a professional photographer with his writing.  Mike is a member of Slough Writers’ Group – check his WEBSITE for more information.

Nineteen Eight-Four – The Novel That Killed George Orwell

By Michael Pearcy

This year is the seventieth anniversary of Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell’s landmark dystopian novel which hit the bookshops on 8th June 1949 – only seven months before he died from tuberculosis, a disease which had haunted him most of his adult life.

No one can say for sure when he contracted TB but the research he undertook for two of his early books put him in regular contact with the highly infectious disease – tuberculosis killed one in seven people before a successful treatment using streptomycin was developed shortly after Orwell died in 1950.

In fact, Orwell’s close friend David Astor, a friend and editor of The Observer, had the drug flown in from America especially for Orwell, but although he made a temporary recovery, the side effects of this early version of the drug prevented further use.  

Although Orwell went to Eton on a scholarship, when he finished there he was not considered bright enough to justify the cost of Oxford or Cambridge which would have been the usual route for someone from his background.

Instead he signed up as an officer with the Imperial Police and selected a posting to Burma where he had lived for the first year of his life. This decision may have been prompted by his father who had been in the Indian Civil Service in the Opium Department.

He resigned after five years and settled in London where he intended to become a writer. Influenced by the author Jack London he decided to investigate the living conditions of the poor in East London which led to his first published Essay The Spike (New Adelphi magazine 1931).

Following this theme, he lived for periods as a homeless man and claimed to have perfected a working-class accent which, apparently, his new companions accepted. In this way he was able to live with tramps (homeless people) in what were known as Spikes (homeless shelters). He also spent time living rough with a group of tramps on their journey to get paid work picking hops in Kent.

After a further period living on the margins of society in Paris he had collected enough material for his first published book: Down and Out In Paris and London published in 1933 by Victor Gollancz.

This success led to publication of Orwell’s Burmese Days (Harper & Brothers 1934) which gave a frank and critical view of the Empire’s oppression and exploitation of the peoples of Burma. He was beginning to carve out a niche for himself as a young writer.

From his very first night in a Spike, Orwell would have known the risks he was taking in exposing himself to tuberculosis. But the only way he could write the truth was to first live that truth. And perhaps this was also the beginning of his personal journey as a socialist.

His dedication to research continued when he lived with coal miners and their families in North-East England in order to write The Road to Wigan Pier (Victor Gollancz 1937)first published in 1937. The first half of the book documents the bleak living conditions amongst the working class in Lancashire and Yorkshire, and the terrible working conditions of the men who essentially provided the fuel which powered the nation – coal.

In the second half of the book Orwell discusses the failures of socialism to rescue workers from the worst forms of exploitation. In this passage he declares himself in favour of socialism. This leads him to question British attitudes towards socialism and attack middle class socialists: ‘In addition to this there is the horrible — the really disquieting — prevalence of cranks wherever Socialists are gathered together. One sometimes gets the impression that the mere words “Socialism” and “Communism” draw towards them with magnetic force every fruit-juice drinker, nudist, sandal-wearer, sex-maniac, Quaker, “Nature Cure” quack, pacifist, and feminist in England.’

In 1936 he volunteered to fight with the anti-fascist forces in the Spanish Civil War. As a writer he could have observed the war from a safe hotel in Barcelona with the rest of the press corps. But Orwell went to the front-line trenches and took part in hand to hand combat as a member of the POUM anarchist militia. He meant to join the International Brigade but joined the POUM almost by accident.

This accident was to earn him the experience of living for a period in what he saw as a microcosm of a socialist society where there was no hierarchy, no deference to class and everything was achieved through agreement.

Wanting to be in the thick of it earnt him a fascist bullet in the throat which came within a few millimetres of ending his life. His experiences in Spain equipped him to write Homage to Catalonia (Secker and Warburg) published in 1938.

In Spain he also experienced the dark side of socialism as practised by the communist groups in their suppression of any alternative socialist parties. This reflects what became his major and possibly his over-riding opposition to all forms of totalitarianism expressed through any aspect of political ideology – left, right or centre.

By the beginning of World War Two, at the age of thirty-six, Orwell had established himself as a brave socio/political writer with the publication of four ground-breaking non-fiction books. He had also tried his hand at fiction with three novels – A Clergyman’s Daughter (1935), Keep the Aspidistra Flying (1936) and Coming Up for Air (1939) all published by Victor Gollancz.

Towards the end of his life Orwell instructed that the first two of these novels should not be reprinted which is harsh self-criticism luckily ignored by his literary executors. But a salient fact of life for Orwell was that his writing, despite growing recognition in literary circles, was not earning a decent living for him. His income came mainly from constant article writing for left-wing magazines and newspapers.

Orwell married Eileen O’Shaughnessy on June 9th 1936 and they lived a frugal life until the publication of Animal Farm (Secker and Warburg)in 1945. This was a thinly disguised critique of Russian communism made at a time when the post-war world was ready for it, especially in America where the novel was a storming success. Orwell had finally earned himself space and time to write and he could afford to put a stop to all the time-consuming political articles and essays.

He turned his attention to what was to become his defining work – Nineteen Eighty-Four (Secker and Warburg). This was to be the full expression of his life-long opposition to any totalitarian regime. If Animal Farm can be said to show the dangers in the Russian communist version of socialism, Nineteen Eighty-Four explores the dangers of world divisions and an extreme totalitarian society.

Although this period was to be the peak of Orwell the writer, it was also a sad time for Orwell personally. In 1945 his wife Eileen died during an operation to remove cancer tumours.

And his constant companion, the old enemy tuberculosis was standing by to claim him as another victim.

Animal Farm had been a struggle to write and a bigger struggle to publish partly because Russia was a wartime ally and the government wanted Orwell silenced. Mainstream publishers were either scared of such a radical project or simply failed to understand it. At one point, Orwell was making plans to self-publish until Secker and Warburg finally took on the challenge.

Now Orwell was ready to tackle Nineteen Eighty-Four. But his health was failing fast. The stress of publishing Animal Farm followed by the loss of Eileen just a few months after they had adopted Richard, their only child, left George weakened and vulnerable.

After several months in a sanatorium he decided to give up his London life and move to a cottage in Scotland – Barnhill on the remote island of Jura, twenty-five miles from the nearest telephone. He felt this would give him fresh air, ward off TB and the solitude he needed to complete Nineteen Eighty-Four.

The original plan was to go to Jura with Eileen and she had done much of the planning that made the move possible. In the event, Orwell was accompanied by his son Richard, then four years old, his sister Avril Blair as housekeeper and Bill Dunn who would run the smallholding that would produce some of their food.

Now Orwell was able to focus on his novel. Life on Jura was hard especially in the post-war era of food shortages. And Orwell would not let the threat of TB stop him from enjoying time with Richard – even to the point where they both nearly drowned on one of their regular fishing outings.

It was a race to finish the manuscript before Orwell was forced to give in to the effects of his TB. He was struggling with the disease as he worked to type up his final manuscript. In the isolation of Jura it was not possible to employ a typist but even if it had been, Orwell was the only person who could interpret his countless corrections, except of course for Eileen.

By the time the MS was with the publisher, Secker and Warburg, George Orwell was exhausted. He went first to a hospital near Glasgow but eventually moved to Cranham Sanatorium in Gloucestershire.

Orwell received his first copy of his novel in June 1949. Shortly after this he was moved to University College Hospital in London where he died at the end of January 1950. Despite his valiant efforts he could do no more than make plans for another book but no notes exist of what this could have been.

George Orwell could not have guessed that his final work would come to be such a world-wide success but maybe something in him knew that writing it was worth risking his life. When he should have been in hospital fighting TB he stayed at his keyboard dedicated to completing his novel. 

Eileen had been a vital contributor to Orwell’s work. During the planning and writing of Animal Farm she collaborated closely and even acquired the nickname Pig presumably after Napoleon the pig who emerges as the leader at Animal Farm after the rebellion; Eileen’s attributes that led to her being associated with a character based on Joseph Stalin can only be guessed.

In her youth, Eileen wrote a poem called 1984 and it has been suggested that her dystopian view of the future resonated with George Orwell and that the book’s title is in memory of Eileen. The original draft title was Last Man In Europe and the general consensus is that the final title is a reversal of 1948 the year when the book was first completed.

Maybe so, but the idea that Eileen as loving wife and collaborator is commemorated in the title of her husband’s greatest work is very appealing.

SOURCES

George Orwell – A life by Bernard Crick (Secker and Warburg)

The Girl From The Fiction Department – A Portrait of Sonia Orwell by Hilary Spurling (Hamish Hamilton)

The Lost Orwell by Peter Davison (Timewell Press)

George Orwell English Rebel by Robert Colls (Oxford University Press)

Churchill and Orwell – The Fight For Freedom by Thomas E. Ricks (Duckworth Overlook).

Welcome to Poet’s Corner, Joseph Campling. – He moved from the New Town of Bracknell to the famous town of Slough to train as a nurse in the mid 1980’s. During that period, he had to mature from one of life’s innocents into the man he is now (whatever that is!!) Having worked initially within an operating theatre as a scrub nurse, he then re-qualified as a mental health nurse and has worked in various roles ranging from older people with dementia to younger people with serious mental health issues. Whilst undertaking his BSc, he was one of three co-authors of an article which was published in a professional journal in 2007.

As a child he was a voracious reader and started writing poems at the age of nine – one about scarecrows and another about a woman being swallowed by a crocodile while still having her handbag on her arm. He developed a love of English language and literature at school and continued to write poems as ideas came to him.

From 2010 he found himself scribbling his thoughts down on bits of paper, envelopes, mobile phone which thanks to ‘new technology’ he was able to keep safe.  At the age of 50, he discovered open mic, but due to having the singing voice of a frog being strangled and the guitar skills to match, he resorted to reading out some of this saved work.               

In May 2017 he self- published “Mild Musings May Mitigate My Mentality” which was his first collection of poems and having learned from the process has published another volume of ‘words’ “Merring or is it Mrs Gren.”  The title came from a conversation which the author had with his daughter about a mnemonic to remember the seven signs of life.

Outside writing and performing, his interests include history, watching live music, trying to play the guitar (still project in progress) and quizzing. He also likes to watch TV; mostly factual documentaries, comedy and quiz shows. He also ‘hangs out’ with members of the local drama club which is his children and wife’s passion, although he has no plans to act .He also needs to read more and swears that he will do so very soon as he has a pile of books to read. He follows rugby and can sometimes be found cheering his team on (London Irish) whether they win or lose.  He also has a passion for Liverpool Football Club.

BUY LINK – Merring or Is it Mrs Gren?

BUY LINK – Mild Musings May Mitigate Mentality

REAL LIFE SOAP

The vast opera of my life explodes

As the prima donna wants to take the stage

She is projected as some blond Valkyrie

Expounding Wagnerian hymns and arias

I mentality hear the words “it ain’t over till the fat lady sings”

Well from now on I’m on a diet

I need to keep away from the slippery slope

That my love is sliding over

The fantasy that I can change is false

I played the role that I was given

I remember the audition the casting couch

Now I feel that I don’t know the words or the actions

No direction no script

I could hide in plain sight like a chameleon

Some know I am there, but I believe that I am invisible

You can walk on by -get on with life

You still do not see it right before your eyes

Even if you looked you would stop caring

You ignore the chaos left like the running of metaphorical bulls

Be careful as the two worlds which you inhabit collide

As you explore all my vocal expressions through the din

Lies you say- lies!!  As the tapestry of my being is ripped to shreds

ADDICT

I need my daily fix- I cannot survive

I don’t know what I’m going to do- it makes me feel alive

I open the foil and inhale the odours

To check on the quality that the guy had sold us

I turn on the heat- get out the spoon

Check the time is opportune

I look around to check I’m alone

As for this transgression I’ll have to atone

The wife says I’ve got no willpower

I’ll not last more than a few hours

It’ll involve trawling the streets

To score some of my favourite treats

I have tried to go cold turkey

Giving up has made my thoughts murky

I think of the positives of being abstinent

From this body contaminant

I set up the paraphernalia

A reminder of my abject failure

To kick the habit of this stuff

I know that I am finding it tough

I had to go to a dealer on a street corner

Was this the produce of some foreign farmer?

It was imported for the British market

Advertised as one of their best harvests

I measure out the right amount

It been so long to do without

Some brown sugar for you and me

The best way to enjoy coffee

Newsletter – June 2019

AUTHOR NEWS…. Arthur Dux Bellorum e-book price promotion is running from 1st – 5th June – download your copy now!

Kindle & Paperback Link i-books, kobo, nook, other link
Welcome to Poet’s Corner… ANNA JONES

A founder member of the Herschel Arms Writers, Anna Jones is a creative producer, writer and theatre maker – connecting words & images, places & people to create art, ideas & change. 

Her place-based work explores heritage and how people respond and resonate with their local history today. She discovers, celebrates and shares stories from her home & work place of Slough & surrounds and her heart & roots place of Dartmoor & Devon.

Please see a selection of Anna’s poetry on The Innerverse YouTube channel. Please check out her website

Caroline charts the story of 18th century Slough based astronomer Caroline Herschel. The piece featured in an Arts Council commissioned play written by Anna and performed in her house in Upton Road where the Herschel family once lived. It was selected to be performed at the opening of The Curve theatre venue and to celebrate International Women’s Day.  

Our Special Relationship was written in response to The New York Times call for poems in reaction to the 2017 election of Trump and was published on the New York Times website.

Anna Jones at the Innerverse

Join in at The Innerverse every last Wednesday of the month at The Herschel Arms in Slough. This poetry, spoken word & comedy night has just marked its first year Innerversary and these films were made as part of these celebrations. This regular open mic night is a welcoming community of poets/lyricists /MCees/wordsmiths/spokenword artists/comics

The Innerverse is especially encouraging of first-time performers as we know the nerves and courage it takes to perform.

Anna is currently directing and producing an outdoor performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream to celebrate and mark the 80th anniversary of Windsor Theatre Guild.

Celebrate 80 years of Windsor Theatre Guild this summer with our outdoor performance of Shakespeare’s most enduring and enchanting play A Midsummer Night’s Dream. BOOK TICKETS

Bring family and friends, food and fizz to the beautiful private settings of Foxleigh Grove where we will be conjuring up midsummer mystery and mayhem.

Join fairies, lovers and our passionate players so that, like Bottom the Weaver, you can be moved, maybe even transformed, by the magic of theatre.

Picnics from 6.30pm, show starts at 8pm July 4th, 5th, 6th & 11th, 12th, 13th.


Lady Howard of Tavistock
 
I’m Mary with a story, which many a girl could tell,
Of the men you love, and those you don’t, who condemn us all to hell.
 
My own tale is a cursed one, that’s told from days of yore
Five hundred long years I’ve travelled, across the wild Dartmoor
In a ghostly ghastly carriage made from the bones of six dead men
It carries me nightly and forever to Oakhampton and home again
Betwixt the strike of midnight and the dawn’s first cock’rel crow
From Fitzford House near Tavistock to Oak Castle I must go
To carry out my penance and fetch forth one blade of grass
Until the lush green mound is bare, my curse will never pass.
 
I’ll begin at the beginning, with the bones of him who died first
John Fitz once lord of Fitzford House, our home now with me cursed
Daddy John inherited a vast fortune, but our fortune was brief
It drove him insane and set my path: an eternity of grief
The Fitzford wealth it earnt him, more enemies than silver groats
He killed friend and foe, his craz’d mind hooked on slitting rivals’ throats
Those who spill it they soon come to learn, blood can’t be washed with gold
I found him slashed by his own hand, I’m an orphan, nine years old.
 
I’m Mary with a story that many a girl could tell,
Of the men you love, and those you don’t, who send us all to hell.
 
Alone, young, rich and female, I need protecting from false claims
How naïve to think my earthly saviour could ever be righteous King James
Pious bastard sold me like a chattel to the Earl of Northumberland
Was only a child when he tired of me and gave his brother my wedded hand
As abused and trapped and frightened as the poor creatures he hunted for glory
I beseeched mother earth and all of her beasts to remove him from my story
Nature is red in tooth and claw, soon horn and hoof his gizzards gore
Hunter is hunted and dead man two, I’m your prey no more.
 
I’m Mary with a story that many a girl could tell,
Of the men you love, and those you don’t, who drive us all to hell.
 
I ran away with my sweetheart, married in secret to fair Thomas
My life it finally felt full of hope, future brimming with such promise
But you’ve guessed by now that this isn’t a tale where happiness will last
Just a few months of joy ‘til tragedy when my one true love he passed
The pain and grieving will never stop for my dead man who went third
Was still in black weeds and just sixteen when forced to wed John Howard
Hid from him my every penny: “Sir do you not love me poor?”
This stayed as unknown as the causes of death of this dead man number four.
 
I’m Mary with a story that many a girl could tell,
Of the men you love, and those you don’t, who take us all to hell.
 
I rue the day I met my final husband Sir Richard Grenville
Used fire and fists to harm me, locked me up against my will
Star chamber found him vile and violent sent him straight to Lydford Gaol
On escaping he revelled in torment and terror on a far much larger scale
When brother turned against brother and England she was bleeding
‘Twas turncoat rich warred for both sides as general and was leading
Parliament ‘gainst royals and vice versa ’til no troops were left alive
This traitor, Skellum, Gren-villain is the bones of dead man five.
 
I’m Mary with a story that many a girl could tell,
Of the men you love, and those you don’t, who doom us all to hell.
 
I’m way past the point of white weddings now, I’ll only take a lover
Although as a wife I’ve truly failed, I try and be a better mother
Head home to Tavistock with George my boy, but me and luck don’t mix
The fates they deal my last mortal blow and make him dead man six
My heart and earthly body breaks, soul taken, no longer my own
I’m cast as a black widow, with a black dog to match, in a carriage made from bone.
 
Betwixt the strike of midnight and the dawn’s first cock’rel crow
From Fitzford House near Tavistock to Oak Castle I must go
To carry out my penance and fetch forth one blade of grass
Until the lush green mound is bare, my curse will never pass.
 
Legend is not kind to females, especially when bold, brave and beautiful
It warns all girls throughout all time to be decent, dull and dutiful
I’m a woman with a story, but aren’t all our sex damned as well?
Leave those men and your life behind you my dear, come and ride with me to hell…
 
Anna jones ©2017

Newsletter – March 2019

Author News

Well, after nine months of research, plotting, writing and hand-wringing, the fourth book in my A Light in the Dark Ages series, Arthur Dux Bellorum, is finally good to go. I’ve formatted it for e-book (on a variety of platforms) and paperback. I love the cover, and feel the Fates (as the Romans would have it) smiled on me the day I saw Gordon Napier’s stunning picture, entitled ‘Arthur Dux Bellorum’ on deviantart.com.

My cover designer, Cathy Walker, added her magic and the end result is a cover I can be proud of. We decided to let the whole picture cover the page, and not block-out the bottom to conform with the previous covers in the series.

Rather than bore you with self- praise (lol), I decided to throw the gauntlet to my keen proof reader and critic partner, Linda Oliver, to tell it from her perspective. She has been on board since book one, and quite honestly, I would have given up, racked by self-doubt, a long time ago if it wasn’t for her support and emailed kicks-up-the-backside. Writing can be a lonely business…

My buy links are: Paperback

Amazon Kindle Universal

Apple i-book, Kobo, Nook, other

First, catch your… writer – by Linda Oliver

I caught my writer on an online fiction forum. Tim had set out his idea to write a series of novels about how life changed for fifth century Britons after the Romans left. It would end with King Arthur’s death, about a hundred years later.  I did a double take.  I’m still sulking because I lent my childhood copy of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table twenty years ago, and never saw it again, so the topic appealed to me. Also, I was charmed by the epic scale of the Boy’s Own Adventure project. But I thought a novice fiction writer would get lost in it. Tim Walker’s a nice nom de plume, I thought, wordplay on the literary time travel he’s embarked on. I was wrong about that too.

 Tim had posted an extract from the first incarnation of ‘Abandoned’, with a request for feedback. I read, admiring the pleasing balance between narrative and dialogue, the clear point of view and the vivid settings, and then I forgot I was reading for a purpose and my imagination took over. I enjoyed the idea of Marcus Aquilius, a young character whose father had been a Roman soldier and whose mother was a Briton, a sorceress in the eyes of some. I could see him torn. Should he view the departure of a Roman legion as an opportunity to advance himself, or a cause for dismay? When his mother gave him a tunic on which she’d stitched her own design, he was touched, but took it off so that his men wouldn’t see him in it, which reminded me of me, taking off my knitted bonnet with its chin strap at my gate. Not in recent times, obviously.

Linda Oliver lives in a beautiful corner of Britain – the Yorkshire Dales

 When I finished reading, I was smiling, but I realised I’d noted a few pointers and had a strong urge to look up the number of people living in Britannia at this time. I’ve always had a weakness for seeking demographic insight. So there I was, shimmying down into the role of invited busybody. This writer deserved praise because the story set out clearly, in a varied manner, what was happening in the wider Roman Empire, in the town and in the family of Marcus Aquilius. Its complexity opened out gradually. And then the characters sprang into action. So I told him all this.

But there were questions. Once I’d become a regular sounding board for Tim, we discussed issues related to style. Would the screenplay style in the early version of ‘Abandoned’ be suitable and sustainable for a series? That’s a lot of externalising, heavy going for writer and reader. And how should the dialogue sound? I accepted the characters are statesmen and scholars, as well as soldiers, in this version of the past. They need to articulate developed ideas, despite the likelihood of them swinging a sword through their enemy before the end of the same chapter. And who is it for? Adult and young adult readers?

 As the series has progressed, every novel has taken on a slightly different style, and the military leaders focus on different regions of Britannia. The protagonists also bring contrasting back stories and personal qualities. The second book in the saga, Ambrosius, is about a character with a vision for his homeland, one who chooses to pursue it, whereas the other leaders have responsibilities thrust upon them. They are all the standout individuals of their generation. They’re not cosy,  spending their lives wearing a groove in The Devil’s Highway and Ermine Street, driven to drag hesitant lads to confront foreign raiders, or usurpers in their midst. They are the characters making hard decisions when there is a plague to be contained, or taxes must be raised to feed an army.       

The novels reflect Tim’s knowledge and interest, and his ability to bake the chewy plots that keep me reading. The latest instalment,’ Arthur, Dux Bellorum’, out now, is no exception. Readers of Uther’s Destiny will find the story unexpected from the start, and Merlyn and Artorius continually find the challenges ahead throw up unpredicted twists. The noise and energy of armed conflicts drive the adventure, and one of the features of a novel with such an array of characters is that we reader knows they won’t all make it to the next instalment of the saga, no matter how familiar they may be. So that keeps up the tension for me.

 I can’t guarantee I haven’t noticed that a gas poker has been introduced in a roundhouse, or a woman married off to her uncle, but I think I’ve raised all the issues I felt a need to raise. In fact, that’s why I’m in this newsletter. When our esteemed author tapped out a fate worse than death for a character in one of those last minute strokes I’ve learned to expect from him just before a book’s launch date, I set out a reasoned argument why they should be spared, based on continuity, gender power in the novel (I know), and demands of the plot. So, out of gratitude for clemency being shown to an imaginary woman, I’m showing myself ‘front of house’.

 Yes, I’ve loved helping on this project, and the more time and thought I’ve committed to it, the more I feel invested in the series. It’s an accessible interpretation of history, a possible version of a mysterious era of great fluidity, and I found it an informative as well as an entertaining read. My greatest wish was that the eponymous hero should get out of the novel alive… now, that would be telling.

Welcome to Poet’s Corner – Mary Parris

I grew up in Slough, Buckinghamshire, with a shillelagh in one hand and a pen or paint brush in the other. From an early age I started writing little ditties and creating odd paintings. I was lucky to have travelled extensively and lived for a while in California and various other places. However, family ties brought me back to Slough which had then moved to Berkshire!!

I enjoy trying new things (as long as they are legal!) be it Morris dancing, Salsa, Tai Chi. You name it, I’ll try it.  I sang with a West Indian Steel band for a number of years, studied various art forms including Zentangle, Batik, acting, folk art, and poetry which I enjoy the most.

Whatever pops in my mind hits the paper. Silly, sad, romantic, strange, wherever my mood takes it. My paintings and writing have been described as ‘quirky’. I am happy with that. I like the idea that I can dance to the beat of my own drum….

DO NOT SEE ME…

walk as not to know me.

shush. do not see me.

do not glimpse

or make our eyes meet.

I am a whisper of life

dancing on tip toe,

leaving no footprints

to catch me.

I move stealthily, glide so i do not

tremble the waters,

stir the heavens, tempt the devil.

I feel I cannot breathe

trying to control

spirit that emanates from me.

trying to stay hidden.

I am a whisper of life.

dancing on tip toe.

leaving no footprints

to catch me.

if there is a god,

I do not want to wake it.

if there is a Satan

I do not want to tease it.

ignore me. leave me be.

I can carry no more.

I am forsaken from joy.

what sins are upon me

that I fear each new day

will strike a deeper blow

within my heart

that already bleeds its love.

if there is a god,

why is he not kind to me?

cradling my soul.

or is it that he has twinned with

the fallen angel

to torment me.

generous with his maladies,

touching those I love

with his demon fingers.

my thoughts cry,

my tears cry. my heart cries,

my pain, my soul, my life cries.

enough, enough, you bastards.

you have forsaken me.

I will forsake you.

you have burned me enough.

I will believe in no one

but myself.

I will pray to no one

but myself.

I will defy you.

we will defy you.

you do not see me.

I will not see you.

I am a whisper of life

dancing on tip toe,

leaving no footprints

to catch me.

Mary Parris – 26.9.17

THE MODEL

Did I say I’m a model?

I love to preen and pout

and if the money’s generous

I’ll get my tutu out.

I don’t ‘ave o levels

not even an A you see

but I can boast a prefect’s badge

and an amazing double D.

I’ve modelled for the camera club,

was a pin up in 2008,

I did topless for the paper sun

but me photo did not rate.

I was queen of the night in Benidorm,

did some shoots in Wigan town,

then me tan got overloaded

and I went an orange brown.

Me face is quite unique

they say, and me hair’s like

golden honey,

and though I get a little bored

I just think of the money.

I look good in my pink tutu

with my curvy figure eight,

tho not in me fleshy tights

as I’m a little overweight.

and tho I am a model

I am brainy as well.

I do walk ons at dart shows

and pose in bikini’s in Bracknell.

I’ve got a big show Sunday

the best I’ve had so far.

I’ll be sitting on a mini

in Slough’s Herschal Bar.

me mum is excited

tho me dad thinks it’s funny

but I like being a model

cos I like the easy money.

Mary Parris – 30.1.2018

NEXT!

Next time I see you, I will come to your table and say hello.

That’s if my shy, nervous heart will let me.

Or maybe I should just stay in the background, worship you from afar.

But next time you may not be alone and my chance shall be lost.

I imagine you are one of those ‘new men’ all metric, meditation

and mindfulness, whilst I am more of a pound, shilling and pence

kind of girl and next to modern models of makeup, botox and buttocks,

I’m more your Betty Rubble than Betty Boop,

Your Bette Davis than Bette Milder. 

Ah, but next time you may pass me by like you did yesterday,

deep in conversation with your phone. 

I stepped aside for you, heart pounding with hope, expectation.

I think you nodded but you really did not see me.

You have never really seen me.

All my smiles and polite conversation lost in the wilderness of translation,

if there ever was any.

Maybe I’ll just stay in the shadows, me and my aching heart

and forget about this enchantment and yearning for you.

And so, what next?

Next time, hopefully the thrill of you will have eased, softened, ebbed away. Maybe.

…Maybe next time!

Mary Parris – 6.8.18

CHAT FROM THE CAT

Tis I, Cat,

and yes, I saw you sneak in

lifting your heavy foot over me

to climb the stairs in silence.

Your other half sleeping fitfully

unaware of your bawdiness

and debauchery.

Plus, you forgot to feed me today.

Me your ginger mog star

who keeps the mice at bay.

And I don’t like those crunchy morsels

with soft centres.

But did you ask? No.

Your piece of haddock

smelled much more interesting

though you did not have to shout

when I licked it…

But this tom foolery will have to stop.

Waking me in the midnight hour

reeking of who knows what.

Even I have stopped mooching about

for a piece of the action.

All that noisy meowing and yodelling.

And you should know better.

What would the neighbours say?

What would your kids say?

And your other half?

Probably dreaming of the two of you

running hand in hand

somewhere exotic

like Bognor…

And me ow do you think I feel

when you whisper your doings

whilst stroking my tail,

thinking I’m cat napping?

I might be a cat

but I’m not catatonic.

I hear ya, I see ya, I smell ya.

And at your age.

All that beer and belching,

foul talk and farting.

Keep that up and I may move

to the Murphy’s at no 5.

But if you feed me whiskers

or fish I’ll stay.

But stop acting like you’re a tom cat.

You’re a shemale

with your hemale tucked up

cozy snoring the night away.

Go join him.

And if you do go to Bognor

I’d like some fresh eel.

Oh, and by the way,

I finished your haddock.

G’night…   Cat…

Mary Parris – 2019 �=