Love, Friendship, & London

2000-10-21 15.10.32

Up steeple – St. George’s, Doncaster

My husband tells me I didn’t half stare when I first clapped eyes on St. George’s. Compared to the churches I had seen back home, St George’s is large, impressive, and practically a cathedral, at least as far as looks go. It’s actually a Minster. (1)

“Back home”: which home? I have now lived in England 33 years, compared to 27 years in the states. I have no intentions to move back to America. A visit would be good: I haven’t been back for over seven years.

As far as love is concerned, I can honestly say I love both my countries. Both seem to be following an unfortunate path re. telling citizens to go back to where they came from. (2) Both have leaders who I do  not  trust to do anything save what’s in their own interest: theirs, and their rich friends.

As more and more British friends go on their holidays abroad, I’m pleased to say that we’ll be going to London for a day out some time soon. I love London, but our main purpose is to meet up with an American couple who have been my friends for over 34 years.

I can’t / don’t need to pack anything for a day trip, but I have been doing things like checking my camera is working okay, and – even more important – I know where it is.  Wondering what the weather will be like; we’ve had days of scorching heat, only to be followed by comparatively chilly, rainy days.

Whatever your holidays may be – three weeks in Rome, a fortnight in Greece, or a day trip to the Big Smoke – I wish you safe travelling, and that you enjoy the day(s).






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Slim(ish), 60, and Mad

Hi Mom

Al, close up & personal (& in a tree)

Slim(ish), 60, and Mad

Hi Mom:

Yes, I’m still here, despite myself. Yes, I am (comparatively) slim again, thanks to the Depression Diet, and a lack of appetite. Feeling that I look like myself again: that is, the person I was pre meds.

So, what are you up to? I like to imagine you and Dad messing about & having fun together. Dad, have you taught her how to ride a bicycle yet? How is Taffy the dog? And the cats?

I chose the title, “Slim(ish) , 60, and Mad” because I wrote one titled “Fat , 50,& Mad” a few years back. At the time, both definitions of the word “mad” applied. These days, though, I’m mainly mad in the “box of frogs” sense, not the angry one. I am calm (most of the time), and happy. But not too happy.

Mom, you are a measuring stick of my froggy madness. If the only reference I make to you in a day is to say “Hi, Mom” to the picture of you – with one of our cats – then I’m doing well. If however I keep calling out to you, pleading for you – dead 7 years, and not the most empathetic of people – to somehow help me, it’s safe to say I am up shit creek, sans paddle.

I’m feeling extremely grateful at the moment, after a far too long period of anxiety, & depression. Grateful to the Beloved, for sticking it out & being there for me. Grateful that none of my friends appear to have written me off as too difficult to deal with. Grateful to the cat, whose death was unexpected, and who I still miss very much.

Grateful that I’m still alive, and that – here comes my vanity – I lost that weight. Please note, I am not suggesting that anyone try out the depression diet. Weight loss was the silver lining in some of the dark clouds which kept following me.

I’m using a new (to me) way of dealing with the three chattering monkeys of death, depression, & that old wheeze, anxiety. One day I need to devote the blog to what works for me & what doesn’t.

For now, once again it is writing, and the Beloved, who pulled me out of the bog of anxiety. I’m happy, but not too happy. I hope you smile as you read this. You have such a lovely smile.

Love you Mom,


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Clocking On

2012-03-23 07.55.22

Winter at our house, 2013 It’s not Michigan cold, but it’s still cold

There once was an old man who lived in a two up, two down in the Balby area of Doncaster. He was a bit of a hoarder, at least when it came to timepieces. Carriage clocks, star burst clocks, clocks with Mickey Mouse on them, Big Ben clocks, Small Ben clocks, Just Ben Clocks. Clocks that featured hourly bird calls, clocks that sounded like Stephen Fry, cuckoo clocks, grandfather clocks. He also had a large collection of watches: a Morris the Cat watch, a Spiro T Agnew one, watches that needed new batteries, as well as watches that would never tick again, no matter if they had the freshest batteries this side of Greenwich.

A large, freshly sharpened scythe leaned in an alcove corner. The old man claimed it was for demonstration purposes only. In a long lifetime, he had only used it twice.

If you asked the old man how he managed to sleep in a house that ticked so very loudly, he would reply: “Sleep is for tortoises.” This was a Doctor Who quote, for the old man was a fan.

At the back of the clock/watch room hung a wooden clothes airer. Hanging from it were 17 long, hooded white robes. These were his going out clothes. At the moment, he was inside, and wearing a faded Blur t-shirt, and baggy jogger’s bottoms, as well as a black cat on his right shoulder.

“Tis the season to eat holly, dum de dum de dum, de dum dum deee,” the old man carolled to himself as he removed one of the robes from the airer.

“Holly is highly poisonous, you do NOT want to eat it,” the cat said.

“If you think I’m going to start taking gardening advice from a feline, you have another thing coming, Alexander Pushkincat,” the old man replied.

Alex the cat attempted to wash his bottom without leaving his master’s shoulder. This did not work out, for reasons which were obvious to both of them. The cat tumbled off, landing with all four feet on the floor, by way of around two dozen clocks.

“Tongue!” the man said loudly. Instantly, Alex pulled his tongue in. Like all cats, he had a horror of looking foolish.

As a way of changing the subject, Alex said, “Aren’t you running a bit late, Father? “

The old man’s full name was Old Father Time (OFT). Only Alex called him Father, mainly because Father Time had rescued Alex when he was a kitten from certain death on the M1.

The New Years tended to call him “Old Times”, which was both rude and inaccurate. For starters, OFT was a singular being, not a plural. There had once been an Old Mother Time, but she had left him to study how to become a minor Hindu deity. It was so long ago, only OFT remembered her.

“Stuff and nonsense!” replied Father Time. “It’s only Saturday.”

The cat cleared his throat, coughing up a hairball in the course of it. He looked at the Streetcat Named Bob watch on his furry right wrist, and said, “No it isn’t, it’s Monday. The New Year starts tomorrow.”

“So what?” said Father Time.

“So what is that we can’t afford for you to miss your best paying gig of 2018/2019,” the cat replied.

“But my timepieces are all saying it’s Saturday the 29th,” said Old Father Time.

He picked up the nearest one, an hour glass with sand that changed colours when you turned it over.

It didn’t display the date, unlike his collection of digital clocks, each of which displayed the time and date as 18:00 and 31/12/2018. The Bens and other mechanical clocks agreed with the digitals.

“Crumbs,” said OFT. “At this rate that snotty-nosed kid will be seeing me out, and not vice versa.”

Father Time was referring to 2019. Meeting the latest New Year was one of the downsides of his job.

“Here,” said Alex. As he was holding a pamphlet in his mouth, it came across more as “Mmhhgh.”

“What’s this then?” said Father Time, taking the pamphlet from his cat. “Buses to London from Doncaster?”

“The trains will be rammed, by the time you get to the station. Do you have much to pack?”

The bus driver on the 18:45 Doncaster to London National Express bus was not a happy man. He didn’t mind driving a bus: in truth he quite enjoyed it. The passengers, though, were another kettle of strange fish. And today, New Year’s Eve, he’d met the strangest fish of them all.

The old man had a valid ticket all right, but what was with the cat on his shoulder? And the – the bus driver gulped – big stick with a curved blade on its end?

“What do you call that?” the driver demanded, pointing at the black cat who was sitting on Father Time’s shoulder.

“Well, his full name is Alexander Pushkincat, but I usually just call him Alex. It saves Time.”

“And what about that bloody great stick with its bloody great knife?”

“It’s called a scythe,”said Father Time.

“And what’s it for?” The old man paused, considering the question. “Chastisement.”

“There’re laws about knives, you know, I can’t let you on with that bloody big thing.”

“It’s not a knife,” said Time. “It’s original purpose was to cut the grass in a meadow.”

Not a knife?” the driver asked, then paused. “Oh, the hell with it. I retire in a fortnight. He narrowed his eyes, and said, “Do you promise not to sythe any of the other passengers?”

“Scythe,” Time corrected.

“Whatever. Welcome aboard. Don’t sing the song, keep your scythe to yourself, and we’ll get along just fine.”

“Which song?” Time asked, puzzled.

Alex the cat leaned toward Time’s nearest ear, and whispered. “Oh,” said Father Time. “That song.”

“Humming counts, you know,” said the driver.

“Whatever,” said the old man. But he did stop humming, and by way of a three hour nap, troubled the bus driver no more.

“It was 22:00 by the time the bus reached London. “We’re running a bit late,” the cat said nervously. “I’ll get us a cab shall I?” replied Father Time.

It took around 20 minutes for Father Time to flag down a cab. “I need to get to the Jools Holland show, right quick. Can you help?”

“Maybe, if you can promise me two things.”

Such as?” the old man said

The driver held up his right thumb. “First of all, keep your scythe to yourself.”

“Oh jolly good,” said Father Time. “You know what a scythe is.”

“Second, “ the cabbie said, holding up another finger, “no being car sick. Oh, and try and keep the shedding to a minimum,” he added, looking at Alex.

Alex the cat saluted him, and said, “I’ve just had a hairball, so I should be okay, at least for the duration of our journey.”

“Okey dokey,” the cab driver replied. “Let’s go!”

After a false stop at Television Centre, the cab drove on to the London studio where Jools Holland’s “Hootananny” was filmed. “Excuse me,” said Father Time, as he attempted to queue jump approximately two dozen pipers, kilts and all. “Terribly sorry, ma’m,” he said to a middle aged black lady whose sparkly black dress and matching boa screamed “diva”.

“Thank you,” said Alex with a bow.

“Goodness me, a talking cat!” You must be from Doncaster.”

“Why so?” asked Time.

“Because that’s the only place I know which has sentient animals,” she replied.

“Well observed,” said Alex.

“What about you,” said the woman looking at the old man.“You supposed to be dressed up as Father Time?”

“Indeed,” said Time.

“Jools is expecting you. He’s been expecting you for at least an hour. The man/s a bit twitchy with it, if you ask me.”

“Come, Alex,” said Father Time. “Time and tide and buttered eggs wait for no man.”

“Or cat,” replied Alex. “Though I’d rather have buttered tuna. Especially if you skip the butter.”

“Um, I don’t think they had any tuna in the green room,” the woman said.

“Never mind, friend cat,” said Father Time. “All we have to do is find Mr Holland, prance about a bit, then it’s breakfast time. How do you fancy a full English, Alex?”

“Will the eggs be buttered?” asked Alex the cat.

“Not necessarily. Should they be?”

While they were having their conversation about breakfast, Time – complete with shoulder riding cat – was making their way to the stage.

“Old Father Time!” said Jools Holland. “Where have you been?”

“On a bus, then a cab,” replied Time.

Jools shook his head. “2019 is already here.”

“No he isn’t,” said Time.

“Okay, the man playing 2019 is here. It’s still 2018 – for another hour.” Jools Holland said, adding, Nice scythe.”

“Thank you,” chorused Alex and Time.

“And our brass?” asked Alex.

“Goodness gracious, a talking cat!”

“To quote Mae West, ‘Goodness has nothing to do with it’,” said Alex.

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The Shamanic Bear Who Was Troubled By Owls

There once was an old bear who was a shaman for the creatures in the Cantley area of Doncaster. Though he was a powerful shaman – some said, the most powerful in all of the borough – one winter, he was plagued by owls.

Owls in his medicine bag. Owls on his prayer mat. Owls in his wardrobe. Owls in his hat.

That Solstice, he visited his great friend Rabbit, who lived in nearby Bessacarr. Rabbit was also a powerful shaman. Some said she was even more skilled than Bear. Certainly, even Bear agreed that she had a much better hedge and nest side manner than him, and she was frequently consulted by many of the animals in her area. However, some Bessacarr creatures were too posh to be seen consorting with a shaman. Consequently, Rabbit met them in the less swanky cafés and pubs in central Doncaster. Rabbit’s clients often tried to disguise themselves by wearing big, woolly hats, or dark glasses. This fooled no one in The Minerva, the Tuck Inn, or The Horse and Groom,who knew a Bessacarr hedgehog when they saw one.

The day that Bear called round, however, Rabbit was at home, giving her front room a good fettling, when she heard a single, loud knock at her door. Instantly, she knew it was Bear. Nothing to do with psychic powers, it was more a case that there were few large, wild creatures in the hedgerows, gardens, and patios of Bessacarr. The knock was far too loud to be a vole, or a shrew, or a yellow-throated mouse.

“Come in, Bear,” said Rabbit, putting down her favourite dusting wand – the one with the tip covered with moleskin, and wren feathers – and gesturing in the direction of the tea things in the kitchen. Instantly, the kettle boiled, then floated over to the teapot, warmed, and then filled it.

“You’re early.”

“Did the bones predict me?” asked Bear, as he ducked his head and entered Rabbit’s small bungalow.

Vole bones were Rabbit’s favourite divination tool. Bear said this was so Rabbit could scare her clients, many of whom were indeed voles. Rabbit said it was so she could shout, “Roll them bones!” when making predictions.

“I haven’t done any divination since Tuesday. No, I knew you were coming because the owls have been so bad.”

“Perhaps I should make a single called “It’s Raining Owls”. Because that’s what it feels like.

“And don’t you dare shout, ‘Hallelujah!’” Bear added, glancing at his friend.

Bear took a seat on the huge, translucent prayer mat which Rabbit kept ready especially for him. Rabbit owned more rugs than chairs, although she did have several pieces of doll furniture which were used by shrews who weren’t too proud to be seen entering a shaman’s house.

“Tea? Coffee? Cocoa? Punch?​ Eggnog?” asked Rabbit, as the tray glided in, then settled in front of Bear.

“Tea, please. You think of everything, my friend,” said Bear, reaching for the chunky Doncaster Rovers mug which he used whenever he visited Rabbit.

Bear was a huge Rovers’ fan, in every sense of the word. A few years ago, he was banned from attending home games for a year and a day, after he roared on to the pitch, and threatened to turn some Ackrington Stanley fans into wolves, and ferrets, and traffic wardens. This was considered a bit much by the referee, who was himself a grey wolf, as well as the human staff at Keepmoat Stadium, It was an improvement over the time he threatened to eat an entire seating section of Scunthorpe United supporters.

“Not everything,” said Rabbit. “For I do not know why you are so troubled by owls.”

“You’d be troubled, too, if you were me.“

Bear opened his cloak. A barn owl flew out, and roosted in Rabbit’s cast iron chandelier.

“How many does that make so far today?” Rabbit asked.

“Seventeen. Three in the coal scuttle, seven in the yurt, two in the post along with a copy of ‘The Watchtower’ – “

“The Jehovah Witnesses have started to include wild fowl with their publications?” exclaimed Rabbit. “Most organisations tend to favour address labels, or pens. Although ‘Hedgerow Monthly’ have started to send dried herbs, and holed stones.”

“I didn’t say the Jehovah Witnesses put the owls there. The magazine just happened to arrive around the same time.”

“And the others?” asked Rabbit.

“In the bath.”

“What, all five?”

“They were only little owls. It was still a tight squeeze: I was having a bath at the time.”

Rabbit thought Bear looked a bit damp when he arrived at her bungalow. Now that she looked more closely, Rabbit could see that he was still covered in bubbles, and foam, and that what she’d assumed was a new cloak, was actually a large, purple bath towel with a picture of Bear’s power animal, the Yellow Rubber Ducky.

“But that one’s a barn owl,” said Rabbit, who knew her owls, as she looked up at the chandelier.

It was hours before teatime, so the owl was still asleep.

“I am aware of that,” said Bear, who knew more about owls than he cared to. “It wasn’t in the bath, or even my home. It only turned up just before I shifted my towel.”

“First things first,” said Rabbit.

She twitched her nose, and an old tin bath filled with hot water materialised in front of the coal fire. Rabbit gestured at Bear, who slipped off his towel, and stepped into the tub.

“Raddox, Lush, or supermarket’s own brand?” Rabbit asked.

“Lush, please. They don’t test on animals, and all their products are vegan,” said Bear. He sighed with pleasure as a couple of bath bombs appeared out of thin air, dropped, then fizzed, into the hot water. The room was filled with the scents of lavender, basil, and rosemary.

“This is the life,” said Bear. “You really do know how to make a house, a home.”

“Women’s magic?” said Rabbit, with a moonlit twinkle in her dark eyes.

“The best kind,” he replied with a smile.

It was a standing joke between the two friends, who had once been subjected to a lecture on male/female polarity by a drunken Gardenerian in the Druid’s Arms in Bentley. The Wiccan ended up being turfed out by a pair of ceremonial magicians from Dinnington, who couldn’t hear themselves drink.

Once Bear had finished his bath, and was well wrapped up in a large, comfy towel with “The Warren Hotel, Kensington” embroidered in fancy script in one corner, he moved his mat nearer to the fire, so his fur could dry. Bear was heavily involved with green issues, and disapproved of blow dryers.

Rabbit took her mug of mint tea, breathed in the scent, and said, “Now, tell me about your owl problem.”

“Our owl problem, you mean?” asked Bear, as an eagle owl flew out of his towel.

“Amazing,” said Rabbit, as the eagle owl joined the barn one, who was still sleeping on the chandelier. “I’ve had that bath sheet since it was a flannel. It’s never done that before.”

The bungalow at 3 The Burrow, Hedgerow Manor, Bessacarr, was filled with hooting, feathers, and bird poop. It was twilight, and the owls had been awake for nearly half an hour. They were circling overhead as best they could in such a low ceilinged house, occasionally bumping against the chandelier, the bookshelves, and each other.

“I’m sorry,” hooted an eagle owl, to a great horned one. “Get out of my way, you long-necked dooffus!” screeched a screech owl to all the other owls.

Bear was asleep in the sitting room, oblivious to noise and owl shit alike. In the kitchen, Rabbit was meditating, in front of the coal fire which she used to brew her potions, medicinal, and otherwise. So deeply entranced was she, that Rabbit didn’t feel the spark which transferred from the flames, to her brown fur. Her nose, however, began to twitch.

“Burnt toast,” she muttered, followed by, “Burnt me!”

She hopped up, returning to the present time, and place, a bit more quickly than was usually deemed sensible among medium-sized mammals who followed the path of the shaman. Rabbit began ruffling through her jars of herbs, until she found the one marked “Feverfew”. One sandwich of butter and fresh, green herbs later, she felt able to face the day – or rather, the evening.

“Avaunt, foul fiends of migraine!” she added for good measure, sticking two claws in the air, in the traditional manner of all South Yorkshire mages.

“Did I smell something cooking?” said Bear, as he yawned, stretched, and accidentally knocked a little owl from its flight path.

“Only me.”

“I don’t eat friends.

“Which is why it’s just as well I haven’t introduced you to this salmon,” she replied, as a platter of fish materialised in front of Bear.

As her friend ate, Rabbit said, “We may need to bring in a specialist.”

“Who? Father Christmas?” Bear looked up, and bits of fish scattered from his jaws. “I do hope you’re not going to suggest we call in the owl service.”

Rabbit’s whiskers twitched. “Of course not. This isn’t a children’s book, this is reality. Besides, I much prefer Lloyd Alexander’s ‘Chronicles of Preordain’.”

“So what did you have in mind? ‘Rhyme Time’ at Central Library? A large net? Or perhaps a taxidermist?”

“It’s a who, not a what,” said Rabbit.

Bear clambered onto his back paws, bumping the ceiling, and scattering owls as well as his towel.

“Not him! By my drum, anyone but Arnold!”

Rabbit washed her ears while Bear raged. She knew it was going to be a long evening, and just hoped that the china cabinet, and teapot collection, survived the storm. They weren’t magical, but they were genuine Clarice Cliff.

“Arnold! That miserable, nasty, mangy old mage? I’d sooner ring for a plumber!”

“You don’t have leaky pipes, you have owls. The worse case I’ve ever seen.”

“So you have a regular stream of clients who are troubled by owls, do you?”

Rabbit was silent. In fact she had quite a few clients with owl troubles, but those problems generally revolved around the owls’ eating habits, not their appearance in letterboxes, and baths.

“Arnold is Doncaster’s greatest authority on banishments,” she reminded Bear. “And the poor dear has dandruff, not mange. I’ll ring him, shall I? No time like the present.”

Crossing over to a small occasional table, she lifted a brass bell.

“Must be on speed ring,” murmured Rabbit, as a dapple grey Shetland pony appeared on her hearth rug.

“Owl problems?” he asked Bear, shaking his blonde mane.

“Who asked you, you mangy old excuse for a pony?”

“I did,” Rabbit said quietly.

Bear shut up. There were many rules among the members of Doncaster’s magical society, and, despite his many years as a Yorkshire shaman, he by no means knew them all.

Arnold did know them, Bear realised. Silently, Bear admitted that he was no match for Arnold, not in a month of Sundays. Still, Arnold stirred up a long leash of uncomfortable thoughts, including hunger, in Bear.

Once the big shaman had calmed down, Arnold began asking Bear a series of questions about Bear’s eating, sleeping, and hibernating habits.

“Hibernation! So that’s what’s making me so cross. I should have gone into hibernation two months ago. No wonder I’m so tetchy, I’m sleep deprived!”

“And why is that?” Arnold asked.

Bear paused, then muttered, “I forgot.”

“A bear who forgets to hibernate is a lousy excuse for a bear, not to mention a shaman,” Arnold said crisply, “How could you forget? Yearly hibernation is part of your innate nature.”

“I don’t know … I tried setting an alarm clock, last spring, but it got broken.”

“Oh really? And how and why did it break?”

Bear hung his head.

“I threw it,” he said softly.

“Oh ho!” exclaimed Arnold. “I hope you didn’t hit anyone else with it. An alarm clock can be a dangerous weapon if it falls into the wrong hands.”
“Keep your mane on, it was only a small clock. And no one was hurt … well, several geese did threaten to sue me, but they calmed down eventually.”

Bear sipped the fresh cup of extremely hot tea which Rabbit had brewed for him.

“I used to use post-it notes, but they kept getting stuck to my fur.”

Bear paused then said, “What does all this have to do with my owl problems?”

Arnold closed his eyes, and stood on three legs for awhile. Eventually he opened his eyes, and said, “What function do you think these owls serve?”

“The power that makes me want to smash my head against a wall?”

“But their purpose,,,what is it?”

“To spread poop and feathers and noise throughout Yorkshire? How the hell would I know?” Bear asked bitterly.

“The poop and the feathers go without saying. But their purpose; think about their purpose.”

“To annoy me?” Bear suggested.

Arnold shook his mane. “Try, instead, to remind you.”

“Of what? The only thing I’ve forgotten this winter is …” He paused, then said, “Stars of my mothers! I’d forgotten to hibernate. These owls were meant to be living, breathing reminders of that, and I not only forgot to hibernate, I forgot a crucial point.”
“Which was?” the pony asked.

“I don’t speak owl,” said Bear.


Arnold was the first to leave Rabbit’s house, pleading a hair appointment. Rabbit silently slipped a bottle of anti-dandruff shampoo into the pony’s bag. She also hugged the old shaman, and wished him a lovely Solstice.

“And a peaceful Solstice to you, too, my dear,” Arnold replied.

Bear was slow to leave Rabbit’s house for his hibernation cave. Eventually his bits and bobs, such as his towel, were packed away in his bag,

“Straight to bed, mind, when you get back home,” said Rabbit.”I don’t want to find out that you’ve stopped up for a fortnight just so you could shout at the telly every time someone mentions Brexit,”

Bear looked sheepish, but didn’t reply, unless you count the kiss on the nose which he gave Rabbit.

“Blessed Winter Solstice to you, too, old friend,” said Bear.

“And to you. And now, go home!” Rabbit waved her wand, and Bear and his bag disappeared. “I do hope he’s gone back to his cave,” Rabbit said softly. “The last time I tried to send someone home using magic, they ended up in the cheese aisle of the local Sainsbury’s.”


If you’ve read all the way to this point, you’ve presumably enjoyed this little story. Why not buy my books



Bear took a seat on the huge, translucent prayer mat which Rabbit kept ready especially for him. Rabbit owned more rugs than chairs, although she did have several pieces of doll furniture which

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One Shutterbug: Point of View – A Poetic Blog, for Father’s Day

Shutterbug’s delight: Doncaster, 2016ish

This poem was written for my father. I hope he likes it. In its own way, this is one of the most personal things I’ve ever posted.

One Shutterbug: Point of View

shutterbug (n) – “an amateur photographer, especially one who is greatly devoted to the hobby” First recorded in 1940 – 1945

Picture the shutterbug.

For certainly, he’ll picture you:

in a group, in a crowd,

singing out loud,

in chapel, in temple,

in church and up steeple,

on dunes, and on hills,

after bicycle spills,

in the piney, reminiscing,

quite possibly, kissing.

Up steeple – St George’s, Doncaster

And the trumpet does sound

from a blue stereo.

Where to begin?

After taking it

on the chin,

a glider disaster,

international plasters,

that first picture:

why, it’s him!

The gift of an uncle:

a “unchi” says,

Johnny, Ionel,

here, take this:

may it give you

great joy, it is more

than a toy: it’s an eye,

a way of looking,

a history book,

for each picture took

tells a story, or three.

And a white flower blooms

from a blue stereo.

A puff of fresh smoke

from a trusty old pipe,

a friend in common,

and indeed, a first

dazzling meeting

with the beauty

with the smile:

they chat

for awhile.

No points for guessing

how these things proceed.

And a September song croons

from a blue stereo.

A wedding in white,

two different families,

polite, where next

from here?

There’s no chance

of a beer, a dance,

or some wine, til

after the cake, why,

it’s honeymoon time.

And the hammiest voice

in all Michigan

speaks of a brave steamshovel.

Family times

are the shutterbug’s dream:

like a cat with some cream,

the albums fill quickly

with children crying,

and crawling,

laughing, and bawling:

it’s slide shows, and sodas,

pancakes, and stew,

colac, corn bread, too.

And the hammiest voice

in all Christendom

tells of bunnies: flopsy, and true.

The shutterbug’s collection

grows with those kids

who he packs into a car

10 days each year: going

there, travelling here,

in a brown Meteor

with toys, books galore,

the beauty she reads

as the shutterbug drives,

whilst the youngest melts crayons

on the the back of the car,

and America unfurls,

like a flag filled with stars.

Sorry about the crayons – 1960s

And the hammiest voice

in all Michigan

goes down a Hobbit hole.

Come Appalachians,

come DC, come Boston,

and Nashville! Summon

crowds of great aunties,

and uncles, with photos,

through crick, hill

and churches, and always,

reminiscing, with y’alls,

and kissing.

Come Smokey bears

begging, early morning

petrol stations, with the kids,

and the wife, waiting.

On return, the shutterbug’s

sorting, collating, a bin

by his side, once the vacation

has ended,

but never the journey:

with all America,

waiting, always

still waiting.

And black-red-and-white dances

on an old stereo.

He once crossed an ocean:

the skies, the ship’s motion,

ending with the Lady

his parents saw before him.

Now travelling in mind,

in photos, and time,

he’s weathered the longest.

The last leaf,

or the strongest?

And the tenderest voice

in all Christendom

reads through her Bible,

and sings their old hymns.

With his lady – 1970s

I love you, Daddy.

June 2017

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