Success for our Whittlesey Wordsmiths and seasonal stories for your enjoyment.

Photo by Jonathan Borba on Pexels.com

Despite the turmoil of the last year our members have had some remarkable successes and there are more projects in the pipeline.

The Covid restrictions robbed Wendy of the book launch activities lined up to promote her excellent autobiography The Railway Carriage Child.

Tessa has had poetry published in The Poet magazine as has Cathy. Val Fish has had an article published in the Daily Mail also some of her  limericks for which she has an outstanding talent often appear on Esther Chilton’s Blog and in the Daily Mail.

Stephen’s work is now receiving the recognition it deserves, some of his short stories are now appearing in collections both on line and in print. These are Of Silver Bells and Chilling Tales and What Lies Beyond.

Cathy is publishing two more of her books Pond People and The Godmother, they will be available early in December. These join Witch Way and The Year Before Christmas

Phil has published his first novel Killing Time in Cambridge, fresh deliveries will be available early in December.

Also available are the Wordsmiths first two excellent collections; Where the Wild Winds Blow and A Following Wind.

Books published by the Whittlesey Wordsmiths are available locally for collection or delivery at prices  often cheaper than Amazon.

Click here for local deliveries

As it is that time of year again we will be adding a seasonal story or poem each week until Christmas.

Here is one from Cathy, first published in Witch Way and other ambiguous stories with the title Christmas Spirit click on the link to read the story.

LEST WE FORGET – NOVEMBER 11TH

https://thewriteway709.files.wordpress.com/2020/10/eefd6-flanders252812529.png
Flanders Field

With the annual remembrance commemorations drawing near, Tessa has marked this time of reflection with a poem expressing not only her thoughts but those of most of us.

LEST WE FORGET – NOVEMBER 11TH

We travel in our hordes to see that place

Wherein our loved ones fell without a trace.

Marked and blanketed by stones in white

Covering that great plain, that great site.

Farm hand boys and factory workers

Friends from villages, schools or clubs.

Joined together, left their homeland

To lie in fields, decayed amongst the scrub.

Their voices call out still across that plain

Feet are still heard thundering, inches gained.

Hearts were in their mouths, panting fast

As struggling, reached their enemies at last.

The bodies lay before them in the mud

Mingled with the dirt, the crimson blood.

No time to mourn a brother or a friend

Just pass them by, praying for the end.

Guns that deafened now are stilled

Armies of boys and men were killed.

Some now just memories to their kin

Some carried pain through life like sin

They gave us freedom, free to speak

They made us strong not kept us weak

We live in peace and fear no man

They gave their lives so we just can

Tessa Thomson

https://thewriteway709.files.wordpress.com/2020/10/4bde5-flanders_fields_2.jpg
In the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them
(For the fallen, Laurence Binyon)

A place in France

This post is by Sandy Snitch one of our members. A story of a special place, lasting memories and a lost love.

Our Place in France

A short piece, which I thought I’d lost about a holiday home in France.
A llname
The cottage held my heart from the moment I stood on the steps, the cold air almost took my breath away———I. knew this was where I wanted to be, to make it home for  holidays for friends and family. I turned to look at my husband smiling, smiling with his eyes (a thing little seen of late).I knew he  loved it too. We wanted it! Far more than we wanted to pay but with some negotiation, it was ours.
Strange as it may seem, we first encountered the owners at a street cafe , situated in front of an estate agents,who, of  course were at lunch from tweive until two!
I ordered our moules frites in french, we then started speaking in English about the properties we were hoping to view.
The man on the next table spoke, “Ere, a you  English? Red you talking about cottages, were got one to sell. Give you the address, come when you want, we’re aving a bbq , tomorrow,  Come over then, if ya want!”

The following day it was sweltering hot, no air. The car had an efficient cooling system  we followed directions to the area of Southern Brittany, which was really picturesque , with small towns and scattered hamlets, and popping out  from the greenery was the , name we were looking for!
We were too late for the bbq, but that was not  a problem, it was too hot to eat!

It was love at fist sight. Over the years almost every half term, and holiday we were at the cottage. We cleaned, scraped, polished andpainted, everyday there was another job which was tackled with gusto. We pruned trees, built fences, set gardens, made rockeries, and best of all we made some wonderful friends, of various nationalities, who were as willing to help us, as we were to help them.
The climate was great, a micro climate on the top of a hill! An orchard with peaches, pears, plums, apples, chestnuts and hazelnuts, deer in the woodland at the top of our land.

Our Back Garden

We had a vegetable plot, surrounded by roses and soft fruit, and also a very old  well, which anyone could use in drought, and if they were the owners of a sixty foot rope!
We didn’t even think  of other places for the holidays, this was our paradise  I painted almost anything that didn’t move: pictures, windows, white goods. I made quilts, embroidered, all by dim lights and warm wood burners, Terry never stopped using his considerable building skills, renovating old buildings, but best of all I believe he enjoyed building  bonfires!
The wood for the three wood burners was coppiced from our own trees. We used hours cutting, splitting and stacking, ready for the cooler days two years hence!
We enjoyed our thirteen years of ownership, but were sane enough to know that the work never stopped, and as we slowed down, the  four hundred metres of hedge still grew, and the four acres of land still needed cutting,
It was time to  leave
The bustle and work emptying the cottage left little time for regrets,and knowing that the lovely young couple who bought it, walked up the steps and together said,
“This is it, we want it!”
We go back to the area, we go back  to the friends, we pass by the end of the road. But after all these years we have never driven by “our” cottage!

But I still miss it like hell!
We go back to France,   we go back to see the friends we made, we go back to the village, and pass by the end of the road, but we have never  yet gone past the cottage!It still hurts like hell.

Covid 19

We are fortunate to have within our writing group some extremely talented writers and poets, one of our most talented poets is Tessa Thomson.

This is her poem about Covid 19, something that has touched all our lives in some way.

A new dawn

COVID – HOW OUR LIVES CHANGED

Suddenly I’m free to start something new to do.

Suddenly there’s time enough just for me and you.

Suddenly the streets are bare, the thoroughfare is clear

Suddenly we feel the fear and hold our dearest near.

It crawls amongst us night and day forming like a cloud.

Covering great swathes of land, continents in shrouds.

Shifting like the desert sands engulfing all in sight.

Quietly taking young and old fearless in its might.

Lives are lost, hearts are broke, tears seem endless too.

Cloudless days are not enough to see this drama through.

Gathered round our sets at night we see the totals grow.

Watching tales of gallant folk whose lives have been laid low.

Masked and gloved our heros work to stem the tide of loss.

People dying all too soon as if a coin were tossed.

In our sadness, in our grief we care for those at hand.

Helping neighbors, giving now support throughout the land.

Time will come when all will be not normal as before.

For we are changed forever now. For now we know the score.

But in our hearts and with each one together we will know,

That desperate times will see us all put on the greatest show.

Tessa Thomson

There was a young man from…

 

This post is from the very talented Valerie Fish. Not only is Val a terrific storyteller but she is an absolute star in the world of limericks.

writer working on typewriter in office
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

 

We are fortunate to have in our writing group, the extremely talented, Tessa Thomson, who writes the most beautiful poetry which often induces teary eyes round the table when recited at our monthly meetings…

Then at the other end of the scale, there’s me and my bawdy limericks! Well to be fair, they’re not all like that, although members of the clergy do have a tendency to misbehave….  And there’s a difference between being risqué and downright rude, I would hate to offend anybody.

I have been composing limericks for years, I have hundreds of them, enough for a book, which may be one day I’ll give a try.

What is it about a limerick that I find so attractive?  I love that sing-along A A B B A rhyme meter (an anapaestic trimester, I’ve just learnt);  I love the challenge of composing something that hopefully will make people smile, and I like to inject something different into my limericks, get that final twist. Sometimes it will take ages to find the right word, not the poshest or the longest, but the right word; it can make all the difference.

Where do my ideas come from? Sometimes I will have a prompt; in my early days, my local radio station ran a weekly limerick competition, incorporating a place in Cambridgeshire.

This was my winning gem:

This is from a while back, when Eastender’s viewing figures were a lot higher than they are nowadays…

At a fancy dress do down in Bury

Maid Marian had a drop too much sherry

It wasn’t young Robin

Who had her heart throbbin

‘Twas Little John who made Marian merry!

 

I am a regular contributor to the Daily Mail, where it pays (actually it doesn’t!) to be topical.

 

After Phil’s Christmas cracker with Mel

She decided to kiss and tell

To her best mate Lisa

Who gunned down the geezer

In a classic crime passionelle

 

 

And a couple more with a soupcon of Francais.

 

Late for school, couldn’t get out of bed

I’ve been summoned to see the head

In a fait accompli

No detention for me

Sir’s been given the sack instead

 

The wife got wind of our affair

When she came across a blonde hair

In the marital bed

(She’s a flaming redhead)

It’s au revoir to the au pair

 

My poor hubby doesn’t always fare well, I hope he realises it’s ‘what I call’ poetic licence…

 

It was all planned, a cruise round the Med

Now thanks to Covid 19, instead

I’m stuck home on my tod

Whist hubby, the daft sod

Is self-isolating in the shed

 

Last night I dreamt of the Azores
Palm trees, clear blue seas, sun-kissed shores
Sadly paradise
Was lost in a trice

Woken by hubby’s thundering snores

Here are those naughty men of the cloth….

 

With his sermon about to begin

The priest had to suppress a huge grin

Cos just minutes ago

Out the back with a pro

He’d committed a cardinal sin

 

Tired of living a life of vice

She went to her priest for advice

‘You must renounce your sin’

He said with a grin

‘But one last performance would be nice’.

 

Forgive me, father, I concede

I have sinned in word thought and deed

With Sister Theresa,

She begged me to please her

The poor girl was in desperate need

 

Followed by a few random risques…

 

The best man was proposing a toast

But he just couldn’t help but boast

‘Today’s stunning bride’

He drunkenly cried

‘Was yesterday’s notch on my bedpost!’

 

I just couldn’t believe my eyes

I have never seen such a size

There was no topping

Her melons, so whopping,

She waltzed off with ‘Best In Class’ prize

 

Under the boardwalk of Brighton pier

A drunken encounter cost me dear

I gave him my all

Up against the wall

The little’ n’s due early next year

 

Said the dentist, clutching his drill,

‘Now just open wide and sit still,

First a tiny prick,

That should do the trick,

You won’t feel a thing – but I will!’

 

 

I’ll finish with a nice clean one for all you animal lovers out there, I know we’ve got at least two here in Whittlesey Wordsmiths.

 

Lay quivering in his bed

Blankets pulled over his head

‘Whizz bang and pop,

Please make them stop

I’m waiting for walkies’ he said

 

I hope you have enjoyed this small selection of my work, and in these troubled times have put a smile on your face.

A link to Tessa’s blog:

https://tessathomsonpoetry.wordpress.com/page/1/?wref=bif

 

Valerie Fish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

POETRY PLEASE

This post is another about favourite poems, Jan Cunningham shares some of her favourites and a fond memory.

Pam Ayres
Pam Ayres website Pam Ayres (picture credit Pam Ayres Website)

 

My go to Poet (ess? who knows these days) is Pam Ayres.

When the black dog visits, when I wished I’d never got up that day, when everything goes wrong, when I keep dropping things to the point I’m screaming —-sitting down and reading a few of her poems soon has me  smiling, then giggling, often  laughing out loud and I’m cured—- for now.

Her poems are down to earth, about the every day, the small things in life, she is observant, witty and poignant. I cannot choose just a single poem, so I’ve picked two which I think demonstrates her range:

 

CASHED AT THE CASH POINT

 

My Grannie was coshed at the cash point

She had only just entered her pin

When out came the dosh

And down came the cosh!

But Gran, not a gal to give in …

 

Turned round and kneed her attacker,

Saying,” Buster, you’re  making me nervous!”

The machine on the wall,

Having witnessed it all,

Said: “Thank you for using our service”.

 

7Am Procession

Poor  old babies, row on row,

In the day care joint they go,

Strangers tend them, fill their tummies,

Tuck them in instead of mummies.

 

There is one particular poem, whilst not being a favourite, haunted  me for years because of the childhood memory it evoked and because I could only remember the first four lines. This poem my Dad would recite to me when he was shaving. I would curl up in his big armchair with wooden arms and he would have his shaving mug on the mantle piece above the black lead stove and looking in the half moon mirror would lather his face and begin reciting:

 

The Sands of Dee

By Charles Kingsley

O Mary, go and call the cattle home,

And call the cattle home

and call the cattle home

Across the sands of Dee

The western wind was wild and dark with foam,

And all alone went she.

 

The western tide crept up along the sand,

And o’er and o’er the sand

And round and round the sand,

As far as eye could see,

The rolling mist came down and hid the land:

And never home came she.

 

‘O is it weed, or fish, or floating hair –

A tress of golden hair

A drowned maiden’s hair

Above the nets at sea?

Was never salmon yet that shone so fair

Among the stakes of  Dee.

 

They row’d her in across the rolling foam,

The cruel crawling foam,

The cruel hungry foam,

To her grave beside the sea,

But still the boatmen hear her call the cattle home,

Across the sands of Dee,

 

I sat mesmerised.

 

Jan Cunningham

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Observations of Life on Holiday by Gwen Bunting

Before we had the Corona Virus, before we were all locked down and isolating Gwen wrote this piece about a recent holiday. Holidays seem like distant memories now.

group of person sitting inside cafe le dome
A meeting of strangers Photo by Elina Sazonova on Pexels.com

 

On a recent journey I could not help but find people’s behaviour fascinating.  Some being friendly; others reserved; and others downright aggressive.  As the journey progressed observations became very much clearer.

The mum and daughter syndrome: the mother commenting to me, that now she was a widow she could enjoy all things SHE wanted to do,  as opposed to her late husband’s  dominance.  Little did she know she had spawned a duplicate of her husband; a daughter!  The daughter was an aggressive type, would barge her way to the front of any queue. Wow betides those poor souls in her way.

The quiet man who gave off the aura of ‘don’t speak to me’ was an interesting personality.  He had a partner, whom conversed with him, but his sole intention at the dining table was to eat as much as he could in the time allocated. His partner was quite different.  Nice friendly person.

The very tall man, his wife was bent over due to a back problem. Preventing her falling by constantly holding her hand.  How dedicated can one be:  Never had a chat with him, but on leaving the group he warmly shook your hand saying ‘it was a pleasure to have met you?’

The sad lady who had dementia and caused a lot of anxiety for her friend, who had not realised she was so confused.  Her wanderings around the various hotel lobbies very early in the morning asking when the coach was leaving and having her bags packed.  She realised on some occasions she was confused.  It made life difficult for her friend, most of the group supportive when needed.

The gentleman who requested they change his bottle of freshly squeezed orange juice as this one contained too many pips.  He got his way after many arguments.  His face was not dissimilar to a beautiful pencil drawing on display in one of the hotel lounges.  The said ‘orange juice man’ was extremely tall and as we were in Viking country I would have enjoyed researching his family history.

The various nations with whom we shared our hotels with were varied.  One nation in particular took it upon themselves to attempt to clear the buffet of all foods.  Hiding  loaves of bread, butter pats and boiled eggs into every orifice that was available to fill.  Life is very interesting when you are travelling and gives me lots of ideas to write stories about.

Favourite Poems

A month or so back members of the Wordsmiths shared their favourite poems with the group. As an occasional feature we will publish their individual pieces, this one is by Val Chapman.

Not so much a song but more a poem

There wasn’t one particular poem that I could claim to be a favourite, so I decided to do a bit of research and still couldn’t come up with one that I enjoyed above all others.

It was when I was singing along to myself, as I do, that it occurred to me that songs were, for the most part, poems, set to music.

As I am one of those boring people who like their poetry to rhyme, otherwise it’s prose, this naturally opened up a lot more availability, which I am not altogether sure was a good thing, as I am hopeless at making decisions.

 

However, these two struck a chord (if you pardon the pun) for different reasons.

 

“It would never have worked,” I like as it seems to be taking the reader down one path, then veering off down another unexpected one, and finally, down yet another.

 

“Love song,” I can barely get through without a lump in my throat. I am sure this resonates with so many of our, though perhaps more so, the previous generations when feelings were often hard to express.

— Just a quick note,   I don’t know whether it is just a northern expression, but the words “I was tight” indicates a somewhat over-enjoyment of an alcoholic nature! —–

This one in particular came as a bit of a surprise, as they were both written by the same very talented writer, known more for her humour, and this poem is an unexpected offering from her I think.

 

They were written in 1978 (love song)

1987 (It would never have worked)

By the wonderful Victoria Wood.

Victoria Wood.jpg

Victoria Wood (Photo Credit Wikipedia)

 

IT WOULD NEVER HAVE WORKED

 

It’s over,

We missed the bus,

Nice idea, but not for us,

We didn’t click, let’s make it quick and say goodbye,

Don’t hold my hand,

And don’t demand a reason why.

No loving looks, no fond regards,

Tonight was always on the cards.

 

I wanted champagne and roses,  ’cause that’s the way I am,

You gave me vimto,

Tinned carrots,

And spam.

 

I wanted love to come and knock our blocks off,

But even Venus takes her cards and clocks off.

Your idea of foreplay was to take your socks off.

Things would never have worked

 

Rapport is a thing you just can’t manufacture,

You had your pin up girl, I couldn’t match her,

I didn’t want to, it was Margaret Thatcher.

Things would never have worked.

 

I wanted moonlight, romance and all that silly tosh,

You wanted gerbils,

A whippet,

A wash.

 

I wanted love songs but you wouldn’t write them,

My earlobe nibbled, but you wouldn’t  bite them,

You’d only fart and then attempt to light them,

Things would never have worked.

 

We’re not compatible,  let’s not get blue here,

At least we see each other’s point of view dear,

I like big, hunky men and so do you dear,

Things would never have worked.

 

LOVE SONG

 

Made your breakfast this morning,

Like any old day,

Then I remembered and I threw it away

 

I found an old photo,

In a kitchen drawer.

You by the seaside,  during the war.

You were laughing at something,

With the wind in your hair,

You were ever so slim then, and your hair was still fair.

 

And I wanted to kiss you,

But you always laughed,

And I wanted to tell you,

But I felt daft.

 

Still, we got married,

I was tight,

We both got embarrassed, played rummy all night

 

I remember the baby, and it’s sticky out ears,

But I can’t single out things,

Over the years.

 

On Woman’s surgical, sat by your bed,

I knew that I loved you,

But I never said.

 

I brought you Black Magic,

And they said you’d died,

I had a cup of tea there,

Came home and cried.

 

Got to go back to the hospital to collect your things,

Your nightie, your glasses, your wedding ring

 

Made your breakfast this morning,

Like any old day,

Then I remembered  and I threw it away.

 

Thank you Val, I find that every time I read Love Song I get something in my eyes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Virtual Meeting

a formal dressed man faces a video conference screen, but hidden under the desk he is wearing spotty boxer shorts and red clown shoes
 

    There is always one.                   (picture credit https://www.leading-edge.co.uk/loving-the-virtual-world/)

 

 

 

Thursday saw The Whittlesey Wordsmith’s first virtual meeting via Zoom. Stephen Oliver kindly hosted the meeting Cathy Cade did much of the organising thank you very much Cathy and Stephen.
Considering it was our writing group’s first attempt, as slightly older members of society, it went remarkably well. A few members were too unsure of their technical skills to try it. Gwen had problems seeing us and being seen, Sandra had synchronisation problems with her device or signal. Six of us started the meeting, five managed it right through.
The meeting followed its usual form in cyber space as it does in real life, plenty of wondering off topic and anecdotes but as usual an interesting conversation. Jane found it easier as she was able to see everyone’s faces and could lip read more easily.
It is was not as good as a real life meeting but it was nice to chat to friends and see their faces. Hopefully we can address the technical issues before next month, if we need to have another virtual meeting.

Reading whilst isolated

During this period of isolation and library closures it is worth knowing that not only are there books available to read for free online.

https://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/residents/libraries-leisure-culture/libraries/library-online/ebooks

https://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/free-online

But if you enjoy a good read and would like to support your local U3A authors.

We have the following available on Kindle at modest prices, if you have Kindle Unlimited I think they are free.

Click on the link under the pictures to order

9781916481701
Order the kindle edition

A following Wind book cover front page white writing
Order Kindle version of A Following WInd

Witch Way
Order Kindle edition of Witch Way

 

Wendy’s fantastic autobiography is not available on Kindle but the payperback is available at Parkers, (they are open) or from Amazon with free delivery.

The Railway Carriage Child front cover2
Order the Paperback of The Railway Carriage Child