View from the Window

Margie slowly opened her eyes. The curtains were pulled back and she could see a rectangle of grey sky criss crossed by the window frame. Gradually she moved her gaze round to the familiar picture of two little boys looking out of a window. They had their backs to to camera yet it was clear that the bigger one was saying something to the other.

She wondered what they could see. Perhaps some bird or insect. A spider in it’s web. Or perhaps a car had caught their attention. Workmen. Or other children playing in the street.

Playing in the street. Yes, that’s what children used to do. Something told her it didn’t happen any more. But she wasn’t sure how she knew that. Roller skates, hula hoops and skipping ropes. That’s what they used to play. And yo-yos. Yes, she could remember a blue yo-yo. And before that. A red and yellow one.

It was all a very long time ago. Before the boys in the picture were born. She knew who they were. Couldn’t quite bring it to mind at present, but she did know. The names would come back to her; they always did. She might even remember how she knew them.

It was a nice photo, anyway. She liked looking at it. Liked to wonder what they saw from their window. It had to be better than her view of grey sky.

Slowly she pulled herself into a sitting position, pushed back the covers and tried to put her feet on the floor.

“What are you doing, Margie? Do you need the bathroom?” It was one of them, Standing in the doorway. She sank back against the pillows.

Grey sky. The picture. The boys appeared to be looking down from an upstairs window. They were standing with their hands on the window sill. If she could stand up, she might see something other than sky. She pulled herself into a sitting position, pushed back the covers. And paused for a while. Then slowly she began to shuffle towards the edge of the bed.

“OK, Margie. Hang on a moment, Love.” The voice didn’t belong with her thoughts. She stopped moving, confused. Perhaps she wasn’t supposed to get out of bed? Mum had told her off for getting out of bed when she had measles. She only wanted to get her rag doll from the chest to tuck under the bedclothes with her. But Mum had come into the room and caught her half way across the floor.
If she was too ill to go to school then she was too ill to play, she had been told.

But she wasn’t ill now, was she? It was wearing trying to puzzle things out. She laid back. “Right, Margie, Come on then.” The woman was in the room now, coming towards her. “Just look at you! What are you doing?” What was she doing? Trying to look out of the window. Yes, that was it. She wanted to see what was outside. She tried to form the answer into words but the woman didn’t wait. “OK, Up you come.” She took hold of Margie’s hands and pulled her up. “That’s it. Let’s get your slippers on.”

Margie was on her feet but she still couldn’t see out of the window because the woman was in the way. She took hold of Margie’s shoulders and turned her away. “Come on. The bathroom’s over this way.” Bathroom? What did the bathroom have to do with anything? But it was too much effort to protest. Much easier to simply humour her so she slowly put one foot in front of the other in the direction she was steered.
Back in bed and left in peace. What a relief. She was so tired. Why? Why was she so tired? She’d been doing something strenuous, that was it. Couldn’t quite remember what it was but it took all her energy. Mustn’t over do things. That’s what David kept telling her. Mustn’t over do things.

David. David. That name meant something. Didn’t she know someone called David?
Margie opened her eyes. There was a picture standing on her chest. Where had that come from? Who had put it there? One of the boys was telling his brother, “That dog’s called Ben.” She frowned; the dog wasn’t in the picture. How did she know what David was saying?

She pushed herself up on one elbow. She needed to look out of the window. Gradually she managed to move until she was sitting on the edge of the bed facing the window. There was a large tree out there. She didn’t remember a large tree. Where had that come from? How would it fit in the small garden? The boys couldn’t be looking at the tree; it was too high. They were looking down.

David. She would ask David. He would know. She sat there a bit longer then contrived to stand up and move closer to the window. It looked out on to a car park. That wasn’t right. Why was there a car park under her bedroom window? She was still standing pondering the matter when she became aware of someone behind her.

“Hello, Mum.”

A man’s voice. Familiar, pleasant. Warm and yet tinged with something. Not fear exactly. Apprehension? She’d heard that voice before and was annoyed that she couldn’t immediately place who it belonged to. “What are you doing?” he asked.

He had come closer. She turned and saw a strange man reaching out to touch her. “Who are you?” she asked sharply. “Why are you here?”

“I’ve come to see you, Mum. Why don’t you get back into bed – you’re getting cold.”

Cold. Yes, it was cold. The sun wasn’t shining and everything looked grey. She allowed herself to be led back to bed, lay back on her pillows and pulled the covers up to her chin, shutting her eyes and savouring the warmth and comfort. Images drifted across her mind. Two little boys looking out of the window.

“Where’s Ben?”

“I don’t know, Mum. Who is Ben?”

Ben? Who is Ben? Margie couldn’t think of anyone called Ben. She’d have to ask David, Yes, David would know.

“I’ll ask David, “ she said.

“Mum,” She recognised what she heard in that voice now. It was exasperation. “Mum, I am David.”

“Are you? You’re David? My David?”

“Yes Mum, I’m you’re son, David.”

“That’s nice, dear, He’s such a lovely boy. Look, I’ve got a picture.”

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In a garden

It’s cold and dark
And wet
A winter’s evening
No time for the garden
So I lie in the bath
And dream
And as I laze
Some little imp
– angel or demon, I neither know nor care –
This imp pops by and drops
A missive in my lap
I pluck the scroll
From the lap of my mind
And read
One is nearer God’s heart in a garden
Than anywhere else on earth
Well? Is it true?
The little imp taunts
So I ponder
The sentiment appeals
I once wanted those words in my garden
In the warmth and the sun
It’s so much easier to know that God is near
I feel like the sunshine brings me closer to God
Yet something tells me
God is everywhere
Fresh air and sunshine
Prepare my heart
For acceptance.

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I remember that God who made the heavens and earth
Made me
God, the spirit of life
Died for me
My soul was made in eternity
One small breath of God’s being
He gave me parents
That I might take form
And live on this earth
Made of its dust
Yet living and free
I remember long long ago
I walked on this earth when Jesus was here
Yet I don’t remember my physical birth
The earliest thing that I can recall
A swing in a doorway
Yearning, longing, stretching
To reach the sink with my toes
Significant thoughts – what else?
My story
Lost love, escape, freedom to grow
At last, recognition, return to my place
Being who I was meant to be
All through my childhood
I never grew into me
Once knowing Thee, but not by name
Thy name, I would not own
I am Thine
Not knowing Thee
I could not know myself
A need to communicate, connect with some other
Some part of me that wasn’t where I was
I didn’t know to call it prayer
I had forgotten Thee
I can look back now and see the hints
But then, I only knew the earthly me
That yearned
Yearned for my lost self
Yearned for Thee
Longed for fulfilment
Was never satisfied
I looked for all the wrong things in all the wrong places
Sensed the life I was living wasn’t who I was meant to be
Something was missing
The vital spark
Lord, how could I forget Thee?
But thou didst not forget me
Thou didst come and find me
My earthly self was scared
And ran
An awesome thing to face the Living God
No, not me
My earthly self
Tried to deny my heritage
But I am Thine, Thou dost prevail
And bring me home

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Modern morals and motivation

As I mentioned the other day, I recently read Josh Glancy’s column where he is basically re-evaluating the need for a moral code in a post Weinstein world.

He suggests that men are examining their conscience and history with uncomfortable results. It would seem that what they were once quite happy with they are now concerned about.

It reminded me of something I read a few weeks back by a female writer – don’t now recall who it was – she was protesting against someone saying that rules have changed as to what is or is not acceptable. It was NEVER acceptable, was her stance.

Well, what was never acceptable to the recipients of unwanted behaviour, was in fact accepted by the majority of society. Public ideas of what is right and wrong have changed. Whether that is because individual opinions have changed or just because of which opinions are being heard, I wouldn’t like to say.

Being interested in motives, it all makes me wonder what it is that informs people’s individual ideas of right and wrong. Why are men now uncomfortable about things in their past that never used to bother them? Do they now really think that what they did was wrong or are they simply afraid of people crawling out of the woodwork to make accusations?

Somehow, it doesn’t seem quite fair to retrospectively judge people by standards that weren’t in force at the time. And yet the other side of the coin is what about justice for those who suffered precisely because those standards were not in force?

Well, there’s plenty more that could be said – indeed, the first draft of this post did ramble on a lot more without anywhere near covering the subject – but I think it had better wait for another time.

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A little something for someone

No, I don’t go in for New Year’s resolutions – asking for trouble! In terms of inviting disappointment and making extra opportunities to beat oneself up, that is.

But I can’t deny there’s something about the time of year that provokes certain ways of thinking. Suggestions for things I could do.

I’ve a feeling that more specific possibilities are more likely to acted on than very vague things like let’s post more stuff on blog. In the last couple of posts I’ve mentioned two such ideas:
Writing a little something for someone|
Commenting on things I’ve read.

The post, Joy, was both; a little something for India inspired by having read her column. I turned the page and came across Josh Glancy talking about the need for a moral code. And there’s food for thought there but maybe for another time.

Just now I want to write a little something for someone called Kathleen. I’ve no idea who she is; maybe she’s a fictitious character. Or maybe she’s someone you know. Maybe she’s actually reading this!

I don’t know why
Your name came to my mind.
But somewhere in the sky
Or blowing in the wind
Some angel thought
With news of you
Came passing by my way
And though I do not understand
I trust the instinct
And reply
You’re not alone
I heard your cry.

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Continuing yesterday’s theme of why don’t I …?

I was flicking through the Sunday supplements and thinking well, why don’t I comment on what I read? Actual comments as in words on the screen rather than just the internal dialogue in my head.

I was reading India Knight; she was commenting on the bad effects of social media but the sentence that caught my attention was where she said that what she wants for the coming year is more joy. It struck me because it seemed slightly incongruous to be reading about joy in a secular publication. We hear plenty about joy in church but very little in everyday life.

Of course, there’s Isaac Watts’s Christmas carol, Joy to the world, the Lord is come. No doubt the first few words are still familiar to many but I wonder how much attention is paid to the following lines, Let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare Him room.

There in words written in 1719 is the answer for India and anyone else like her who is looking for more joy in 2018.

Jesus came for everyone. Joy is meant for everyone. But to benefit from what’s on offer we have to receive it, make room for it in our busy, cluttered lives.

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Princess in her tent

Yes, look closely and she is there even if a book and her dad are rather stealing the show!Well, here we are, New Year’s Eve and feeling the need for some sort of round up of the year.

In terms of blog posts, if I get this posted before midnight, then it will be the ninth of the year as against eight in 2016. Hardly a prolific output!

And it sets me thinking, not in terms of resolutions, but of why don’t I…

Seeing as there’s only about three weeks of the year that contain three or more consecutive days of not writing anything then why does so little find it’s way to the blog? Most of what I write from day to day is not for public consumption, I suppose. So why, when the computer’s on anyway, do I not write a little something for someone?

I joined a writers group in January so have written something for the group each month. And I write an article for each issue of the Parish Magazine and a sermon roughly once a month.

The highlight of 2017 was being licensed by the Bishop as a Reader – lay minister in the Church of England. That marked the end of a three year period of study and the writing of academic essays. Surely the ideal chance to get back into a more creative mode of writing. But somehow it hasn’t happened.

Why not?

I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was eight years old but for most of my life haven’t had time to do much about it. Now it’s no longer lack of time I have to wonder whether it’s lack of inclination.
Or encouragement?
Or inspiration?
Or just some mysterious force I’ve not yet identified!

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Here and There

Halo of golden curls
Dancing in the sunlight
One small face, enrapt
Longing to get it right.

Tiny hands hold fast
The tub of magic stuff
And clasp the plastic wand
Is wishing quite enough?


Thin strands of wispy grey
Straggling in the shadows
One old face distraught
Reflecting all life’s woes.

Mental hands grasp vainly
At thoughts that slide away
And clasp at empty words
With something more to say.

Out there in the sunshine
Persevering lips
Channel aspirations
And in the magic slips.

Carried by the currents
Floating, oh so high
Youthful shining bubble
Aiming for the sky.

Behind the shaded window
Rheumy eye still sees
That sparkling bouncing bubble
Passing over trees.

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Still dancing

Elspethdancing girl


My artist friend is now 96 and has dementia but a few years ago she gave me some of the doodles and sketches she used to make in preparation for her major works. This is an extract from one of them.

Somehow this dancing girl just captures Elspeth’s own attitude to life.

You can see some of her work here.


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The wonder of life – potato skins

Oh the wonder of potato skins
Rooting on my window sill!
The tuber, meant to sustain new life
I have eaten.
Its atoms, calories, molecules
Are part of me.
All it has left are the skins I discarded
With their green patches and
Growing eyes.
All I give in return for my plunder
Is water.
Water and access to the sunlight.
And I watch
Day by day and hour by hour
As the growing eyes put out roots
Each time I return
To the kitchen sink
The roots are longer
The Water needs topping up
More and more frequently
And I wonder
How does the water turn
Into these white threads of root?
And the leaves
Well, we have a name
We call it photosynthesis
And think we understand.
But again, I wonder.
If I want to separate hydrogen from the oxygen
In water
I need a chemistry lab
I need an electrical current
Can the potato skins extract
These elements to use
In constructing its own molecules?
A mere potato skin?
Does it take carbon
From the nothingness of air?
Oh, the wonder of potato skins!

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