Bordeaux Bay

Bordeaux Bay
Watercolour by Tony Taylor

Thursday, 16 March 2017


Some years ago, before moving to the coast at Bordeaux Bay, I lived in the Parish of St Peters, one of the few remaining rural parishes.
I had, then, two young and energetic terriers that were always eager to be out and about, and many evenings, after dark, we'd set off together to explore the fields and green lanes of the area.
There is a heady sense of freedom and exhilaration to be had in being out with dogs by moonlight, rejoicing in the rich night scents and reveling in the sense of space and solitude that darkness affords. 
One evening we saw the magnificent owl that prompted this poem.


In a green lane in St Peter’s
near midnight, under a full moon,
a pale owl
flies across my path, silently,
then low
over dark fields to the tree-line, hunting.

I turn
to watch his tireless sweep
over dumb ground, mist spreading like a shroud,
till I lose sight of him,
and coldness, creeping,
turns my leaden footsteps home.

In bed, near daybreak,
I jerk awake, heart pounding,
mindful of accelerating time, moments eaten up,
of golden, soundless wings,
a questing eye;
sharp talons reaching for my heart.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017


Everybody loves a circus but the modern variety lack many of the primitive thrills of the so-called "good old days" when animals were often cruelly exploited for the public's amusement.



He steps the cage, measuring and remeasuring,
pisses in each corner to establish ownership.
Later, when the lions enter
it will be to his lair and he will be Master.
Tonight, an audience, enthralled, will watch
lions and a mortal man
perform their strange ballet
and, breathless,

Imperious, he cracks his whip, strides to and fro.
His calm assurance dominates the beasts.
The lions crouch on bales of hay
or leap through painted hoops
at his command.
He searches their tawny eyes
for hints of danger.
They are his subjects. The cage, tonight,
his realm.

Sunday, 12 March 2017


There's something incurably romantic about stolen moments that make films like Brief Encounter such unforgettable classics.
Indeed, throughout history the lure of a clandestine love affair has led many an otherwise reliable spouse astray. 
The Soul classic, The Dark End of the Street, written by Dan Penn and Chips Moman, is an unforgettable song based on just such an illicit situation.
Click here to listen to the incomparable James Carr's 1967 recording. 


A waitress brings ice-cold white wine.
at cafe tables people stare
at other people, but I see
nobody else. I am aware
only of your proximity.
The wine, your eyes, your voice combine
to charge, with fearful hope, this hour   
that flies away from us too soon,
its lightness close to perfect joy.
For us, this stolen honeymoon
that our commitments must destroy,
fades like a transitory flower.

Thursday, 9 March 2017


"One good thing about music, when it hits, you feel no pain"  Bob Marley.

The first time I heard Reggae music I thought it wonderfully life-enhancing: a joyous, feelgood rhythm that seemed to bring sunshine into even the dullest day.
For a few years, I immersed myself in its warm, pulsating glow.
Tracks by Peter Tosh, Jimmy Cliff, Toots Hibbert, Bob Marley, Burning Spear and the incomparable Gregory Isaacs, played on my portable cassette machine when I went  training in the Craigantlet hills, back in the days when long-distance running was an integral part of my life.
Click here to listen to Bob Marley's One Love then enjoy the short story that follows.   


One love! One heart! Let’s get together and feel all right ...
Shel mimed Bob Marley’s words to the musical ringtone of  her fiancee’s mobile as the distinctive jingle sounded and Dave began jabbering to his mate about arrangements for the away-match that weekend.
One love!  Shel smiled and thought about the boys she’d known before. She’d thought herself in love with some of them but not like this, not like it was with Dave: one love, one love forever.
They’d been together three years: a passionate affair that now had reached the mellow stage. Their lovemaking, wild and reckless in the beginning, had become a familiar, twice-weekly ritual. Shel was content, but sometimes thought wistfully of those raunchy sessions up on Mortlake Hill in the old ruined barn. It was blissful up there, high above the town, their own private Eden, where the air was crisp and invigorating, far from people and prying eyes. God, they’d made the earth move, she and Dave, back then.
Saturday came, she packed his sandwiches, promised to have his favourite supper ready when he got home. He was meeting his mate, Del, at the station.
Three o’clock, Shel turned on the radio: the match was live. She thought of him, just another anonymous face in the crowd, but special to her, so special. One love!
Just thinking about Dave made her tingle. Bored, and on impulse, she decided to hike up Mortlake Hill to get some air: perhaps recapture the magic that seemed somehow missing from their life together nowadays.
The afternoon was warm and Shel, dressed in fleece and jeans, set off up the Hill. Approaching its summit, she felt exhilarated and full of energy. As she passed the ruins of the old barn, she glimpsed movement: a figure, no two figures, half-clothed, darted out of sight behind a stone facade.
Shel smiled. Young lovers in our old love-nest, she thought. Bet I know what they’ve been up to, and who can blame them: it’s the perfect spot for a bit of the old al fresco. I’ll tell Dave: get him hot and sexy for tonight.
Snatching out her smartphone, Shel called Dave’s number.
After a moment’s wait, a familiar ringtone sounded in the ruined barn.
One love! One heart! Let’s get together and feel all right ....

Saturday, 4 March 2017


The story of Icarus is a well-known and intriguing one.
An ambiguous fable open to differing interpretations, it is seen by some as a cautionary tale about the disastrous consequences of vainglorious ambition. 
The poet W H Auden famously used it in his celebrated poem, Musee des Beaux Arts.       

I am falling from high
but they do not notice.

The air, through wings
that promised much,
keens like a mourner.

Creeping ants below
to shepherd,

I fall unseen.

will dream it later.

I have no time
to scream.

The water is
hard as stone.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017


I have an elderly acquaintance whom I bump into occasionally, usually when my social antenna fails me and I’m slow to take avoiding action.
Rather like Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner, he fixes me with a beady eye and proceeds to talk at, rather than with, me.
He, for He is this gentleman’s sole topic, would seem to have, or have had, a life more vibrant and enthralling than any other, including my own quiet and unremarkable one.
I find his bragging insufferably tedious and tend to flee at the first opportunity.
He bears a remarkable similarity to Napoleon’s Horse. 


Napoleon’s horse is out to grass
and riles his fellow quadrupeds
with endless tales of derring-do ...
at his approach, they turn their heads
and quickly find something elsewhere
to seem to do till he departs.
Such boastful words exasperate
those whose career was pulling carts.

Friday, 24 February 2017


I was abroad last year when an abortive coup took place in Turkey and for a couple of glorious days it looked as though the dastardly Erdogan might be overthrown.
I wrote this poem, not based on the events in Turkey but instead, about the chaos that usually accompanies events of that kind. 


Since the coup all roles are reversed:
the high are brought low and complain
that prison conditions are grim;
they are missing their daily Champagne
so their thirst, now their bubble has burst,
stays unslaked and their prospects are slim.

Now the torturers, to their chagrin,
are tortured with pliers and shocks
and the State executioners’ heads,  
one by one, incline on the blocks.
Prison guards, now imprisoned, begin
long sentences. Mutiny spreads

through government offices, grey,
where clerks smash their ledgers and flee
to canteens with laughter and cheers,
where the tea-ladies poison the tea,
while out in the street banners sway
and homeless men crouch over beers.

The populace gathers in knots
on street corners and city squares
but nobody speaks of the past
or the future, for nobody dares.
The sound of occasional shots
rings out. The sky grows overcast

and thudding of rotors above
brings black helicopters with guns
while distant explosions illume
the sky like additional suns.
The city has no place for love,
for love has no place in a tomb.