Bordeaux Bay

Bordeaux Bay
Bordeaux Bay by Guernsey-based artist Tony Taylor

Monday, 10 October 2016


I’ve just returned from several weeks in southern Italy, staying in Bari, Alberobello, Ostuni, Lecce, Galipoli and Otranto, and travelling (or rather, attempting to travel) on the notorious southern rail service, Ferrovia Sud Est (FSE).
Miraculously, Jane and I managed to survive the experience, although I feel it my duty to caution would-be travellers to avoid this rail company at all costs.
Trenitalia, which operates in northern Italy, is an excellent, inexpensive and efficient form of transport that we use frequently, but their southern counterpart, FSE, falls well below accepted standards in the Twenty-First Century. 

Photo by Jane Fleming

Having returned to Guernsey, I’ve been receiving encouraging feedback about my recorded radio interview with Jenny Kendall-Tobias on BBC Radio along with some excellent reviews of my poem, La Gran’mere du Chimquiere, which the BBC commissioned for National Poetry Day 2016. 
 Click here to read one such review and hear the poem.
Due to the terms of contract, I’ve been required to keep the poem under wraps until after the broadcast, but I am now able to publish it.

La Gran’mere du Chimquiere is a 4,000 year old statue-menhir situated at the gate of St Martin’s parish church.  She is thought to bring good luck and fertility to those who place a garland of flowers on her. The poem is written in the imagined voice of La Gran'mere.


old, old stone, I groan with age.

Gran’mere, Earth Mother,
I stand sentry beyond the churchyard gate,
and watch, with sightless eyes,
the snail of human traffic creep along.

I am old and granite-cold: your island’s anchor-stone.

Your fathers’ fathers came to me
to pray, to lay or lift some minor curse:
an endless chain of island men,
one generation to another,

Four thousand years grown old I am. Imagine.

Still they come,
their mode of dress and manners changed,
their supplications much the same:
love, fertility, wealth, happiness, a long life free of pain.

Young children step tip-toe,
lay yellow garlands on my weathered brow,
or proffer coins that glitter in the sun.
They stand before me,
gaze up to my strange Earth Mother face,
and murmur spells as old as time itself.

Rooted here, I listen
as the salt breeze sings of breaking waves,
of fishing boats and lobster-pots,
greenhouses, leafy water-lanes,
smart pillar-boxes, shining blue,
and amber cats asleep
on sun-warmed granite steps.

The soft breeze sings
of that so-lovely town
that climbs up to the sunlit summit of a golden hill,
the dauntless castle and the ragged rocks
where angry currents run.

Four thousand years grown old I am. Imagine.

Islanders, I anchor you.
Primeval, granite, I remain unchanged,
unchanged in a strange world of change.

This gemstone island, Guernsey,
this sea-locked rock whose timeless granite
birthed me,
whose good folk
shaped me,
my ancient magic will protect
and cause to prosper.

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