Bordeaux Bay

Bordeaux Bay
Watercolour by Tony Taylor http://www.paintingbreaksguernsey.com

Friday, 29 April 2016

RABBIT RABBIT RABBIT ...

There’s a Fifties Hollywood film called Harvey in which the protagonist, played by James Stewart, is haunted by a giant rabbit of that name.
Suddenly, I too seem to be haunted, not by a rabbit but by names of rabbits’ dwellings.
Rabbits live in burrows and warrens and by some queer synchronicity both words keep cropping up in my life at the moment.
 

The Priaulx Premature Baby Foundation was founded some years ago by triple World Touring Car Champion, Guernsey-born, Andy Priaulx and his wife, Joanne, who are currently fundraising for The Burrow, a property near Southampton General Hospital, whose purpose is to provide accommodation and support for Guernsey families with premature and poorly children.

My wife, Jane, and her wonderful lookalike friends, Mary Reynolds ("The Queen") and Guy Ingle (Prince Charles), who frequently appear together as a “Lookalike Royal Family” have offered their services in a spectacular gala fund-raiser at St James in St Peter Port in Guernsey and Jane and I have been chatting excitedly about it during the past few days. 
Listen to their hilarious radio interview with 
(Interview starts 1 hour 41 minutes into show.)


The “rabbit” theme continues because the other current hot topic of conversation in the Fleming household is the forthcoming premiere of Peter Kenny’s wickedly funny play A Glass of Nothing which will take place at a venue called The Warren at the Brighton Fringe. 



Sadly, I can’t give you a sneak preview of Peter’s play, but here are several of the “Lookalike Royals” ahead of their appearance at the Priaulx fund-raiser, A Right Royal Affair.
 
"The Queen" Mary Reynolds arrives at Guernsey Airport

Jo and Andy with "Charles, Her Majesty and Camilla"
Broadcaster Jenny (right) with Princess Anne Lookalike

The Queen and I (and Camilla too!)
"Camilla" and "The Queen" refuelling in our kitchen




Thursday, 28 April 2016

WHAT A FELINE

For my good friends Peter and Lorraine, both cat lovers, I’m reprinting a poem about a haughty fellow I sometimes see when walking in the Bordeaux area.



OZYMANDIAS

A grey cat sits in a doorway,
sphinx-like, disdainful, elegant,
in velvet-textured light
that warms him like a throne.
 

He fascinates me.
I name him
Ozymandias, Cat of Cats.

To him, I am irrelevant:
neither food-source, threat nor prey.
Nine cat-lives in a ninth of mine,
his gaze dismisses me:
deems me invisible.

You will stare
till you turn to stone
or shatter like glass,
Cat of Cats,
Ozymandias.

First posted 1/10/2014

Monday, 25 April 2016

DOME SWEET DOME

In a recent radio interview I remarked that nowadays I seem to write ever more gloomy poems, and it's true: my output of cheerful or even humorous odes seems to have become almost non-existent as I've grown older. 
Maybe it's the ageing process, or reaction to the horror that greets us daily with each news bulletin, or perhaps it's simply the persistent melancholia that seems to go hand in hand with being a poet.


















AFTERMATH

Outside the Domes, fires rage unchecked.
We watch them burn, without concern.
Out there, gangs forage and compete:
factions at war, they win or die,
although, to winners, small reward.
They will become extinct in time:
our Leaders say it shall be so.
Warfare will quell them, or disease;
starvation, as the stubborn earth
refuses nurture, offers stones
instead of nourishment or bread,
or when the curdled rivers dry
and poison taints lakes, ponds and springs;
till fish rot, belly-up, and stink
and every apple hides a worm.
Then, no live thing will flourish there,
outside the Domes, beyond the Shield, 
except those creeping tongues of flame
that seem to stir some latent thing
within us, some primeval need
to seek, in those wild silhouettes,
an image of the world before
the Cataclysm and the Domes,
when we were simply humankind,
when we and Nature intertwined.

 

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

SECRETS AND LIES

How much do we really know about our nearest and dearest?
A great deal, certainly, but it’s equally certain that there may be secret compartments of the heart that are kept locked, their contents sealed until, perhaps by chance, much is revealed.
This short poem had some success  in a UK competition
last year.
















REVENGE    
   
Perhaps there is an explanation, dear,
but you’re not here to set my mind at rest.
Death puts a stop to questions, so I fear
this one must stay unanswered or addressed.
Among your things I found a photograph:
it must be recent, you look hardly changed.
A stranger smiles beside you as you laugh,
your hair and solemn features disarranged.
In looking closer I can ascertain
you two are linked: there is a recklessness
about your pose, while he is cool, urbane.
It pains me so, this photograph, and yes,
our marriage wasn’t perfect: I would stray,
but, posthumously, you’ve made sure I pay.




Sunday, 17 April 2016

RE PETER

My friend, the writer Peter Kenny, paid another visit to the island recently and, as always, we met for coffee and conversation.
Peter grew up in the beautiful Guernsey Parish of St Martin and currently resides in Brighton where he works as a commercial writer.  
A talented and busy man, Peter is in constant demand and recently flew to Chad in North Africa to take part in a major charity project.
In between assignments, he writes poetry, stage-plays and libretti and is a familiar face at the Telltale Press readings that are currently providing a platform for new literary talent in the UK.
He’s made repeated visits to Guernsey over the years and seems to gather fresh energy and impetus from his brief sojourns here.
 


His latest play, an hilarious dark comedy entitled A Glass of Nothing, premieres at the Brighton Fringe on 17th May and stars Beth Symons, Dylan Corbett-Bader and Kitty Underhill.

For tickets click here.  


Peter Kenny's most recent collection of poems, The Nightwork, an intriguing blend of old and new material, may be obtained from http://anothersun.blogspot.com


 

Thursday, 14 April 2016

FACE TIME

When we sorrow for our war dead, not only on Remembrance Sunday, but frequently nowadays on a daily basis, as British troops increasingly find themselves engaged in foreign conflicts, it's easy to forget those poor souls who, having been grievously wounded, return to their former lives damaged, both physically and mentally, beyond imagination.
Having to face Time and push on forward through the remaining years of their allotted span with disabling or disfiguring injuries must be a challenge, in some ways, far greater than that of marching off to war in the first place.






















JIM

He did not die a hero, Jim.
Afghan shrapnel did for him
what no deft surgeon can undo:
one ear, pristine, as good as new,
just one ear where there should be two;
a crater where his eye should be,
but one eye left so he can see
the mirrored image he must greet,
a grotesque creature, incomplete,
that children stare at in the street.


Monday, 11 April 2016

PLANE SPEAKING

When I was a child, like most boys, I enjoyed making and flying paper planes. 
You’d get a piece of your mum's notepaper or even a page from a jotter with scribbles on, then fold and refold it until, hey presto, you had something aerodynamic. 
Long after my childhood ended, some genius copied the basic design and called it Concorde, but that’s another story.  


PAPER PLANE

                                 He lets fly a paper plane,                                
from his window airstrip, high
into gentle light that seems to welcome it.

The folded-foolscap floats and glides.

His bright eyes follow its haphazard flight:
first right
then left,
erratic as a butterfly.

Down, down it drifts,
a pleated page of insubstantial words.

It dips and stalls,
then on warm updrafts, rises again
briefly
like a despairing cry.

Friday, 8 April 2016

MICE THRICE

We’re all familiar with the nursery rhyme, Three Blind Mice, a disturbingly Gothic tale of disability, intimidation and cruel revenge.
The rhyme and its accompanying music is said to date back to 1603 and and is attributed to one Thomas Ravenscroft, whose imagination clearly was of a macabre nature.




 I discovered this charming picture online. It’s the work of Joanne West and you can see it and many more fascinating images at http://joannewestdesign.com 




BLIND MICE

Three blind mice don’t think twice
they just run.

Three blind mice roll the dice
just for fun.

Three blind mice. Knife-slice thrice.
Now there’s none.

Monday, 4 April 2016

RADIO ACTIVE

Last week I appeared as a guest on BBC Radio Guernsey’s ever-popular mid-morning show, hosted by my favourite broadcaster, Jenny Kendall-Tobias.
JKT has long been a champion of the arts and is a fervent supporter of local talent, so it was a great pleasure to see her again and to have the opportunity to read and discuss poetry and writing in general.
During the show Jenny read brilliantly, sight unseen, my poem Cycle and I’ve since had a considerable amount of feedback about it.
The poem was written when my wife and I were living in a small Tuscan village a couple of years ago.
One morning I saw a young man riding a push-bike with a small child ensconced in a bucket-seat behind him.
It reminded me of the time I lived in Edinburgh and my own daughter was very young. 

Then, I used to transport her around in a similar fashion.
Some things never change.
Everyone who’s been in touch agrees that Jenny’s delivery of the poem was superb and a number of you have expressed an interest in seeing it in print.
So here it is.












 








CYCLE
 

The living world sails by, complete:
strange images engulf her; sounds
pour into her; she is caressed
by air, safe in the old bike seat
behind her father, the firm mounds
of his buttocks against her chest.

A young child, perched like a nestling,
in the metal-framed basket-seat.
His firstborn.  A small miracle,
the proud father thinks his offspring,
and to him, in the noisy street,
she clings, tight as a barnacle.

He pedals hard, pursued by time:
like roulette wheels, the bike-wheels whirl.
A breeze, around her soft hair, sings
with lyrical, unreasoned rhyme.
Euphoria engulfs the girl:
her arms reach out like stubby wings.