Bordeaux Bay

Bordeaux Bay
Bordeaux Bay by Guernsey-based artist Tony Taylor

Thursday, 29 June 2017


Some people travel through life like ghosts, choosing to leave behind them no trace of their passage.


He left behind no signet ring,
no wardrobe of old well-worn suits,
in fact, no clue that you could count
to even hint at his pursuits.  
No letters, photographs, nothing;  
no savings book, no bank account.  

The room, where his last days were spent,
is bare, monastic, like a cell:
The mirror where his secrets hide
frames my face now but does not tell
how one can live yet leave no scent,
how life itself can be denied.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017


There’s something magical about motorcycles: a kind of primitive connection between bike and rider that seems to exist only rarely with cars. Perhaps it’s the stripped-down quality in a motorcycle that brings engine and owner into close conjunction. For many, a second-hand Yamaha or Kawasaki is their first independent mode of transport and, like one’s first love, it retains a special place in the affections.
As a teenager I couldn’t afford a motorbike but my best friend, John Simpson, had an old BSA and we had adventures galore on it. I remember us roaring off to the coast at Helen’s Bay on summer days, hoping to impress girls. We wore leather jackets but not crash helmets and imagined we were part of the biker gang in Stanley Kramer’s 1953 iconic  movie, The Wild One.
In more recent times I owned a 750cc Yamaha and rode it on the island and in northern France. A beautiful motorcycle with swept-back handlebars, customised paintwork and a leather seat, it was a pleasure to ride. The roads in Brittany are ideal for bikers, with little traffic congestion and great scenery. Riding a motorbike there makes you feel young again. Nowadays, however, I wear a crash helmet.
Here’s a short tale (just 250 words) about one man and his motorcycle.


Pepsi Morgan thrilled to the power of the liquid-cooled 12-valve engine of his new motorcycle.
The dealer described it as the purest riding experience money can buy. He was right. Pepsi roared down the dual-carriageway like a bullet.
No stranger to bullets, Pepsi had left Afghanistan a month ago: a hero, they told him.  Plain lucky, he reckoned. He’d seen some hot spots but Helmand was the worst, a killing ground.
Like all soldiers he’d become fatalistic. “If the bullet’s got your name on it,” they’d say and, yes, he’d lost mates that way. No amount of caution could save you. He remembered the patrol when Beezer got hit. A lone sniper. A bullet with his name on it, poor sod.
Pepsi had been lucky.  Got home, got out, blew his savings on a brand-new Triumph Speed Triple, the perfect expression of stripped-down, brute power. Right now it felt like a package of pure energy rocketing him into the future.
He didn’t see the delivery truck that came out of nowhere.  The impact was like a bomb exploding inside his head; more powerful than all the bombs in Helmand put together. He was dead before he hit the ground.
The broken motorcycle spun like a roulette wheel on the tarmac. The truck came to a halt twenty yards away. It was a big vehicle. White. The word “Pepsi” in two foot letters on its side. A bullet with his name on it.

Saturday, 24 June 2017


This month's Open Mic event will take place at 7.30pm on Monday 26th June at La Villette Hotel, St Martins. 

You're welcome to come along and read your own poems or, if you prefer, the work of a favourite poet. Alternatively, you can simply turn up and enjoy a intriguing mixture of contemporary poetry and music in a warm and welcoming environment.

"Every time you read a poem aloud to yourself in the presence of others, you are reading it into yourself and them. Voice helps to carry words farther and deeper than the eye."
                                   Seamus Heaney.

Thursday, 22 June 2017


Do today's children still play with model yachts or is that altogether too 'outdoors' for them?
I recall the heady thrill I experienced when a breeze caught the sail of my very first model yacht and carried it rapidly across the pool adjacent to our family's holiday B & B all those years ago.


A small red sail, triangular,
gathers a small breeze then zig-zags
across rippled water.
A boy darts to the pool’s edge,
steers, with slender bamboo rod,
his bobbing yacht towards the other side.

A small boy in woolen post-war bathing trunks,
I see him clear,
on hunkers, urging his frail craft
as though, by will alone,
the sunlit distant shore
is his to conquer.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017


Time, once again, to mention my new poetry collection, Stone Witness, available from selected outlets in Guernsey or via my publisher's website below.
An eclectic new collection that deals with themes
of love and death, old and new gods, nostalgia for
a vanished age and the challenges of life in the
21st Century.

Price £6.99

ISBN: 978-0-9928791-5-0
Paperback. 64 pages
Published by Blue Ormer Publishing


Tuesday, 20 June 2017


T C Lethbridge, the celebrated parapsychologist, dowser and author, had no doubt that everything we come in contact with retains an echo of our presence.
Back in the Nineteen-Seventies, I read a number of his books and was much impressed by his experiments with pendulum and divining rod.



Is an imprint left by laughter
in the table and the armchair
or the old Axminster carpet,
that was bought from Camden Market,
by her lively, wayward daughter,
with the golden, windblown hair?

Does mirth lodge still, or does sadness,
in these articles, forsaken,
that, in life, she treasured dearly
as dust grows upon them, yearly?
Does a residue of gladness
rest there, waiting to awaken?

Such things surely cannot perish
but instead, like bulbs in winter,
joy lies dormant, ever-patient
in a state of hibernation.
In the artifacts we cherish
passion lingers like a splinter.

Thursday, 15 June 2017


Interesting how our viewpoints change throughout our lives. A child will view a house as a castle, towering and overwhelming, while its parent will probably grumble that the place is too small and that they need to start looking for something larger.
We return to some paradise of former days, view it through different eyes and wonder why we ever liked it in the first place. 
So, too, do our social and political views change as we grow older. Youthful idealism gives way to mature pragmatism as the the world's walls close in around us.
We move from infancy to maturity: evolve from being someone's child to become a parent, then, in no time at all it seems, a grandparent faced with the stark knowledge that both of these new generations will see us out.   
That's when it all begins to get a bit scary.   


When young I’d prowl among headstones,
examine weathered dates and names,
admire old plinths with skulls and bones
or crosses with engraver’s claims.
Death had allure and, thrillingly,
its strange, exotic pageantry
was then unreal, remote to me.

Not now, when age afflicts these bones,
uneven ground portends a trip
and bending down to study stones
can make these damn bifocals slip,
it all seems far too real for me:
death’s bloody grim finality,
its awful anonymity.

Sunday, 11 June 2017


It's been a while since I posted a piece of Flash Fiction so here's a short, short story to put that right.


It’s like a large wading-bird, she thinks, studying the easel: see, there’s the long legs and dipping beak; the canvas is its plumage, the colours happening before my eyes.
She stretches, touches brush to painting, asks her sitter to hold the pose. Her subject, an elderly man, sits astride a rock beside a lough. An old Scots lord, he looks the part: tweedy, austere. He grips a book as though absorbed in reading. 

The water, trees, sky, seem massive. She strives to capture them, scale them down, make from them, a backdrop to the portrait.
Far out on the lough, a boy in a rowing boat, oars raised, casts overboard a single line. She adds that image, the line curving like a signature, then concentrates on canvas sky: her paintbrush, a bird in flight.
Engrossed, she hardly notices the morning slip away, the light subtly alter. 

Let’s take a break, she says. We’re nearly there. Would you like to peep?  
The old man stretches, steps around to study the portrait. 
What’s that? he growls, pointing to the shape in the background.  
The fishing-boat, she says, but when she looks for it, the boat has gone.
Impossible, is the gruff response. 

There’s been no fishing on this lough since the wee Burrows laddie drowned a year ago. Yes, come to think of it, a year ago today.

Thursday, 8 June 2017


Master McGrath (Pronounced McGraw) was a greyhound born in Ireland in 1866. 
One of a litter of seven he was an undersized, delicate pup but despite his unpromising beginnings, he went on to become the most celebrated and successful racing dog of his time.
In the beginning McGrath showed none of the outstanding qualities which were later to make him famous. At his first race his performance was so bad that his trainer ordered him to be given away but, fortunately, his handler, having greater faith in him, retained the dog and entered him in several races which he won.
Having established himself, he went on to win the prestigious Waterloo Cup on no less than three occasions: the first greyhound to do so and became something of a celebrity and the subject of numerous tales and ballads.
His owner, Lord Lurgan, was requested to bring him to visit Queen Victoria and the Royal Family.
Master McGrath died early in 1873. An autopsy showed that his heart was twice the size of that of a normal dog. 

He was buried in Lurgan, County Armagh, where, today, a magnificent bronze statue of him can be found.
My paternal grandfather, William Fleming Snr, bequeathed me his treasured walking stick, whose handle was sculpted from photographs of the great McGrath, so I'll dedicate this poem to him.


Canine perfection, symmetry,
embodied in an agile frame,
sleek body like a comet’s flame
ablaze with pride and majesty.

Those elements that made you fast,
heart, muscle, sinew, blood and bone,
ensured a legend set in stone,
all rivals beaten and outclassed.

Sunday, 4 June 2017


The humorous poem below was one that I entered in a UK poetry competition with the theme "Portraits".
Unsurprisingly, it didn't win but it was published and that's always pleasing.
Most people are familiar with the Oscar Wilde story A Picture of Dorian Gray, where the dissolute Mr Gray commissions a portrait of himself that has magical qualities: the face in the picture ages while Dorian himself, despite a degenerate life, retains his youthful appearance.
E L James's novel Fifty Shades of Grey was enjoying a great deal of attention at the time I wrote this and I thought it amusing to play with the title.



I’ve told him time and time again,
it must be fifty times at least,
that portrait I produced and signed
is meant to age. He’s not resigned,
in fact, he thinks he has been fleeced
and threatens me with legal men.

I tell him: Listen, Mister Gray,
the portrait ages, but not you.
Look at your fine, unwrinkled face
and as for grey hair, not a trace.

So he cheers up and doesn’t sue.
He’ll keep it then. Might even pay.

Click here to listen to Grey, composed by Karl Jenkins and featured in his composition, Requiem (2005) 

Friday, 2 June 2017


  ... and when you're there don't forget to visit the Blue Ormer Publishers stand, beside the Town Church, where you'll find copies of Stone Witness and various other Guernsey-related books.

An eclectic new collection that deals with themes
of love and death, old and new gods, nostalgia for
a vanished age and the challenges of life in the
21st Century.

Price £6.99

ISBN: 978-0-9928791-5-0
Paperback. 64 pages
Published by Blue Ormer Publishing