Bordeaux Bay

Bordeaux Bay
Bordeaux Bay by Guernsey-based artist Tony Taylor

Friday, 27 April 2018


Back in the 1960’s before the introduction of decimal coinage to Britain, in an era before satellite television, mobile phones and personal computers, people used a monetary system that nowadays seems positively quaint.
The British pound's value was comprised of twenty shillings and each shilling was made up of twelve pence.
Along with the standard pound note, there was a smaller ten shilling note. Additionally there were four silver coins: a half-crown, florin, shilling and sixpence. Smaller values included a three pence coin (often referred to as ‘thrupence’ or a ‘thrup'ny bit’), a penny, half-penny and a farthing. 
There is no coin that is a direct equivalent of the old three pence coin today.
The ‘thrup'ny’ bit was a pleasant coin to handle. It had a satisfying, chunky feel and a child with one in his pocket could feel safe in the knowledge that its spending power would provide a cornucopia of treats.


It’s under glass therefore I have to ask
the junk-shop man to let me have a look.
He brings it out: a chunky three-pence piece
from back when pence were signified by 'd',
two-forty to a pound, a shilling, twelve.
We called them Thrup’ney Bits back in the days
when three dee could have bought treats by the score:
a Dandy or a Beano, licorice,
or sarsparilla, pop or bubble gum.
I stand and weigh it in my adult palm.
Thru'pence ... so curious, so oddly obsolete.
Worth now? I’ll take a fiver, says the man,
but I refuse and hand the small coin back
then leave the shop, continue on my way,
childhood alive again, my footsteps slow
my wallet undisturbed, my mind less so.

Monday, 23 April 2018


Already this year my wife and I have lost a number of elderly friends, all of whom had reached their nineties.
Many of us would question whether living to much an advanced age is something to be desired.


A nurse approaches then retires
having adjusted tubes and wires
so I am left to lie in peace
and to progressively release
my buried improprieties
and misdemeanors, as I please:
errors, too late for correction,
guilts, those lapses of affection,
transgressions of the flesh and mind,
the failure, often, to be kind,
the opportunities I missed
when Fortune pleaded to be kissed.
Subdued and suitably contrite,
I gather them around me tight.
I do this with consummate skill.
I lie quite still.
A fly lands on the window-sill.

Monday, 16 April 2018


Remember when the world was filled with endless possibilities, when each day promised fresh adventures, when we thought we knew it all, believed ourselves indestructible, had energy in abundance, unwrinkled skin, were slim?  
There's something about the arrival of Spring, particularly when it's been long awaited, that has an energizing and invigorating quality, and brings to mind the heady escapades of youth and the illusion of freedom that we enjoyed in those carefree years.


We walked together side by side,
at dusk along the disused line,
restless and glad to be outside.
I had Woodbines, you brought cheap wine.
Fifteen, unthinkingly alive,
truants from our suburban Drive,
we talked excitedly of life
how we had cracked it, knew the score.
We worked the cork out with your knife
then drank sweet wine and wanted more.
We smoked our fags, ignored the cold, 
could not imagine being old.

Saturday, 14 April 2018


The eagerly anticipated film of the best-selling novel, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, is due for general release on 20th April but, here on the island, we've already had an opportunity to see the film which depicts dramatic events during the occupation of Guernsey by German troops in the Second World War.

Annie Barrows, Jane Mosse and Frances Lemmon
A mixture of nostalgia and romance, the film was well received by its Guernsey audience, and author, Annie Barrows, who co-wrote the novel with her aunt, Mary Ann Shaffer, came to the island for the red-carpet showing.
Earlier today, my wife, Jane and her co-author, Frances Lemmon, enjoyed a brief author-to-author chat with Annie, and Literary Festival Director, Claire Allen, was on hand to record the moment.

GUERNSEY LEGENDS by Jane Mosse and Frances Lemmon.

Sunday, 8 April 2018


Brought up in god-fearing, post-war Northern Ireland, I was force-fed a fearsome brand of stern Christianity.
Whilst I've managed to recover from that childhood trauma, I still find myself drawn to churches and cathedrals when on holiday, although, nowadays, as a sightseer rather than a worshipper. 


In from the cutting wind and rain
it is less raw and yet the chill 
is evident and I remain
bone-cold and wet. I wait until
my eyes adjust, then look about
this edifice of the Devout.
It truly is a splendid sight:
a massive pulpit dominates,
vast windows welcome in the light,
on wall-plaques are recorded dates
whilst on the floor, in marble set,
are names of earl and baronet.
The great, the godly, in this place
have their memorials which tell
that they rest in a state of grace
while lesser mortals burn in Hell.
Such privilege seems so unfair:
in life, they had the lion’s share.
The lesser mortals, father, son,
laid scaffolding against the sky,
transported great stones, one by one,
a rich and bounteous supply:
a ragged, noisy, oathsome crew
yet slowly the cathedral grew.
I feel no kinship with the men
who built this place of reverence.
The awesome god, they worshipped then,
now seems an olden-times pretence
and all the lavish grandeur here
was built in consequence of fear
so, I retreat to brave the cold.
Agnostic, I doubt more each day:
to faith, I cannot be cajoled
so I leave, hurrying away,
a scarf wrapped tight around my throat,
a sinner in an overcoat.

Friday, 6 April 2018


Hurry along to Guernsey's Priaulx Library at 2pm on Saturday to meet two fascinating women. 
Jane Mosse and Frances Lemmon will unveil their exciting new publication, Guernsey Legends, and weave an intriguing verbal web composed of witchcraft, superstition and ghostly happenings, along with other local folk tales of fairies, some benign and others downright scary.

Tuesday, 3 April 2018


As machines stealthily expropriate human roles, here's a humorous take on a serious subject.


At the Co-Op Easter function,
machines that now do check-out work
all behaved without malfunction,
none got drunk or went berserk.
Instead, they stood there, screen to screen,
extremely boring, drably grey,
exchanging messages in green:
Thank you for shopping here today ...
One said this to the others, then
they all, in chorus, said it too,
repeating those same words again
as though, somehow, it all rang true.
They didn’t circulate or dance
but droned on until late at night.
The ballroom was a bare expanse
with not a human being in sight.