Anton's Ideas

Anton Wills-Eve on world news & random ideas

Month: June, 2016


<a href=””>Clouds</a&gt;

An allegory of depression and contentment




Lightning black eventide clouds cover all the land

Rain and Storms drench each forest field and farm

And country folk fast race to shelter in their homes

Floods force a family to huddle close in their alarm



Hell bitter black is sucking hope from every breast

As foresters or herdsman fall to their knees to pray

Lest evil spirits of the clouds on this accursed night

Should take their very lives before the break of day



Pale pink rays at last break through the clouded sky

Rain and storm decrease their war on beast and man

Dawn’s bright smile to the afraid now lifts their fear

And joy at last is felt at the end of night’s dark span



Clouds now shrunken to small white powdery fluff

Allow the warm and welcoming sun to shine on all

Each farmer thus again enjoys his bright new world

And swains and maidens kiss behind haystacks tall.




<a href=””>Voyage</a&gt;

I have stolen the title of Virginia Woolf’s first major work because I could not find anything more apposite.


Just before midnight on the evening of June the 23rd 2016 I was lying in bed with my tablet watching the BBC coverage of the election results on a referendum to decide whether or not The UK should leave the EU or remain a member of a united Europe. The first large city to announce its result was Newcastle, in the North East. It was forecast to vote 60% to 40% in favour of remaining. It voted to do so, but 50.3% to 49.7%. I Put away my tablet, turned out my light and prayed for the future of all my friends in Europe.

A few minutes before six in the morning I awoke, turned on the tablet again and accepted the fate imposed upon the world by 52% of the electorate who had decided, for whatever insane reason, to leave the sanctuary of a ship that was floundering but which could yet be saved. Instead those voters chose to let it sink and preferred to sail off alone into the egotistical, self-centred oblivion of finding its own new world. Sadly, nobody pointed out in the preceding campaign that the New World had already been discovered, was not that great but bearable, and there were no more worlds to conquer.

I let the day pass as I assimilated the damage that had been done to three things. Firstly to the world’s opinion of the UK which had changed from a respected and prosperous democracy to a selfish, uninformed and greedy bunch of nationalistic extremists who cared for nobody but themselves.

Secondly I surveyed the economic damage done to the UK itself as the pound floundered and the value of each person’s possessions, monetary, industrial or in real estate diminished on average by seven per cent. The promised land of no longer allowing immigrant workers to steal jobs by accepting lower wages backfired and UK workers realised they would soon be earning less anyway. But the immigrants would earn what they always had. Commercially, small businesses would fold as banks now had no money to lend them to keep them afloat. Just as they would not be able to lend people money for mortgages, so the homeless would remain just that.

Thirdly I reflected that, as the ship of state sailed off into the wide blue sea of uncertainty, the UK’s European partners were now facing a horrific reality that could have been kept hidden until it was put right, but now cannot. Most of the countries in Europe were living off the money Britain gave them, but as they traded with Britain this was a problem that could be managed. Now, when that trading stops , seventeen European countries will be so badly bankrupt that the common market will no longer be able to exist and several hundred million people will be facing ten to fifteen years of recession bordering, in some cases, on starvation. Did our voters even know this two days ago? No, because nobody bothered to tell them the implications of what they were doing. In short, the claim that we held the first truly democratic vote in our history proved only one thing. Democracy only works when those who take democratic decisions are correctly informed about all aspects of what they are having to decide. In the UK most of us did not. I am glad to be able to say that I at least pointed out these dangers in blogs and on Facebook several days ago. But then a voice crying in the wilderness does not expect to be heard.

But our voyage out may not have been a complete disaster for the Western world. There is a strong chance that when the citizens of the United States see what economic and social chaos is created to the detriment of all, if one votes for walls instead of doors, they might think twice when confronted by extremism of this kind in their own country in November. They will ditch Donald Trump when they see that Britain is no longer GREAT and that the rest of the world will hold them in universal contempt if they bring their own country down to the same level of vilification. Thank God I am a Scots Australian, though born in England, for it was the ENGLISH vote that did this.



<a href=””>Awe</a&gt;

In my career I signed over 100,000 news bulletins, stories, etc with my initials awe. what a prompt!



This is quite amazing. When working for any news media if you file anything, a story, a breaking news flash, an obituary, a sports result or even an information message to another office you always have to append your initials after it so the company knows who the writer is. Guess what I have used all my life , 61 years since my first music critique for British United Press aged thirteen. Yes of course. AWE!

Now this does not mean all my work has been AWEsome but it has always been prompt. The whole idea of working for a News Agency, my first twenty years in this field were with  BUP, UPI, Reuters and AFP, is to get the top stories to the press and other outlets FAST and FIRST. I actually created a record with UPI in Paris in 1962 by beating all the opposition with the winner, yellow jersey holder and lap time on all 22 laps of that Tour de France cycle race. I wasn’t clever I just hated being beaten. I wasn’t even a staff member then, I was just doing freelance sports reporting work while at university.

But two firsts I am proud of were very different.In May 1968 I gave Reuters a seven minutes world beat on the announcement of the agreement to hold the Paris peace talks on Vietnam . This was actually cheating as nobody knew the meeting was taking place. It was in the Laotian capital Vientiane and I was the only journalist there. I had been asked by the US, Australian , North Vietnamese and South Vietnamese teams to be a fifth and neutral negotiator as I knew all the diplomats involved personally and could speak all three languages needed for the discussions. It was great fun and they all respected my plea to let me file my story before their various governments made official announcements.

My other super beat was closer but very lucky. I gave Reuters a three minute world first on the death of General de Gaulle thanks to a former university friend giving me a phone call. By then he worked for the family at their home in Colombey les deux Eglises where the former President lived and died. But I was always incredibly competitive in all I did and could not bear letting others get in before me. The only really good story I had first, but could not file, was a military helicopter crash in Cambodia in which two choppers hit each other with twelve people in one and two in the other. I saw it happen and it would have been a great story.

Why did I not file it?  Thirteen people were killed and the only survivor broke his spine. That was me!



<a href=””>Empty</a&gt;

the empty lives of two wartime smokers


“Empty the ashtrays, darling

Get rid of that awful smell

Of cigarette smoke wafting

Out of the windows as well.


I want the whole house empty

No family lives here any more.

Mum puffed her way to a coffin

Cancer showed Dad to the door.


Ok they were both almost ninety

You may say they had a good run.

But not us and the kids, watching

The only thing they ever called fun.


In wartime it calmed their nerves,

Maybe. But they never could stop.

Sixty a day gone on money wasted

In empty bank accounts not a drop,


Of security left for the young ones

Nothing valuable left to bequeath,

Just empty rooms, smelling of fags.

Two graves and a token red wreath”.



<a href=””>Companion</a&gt;

it’s a lovely feeling telling your companions the truth.


I am sorry if I had to keep you all in any suspense for this confession. Please don’t get too up tense or hate me because I have told the truth about myself at last, admitting the actions of my unsuspected past. Mentally tormented, I cannot live another day without telling every one I know, in some way, about what I am and and feel and what I have been naturally forced not to do. Mostly I regret the unhappiness I may have brought on others by spurning relationships with my closest friends. Yet, you surely understand, I could not die without tying up these loose ends and letting my fans, my loved ones, my whole world hear all my admissions of my true self which are here unfurled.

I wonder, after this, how in the future I will be remembered by you all? Will my family be proud, saddened or just ashamed to read that I have said this of myself? Are there those amongst you who will think it worse simply because it is true? Will it be totally unacceptable to so many of you because I have refused to dilute my feelings, refused to lie? I have been told that in such matters political correctness forbids delay. Everybody must know everything and seem to have the right to know it immediately. That is the world in which we live today. So without more ado, this is what I must say, not knowing the price I may have to pay. My dearest friends, all of you I love. You now no longer have to wait. This is what I am. I am sorry if I offend any of you, I love you all too much to ever wish to do that.

“I am a Catholic Christian. I actually believe my prayers are heard and answered. I love all God’s creatures, especially sad sinners of whom God knows full well that I am one. But, above all, I love the fact that I am straight. I am proud of it.



<a href=””>Companion</a&gt;

aren’t they everyone’s?


‘Springles’, our cat, is black and white

And insists on sleeping with us at night

How we put up with it goodness knows.

Ever slept with a tail right up your nose?

Then being the object of scratching claws

If you try to adjust his outstretched paws.


Our cat is also saintly, how can we tell?

By the way he meows his prayers so well,

When purring beside us, eyes shut tight

And head tucked in to keep out the light

As his ageing eyes don’t like the glare

Of our bed lamp shining on him there.


There isn’t really room enough for three

On the pillow, him, my dear wife and me.

But no matter how much we try to edge

Him down to our feet he’ll always wedge

His nose and ears up closer to our heads

And he’s vetoed the idea of separate beds.


So every night as my wife and I turn and toss

And he wakes us up, we sure know who’s boss

For his hungry yawns at six o’clock each day

Signal breakfast bowl time, then out to play.

Fourteen years now we’ve slept with our cat

But we love him and so we just give him a pat.


Do the rest of the family get treated this way?

No! The rest of them have to do what we say,

Sharing the housework, gardening and chores

“Washing up’s mine, today Hoovering’s yours.”

But Springles just lies in the grass and rolls over

Waiting to be tickled. A life of whiskers in clover!



<a href=””>Summer</

wondering what my wife will be thinking under anaesthetic, undergoing a major operation soon


My love  are you thinking of us both,

When plighting each to each our troth,

Of loving days and sweet maternity,

And swearing fidelity for all eternity?


Never doubt my passion nor your own,

A love like ours was no temporal device.

In all my prayers I have always shown

Thanks for your heart, the inner grace

That lit the fires we have always known,

Never dimming, still brightly so ablaze.


Our endless love has no sunset and no dawn,

Just a summer’s day filled with infinite hours

Of heartfelt heartbeats shared by us each morn.

Please guard them Lord. Please keep them ours.



<a href=””>Aimless</a&gt;

we should all aim less and embrace more.


‘Brexit’ demands that we all get out,

And Thursday we’ve been asked to vote.

Should we ditch all our European friends

To keep British economic hopes afloat?


The idea of abandoning many poorer folk

To give us more cash makes me feel as sick

As any sane American would feel next Fall

After giving Donald Trump a thumbs up tick.


There is no excuse in this modern world

For being selfishly mean or power mad.

Nobody from any country, by their birth

Alone, should be considered  as being bad.


Yet there are people from my native land

Who really believe unity, to be just a word  

That means being ‘un-British’ in some way,

I can’t think of anything so stupidly absurd.


I was born in WWII, bombs falling all round

The house which was my first earthly home.

But now, nearly seventy five years on, I call my

Enemies friends, thanks to the treaty of Rome.


I can’t run away from folk I’ve come to love,

My whole life would be a mockery, a waste.

No. I’d rather remain with my European kin

Than abandon them in selfish, hateful haste.



<a href=””>City</a&gt;

quite simply what the prompt made me write


I remember once being young enough to think that the world would never change. It would always be the autumn of 1960 and I would always live in our new home on the Ile Saint Louis in Paris. I would spend every day of my life going to early Mass and then walking the short distance to the Sorbonne to immerse myself in studying French, Italian, Spanish, history and music. Late in the day I would earn a lot of pocket money covering major European sports events for my father’s News Agency, because the American staff knew nothing about the subject and I was a fanatic. My paradise had come early and in the city of my dreams.

Paris was the most beautiful place I had ever seen. Everything was just as I wanted it to be as well. I never had breakfast at home. After serving Mass I would stop at a favourite Tabac on the Boulevarde Saint Michèle and have a croissant or brioche with a lovely steaming hot chocolate. There were always other students on their way to the university and we often had chats about everything under the sun. Lectures started soon after eight and it was constant study of a whole series of subjects relevant to French Mediaeval history until noon. Then three days a week I had four hours of various languages in the afternoon. On the other days it was music, in my case piano tuition and a couple of hours playing to continue the passion I had developed from the age of three in England. But Parisians also love eating.

Some days lunch would be in the university canteen, others just with a girlfriend at some nice restaurant she couldn’t afford but I could. Always she was invited for her ability to share my interests and my sense of fun. After an expensive, gourmet meal we would find time some days to see the really nice parts of Paris which we did not know. This did not mean all my companions were foreigners, not at all. Many French students came from far flung parts of the country and Paris was as much their first adventure in an unknown city as it was mine. The main places people wanted to see might include actual buildings like the Sacre Coeur or the Eiffel Tower, although I never ventured up it for reasons I shall explain. But my favourite pastime in my free hours was the art galleries, especially the Louvre and the Impressionist museum in the Tuilleries gardens. History of art was part of my course so this type of enjoyment was also very useful..

But I lived with my parents and my mother was terminally ill. I helped look after her as well. She was dying for most of my life and actually lasted out until I was nearly thirty. You can see that sanity could only be maintained in that sort of existence if you had two really important things in your life. Love, both spiritual and human, and the will to do everything you had to to fulfil the obligations that went with both. The other was money and we had always had plenty of that. I had a generous allowance from my father and I earned a lot through him as I have said, but then I needed a lot with the life I was forced to lead. I have often spoken in other posts and blogs about the crippling agoraphobia from which I have suffered all my life and in Paris this would have been a visit to hades without money. I had to take taxis everywhere for the first nine months until I passed my French driving test and could use the car. I couldn’t walk over any sort of river crossing so had to take cabs, or occasional buses if the stops were in the right places, if I was travelling to the right bank from the left or vice versa. But then, living on an island I had to use transport of some sort every time I went anywhere, every day to university at the start just to get off the Island. I couldn’t walk across a bridge. I still can’t.

But the beauty and friendliness of the city and its openly affectionate people made my life more than just manageable, it made itself into a place I thought I could never leave. I was only eighteen at the time I am talking about so I had no career even vaguely lined up in my mind. This was another world, a whole new adventure and I just wanted it to last forever. I soon got to know a lot of my father’s colleagues, through covering sports events and going back to the office to write about them. This sometimes meant having lunch with Dad and other journalists and I always got on well with them. I was blessed with a love of languages and ability to pick them up fast so was soon almost a member of the office staff, while also a university student. But my whole life was centred round seeing as much of a new culture in a beautiful city as I could manage.

Apart from time spent with mum, my sister also flew over from University in England at weekends to cheer her up, I loved taking visiting English friends to see the places I loved. This was especially true of Versailles, a half hour train journey out of town, which I think I went to with visiting friends and acquaintances about thirty times in my first year in the French capital. I almost became an expert on the place. But I had another way of helping deal with my awful phobia. Mass in the morning always got me off to a calming start but by the late afternoon I usually had either had a lot of alcohol with my lunch or, if it was a very busy day, would do so when eating at night. I also used to spend post sports events evenings with a stop off at a favourite bar and drink until about two in the morning. I actually got my first ulcer during my second year at university through lack of sleep. At least that was what the doctors put it down to. Nowadays we know ulcers can be caused by many different things. But filling up my Parisian life, right from the start, with so much to do was the only way I could live with my illness.

The strongest memory I have of that first term at university was getting home one night when Mum was feeling really bad and needed more medication, and being told I would die first if I carried on drinking so heavily. But she added one extraordinary comment, about three in the morning. “Why are you never drunk? You should be falling over with what you’ve had!” I told her I used my alcohol intake to control my phobia and it wore off as soon as I drank it. She just laughed and said I really had to give up fooling people into thinking I was mentally ill. She called it a poor excuse for enjoying myself. I gave up that night and never tried to make her accept my illness again.

But maybe that was what I really loved about Paris then, still so patriotically post war and so de Gaullistly anti-English. They accepted me because I was a Scots Australian, that was fine. The city satisfied all my needs, provided me with the chance to learn what I loved and love what I learned in every sense. It was vibrant, incredibly human and openly unashamed of the fact – nobody could have said that of the London which I had left! The people were all Catholics like me, well nominally, and I was later to learn how difficult it can be to live a life you only have to acknowledge and not really practise. Of course I knew it was the romantic and free love centre of Europe, but that did not matter as it would have done when I was much younger. Flesh pots were Satan’s hotels in England, not in Paris. Nobody even seemed to notice them, something I took time to understand. But at eighteen I was sexually inexperienced and had no immediate intentions of changing that, much as many of my student friends might have made me want to. I preferred Mass, piano music, and enjoying the human company of people so different to anything I had known before. In short I was just starting my introduction to a city and its life that I never wanted to end.

What a shame all our lives are complete operas and such brief interludes as my autumn of 1960, in the Paris of my innocent dreams, was only an overture.




<a href=””>Open</a&gt;

an open letter to the intolerant


I feel I have to write what I really feel, believe and want everyone to accept about the whole modern approach to the sexual orientation question as it affects and applies to all of us today.

Firstly I want to look at the world from a purely biological point of view. It is now accepted that there is a group of people which can be identified as forming the GLBTQ community. More importantly it is acknowledged to be a minority grouping because more than half the world’s population would not admit to being part of it. But biologically it is incomplete, there is a letter missing. ‘S’. If you add this it includes all of us when those letters stand for: gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transsexual, queer and straight. So let’s add that S and see just what makes all the people under each heading different yet also the same as all the others. Watch. (Note all the = signs mean in a physical relationship, not mental, spiritual or social.)

G = a man who prefers sexually loving men. L= a woman who prefers sexually loving women. B = equals a man or woman who enjoys sex with both men and women. T= a man or woman who wants to, or already has, changed their gender because they feel they are biologically incorrectly gendered by birth. While preferring to be identified as their non-birth gender, they often still come under B for sexual enjoyment. Q = a person who actively seeks to flaunt their sexuality in order to seduce someone of their own sex. S = men and women who prefer to restrict their sexual love to a person who is of the opposite sex to themselves. But many in this category would have experimented with sexual relationships with people in the other divisions above but usually prefer someone of the opposite sex. Agreed? I hope so. The important thing about clarifying the biological aspect of the subject is that the vast majority of all people have a sexual drive of some sort, want to satisfy it and usually do in a wide variety of ways.

Ok, that is biology and it accounts for all of us and all our tastes in sexual relations. So why the fuss and the bad-mouthing of anybody for being a particular type of human being when it comes to how one wants to express one’s love and sexual attraction for another person? Well this is primarily a social question which can be divided into purely secular legal issues and religious teachings of right and wrong. Let’s look at the secular legal one first. In many countries now the law does not permit people to offend GLBTQ people purely on the grounds of their sexual orientation. Why not? If I tell a joke about a queer tranny, and it is really funny and is aimed only at being funny, how is it different to making a joke about a straight man’s mother-in-law? I have no idea, but I do know that minorities can have me arrested but majorities can’t. Daft. On the other hand I know offending people must stop somewhere.

I would be the first person to agree that openly bad-mouthing anybody for their sexuality is unpleasant, unkind, unnecessary and likely to provoke public disorder. It is simply not something anybody should do. But having a perfectly sensible discussion about how one feels on this subject, and saying that one does not like certain types of sexual orientation, is fine. In fact it is basically what I am doing here. But some idiots somewhere have decided to invent the word homophobia in order to make people who do not like homosexuality appear in some way in the wrong for saying so. Not only is that undemocratic, untrue and unnecessary, but more importantly it is completely inaccurate. A phobia is a fear not a dislike. The word homophobia is basically a neurotic anxiety condition describing people who have an irrational fear of a section of society. Well I do not like the idea of having any sort of sexual activity with a man, but it isn’t a fear. It is just my sexual preference. I have a lot of homosexual male and female friends and relations of whom I am very fond. It just stops there! Where we do have a problem, however, is when one set of people start telling others sets of people that, for religious reasons, being homosexual is wrong. And I mean wrong in the sense of sinful. That is rubbish and is not the teaching of any faith I have studied, and I have a doctorate in the history of world religions.

Where some faiths, and they are perfectly entitled to, condemn homosexual acts they do so on the grounds that the ACT is wrong, but the person can be forgiven. This is a very important distinction because it doesn’t leave anyone in the clear. In the Christian and Islamic faiths, for example, it is wrong to have sex outside holy wedlock. That’s all, that’s it. It is a sin for every GLBTQorS to have sexual activity with someone to whom they are not married. It doesn’t matter how you do it, who you do it with or anything else. Outside marriage it’s wrong. I know very few people in my world who manage to keep the right side of that blanket for the whole of their lives. Some, of course, but very few. It doesn’t make you a bad person, that depends on a whole host of other things, the main one is whether you are a basically good, kind, loving and caring human being. How you manage to stick to any other rules imposed by creeds which you might espouse is your affair. Just don’t point the finger at others on principle when you have no idea whether they are better or worse human beings than yourself. But I can’t leave this without touching on the really important social side of sexual acts. When do they become legally criminal?

I cannot excuse any sexual act that is not consensual, especially if it physically or mentally damages another person. Thus all rape, male and female, paedophilia, and seduction of those unable for any reason to fully understand what is going on, should be punishable by law and in most countries it is. The most difficult of those to decide sometimes concerns questions of the age of consent. For instance, is it wrong to pick up a thirteen year old call girl who looks seventeen? And is it really incest when two youngsters in the same family are just experimenting? Yes they shouldn’t, but it’s not a crime unless their parents let them. God what a world we live in.

Are you wondering what sparked all this off? No, of course you aren’t. That mass shooting in Orlando made a lot of us feel physically sick. But I felt more. I felt dreadfully sorry for the chap who did it! What sort of society did he live in that allowed him to be armed when law enforcement officers knew about him years earlier? He was mentally ill, all brain washed extremists are, and I personally included him in my prayers that night because I didn’t think anyone else would. You don’t send someone to hell because they’re bonkers.



<a href=””>Natural</a&gt;

explaining my natural contempt for psychiatrists


I was treated once by a psychiatrist who said

You’re doing nothing wrong by going to bed,

With someone for sex, when you’re not wed.

So throw all that unnatural guilt out your head.”

He said all natural feelings, except love of god,

Were normal and right and so I was a stupid sod

And thus mentally ill, for only trying to do right

And wasting my time saying prayers every night.

But he went even further, honestly, listen to this

He made the whole group give each other a kiss

Then share all their fears and acute mental pains

But banning talk of God, sex, or any fiscal gains.

Few of us took any notice of this, which backfired,

As he said he couldn’t cure any people who desired

To stay sunk in the depths of their natural depression

Which resulted, he said, from unnatural suppression.

I don’t know what they paid him to perpetuate my pain

And add lies to the confusion then torturing my brain,

But brain surgery, ECT, and alcohol he used on us a lot

So,when we committed suicide, he’d say,“see the sot

Took no notice of me and the medical advice I gave

He wouldn’t even give it a try or attempt to behave

Like a sensible natural person, doing exactly as he felt,

Instead of saying sorry for his sins as in prayer he knelt.”




<a href=””>Struggle</a&gt;

a strangely unusual struggle


There are few things more  annoying in this world than knowing you know something but being completely incapable of recalling details, names, faces and quotes surrounding a key event in your life. Mine is somewhat esoteric in it’s subject matter but nonetheless infuriating for that. I have no recollection at all of my first encounter with K482. 

If you’re wondering,  it is not an animal in Star Wars or a similar space oddity, far from it. It is the catalogue number of Mozart’s 22nd piano concerto in Eflat major – no he didn’t write twenty two concerti in the same key, it’s just that this one was in Eflat major – and I know I was 14 when I first saw it played at a concert,  – Oh no! You won’t believe this. A twelve year old kid has just rung my door bell and tried to sell me a hair brush while pleading he had been made redundant in a steelworks more than 150 miles away. Teach me to live in a posh area! – where was I?

Yes, I cannot construct any mental images of my introduction to a performance of K482.  What annoys me most is that the concerto is one of my favourite pieces of music, the whole world knows the final movement – well everyone who saw Amadeus does, that’s HOW they remember it – and I have studied and played it many, many times now. I think it was my grandmother who took me to the concert, she loved good music and would have pinched my father’s press tickets. Ah, a clue. Yes!! Dad had tickets for every BBC Promenade concert at the Albert Hall every year from 1948 to 1960 so it must have been there. I think. So let me concentrate. I had heard it on the radio of course, and messed about with the solo piano score, but never seen it at a concert. Now it was almost certainly 1956 and I think school had not long broken up for the summer or I would have taken a friend.

You can’t hear it but I’m playing the concerto through my headphones while I write this. But it isn’t helping much. Ah, that’s one reason why. The pianist has just played the final cadenza, the one which Benjamin Britten wrote for Sviatislav Richter in 1966 when I was nearly twenty four! So it wasn’t that version. Hang on though, another clue. That cadenza. Many people play Britten’s version nowadays, and before that Paul Badura-Skoda’s cadenza,  (1958?) was very popular, it was not that either. I wish I could make my memory hear. It doesn’t have any trouble with hearing 1956 radio comedy shows so why can’t it pick up that concerto? I’ve been to literally hundreds of proms over the years so picturing the auditorium doesn’t help. Wait, but it does.

 – Oh blow! I’m doing the meal tonight as my wife’s ill and I haven’t prepared the Bolognese sauce yet. They’ll have to wait. No, they can’t there’s footie on the tele.-  Where was I? Yes another clue. I do remember that the soloist and the conductor were not dressed the same. Yes, of course. He was in evening dress and tails, they always were in those days, so the pianist must have been wearing a dress. It was a woman. Mozart so often is, especially this concerto. Now what women were around then? Hess, Lympany, Bachauer, Nikolyeva, Fuchsova, – Strewth! Of course. I’ve got a dreadful mind but that must be right. I made a joke about the pianist’s name when we got home and dad was not amused. So Lisa Fuchsova played the first ever K482 I ever saw? Really? She could have done, but if she did she always played the cadenzas by Hummel, never Mozart’s own cadenzas in either the first or third movements. And I can vaguely hear that particular passage in the final movement because the first time I ever SAW anyone play that Mozart concerto they definitely added bits by someone else. Hummel’s were the only popular alternatives in those days. So who was conducting?

It should  be easy now. Sir Malcolm Sergeant was the only conductor I saw at the proms before 1958 and he always directed the BBC symphony Orchestra. So the immaculate show off would have been in charge! –  hang on. I have to do this Bolognese for my gourmet trio, quartet if you include me. It’s a new original recipe I’m trying  by adding some Thai grains in with the green peppers when sauteeing them before adding them to the sauce. Mmmm….yes, lovely! Well they all seemed to like it. My son says it is just the thing before a match but Italy were playing last night so why didn’t I do it then? Can’t remember.

 – Talking of remembering let’s get back to K482. I’ve got the soloist, the Orchestra, the venue, the conductor and even whose cadenzas were played. That’s not bad. But what else was on the programme? Yes, got it. It was the first time I ever heard Richard Strauss’s Ein Heldenleben. It was dreadful, but then I never have liked his music. Hooray, I can retire satisfied to the lounge just in time to catch the Portugal game. My son’s just asked me what I’d been blogging about as I sat down. So I told him my struggle with my memory. Three minutes later he said,

“Dad, that was probably Tuesday July the 31st at the Albert Hall in a prom concert. It was being played by Lisa Fuchsova and Sergeant was conducting the BBC SO. Did you stay for that awful Strauss?” I gaped at him as he turned his i-pad towards me. It was on the BBC Proms archive site which has every concert listed, with full details, since the first in 1895. I could cheerfully have hit him.




















I wrote this to try to complete a wonderful impromptu challenge which I read on Judy Dykstra-Brown’s wordpress site ‘Lifelessons’. Basically, after she had written a beautiful poem, do read it, she had 33 words left over and challenged anyone to use them as the rhyming words in a poem. They are the very last words in each line of the following great fun effort. Thanks Judy.


From his dead corpse, I watched slowly ooze
Liquid detritus. It was all that constant booze
At last leaving him on his binge crazed cruise.
But tell me, honestly, does anyone know who’s
Responsible for giving liquor to anyone whose
Alcoholic record gives him the right to choose
Such an end? Sure, the cruise liner would lose
A few bucks not fold up, but that’s hardly news.
Then a burial at sea, praying in the chapel pews,
Before they swabbed the decks, and all his poos
Were potted like black balls hit by billiard cues.
A rich chap’s paid for revels, they know he sues
So the next night couples, clinging tight in twos
Can get their fill of sweetly well rehearsed woos,
In a true romantic setting.“Aw gee, honey, youse
De only gal I love.” French, she pouts “ Doozie
Uzzer gals mean nussing, eh?Ave you no floozie
‘Idden away?” He swears “we are only a twozie”.
Jean-Paul creeps up behind them shouting “Boo”
Her suitor spins round, slipping on a piece of goo
Unseen, and falls. His face, a radish coloured hue,
Makes her laugh loudly as she hastens to the loo.
A very drunken Englishman thinks, the silly moo
(Stupid cow) to lose the chance to buy all the new
Ou’fits she needs. Also, if she treated him like poo
She could claim it was ‘is fault and e’entually sue
For di’orce and make a few more bucks quite soo’.
He was so drunk he hailed a passing young sioux
“ is it a fancy dress do?” then falling overboard too.
All the revellers on the cruise were then invited to
Raise their glasses to sing “happy birthday to you”
To the captain, pants at half mast, what a spectacle!
A laugh for the passengers but really not respectable.



<a href=””>Mountain</a&gt;

                         the way each of our five senses can appreciate a mountain

                                    PEAKS OF SENSATION


Travelling up in an aeroplane I see, in the sunset tinted sky,

A whitey pink high mountain peak, as over it we silently fly.

Is it a sharp, craggy sword piercing each cloud on our flight,

Or a land of dreaming fantasies confusing my passing sight?


The music, is it that of Grieg, echoing down a mountain scarp?

Are the sounds of the icy mountain stream trickling in E sharp?

Do I hear, in mountain caves, waves lapping towards the shore?

The hammering sound is it mining gold for the mountains store?


Sparse grass and shrubs give off a scent redolent of a mountainside

Also I can smell pure mountain air as I tramp up green slopes wide.

The sea foam’s scent is blown so high I sniff it on the mountain top

And flowers give off a perfume sweet as to the mountain foot I drop.


I can feel the mountain’s slippery rocks protruding from either side

I pat a goat, and watch it jump to a ledge off which it can never slide.

I clutch gorse stumps to steady myself as on the mountain side I slip

For mountains are high and I might die if I tripped and lost my grip.


Feeling hungry I pick the mountain berries, their soft sweet fruit to eat,

And the mountain’s soft snow, in winter time, when fresh eaten is a treat.

Now for a drink I kneel at the mountain stream, my thirst there to quench

But, if amorous, amid the mountain’s flowers, I may kiss my lovely wench.



<a href=””>Transformation</a&gt;


well, it is a transformation I’ve been expecting.                                                  

                              MY PRICE    

Perhaps only three months, God!  Maybe five more at most?

Then for me,

It’s afternoon tea,

For eternity with The Holy Spirit and Your heavenly Host!

Oh well, at least I’m flying upwards, not falling down.

Hell’s much too hot,

With the skin I’ve got.

I don’t so much tan, as just peel and never go brown.


But hang on, God. You promised me plenty of time to finish my books.

What, I wasted it all?

But It wasn’t my call!

You said to never neglect anyone in need, did you never see the looks


Of pleading and begging that each poor sufferer and each sinner had?

All so full of doubt,

I helped them out,

How could I desert them, forever believing you could really be so bad


That you’d leave them all dejected, bereaved, destitute and bereft?

So I fed the hungry too,

Saying it was from You.

And they thanked You  as we parted, for in their hearts Your  love I’d left.


Dear God, is this honestly all the time I have got left here with You?

Did I spend all  my few days

Teaching the poor to praise

And love You as as totally as You, and I myself,  know I always do?


“No, Anton, that wasn’t all you spent your leisure, pleasure and free time on,

Remember Nicole, Lucia, Rita, Sue,

And lovely Nguyen Ouanh Anh too?

I forgive you. But they  took up your time. I’m so sorry, but I’m afraid it’s gone!”



<a href=””>Transformation</a&gt;

                                                                 well it’s a type of transformation!


My darling, how I should hate to miss my soul’s last flight on high,

 To be taken to heaven on angel wings when God’s paradise is nigh.

 Thus, when at length upon my deathbed, as some day I know I’ll lie,

I hope I shall be conscious, and well enough, to give him this reply

To his last important question, “Do you on my promises still rely?”

And finally say to him,“Yes my Lord,” in some loving way as I die.

However, should my God then say,“Come, enter my promised land!”

I will bring you with me, my darling love, and tightly hold your hand,

So I can explain this problem, while hoping in his mercy He’ll agree,

You too should enter paradise, my love, to be forever there with  me.

“My God, some say she is not worthy to enjoy your eternal love as well,

As she has questioned your existence, and so must now be sent to hell.

Well, I am sorry, my  Lord,  I can’t join you, if you cast my loved one out,

You see, I must stay to care for her, while she’s punished for her doubt.”

Oh how I hope, in time, my unselfish love will help my loving God to see

The reason I was forced to wait for him, and also ask him to wait for me.

It was so that he could, one day, embrace us both, always – for ever more

Rejoicing, eventually, with both of us, as he opened wide Heaven’s door.

But if I did all this in vain, and to hell’s purgatory you yet were consigned

I’d still descend there with you, my love, lest you should lose your mind.

 In that hell, my love, I’d still hold you close, to shield you from the flames

  Until God took pity on your soul, and to heaven’s roll added on our names.

So now you must see, my darling, that my burning love for you’s so strong,

I would happily endure any purgatory for you, however short – however long.





Asif felt the tiny make-shift raft bob up and down on the waters of the Aegean Sea. Land was in the distance, but far, far off. As far as he could see. Only his sister’s hand in his, as she slept, kept him in touch with any sort of reality. His mother and father had thrown them on their hastily assembled craft shouting “We love you. May Allah bring you safely to some foreign shore.”

Asif was only five years old and had lived all his days surrounded by angry shouting men, and ran rather than danced to the beat of guns. He knew he had to pray to Allah, but he had never been taught how. His kinsfolk had never had the time for luxuries like teaching between their daily forages for food in a land of mortar shells and flying stones. He looked at little Samia, a year younger than himself, and felt a glow of strength as he held her hand.

“Allah, whoever you are, wherever you are, don’t let my little sister die,” was all the little boy could ask and then, despite his new found valour, started to cry. A day and a night, a night and a day the little raft zig-zagged over the waves but Asif was sure the land was getting near. Samia had given him the few drops of water from the plastic bottle in her pocket and any crumbs that were left from their parents’ meagre pouch. Her big brown, sunken eyes looked pleadingly at her brother.

“Asif, I am hot and cold and hungry. Tell Allah for me, please.”  Once more the little boy begged his only source of hope to save them both, then brother and sister clung to each other all night for warmth. As daylight dawned on the third day they stared in amazement at the land ahead. A sandy beach was getting nearer every second. Their spirits rose as salvation seemed at hand. But a final hazard still delayed them. The wind got up and several yards short of sanctuary the raft at last gave out and sank. Samia could not swim but Asif made her cling to him, her arms round his neck as he made for the shallow waters from which he finally could walk to the beach. On land they both smiled and collapsed.

Father Francisco was taking his morning stroll along the sand before returning to say Mass as he did every morning on the tiny island with its hermit’s cell and altar. Other brothers would not visit him before lunchtime. Suddenly he blinked in disbelief, rubbed his eyes and stared again. He thought it was a mirage at first, a trick of the green sea light, but no, a little boy and girl lay on the beach. Blessing himself, thanking God and guessing their origin he thanked his Lord again  for teaching him some basic Arabic as well as Italian. He knelt and offered his hands to the little waifs.

Asif stared at this strange figure clad all in brown with a circle cut in his hair. He had but one thought in his head and, barely audibly, asked the hermit,

“Are you Allah? I asked you to help little Samia and me, and you did. Thank you Allah. Thank you.”

Tears streaming down his cheeks Father Francisco replied  in the little boy’s own tongue. “It was the will of Allah that you should be found, I am merely the person he chose to help Him. Come, I will find you some food.” As they walked towards his dwelling he  went on, “Children, there is only one God. He made us all. You call him Allah, I Christ, many people use many other names. But He does not mind. He is just happy that he has been able to show you how much he loves you by bringing you safely to this beach, this heavenly shore.”



the names changed but the facts kept.


James was a shy little boy in many ways and for many reasons. He and his twin brother John had lived the first seven years of their lives always getting on well, laughing and playing but even so John thought his brother was often wistfully very sad.

“Hey, Jamie,” he asked him one day when they were seven and four months, “are you all right? You look fed up and frankly a bit frightened. I think mum and dad are starting to notice it too because they asked me the other day if you were being bullied. Are you?” Jamie took an enormous gulp, hung on tight to his twin’s hand and managed to say,

“Don’t be cross, Johnny. Please. I’ve got an awful problem that’s been getting worse and worse for over a year now. Please tell me what to do.”

“Well tell me the problem first,” John said in exasperation. There came another gulp.

“Very well, but you won’t like it. For ages now, Johnny, I’ve kept wanting to try on girls’ clothes. Whenever we go shopping I just look at them and wish they were for me. And I don’t like some of our rough boys games either.” John just stared at his twin. He had heard vague rumours, as one does at school at that age, that some children did not like the sex they were born with. However, he did not understand the subject at all. He was lost.

“But Jamie, how can you? What’s happened to you? Please try and tell me. I will help if I can.” His twin looked very relieved. “Well I’ve already put some of mum’s lipstick on. It felt great, Johnny. But I wiped it off at once in case anyone saw me. It’s the awful feeling I’ve got in my head, Johnny. It feels as though I’ll never be happy until I become a girl. I get so nervous about it too because it may be wrong. Then what will happen?”

John knew he had to do something, but what.”Shall I tell mum and dad that you are ill, would that help? You see you may be and then you really would have to explain your worries to people who can cure you. Dad told me once that people who get very worried always have to go to doctors. But they would understand if they thought you were very ill.”

That conversation was the start of an incredible nine months at the Smiths’ home. Peter and Esther had always been proud of their twin sons and had mapped out all sorts of fantastic plans for their futures. Peter was a successful tax accountant and his wife a leading member of the local SOS  group, an organisation that anonymously helped people in almost suicidal situations. She had already dealt with two such cases. She and her husband had several long talks with James, and Esther became really concerned that he had indeed got a serious anxiety neurosis about his gender and they agreed he should see a specialist in the field. Peter was frankly distraught at the thought of his son evincing such tendencies at the age of seven.

But worse was to come. First a health service specialist was appointed to supervise James’ case and became more and more certain that he should be allowed to cross dress if he wanted to. Peter said no, Esther said yes and the head master at their children’s prep school for mixed infants suggested that perhaps they could start by just letting James dress up at home but not in public. This only made the little boy more anxious and physically frustrated. So eventually, after Jamie had embarrassed his twin at school by telling his friends he dressed as a girl at home, the school relented and said he could change his sex and be legally registered as a girl at school. A special assembly, for the ten and eleven  years only, was arranged at which they were told of James’ illness. They were shown biological diagrams and were told gender change was normal. From the following week James would be coming to school dressed in a skirt and tights and would use his new legal name, Jennifer. How many children understood nobody knew, but they all promised not to bully ‘her’, as he would be, nor make fun of her.

Well, that day at school was called ‘skirt day’ and Jennifer was welcomed by everyone. She was over the moon. John had gradually got used to his brother’s serious mental illness, as the health service was legally obliged to categorise it until she was eighteen, and tried very hard to help her through the ordeal of their first ‘Jennifer’ day. The seven and eight year old girls in their year thought Jennifer was very brave and all wanted to play with her. Esther and Peter had arranged to be at home early to make sure everything had gone all right. Esther picked the twins up from school, and when they got home Jennifer could not help rushing upstairs to the study shouting, “Daddy! Daddy, it was great wearing a skirt at school today.” She dashed into the study, then stopped and looked at her father.

He was hanging from the ceiling light with a rope round his neck, swinging to and fro’, acccompanied by the shadow of his former self. 



I had to write about the word ‘grain’


in France quite a lot of people eat

‘un grain de blė’, as we say, wheat.

many more on ‘grain d’orge” gorge,

that is barleycorn, at mill or forge.

but medically ‘grains d’orge’ mean

seeds in joints which can’t be seen.

in ‘grains de moutarde, ou de grenade’,

‘mustard or pomegranate seed’ is had.

to speak really posh, refined, you say

‘le bon grain finit toujours par lever’.

meaning quality always rises to the top.

‘la récolte de blé’ is grain’s harvest crop.

‘un entrepôt des grains’ we call a granary

‘un poulet de grain’, a corn fed chick for me.

être en grain’ pigs love all the world over

it simply means to find oneself in clover.

‘un grain de café‘ is a brown coffee bean

‘un grain de poivre’, a pepper corn green.

‘un grain de raisin’ is a grape, pip, the lot.

‘un grain de beauté’ a patch or beauty spot.

‘un grain de poussière is a speck of dust

for a grain of salt ‘un grain de sel’ is a must.

if physics in science, however, turns you on

‘un grain d’électricté‘ is just one electron.

‘avoir son grain’ tells us he’s drunk in his bed

and ‘il a un grain’ means he’s gone off his head.

‘côté grain de cuir’ is leather’s grainy side too

‘gros grain’ is coarse, or pock marks, a few.

‘ruban gros grain’ is the rough side of photographs

‘temps à grain’, a sea squall, does not bring laughs.

there are so many variations of using ‘grain’ that we

avoid getting soaked by rain in a ‘fort grain de pluie’,

or being blown off the road and then onto the grass

by a strong gust of wind that’s called a ‘grainasse’.

but from nice folk we might ‘en prendre de la grain’,

benefit from their example, or simply ‘casser le grain’

that’s just eating as much as we think that we’ll need

until we all ‘monter en grain’, that means run to seed.



this happened when I was asked to write on ‘a Brick’.


When first reflecting on the single word brick, most people imagine many of them stacked together in all sorts of shapes and sizes to form buildings, towns and cities. But oddly I have never thought of a brick as anything other than just that, a single brick.

The first one I ever saw on its own was near the orchard wall on the side of our garden. It was very old. I was two so it probably had three hundred years more life than I, but it fascinated me by its dirty pinky brown colour and the bit chipped out of its side. I tentatively turned it over with my foot and recoiled in a toddler’s yucky horror. Stuck to its underneath was a nest of newly born beetles and two snails with slightly cracked shells. I felt sorry for them but was loath to touch them in case they might bite me. Insects and little life was something to be wary of at such an age. My sister, fifteen months older, was worse. She screamed and jumped backwards, tripped and fell over, ending up sitting in a patch of damp grass.

At that age I didn’t know the words to tell her  “You’ve wet your arse”.

The second brick to challenge me all alone came much later when I had grown to nearly nine. There it sat on the garden path, between two sticks. But something was wrong. It was pristine, new unmarked and looking as though it had just been made and placed there on the gravel. My mind by now was curious and loved solving mysteries. Where had it come from, what was its purpose for no building work was going on at home. I was not afraid of bricks by then and picked it up to inspect it. The maker’s name, Thos James and Son. was clear to see,written on it’s gutter side. This had been embossed and stamped on it after leaving the kiln in which it was given life.  That made me wonder. Did it have parents, a whole family. Who were its kith and did its kiln have kin?

As I turned over in my hand the mason’s object, which he would coat with cement and change into an artefact of his trade with a triangular shaped tool, to add to many thousands more, I had a thought. Had this single brick been bought for its outstanding beauty, was it a pearl of its culture, cultured as pearls so often were? I only knew I had heard these words, I had no idea what one did to culture a pearl or anything else. But my boy’s mind wound magic properties round that brick, was it made uniquely for a jugglers  trick? Or had some foul felon commissioned just such a weapon, to throw at a millionaire’s window and gain entrance to priceless jewels in a study safe? That would be done by night, so was this brick fashioned by an alchemist at dusk and sold to some fiendish foe of Sherlock Holmes, whose tomes of detection were just entering the realm of my greedy young reader’s devouring mind? I dropped it on the ground, and later wondered was it ever found?

The next sole brick I used aged sixteen and for a sole purpose. I placed it oblong shape up beneath a window to peep in. My sister had taken a new boy friend into the withdrawing room and my mother forbade me to join them. What could they be doing? I had to see, so after a late tea I went round the side of the house and thought. ‘I’ll pick a brick’. First brushing off a lazy louse, I placed it at the perfect angle, stood on its top one footed and stretched up until I could see. They were only drinking cups of tea. In my chagrin I lost my balance as well, twisting my ankle very painfully. I watched it swell but could never say how I had injured myself that stupidly innocent day.

You would think as I grew older I would lose my interest in mundane things. Well on the whole I did, but on one glorious day at university I had my greatest encounter with a single brick. I was twenty years old and the college walls were half as old as time. The same one where someone wrote that famous Newdigate prize rhyme. The porter was helping to erect a wall,  just by the master’s lodge, to stop any bat or ball from breaking  downstairs windows. When from his wheelbarrow a brick fell free and, of course, it fell near me. Remembering my ancient passion for all things ‘brick’ I picked it up and took it back to my student rooms. There, amid  objets d’art and books, I put it in a place of honour and soon it became a talking point. “That brick anything special, John?” I was asked.

“Worth several thousand,” I replied looking at its admirer’s face aghast.

“You paid that much just for a brick?” I nodded, but demurely refused to comment on what was the significance of the scratched engraving on it. Soon students came from all around to examine, marvel and shake their heads. It really was a wondrous hoax, that I kept up until the day I left. That was when  a rich American girl took me aside and offered me an enormous sum to buy it for her antique collection. When she left I had pocketed twenty thousand pounds, I never did hear if it was seen again. But I rather think not, for she took it home to Idaho. Where it’s probably got pride of place on her family’s old piano.