Anton's Ideas

Anton Wills-Eve on world news & random ideas

Category: Uncategorized


<a href=””>Nest</a&gt;



“Nest is the only four letter word in English of which you cannot make an anagramme,” James said to Peter. Peter thought he was slightly unhinged.

“James,” he observed, “I should imagine you could be sent a whole lot of them, tens in fact.” Peter felt a bit of an idiot. He worked it out. What was it you did again, start with each letter and add the other three in order, like a four horse accumulator in gambling at the races. He tried it.

“Nest, Nets, Nste, Nset, Ntes, Ntse, Esnt, Estn, Etns, Etsn, Ents, Enst, Snet, Snte, Sent, Setn, Stne, Sten, Tens, Tesn, Tnes, Tnse, Tsne, Tsen.That made 24 combinations, the maximum for four letters. Let me count the actual words. 1. Nest:  2. Nets: 3. Ents (well Tolkien allowed it): 4. Sent: 5. Sten (as in gun probably): 6. Tens: 7. Tsen (well the English way of spelling a Chinese name): Yup, that’s the lot.

“Sorry, Peter there are only seven possible words. How do you make it ten?” Peter had a rather romantically wistful look on his face as he came out of a daydream and replied,

“Oh, I was thinking of all the girls Ilove and there are so many. How can I work out the number of girls who might yet be true to  me?” When you said ‘nest’ I immediately added a word and thought of my future love nest. Just for fun, what can you come up with for love?

You have probably gathered by now that James adored challenges. “Hang on a tick, I’ll see. I’m sorry, but let me do this. Love, Loev, Lvoe, Lveo, Leov, Levo, Ovel, Ovle, Olev, Olve, Olve, Olve, Vole, Voel, Vloe, Vleo, Veol, Velo, Evol, Evlo, Elov, Elvo, Eolv, Eovl. That only gives us three possibles. 1. Love: 2. Vole: 3. Velo (if you allow a French bike). I’ve ruled out Olev as I don’t think the Scandinavians spell it that way.” Peter stared at him in awe.

That night James had the oddest dream. He was being chased by a vole on a velo sent by Tsen and armed with stens as they attacked the Ents protecting the nest by the tens of nets sent with love from Peter .





<a href=””>Particular</a&gt;



You once said you wondered how old I am.

Please never ask me that, I’ll tell you why.

I am very particular about being truthful,

But that’s the one time I always tell a lie!


When I was eleven and going to the movies

I told the ticket seller I was well past sixteen

Though particular in all matters of veracity,

I’d have missed all those adult films I’ve seen.


Then when my eyes beheld a Parisian beauty,

Whom I particularly wanted gently to seduce

I could not tell her I was barely past eighteen,

“Trente”! My conscience said, we made a truce.


In later life, when sixty, I once again dissembled,

Some insurers are particular and fussily insistent,

I would never have earned so generous a pension

Without five extra years typed on their document.


But whenI die I must be honest on my gravestone.

The dates will be etched in gold and shining clear.

I shall be particular when telling the undertakers,

It’s 1942 to 20** How can one lie about that year?




<a href=””>Atmospheric</a&gt;

When It Mattered

“I say, have you ever been up in a plane, old boy? Eh? You know one of those four winged, dangerous looking things that people say can fly. Never even seen one myself, but I’m sure it’s all a lot of bosh really. I mean we are already in 1915, surely people in the modern world don’t believe fairy stories like that, do they?”

Cuthbert looked at Humphrey and surprised him enormously.

“Humpy, old man, actually I have. And they do fly through the air, and I’ll tell you something else. We are going to win this war with them too. I know. I am in the flying corps and pilot one.” His friend looked scared more than anything and merely replied.

“How do you mean? What can we do to soldiers on the ground when we are so far away from them up in the sky? It’s nonsense. No, give me a cavalry charge any day.”

Four years later the two friends were sitting in their club in London, Cuthbert being one of the small handful of pilots who had served throughout the 1914-18 war and survived unscathed to tell the tale. He explained why he had been right. “It’s all down to a thing called ‘atmospheric pressure’, my dear chap. Keeps us up there shooting, bombing and reporting on troop movements to the army generals. The Germans didn’t have a chance.”

“Oh,” said Humphrey, “didn’t the Germans have atmospheric pressure then, my dear fellow? I mean why did we have it and not them?”

“I haven’t a clue,” Cuthbert answered. “I only flew the planes, it’s the boffins who told us we did it due to atmospheric pressure, whatever that is. I suppose the Germans couldn’t make any.”

But the fact that it happened again in 1945, left none of the club members in any doubt that the British always invented the most important inventions when things really mattered and the chips were down.



I wanted to entitle this post ‘Pro Nobis’ but remembered that few people know much Latin now and it would have looked like showing off. But you’ll see why I wanted to when I explain the reason for this blog. It’s a few short words about prayers.

Whenever we want to have a chat with someone we love we always do one of four things. Firstly we in some way say I love you. When praying this is usually called praise.

Secondly we often want something and so ask for a favour of some kind. In prayer this is called rogation or asking. The most common reason for any communication.

The third thing we have to do a lot is apologise. ,’I’m sorry’ is an expression of sorrow at having upset someone in any way at all. If it is someone we love it is normally accompanied by a plea for forgiveness. This is probably my most regularly necessary form of prayer.

Finally, there is the fourth type of prayer. Today I had the most wonderful happiness I can ever feel when saying my prayers. I had just learned that something I had been asking God for was in the process of happening. After years of distress suffered by someone who had told me about their problem, and in doing so had come to mean a lot to me,they were at last seeing things improving enormously. I was able to look up to God and smilingly say “Thank you”. Believe me, whether in prayer or any human exchange, gratitude is the most loving and happy feeling of affection one can experience. Why? Because through it we know that someone we love reciprocates that love. So many people forget to say thanks, they don’t know what they are missing!


George’s Nightmare

<a href=””>Honk</a&gt;



The worst continuing saga in the news these days is the ever growing list of girls and women who claim to  have been, or are being, sexually harassed. Just one case is too many, nobody would disagree with that. But then just one case of any type of sexual harassment by anybody on anybody else is totally unacceptable and inexcusable. Take the case of George.

A normal middle class boy of average looks, academic ability and pleasant if slightly shy personality, he always tried to get on well with all his peers male or female. The last thing George would ever do would be to make any type of unacceptable approach, verbal or physical to anyone. Touching up girls or boys, calling out names with sexual inuendos or any sort of groping were actions he would not even contemplate. He was quite normal in everything he did, or any games or social events in which he took part. And yet he had few friends. Not real friends, but it was no accident. The poor boy had the misfortune to celebrate his  fifteenth birthday in the year 2015.  His parents asked him if he wanted to ask any school friends to a party or do something special to celebrate the day and he thdought about it for just five minutes.

“No thanks, I don’t think so. I don’t think any of us would enjoy it very much”. The trouble was that he would not tell his parents his reason for his answer. He had a lot of children in his class whom he would have liked to ask to a party but just couldn’t. He was getting very annoyed with them and finally started to question their behaviour. He began with John, a boy very close to himself in age.

“John, when you and the other boys have late night parties and things, do you always have to do drugs and watch porn?” John thought he was raving.

“We don’t have to, we just enjoy it. The girls do to, so why not? Our parents are seldom around and most would understand even if they were. Why? Don’t you like porn and drugs and things that make you feel great? None of us think you’re gay or anything, are you a religious nut or something?” George shook his head.

“No John, it’s not that. It’s just that drugs are dangerous and although a lot of the girls turn me on I don’t want to upset them by having sex with them, maybe getting them pregnant or upsetting them by seeming to share in enjoying watching porn with them, which I don’t.” John just wandered off, bewildered.

Next George asked a well known siren in the class, fourteen year old Katie, why she behaved as she did? She was not so much surprised, it was George after all, but saw no reason why she shouldn’t be honest with him. “Look we’ve known each other four years now, George, and I’ve changed from a little girl into a young woman. What do you expect me to do. I enjoy most sexual activities so I go with a lot of boys. We enjoy it. I admit drugs are a bit dicey and I’m not really into them, but I pretend to be or I might not be invited to the all night porn show and sleepover dates. It doesn’t affect my school work so why should I worry?” George was getting seriously worried about himself. Finally he asked his headmaster if he could have a personal chat with him.

“Well of course, George, I have to uphold the standards of decency demanded at this school, but you can see it’s impossible. If I or any teachers tried to interfere with activities outside school we’d be in court on trumped up rape charges from the girls, or homosexual and paedophile charges from the boys. Parents never back teachers so we just keep our heads down and hope to survive from day to day without finding ouselves suspended or arrested. I wish all the pupils were normal and pleasant like you, but this digital age has made that a pipe dream.”

Poor George. There were 16 girls and 17 boys in his class all aged between 14 and 16. He could honestly name only two boys, both obviously gay, and four girls, one a mouse, two lesbians, and the fourth an academic genius who just got on with her own life, who did not indulge in fairly regular orgies of some description. When his seventeenth birthday came along he was thoroughly depressed and summonded up the courage to ask the ‘mouse’,

“Carla, it’s my birthday tomorrow and I wondered if you’d like to come out with me, you know, to a film or maybe a dance. Whatever you like, you say. She just stared at him. She was far more scared and frustrated than he was. The girls made fun of her because she would not join in their high jinx, and the boys just pinched her backside or made lewd jestures at her while making it clear they would never want to have any more meaningful relationships with her. Sheblushed and almost accepted George’s offer too fast.

“Oh yes, George. yes please. I haven’t got a boyfriend at the moment, well I’ve never had one really. Do you mind that? I mean I’m still a virgin and everything, would it put you off me?” George had never felt so sorry for ayone in his life.

“Don’t be silly! I’m hardly Don Juan, am I? What would you like to do?” Then came the shock.

“We could have a bite at mine, if you like. Dad is away on business just now and mum walked out on us thee years ago. I’m on my own at the moment.” Somehow George felt uncomfortable but having cheered Carla up so much he couldn’t let her down. He just said,

“OK. I’ll come round about six, after my homework. Oh where do you live?” It  turned out she lived only four roads away. They had a very nice, friendly evening discovering they liked the same music and both enjoyed the football on the television. At midnight George thought he ought to be going and was sitting next to Carla on the sofa with his arm round her when he remarked on this.

“You don’t have to George, if you want to stay with me my bed’s a very large one,” and she kissed him very seductively as she said this. George wondered what on earth he should do. He could not bear the thought of disappointing her by not making love to her when she so plainly wanted him too, but also he did not have any feelings of love for her and genuinely thought it was something he should not do. In the end he gave her a goodnigt kiss and said he had had a lovely time and hoped they would soon feel more for each other. A very crestfallen Carla said goodnight to him.

Three days later a policeman called at George’s house asking to see him on a serious matter. It was early evening and his mother, but not father, was home. What followed left him staggered. The policeman said he had been accused of rape by one of his school friends as an i-phone had a video on it showing him snuggling up to her on a sofa and another series of still photos showed her in a state of distress with torn clothing. He had to answer the charges at the police station. One can imagine his nightmare. Carla, in her chagrin at being spurned, cried “rape.” She had a medical examination showing she had indeed been subjected to sexual intercourse, but nobody even thought she had phoned another boy and asked him round for a quickie just to substantiate her claims. No DNA tests were possible  because she had showered, bathed and cleaned herself too well. The magistrates court summoned George to answer the accusations, while most of the children at school thought the whole thing was a huge joke. The female magistrate,   asked him for his version of events. At last he could take no more,

“Madame,” he answered, “I am the victim of respecting the rights and personal wishes of my female colleagues and friends in all matters appertaining to any sort of sexual harassment or interference. I recently read on line eight tips of how males of my age should behave towards females of any age in such matters. Let me enlighten you:

  1. I should never drink so much alcohol that I feel uninhibted and indulge in any form of sexual harassment. I never have and I do not intend to. I see no question of this raised  in the charges against me.
  2. I should not boast of any worth or personal prowess to impress a woman or make sexual advances  following such behaviour. I never have , I never will, and I am not charged with this.
  3. Calling out lewd remarks or cat calls to women. This is not pertinent to this case and anyway it is the last thing I would do.
  4. Not to send pictures of my genitalia to a female. I never have, am not accused of it and ayway I consider it disgusting.
  5. Never treat a woman as if she owes me sexual favours. Well this whole case is about the fact that I did  not assume this, was home before my normal bedtime, and would never  treat a woman in such a way. If anything it was she who thought I ought to make love to her.
  6. Not to expect to be praised for NOT indulging in such practices. In short for being a ‘goodie, goodie’. I don’t, haven’t and in this case would hardly expect to be so treated  would I?
  7. In all relationships remember that sexual intercourse must be consensual and that if a woman does not want you to have sex with her at any time I should respect that. Well, what happened here was that it was I who refused to spend the night with her, but she did not accept my reluctance to practice fornication with her.
  8. Keep your hands to yourself. Actually this is the only one with which I disagree. Neither party should be allowed to stroke or fondle the other if it is against their wishes. Well the video showing us having a goodnight cuddle certainly does not infer that I was doing anything unpleasant or unloving towards her. On the contrary she wanted me to.

“There you have  my defence. I have since dicovered that she fabricated all the evidence against me out of spite and by coaxing another male friend to have sex with her so she could cry rape against me. I can no more prove or disprove my case than she can hers.”

Poor George was found guilty of attempted rape with violence and sentenced to six months jail pending time to appeal. Unfortunately, being a normal, consideate, pleasant and kind young man was not enough to allow George to retain his sanity. Two days later he took an overdose of sleeping pills and, as I write, his life is still in the balance.



<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.



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=””>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.




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.



Charles II<a href=””>Countless</a&gt;

a lovely prompt for a mind like mine!


In Mediaeval central France, around the time King Saint Louis IX died in 1270 while on crusade, a small territory in the centre of the Loire valley found itself in a most unfortunate situation. Its countless peasants, merchants, burghers and noblemen found themselves literally Countless. Le Comte Pierre le Pauvre had died in penury, and being a bald bachelor had left no hair or heir.

It was by no means a huge Comté, indeed more like one of the small English counties which abounded at that time, still do. The size of Wiltshire? Yes, maybe so. But, although of little significance politically or strategically, it had one asset which every inhabitant knew  could make them very rich if properly managed. The wine grown on those few banks of the Loire  was of a magnificent quality. Indeed the seven vineyards which claimed to produce the finest wine all insisted that the Knight, Nobleman, merchant or Esquire who owned them should be crowned and consecrated the new Comte. The king was, dead they had heard, so if they arranged things fast enough their new ruler would be in place before any royal command could name another claimant to the title. But two serious problems faced them, one legal, one regal.

The legal one was simple. A scroll in the local cathedral, with copies in the largest chateau  and modest castle, dated back four hundred years to 873 laying down the rules for a Comte to obey  from the day of succession to the title. It said, en bref, that if the incumbent died childless and with no spouse, then whoever was appointed in his place, should both be married reasonably young and be expected to have children to succeed him in abundance. In short it was intended by king Charles II that the title should be hereditary. By an odd coincidence he was also bald, at least history has always given him the nickname  ‘Charles the bald’, but the coincidence ended there for he was succeeded by his son.

But the regal problem was much more in line with  typical French concern for the  taste of the grape than the defence of the realm. Or at least that part of it which produced fine wines. The Comte had to provide the monarch with a cask of the region’s finest vintage, voted by the seven vine growers, every three months. So how did the inhabitants of this typically sleepy Comté resolve the appointment and choice of a new Comte? Well first let us meet the seven owners of the vineyards. To start with by far the wealthiest and, under normal circumstances, the likeliest man to lead the countless people was Sire Robert Bonchance, who lived in the castle. His vineyard produced a really excellent dry, crisp white with a nose of strawberries and wild peaches mixed with gooseberry flavours, which had the added aroma of a South Australian eucalyptus. You know the sort of wine. Goes well with poached white fish and creamed potatoes. It would have been an absolute certain choice  except for the unfortunate fact that neither South Australia nor potatoes had at that time been made known to Western Europe. And Robert had another problem. His wife Mathilde was a positive shrew. She may have had four sturdy sons in five years but the locals all recoiled at the idea of her being given any higher social status than she had.

The two knights of the king’s bodyguard, honorary, who dwelt on that part of the Loire were twins. They each owned a vineyard and loved playfully trying to outdo each other every year when the grapes were trodden. Pierre and Jean-Claude Jumelles  were aged twenty nine, good soldiers, vintners and pals. But there the similarity ended. Much as they loved each other they also loved the same young lady, pretty nineteen year old Hélène Damnaçion daughter of a Basque merchant and his wife who had moved there when she was small.

“Eh alors?” sighed Pierre.

“Quoi, donc!” replied his sibling.”Nous allons ….”

No, look they both spoke perfect Oxford English  …”I say old chap we’d better decide who has the hand of the fair belle Hélène by a feat of arms.” He meant literally by feet and arms. “You game?” His brother was and so they raced each other for a few milia passuum down the Loire in rowing boats. Hélène stood on the bank cheering them on and shouting such loving remarks as, 

“Drown the bastard, Pierre, I never could stand him!”

Her prayers of pious devotion were heard and her knight errant won by a league as their two premierships skimmed the water. However, Jean-Claude took it well and made this proclamation to the crowds on the tow path. “Whatever fair maid shall cross my palm with two groats and a flagon of mead shall have me for a night!” On hearing this Lucette  Geaux whispered to Virginie Cémois,

“Je tink ‘e means knight.” But she was too slow, Charolotte Isine  had rushed forward, mead and groats at the ready, and told him she was already his. One might say she was ready maid and his luck was in. Unfortunately three of the older wine growers, while rich in money and with superior fruit, were all at least forty years old. Albert Orl, Pascale Planche  and Guy de la Musée all had good wives too and fine young boys, but their only hope of conquering the countless inhabitants was by somehow rigging the vote, for none had the bearing or  brains of a Comte. And then they all stared at the owner of the seventh vineyard. They had forgotten the rules or else, in the excitement of the chase for ça qui Comte, had not realised their dilemma. 

The seventh contestant was Blanche Neige, the most beautiful girl in the kingdom, let alone the Comté. What on earth were the countless countless to do. They could make her a Comptesse too, but did she have to be married to a noble? The scroll said nothing about gender, it had been hand copied by a scribe called  N.Carolina. So the six wine growers decided to ask her if she would be prepared to pick any handsome man of her choice, give him her grapes and then they would agree her wine would be the best and they would all withdraw in favour of her suitor. Blanche was staggered at their effrontery. “But, mes amis, ‘ow you say? I would win for my wine’s best anyway. I’ll be LA COMTE et mon mari”  (French for hubby bur she forgot, it was an English speaking plot) will be LE COMTESSE, what’s wrong with that?

Well of course nowadays nothing at all. But in France, some seven hundred and fifty years ago, transgendering the aristocracy was almost as bad as publicly admitting the nobles already had. So the vintners put it to two votes. First which was the superior wine because if a man won everything would be fine. And secondly, in case it was Blanche, they decided to create the first female Comte. In truth the countless countless could not wait to see what the new king’s reaction would be. But Blanche still had to find a hubby and suddenly had a super plan, hastening to the king’s coronation up North. He took one look at her and cried, “Ma Cherie!” which basically meant would she be queen? She agreed and told him she was also Le Comtesse, de somewhere on the Loire. He could not care less. He just took down her title and added it to his own and added her possessions to the crown.

So that left the countless countless countless still. But at least they did not have to cross dress every time they wished to relieve themselves in a public place.
























<a href=””>Dream</a&gt;

Ah! a chance to ramble in aphasia and still be sane.


To sleep, perchance to wake up with cramp or the ageing need to use the loo. And it is still only about half past two in the morning. Still, I think I shall take a pill. One of those strong one’s that won’t let me stir. Six hours of solid snoring through, what wonders for such a span of time will my mind prepare?

First I saw that I was very handsome, was it really me? Well the beauties chasing after me seemed to think so, and oh  the pleasure I would get to know  when they descended on my bed.  But half-life is not like that; as the first girl who sat beside me was squat and fat.

Toothless she grinned saying “Ullo, dearie.” My soul was clean but so uneasy. In fantasy it had wanted to play with fire, and satisfy its lustful desire. But we all know dreams are not so accommodating, they twist and turn and leave  us waiting for all we want to appear before us while asleep. This must be lest awake we might sin, you cannot do that when your will’s not plugged in, for God only punishes sinners who know what they are doing.

Then my mind took a bellicose turn, and sword in hand, I confronted a fearsome cut  throat band of desperadoes with one aim, to cut me down and expunge my name from the list of people their kingdom  feared. A jungle of sorts, with temples and palm trees then appeared, surrounding me and the band all cleared. Wandering through falling fruit as my uncontrolled mind, asleep in a waking world, went on its unreasonable yet exciting way. Next I was invited to play a piano concerto , an orchestra was there already and the conductor beckoned with his baton. I asked what he wanted me to play, Mozart number 21 was what he said but the noise from the orchestra filled me with dread, and the piano keys numbered three hundred and four.  But The cut throats returned and to loud applause I bowed and returned to my earlier dream

This time a fair beauty with lips like peaches and cream, have you ever tasted them even in a dream? They were lovely , but melted as she then melted all over me, and the pills ceased working as I rose for a pee.

Two hours more sleep I had had, some good and some bad. But none of it memorable or if it was, I have no recall and think that such dreams are  far from what I expected at all. So disconnected, and the book that had fallen on the floor, with the light still on just by the door, was entitled “How to write poetry when you are asleep”.

Time for my alarm by the bed to  bleep. The stupid thing thinks I’m still asleep!




<a href=””>Shadow</a&gt;

an apology if I’ve upset anyone


My briefest ever post. If I upset you with my true story a few minutes ago, A Shadow of his Former Self, I apologise. It is just a subject I feel so incredibly strongly about that I would ask all of you to pray for help for all children and adults caught up in such a situation. There are far too many cases in Britain.



<a href=””>Beach</a&gt;


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 glad that he has been able to show you how much he loves you by bringing you safely to this beach, this heavenly shore.”



<a href=””>Abandoned</a&gt;


James was feeling really lonely. Christine had promised to meet him after school and that was an hour ago now. It was the third day in a row she had stood him up and he had had enough. No way was he going to give her a fourth chance. They were both 18, both very much in love, he thought, but now he felt his world crumbling. Bob was obviously her preferred choice and James shrugged his sad shoulders and slouched his way back home dejected and abandoned.

Bob had always known how James felt about Christine and supposed he did not really have a hope of getting the opportunity to tell her how he felt. She must have picked up something from the words and hints he had dropped, and she was pleasant and never made fun of him. But did she have to stand him up for the third day in a row? That was cruel and unnecessary. Finally he slung his bag over his back and walked slowly home, dejected and abandoned.

Christine did not know what to do. She was feeling dreadful about both James and Bob because she liked them both and wanted either of them to help her. But how could she ask? She kept choking at the last minute, agreeing to meet one and then the other and now it was three days in a row that she had disappointed them both. Oh Lord, what should she do? Her best friend Maddy was just coming out of the school gates. Finally Christine plucked up the courage and decided to ask her advice.

“Maddy. Look, I’ve got a real problem and I’m hurting two people badly what shall I do? They both have said they really want to help me and I’ve said I want them to, but I just can’t bring myself to talk to either of them about you.”

“I wouldn’t worry about that,” said Maddy, shrugging in apparent unconcern. “You’ve become a clinging bore,Chris, and I’m going out with Sarah this weekend. Sorry, loser, but it’s finished.”

Christine stared in disbelief and sat down on the nearest bench to assess the situation. That was three really loving, presumed friends she’d lost in a week. She saw Harry leaving. Slow shy, gawky Harry, always the last in everything. Oh, what the hell, she was that fed up.

“Hey, Harry. You doing anything? Like to come for a coffee?”

“With you?” he replied in almost disgusted surprise.”Give us a break.”

Christine wandered back home, sad, dejected and abandoned.



<a href=””>Mask</a&gt;

one word prompt ‘mask’ is just toooooooo tempting


The ultimate non-choice for President is now looking very likely to steal the GOP nomination and then  we will see if he is prepared to drop the mask. So far the obnoxious insult to the American population, Donald Trump, has managed to convince enough people that Republican party members should give him their nomination to run for President. What we have to ask ourselves is this. Was his campaign just an attempt to make sure his party had a really strong candidate to return them to power, or was his performance up to now a serious series of statements of his intent to act like an idiot if he gets the top job?

Personally I think he had been hiding behind a mask and he will now drop it, the Republicans will let out a sigh of relief and give him their heartfelt support. If he doesn’t drop the mask, however, there are only two things the GOP can do. First of all throw him out of the party. He has already said he doesn’t like the people he represents so why would they acknowledge his self styled allegiance? No they would have to take away his GOP membership and in July put forward an intelligent, popular and moderate candidate. Preferably a woman. The second thing they must do is convince ALL Americans that people like Trump, left or right, are extremists of the very worst sort for whom there is no place in a respectable political party. Failure to do this will effectively mean a new party will have to be formed to replace the GOP.

But then I’m a moderate Democrat, so I hope this necessary restoration of the Republican image comes much too late to Stop Hilary getting the armchair in the oval office. I know it’s not all over yet, but the longer Trump rants on insanely, the longer the rest of the world is going to wonder what is happening in the US to make its citizens support such an obviously unpleasant man. His foreign policy will never work because no other world leaders, and I mean any, will even talk to him.

Roll on November and let’s get this freak show right off the road. It’s damaging America’s image unbearably, something the world cannot afford!








<a href=””>Disaster</a&gt;

I love one word prompts, they offer such unlimited scope to enjoy yourself.


The worst scenario now for Giovanni was the prospect of his Mafia ‘friends’ working out how he had escaped. What would they do to him if they ever caught him? But how could they? Jacob’s sister Barbara had assured him they would never trace a man who had changed his name, his country and his looks. She had done a very good job on him. So he went into the main waiting room at the railway station in Bologna and sat down to kill 25 minutes until his train arrived.

He put his small green suitcase down beside him and started to read the e-book on the tablet he had with him. Barbara had even given him her own pocket computer, so nobody could trace him through that. He was still fidgety, though, and was surprised to discover the book on the reader app was in French. He didn’t speak French, but it was too late now. He started to read ‘Malaise en Malaisie’, a two dime thriller that might have been romantic, pornographic, a ‘whodunnit’ or all three for all he could make out. But, in case he was being watched, he ploughed through it as the pages scrolled forward on an automatic turner. He was intelligent enough to realise that the main good guy was called Jean-Claude, his romantic helper must be Francoise, the arch hood was obviously Mephisto, well he had to be, and his moll seemed to be called ‘Ma Belle Etoile’. A bit of a mouthful in a crisis, Giovanni thought, but he wasn’t actually very bothered about the story. But he was a bit worried about a cute young girl who sat opposite to him and seemed to be watching everything he did while trying very hard to appear uninterested in him. 

As luck would have it his train was delayed, then cancelled and finally announced as arriving about two hours later than it should have done. Our fleeing hero was feeling hungry and decided to get a sandwich out of his case. The sandwich box, a thermos flask and some night clothes and wash things were the sum total of the possessions he had brought for the journey. The case could be stolen for all he really cared as nothing in it would identify him in any way. He munched hungrily on some pastrami and bread, and sipped a little coffee, as he became ever more engrossed in the book which became less comprehensible by the page. Indeed Mephisto  appeared to be about to shoot Jean-Claue, or it could have been the other way round, and the two women were knifing each other – at least he thought that was what they were doing – and the approaching climax had got him quite excited by the time his train pulled in.

Hastily Giovanni put the tablet in his small suitcase, shut it and ran onto the platform to catch his train to the Swiss border and freedom. But to his horror his pretty ‘apparent stalker’ jumped up and followed him. Who was she? Giovanni was taking no chances. He changed seats three times, but each time the girl moved to a position from which she could see him. He just prayed they would make the border before she could alert any Italian contacts. But no such luck. As the train started to move slowly out of the station at Turin, the last stopping point in Italy, the girl was up like a flash, snatched the suitcase, whisked open a door and jumped onto  the very end of the platform.

Giovanni was lost. Why did she take the suitcase and not worry about him? Well, she hadn’t bothered about him so he just sat back in his seat and relaxed for the first time that day. In the early evening he was very glad when he got out at Geneva and went through Swiss customs with no problems and nobody watching him. He was safe. And there, ahead of him by the taxi rank, was Barbara waving to him. He kissed her on both cheeks and asked her what they did now as she was the one who spoke French and would get him on to his next destination, London by plane. His English was fluent and his future safe. But Barbara looked at him stunned.

“Giovanni, where is your suitcase?” she asked, almost in a panic stricken voice. “You left it on the train!” Then he explained what had happened and wondered what on earth was so important about his only bag. Barbara asked him to describe the girl. When he had finished she  swore quite immoderately.

“You put my tablet in the green case? You idiot!  The girl you described is one of my best friends, Louise Martin. We have a bet on about which of us would read Coco Manche’s latest thriller first. I downloaded it last night and thought I had beaten her. You fool, now she will read it before I do. I lose a 500 euro bet. Honestly Giovanni, you are sooo stupid”. But our hero asked her to take out her mobile phone and text Louise. 

“This will win you 500 euros, Barbara , my thanks for your help. Just tell her  this. ‘On page 217 Jean-Claude is facing Mephisto at gun point. In the next room Francoise and La Belle Etoile are fighting each other’. You couldn’t know that if you had never read ‘Malaise en Malisie’ as I have , could you? Louise will admit defeat.” Barbara stared at him.

“But you don’t understand French. How could you have read all that?”

He smiled. “I don’t and I can’t. I only managed to follow those names, and the odd word here and there. Louise must have seen what I was reading and seen me put it back in my case. I hope I haven’t spoiled the plot for you, but then I may have got it completely wrong and only picked up the names. But she’ll still believe you’ve read it first!”




<a href=””>Snap</a&gt;

thanks for this prompt!


I was once told that blogging was the equivalent of keeping a diary. It was, one should say is, the digital diarist’s  method of recording for posterity the events of everyday life. I have not used it as such  yet because I have never been sufficiently bothered about daily events in my life in the past two or three years. It’s all been hospital visits, funerals and similarly forgettable reminders of my mortality. But this week has been different.

As many of my readers know I live on a diet of music, prayer and sport. Well, music and prayer are lovely but not quite the stuff of diaries. I am fortunate, though, in that I live with a lady who some forty years ago did me the great honour of becoming my second wife. Both of us  were widowed but, despite each fighting dreadful illnesses ever since we met in a London hospital, we have had two great things going for us. Firstly we fell in love on sight, Romeo and Juliet really does happen in real life, even to people with histories of terrible personal sadness like us. Secondly, she happened to be equally passionate about motor racing, cricket and her beloved home soccer club Liverpool. Geographically we had some slight problems as I supported the London team  Tottenham HotSpurs. She was also a red rose Lancastrian so supported Lancashire at cricket and  I support Surrey. A real North-South divide. But our love was strong enough for us always to be overjoyed when the other had success to celebrate. Just imagine this week.

I am recovering from my fifth stroke, the long term effects of a double spinal fracture when being the only survivor of a helicopter crash in Cambodia, suffering from osteoarthritis, am being treated for my third ulcer, have had cancer for sixteen years now, surviving three terminal prognoses,  and have been a martyr to agoraphobia since I was five and a half years old. My wife was dreadfully ill with claustrophobia -how we met – at university in London but still persisted in studying aeronautical engineering. She was the only woman on the team that designed the two main helicopters in use by the British military today. She retired young after contracting very bad pernicious anaemia and then had an acute heart problem, which resulted in major surgery last year. It is still not properly fixed. So would you expect to see us sitting up for two late nights this week in a state of frankly uncontrollable excitement, a condition extremely dangerous for both of us? No you wouldn’t, but listen to this.

Major sports events do something to us. We can’t explain it. But on Sunday night, it’s six hours later over here, my my wife said she’d watch some of the last round of the Masters golf from Augusta to keep my son and me company. His wife was  on an overnight shift, she’s a senior staff nurse at a Merseyside hospital’s acute blood cancer ward. But it was just to be sociable, after all we had no thoughts of an English victory. But Danny Willett had. As the leader, and certain winner, Jordan Spieth faltered  Danny compiled one of the most immaculate rounds in golfing history. Starting at level par he did not drop a shot on that round and when told he was leading proceeded to birdie the most notorious hole on the course and went on to win by three strokes having shot a five under par 67. 

It was past midnight, my wife was still on the sofa, fists pumping the air and all of us in a state of disbelief. It was great too because Danny nearly did not play as his wife had their first baby just two days before he flew out to the US and he was the last player to sign in for the championship. He also had with him a snap shot of his new son. Can you beat that? I can, listen.

Last night, in the key European UEFA cup, Liverpool were playing the second leg of their quarter final against cup favourites Dortmund. In Germany they had tied the first match 1-1 the week before. Naturally my wife was watching this game. But what a game! The Germans were 2-0 up after nine minutes and this meant Liverpool had to score three as away goals count double in the event of a draw on aggregate. I commiserated with her as this was still the score at half time. All she did was remind me that Liverpool came back from 0-3 down to win the European Cup final against Milan eleven years ago. I smiled in sympathy.

Three minutes into the second half Liverpool got one back, hope was bubbling up on the sofa, but the Germans made it 3-1 ten minutes later. It was all over. My wife looked at me in surprise, “There’s still enough time.” I felt sorry for her. Well that was until 12 minutes from the end when Liverpool made it 3-2. And it turned into disbelief when they got an equaliser to make it 3-3 on the night with two minutes to go. But the Germans would still go through on more away goals in a 4-4 aggregate.

Time was up, but there were four minutes extra time to be added on for stoppages and with just one minute and 53 seconds to go Liverpool somehow scored again with a snap header to take a 4-3 lead  (5-4 overall). And that was how it ended. Did my wife leap up in euphoric delight? No, she just looked a little surprised that my son and I had doubted the support of the home fans; and then she took a pill to control her pulse which was dangerously high.

The end? No, something else happened to warrant putting this story in any sports report ever written. A chap tweeted in, the TV commentators told us, who was also a Liverpool fan but had been forced to watch the game on his mobile phone while holding his wife’s hand as she gave birth to their first child. Their son entered this world just as Liverpool were scoring the winner.  Now babies don’t really have that much effect on sport, but twice in five days? That’s more than a coincidence and worthy of an entry in any diary.




<a href=””>Giggle</a&gt;


Today’s One word prompt and  two more Limericks for fun


A young girl with a really cute wiggle

Squirmed, and then started to wriggle.

Crying, “ Oh, I beg of you Sir.

Please stop tickling me there!”

Before giving in with an amorous giggle.


A middle-aged matron called Kate

Telephoned for a masculine Mate.

She quite fell for young Peter,

And he was happy to meet her,

But found her well past her ‘use by’ date.


Seeing a girl with two dogs, in the bars

Don Juan, was quick to re-fill her glass,

And to quieten her spaniels

He bought two Jack Daniels,

Before placing his hands on her rrrs.