I have stood on a windswept mountain top,
face to the sky,
lungs full of sweet, clean air.
I am inspired.
I have lain 'tween sheets stained with shame,
seeking love and solace,
heart full of bitter, tarnished reality.
I am taught.
I have danced on soft green grass,
cool beneath my feet,
sipped rosehip wine in the shade
of weeping willows.
I am soothed.
I have stumbled on ragged rocks,
led astray by false direction,
wretched tears falling into
bottomless obsidian pools.
I am undefeated.
I am humble. I have my pride.
I have my dreams. I have my memories
I am foolish. I am wise.
I am. Simply. Me.
All was not quiet on the western front. It was the spring of 1917. Soldiers from Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the then Dominion of Newfoundland were attacking the German trenches near the town of Arras in France. This particular war zone was part of the backdrop to the famed battle of Vimy Ridge, where the Canadian troops - God bless 'em all - gave the Germans what for. But, although Vimy is a story to be told again and again, it is not my story for today. My story begins almost two weeks later on the 22nd April, 1917. A meeting had taken place that day in one of the many miles of trenches. Two British soldiers, both from the Border Regiment yet previously separated in the melee, had found each other again. They were step-brothers; Robert, aged 22 and Thomas, (age unknown). Amazed and delighted at their chance meeting, they decided to sit down and write a letter home. They told their parents and their step brothers and sisters of their miraculous meeting before signing off with a single sentence. "Tomorrow we go over the top" On the 22nd April, 1917, these two men each shared some precious moments in the hell that was trench warfare. Now they share something else. The 23rd April, 1917. The day they both died. Robert Stanley Allonby and Thomas Daniel Bowness are memorialized in Arras. Robert was my great great uncle. His mother, a widow, married Thomas' father, a widower. Between them they shared 14 children. I have his mother's (my great great grandmother's) wedding band, which is made from her first wedding band twisted into the second band. How I wish I had that letter.Tweet
I love legends, especially those of the British Isles. The very word 'legend' summons up a delicious image of a story passed down through the centuries, changing and shifting shape as it travels, the original details buried beneath layers of time. The more renowned legends of Britain are fascinating enough, but its the obscure local legends that, for me, carry the most intrigue. They're like little nuggets of inspiration, tucked away in villages and towns all over the country. It's fun digging them out, especially since Google (my best friend) makes it so easy. My (second) soon-to-be-finished novel, 'Triskelion', is based on one of these legends, that being the story of the 'Last Wolf of Humphrey Head'. It's a local legend, told to me as a child, and I've always loved it. In my next post, I'll share the original legend as it was told to me. Have a wonderful day!Tweet
After my mother died, I was going through a shoe-box full of papers that I found buried in her closet. All the poems I'd ever written for her, plus some homesick letters I'd sent her from Brownie Pack Holidays, were tucked away in an envelope. I cried, of course. It was an incredible emotional journey back to the days of youth and childhood. In truth, I couldn't remember writing half of what was in there, but the words were definitely mine, innocent and untainted by the trials of life. And those words had been treasured. They had meant something to someone. And that meant the world to me.Tweet