Yet more voices of heref.., p.1
YET MORE VOICES OF HEREFORDSHIRE
An Anthology of Poems and Short Stories
by the Barnabas Writing Group
Editor John Wood
Copyright 2014 John Wood.
A TRIBUTE TO KATE JONES
by Paul Young
This little book is a tribute to the memory of Kate Jones from the members of a writing group which, for more than two decades, met weekly under her leadership and direction throughout the winter and spring of every year. She was a woman of great good humour, firm friendship and deep insight. She enlarged the lives of all who knew and worked with her and she is sadly missed by us all. The short pieces which follow were largely inspired and created under her leadership and kind guidance, and many began as pieces of weekly homework which we hoped Kate would select to read out in class. We have put them together to help us fix memories of our time together and to show great gratitude for her life and friendship, but with perhaps just a little trepidation, knowing that somewhere in heaven she will affectionately be marking us all with red ink.
The short stories and poems of this anthology follow the earlier collections - “Voices of Herefordshire” in 1994 and “More Voices of Herefordshire” in 2003.
Names of contributors to “Yet more Voices of Herefordshire” appear in the Contents. For several years the class has met on a Thursday morning in St. Barnabas Church Hall, Venn's Lane, Hereford.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
In Weobley Church by Elizabeth Rumsey
My House by Romayne Peters
Misty Morning by Jill Lawson
Buying a Carpet in India by Ann Foley
Thought for the Day by Helen Beach
Home Sweet Home by John Wood
First Footing by Peter Holliday
Tree Pearls by Jean Heaven
Reasons to be Cheerful by Faith Bellamy
The Revolting House-Wife by Faith Bellamy
An Absent Friend by John Wood
Back to School by Jennifer Budd
The Artist's House by Elizabeth Rumsey
The Dreamer by Jill Lawson
Too Much Black by Helen Beach
The Fete by Jill Lawson
The Retreat by Wilma Hayes
A Baker’s Dozen by Bronwen Wild
A Psalm for the Senses by Jill Lawson
Smithers by Peter Holliday
War in Abertaled by Haydn Lloyd
Next of Kin by Jim Valdez
Tale of Two Loves by Jill Lawson
You Remember Jenny by Paul Young
Blues by Peter Holliday
The Seat of Idris by Ron Roberts
Slow Moving Hereford by John Wood
Hoot of Hate by John Wood
A Most Unusual Woman by Ann Foley
Rainbow in the Sky by Romayne Peters
Two Umbrellas by Paul Young
A Tale of Old Herefordshire by Faith Bellamy
Salad Days by Jennifer Budd
A Mirror by Romayne Peters
The Veiled Lady by Romayne Peters
A Day for Ducks by Gill Clifford
Oddments Drawer by Jill Lawson
My San Jose Home by Dot Ellison
3 AM New Years Day 1998 by Paul Young
Appreciation by Jill Lawson
Easter by Louisa Boughton
The Word by Romayne Peters
Six Women - 1940 by Wilma Hayes
Beginnings by Romayne Peters
Attachments by Bronwen Wild
Dragons by Helen Beach
Hill Farm by Peter Holliday
Renewal by Haydn Lloyd
Growing Old by Jill Lawson
Salad Days by Jill Lawson
Late Summer Sun by Jennifer Budd
The Kindness of Sergeants by Jim Valdez
In Memoriam by John Wood
A Tree of Delights by Ann Foley
The Wind by Jill Lawson
Top Drawer by John Wood
Home by Jill Lawson
Mixed Emotions by Faith Bellamy
I wish I were a Wiggly Worm by Jennifer Budd
Time by Romayne Peters
Eve and the Apple by Paul Young
Food by Louisa Boughton
On Passing my old Home in the Rain by Paul Young
Things my Mother Said by Wilma Hayes
Family Life by Bronwen Wild
Collecting the Male by Haydn Lloyd
Crow by Peter Holliday
Haikus by John Wood
Calvus et Calvinesta by Paul Young
The Name by Ann Foley
Remembrance by Ann Foley
Overboard by John Wood
Late Autumn Sonnet by Jill Lawson
Paths of Love by Romayne Peters
Bed Time Stories for Boys by Faith Bellamy
Wind Band by Jennifer Budd
Snow by Louisa Boughton
Close Shave by Wilma Hayes
Redemption by Bronwen Wild
Homage to the Eternal Woman by Haydn Lloyd
Mixed Doubles by Ann Foley
Unregarded Blackbird by Paul Young
A Meeting of Minds by Bronwen Wild
Sfumato and the Mona Lisa by John Wood
Wuff Trade by Haydn Lloyd
Snapshots of Love by Elizabeth Rumsey
Goodbye from Kate by Dot Ellison.
IN WEOBLEY CHURCH
Earth, earthed. Foundations
Of memories and prayers.
Here we stand,
hands cupped in expectation.
Will some elusive echo
sound within our ears,
Lift us on that eagle’s wings
to sing and praise the elusive God?
Stone faces and armoured knights
stare through the years,
Peering up at this new generation .
Like us they strained to fly
With the angels,
join those swallows in the sky.
We feel a deep thankfulness.
My house has many windows
Yet none look out to sea.
So sandy dunes and ocean swells
Are only imagined by me.
My house hasn’t much of a garden,
A few shrubs and a favourite tree,
My Rowan, bright russet in autumn
A delight for all to see.
My house may mean nothing to others
They who travel the world to see.
I do not roam. Why should I
When home’s the best place to be?
Of course visitors come
And I love them to stay
Though my home’s not quite mine
Till they’ve gone away.
My home may have certain shortcomings
Life’s lonely but at least I am free,
It’s just good to live in my own space
It’s my home and suits me.
Inside in Technicolor, the book is red, the carpet green,
The duvet on my bed is sprigged with varied hues, it seems
That every shade and hue is present in this place of dreams.
While outside, on an Autumn morning all is grey;
The gentle dawning of a new born day is monochrome.
Leaves merge into a single blur, there is no view
Beyond the next door’s fence, still wet with dew.
I cannot hear the birdsong with the windows closed.
Yet they composed a plainchant as they posed
On telephone wires, a minim each;
Here, with my book and tea in easy reach,
I am cocooned from the rigours of the day.
But in my haven-nest, away at present
From the demands that day will bring.
The mixed blessings of the postman’s offering,
The pain and portent of the paper’s pages,
Recession and redundancy and wages
Inadequate to meet real or imagined needs,
The constant battle with encroaching weeds.
But this illusion that began the day will fade,
The sun will burn away the morning mist;
And give us (please Lord) one more golden day, sun-kissed,
When what once seemed so colourless and drear,
With glow with Autumn colour bright and clear,
The thrush will sing with cheerful repetition,
Robin come to share my morning coffee,
A crumb of hospitality.
Life has been good to me!
And I will take the grey days with the gold,
Continue to rejoice though growing old.
BUYING A CARPET IN INDIA
You must buy a carpet when you go to India. We are in Cochin in Kerala, South India. It is rather out of the usual way. This morning we have been to St. Francis Church, which is a fifteenth century Portuguese/Dutch church, Cochin Fort and the Jewish Synagogue. Our guide now stops outside a Government Emporium where he advises us that the goods in the store are all guaranteed and the prices are very good. Reluctantly we get out of the car and are introduced to an attractive young Indian who takes us straight to the carpet warehouse.
We tell him as kindly as possible that we do not want a carpet. He charmingly says “Of course not, but I show you anyway. Let me show you how they are made.” We feel churlish; there can’t be any harm in seeing how they are made. Our first mistake, but so difficult to say “No”.
We see a mock-up of the start of a carpet, the many strings involved, the warp and the weft, and he tells us how a child sorts the different silks and every pattern is quite unique.
I notice our man has hazel eyes and wears a western-made pink shirt with the sleeves rolled up and designer jeans. An assistant serves us cinnamon-flavoured tea in glass cups and we are made to sit down and look at the many carpets for sale. We say again “We do not want one”.
Then he says “Of course not, but what carpet colours would possibly suit your house?”
John looks at me. I look at our carpet seller and say “None of these would suit our house in England but since you insist, coral colours would be good with blue, possibly” and I make my second mistake.
This is difficult for him but he finds us one and rolls it out. Then another, then another. We say again we do not want one. I am thinking of my new kitchen extension at home, we are saving up for that. I try to explain to him. He has very good English and a charming way.
He says “Of course not, but if you could have only one of these carpets, which would it be?” John looks at me. We tell him again we do not want one, but since you ask – that one! This is our third mistake, but if he put a knife to my throat and had John’s arm in a Half Nelson, we would have gone for a dark blue carpet with complicated lozenges and touches of coral.
He now gets out his pocket calculator and after lots of tapping he says 886. That sounds pretty good to us if that is rupees. He tells us that is in pounds. We say, yes that is a good price but we don’t want a carpet! He says “Wait a minute, I make another price.” Again the clicking of the calculator. John and I are squirming in our seats. Our guide and driver are nowhere to be seen. The next price is £663. We say again, the carpet is lovely but no we do not want it.
He tells us his family is in Kashmir. They have been allowed the use of this building to sell their carpets. It is very hot and he mops his brow. He is getting nowhere.
John looks at me with a query in his eyes. I shake my head. No, we don’t need this carpet. Where would we put it? Our charming Kashmiri mops his brow again and clicks away on the calculator with his other hand. The price comes down again to £480 – his last and final offer. John can’t stand the discomfort of the whole business. He knows I don’t like Indian carpets, but we don’t say this out loud. We are polite. We say we like the carpets but we don’t have the right room. We get up and take our leave, thanking him for his patience. He mops his brow. We are all hot and exhausted. Our charming Kashmiri is bitterly disappointed and can hardly look at us.
We find our guide and driver sitting in the main shop. They know immediately we have not bought a carpet. They all look disappointed. We feel we have let them down.
In the car, our guide turns to us and tells us that we are now going back to the Hotel. He shows us where the Indian Dancing will take place that evening. We try to note the spot and imagine the place without the teeming throng and traffic. They turn away from us, we can go on our own. I feel it is because we did not buy a carpet, so why should they take us?
We get back to the Hotel and are longing for a beer in the delightful cool gardens. It takes a long time to come. Punishment for not buying a carpet.
I know I am feeling sensitive but that evening I want to thank the Dholak player for pounding his drum so well, but he doesn’t look at me. We did not buy a carpet.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
“Journey? Journey? I’ll give them bloody journey. I’m not going anywhere, I’m not.” Sometimes Thought for the Day was all right, made her think a bit, but not this morning and she switched it off crossly. Crosser still, as it was of those new radios which faded gradually and they’d already got back to Baghdad before the sound went completely. “ Bloody Bush.”
She lay back on her pillow. Her hip had locked again. Damn. That meant she really needed to have a bath this morning, and with the Social cutbacks, that meant she’d have to dress herself. Louise would only have time for one or the other. And today was the day she was going to see her first great grandchild! She should be looking forward to it. But at her age it was all she could do to get from one end of the day to the other. Anything extra – even thinking about it – made her feel so tired. Not a good start to the day.
She could hear the sound of the kettle boiling downstairs. She must try to be nice to Louise today, after yesterday. “Hello Doris! How are we this morning?” “Fine, thanks, Louise.” She used to enjoy telling lies sometimes when she was a child, see how much she could get away with – like that time it was perfectly obvious she’d finished off the chocolate cake and she persuaded them all it was the dog. Ha!
“You’re looking more cheerful today! That’s good.” Louise was standing by the bed with a cup of tea. “I know – you’re looking forward to Hannah coming with Edward. Well, you need something to look forward to, a bit of change to the routine.”
“I’m sorry, Louise. My hip’s bad again. Would you mind helping me bath this morning? I’ll manage the dressing.” She watched Louise’s face carefully and noticed the telltale momentary frown. “Are you sure? Yes, that’s fine. I tell you what, I’ll start the bath, and get your breakfast while it runs.” Doris hitched herself up in to a sitting position and slowly, painfully, moved her legs over the side of the bed. Her feet found her slippers and holding onto the bed, she inched herself towards the door.
Louise bounded up the stairs two at a time and took her arm. “Poor thing. You are stiff this morning.” “Oh, thank you, that’s lovely.” Doris lay back in the bath and it was lovely; the trouble was, Louise was so busy, and what she wanted to do was simply lie there, not be raising this arm or that foot. Really, her armpits weren’t the point today. “Can I just lie here for a couple of minutes?” That quick frown again. “Yes, okay, I’ll make your toast and be right back up.” Well, that toast would be stone cold, but if it gave her a few more minutes……….
By the time she’d got dressed, delivered herself sedately downstairs and eaten
At least the baby wouldn’t need feeding – not by her, anyway. She really ought to be feeling more pleased they were coming, and she was cross with herself. She mustn’t sleep too long after lunch.
When the doorbell rang, she jumped. Momentarily confused, she called out “Come in, Louise” and there she was: Hannah, her favourite granddaughter, with what seemed a very small bundle in her arms. “Oh Gran, I’m sorry! Were you expecting someone else?” Doris looked at her fondly, thinking how like Margaret she was, with that exuberant hair and the kink in the nose; thinking too how, after all these years, it was still really Fred she was expecting whenever the front door opened.
“Hannah darling, how stupid of me. Come and sit down next to me here. I want to have a good look at you both. He’s fast asleep, I can’t see his eyes.”
When Hannah went out to get the tea ready, she put Edward gently into Doris’ arms. It was a long time since she’d held such a tiny baby. Doris hardly dared to move. Slowly, she brought her face down very close to Edward’s head. That smell! So unlike any other smell on earth. A bit of baby oil or something now probably, but really just sheer baby. Soft. Welcoming. Vulnerable. Hopeful. Lovemaking. Suddenly she was twenty-two again, and it was Margaret she was holding, looking at this tiny miracle she and Fred had made during his last leave before going back to France with his platoon. How much she had needed something of Fred’s to hold and cherish.
Edward’s tiny hand was starting to open and Doris put the tip of her little finger in his palm. His fingers closed around it, warm and strong. He was opening his eyes too now, and he fixed them on Doris’ face, unblinking. “Oh Gran, you’re such a softie! Here, I’ve got your tea.”
She was much too tired to contemplate the washing up. She was fed up with being tired. Fed up with having to be grateful to so many people. The effort of it all. Well, maybe, maybe, she’d done this bit, coping on her own, like she’d done the wife and mother bit – even the grandmother bit. Maybe she should ask the man from the bank to come round, see if she could manage the fees of that place near Margaret. Someone else could make the scones. She could have a bath every day.
Yet More Voices of Herefordshire by Brian Smith / Actions & Adventure have rating 4.1 out of 5 / Based on33 votes