A Child’s Garden of Verses

Wowee, what a revelation! I can remember being charmed by some of the poems in this book when I was little, especially ” The Land of Counterpane,”and “From a Railway Carriage”is still a classic but I hadn’t realised how dated it is. My copy has very sugary illustrations and I found the constant reference to “nursie” irritating but there is a severe lack of political correctness, partly, I believe, because it was written from a boy’s point of view and partly because, in an effort to include other countries Stevenson could not help but show the attitudes of the time (1920) The poem “Foreign Children” is offensive to modern eyes and there is a mention of the word “negro” which I would argue should be left as it is true to the period and not meant in a derogatory manner.

“The Lamplighter”could start a history lesson. “Windy Nights” could be the inspiration for an English lesson and there would be a lot of mileage in asking why so many poems were full of marching and drums and fighting. When I was young we all played war games, cowboys and indians, lead soldiers. I even used chess pieces as armies. That was then and this is now.

Thanks for making me look again at a book I treasured .

Poetry

Thanks to a wordpress blog I decided to purchase the Poems of the Decade as most of the poems I write are quite old fashioned, with a lot of rhyming couplets. This is a book of modern poetry by a variety of poets and I’m hoping it will help me to write something more acceptable to today’s readers. At school, in the sixties, the nearest we got to modern poetry was TS Eliot. and the poems I remember were the ones we recited as children, like ‘I must go down to the seas again…’ and the Walrus and the Carpenter.

Glancing through this volume I found only one poem that rhymed. I didn’t study literature at University and this will take some getting used to. I’m not pedantic about verse but I probably need some time to immerse myself in the new forms and try to remember how to analyse them from distant A level days!

We never stop learning.

Anthology

In the middle of editing the poetry anthology. Poems from four very different writers and I am wondering whether to keep the two different set ups. Some are written from the left margin and some centred. I quite like the variety but I’ll have to talk with my designer. I’d also like a border of some sort. I looked at some on line and I think I have found one I like but should it be the same on every page? Also, I have changed some of the punctuation and am tempted to restore the originals as they are how the author intended. I only found one spelling error in twenty poems. Now to get it all in order for October, when I am hoping we can make some sales.

The view from our house.

Hi folks, thanks for staying with me. I’m trying to find an image that will reproduce on twitter so folk know it’s me but I don’t have to change it every time.

I hope you liked the story. I am still working on the poetry anthology and will need to cast the pantomime, probably by September. I’ll be back when I have something to report.

Short Story. Bathtime. ( conclusion)

All I had in the kitchen that might work was bleach. I took the two tea towels from the oven door and soaked them in neat bleach, trying not to get any on my hands. Then, holding the dry ends, I rolled them up and pressed them under the bathroom door.

Then I pushed the waste bin up against the towels and put the kitchen stools in front of it. Only a strong, determined, creature could get past that lot.

I left the bedroom door open while I dressed – in more layers than I had intended, and put on heavy shoes instead of my fluffy slippers. As I did so I heard Bert’s key in the door. What would he say when he saw the barrier I had erected in front of the bathroom? He could be in urgent need of the toilet. I shivered at the thought of his anger.

“What the hell’s all this?” he shouted from the hall.

“Don’t go in there – there’s a snake loose. It was in the bath.” I called out to him as if I cared- but something was making me feel the fates were on my side. My mean spirited husband was about to meet the devil monster and all I could think was that he deserved it.

“You’re senile, woman. Why did you do that?”

“I thought it might get out.”

He shifted the stools and kicked the material away from the door, flinging it open.I didn’t know whether to stay and watch or hide in the bedroom. I took the coward’s way out and waited, and waited. At first all was quiet.

Then there came a horrible scream and lots of splashing. I blocked my ears. Was this what I had expected or had I thought it was my imagination, or the result of the pills I had to take?

I shuddered and pushed open the bedroom door. The smell of burning intensified.I remembered what Bert had said, “What the hell is all this?” as I tiptoed towards the bathroom.The brown water had drained away leaving a nasty stain on the enamel but there was no sign of my husband, or the snake – just a pair of brown boots by the side of the bath.

I can’t imagine what had happened to him but he hasn’t come back so, you see, I no longer have a carer and I really can’t manage on my own.

Short Story. Bathtime (Part 3.)

Shivering with fright I pushed myself up on my elbows – but I could not balance well enough to stand. I would have to turn onto my knees. I gritted my teeth, twisted round and lifted one leg, then the other, over the side of the bath. I was crying now and my breath was coming in great gasps. Grabbing the towel from the heated rail I wrapped it around me.

I felt compelled to look for the snake. It had vanished. Frozen with fear I realised it must have come out of the tap and dropped into the water. If it was in the bath surely it could slide up the side and go anywhere? I needed to know where it was before I left the bathroom. The best I could hope for was that I could trap it in that room.

Yet I was afraid to look into the bath. All the water was a dirty reddish brown now and it was impossible to see if anything was moving in it. I was tempted to pull out the plug but did not dare reach over to do so in case the thing reared up to strike.

The tap was dripping now. There was no more smoke but the room still smelled as if something was burning. Was there anything I could put in the water to disable the creature? I had toilet cleaner, but that would not be strong enough. I was also getting very cold.

I looked at the bathroom door. Would it be enough to hold a snake or would the creature be able to slither underneath? There was a gap – but perhaps if I got out I could block it with something.

There was a ripple from the bath water and I could stand it no longer. I pulled at the door, raced out and slammed it shut. What could I find to block the gap? I felt I had to act fast but I also felt angry and spiteful. I wanted it to be something that would hurt or kill the creature – not merely a towel or a draught excluder. This was more than a draught – this was a nightmare!

Short Story. Bathtime(Part 2)

Something black seemed to be poking out of the tap. I watched, mesmerised, not believing what I was witnessing. Was it a piece of rubber washer, or something alive? Surely it was just an old twig that had fallen into the water tank and become dislodged?

Then, as it emerged, I realised it was a snake, but not the kind of snake I recognised. It wasn’t green, or patterned – it was almost black, but with a strange rusty sheen. Sticks do not wave their heads in the air; sticks do not have tongues that flick.

More of the snake was coming out of the tap. If I was to escape I would have to move now, quickly, something I had not done for years. Normally I would clamber onto my knees to get out of the bath – ┬ábut that meant turning my back on the creature. The handle on the wall was half way down the bath, too far to reach safely. There was no use shouting, no-one would hear me. I had to keep my eyes on the swaying head of the snake and ease myself up to lean on the back wall. My legs ached as I strained to keep my balance. I prayed the mat would stop my feet from slipping under me.

Most of the snake was visible now – and dark red liquid was pouring from the tap into the bath, turning the water brown. I clutched at the shower curtain and the pole shifted and creaked. It would not take my weight. I would have to climb out.