Archive for the ‘prose’ Category

A love poem for Coffee.

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

Oh dark mother, once more I suckle at your caffeinated teat.

From the bean, via steam, your emanations are all at once bitter and sweet.

With milk or alone both comforts and uplifts.

Please accept my humble thanks for your abundant gifts.

Lincoln A to Z G8 transportation links

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

It all started when us Romans built the Fossdyke. That was the old navigation between Lincoln and the river Trent. It was revolutionary in its day. Represented a dramatic cut in travel time and had a huge effect on trade. You could feel it in the streets around you on your way to the Temple of Minerva. Lincoln was a vibrant place in those days. Plenty of bars and cafes. You could even get wine from Rome and not have to depend on the sweet muck the locals around here liked.

The original Foss Way didn’t go through G8. It wasn’t G8 in those days either. It wasn’t anything really. We didn’t need maps. There weren’t all that many roads and usually you knew which one you needed. It was easy enough to ask if you got lost. If you want to see the original Foss Way it is still there on B21, K16 and L16. Take a look.

The Foss Way got called the A46 some time ago. Could well have been when they started drawing up these maps. I suppose they must have had their reasons. The new road would have been built fairly recently. Progress eh? The old one was good enough for us if you ask me.

Sometime before that they built the railway. Now that did cause a stir and a half. Objections everywhere. We didn’t have that problem when we dug the Fossdyke. Who was going to argue? None of this planning permission nonsense that gets in the way of progress, slows down the economic development of a place. No no no.

I was one of those objecting to the railway. After they built it I changed my tune. Marvellous it was. You could get to Newark or Retford in half an hour. Used to be a day’s march. Wow. If we’d have had it in Lindum Colonia we could have got to Newark on the train and spent the rest of the day playing cards or dice or whatever we used to do in those days.

I especially liked the old steam trains. They had character. Not like the modern diesels they have these days. Ok I know the diesels are more practical but the day that steam came to an end we lost something. Change isn’t always for the good. Choo choo.

The right kind of snow

Sunday, January 20th, 2013

snow scene at Whisby Nature ReserveIt’s not very often we get the right kind of snow in this country. You know the sort, penny sized falling deep settling crystals grinding everything to a halt for days and the schools all close and kids celebrate and go out to play snowballs and sledging and come home cold, wet and exhausted to consume gallons of hot chocolate with buttery crumpets huddled around the open fire.

This year there was promise but the first flake flurry came merely as a token gesture. Grey skies arrived and folk left work early on Friday to avoid the “worst of it”. Travel warnings intermingled with announcements of thirty thousand homes without power in Wales confirmed our suspicions. We were in for a goodun.

No fresh snow came on the Saturday but there was enough on the ground to go sledging on West Common. Walking on the road, cleared by the gritters, was easier than walking on the pavement. It took me a lot longer to get to the Prince to meet Ian than it normally would but I was warm enough. I was dressed for the worst. The forecast was still for snow.

The snow didn’t come. It was cold out but the house was warm as toast. I had stocked up with coal on my way home from work and was up before dawn cleaning out the grate and setting the fire. It felt like a man’s job but I knew that in years gone by it would have been done by the woman of the house. The caustic smell of the ash made me cough and reminded me of my grandfather who was a miner and who died before I was born. Seeing the fire relight from the heat of the coals left overnight was quite satisfying.

I sit here now, still waiting for the snow. It is still promised and for the kids there remains the hope of no school tomorrow. Cold noses and frozen hands are eagerly anticipated. In an ideal world it should be the right kind of snow but in practice we’ll take any kind. Crumpets ahoy!

The stones that roll and other Coach M musings

Sunday, November 25th, 2012

Heading south to see the stones that roll feeling as if some creativity would be appropriate. I suspect that the honest occupants of coach M are unlikely to appreciate my singing out loud so the quiet tap tap of the acquiescent keyboard is the right thing to do.

Tap tap, southerly speeding train, glides across cold-flooded arable countryside, the deceiving sunshine smiles the sinister smile of the gangster that has just put a bullet in your leg and bids you good day before departing.

The red bricks of Grantham and grey industrial streets back on to the railway line, straight as far as the eye can see. The sparse platform empties into the carriage whose doors open and suck in new passengers.

In Cornwall severe flooding hits Newlyn and ducks are rescued. The usual incapacity to cope with weather that has existed since the dawn of wattle and daub and town planners that fall to the hypnotic trance of the brown envelope.

On we fly, on and on and quickly my mind races across a continental plain of endless field after endless field, an occasional homestead remote and isolated, scrubbed clean by a relentless, it seems, wind.

Two men conduct an almost whispered conversation that I can still hear but care not to listen to. The car park at Peterborough has plenty of spaces on a Sunday afternoon and my sparkling water fizzles.

On another sub-continent the England and Wales cricket team take to their satisfied beds after a day’s demolition work on the opposition. Life continues and as we continue our journey the bricks grow less distinctive – plastic fronted seventies slingbacks, bland boxes.

In the distance windmills generate, their slim contemporary design a catalyst for emotion.

Factory units. Giant haystacks. Solar cells.  Onboard staff are working overtime and I wonder whatever became of Enoch Runsewe whom I only ever saw once. The sky clouds over as we approach the great metropolis.

I ensure that I have my personal belongings with me as I leave the train and head for the taxi rank.


Monday, January 3rd, 2011

It’s January, 2011. The land is barren, mostly frozen, and there is no sun. The thermometer has barely risen above zero all winter and we still have a couple of miserable months to go. January, together with its soul mate February, is the least interesting month of the year.

There are only two sensible things to do. One is to hibernate and the other is to leave for warmer climes. I have absolutely no sense of loyalty to the British post Christmas winter. If it was a pretty, white, frozen landscape that might be different but it ain’t.

This afternoon the fire is lit which helps. Fire has an offsetting effect on January and February. Central heating doesn’t do it. You need flames and direct heat. You need crackle and flicker and colour. It’s all part of hibernation really – the falling asleep on the settee in front of the fire.

January is an austere month. A time of admonishment. It used to be of necessity, to conserve supplies until fresh growth. Nowadays the necessity comes from overindulgence during the mid winter holiday. The bleak mid winter holiday.

The austerity accompanies those who cannot flee. They are trapped. The notion of going somewhere warm for the remainder of the winter seems to clash with the idea that belts need tightening and livers restoring. So most of us tighten and restore and bend our heads to the wind glancing up only occasionally to keep our bearings.

Thank goodness for the fire.


Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

Muttering under his breath, Jack shoved away his plate, the food untouched, “For Christ’’s sake, Charlie, not again, didn’t you learn the last time?” His chair scraping the tiled floor of the dining hall, he scrambled to his feet. He’d catch his eye, he might stop him making a fool of himself even now.

“MARSHALL!” A parade-ground voice bellowed at him from somewhere to his left, its echo reverberating around the hall. “Sit down when the governor’s speaking, you ignorant shit.”

Looking even more harassed than usual, the governor glanced at Jack over the top of his half-moon glasses and, recognising his orderly, gave him a quick smile. “Yes, Mr Marshall, let’s do as the Chief says, shall we, there’s a good chap.” Then, returning to his prepared speech, he tried to look stern. “Now, men,” he said, “I’m taking this spate of (more…)

Sunday mornings in Autumn

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

I love relaxing Sunday mornings in Autumn. Classic FM on the radio, Anne pottering away in the kitchen whilst I sit on the pew at the table streaming consciousness.

The light in the back garden has a special quality this morning as the sun does its best to poke through. Half an hour ago the allotments were covered in semi translucent mists but these seem to be lifting and being replaced by a silvery glow. There are still plenty of apples on the trees in the garden. We have picked enough for our short term needs and are leaving the rest to the wildlife. It only seems fair.

A shiver of contentment ripples down my back. I have had a cup of tea, bacon sandwich with organic white bread (more…)

The calm of the kitchen

Saturday, October 9th, 2010

Well it was calm. John was quietly getting on with some baking – mud pie I believe. I had sat down to reflect in his company. Something was quietly simmering on the stove top. Outside the warm autumn day was also comfortable, a gentle breeze drying the grass in preparation for another mow. The shaking of bowls, humming to himself and occasional bang with wooden spoon was very relaxing.

Then the tornado breezed in. It began with the sound of a key trying to fit into the front door lock. It couldn’t. My key was already in there. I didn’t have time to react before the inevitable ring on the doorbell. I opened the front door to a cuddle and was greeted with requests for lunch at McDonalds. Ok Waitrose then. Huh! One packet of Cheezy Wotsits later and the individual tornado concerned breezed back out and left us to recover serenity.

Regaining focus, John continued with his preparations and all was well.

The future is his

Saturday, October 2nd, 2010

I am mentally exhausted. We took Tom to Warwick University today. It was high octane stuff. Everyone was on edge. It’s a big thing for all of us. Anne and I were thrilled that he was going. We know it is the right thing and that he will have a fantastic time. We are proud of him but you could feel the tension, the electricity in the house. Even Tom, though he probably wouldn’t admit, it was hyper.

It was all about the need to get there for 11am. That’s when everyone was going to arrive. None of this “look around the University”. “Just drop me off and let me get on with it”. I am pleased to say that the nearer we got to our destination the more our son became our son.

When we got there we were a team. Tom and Anne got out of the car when we were in the traffic queue and went to suss out the scene. Two major trips from car to room had him installed. The Tesco shopping trolley was invaluable.

An hour walking round the campus with other parents and offspring was rewarding. He was one of us. Tref and Anne’s son. He put up with Tref the Paparazzo and paid attention to his younger brother John.

We picked up his Students Union card, listened to the Endsleigh insurance sales pitch, waited whilst he spoke with various official and unofficial organisations and marvelled at the Warwick University campus.

Back at his room we said goodbye. Hugs and handshakes. Everyone was happy. The future is his.

The birds were in full voice that night

Friday, May 14th, 2010

The birds were in full voice that night, as if it was the first spring.

I drove back through the greenery of the Lincolnshire countryside with the windows of the Jeep wide open.

Coming up to 9pm it was still daylight and the hedgerows were alive with noise.

Breathing in deeply I could smell new growth and it made me glad to be alive.

The reddening sky to the West bode well for the next day and there was hardly any traffic on the road which made for comfortable driving.

As I approached the outskirts of Lincoln a gentle dusk fell over the city and the lights added a pleasant warmth to the scene.

I turned in to the drive and went in to a bottle of Pauillac that I had opened to breathe before setting off on my journey.

Scouts trample old dears to death in St Georges Day parade

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

Dramatic headlines I’m sure you will agree and not one you would expect to see in the peaceful environs of the City of Lincoln’s uphill area. This shocking event did indeed take place one Sunday as the massed bands of the District Scout Groups led a column of well drilled St Georges Day marchers around the Cathedral, across the square and into the castle.

One might associate a Boy Scout, and perhaps the occasional Girl Guide or Brownie with someone who runs amok in the woods, lighting campfires and generally getting dirty in the most ill disciplined of fashions. The modern movement however is one that has benefited from decades of progress in training on “how to handle the yoof”.


the new member of staff

Monday, May 10th, 2010

She breezed in at the beginning of one Autumn Term. We had spent the summer lazing in our back gardens, trying to find some respite from the harsh sun that scorched Lincolnshire’s open plains. The county had a big sky with very little to fill it apart from the Cathedral and that didn’t throw enough shade.

In the summer months the Bishop himself could be found  hugging the walls of this edifice, slowly edging along with  the shadows as the sun moved around. Periodically he would escape to refill his chalice from the font. His vestments were a serious impediment to health during these times. Hot and airless. The mitre clung to his damp forehead and the sweat ran into his eyes stinging and making him blink.



Saturday, May 8th, 2010

click here for Part 2

I’ve been potting some chilli plants. Got the seeds a few weeks ago in Focus Do It All and sowed them in a tray in the conservatory. As if by magic the seedlings started to come through and got to a point where I deemed it appropriate to move them into pots. In all I have 20 or so, some of which I have moved outside and one that I took In to the office. When I am not in my room I jack the aircon temperature up as high as it will go. He he he. Looking forward to plenty of burn later in the year when I get harvesting.

I’m not really a gardener. I live just down the road from Tesco. However it is sometimes nice to do gardening type stuff. Usually it is a rush of blood that gets things into the ground but after that the weeds take control. Pesky things :). I did plant a lot of peas one year and managed to get a couple of portions out of it all. Shame really because (more…)


Sunday, April 4th, 2010

click here for part1

I’m back in my usual seat in the corner of the kitchen. It’s a pew we bought from Anne’s church, St Peter in Eastgate, for £130. I’m told that the going rate at auction is £30 but what the heck. It’s charidee. £130 is what the new flexible seating costs per seat.

The church’s loss is my gain. As seats go it is absolutely rock solid. Bedded in by thousands of bottoms, mostly now dead and buried. There is something poetic about having it in the kitchen with me, a confirmed atheist, sat on it writing. I also eat on it of course. The kids fight to sit on it when we are eating.



Monday, March 22nd, 2010

My homepage is Google. It all started there. Don‘t ask me how because I never know where it is going to take me. Normally I just sit there and let it take over. Sometimes I just visit the same old sites. Every day. No imagination but I don’t really care. It’s a comfort factor. A bit like sitting in the same armchair day in day out. Same pair of familiar slippers maybe.

Anyway on this day I decided to do it differently. Like driving to work in a different way to the way you normally go. When I drive to work I’m usually on autopilot anyway. I don’t notice the route. I set off and I get there. Sometimes I (more…)