Friday, 15 April 2016

Pirates and their Grannies 
Even pirates love their grannies
Or so we’ve often heard
Though they make them walk the plank
Now surely that’s absurd. 
I heard of one young pirate
Jim Lad was his name
Saw his granny with an eyepatch
Thought he’d do the same. 
One day, it was a Thursday
A granny found a map
Blackbeard said “just let me see”
And sat down on her lap 
Well, he was really comfy
‘cos he was only small
But later on when he was big
He wasn’t nice at all 
One night he stole the ancient map
And hid it up his jumper
He tried to look all meek and mild
He thought that that would stump her 
Meanwhile Jim Lad with his patch
Was copied by the others
And very soon across the seas
They’re known as Eyepatch Brothers 
But granny wasn’t having that
And said “enough’s enough;
It was my fashion statement”
And went off in a huff! 
She went and found some glitter
From the treasure chest
And stuck it on her black eyepatch
She knew she looked the best. 
Much later there was Adam Ant
And he stole her idea
But she was innovative
Our granny had no fear. 
Now Blackbeard wasn’t very bright
He was all mouth and trousers
But granny she was clever
Yes granny she was wowzers! 
Now where were we arrgh oo-arrrh
Oh yes the map was taken
But granny had a cutlass up her vest
She’s stirred but never shaken! 
Jim Lad come on over here
We need to find that treasure
You keep an eye on Blackbeard
When he’s snoring at his leisure 
And Jim Lad wasn’t stupid
He knew which side his bread was buttered
Thought he’d do what granny said
Although the bunk was cluttered. 
He crawled along, ignored the snores
And fumbled round his belly
He found the map amongst the mess
It was all torn and smelly 
Jim Lad, granny and some mates
They found the hidden chest
Full of diamonds, gold coins and such
Blackbeard could have the rest 
And in the raving 60’s
She set up her boutique
And called it Granny’s Attic
With glitter, bling, so chic 
All the pirates went there
Got the latest gear
Eye-patches, striped tops, bandanas
They came from far and near! 
So don’t underestimate your granny
She may look meek and mild
But just beware appearances
Inside she’s purple, fearless, wild!




Friday, 4 March 2016

International Women’s Day 8th March 2016
Who would you choose to be?


To dance like Markova or Fonteyn
Showing such strength and beauty and passion
Having the tenacity to work and work at the barre
For hours, for days, for years
To delight by their movements
Sadly, I lack the grace.
To be like Ellen McArthur, Clare Francis

Brave and confident, intrepid.

Or to be able to ski or skate

To sky-dive and rock climb

Or race a car round a track

Adrenalin pumping and driving me on.

Alas I am a ninny and a coward.
To have a vision, to be an entrepreneur
To think green and start so small
And grow and grow into The Body Shop
To be an Anita Roddick
Combining pragmatism with a dream
But no, I have never had that energy.
To be a man, just for one month
To experience masculine emotions
To accept different responsibilities
Suffer his pain – feel a man’s joy
To sing like Jessye Norman
With the power and control of an eagle
And the subtlety of a Chopin prelude
With a voice that soars like angels
Touching the hardest heart.
My singing voice is pleasant enough – no more than that.
To be a female vanguard
A woman exploring the world
A traveller – alone and courageous
A philosopher and linguist
Freya Stark my particular heroine
Whose achievements I could never aspire to.
Barbara Hepworth, sculptor
Her beautiful works displayed
In gardens and at The Tate Gallery in St.Ives
She made stone come alive
With a superb craftsmanship
A possessor of a unique gift
And to be admired by many – and me. 
Jackie Kay, Carol Ann Duffy, Charlotte Bronte, Margaret Atwood, Anita Shreve, Isabelle Allende, Elizabeth Smart, Emily Bronte, Christina Rossetti, Dorothy Parker, Alice Walker, Emily Dickinson, Jane Austen, Sylvia Plath, Toni Morrison, Angela Carter, Annie Proulx
Now those are names
I swoon over
Any one of them
I would wish to be
Stirring up the magic
With the written word.
The poem, the short story, the novel
Original women, clever, creative, romantic women.
Satirical, fantastical, doomed women.
Which one should I be?
Jane Eyre is my favourite book – It has to be Charlotte
But then again Wuthering Heights – so maybe Emily
And then Angela writes so wickedly, and so did Dorothy
Perhaps Elizabeth – By Grand Central Station I sat Down and Wept
Oh how I love that slender volume.
And what a beauty she was also
No, I think it has to be Carol Ann –
So modern, her poems so heartbreakingly lovely 
Oh to be Carol Ann
I’m inspired by her
I delight in her words
I try to learn from her
Dreaming of writing like her
But to be Duffy, No.
I am me, this is who I am
I have to be faithful to
My failings, my weaknesses
My blessings, they belong to me
I inhabit this body
I have a history, a destiny
From womb to tomb
Meg Marsden is my name
It is she I choose to be.
Friday 4th March 2016/Meg Marsden copyright.

Friday, 5 February 2016

Remembering Pass the Parcel

Remembering Pass the Parcel
Ring a ring a roses
A pocket full of posies
Attishoo, attishoo
They all fell down
They all danced around,
They sang the nursery rhyme,
Some fell down, some never got up.
As the music stopped
The string untied, the paper removed
She had survived; she had the gift of life.

The music came again
The year 1956 – she sang along to Doris Day
Que-sera-sera, what will be, will be
Along came the motorbike
Whipped her up like a rag doll
Deposited her, broken, in the middle of the road
The next layer of paper was removed
Things weren’t too bad – just broken legs and lacerations
Really she was so lucky - another gift
 They were Twisting away to Chubby Checker
She twisted right out of Birmingham

Parcel in hand she took off the wrapper – the next layer
She landed in Dolgellau and then Aberystwyth
Rural gifts, seaside gifts, mad and crazy gifts
The Beatles are singing
All you Need is Love – ba-ba-ba-ba-ba
She sang it, they all sang it – it was their anthem
She stopped singing, the music faded
She opened the parcel
Her beautiful firstborn lay there
All olive skinned and honeyed
Wow, it’s 1968 - Louis Armstrong
He blows that trumpet and croons
“It’s a Wonderful World”
And it is.   The music stops again
The wrapping removed and there she is
Another girl – all golden and blue-eyed
On it went – the music of life
Or as they say
The soundtrack of her life
From Ella Fitzgerald to Stevie Wonder
Luciano Pavarotti full volume in her tiny kitchen
And Elvis Presley, always Elvis
A rollercoaster of packages
Ups and down, good stuff, bad stuff
But always a gift to be found amongst
The string, the pretty twine and crinkled paper.
She’s lost her job –
The company has gone to London!
It’s 1985 she tries to play the music, to sing, to play the game
But it’s not easy
U2 Joshua Tree full volume –
She loves this as she drives her old car
She a temp for one week
They meet.
And then she hears
Nick Drake’s beautiful, melancholic voice
Sing “Northern Sky”
She opens the paper – this time the wrapping is The Guardian!
Her latest gift – this man loves her, he loves her.
Amazing Grace lifted high
What words, what an exultation
They all sing this together
What friends, friends are some of the very best
Of shared gifts. 
She guesses, as time passes,
She will now have fewer wrappings to undo
It’s been such an enormous parcel
This life parcel
So much music having played
But still she’s excited at the prospect of remaining layers
She’s got a wonderful cd – West meets East
Ravi Shankar on sitar
Yehudi Menuhin on violin
It was playing in her head, over and over
And June 2015
They made their way to beautiful Ynys Mon –
The island of Anglesey
She let the music stop awhile
She  opened her gift’s latest layer
She opened her eyes, opened her heart
Listened to the birdsong
What a gift – she asks herself does she deserve this?
That big, big night sky flung with stars
Those mountains,
That welcome, those waves clawing at the shore
Those fields, those winding lanes,
That ever-changing heaven and all its colours
What a jewel, what a gift.   
Gifts are there amongst the layers
Sometimes tiny ones
Sometimes vast.
Keep listening carefully to the music
Enjoy the rhythm of life
Untie the knots, peel away the wrapping
Gifts await us all
Sometimes big, sometimes small.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Pastures of Musical Dreams
I stood on the brink, teetering a little but
As the flute sounds rose from the keyboard
I looked first to my left, then my right ...

And just as those children at Hamelin did
I followed the music …
At first a little unsure but
Then I started to run and I ran with abandon
Across those pastures, pastures that
Were new to me; pastures that seemed endless
Meadows that were wild and lush.
The violas played, the mysterious percussion instruments,
The violin pulling at me, enticing me
The depths of that cello reaching so deep inside
All drawing together as the tears of joy
Travelled down my cheeks
And watered my soul.
And then I stretched my arms wide
Revelling in my liberty and started to dance
A dance unconstructed, a dance of freedom
A dance as an expression to my Lord
A thank you dance.
Then I was still.
I heard a sound, a quirky, enquiring
Knocking sort of a sound. There came another -
What is that? An exotic yet naïve percussion instrument.
I was now away from The Pasture.
I followed the music obediently 

 It was asking questions?
There were trees; I found myself in the woods
I peered around, looking, enquiring, up, down
Discovering, who’s there? What do you want of me?
Can I help? Everything was new – everything seemed fresh
This seemed interesting, exciting, I think.
Then all the instruments came together
Building, building into a joyous river of music
The keyboard, the strings, the percussion,
The beautiful haunting of the French horn
The chanting voices
The streams, brooks were overflowing
Waterfalls cascaded with a crashing, thunderous sound
The ocean mesmerised me, emptied my mind
As the waves broke on the shore
And the white horses glistened from the sun’s reflection.

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Mother memories


It could be the painting in my bathroom

Always hung on mum’s bedroom wall

Evokes such memories – it’s dusky pink frame

It can be something or nothing at all


The Royal Worcester dish used this Christmas Day

She gave me one time as a birthday gift

It could be something, it could be nothing

It could be just as small as this


The echo of some of her sayings

“It looks black over Bill’s mothers”,

“I go to the foot of our stairs”

Make me smile and there’s so many more

Her humour was funny and earthy and raw


The knitted, multi-coloured crochet-edged shawl

A soap on TV, a flowered overall

It can be something, it can be nothing,

It can be anything at all …..


I’m ironing an old lace white hankie

An “M” is stitched into the corner

The m’s not for Meg but for mum – she was Mary

And of some memories I’m cautious,

Of some I am wary


But mostly I’d say time is a healer

And it’s sometimes nothing at all

That prompts a quickening deep inside

When I’m happy to dwell on my memory-time.

Sunday, 6 December 2015


My friend Jean Freeman and I had asked our mothers if it was okay to go for a walk after church.  Of course, aged 13 years, we were not keen naturalists; anthropology being more our subject on April 8th 1957.    The sap was rising; albeit pretty innocent sap.

White ankle socks were compulsory for nice young girls of our age at the time and so, 100 yards away from our homes, more specifically away from our mothers, we removed them, convinced that we looked not so nice but more sophisticated with bare legs.   Sutton park was about a half-hour walk from St. Marks but unfortunately even with a deserted road and the Banner’s Gate entrance within sight I managed to do battle with a motorbike.   I lost.

I never quite fathomed what message God was trying to get across when I found myself lying in the middle of the road suffering from broken legs, facial lacerations and a kidney injury.    My irrational but predominant thought as dozens of pairs of eyes peered down at me from what seemed a great height, was, mum is gonna kill me for taking off my socks and having bare legs – which she considered to be “common”.

It must have been quite a shock for my parents to have a policeman standing at their front door on a Sunday lunchtime.

Of course by the time my parents had been informed and arrived at hospital, I was completely under the influence of the anaesthetic whilst having my body put back together again.    I can safely say that ankle socks would have been the last thing on my mother’s mind.

I couldn’t have guessed what fun was to follow.    Apart from the added bonus of being unable to attend school as plaster of Paris covered a good area of my body, I seemed by way of my accident, to have reached celebrity status.   From the moment I was stretchered from the ambulance after my week in Birmingham General Hospital, across the pavement lined either side with friends and neighbours in a disorderly guard of honour, up the garden path and into my new bedroom which was previously the dining room, I revelled in my calamity.

I had been given gifts of so many boxes of Bassetts Licorice Allsorts, Newbury Fruits, Maltesers, Cadbury’s Milk Tray and my favourites, Pontefract Cakes, that my brothers would sneak into my bedroom and pinch a complete box without even my noticing their disappearance.

My brothers and I all had our particular comic magazine delivered each week.  I had Girl, my brothers either had the Eagle, Wizard or Hotspur.    It would seem that our local vicar had written, I suspect on my mother’s prompting, to the Girl comic to tell them of how courageous I was being throughout this trial following the road accident.  Fame struck when I featured, somewhat inappropriately I felt, as a “Girl Adventurer” on the club members page and received a “gold” star which proudly hung from my club badge.  I also had a certificate to confirm my bravery.   I nonetheless felt a little fraudulent as I always believed that to some extent the accident was more about my stupidity rather than bravery.

Freedom came in the form of a wheelchair that the hospital had supplied in order to give me mobility throughout the summer months.   Very few people we knew were owners of a car back then and my own parents never did own one.   The wheelchair was fine by me and Jean, Johnny Reeves and Charlie Richmond were my constant companions.  We spent hours together and my previous two-wheeled adventures were now diminished by my four-wheeler exploits.  Like something from a Margaret Rutherford film, we terrorised the neighbourhood with the speed of this wheelchair.  It must have been a somewhat grotesque sight – a teenage girl in plaster of Paris being pushed at breakneck speeds towards you with Charlie wearing his Territorial Army uniform and his heavy boots creating a menacing sound on the pavements.

As we went along we would yell out the latest hit songs – the favourite for us at the time being Alma Cogan’s “Willie Can”.


Willie can you do the things I ask you

Willie can you do them true

Willie can, Willie can, Willie can fair lady

If Willie takes a shine to you


I was always somewhat accident prone and on the removal of all plastercasts and many trips to the physiotherapy unit I returned to school only to break to fingers in my first PE lesson.   This time no presents, sweets or awards and Mr Fulford, my surgeon at the hospital looked less than pleased to see me again so soon.