Friday, 30 March 2012

Wolf Love

Into the wood she now ventures, all alone now, quietly enters
She all dressed in layers of clothing head to toe to keep her warm
Stepping gently, heard a crunching, all around she heard a munching
Like a wild pig truffle-hunting, hunting on the forest floor
“Wild hog”, she thinks and mutters, hunting on the forest floor
Cold sweat dripped from every pore

She had woken from her slumber, face all wet and fled her chamber
In pursuit of her prince, the gallant knight she did adore
Enveloped in her cloak and hood, and now entrapped in tangled wood
Then overcome with grief and sadness, sadness at the sight she saw
There her lover’s cap was lying, it was Henry’s she was sure
Lying on the forest floor

While Catherine in her frozen fear, saw a ghostly mist appear
Wrapped and trapped its tendrils round her, and yet it had a strange allure
Though she fought and started running, still the spectre kept on coming
Then she hear a grunting echo, echoes from the forest floor
Wild bear noises, echo, echo, owls hooting, charging boar
Echoes from the forest floor

There the ancient cabin stood, hidden, deep within the wood
Ill-fated lover’s meeting place, with ivy twining round its door
Catherine now with heart thump-thumping, in her veins the blood pump-pumping
Calling out for God’s protection – fearful now at what she saw
Dying wolf a-yowling, yowling, horrifying blood and gore
Lying on the forest floor

Catherine screeches out with fright, help me end this odious night
Please depart night’s darkest demons, our ravaged maiden did implore
Acrid odours whirling, swirling, telling her of something strange
All is silent, all is black, moon has fallen to the floor
Cold with fear and trembling, trembling, petrified at what she saw
Catherine crumbles to the floor

Then woefully, she realized, she recognized her lover’s eyes
Within their hut as wolf-tears fell, he tenderly stretched out a paw
And Henry yowled and yowled again, for love that could not be the same
With yellow eyes, their ghostly cries, echo, echo evermore,
The lovers now as forest wolves, entwined together on the floor
Lying on that forest floor
by Meg Marsden
(after the style of Edgar Allan Poe)

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Aberffraw, Anglesey

Aberffraw, Anglesey

pearly clouds bloom against the
untrue blue of a spring sky
a gushing sort of day
and a tide that seems in a hurry
with its roaring ebb and flow
glistening like quicksilver
in the sun.
the blustery, warm, southerly wind
blasts crazily against our faces,
against our bodies.
each step along the sand an exhilarating
assault course against the elements.

a dozen maybe, giddy dogs run
hither and thither
happy, with tongues lolling
a little spooked by the mad wind
running in and out of the sparkling sea
and returning, tails wagging, coats dripping
pleased with themselves as they
shake and spray their owners.
gulls are drifting on the thermals
oyster-catchers and curlews mosey along
the shoreline like high street window shoppers

the gushing gets stronger –
the force of the wind,
the heat of the sun,
the volume of the crashing tide
pushes up through my booted feet,
surges up into my belly, it’s joyful
it’s nature’s mad dance

even the shells, the mermaid’s purses,
the clumps of khaki-tinted seaweed
could well be caught up in a merry prancing
when my back is turned!
we’ve walked and walked and now
reached the rocks,
here we rest a little, catch our breath
collect driftwood, look towards the black
silhouetted mountains of, what we think is,
the Llyn Peninsula;

we talk of Henry, my father-in-law
and of Murphy our dog
of how much over the years
both enjoyed it here before they departed
to their respective heavens.

and now the wind is behind us
and the return journey easier
blowing, pushing us homeward.
I watch the marram grass of the dunes -
the dunes like so many gonks
with their sandy domes and tufted hair –
shine silvery-white then green
as they are blown.
and the shifting sand skitters like
horizontal smoke-signals
across the beach.

and with wild, whipped up hair,
the salty taste of sand upon my tongue
the grittiness in my ears
and on my face
I am as one with the ocean
buffetted by the wind
warmed by the sun
and kissed by the Irish sea.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Just Seven Cottages

Having lived here for the last 25 years caused me to dwell a little on this brick-linked row of seven so-called Victorian cottages built  in 1856.  Their pocket handkerchief front gardens were originally edged with cast iron railings until severed for use in munitions in 1914.  Some of the cottages still have their original little garden walls with amputated iron stumps clearly visible and over which they have shiny new railings and gates looking very smart and "Chelsea Mews".
                                            Up until 1856 most of the houses in the village of Poynton had been built for, and sometimes by, the coal mining community.   But in 1845 the steam train came to Poynton and its main line was linked to the coal pit tracks and the seven terraced cottages were built principally for the railway workers and their families.  Right next to the railtrack two semi-detached buildings were erected here on Lostock Road, one the Station Office and the other the Station Master's home.   There was a level-crossing to get from the Midway area, as it was known, across the track to Lostock Hall Farmlands to the west.   One historian commented at the time on "the hateful railroad"  presumably regretting the move from the rural to a more industrialised livelihood.  Nevertheless, it was agreed that the miners and railroad workers experienced a better standard of living than the textile factory workers or agricultural labourers.

Lostock Terrace was its given name then and if you look carefully it is possible to still see this name on the old road sign above the middle house - No.10.   Now the sign for Lostock Road is on my wall at No.2.  Why the name was changed I have no idea.

I also would love to know why each one of the houses is a different size.  Was the house I live in the last to be built and perhaps there was room left over to make it the largest?  Or was it the first to be built and the builders ran out of space as they progressed along the row?   Why were they then numbered from 2 - 14 rather than 1 - 7 or 1 -13?  Is the No.13 a clue due to the suspicions around that number?  There could never have been houses built opposite because Poynton Brook runs parallel ... these questions continue to intrigue.

Upon completion the cottages were rented out to their workers by the Railway Authority and sold in 1912 to a private purchaser until eventually one by one they were bought by individual owners.  No.4 was the last one still being rented out at a peppercorn rent up until 1994 by "old Tom" (Worthington).  He had some tales to tell.  The outside lavatory, no hot water, mangle, tin bath, still evident then, and the pigeon coop told their very own stories. 

I wish I still had that strip of garden apparently allocated to each cottage back then and stretching to the rear for 80 yards.   I can see in my mind's eye the green bean rows, onions and radishes alongside the sweet peas, carnations, hollyhocks, autumn chrysanthemum and dahlias with, maybe, the pigeon loft at the end as bird racing was a great pastime in this area back then.   "Old Tom" mentioned above, still had some of his favourite pigeons when we came to live next door in 1987.

I can visualise Victorian mothers in their day clothes, skirts and petticoats trailing the cobbled London Road, basket on their arms as they walked northwards to the grocers, butchers and drapers.   Up until 1998 the Midway Bakery was just a few yards away and was in thos days a thriving little shop for those who were not making their own bread but also, later on, for the new motor-bus drivers stopping at the corner of Lostock Road terminus for their break.   It is now an antique pine shop.    The women may well have turned south towards the farms to purchase eggs if they didn't keep their own hens,  or maybe for vegetables which they didn't grow themselves.   It was not unusual for households in Poynton to keep their own pig as bacon provided a hearty breakfast for miners.

Midway children would not have had to walk so very far to get to school as this was located on Park Lane and known as Vernon School - later to become the Folk Centre and now called,  I believe, The Youth & Community Centre.   The public house was where The Vernon Arms is now situated and the local Smithy next door and so it is apparent that the Midway district lacked little and was more than a small community on its own, rather the hub of Poynton village.   No.2 Lostock Road was (and still is) known as The Town House - travelling from Macclesfield via Adlington this was virtually the first residential building reached when entering Poynton.
The fustian works which operated from the still-evident property on London Road South opposite the Antique Pine Shop was a thriving business which provided hat trimmings for the prodigious Christy Milliners.  There was also a smaller family business of fustian workers functioning from one of the Lostock Terrace cottages.
There were a number of toll bars along the main turnpike London Road - which runs at right-angles to our cottages - one of which existed at the Lostock Terrace junction.   Until the steam trains, transportation of people and goods was either by barge along the canal or by horse-drawn wagons on the roads.   As far back as 1652 there was mention of a man by the name of  Pickford who was a carrier and certainly 100 years on there was Matthew Pickford whom it would seem descended from the same line who was a great entrepreneur and responsible for the famous Pickford Haulier Company.    He was called a waggoner then and was responsible for transporting materials for the road building operations.  He then widened his experience and eventually there was little that the Pickford family were not prepared to remove and replace.   The infrastructure was growing rapidly.

The railway had dictated the emphasis in Poynton up to 1887, thus when the Railway Station was moved to its present site at Chester Road, so the focus of the village changed.   Now there was also a Smithy on Park Lane and in 1897 the Jubilee Fountain and Lampstand was erected celebrating Queen Victoria's Jubilee.   Fountain Place became very much a focal point which provided people and horses with refreshing water and also gaslight at an increasingly busy junction!
We learn therefore, that up until the late 1800's the Midway area had all the necessary craftsmen - saddlers, wheelwrights, blacksmiths and shoemakers.   The clogger as he was often called, worked all hours to keep the miners well shod for their sometimes dangerous work.   Often he would loan a clog or clogs overnight in order to mend the miners own ready for collection on his way to work the next day.
The Smithy by 1910 was kept very busy not just shoeing horses but selling and mending the now popular bicycle.   By the early 1900's a few of the first motor-cars were around and with the internal combustion engine many changes were to be seen.   By the year 1900 the population of Poynton was around 2,500.   Shrigley's Garage on London Road South (later to become Poynton Car Sales & now flats) was busy with sales and repairs and in 1927 there were the first motor omnibuses.   The terminus being situated directly outside the garage.   Apparently about this time No.2 Lostock was operating as a sweet shop and cafe where the driver and conductor could have their refreshments.

So by the 1920's we have increased forms of traffic and we have the trains passing along the westerly end of Lostock Terrace/Road towards the main station and we also have the daily 'bus stopping at the terminus before heading off for Macclesfield or Stockport.   I expect that is why we have outside No.2,  a bench - for passengers to wait, then the waste-paper bin which even when we came to live here was a wire mesh balanced inside of a wooden frame but is now a vandal-proof (?) moulded plastic job.   Opposite there is a post box and up until a few years ago next to that was a telephone kiosk.

In 1932, presumably because of the fast increase in traffic - now there were more motor-cars, more frequent buses, bicycles and of course, still horse-drawn tradesman's wagons for delivery of milk, bread and coal, - the first speed limitations were enforced so Lostock Road had a 30 mph sign erected at its junction with the main road.   After all, this was the point at which you entered - the Gateway to Poynton.

Sadly by 1935 all the coal mining had ceased - the pit owners had expected there to be 100 years worth of coal mining and consequently the miners had to seek new employment and companies such as BUKTA, Baxter Woodhouse Taylor and later Lightnin Mixers provided jobs for many in the area.


These seven cottages have now experienced many changes and only they know how many different families have lived within their walls.   What happiness, tragedy, sadness and success have they witnessed?   The railway workers have long since gone, there are no pigeons and there have been many changes of ownership over the last few years ..... I still feel a tenderness when turning the key in my front door and experience the specialness of this, No.2 Lostock, my home.

Meg Marsden/March 2012

Friday, 9 March 2012



Imagine sang John Lennon
Imagine, I thought
Just imagine if my Edward Hopper painting was real
Do you know Edward Hopper?
I'm sure you do even if you think you don't.
American artist - sombre, lonely works with strong colours
And more in them than at first meets the eye
Jack Vettriano would give his eye teeth for Hopper's gift.

But anyway, back to the point.
The point being Portland Head by Edward Hopper
And the fact that it's now on my wall
And it's signed ... well sort of ...
"Edward Hopper" in the right-hand corner.

It shows a lighthouse
Right next to that is a New England homestead
with its chestnut-coloured roof
Golden sun-weathered grass all around
Sky, sea, earth's curve.

Who lives there? Who lived there?
I've been to Portland.  It's in Maine.
We saw the lighthouse, the very spot.
And now it's here in the living room.
Perhaps I'm drawn into this painting because of family
They're in New England - Boston, Martha's Vineyard.
I think of Aquinnah on the Vineyard and its pinkish lighthouse
and its tufty grass.

Perhaps that's why my family all live there
Maybe drawn to that same place
A place, away, away .....
Maybe physically, maybe just in their thinking

I think of our much-loved Anglesey as I look at it.
Penmon Point, Puffin Island, Holyhead lighthouse
The Hopper on the wall continually draws me in -
Captivated by those watercolours.

Our print is big, very big, maybe 3.1/2ft by 2.1/2ft
It looks wonderful, I got it for 15 quid from the charity shop
It looks real.  Imagine if it was .... but what the heck
I don't believe I would love it more than I do.


Monday, 5 March 2012

My Journey

Post war peace has descended, the war has now ended
Babies are booming, suckling contentment;
At the breast there is safety
And her mother sings lullabies.

And then along come the siblings and her childhood is passing
Hurriedly rushing, disappearing from view.
Her parents, like gypsies
New places, fresh faces,
New houses, new schools
From infants, to convent (what manners), to Grammar,
New neighbours, new brooms.
And Elvis is rocking.
Now working, not shirking
School sweetheart provides solitaire on her finger
Some changes she's making, the bedsit she's taking
And then to apartment, upgrading - own bathroom!
Home service now playing, she's reading and growing
Now knowing she's leaving,
Starts stopping that silly romantic dreaming.
And Ella is singing.
Leave the wedding dress hanging
It's time to be going
Her mind is escaping
Goodbye to her home town.
She's leaving her shorthand, and leaving her mummy
And leaving her daddy, and she's leaving her Jimmy -
Well he treated her badly.
And Chris Barber blows sweetly.
North Wales here she's coming
Dolgellau, you're kidding!
Haymaking and farming
For Brigadier Vaughan.
His Honourable Lady in shooting-brake driving,
Her flowers collecting
Her sadness she shows as four daughters she bore him.
And Joan Baez protesting.
It's time for some changes,
It's time to be going
Goodbye Lady Vaughan,
Your husband's too friendly
But she's not for telling.
And she's given a bible inscribed for the keeping.
And Dylan is saying that Times are a'changing.
 Aberystwyth awaiting
And she'll be a nanny
Little charge aged two is struggling with talking
Nanny's name she can't say so it's Meg she's becoming.
And now she is twenty
Living here at the seaside with swimming,
Beer tasting, University parties.
And The Animals sing of The Rising Sun.
Not sure if she likes it the beer or the lifestyle
Not sure what she's wanting
Not sure where she's going
But all those around her
Seem certain and knowing
And she's always moving and searching and changing.

There's too much for the telling
And I'm not for boring
Those listening, remembering lives of their own
With all of their changes, new houses and spouses
Careers and children, revolving, evolving.
And Diana Ross supremely is singing.

Then Manchester's calling, and marriage, nestbuilding
The wedding dress worn and gold ring she is wearing
And juggling career with babies and cooking
The Beatles are raving
Whilst she rocks the cradle.

But later there's parting and sadness and crying
Understanding and bitterness all intermingling
Continually changing, growing, evolving.
And Englebert Humperdinck sings on his own.
Now her hair is an Afro, denim skirt to the ground
She feels a new freedom to the 70's sound
The journey continues with tripping and falling
The running and jumping and stretching and climbing
Constantly changing, soul-searching, transforming
It took a long time to grow into her skin.
And Roberta Flack is Killing me Softly

Her babies are growing, to college they're going
And horses they're riding
Cyclic tempers colliding.
Three women together hysterically crying
And laughing and crying and laughing and crying.
And Queen's loudly playing.
Then when she stops looking
Peace comes and descends
Confustion and striving and turmoil seem ended
Life's journey now offers the freedom of laughter
Contentment comes falling
on shoulders not bowed.
And Glenn Gould is playing and it's Bach that he's playing.
Millennium comes peeping
Time wearing his trainers
Now racing, now speeding and
Catching her eye
This journey's exciting, there's rejoicing and mourning
Mutating, reforming
And softly she's humming
As Time Goes By.

by Meg Marsden