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.






Monday, 2 November 2015

I live upon an island
surrounded by the sea
I cannot drink the ocean
And there's a thirst in me.
I yearn for living water
Whereby I quench my soul
A constant drink to satisfy
And one that makes me whole.
A cry of hallelujah
And Marantha too
A longing to be one with Christ
But not until His work is through.
So as I drink the water
Let your Spirit show the way
For harvesting the nations
Until that final day.
Meg Marsden/November 2015

Saturday, 24 October 2015

"Vanity" *
And then sweet knight what is a lord's one wish
That I should close my eyes and proffer up a kiss
My scarlet lips as yet unbruised
And chaste as any girl-child
My heavy hair inviting as your favourite filly's mane
And from my yearning skin
My heated pearls entice
And long to rein you in
Upon my virgin-pure embrace
My knowing look may yet deceive
A worldly knight
So gaze upon my portrait
And in your wisdom see
What? An innocent or wanton?
An actress-model for his oils?
The schoolgirl dressed in golden thread?
Or woman of your dreams.
Meg Marsden's poem inspired by the painting "Vanity" by F.C. Cowper

Leaves that polka
amber crisp
low slung sun...

tree tops kissed
ethereal hand of
autumn mist
Natures voices
brooks that babble
wrens and robbins
berry nibble
wagtails, blue tits
start to squabble
Gloves and scarves
pulled from drawers
Sunday walks
on purple moors
squirrels hunt
for hidden stores
Harvest over
death descents
but life's cycle
never ends
from dead seed
New life begins
Photo - grand-daughter Ivy with Murphy one autumn .....

Wednesday, 7 October 2015


When all the angst of yesteryears
In the twinkling of an eye
That's when you come to realise
Just how small you really are
You once were here and then you're gone
So love is all, and all and all
So touch and tell
And live and give
And open up your heart
And smile and hear
Of other's fear
And don't send flowers when it's too late
Do such things now - don't hesitate.
MM/October 2015



Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Hortense and Bridget

Initially it was the names
They aroused my interest
Names have always fascinated
Emily Pankhurst, Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso
Leonora Carrington, Samuel Pepys, Eleanor Roosevelt,
Benjamin Disraeli, Horatio Nelson, Rudolf Nureyev,
Elizabeth Fry.

Margaret Thatcher, Gordon Brown
Sorry, they just don't cut it for me.

But back to my point
Hortense and Bridget
Two good names to conjure.
Some names make their demands;
One needs to live up to them;
Reach their potential, prove oneself.

And so it was through a love of poetry
Hortense and I met.
Not in person; not even speaking on the 'phone
Online; emails.

I've always like women;
Women's company; their easy humour;
Their ability to 'discover' one another, dig deep
in the shortest time.
H and I did this.
Hortense, I learned, was many things but
writing was our link.
Bridget, her partner, a painter.
See, there you go.

One day we - Stephen and I
had the invite.
Ceret, a small arty, cobbly town
South of France, where they lived.
I knew the trip would not disappoint.
Hortense and Bridget/Bridget and Hortense
An instant, easy connection
Kisses on both cheeks, bisous, laughter
Talk, talk, talk, food and wine and chocolate.

They lived up to their names, they are living up to their names
And I'm pretty sure they will continue doing so.
Sometimes, not always of course,
it just works
It's all in a name.

September 2015/MM

Thursday, 3 September 2015


Ballad of Anglesey

This is an island written in stone
Of hunters, warriors, poets and song
They came through the forests of northern Wales
Thousands of years way before Christ
Following deer by day and by night;

Across the tracks and across the trails
Here come the hunters to Anglesey
Gathering roots, gathering berries
Collecting mussels from the Swellies
Making weapons of wood, flint and bone
Settlements form – it’s the Age of Stone.

They cleared the woods and planted crops
Wool, skins and meat came from livestock
Burial chambers they built from that stone
They started to worship the sun as it shone.
They made their tools from iron, copper and bronze
And built their forts on headlands and hills.

The culture of Celts swept in on the tide
Warriors fierce tribe by tribe;
There were priests, lawmakers, druids in robes
Worshipping figures and hero-gods
Battling against the English invaders
Battling against those from Rome
Wars were won and some were lost
Fighting to make this island their home.

The Vikings came, then Edward the First
But Owain Glyndwr felt the land to be cursed
Then a man from Penmynydd took the English throne
An uneasy settling was felt in Welsh bones;

They were farming, smuggling, mining the earth
When action came with a Civil War
And the year was now 1644.
But no backwater here as poetry thrives
Men of letters, Welsh scholars are a sign of the times.

The Industrial Revolution transformed the isle
With new roads, railways and mines
Now this beautiful island with two bridges,
Beaches, hills, sand dunes and farms
Castles, rocks, gorse and heather
A sky so big you can touch the stars
Venus, Jupiter and Mars. 

Yes, this is a place written in stone
And here I am but a grain of dust
But love this land, love this island
I do, I will, I must.


Meg Marsden copyright/August 2015

Friday, 30 January 2015

As Time Goes By


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

Dollgellau, you’re kidding!

Haymaking and farming

For Brigadier Vaughan.

His Honourable Lady in shooting-break 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

And “Margaret” is hard 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 careers 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 Humberdinck 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

Confusion 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 came peeping

Time wearing its 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.