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.


Thursday, 29 January 2015


I would have been 17 years old and together with my first love we were duffel-coat wearing, CND supporting, Bertrand Russell followers with strong beatnik leanings.   We read James Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Sartre, Francoise Sagan and The Outsider by Colin Wilson.   At the time, 1961, coffee bars were the place to hang out and our favourite was Birmingham's La Boheme.  Dark and moody with prints of real paintings on the wall and the constant gurgle of the first espresso machines serving up coffee in smoky see-through glass cups and saucers;  we would stay there for hours, smoking, talking and plotting of love and peace.
We got a tandem and together on weekends we left the grime of the city for the nearest small rivers and fields in nearby Warwickshire.   I lived in a very small bedsit in Handsworth and my new kitten came along with us in a basket on the front of this wonderful piece of machinery.   Also attached to us and the tandem were the fishing rods, keep net and bait.  Then of course, there was the picnic and flask of coffee.    The sun always shone and he taught me to course fish - my great achievement being that of landing a 2lb chub.   I was quite a success as a back of tandem cyclist.
In earlier times when I was 13 years old I was run over by a speeding motor cyclist travelling at a great rate along the Chester Road as my friend, Jean, and I attempted to make our innocent way across to the famed Sutton Park.   Broken legs with compound tibia and fibula fractures, kidney injuries and facial lacerations resulted but unbelievably my parents decided that it would be "too complicated" to claim compensation!   Oh well apart from my much-loved camel coat never recovering, I eventually did, and received lots of undue attention not to mention many gifts of sweets, chocolates, books and my first camera.  I should really have been warned right from the start that wheels and I were not totally compatible.
Aged about five years old and travelling at breakneck speed on my tricycle - yes that's what we all had until 2-wheelers with stabilisers were invented several years later - I whizzed past my mother and baby brother in his pram, past the gaudy flowerbeds of Handsworth Park, past the "Parkie", narrowly avoiding other mothers and babies, down the sloping pathway to the bandstand where I finally careered, landing upside down on the tarmac, to the accompaniment of the Salvation Army playing The Dam Busters, with bleeding knees and minus a couple of teeth.
There was a period from about 14-16 years of age when there was nothing I loved more than my second-hand maroon semi-drop-handled bar bike - there were no casualties during this time and it represented freedom, a total escape from parents and a happy and safe time often with both of my brothers beyond the suburbs of our home.
In the 1980's a friend visited on his Honda 90 motorbike.   When about to leave I asked could I have a go.  Why!!!  No sooner was I on the wretched thing with its accelerator on the handlebars than I had fallen asunder.  The lethal number plate on its, now illegal,  metal arc over the front wheel sliced neatly through my calf flesh.   This time Macclesfield hospital for the stitches but unlike my Birmingham experience no siren bleating just a deal of blood contaminating the passenger side of a friend's car.
For many years following and now a real grown-up, I have steered away from the 2-wheel vehicles.   Just once a few years ago I got my daughter, Kate's, wonderful black classic Raleigh out of the shed and with my husband took a rather stately ride along the Middlewood Way and home again in one piece.    I was told by an onlooker that I looked somewhat imperious travelling along with its sit-up-and-beg handlebars at a cautious, steady pace.
This year, 2012 and following the amazing British Olympics, we were so inspired by all the intrepid male and female cyclists that we took ourselves along to Decathlon and I bought a brand new silvery-blue bicycle - it's lovely, magnificent it has a cross-bar and it's for our 25th wedding anniversary and it's for HIM.   No more cycling for me thanks - I've learned my lesson!