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Issu e 17th 474 Feb 2017

Project closes end of March.


FLASH FICTION: Random Words: balloon, podiatrist, chipolata, century, printer, tavern, breakfast Assignment: post-Valentine

A warm welcome awaits. COME to WORKSHOP ... Rising Brook Library Workshops 1.30 start Mondays

A Narcissist's

Prayer

en. That didn't happ asn't that bad. And if it did, it w l. at's not a big dea And if it was, th not my fault. And if it is, that's dn't mean it. And if it was, I di And if I did... You deserved it.

The last laugh ... As you know the Roman Comedy which RBW will be publishing shortly is based at Gailey on the A5 and includes a Taverna called the Spread Eagle. We heard this week there is to be an archaeological dig in the car-park at the real Spread Eagle and they are hoping to find Roman remains ...


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RBW are delighted to announce that FLIGHT the 2017 Poetry Collection is now free and available online on our Facebook page, website (hyperlink ctrl+click above cover image) and the international publishing website www.issuu.com/risingbrookwriters. Flight has been dedicated to Clive Hewitt, former Chair of RBW, who sadly lost his struggle with cancer earlier this month.


Random Words: pictures, fickle, Florence, liaise, emergency, meddle/medal, suddenly, impudent, jam, loose, pottery, biscuit Florence was excited to be taking part in “The Great Ceramic Showdown” TV series, but she was a little anxious too, because in her experience, clay could be fickle and didn‟t always do what you hoped. She loved being let loose in the studio, with all its wonderful equipment, and decided it would be a good idea to befriend Jeff, the kiln man, and liaise closely with him, making use of his professional expertise when it came to the firing of her pieces. She knew that things could be going swimmingly, then suddenly a emergency could arise and the biscuit ware could blow up. She didn‟t want to seem impudent, or to meddle in his business, but he was after all, an expert, whereas she was just a mere amateur. She watched in admiration as he loaded the kiln. He would jam the contestants‟ pieces into the tightest of spaces until all was tightly packed and ready to go. Fingers crossed, she could picture herself lifting the trophy. Observation: When one has no-one in one‟s life, a barrage of e-mails about Valentine‟s gifts/ events in one‟s inbox day in, day out is both annoying and upsetting.

Latest News: Job opportunity at the Scottish Poetry Library | 13-Feb-17 Senior Librarian wanted. Who has published where this month? | 13-Feb-17 List of the poets and articles published in UK and Irish magazines received by the Poetry Library January 2017 Tom Raworth has died | 10-Feb-17 The poet, artist, teacher, and publisher has died. We have joined Instagram! | 09-Feb-17 Follow us to see beautiful, rare, and exciting things from our collections. The Poetry Society Annual Lecture with Jan Wagner | 06-Feb-17 'The Shedding of Skins and Schemes: a voice of one's own and the voices of others'.

Latest Competitions: Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition | Closing Date: 28-Feb-17 For original, previously unpublished poems in English language, on any subject, in any style, up to 50 lines long. Poet... Poetry on the Lake International Competition for the Silver Wyvern | Closing Date: 28-Feb-17 Theme for Silver Wyvern: Metal ? may be interpreted widely but must bear a reference to the theme. No set theme for Sho... New Magazines: Stride Magazine (current)


Submission maximum length: Flash 500 words Double Flash 1000 words Triple Flash 1500 words Theme: STREET Guest Editor Nigel Peckett

Submissions close end of March 2017 The house font is Tahoma 12pt - no tables, no bold, no italics, no coloured inks, no centred headings, „ for speech not “ , no underlining, no attachments, all submissions in ragged-right-edge embedded email, all submissions to be spelled checked and grammar checked prior to submission. One space only after a full stop. All contributors should acquaint themselves how to punctuate dialogue. Pictures can be included in submissions if the contributor owns the copyright. NB The editor‟s decisions are final - therefore, probably, not all entries will be accepted. TIPS: Show don‟t tell; provide a beginning, middle and ending, not necessarily in that order.


Submitting to Writing Competitions? ... A few thoughts ... 

Make „em laugh ... Make „em cry ... Make „em angry ... Make „em sentimental ... Twang all the reader‟s emotions. Make them „care‟ and then wring them out to dry.

Be commercial. The days of the great „literary novel‟ are long gone. Playing mix and match with sub-genres, horror and romance/sci-fi etc. is fine if combined within mainstream market expectations unless the competition is „genre‟ specific. And, most of the big competitions are market specific. Why? Because readers want to buy genre specific ... e.g. a cowboy story reader doesn‟t want to suddenly be snatched off the range to end up on Mars. Sci-fi might be brain candy to some readers but a real turn off to others if aliens turn up in their weepy romance.

Money! Competition fees mount up! Follow their rules and their format. These people are not your friends; they will disqualify entries which exceed the set word limit: 500 is 500 not 504, 503, 502, 501. If you leave your contact details, or even your name on the actual manuscript. It will not be read. You just wasted your time, postage and your entry fee.

Always use a catchy title which readers will identify with and want to read. Do not plagiarise. Be totally original. That means „all‟ your own work and „all‟ your own ideas. Make your entry memorable. Make it stand out. Think of time and place use vivid characters. In competitions, judges want to see strong characterisation. Do not use too many characters especially in rom-coms. Think of who reads what. Same with plot arcs. Sub-plots, add complication, they slow down speed of read: keep-it-very-simple is what‟s needed in popular fiction.

What‟s your grammar like? Spell check always. Check which country your spell check is set to as well. Have someone else (not your mother) to read it thoroughly and tell them to be brutal. Punctuation! Dialogue causes most problems: learn the rules. No-one to teach you? Take a LARGE print book and copy dialogue until you have worked out where the commas, etc. are used. You are wasting your time and money if you cannot punctuate speech. Proofing time costs money. Professional writers know their grammar.

In flash fiction, same as with traditional short stories, changes should be clear by the end. In a novel opening, start the action: word one, line one. No waking up from dreams please ... You‟re better than that ... In flash fiction competitions stay close to the word count; too short a submission and your work could look weak. Remember what makes for a fast read ... short snappy sentences, dialogue, action. Long sentences and heavy descriptive paragraphs are so Victorian, and so dull, and so slow ...

NB: The RBW Flash Fiction Collection is not a competition, however, the editor’s decision is final and not all submissions will be used. There will be no discussion of the editor’s decisions.


BACK IN THE BLACK I can feel it now, golden silk slithering down, shining the hair, greening the eyes, finding curves. How? I keep Amber pretty with remnants and a bit of imagination, but this was magic. I thought, could I learn it? I twirled, and the dress flared round me like it was alive. „Whee...ee,‟ I went. Then suddenly – footsteps. Coming straight for the marking off room. No. She never got in before nine. Never. I watched the handle turn, the door swing, and there she stood, Miss Elizabeth Prior, manageress of Pakenham‟s fashion department. The shock on her face became pure and personal outrage. Somehow I got the creation back on its hanger, scrambled into my black. ‘I‟m sorry...‟ ‘You may collect your cards from the office.‟ ‘Please,‟ I said. ‘You know the rules Miss Babington. ‘But this is my first proper job, my little girl...‟ ‘You should have thought of that.‟ I was choking. „They‟ll sanction us again. They‟ll take her off me.‟ I saw Amber‟s little face falling, falling until it crumpled. I tried to keep my voice steady. „Nobody will ever know.‟ ‘I will know.‟ I said, „It was very wrong of me and I know it‟s asking such a lot, but I would always help you if I could.‟ She snorted, turned away. Then, unbelievably, she said, „Very well, for the sake of your daughter, I will see how you acquit yourself today on the new stock.‟ New stock! Glory be to everything that‟s holy for the New Stock. The life giver. The spring deluge I‟d been warned about. So that‟s why she‟d come in early. I was a whirlwind, getting stuff ready for that shop floor. When the bell for home time went I hardly had the strength to get changed, and I still didn‟t know if I‟d passed Miss Prior‟s test. But I turned up at eight next morning. She was there already, holding a pale green leather jacket with most of the sleeve ripped away. ‘It caught on the trolley...‟ She was gaping at it. „Never in my 40 years...‟ I could have sworn her voice was shaking. ‘Sewn too near the edge.‟ I said. „I‟ll fix it.‟ She remembered who she was then. „Miss Babington, this is a valuable garment. It needs expert Wardrobe care. Anything else would ruin it.‟ ‘And if an expert in Wardrobe finds out you‟ve ruined it...?‟ That stopped her. Jenny Babb, known as „Blabb‟, was one of those experts and her sister had been sacked by Miss Prior a month ago. Miss Prior put the jacket down and went out. To kick a wall, I imagine. With kit from haberdashery I unpicked the lining and resewed the soft leather from inside. I mended the satin with invisible stitches, examined everything, and hung it carefully on the trolley. A very valuable garment. Then, whistling happily, I got back into my sales assistant black and went to find Miss Prior before Wardrobe arrived.


Miss Pritchard lived at Number 2, alone but for her Siamese cat, Puzzle. She kept herself to herself, rarely invited folk in, and consequently, not many had ventured behind that neatly-kept façade. It wasn‟t that Miss Pritchard was unfriendly, for she wasn‟t. She always nodded to the neighbours and was polite to trades people. It was just that she was what folk call „private‟. Indeed, she‟d lived at Number 2 for around 40 years, yet you would be hard pushed to find anyone who would claim to know her. She played bridge twice a week, - and very well, by all accounts,-yet even her partner would have admitted that all aspects of her personality outside bridge strategies were a complete mystery to him. Every week, she collected her pension from the post office and every day, Miss Pritchard walked the quarter-mile to her local corner shop, where she purchased a selection of broadsheet newspapers from Mrs Thompson, the shopkeeper. She was the subject of much interest to her neighbours. “She‟s a queer one, for sure.” The newsagent told another of her customers, Mrs Poyys. “As quiet as a little mouse. Doesn‟t seem to have any family. Sad really.” “Mm. I‟ve heard tell though, that she has a brain as sharp as a needle,” the customer replied. “I wonder how old she is?” “Hard to tell. Must be at least 80.” Mrs Thompson commented. Because she ran the corner shop, Mrs Thompson was was the source of all gossip, and what she didn‟t know wasn‟t worth knowing. She leaned forward across the counter, in a conspiratorial manner, checking that no-one else was within earshot and confided the following detail. “My niece Alice cleans for her from time to time. She says there‟s a photo of her with a group of people, about ten, all smiling, and on the back is written „1945‟ and „the gang‟. “Well I never!” Mrs Potts exclaimed. “Who are they, I wonder?” “Alice asked her if they were family, and she said that in a way they were. How odd is that?” “Very odd!” Mrs Potts tutted. “Do we know where she comes from?” “Somewhere in Buckinghamshire, so I believe.” “And do we know what she did for a living?” “Not exactly. But she was a very good mathematician by all accounts. And she always knows the exact cost of her shopping, so she hasn‟t lost it, even in old age. Like riding a bike, I s‟pose. Once you‟ve got it, you never lose it.” “Well I never had it myself. And it doesn‟t seem quite right for a woman to be good at such things, in my humble opinion. Not quite decent.” Mrs Potts confided. “As for me, couldn‟t get my head round „rithmatic. Couldn‟t remember tables, thought calculus was what you got if you didn‟t clean your teeth properly, and as to that halzebra. Not a clue! But then again, what use was any of it to me sweeping up in the hair salon?” “Well, adding is useful enough when you run a corner shop,” Mrs Thompson interjected “but as to the rest of it….you‟re right, a complete waste of time. I‟ve not had a need for tigger no metry since I left school, and don‟t know anyone who has!” And with that, both women nodded heartily and went about their business.


Submission : In the big house on the corner In the big house on the corner, a huge, gothic-revival monstrosity, lived Mrs Van Hooke. A stiff, birdlike widow now in her 90s, Mrs Van Hooke surveyed the street from her bedroom window and didn‟t like what she saw. „Godless heathens, fornicators and blasphemers,‟ she would mutter from the safety of her net curtains. „A good whipping would sort them out.‟ Nostalgic for a golden youth which had never happened, Mrs Van Hooke didn‟t have many visitors, save the vicar, who held his nose and never stayed long; her savage tongue and unforgiving rhetoric didn‟t encourage friendship, or social interaction. She had three daughters. All had moved away from home as swiftly as possible after leaving education. One had moved to Australia in a bid to sever every tie and abdicate all responsibility towards her hated mother. The middle girl, now a woman grown with a family, lived in the Scottish Highlands on a croft and was as happy as Larry, which left Jane, the youngest, to cope with Mrs Van Hooke‟s increasing rigidity and bigotry. „You can‟t say things like that nowadays, mother,‟ she implored reading the text of a letter penned for the parish magazine – not that any of her missives from on high were published. „It could be misconstrued as racist, or sexist, or something. You can‟t say people living together is a sin against your god ...‟ „Rubbish. It‟s nothing but the truth ... bloody foreigners taking jobs and breeding like locusts ... praying to heathen gods ... unwed girls pushing prams.‟ Jane, a mild mannered soul who took after her father, now lain to rest 20 years, didn‟t like to point out to Mrs Van Hooke that she, too, had been a child refugee and had been taken in by the UK as a “bloody foreigner” fleeing the devastation in the low countries after the war. A realist, in Jane‟s eyes anyone who prayed to anything was a deluded soul and as the UK was seriously under populated and desperately needed more babies to be born and more young, educated people to fill highly-skilled jobs, surely the more immigrants who actually wanted to live in this cold, wet land riven by austerity policies should be welcomed with open arms. Her Aryan Supremacist mother was too brainwashed by the religious dogma drilled into her as a child and too bigoted to understand. Jane shivered and poked the tiny fire in the grate, she knew it was a waste of time talking to her mother about downsizing: the five bedroomed Victorian villa was a monster to heat and needed a serious amount of maintenance, for which her mother never envisage paying. „They‟ll carry me out of here in a box,‟ said Mrs Van Hooke shaking her stick at some lads wearing hoodies going by on the opposite side of the street. „Youth of today, all noise and bad behaviour. Bring back the birch, I say. Should never have stopped conscription. A few years in the army that‟s what they need.‟ And so the embittered diatribe went on, year in, year out, as the property deteriorated while, lonely and isolated, Mrs Van Hooke lashed out more and more, spilling fascist bile and vile acerbic rhetoric over anyone stupid enough to attempt to help her. It wasn‟t until one bad winter, alone and unloved, Mrs Van Hooke finally passed away and was discovered some days later wrapped in a blanket by an empty grate and nursing a cup-a-soup, soup being the only food found in her pantry. Spring sunshine broke through on the day of her funeral and it seemed to Jane that a cloud lifted from the big house on the corner. Of course, it fell to Jane to begin the unenviable job of sorting out her late mother‟s estate. That was when she found the black tin trunk in the attic. The lock had an ancient padlock attached. „What‟s that?‟ asked her husband Graham, a retired school teacher and history buff who had stayed well away from his mother-in-law whose casual racism he couldn‟t stand. Jane had never pushed that lack of relationship, with him being a free-thinking Guardian reader, Graham, the epitome of green-liberalism, was never going to bond with her mother. „Aye, aye. What‟s that?‟ „Never seen it before. It must be Grandfather‟s, I think.‟ Jane was worried as she wiped the metal surface of the trunk with a cloth and the familiar Swastika logo of the Nazi party was slowly revealed from under the grime. „Ahh,‟ said Graham. „That explains a lot. Open it up, whatever‟s in there might be worth a fortune on eBay. Big market for wartime Militaria.‟ 784 (SMS)


Assignment : Still waters After the tsunami which had devastated the coast of the north island, we had to wait several days before given the all-clear to go back. We had been corralled into a community centre in West Auckland. Most of us had nothing with us… we‟d been on the beach when the tumultuous wave hit. Our clothing was skimpy; maybe we had sun lotion and a few dollars, but not much else. No ID, no dignity. „Another arrival of clothes ladies‟ shouted Vanessa, the Red Cross Volunteer who was maintaining our spirits as best she could. „There are paper knickers in the toilets alongside the other sanitary stuff, so help yourselves.‟ „Thanks, Nessie,‟ shouted an older, chubby woman who had almost certainly lost her husband but was as stoic as a kiwi drunk on fruit. I wandered over to the main reception room and asked when we might be able to go back. I‟d seen the news reports and knew what to expect, I just wanted to revisit the place where it happened. „Mrs Kennedy, you may be able to go back later today, just a short visit, mind you, and only for people like you, who have someone to look for. I can take about eight in the minibus. Can you grab a few of those who are less prone to hysteria?‟ „Yeah, sure.‟ I almost smiled at the thought of going back home, but my conscious cortex poured cold water over the grin and my eyes started to leak uncontrollably. I walked back. The tear-stains quickly dried in the 30 degree heat. I gathered a few people and we returned at half one, ready to take the thirty minute drive. „I have never known such a short journey take so long‟ said Martha. She had chewed her nails till they bled. „Not long now, we‟re at Kiara Lagoon, so only ten minutes or so.‟ Sight of the beach from the next major bend had always been my signal for coming home……it made me sigh in contentment. I took its beauty for granted – it had been there forever, it would be there forever, and it was mine. I looked, as I always had, and so did everyone else, and we all sighed into cupped hands as beauty had turned to turmoil and was unrecognisable. Silence fell over us, even as we parked and left the minibus, no-one had anything useful to say. A coastguard met us. Must have been quite senior at his age. He was calm and direct „Ladies, I know you know this beach better than anyone and that each of you has lost someone in the tsunami. You know the chances….‟choked, he broke off „well yeah it‟s unlikely that there are survivors, but you may find some clues which will help with closure.‟ Our tanned faces were ashen as the horror of reality hit us once again. We went our separate ways. I went to the sea, the archangel of my torment. I waded in its now still and omnipresent quiet waters and looked for signs. On the millpond surface, about twenty metres out, my eyes were drawn to an object. As I swam closer I realised it was a blue bikini bottom, its pink blaze almost tantalising the sun to compete for brightness. I gathered it in my arms, instinctively sniffed it for any residual smell to comfort me and held the lifeless garment that belonged to my now lifeless child. I swam a few feet, then walked back the through the sea, with my most unwanted of mementos. The water made no noise as I waded through it – almost parting to ease my return to land, apologetic for its carnage. The sand just cradled my feet with softness and a warm welcome. All this was years ago. I‟ve only seen the sea like that once since, on the coast of Italy after a small volcanic eruption. - as if the seas say sorry by means of quiet contemplation and offering to their human Gods. Do I forgive? Not yet. Maybe I will, if I ever understand why the contrast of cruelty is so essential in our lives to help us understand the beauty of what we have. The sea took the future of my only child and drilled out the core of my soul, leaving a chasm filled only by the highest tides of memory.


Just Ask Me. Danny Brown was a worried man; his wife Sheila was acting strangely, she kept disappearing next door to number 46. He expressed his worries to his daughter, when she called round. „Mum is used to doing her own thing Dad,‟ „Own thing!‟ cried Danny,‟ she should remember I am at home now all the time‟ „Exactly and you should take a tip from Mum, now you‟re retired, and take up an interest.‟ Women, thought Danny he should have known they would stick together. When Mac, Danny‟s mate called round he told of his concerns. „Ask her out right,‟ said Mac reasonably „I can‟t have her thinking I‟m bothered. I just want to know why she prefers to Spend time with the neighbour instead of me.‟ „You‟re jealous!‟ „No, no. I‟m not I just want her to spend time with me.‟ „How long does she spend next door?‟ „Mainly it‟s on a Tuesday morning for three hours. Then she comes back to prepare my lunch,‟ „Well there you are then, she is still thinking about you, looking after you.‟ „Well I‟d still like to know what she gets up to every Tuesday.‟ „I‟ve got an idea, instead of going around like a bear with a sore head, let‟s make a plan.‟ „Plan?‟ „Find out exactly what is happening at 46!‟ The next Tuesday Danny couldn‟t wait until Sheila had tripped round next door. He gave Mac a ring. „Coast is clear!‟ Mac arrived carrying a stepladder and a large mirror attached to a broom handle. After a quick cup of tea to give them courage they carried out the ladder and the Mirror to the garden. At the middle fence panel Mac leaned the ladder against the fence and Danny climbed up to the top and Mac handed him the handmade spy device. Clutching the top of the fence with one hand Danny projected The mirror straight into the neighbour garden with his other hand, holding steady. „Can you see anything?‟ cried Mac „No! Wait yes! Women, there are lots of women sitting – oh no!‟ There was a loud bang and a crack as the fence buckled and then gave way Falling onto the neighbour‟s garden closely followed by Danny still clutching the broom handle. The mirror had shattered and lay beside him. Danny was spread-eagled on the lawn when five middle-aged women surrounded him Sheila stood with them and was visibly annoyed. „What exactly has happened?‟ she cried. „He just wanted to know what you got up to on a Tuesday morning.‟ Shouted Mac. „Why didn‟t you just ask me. Now we will have to pay for a new fence panel and repairs to the flower bed,‟ cried Sheila „Don‟t bother asking me if I‟m hurt! What do you get up to on Tuesdays?‟ „It‟s Knit and Natter morning,‟ cried the woman laughing,‟ we are knitting blankets for the children of Africa,‟ and with that the all turned and marched back into no 46. Leaving Mac and Danny to clear up the mess.


A Cloak of Cheerfulness Look! The sun is shining in everlasting sky, Look the world is waiting, so don‟t just sit and cry. Throw off the gloom of winter, pretend, if not for real, Don your cloak of cheerfulness, no matter how you feel. You have to be an actor, bright colours you should choose, To paint a glad expression, a smile you mustn‟t lose. I know you want to shout out loud to tell us that you‟re sad, Like your team has lost at rugby and you think the world‟s gone mad But tell me, who will hear you? What notice will they take? You can moan and moan for England, what difference will it make? Tell another story, of hope and better days, And folks will start to cheer, the way your music plays. Please do not condemn me, I feel a bad as you, We could scream at life together but what good will it do? I‟ll wipe away your tears, turn the truth into a lie Look the sun is shining in everlasting sky! Extra Miles Some friends you can depend on, you know they will be there, To lend a hand and pick you up, they‟ve always time to spare. They chase the demons, fight the foe, would never turn their back. They laugh and cry the same as you, defend before attack. Sometimes it seems remarkable, just who these good friends are, Who‟d go that extra mile before they stop the car. Other folk ignore you, they‟ve heard it all before, Stumbling and stammering in their haste to reach the door. I know who my good friends are, I hope they know me too, No need to sit and wonder, I‟d do anything for you


LXXI No longer mourn for me when I am dead Than you shall hear the surly sullen bell Give warning to the world that I am fled From this vile world with vilest worms to dwell: Nay, if you read this line, remember not The hand that writ it, for I love you so, That I in your sweet thoughts would be forgot, If thinking on me then should make you woe. O! if,--I say you look upon this verse, When I perhaps compounded am with clay, Do not so much as my poor name rehearse; But let your love even with my life decay; Lest the wise world should look into your moan, And mock you with me after I am gone.

LXXII O! lest the world should task you to recite What merit lived in me, that you should love After my death,--dear love, forget me quite, For you in me can nothing worthy prove; Unless you would devise some virtuous lie, To do more for me than mine own desert, And hang more praise upon deceased I Than niggard truth would willingly impart: O! lest your true love may seem false in this That you for love speak well of me untrue, My name be buried where my body is, And live no more to shame nor me nor you. For I am shamed by that which I bring forth, And so should you, to love things nothing worth.

http://www.gutenberg.org (educational/nfp usage)


Random Words: Pictures, fickle, Florence, liaise, emergency, meddle/medal, suddenly, impudent, jam, loose, pottery, biscuit. It was the annual village show and Florence entered her famous jam biscuits in the baking competition. The judges had to liaise to decide the winners of the various categories. Suddenly a dog escaped from the arena and ran loose through the tent. It was an emergency, the owner chased the dog past the pottery, pictures, and Victoria sponges; it was eventually apprehended by the trifles. Fate being fickle, the impudent dog leaped up and ate the medal winning biscuits. Assignment: Still waters The boat moved slowly over the dark water, the rower taking his time between each stroke. The water dripped off the blades and made ripples which reflected the setting sun. Each stroke took the boat further out into lake and towards the small island which was covered with trees. Smoke rose from a white cottage near the shore, the scent of wood smoke rolled across the lake towards the rower. As the sun set a light shone from the cottage windows and he quickened his stroke. The boat beached on a shingly shore making a crunching sound. As he stepped out of the boat the door of the cottage opened and the light shone out like the beam of a lighthouse. The man walked up the path to the cottage carrying a sack. At the door he said „I‟m back.‟ A woman‟s voice replied „Did you manage to buy any food?‟ „Yes, I sold those carvings I made from drift wood.‟ He walked in and kissed the woman. He was stocky, with dark hair and a tanned face. She was slightly built, had fair hair but just was as tall as he was. They looked at each other with love and kissed again. „Sit down Tom, I‟ve made a stew.‟ „What‟s in it, Mary?‟ „Some fish I caught today and a few vegetables.‟ She sat down and they both ate slowly without much conversation. It was a companionable silence, the silence that comes when people are at ease with each other. The meal was eaten and they both drew up their chairs to fire crackling in the grate which cast a soft light on their faces. „Well, what did you buy then, you were away all day?‟ „Do you know what today is?‟ Tom asked. „Yes, it is the thirtieth of September.‟ „No, what day is it?‟ Tom repeated. „It is a Friday,‟ replied Mary, looking puzzled. „Shall I tell you then?‟ smiled Tom. „Yes, go on then.‟ „It is twenty five years to the day that I first met you. I have never forgotten. You were at the market and you were carrying a basket of shopping for your mother.‟ „Is it that long ago?‟ Mary asked. „Yes, I even remember that you were wearing a red shawl.‟ „That wore out long ago.‟ „Well, open this parcel I have for you,‟ Tom smiled again. There was a rustle of paper as Mary unwrapped it. It was red shawl. „‟Oh, Tom,‟ Mary laughed and gave him a kiss. „I always liked you in that red shawl so I saved up to buy you another.‟ „You kept that quiet or as my mother used to say, still waters run deep.‟


Later Plantings For The Unusual JUNE: Most people planted their Dahlias a couple of weeks ago, but I refrained from planting my Yacon, which are an early species of Dahlia and come from the time of the South American Inca’s. They would probably have succumbed to the cold nights that we had right into the middle of June anyway, but I wanted to plant them in the space where the Garlic had been. Being a different type of root they will follow on nicely without building up problems in the soil that develop from growing the same thing all the time. Other plants that went in after the Broad Beans came out were a few Tomatillos and Leeks. The name Tomatillo suggests that they are related to Tomatoes, but Tomatillos are most definitely not related in any way to them. Although they produce an edible fruit, they are closely related to the garden flower, Chinese Lanterns, or Physallis. Again these plants can be a bit tender, so I had potted them on into 5 inch pots and kept them in my greenhouse at home to keep them growing until it warmed up a bit. Previous years we only used the large fruits from them to make a “Salsa Verde Sauce,” but last year my mate made a sweet chutney with some, that my mother approved of! Tomatillos are also closely related to the tougher Cape Gooseberry. I managed to keep 3 plants in my greenhouse over Winter that had been dug up from my allotment at the end of last year. These I planted out a bit earlier on in the season as they are quite a bit hardier and will stand a light frost. Another plant, or rather handful of tubers that I over Wintered and planted out in June, was my Oca. Again I started the tubers off in large pots, under protection, to get them growing a bit, whereas outside they would have just sat in the ground until it warmed up. This will give them a longer growing season that should mean bigger tubers at harvest time.

June Year Five


'Tis Spring, My Love, 'Tis Spring 'Tis Spring, my love, 'tis Spring, And the birds begin to sing: If 'twas Winter, left alone with you, Your bonny form and face Would make a Summer place, And be the finest flower that ever grew. 'T is Spring, my love, 'tis Spring, And the hazel catkins hing, While the snowdrop has its little blebs of dew; But that's not so white within As your bosom's hidden skin-That sweetest of all flowers that ever grew. The sun arose from bed, All strewn with roses red, But the brightest and the loveliest crimson place Is not so fresh and fair, Or so sweet beyond compare, As thy blushing, ever smiling, happy face. I love Spring's early flowers, And their bloom in its first hours, But they never half so bright or lovely seem As the blithe and happy grace Of my darling's blushing face, And the happiness of love's young dream.

(John Clare 13 July 1793 – 20 May 1864) (From the Gutenberg press)


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Issue 474 RBW Online