Chill, Mr. Man

Hey, anger,

Slow right down

And breathe…

Deeper now, that’s it,


Chill, anger,

Let it go,

That weight…

See, anger,

Better ways

To pass the time,

You’ll be fine,

Now just breathe…


Hey, mister, heart

Can’t take the constant strain,

Uncross your eyes,

Your legs,

The frown,

Climb down…

Hey, mister,

Don’t look at me that way,

It’s only sound advice,

The facts…

Hey, mister

I’ve got your back,

Hey, man,

Stick a flower in,


And breathe.






I knew instantly that you were furious. Hunched, seething, in your chair, your vibrations were chunked with rage, clear as clear.

Upon discovering that the signed-on-the-back photo had been smudged, you snarled and muttered imprecations.

Heart in mouth, fear already surging, I tried to think what I had done wrong this time. Was it the fact that I went to get the photo sorted without asking your permission, asking if it was all right to do this?

Just in case, I explained that I had dropped a friend of our elder daughter’s off at her house (having loaned her my little gas heater because they have no heat in the house and she has been unwell) and popped in on my passport application errand on the way back.

I asked if there had been friction between you and one of the children, if you were tired (for it had been a stressful day, and your usual routine had been interrupted); you growled angry negatives.

I was, I confess, concerned about you driving in such a mood, having seen, two years ago, the damage caused by this kind of fury, unwillingness to back down and refusal to ask for help: That previous instance cost us £800 in repairs to the car, but at least no one was harmed.

I tried to suggest that you take the two girls to ballet, and I collect them on my way to choral rehearsal; you wouldn’t hear of it.

The atmosphere thickened upon your return, became more poisonous.

‘I’ll assert myself here,’ I thought,’ and just say that I’ll do the pick-up…’

You erupted in vituperative and incandescent rage, showering me with accusations.

I was, you told me, trying to thrust myself into plans YOU had already made; I was trying to take over; I was being bossy and controlling, as usual – and, NO, I was NOT going to collect the girls; YOU were, and I needed to BUTT OUT.

Your face (which I once thought so handsome) was set in the now all-too-familiar pursed-mouth, mean and threatening stance.

The thought of you driving became ever-more frightening because, in this mood, you have been known to scrape a neighbour’s car, knock wing mirrors off deliberately when walking down the road (because you don’t approve of them being left out) and, on the day we drove to Marlborough, force me to leap into the verge to avoid being hit by the front of your car.

I ran out, terrified, and tried to hold the door of the car open, to stop you going.

‘Please,  Gary,’ I begged, ‘can we just discuss this…’


And, when I wouldn’t, you turned the key in the ignition – and would, I know, have driven off, even if I had been injured in the process.

I should, I am sure, have just let you drive away – but I was afraid of your unacknowledged capacity for damage and violence when this riled-up.

We tussled over the keys. You scratched and bruised me.

I had to let go in the end, had to retreat. I tried to suggest that we should drive together and discuss it calmly.

‘No,’ you said, ‘I don’t want you in the car. You are NOT coming with me. You have made a scene in the street and you have got bare feet. Get back into the house.’

You were far more concerned about the potential embarrassment caused by my bare feet and the neighbours watching than you were about the bruise on my forearm, the scratches on finger and back of hand, the shaking which I was unable to control.

You drove off – and, as I discovered later, told the girls that we had argued, just in case, as you put it, ‘we got back and found you waiting behind the door with the rolling pin or worse…’

Once you had gone, I gave way to tears and, feeling an absolute need to escape, drove round to local friends.

The next bit is mostly a blank, though I know that they were kind and caring, the way they always are.

But what was dawning ever clearer in my mind was the recognition of a pattern which goes back years, if not decades – and that is your absolute need for things to go the way you have decided they will, and your need to intimidate, bully and punish me if I question your dictats, do things without asking you first or go against rules which shift like the sand.

So Odd…So Real

I dreamt anger last night,

woke late to the strangest feeling,

one I can’t recollect dreaming before.

Perhaps I have but don’t recall.

I’ve dreamt so many allsorts, remembered and not.

But to wake in anger,

disoriented, wondering why I felt so peculiar, was odd,


seeing the pictures flood back as spoon filled coffee cup,

pausing as steam turned its contents black,

visions in the molten awakener, of

one person attempting to bully

a whole crowd of grown-ups,

young and old but all compromised by power,

held hostage to her whims,

immobilised by fear.

I snapped several times, went against the pack,

refused to cooperate with petty injustice,

got right in her face and snarled,

‘They all hate you, you know.

It doesn’t have to be this way.’

She turned slit eyes on me, red and fierce

and spat, ‘ I despise you all’.

My parting shots,

witnessed askance by all, became

full of heat and promises 

of just retribution.

She mouthed, ‘I’ll lie.’

I knew she would.

No Curse

What can you say now

To that kind of silence?

            Not the blissful quiet

            That descends

            At evening’s end,

            Nor the silence that

            Pierces through

            Soulful songs

            And seeks

            To burst forth.

Not the loud,

Pervasive silence

That descends

After tumultuous noise,

Nor the restful quiet

That only a ticking clock

Keeps rhythm

And rhyme to.


All these I embrace,

            Rejoice in even,

                        In silence’s ecstasy


What can we say now

To the other silence?

            Where words


            Scream blame

            Or ill-regard,


            In pointless,


            White noise


The kind that grieves

And causes grief.

How this silence punishes,

Betrays its name

And purpose

What say we to silence then?


Hush, love,

And hold,

Redeem the silence,

Befriend its nature.

It knows no curse

In peace.


No Names, No Pack Drill.

Maybe I shouldn’t be posting this. I don’t want to get my eldest into hot water. But she can’t go public. So I am. I’ve run it by her and she says if I feel like going for it ‘there’s nothing I can do to stop you’.

My gorgeous eldest 24 year old daughter spent New Year’s Eve working night shift in a  hospital. She’s a nurse. And a bloody excellent one.

I haven’t seen her over the last couple of days but I’ve spoken to her on the phone.

Her back is in agony and she has a trapped nerve in her arm. Why? Well, in their wisdom, the powers-that-be at the hospital decided to let her ward operate two nurses down on Hogmanay and told them, ‘you’ll manage’.

Now, if I were a relative of patients on the ward, I would not be happy to think that the ward was trying to function while being understaffed. Makes sense that something will go to the wall, if this is the case.

As the mother of a nurse, the mother of my daughter, the very idea that management thought it was fine to leave them in this ridiculous position leaves me livid. How dare they? She has her whole life and career ahead of her. She has yet to have children. She does not need to go through life with back troubles. Management has a duty of care to both patients and staff and they have clearly abrogated any sense of responsibility by making no attempt to ensure adequate staff coverage. Not even seeking bank staff to supplement.

The mighty or not so mighty pound has spoken again.

Thankfully, my daughter is no one’s sap.

Money or neglect? Umm, let’s weigh that one up. Or is there really any need to?




Waiting to grow.


Hardly stopping

Plunging ahead.

Seeing without seeing.

Angry at life’s barriers.

Heated in activity,

Quarrelsome with everyone,

Hating the world.

Pulling at adult strings,

Piercing loving hearts.

Cradles,empty of the child.