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May. 6th, 2015


May in England

It's wet and windy here but it was the same long ago for A.E.Housman.
I love the last verse especially. It is quoted in 'The Charioteer'.

The chestnut casts his flambeaux, and the flowers
Stream from the hawthorn on the wind away,
The doors clap to, the pane is blind with showers.
Pass me the can, lad; there's an end of May.

There's one spoilt spring to scant our mortal lot,
One season ruined of our little store.
May will be fine next year as like as not:
Oh ay, but then we shall be twenty-four.

We for a certainty are not the first
Have sat in taverns while the tempest hurled
Their hopeful plans to emptiness, and cursed
Whatever brute and blackguard made the world.

It is in truth iniquity on high
To cheat our sentenced souls of aught they crave,
And mar the merriment as you and I
Fare on our long fool's-errand to the grave.

Iniquity it is; but pass the can.
My lad, no pair of kings our mothers bore;
Our only portion is the estate of man:
We want the moon, but we shall get no more.

If here to-day the cloud of thunder lours
To-morrow it will hie on far behests;
The flesh will grieve on other bones than ours
Soon, and the soul will mourn in other breasts.

The troubles of our proud and angry dust
Are from eternity, and shall not fail.
Bear them we can, and if we can we must.
Shoulder the sky, my lad, and drink your ale.

Aug. 13th, 2014


Status report

From Josh Lanyon's 'Come unto These Yellow Sands'

You are hiking through Serpent Valley when you stumble upon the mysterious Caverns of Eternity. As you journey farther into the great cavern you discover it branches off into two passageways. One curves downward to the left; the other leads upward to the right. Is it possible that the one leading down is a channel to the past and the one leading up is a path to future? Which way will you choose?

In the old days Swift had always chosen the future. Now…he’d have taken the past—and the opportunity to change things—in a second.
But that’s not the way life worked. There were no do-overs. If you screwed up, there was no magical way to go back and put it right. You had to fix it the best you could—and sometimes there was no fixing it.

Aug. 4th, 2014


Sassoon's poetry

Song-Books of the War

IN fifty years, when peace outshines
Remembrance of the battle lines,
Adventurous lads will sigh and cast
Proud looks upon the plundered past.
On summer morn or winter’s night,
Their hearts will kindle for the fight,
Reading a snatch of soldier-song,
Savage and jaunty, fierce and strong;
And through the angry marching rhymes
Of blind regret and haggard mirth,
They’ll envy us the dazzling times
When sacrifice absolved our earth.

Some ancient man with silver locks
Will lift his weary face to say:
‘War was a fiend who stopped our clocks
Although we met him grim and gay.’
And then he’ll speak of Haig’s last drive,
Marvelling that any came alive
Out of the shambles that men built
And smashed, to cleanse the world of guilt.
But the boys, with grin and sidelong glance,
Will think, ‘Poor grandad’s day is done.’
And dream of lads who fought in France
And lived in time to share the fun.

May. 19th, 2014


Mary Stewart


I was sad to hear that Mary Stewart had died but interested to read her obituary. She was the only romantic novelist I could read and I still admire her strong-willed, principled, compassionate heroines. She wrote some excellent historicals too.
Tried to post a picture but it's too difficult. Neither old nor new livejournal seems to work properly at the moment. Hopeless!

May. 11th, 2014


Excellent read

I have just finished reading Josh Lanyon's  new book, 'Stranger On The Shore'. I love pretty much everything he writes but this new one is a cracker. It's been ages since I've had to prise myself away from a story because my eyes were too tired to keep reading, desperate to know what happens. Even when I started to see where the plot was going, I still wanted to know 'how' and 'why'. A great book.

Mar. 5th, 2014


In and Out of the Kitchen

I didn't realise the third series of this had begun on Radio Four, so I've missed most of it and you can only hear it on iPlayer for seven days. If you get a chance, listen to the latest episode which you can find here . It's an everyday story of gay folk and this episode, The Works Barbecue, is not only funny but touching too.

Mar. 3rd, 2014



I heard this poem on 'Poetry Please' on BBC Radio 4 yesterday. The poet was Ghanaian and died in 2007.

Kwesi Brew:      The Mesh

We have come to the cross-roads
And I must either leave or come with you.
I lingered over the choice
But in the darkness of my doubts
You lifted the lamp of love
And I saw in your face
The road that I should take.

Feb. 18th, 2014


Shakespeare, as usual

Lear: Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!
          You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout
          Till you have drench'd our steeples, drown'd the cocks!

daily mail

Feb. 16th, 2014


We have soldiers!

We have some of the Royal Irish Regiment in the town to help our emergency services cope with the flooding. They are taking people across the bridge in their lorries and I wish I could think of a good reason to go!

Army lorriesPhoto: Jackie Surtees


Dec. 22nd, 2013



This story is dedicated to erastes, who wrote in her review of 'Prove A Villain':  'As I’ve said before on this blog, every single book I seem to read about Tudor London involves either Kit Marlowe and/or William Shakespeare – the two of them must postively hang around at the city’s gates pouncing on any newcomers.' (She then went on to write a very nice review, I hasten to add!)  The idea amused me and this is the result.   

Elizabethan LondonCollapse )

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