Strange Angel.

They appear, here and there,

in books,

in sentimental American series,

in films.

No feathers, usually,

no trumpets

just informal.


They save a poor struggling human

and then disappear into thin air,

usually in a back view,

going down the road.


Despite not really believing in angels,

I think I’ve met a few

in my time.


And now,

I suspect,

another has appeared,

in cords, with rucksack.

Standard issue.

No wings.


At a moment when my artistic life is

fraught with stresses,


and frustrations

that hang upon the beatings of my heart so

that I can scarcely trust that I will take

the next breath;

be able to utter

the next word,

one would think a gentle gardener,

trimming away the tangles,

stroking the grass into reluctant green,

filling the newly dug flowerbeds with rich darkness,

lovingly placing tiny plants into soft earth,

bringing my garden back to life,

would bring no comfort .

But he does.


One kind of growing

nourishes another

I suppose.


He drives off in a black car,

much set about with boxes.

As far as I could see,

he was still there

at the end of the road.






Wake at the Bell

It was an extraordinary evening.
As if love had replaced the oxygen.
We were all transfixed by it.
The music pounded off the stage,
its energy flowing through us as a rushing mighty wind,
charging the air in our lungs.
We held each other,
carefully, tenderly,
friend and friend,
stranger and stranger.
Again and again
the glasses went up !
A fist pump against the dark.
I thought ghosts were filmy
unsubstantial things.
I might have known
Gianni would do it different.

Work in Progress


I am thinking

about spending

some time every day

not thinking .


In particular,

not thinking about

climate change world war 3 David Cameron money imminent annihilation and whether I should buy some more milk.


I am thinking this


I think that one should be present in the moment;

which involves not thinking.




I am getting there.


I think.

I love riding on the train..

Still spending too much time on trains..


I love riding on the train

Never knowing

If we’re going ..


Love the drama

Love the pain..

Love the sense of

Tense adventure..


As we sit and watch the cows

Moving slowly munching past us


I love waiting on the train

Never knowing

Why we’re waiting..


Has a leaf blown on the line?

Has a signal blown a gasket?

Has there been a hurricane?

Will Google tell me if I ask it?


Oh! We’re moving

Past the cow pat

Past the field end

Do we think that ..

Yes! We’re picking

Up the speed

Here we go!






So much time

To sit and chat

Get to know

The people round us

As we speculate and bet

On just how late

We’re going to be ..


Play the happy game

Of  train trumps..

I am missing

A big meeting

What points do I get for that?

Does it trump your


Or your starving little cat?


They say travelling

In hope

Is always better

Than arriving..


What a slogan

That would be..

We will keep you happy



I love riding on the train

Never knowing

Always hoping ..



Patience is a virtue

Virtue is a grace

Grace is a little girl

Who wouldn’t wash her face.


Patience, along with the others,

Chastity, Temperance, Charity,

Diligence, Kindness and Humility,

was seen, particularly by the Victorians,

as a virtue ideally suited to little girls.

We were still all taught, directly or indirectly, to wait.


Mostly for our Prince to come.


The trouble with Patience is that it is a virtue

only in a world in which Time

is on your side.


Which it rarely is for little girls.


I still try to practise it.

I wait, calmly, for things to happen.

But then, when they still don’t,

my patience hasn’t actually helped at all..

all it has done has been to make the time pass


And the problem in the first place is how fast it passes..


How soon it is gone.


Perhaps I will get my reward in Heaven.

I shall have to wait and see.




Climbing the Stairs

When we first arrived back in England from South Africa,
we had two small children and a plan.

My husband was going to stop work and write full time.
That was what he wanted to do.
I was going to go back to work after seven years with the children;
back to the bright corridors of academia or to the stage;
to my beloved enchanted theatre.
That was what I wanted to do.

We rented a house in the country and got to work.

Until I discovered I was pregnant.
And misery ensued.
No work for me; no writing for him.

But .. we would have come through it, I’m sure..
thought of something
some way

The real disaster struck when I lost the baby
which, when I lost it,
suddenly and terribly became a baby
one of my children

I knew it was my fault; it left me because I didn’t want it.
However illogical that thought was
– if only for millions of women throughout history it was that easy!- it stuck.
And so did I.

The moment I realised how stuck
was when I was going up the stairs
with a basket of washing
and I stopped moving.
I sat on the step and I could not get up.
Would not get up.

Until the family came home and found me.

The gap between intention and action is will.
Where there is no will,
there is no action.

Depression is not just crying in a corner;
depression is slipping a small cog in a wheel which renders you
literally un-able to do anything to help yourself;
you need to move; you know how to; but you can’t
want to.

Now, when it strikes me again, I am prepared.
I have a small emergency kit.
My box of tricks.

Get out before you can’t;
Even if it is just to push a trolley down the silicon alleys of Sainsbury’s
where the dead food stacks the shelves.

Watch a film; read a book;

Buy something online;
clothes to hang on this temporary frame of mine
which persuade me I am not yet one of those naked skeletons clanking into the dark..

Sometimes life gives you what you need, out of the blue;

Warm words on the phone; in an email; in a text..
a cheery whatsapp..
a knock on the door..

Head bent over the piano as the notes,
Pure, precise, passionate as water,
Flood the air with light.

Most of all, that hinge swinging open in the mind; a way into the woods..
girl in a white dress
under a night sky thronged with vampires;
lantern light in a stable;
lit festivity of food;
the worlds within that lure you out of your sorry self into another bewitching reality.

writing a poem will do it.

And the cog clicks back into place.

And you can climb the stairs.

Mr Rochester

Just off to see Jools – insanely – take to the stage at the National to spend two and a half hours playing the piano, the cello, the harp and the double bass – all from memory – while also MDing the band and acting as a various characters including a Victorian Schoolgirl. The composer, Benji, who wrote the beautiful score – who he is substituting for – has a beard, so I guess Jools is one step closer to verisimilitude..

update – back from glorious show at the National – Jane Eyre – wonderful night.

There was one inaccuracy in what Jools told me, though – he does indeed play the piano, the cello, the harp and the double bass – all from memory – while also MDing the band and acting as a various characters including a Victorian Schoolgirl – he forgot to mention that he also sings and plays the accordion…


This poem came to mind..

You’re such a strange man..

Mt Rochester

You’re so lonely and so proud..

Such a strange man..

Mr Rochester..

Living your life under a cloud..

Why do we love you,

Mr Rochester?

Why is each young girl a fan?

Why have you drawn us,

Mr Rochester?

Ever since your tale began?

Why do we long to soothe your pain?

Why do we all want to be Jane?

Mr Rochester?

Won’t you explain?


Sapiens Revisited

If evolution had never got past a certain point
I can well imagine what my particular little tribe would be doing.

In the long hours between hunting and gathering
and fishing
and making fur into clothes,
we’d all be hanging around the cave –

I doubt we’d stop talking.

Cooking food; eating it; laughing, hugging; making love, arguing.

Drinking too much fermented berry juice.
And then drinking some more.

Some of us would be hunkered in front of the cave wall, delicately smearing plant dye onto our latest bison painting ..

Some padding a rock with moss to make a chair..

Some stretching skin over gourds and banging them endlessly with a stone while someone else twanged some gut stretched on a stick
and another one leaned against a tree and blew idly through a hollow twig..

Some climbing up the tree to watch the birds;
Some jumping off it to see how high it was.

Some  swimming in the river then running along the bank then trying to invent the wheel..

Some just sitting and wondering..

Some just sitting..

Most would be planning the next feast day celebration;
directing rehearsals;
practicing the dances,
making the masks;
learning a speech;
designing the costumes…
Working out a narrative …
composing a song –
singing it..
then singing it some more..

then making everybody listen..

While around us wonderful nature crawled and soared and buzzed and mated
and poured itself crashing down crags
and reared up above us in unfathomable green shadows
and soaked us and baked us and blew us and shivered us.

and occasionally ate us..

Mighty; Invulnerable;

safe from us.

We wouldn’t be around for long; but then,
A day is a day.

There would have been dreadful times; pain and loss and hunger and suffering and death; just like now.

Though we wouldn’t have had to bear it alone, or among strangers; to the very end there would have been communal firelight; familiar voices; the comforting weight of children on the lap.

But ..
Some of us would be poking the ants with a stick, trying to work out how to keep them from the food store; some watching the flow of the river, wondering how to divert it closer to the cave ..

Before you knew it, someone would be inventing iPhones.

That’s the trouble with humans; they can never leave well enough alone.