Thanks for the Memory

It had been a busy and tiring day in the Neurology department at Bradfield General Hospital. Neurologists Brian Walters and Robert Marshall were disrobing and discussing the day’s cases and treatment. They had worked together as a team for many years and although their work was complex and demanding they both enjoyed great satisfaction when good results were achieved.  Not only did they deal with nervous system disorders such as head, neck and nerve malfunctions but also diseases of the brain, memory, and spinal injuries.
Brian was married with two children, who now lived abroad, and was due to retire shortly.  His colleague Robert had one more year to do and said he would miss his friend after the ten years of working together.  Brian and his wife Jean felt sorry for Robert as he was now alone following the death of his wife from cancer two years before.  He was often invited to share meals with them after the two friends enjoyed the odd round of golf.  Soon Brian’s ‘big day’ arrived and he had mixed feelings about his new ‘freedom’ and said he would miss working with his friend and promised to stay in touch.
After about 18 months Robert contacted his friend to see how he had adjusted to retirement. “I’m really enjoying it, “Brian replied”, and to his friend’s relief sounded positive and even quite excited.  “By the way Robert, how do you feel about coming over to visit me for a get-together?  I hope Jean is well at present but I expect she would be bored with our ‘man chat’ if you know what I mean”.  Robert replied he would love to call and the date was arranged.  A week later he drove through the Buckinghamshire countryside to Robert’s home.  He turned into the drive of the large detached property and outbuildings.  After parking he was met by his friend who came towards him smiling and in an excited manner. “You look well and contented”, noted Robert.  “I was worried that you would be lost and bored after working so hard”.  “That’s because I have a mission in life now”, Brian replied. “What on earth does that mean” queried his friend “. “Well, come and have a look”, said Robert and led the way into one of his spacious sheds. Brian couldn’t believe his eyes as he surveyed the interior which had been transformed into a medical scientific laboratory. “Good grief Robert, what’s all this about? Surely retirement is about leisure and hobbies, what have you done here”? Apart from the usual medical laboratory equipment, Robert excitedly showed his friend the tanks containing rats and mice for experimental tests.  Robert asked his friend to sit down and calm down, so he could explain. “Well Brian, I’ve had time to mull over human life expectancy and health, currently and in the future.  At present, life expectancy in men is 78.5 years. Scientists in the University of California reckon that figure will increase to 110 years by 2040. Therefore given the decline in man’s cognitive and memory capabilities as it stands today, what’s the point of being given lots of pills and treatment daily to prolong your physical organs, if by the age of 79 Alzheimer’s has become part of many peoples’ lives”!  Brian looked thoughtfully at his friend and agreed, but mentioned that medical scientists worldwide were working flat out on this problem. “I know it looks crazy Brian, but I think I’m getting positive results so far in my lab”.  Don’t you see, if I can find the ‘magic bullet’ it will make my life worthwhile and also may lead to a Nobel Prize”!  “After all, the present generation of ‘retirees’ dread the possibility that in another ten years their lives may, or will, be blighted by incurable dementia”
By now Brian was really worried about Robert’s frenzied zeal.  His eyes, now darkened through lack of sleep, were wild and he seemed to be dribbling and spitting with excitement as he spoke.  Brian left after some light refreshments and amazed Jean with the detailed account of his visit to his friend. Two weeks later Brian contacted Robert by phone to say that he and Jean would be away in the Lake District for ten days.  He also pointed out that Robert should take a holiday himself before he had a breakdown.  Robert laughed and said not to worry as he was still enthralled and excited by the results of his mission.  Halfway through their break in Cumbria Brian got a text from Robert which read ‘I’ve got it – formula found AT LAST!’  Please call in when you get back. - R.   Brian and Jean sent him a ‘tourist view card’ by reply and promised to visit on their return.
A week or so after their holiday Brian chose a fine afternoon to drive back to Robert’s place for his return visit.  He started to wonder if his friend was experiencing some sort of grand delusion or was losing his grip on reality.  Either way Brian felt apprehensive and somewhat saddened as he drove up to Robert’s ‘pharmaceutical factory’ and parked on the drive.  Robert surprised him by appearing from the house and beckoned his friend inside.  The friends shook hands and Robert invited Brian into the comfortable living room.  It was then that Brian noticed Robert’s peculiar demeanor and body language.  Also there were children’s comics and games strewn all around.  He noticed a child’s scooter propped up against the window.  Robert’s voice seemed high pitched as he squeaked “I managed somehow to kill two birds with one stone. My chemistry tests on the elderly rats and mice showed amazing recuperation on their memory programme over the last few weeks”.  He then paused to scratch himself, and pick his nose.  Poor Brian looked on in dismay and asked if this was all some sick joke. ”Not at all, dear friend, I then noticed the elderly rodents hopping and racing about like youngsters, I realized that there was a magic component of age reversal in my formula.  I couldn’t resist going the whole hog as it were and being a ‘guinea pig’ on the trial myself.  However, I had recently noticed a decline in my own short-term memory which has affected my crucial research.  Since taking the potion I have noticed a massive improvement to my memory. Would you like me to show you”?  Brian, now past caring, nodded in a patronizing fashion.  Robert took a pack of playing cards and invited Brian to shuffle them.  He then told him to take twenty cards at random and lay them face up in a line on the table.  Robert studied the line for about a minute and invited his friend to gather them up in order and set them face down on the table.  Robert then named each card in order before they were turned over.  Brian was staggered at the feat and most was most impressed.  Robert added ”The trouble was I got carried away and gave myself a triple dose in error, so here I am, younger than intended”!  With that he did a funny little jig, scratched his crotch area, broke wind loudly, and asked if Brian would like a drink before he left.  By now Brian was convinced this was all a bad nightmare (or some silly game) and rose to leave. “I’ve got some nice cool cola in the fridge, would you like some before you go”? offered Robert.  “To be honest, Robert, after what I’ve seen and heard I need a whisky”. Robert said “Best not”, pointing out Brian was driving and went out to the fridge, returning with the soft drinks and started chattering on again. Meanwhile Brian reluctantly sipped his cola which tasted rather odd. “It’s a long time since I had one of these”, he said in an attempt to humour his deranged friend. Robert continued chatting away and said that his ‘potion’ was only in liquid form at the moment, but expected the pharmaceutical giants to be beating a path to his front door for the formula.  He then asked if Brian would like a game of hopscotch that he had just chalked up on the patio. “I really must go”, stammered Brian, as he rose rather queasily to leave. “I’ve got a secret surprise for you old friend”, squeaked Robert giggling with glee and jigging up and down and scratching the ‘fly’ area of his navy blue school-type shorts “I slipped a dose of my magic formula into your cola so that you can join me in our new life. It’s a ‘thank you’ for your support in our work over the years”.  Brian shrieked “NO”!! and in dismay, tried to put his fingers down his throat, to be sick, before dialing 999 on his mobile to call an ambulance!.....


*Excerpts taken from 'High Desert Siren' - The Wisdom of a Wandering Woman   (The Thoughts & Poetry of Marilyn Bledsoe)  

All enquiries, please email: 


An apology to all of those faithfully following .....

Sorry that there hasn't been much new happening on the site recently, but I have been away in Fuerteventura for a couple of weeks helping a friend create a writing course. (And been doing a fair bit of writing myself!) i shall be copying it all up in the near future so keep your eyes peeled!

Just one other point, Z are doing me the honour of publishing three of my poems in their next anthology, due out soon, so I would just like to return the compliment and wholeheartedly recommend their last two anthologies, available now on Amazon. They are well-priced at the moment and also available in Kindle format for what I consider to be a knock-down price! Well worth the read!

I am particularly impressed with their policy , much the same as my own, of bringing new international faces or should that be 'voices' to the current poetry scene.


Book Review Spotlight *

Man in White

The friends of the Nazarene became united,

And I became enraged

And led a slaughter zealously

I found their secret places

They were beaten, they were chained

But some of them were scattered

Justified in fearing me.

Then the Man in White

Appeared to me

in such a blinding light

It struck me down

And with its brilliance

Took away my sight

Then the Man in White

In gentle loving tones spoke to me

And I was blinded so I might see

The Man in White.

John.R.Cash 1986 Auriga Ra Music. Inc.


'Man in White' - Johnny Cash

(A Novel About The Apostle Paul)

ISBN 978-1-59554-237-3

Available on Amazon in Kindle format 


Passionate. Controversial. Fiery. Destructive. Redeemed.

Two Legendary Men.

Two thousand years apart.

Yet remarkably similar.

Both struggled with a 'thorn in the flesh'. And both had powerful visions from God.

Paul's encounter with the Man in White  knocked him to the ground and struck him blind. It also transformed him into one of the most influential men in history.

Johnny Cash's vision was of another man entirely - his recently deceased father- a vision that helped spark his imagination to write this historical novel about the amazing life of the intriguing figure with whom Cash identified so deeply, the Apostle Paul.

See Paul as you've never seen him before- through the creative imagination of one of the greatest singer-songwriters America has ever known. Subsequently see Johnny Cash, the Man in Black, as you have never seen him before - as a passionate novelist consumed with the 'Man in White.'

​"Well worth the read!...."


* DAVID STRUTT - (Writer & Poet) *

It was due to the events of a personal tragedy within David's life that first led him to take up writing as mainly a method of therapy many years ago now.

Sadly the ravages of time have taken their toil on his ability to control the necessary mental ability required for writing. Therefore I feel compelled to publish some examples of David's earlier output, in order to demonstrate the terrible loss to the writing community caused by that debilitating disease of the mind that robs people of so much quality of life.

   FROM BAD TO VERSE                                 I don’t know how it happens              
But mostly every time                                I I try to write down something 

It always seems to rhyme.                         

 I'd like to write a thriller

That has a wicked twist

Like Roald Dahl or Ruth Rendell

Do you get my gist? 

I thought I'd get it sorted

So to the doctors went

Explained my strange predicament

Which nothing could prevent.                     

He pursed his lips, and frowned a bit

Then with a knowing nod,

Said,"You should get out more"

And gave my chest a prod.         

He eyed me rather keenly

Then rose to scratch an itch,

"I've got it, my first case, he cried

"Of galloping poet's twitch!"                        

"Oh no not that" I cried with fear

"Is there any hope at all

To rid me of this malady

That drives me up the wall?"

"I know a special clinic"he said

Where the therapy they say

Is toasted Keats or Shelley

Or grilled Byron every day

The Shakespeare soup you will find

Has Wordsworth fragrant 'dills

That shoul stop you Larkin about

If not, - I've got some pills" ....

 "You're worse than I am",I replied

"completely off your truck"

So I grabbed him by the stethoscope

And knotted it for luck.

So the next time you see me -

Smile and say "Hello"

I'm getting better, by the way

This last verse doesn't rhyme


"If you have to ask the price, you probably couldn't afford me anyway..." - Belle Dubois

Taken from 'Blowin' the Blues' (A Story of the South) -  written by Dusti Rodes

​*To be published later this year by Maverick Mustang Manuscripts*


"I think that you will probably agree with me in saying that the literary world is going to possibly be a sadder place for the loss of David's mental abilities due the effects of that disease that strikes so many people at this time ..." - Dusti Rodes


​'Some further examples of Godwill Masiwa's Poetry'

A Century of Change

I was there, when the first big truck ambled past.
The elephant too, sauntered and had his repast.
A back scratcher was I for the lion,
Birds, insects, snakes resided in the scion.
Health giving portions did I yield to the native,
Function shared with many a relative.
The big graders came, they did not amble past!
Destruction to satisfy for power lust.
A time of divide of native and coloniser,
Respect with equality the polariser.
A time of a thousand bicycle streaming ants
Rhodesian spinners for a few cents
The Rimuka of animals became the Rimuka township,
A new mindset, money the new god to worship.
Silence shattered forever, noise everywhere,
Even rumblings from the Earth’s stomach I became aware.
I heard it, the first train, spewing steam like it was rain
In my heart, at the core of my being, I felt pain
Chugging along noisily in its locomotion,
There the first traces of pollution.
Not a line is time, but a pregnant point,
Everything is there in the moment.
I was there when this place was Chidoma,
No, not Chidhoma but Chidoma.
The big trucks ambled by and it was Gatooma.
The sound of gunfire was heard and it became Kadoma.
Coloniser and Native reconciled, but no one with me reconciled.
 ‘The Native is scantily clad, but healthier than 19th Century England.’
So observed Dr David Livingstone reporting on his mission.
Now fully clad, he is reduced to pill popping for illness remission,
Stolen minds, hackneyed dreams even in time of self-determination.
I am still there, forge a relationship with me.
Again for its scratching pad the leopard can use me,
In me again the elephant will have his repast.
Birds, insects and creepy crawlies will have a home at last.
The native fully clad will have his health back.
Food and his spirituality he will not lack.

Who's Education ?

Education! What education? Honed tools of the system; that education!
Abnegation of the truth for a material world
Self-effacement, self-abasement self-destruction
Education whose education? Pawns of the system
Losing yourself in lies coated in illusions
Covered in layers upon layers of untruths
Education what education selling your souls for money
History whose history? Oh, Baseless people
Self-rejection, your origin a calculated lie
Basing on books you never wrote
Whose teaching is this that tells you that you are weak?
Who is this that tells you that you need all sorts of medicine?
Who is this that says your survival depends on him?
Memory palls at the thought of when you came to this earth
Modern medicine is just a few hundred years old
You had ways that saw you through millennia
Only a few years ago you lived to the ripe old years
Old breaking skin was remedied by cow dung
People begging for death to escape the old body
Now you deny yourselves putting your life in the hands of experts
You let go of the teaching that comes from the fountain of life
Becoming a pill popping money making machine
You are infinitely better than this, break the chains of your mind
Liberate yourselves, remember, remember who you are
You are a chip of the old block
Being in a pigs body does not make you a pig

I Travel Light

I am the soul, a point of light, residing at the centre of the fore head, lit from the self-effulgent light
I am a light house, a might house clinging to nought, free and carefree.
I travel light.
With determined, controlled thoughts, I am courageous centred and patient
Constantly remembering the father, my mind probes further
I travel light.

I, the soul, am light, unlimited, pure consciousness, my thoughts pristine, there, no wastefulness.
Emerging deep compassion, mercy and love for all, my outlook positive
I travel light.
I look at my heart’s mirror I see all the hurt, suffering and sorrow
To the supreme I surrender all; to the almighty God I surrender all.
I travel light.


I surrender, I surrender all; I surrender I surrender all.
I have seen the light, I have heard the Christ whose yoke is light, I travel light (x3)
I travel light, I travel light, I travel light

I, the eternal soul emerge the original qualities, of peace, love, purity, truth, happiness and power.
Detached, but caring for my body, my dwelling, which I will separate from in time, on dying.
I travel light

Immovable, unshakeable in full faith, I am the trustee of all that I have, even my own health.
Having an attitude of gratitude for health and wealth, undeterred, confidant, I remain on the path.
I travel light

Knowing the three aspects of time, aware and acting according to the time.
Grabbing opportunity in the now, firm foundations for the morrow.
I travel light

I surrender, I surrender all; I surrender I surrender all.
I have seen the light, I have heard the Christ whose yoke is light, I travel light (x3)
I travel light, I travel light, I travel light.


Sometimes the most noise takes the day
Not even plain truth could hold sway
Shouting, clamouring for attention everywhere
Minds to bend, minds to control, lies smear
On the TV, on the radio and on the internet your attention to grab
Slowly, but surely, your mind and thoughts they rob
A lie repeated often times takes root
Written in black and white non can rout
Flourishing in minds as the only way
Crazy monster for you to slay
It is the whole deal swim or sink
In the turbid waters to insanity’s brink

Copyright: Godwill Masiwa


The Shanty



The clock showed 5.20 pm in the solicitor’s office as Robert Crawford tided up his desk and exchanged the usual ‘good night’ courtesies with his secretary.  It had been a taxing day but he always said “all business is good business” for the small but expanding firm of solicitors.  He mused that today’s somewhat unlawful and volatile society were grist for his mill (and cash in the bank).  The journey home was slow as he eased his car through several traffic holdups.  This actually gave him time to meditate and make plans for his leisure time.  Aged 53, he had never married, although several relationships had looked promising, but petered out somehow.  He had a nice home in a village in Surrey and had many friends through his hobbies of golf and ballroom dancing.  There was one lady at dancing he was quite attracted to and they seemed to hit it off, as well as being frequent partners on the dance floor.
  By now the car was free of the congested traffic and he was motoring smoothly through the lanes approaching home.  Home,…. it occurred to him that for most people it meant family, laughter, tears, being part of a team of relatives. He coped with being alone, but realised that with retirement approaching his hobbies and interests may not always be there for him.  The car swung smoothly into the gravel drive and he saw his handsome cat ‘Max’ sitting on the window ledge of his bungalow.  He garaged the car and said a cheery ‘hello’ to his next door neighbour James, who was cutting his hedge.  There was some friendly banter before Robert went indoors.  He ruminated that coming home to an empty, lonely bungalow wasn’t the greatest feeling, then quietly sat and thought about James and Kathy next door who seemed to be so happy.  By now Max had started to nuzzle his ankles and was purring like a helicopter.  Robert took him out into the kitchen to top up his feeding bowl.  He switched on the TV for news and set about preparing his evening meal.  After dinner and a glass or two of Shiraz wine he wondered if his dance partner Patricia would like to meet up soon as the dancing club was on a six week break.  Patricia at 50 was a widow, her husband John had died in a road accident seven years ago.  John had worked for a Royal Naval establishment in Hampshire.  Apparently he had really wanted to be in the Navy like his father who was a captain serving during the 2nd world war, but John was medically rejected.   He keyed in Patricia’s phone number and was pleased when she promptly answered. “Hi Pat, it’s me Robert, I wondered if you felt like meeting up for a meal sometime”.  “I’m a bit tied up for a few days actually, but how about next Tuesday”?  She replied. “That’s fine with me he replied feeling a slight tingling of pleasant anticipation as he spoke. “There’s a Carvery restaurant near your place, shall I book a table for two”?  “I’m afraid it’s closed for a week or two for refurbishment but I could cook us a meal if you would like to come here”.  Robert was delighted with her offer and the ‘date’ was agreed.  The next few days seemed to drag as he realized how much his attraction to Patricia had grown.
Tuesday evening arrived and Robert set off to drive the 3 miles to Patricia’s home.
Patricia lived in a large Victorian house and Robert was impressed as he drove up the long drive to the front door.  Once inside Patricia led him to the large drawing room which was tastefully and elegantly furnished. “Well, it’s a lovely spacious place you have here, Pat”, said Robert, “Quite different from my modest bungalow”.  Apart from the sumptuous furniture he couldn’t help noticing the magnificent oil paintings.  One in particular stood out, it was a painting of Lord Nelson and Robert was intrigued by it’s clarity and facial expression. “There’s certainly a maritime theme here”, he mused.  “Yes - John, like his father, had the Navy in his blood. That picture, by the way, is a copy of Nelson by famous portrait painter John Hoppner from the 18th century”.  Robert gave a low whistle and said “It certainly gave me a Mona Lisa experience”!  “Anyway, come through to the dining room as our meal should be ready by now”, said Patricia.   He followed her through to the dining room where the smell of their cooked meal wafted over him. He was surprised and somewhat encouraged to note that the table was candlelit and looked very romantic.  A bottle of Bollinger RD champagne lay in an ice bucket.  They sat down to the meal of beef braised in red wine and horseradish mash, with glazed vegetables.  They sat opposite each other and Robert enjoyed the feeling of relaxed contentment which was aided somewhat by the champagne.  The ambience was enhanced by gentle classical background music.  He studied Patricia’s graceful beauty and wondered why she did not have another partner to share her life.  Robert stated that the gentle audio massage of the Rachmaninov piano concerto number 2 was one of his favourites.
 By now the room was fairly dark and he couldn’t keep his eyes off Patricia’s lovely mouth which seemed even more alluring in the candlelight. After the meal they retired to the drawing room where their romantic liaison continued.  By now Robert was enjoying her perfumed closeness and they were holding hands as they talked. The lovely meal, mutual attraction, and frequent measures of champagne were having their effect on both.  Robert was now aware that Patricia knew the desire that was welling up in him. Without any awkward hesitation they both locked in a passionate embrace.  Their coyness abandoned the couple were soon writhing about in a sexual frenzy....... When they finally recovered their composure Robert apologised for his actions, but Patricia grasped him tightly in a lingering kiss and said that she had wanted him in the same way. She added  that she would get some coffee, and with a cheeky grin and chuckle went to the kitchen.   Meanwhile he gathered his composure and sat back admiring the room with fresh contentment.  Soon Patricia re-appeared with the coffee and sat down beside him.  “That picture of Nelson looking down on us”, remarked Robert, “I could swear he just winked at me”!  Patricia laughed and with a rather wild look in her eyes remarked that she and John made a pact many years ago regarding their separate passing.  Although Robert was feeling rather woozy with the champagne, he felt the hairs on his neck start to bristle.  “What sort of pact”?  “Well we both agreed to leave something personal for the other to keep as a reminder”.  “What things”? asked Robert, now trying to clear his muzzy head.  “I decided to leave John a lock of my hair”.  “What about John”?  Patricia giggled in a rather sinister way and with her eyes wide and intense, said that John would leave his eyeballs to look over me if he died first.  By now Patricia was giggling and acting in a very hyperactive manner. Her demeanor had changed from loving allurement into impish malevolence. “Good God”! Robert said, “How macabre”.  “Not at all, he’s looking down on us right now”!  Robert was beginning to have difficulty in breathing.  Patricia jumped up and with eyes wild with excitement shouted “Here, I’ll show you”.  Patricia went to the picture of Lord Nelson, took it down and brought it to show him.  “You see the eyes of Nelson are really John’s eyes. As it happens, John had a very good friend in the village who was a talented taxidermist. John paid a deposit to his friend James to remove his eyes before the funeral. (He also sought the undertaker’s permission as well). Anyway, it all went well and James treated the eyeballs with a non-decaying agent as he does in his profession, and inserted them professionally in the picture with the still bloodied veins of John’s eyes inserted in the sockets. At this point Patricia now trembling with glee turned the picture over for Robert to inspect. “My God”!,Robert cried,” John has just seen me make love to his wife! Patricia giggled and nodded, Robert by now felt a nausea welling up inside him, and knocking his coffee over ran screaming from the room!


 A Midsummer Night’s Scream

Desmond Blake carefully avoided the fragrant blooms of the rose beds as he gently puttered past them on his ride-on grass cutting tractor. It was a beautiful warm summer morning with the constant sweet birdsong adding to the pastoral ambience.  “How’s it going”?  called his wife, Amanda, who approached from the ornate conservatory carrying two very welcome mugs of coffee. “Quite well darling, just the lower lawn left to do” he replied as he switched the tractor off and jauntily jumped down for his break.  He removed his sun hat and with a quick wipe of his brow, queried how the lunch preparation was going”.  “On schedule I think, what time do you think Richard and Samantha are due to arrive”?  “Oh, about mid-day hopefully”, replied Desmond between gulps. “It shouldn’t be more than a couple of hours or so journey from Norfolk to us here in the Cotswolds.  It will be great to see them since they moved away seven years ago”.  “Is it that long”?  she asked.  “Must be, anyway it’ll be good to catch up on the latest “goss”, I guess”.  Amanda frowned at the modern phrase and reminisced about old times before gathering up the coffee mugs as Richard re-mounted to finish his mowing task.
It was just before 1pm when the visitors’ large black BMW eased its quiet way up the drive and parked beside the converted barn.  Desmond and Amanda welcomed their guests where warm handshakes and hugs ensued.  “Journey OK?” asked Desmond.  “Pretty good on the whole, just a slight hold-up with a vintage car rally about half an hour down the road, but they are a fabulous sight in such pristine condition”, said Richard.  “Which is more than can be said for my old crock”, chipped in Amanda with a wry smile as the others chuckled obligingly at the corny pun.  “Right, you ladies get inside where its cooler and Richard and I will take your luggage in”. Desmond responded and helped his friend take their weekend things up to the guest bedroom. How’s business”?  enquired Richard, as they made their way up the stairs.   “Pretty tough, like everyone else at present”, puffed Desmond.  Desmond was Executive Director of a large electronics company in Oxford.  “How about yourself, are you still with that media advertising company in Norwich”?  “Yep, still doing very nicely considering the market place at the moment…..anyway enough of work stuff, what fun and games have you got in mind for this weekend Des.”?  “The usual boring stuff, like a rubber or two of bridge after lunch, or if it’s not too hot we’ve set up the croquet set on the lower lawn.  Amanda has booked dinner at the The Riverside restaurant for six ‘o clock” replied Desmond...  “Hmm sounds all very respectable and quite acceptable to me”, Richard replied as they placed the luggage in the guests’ spacious bedroom. “That’s just it”!  Desmond remarked, as he sat down and looked earnestly at his old university friend.  “Don’t you just yearn to turn the clock back to our hectic but sometimes riotous revelry at university”?  “Now you’ve got me worried Des. I assumed we had grown out of those silly pranks many years ago”.  “Come on, lighten up old chap, I’ve had a spiffing idea for a bit of fun this weekend”.  Richard grimaced as he moved to the window and looked out on the spacious flower beds below and tried to change the subject by remarking how lovely the gardens were looking. “Did you bring your cheque book as requested”? asked Desmond.  “Yes, I did, what’s that all about”?  queried Richard. “Just a little something I’ve had in mind for later on”, Desmond whispered with a wink putting his finger to his lips and grinning in a rather strange and curious manner. Richard looked quizzically at his friend and said “Look old boy, I hope” ……..  his retort was cut short by a shout of “Lunch is ready you two”! from downstairs.  Desmond put his arm round his puzzled friend’s shoulder and led him downstairs with a smug smile.
The foursome settled down to Amanda’s welcome salad lunch with all the trimmings, and the conversation followed the usual chat about their grown up children’s achievements and difficulties.
They retired to the shaded conservatory where drinks were offered. “I assume you two ’boys’ would prefer a nice ice-cold lager in this weather”? asked Amanda with a rather sarcastic tone and a sly smile. “Rather”, the two piped up simultaneously as the two ladies settled for an Earl Grey tea. “The gardens are looking lovely” Samantha ventured but I think it’s probably a little hot for lawn games today?  What do the boys think”?  “Inclined to agree there” Richard replied, we could do something else before our dinner this evening”?  Desmond stood up and emptied his glass of lager stating he promised to show Richard his new fish pond down in the meadow, at which point Richard nodded in agreement. “Ok, what if I take Samantha into town and do a little shopping therapy”?  was Amanda’s suggestion, which was met with approval all round.  As soon as Amanda’s car was safely out of sight Richard rounded on his friend and asked about his secret plan. “Let’s take a stroll down to the pond, and I’ll see what you think of my little nugget of fun planned for tonight”, replied Desmond.
“For goodness sake Des. put me out of my misery; is it anything to do with the cheque book request.”?  By now they had reached the ornate fish pond and Desmond stalled the query by pointing out his latest acquisition of two huge Koi carp. They also toured the flower beds and herb garden before they returned to a restful bench on the main lawn. By now Richard was quite irritated by Desmond’s cloak and dagger nonsense .Desmond   noted his friend’s mood and said “O.k. here’s the game”.  “Oh it’s a game is it? asked Richard with a sigh of relief and lit a cigar whilst his friend unveiled his ‘fun plan’ for later.  “As we are old buddies, I guess I’ve always held the view that you are quite broadminded in recreational situations”.  Richard nodded cautiously but felt the hairs on his neck start to bristle. “How broadminded”? “Well after we’ve had our evening meal at the Riverside Restaurant (which we will get to and from by taxi so that drinks may be enjoyed) we will all be feeling jollier for some evening fun”.  “What sort of fun”? “Well, I expect we may have that rubber of bridge together before the ladies retire to the drawing room for a ‘girlie’ chat as they do”.   “Leaving us to ….”?  “Probably have a couple of frames in the snooker room”.  “Ah, I get it, you still fancy your chance of beating me this time so that’s where the cheques come in is it”?  “Sorry, Rich I would like to take your money on that as well, but this is something a little more exciting”….     Richard stared at him rather nervously and enquired, “In what way”?  “Well, I expect that by the time we retire to bed we will all be feeling quite squiffy (or worse) which may help general inhibitions to be eased”.  “What do you mean”?  Richard asked, tensing up.  “Well, I was looking for something a bit more racy and adult to finish the day off, so I let my creative juices take over”.  “Does this include the “girls” by any chance”? Richard asked, feeling his heartbeat increase with alarm at his friend’s unfolding plan.  “Now you’re beginning to catch on, Rich, this is where the cheque book mystery comes in.”  Richard was now on the edge of the seat and clenching his fists with tension.  Desmond squared up to his friend and dropped the bombshell of – “How do you fancy a little game of wife swapping tonight”?  Richard let out a gasp of disbelief and nearly swallowed the dying embers of his cigar before roaring “are you completely MAD! For goodness sake man, do you want us to end up in the divorce courts.”?  Desmond faced his startled friend with his hands held in a placatory position and retorted.  “Steady on Rich. It’s not what you’re thinking; listen here’s the game I’ve devised”.  Richard let out a snort of dismay and asked what the ‘game’ was.  “O.K., by bedtime all of us should be fairly “merry” or worse!  “And”?  “Well, we arrange for the ladies to retire, say an hour before us in our two bedrooms and this is where the fun starts!   “What sort of fun”?  “Well hopefully by then they will be asleep.  Now the ‘switch’ occurs!  The bet of £50 we have made on our cheques will be decided by how long we can slip into our opposite partners bed before discovery.  What do you think, are you up for it”?   “You’re mad”! exclaimed Richard.  Anyway, how will we know?”  “It’s obvious that when the ‘wife’ discovers that it isn’t her hubby she will let out a scream signifying ‘game over.’   I’m sure they will see that it’s quite harmless fun if we keep to the rules of no touching!”  Richard considered the crazy plan and felt trapped by his friend’s enthusiasm.  He tried to call Desmond’s bluff by announcing that the bet should be upped to £200.  Unfortunately
Desmond agreed and they shook on it.  “Just one thing, Rich you do wear pyjamas I assume?”  “Yes”, Richard replied and Desmond felt relieved that ‘things’ could get out of hand if not!  The deal was done, and each man wrote out a cheque to the other. At that point Amanda’s car was heard on the drive signaling the ladies return from shopping.
The day progressed more or less as planned with a lovely evening meal at the restaurant, during which Desmond kept looking in Richard’s direction with a ‘knowing’ wink! By the evening there was much giggling and laughter due to the drinks that were freely enjoyed.  It occurred to Desmond that if he kept his friend plied with liquor he would be more likely to be clumsy when climbing into bed to cause ‘game over’ and a handy £200!  Eventually the pairs split up as arranged and the boys retired to the snooker room. During the course of play, Richard enquired about the forthcoming ‘bedroom game’ in respect of what if the ladies made the first move in an amorous fashion? “You will just have to grin and bear it – not literally of course”! he replied  with a cheeky chuckle.  Richard at this stage was fairly merry and caused Desmond some concern as his cue action became erratic and nearly tore the cloth.
It was about 11.45 when they heard the ladies go upstairs to the bedrooms. After about thirty minutes Desmond crept quietly upstairs to confirm the ladies were in their beds and fast asleep. “Right this it” said Desmond, “over the top” as they say “may the best (or luckiest man) win”.  Finally, the excitement  and danger of what they were about to try, filled Richard with a sense of  adrenaline as they gingerly crept up the stairs, to visit the bathroom before ‘retiring’. They completed their ablutions with the minimal noise and shook each others hands on the landing before going into the ‘wrong’ bedroom.
Richard’s heart was thudding with the danger of the prank as he entered Amanda’s bedroom. He was relieved to hear her breathing heavily as he approached the bed with bated breath and trepidation.  As he slid in beside her it was difficult not to break the rules as her perfume filled his nostrils with desire.  He settled as still as possible and hoped she wouldn’t need the toilet fairly soon.  Meanwhile, Desmond was going through the same procedure and was starting to wonder if his crazy game was a good idea after all!  “No turning back now”, he thought as he was aware of the different female lying beside him. After about an hour of stealth and tension, Desmond heard a loud scream from Amanda’s room. He looked at Samantha who thankfully was still fast asleep and slid stealthily way to the other room.  He was met by the sight of his friend writhing about on the floor clutching his groin and groaning in severe pain. “What on earth has happened”?…… Amanda was sitting up and looking quite shocked at poor Richard’s discomfort.  After Desmond explained their little ‘game’ she was still merry enough to see the funny side of their prank. At this point, poor Richard crept painfully away to the bathroom to inspect his ‘injury’. “What on earth did you do to poor Richard”? Desmond enquired.  Amanda replied that she was having a nightmare in which she was trying to escape from muggers at the local railway station.  She was fleeing down the stairs when she slipped and she shot her left hand out to grab the handrail for support. She awoke to actually clutching poor Richard in a very private area.”Are you o.k. old boy” asked Desmond and helped his hapless friend who was struggling to his feet and asked for some soothing ointment. Desmond fearing the worst crept back to Samantha’s room and was relieved to see the anguished cry had not woken her.  fortunately.  By now the hapless Richard had returned from his treatment and enquired about the bet.?  “Must be a draw I guess, sorry old chap”. With that Richard shuffled painfully away to join Samantha..Desmond rather sheepishly said “Well that’s a lesson learned dear, sorry about that.  It seemed fun at the time and hopefully Samantha is still asleep, and we can keep this a secret from her”?  Amanda still giggly replied  with a crooked smile “How much is it worth”? and to Richards’s dismay added, “Actually, I rather enjoyed the experience.  What about inviting hunky Grant and Susan from Sussex next weekend”?  Desmond looked defeated and alarmed as he slid into bed beside his wife. 


"This is the newest book by an exciting new authoress, Sammy Jackles, who lives in South Africa. She wrote the story, drew the illustrations. and typeset the whole caboodle! This is the first instalment about the adventures of Hez, her own Teddy. She plans to be writing about his further adventures. And I for one, am waiting in anticipation!

This will eventually be published in a A5 sized paperback version, (great for child-size bags, and for parents to carry around!) and will also be available in a digital form suitable for tablets and smartphones.

It is geared and designed for reading with 3 -6 year old  age group children.

I personally think that the project is a terrific one!

More details, as to publication dates, price etc can be discovered by emailing Sammy on

*(Tell her where you found out about it, Thanks!)*


  Concluding a sketch of ‘Only Fools & Horses’

(In memory of John Sullivan)

*The ‘script’ is mine, save for the piece about the wrist watch at the end.* DS


The scene is the Trotters flat in Mandela Buildings in Peckham as the family gather to hold an Extraordinary Business Meeting of Trotters International Trading, following the breakdown of their beloved Reliant Robin van which had to be towed into Boycie’s garage for repair.

Present: Del Boy (Chairman) Raquel (Company sec.) Uncle Albert (Finance) Rodney (Transport sec.)

Del:  ‘Right, in view of the recent set backs to our agreed business plan’…….

Rodney: What plan Del?

Del:   ‘To earn a crust with our burgeoning overseas facilities in the European market you silly git!

Albert: ‘Blimey Del, We’ve ‘ad enough trouble trying to shift them wind-up mobile phones in Peckham market lately.

 Del:  ‘That’s ‘cause we’re on the cutting edge of technology. I well remember they was cynical at Clive Sinclair with the first pocket calculator. Anyway, the main business to discuss tonight is about the tragic breakdown of our iconic Reliant Robin business van.’

Albert:  ‘It wasn’t my fault Del boy – honest! Rodney’s Transport Sec. so he should ‘ave checked the oil level more often!’

Rodney:  ‘Wadya mean uncle? I always check it once a year regardless of the mileage!’

Del: ‘Strewth, can’t you do anything right you plonker! Now our poor van is in the clutches of that smarmy, git Boycie, who I’ve ‘eard is going to write the van off for scrap metal. Anyway, what about the insurance on it Albert?’

Albert: ‘Sorry, Del boy, I’ve ‘ad a lot on me plate lately, I think it’s recently run ahht’

Raquel: ‘As a matter of fact Albert, it ran out two months ago!’

Del: ‘Gordon Bennett! No wonder Boycie’s looking so smug lately’

Raquel: ‘What’s he offering for part exchange then Rodney?’

Rodney; ‘His latest offer is a hundred quid, and that’s for a ‘trade in’ deal, however, as transport manager I’ve had a gander at Boycie’s alternatives.

Del: ‘Which is’?

Rodney: I don’t know if he’s taking the proverbial but e’s got a nice little motor bike and side car goin’ cheap’

Del: ‘E’es ‘avin a laugh aint he!  We couldn’t get our esteemed Trotters International Trading logo on the body of a sidecar!

Albert: Well, Del, I suppose we could copy the branding of some of the giants of industry’

Raquel; ‘In what way Albert’?

Albert: They abbreviate their full title with letters. After all, everyone knows who BHS and RAC are, so we could do the same and continue trading’ as T.I.T... get it?

Del: ‘You must be jokin’! what sort of business image does that give us’?

Raquel: ‘Too right Del, I certainly won’t be riding in a sidecar with those letters on the side!’

Del: ‘Exactly my dearest, I didn’t think you would’

Rodney; ‘Right on Del, it took ages for you to live down that incident when you were caught sharing our three wheeler with that blow-up sex doll’!

Del: ‘Blimey, too true Rodders, I well remember I had to put up with the chants of “Del Boy’s got a sex toy” every time I visited the pub’! Not only that they still haven’t forgot abaht that ‘incident’ I had when I ‘leant’ on that invisible bar!

Albert: As Finance Director, I’ve got one or two ideas that could ‘elp our income during our company’s recession. Let’s see the boys in the pub and pool our resources to do a treble chance syndicate on the pools?

Del: ‘Strewth, we’ll all be retired before that ever comes up Albert, and you may not even be …….

Albert: ‘Even what Del?

Del: Er mm.... even able to enjoy it – being older by then. Anyway I’m thinkin’ of contactin’ me old mate Freddy Huggins who’s on the local bookies ‘stop list’

Rodney: ‘Why is he winning too often’?

Raquel: ‘No, I’ve heard he’s run up a slate of a few hundred quid’

Rodney; (tapping his nose) Apparently ‘is brother works at Kempton Park racecourse and slips him a hot tip now and then’

Raquel: Anything like the ‘hot tip’ that that cost us fifty quid on a ‘cert thing’ recently. As I remember that red-hot nag struggled in at the end….

Del: ‘Yeah, but it did finish fourth!

Raquel: ‘Out of five runners’! However, as Company secretary it looks as if we might be better off going bankrupt and cutting our losses’

Del: ‘No way Raquel, we’ve coped with bad luck in the past. What about when we ‘ad that fire in the stock room last year?

Rodney: ‘Del, we did warn you about them dodgy fireworks from Korea!’

Del: ‘Listen Rodders, we Trotters are made of sterner stuff. We ain’t givin’ up without a fight. I may have to pawn me gold Rolex and give up cigars for a while, but I believe in fate myself.

Albert: You ‘ain’t talkin’ abaht that latest Fete on Peckham Green when we had to scarper quickly because?

Del: ‘Shut up Uncle, and listen up everyone. The other night I had a vivid dream. We was in the lock-up store with Raquel’s dad when we came across an old pocket watch which he got quite excited about…. The rest is all a bit fuzzy except I remember waking up suddenly and shouting…. “This time next year we’ll be MIL,YONAIRES’!!



*All of the works listed & printed here above,  remain the sole Copyright of David Strutt. *


The Publishing Phenomenon that is Val Tenterhosen.

They say ‘you should write about what you know’. Which just goes to prove that those communities as depicted in the film ‘Deliverance’; where in-breeding, rape, sodomy, cannibalism, alcoholism, and serious substance abuse, to name but a few still exist, way out in the backwoods! On reading some of Val Tenterhosen’s descriptions, I feel the need to remind him that when you’ve finished brewing up the latest batch of ‘moonshine whiskey’ you really must remember to clean the pipes out thoroughly, before making up the next one. That wood alcohol will get you every time if you don’t!

I consider that fact can be the only other reason to justify some of Val’s prosaic. I have read both of his last two books now, and am probably in some degree in the same mind as several of his critics, in that I’m not sure the seventy-eight pages in his first volume, really constitutes the title of ‘book’ . Can eight words really be described as a page full of print? But I have read now on several occasions that Val will happily argue that it does; so what do I know? He’s out there on Amazon Kindle, I’m not!  

I have described him before as ‘an acquired taste’ on several outlets for my own writings. I have also said that he is most definitely a ‘Marmite’ man. You either LOVE his works or you HATE them with a vengeance! There simply is NO middle ground! Some kinder reviews say his stuff is ‘edgy’ others reckon it is ‘rubbish’. You will have to read them and come to your own decision. Some people have said that paying even the pitiful amount that Amazon price his books at each is a waste of money. Personally, I feel the couple of bucks or pounds you have to pay out for them each, (depending on which side of the Pond you live) is fair recompense for the experience of reading his ‘unorthodox’ style. In the now overcrowded market for writers to promote their manuscripts you need an ‘edge’ nowadays; and it is truly fair to state that Val’s works attempt that. But whether it can be deemed successful only time will tell. He will be destined for greatness or will drift back into the obscurity of his woodland domain. And at this point in time, I shall be watching with interest the outcome as I am not sure whether his approach is hype or sheer genius! 


'The Last Rose of Summer'

There is a chill,
In the morning air.
It’s too cold to walk
With my feet bare.

The leaves will begin,
To colour soon.
The birds are singing
A different tune.

The flowers are fading,
In the morning dew.
Grey is overcoming,
The sky’s soft blue.

And here alone,
Sways a red-black rose.
And through its petals,
A deadly frost grows.

The sleepy animals,
Find dens for slumber.
And slowly dies,
The last rose of Summer

Copyright - Marilyn Bledsoe


*Further Thoughts on ‘The Last Rose of Summer*

“What does the author mean by this? …..”

Further thoughts on ‘The Last Rose of Summer’

When I was but a boy, the man charged with teaching me English Literature and all that it involved, had a favourite phrase that he used regularly. “What does the author mean by this?”

The exam curriculum that particular year was William Golding’s ‘Lord of the Flies’ and ‘The Collected Poems of Robert Frost’. Both writers who in their chosen fields of writing could be considered very ambiguous as to the actual intentional meaning of their phraseology.

I mention this situation here as it has had a profound effect on my writing style and field of expertise so far in my attempts to be considered a bona-fide writer. My attempts at writing prose and indeed my actual verbal output generally is indeed very verbose. I feel that sadly most of the time my mind acts just like a butterfly, flitting from one subject to another even in mid-sentence. Some people say that I have now incorporated this trait into my prose writing and that it creates a rambling and laid-back style of ‘voice’ that many find endearing. Others on the other hand find it arduous and difficult to follow any plot lines. This is why I have favoured the art form of poetry for most of my ‘career’ so far. I have found over the years now that the crystallization of thought processes into using as few words as necessary has indeed ‘sharpened’ the end product of my labours. The challenge of attempting to put across to an audience of readers a storyline that could take up to twenty chapters to relay in a prosaic form condensed into maybe a forty or fifty line poem is both an intellectual exercise and an exhilarating experience.

It is my contention that with prose writers, they carry the reader along with them on their unfolding journey, whereas with poetry the poet challenges the reader to discover for themselves the actual geographic of how the end destination is indeed arrived at.

It was to this end of possible ambiguity of intentional meaning of the subject matter that Marilyn and I found ourselves discussing her poem ‘The Last Rose of Summer’ just the other day.

She originally wrote this poem back in the Seventies, when she was still only in her early teens. The subject of the poem was then inspired by the oncoming of the Fall, and the ensuing conditions that existed there and then. She went on to tell me that close on forty years later it is still her mother’s favourite poem of all those that she has written.  But now it has taken on a new poignancy for Marilyn in that just recently, i.e. in the last few weeks, her mother has been diagnosed with inoperable tumours of terminal pancreatic cancer that is also affecting her liver as well. The few remaining grains of sand that constitute Time in the hour-glass that represents her long life are now running out at an extremely fast rate. For Marilyn the situation is further tinged with sadness in that her parents have been together for many, many years on the family farm and that to her father her mother is his whole world. She fears that on her mother’s imminent demise her father will probably no longer cope with the thought of living life without her being there, and his own demise will not be long in coming shortly after.

Marilyn has told me that she plans to read the poem at her mother’s funeral both as it being her mother’s favourite and as a eulogy for her own feelings now towards the situation. As I have intimated the ambiguity of literal meaning now raises its head to good effect in this case. ‘There is a chill in the morning air that is too cold to walk with my feet bare’ takes on a very different meaning in relation to how now she sees the pending loss of her mother. ‘The birds are singing a different tune, the flowers are fading in the morning dew, and grey is overtaking the sky’s soft blue hue’ all serve now to accentuate the feelings that she feels personally.

And her mother’s condition can be summed up in the lines ‘And here alone sways a black-red rose, and through its petals a deadly frost grows,’ until eventually ‘and slowly dies, the last rose of summer.’

Dusti Rodes © 2014


"This is a short piece of Erotica - ( with a Kenyan flavour!) ....

It is written by a friend of mine, Dr Stella Nyanzi "

Now, we're cooking! .....

I swear to God, Ikoku has a firm and fast mingling stick between his legs. The boy mingled me as if I was the meal of atapa millet-meal he taught me how to cook this Idd public holiday. I feel as tasty as a tray full of steaming-hot atapa. So, he called me in the wee hours of the morning to wish me Happy Idd. I was writing, as is my early morning routine. I did not want to pick the phone-call since I thought that my pleasurable fornication with the 22-year-old ended when I refunded the money he gave me during our sizzling sex. Yearning for his voice one last time, forced me to respond. "Happy Idd," he drawled, making my treacherous nipples salute instantly. "Oh Ikoku, how thoughtful of you," I said. "So, do you like atapa?" He asked. "I don't eat it often. But I have tasted it. Do you like it?" I asked. "It's the food of my ancestors. I like it with catapulted birds or pasted sauce," he said. "Ikoku, do you really eat birds?" I asked. "Ssssyyuuu very tasty!" He chuckled, causing my clitty to stand up and sing halleluya in harmony with my erect titties. "Can you mingle atapa?" He added softly. "I have never. It is not eaten by my people. But I can mingle posho corn-meal," I said. "Good, I am coming over to teach you how to mingle atapa," he announced. He ended the call abruptly. I sprung up on my bed and danced kizumba. Midway the dance, I kicked myself for not being loyal to my commitment to stop seeing Ikoku. What was I doing at 42 years of age, desiring after a man of only 22 years? Three hours later, Ikoku was at the door with two kilos of millet flour, a kilo of ground-nut paste, sweet ndizi bananas and his sexy youthful body. He gave the bananas to my children who were watching cartoons. He asked Rhoda, my faithful house-help of many years to boil four Tumpeco mugs of water. And then he came into my bedroom, where I was silently dying with uncontrollable lust. "Didn't we agree not to meet again, Ikoku?" I asked. "Otukui, okwe toto ka!" He replied in a beautiful language I do not speak. He grabbed my hand with youthful energy and pulled me out of bed where I was still writing my literature review. "Come, I teach you how to mingle atapa," he said as he pulled me out of my bedroom and into the kitchenette. He asked Rhoda for the hot water, a pan and mingling stick. With a twinkle in his eyes, he set about pouring the water from the kettle into the pan, putting it on the gas-stove, and then measuring two mugs of millet flour into the boiling water. He got the flat wooden stick and started mingling the mixture into a paste. "In my language, we say eiguru to mean mingling," he said without looking at me. In and out, in and out, in and out... the mingling stick continuously beat the millet into a fine meal of atapa. It was erotic, the thrusting and stirring. My dirty mind could not stop looking at that mingling stick in action. I got wet: very wet. "Say eiguru after me," Ikoku said huskily as he continued mingling the millet. "Eiguru," I said back like a zombie. "Eiguru atapa," he said again. "Eiguru atapa," I breathed back. He looked at me. I froze with longing dripping from my core. Watching Ikoku mingling atapa in my kitchen was my undoing. It was a dance. It was a fuck. It was love-making. I was entrapped by this man-child and his mingling. I was bewitched. "Please help me," I whispered. He understood. He turned off the gas-cooker and led me back to my bedroom. On my bed, this man-child from the land of catapults mingled my millet flour into a fine lump of atapa. I came crying joyful tears from my eyes and my womanhood. I am now a sworn eater of atapa. We later ate Idd lunch with my household. 



There was once a little bear called Muffin. He always looked so angry, so the other animals never invited him to join in their games. He said to himself, "I don't care,I don't want to play with them anyway! I'm happy on my own."

One day Muffin saw one of his old friends playing with his mummy. They looked very happy together and didn't see him watching. He went back to the cave to see his own mummy who was very sad because daddy had gone away.

Her wanted her to play with him but she just told him she was tired and told him to go and play by himself.

Muffin went off by himself, he came to his favourite tree. He suddenly felt so angry inside that he smashed up the tree until it fell down.

Now he felt exhausted and lost - He sat there and cried and cried and cried. After a  while, an elephant came walking through the trees, Muffin knew she was a teacher at his school. She stepped over the trunk of the fallen tree and .seeing Muffin she said kindly, "So what is the matter with you, then?"

Muffin was so surprised that the elephant spoke to him in such a caring way that he forgot to put on his angry face. He told the elephant how sad he was because he had no friends to play with and that his mummy wouldn't play with him. His daddy used to play with him but now he wasn't there anymore.

He really wanted to be friends but he felt angry all the time and he didn't really know why.

The elephant sat and listened patiently and the little bear started to feel better and then the elephant said, "Can you hear the music coming from the school fair?" " Shall we go and find your Mummy and see if she would like to come with you?

On the way back to the cave they met Muffin's mummy. She had been looking for Muffin and was very worried that she hadn't been able to find him. She said, "Oh, I'm so glad you are safe, Muffin' and gave him a big hug.

On the way to the fair they talked about some of the things Muffin had been angry and sad about. Mummy caught hold of Muffin's hand and Muffin felt that things might start to get better

****************                                     Copyright  Pied Piper                                    *******************                    

*Book Review*


The Galahad Factor - Michael Bernard

(Currently available on Amazon Kindle at a knock-down price of £2.97p) 


When their covert mission fails and they have to flee, Merlin and Galahad are desperate. Under the impression that Merlin is a wizard, Queen Ygraine offers help and support if they will escort her young son Arthur to her relative. As the illegitimate son of the High King she fears he is in danger. It should be a simple enough task but Mordred, who has ambitions for the throne, fears they have come to apprehend him. As the boy's existence threatens his royal ambitions, he decides this is a chance to dispose of all his problems at once. Setting in motion a ruthless hunt over the whole kingdom, his minion Wulf spreads the word that they are wizards with a price on their heads. While trying to evade the hard bitten mercenaries on their trail, Merlin begins to understand the difficulties and dangers of their undertaking; they are in a fight to the death. He also comes to realise that he and Galahad are no more than bait in a trap, and bait by its nature is expendable ...
With the mercenaries, treacherous barons, fanatical priests, and false arrest warrants against them, their resources to save the heir to the kingdom and themselves are meagre. They can depend only on their wits, Arthur's loyal attendants Sania and Eris, and Morgana, the woman with strange powers whom they save from a witch’s fate. And there is also her friend Wise Woman, the enigmatic matriarch of a gypsy clan who knows many things. They also have Merlin’s staff, but even more than that, they have the Galahad factor …


"The full version of 'Heartstone - The Story so far ...'  can now be found  at for a short limited period of time"

Quote: "Some stories, leave the reader on a cliff-hanger; this one takes you over the edge of the precipice!"


'Taken from Blowin' the Blues' ....

He found himself standing on the platform, if imagination can be stretched so far to call it that, in the station of the one-horse town, where people are so poor no-one can afford to take the time to sort out the seating. Trains halt at this whistle-stop on Tuesdays. And today was Wednesday.

Cody just stood shaking his head slowly in disbelief as the desperation of his situation finally dawned through the haze formed by the drunken stupor of the night before.

'Act of Faith' - The Weaving of the Web ...

*Given that I am now setting this at the beginning of this piece, I suppose we had better refer to it as the Introduction. *

At the meeting of the Stevenage Writers  Group last night one of our members commented on the above picture and how he liked it but he was somewhat confused by its relevance here. I then commenced to tell him the saga of the history of the painting and the associated writing that has now become part of the package as it were. So I have decided to reiterate the story here to enable all of you readers to know as much about its origins as I do.

To cut a long story short about five years ago now, a Face book 'friend', the artist John Ogden needed to raise a month's rental and deposit payment on small premises in Glastonbury in order to create both a gallery for his existing artworks and also studio space in order to create more. Whilst at that time I did not really 'know' too much about him personally. I had been an admirer of his artwork for several months previously. I had in fact written two poems inspired by a couple of his commissions. (I may probably post said items on this site at a later point in time). Anyway, I loaned him the required £350.00 on an interest free, return payment when he was established basis. He in fact paid me back in full within three months. It proved to be just the break that he needed to establish himself as an artist of some character and as they say the rest is history!
He asked how he could repay me for my trust, I jokingly said whilst I did not expect any additional recompense on the original loan, I would very much like possibly to own a small original John Ogden unique creation. I said that whilst it would take some of his time and talent to create, the financial confines would only amount to the cost of the canvas and the oil paints used. I suggested that the title was to be called 'Act of Faith' as that was how I saw the original loan to be and that he could have three months in which to complete it. He thought that it was an excellent solution to 'repay' me for my trust.
The ensuing painting was the result. He gave me his written explanation of the painting, which is written below. Also you will read in his description that he is a practising Pagan, and that a Druid friend of his, had given their interpretation of the picture on viewing it the first time, having no history or knowledge of its creation. This is also written down here.
I was inspired to write my three poems, 'Act of Faith' with reference to the original loan. 'By this sign, so shall you know me' was inspired both by the Arthurian legend aspect and reference to Danny Kaye's piece in the film 'A Yankee in the court of King Arthur'. And the poem 'Caladbolg' is about a sword famous in Irish legends, that whilst John explains his inspiration for the sword in the painting, mine was more influenced by the Druid's interpretation.

*As a footnote I would like to add that when I originally asked for a painting I had envisaged it being about 24" x 18", in order not to create any real undue costs to John for the materials he would need to use. When I saw the photos of the completed painting it never really entered my mind to enquire to the actual size. You can maybe understand my delight and astonishment when the actual framed and mounted canvas arrived measuring 50"x 38"! *
So there you have the story behind 'Act of Faith' - The Weaving of the Web.


' Act of Faith '

The Weaving of the Web
The Poet's Perception


One Sword.
Taking two hands to wield.
Rainbow ruler of all others.
Smiter of mountains and of hills.

Made with molten faerie gold.
Fashioned on the forge
Of Fir Bolg giant, Balor of the Evil Eye,

Defeated at Moytura,
By the wiles of Tuatha de Dannan
Magical warriors.

In reprisal for the death of
Lu of the Longhand,
Son of their King.

' By this Sign, so shall you know me! '

"Remember this, Sire,
And use the information well;
For they plan to kill my Liege"
So spoke the Lady of the Lake.

" 'Twas the Vessel with the Pestle,
That bore the potion that was Poison.
And it was the Flagon emblazoned with his Dragon,
They did fill with the brew that is True.

But the serving-wench did slip,
The platter fell to the floor
And did crash on the flagstones there.
The Vessel with the Pestle was smashed.
Shattered into a thousand shards.

Now the Flagon with the Dragon,
Contains the potion that is Poison;
And the Crystal Chalice,
That was procured from the Palace
Holds the brew that be True."

Act of Faith

I feel very vulnerable.
I haven't put this much trust
In Anyone or Anything,
For longer than I can remember.
Only time will tell
If this act of faith is justified.

The Artist's Explanation

I have always been a fan of Arthurian legend, and in the end decided the ultimate act of faith, was the search for the grail.
I have mixed up lots of ideas within my painting though, here is the official explanation.
The hill on which she has reached the pinnacle, is Glastonbury Tor, but a thousand years ago the glow of what is now Glastonbury shines below her. In the sky there is the constellation Orion, this symbolises the king of the fairies, Gwyn ap Nudd, who legend has it lived on the Tor before being insulted by St Collumb, and in doing so left the Tor to forever hunt his hounds across the winter sky.
Instead of the ruined church that is on the Tor now, I thought a small standing stone might suffice, and embedded within the stone in a similar way to the sword Excalibur was embedded in a rock, I have placed a wooden chalice, the moss on the rock and the shamrocks, also give the chalice a bed on which to lay.
Shamrocks being symbolic not only of Ireland, but also the holy trinity. It is also a trefoil, which is the symbolic of Awen, which is the druid symbol for inspiration.
On her wrist is a bracelet, which has fallen from the chalice and magically clings to her, the bracelet is silver like the moon with a fleur de lis (another symbol of the grail, and Mary mother of Jesus, coupled with the holy trinity). The lady is wearing nothing more than a simple white jacket and is naked below. She is also blindfolded, and therefore has to accept trust and her faith to protect her from this vulnerable position.
She has come to the end of her quest and has found her grail, purely by way of faith, and is now tired and weary but still proud and undefeated , she is genuflecting to its wonder.
The sword has two symbolisms, the first being that it was once broken and has been repaired. (This relates to the story of Galahad, repairing the magical broken sword, from the Fisher King stories, near the end of the grail quest) and the design of the sword I am using is unique in such that it is a copy of the original sword used by the genuine most famous knight in English History, Sir William Marshall.
The long grass has various dandelion clocks settled within it, one has burst its seeds, sending them cascading across the painting, the dandelion means many things, including flirtatiousness ...
However it is also in gypsy lore the symbol of transition and ascendancy from physical to spiritual.
One last thing is that I have signed the painting twice, once in my usual way in the bottom right hand corner, and the other being the symbol of Rowan cut in Ogham on the standing stone. (My name of Ro being short actually for Rowanswood which is my bardic name.) - John Ogden (August 2010)

The Druid's Interpretation

The story of Bride or Brigid is close to so many people and there is a longing, especially from women today, to return to the balance there once was between men and women. The main story in these parts, and sort of on Beara too, is that all life somehow came from a womb and this once upon a time brought about the reverence of the goddess.
The first two trees of the Ogham alphabet seem to guide this with Beith the Birch being the first life on earth and eventually the protector of women, and Luis the Rowan being the dragon's fire in all men who would burn rowan to bring the spirit of the goddess into them. For guidance, confidence, passion,bravery and focus especially when in council for trade, treaties, and sometimes preparation for war.
Bride's symbol was the sword, in the story of the creation of the four Celle's of instruction, the first symbol, the symbol of imbolc,the first fire festival of the year, first quadrant of the Chaldean astrology chart. A tree of life, as above, so below.
The sword created from fire, extraction of metals from ore, fires that were fuelled by the labours of men.
The sword created by virgins, virgins by not yet having child, and not through no having sex, that would once one day be given to their mate. A founding of the tradition of the dowry today.
If the male mate was slain and together they had no sons as heirs, the woman would take back the sword to be head of the household until another mate was found. 
In comes Patrick, a name so close to Patriarch, the incoming of the domination of the male hierarchy. The call to revere the male deity.
When the man of the family was slain and there were no heirs; the woman, and any daughters, were the property of the chieftain. To serve as slaves or be appointed new mates, often in treaty.The sword was thrown into the lake or river to be passed on no more.
The tradition of Bride, or Brigid, was eventually slain, and the tradition of Patrick took over.
It is said that the legendary race of Formori never had women. They were men of the sea who knew how to extract gold and make rings.They would lure the Dannan or other land caring women with rings but for the sole purpose of breeding, not relationships, and any sons born would join the Formori.
The legend is that Bride married Bres to try to return to the balance, that may be an example to the Formori, but it was not to be.
In your picture this comes across as a woman either by the Formori or the Patriach demands of the ruling male deities ... but nobody could take that sword of balance away from her. It was not going to the lake !!!
The standing stone to me is symbolic of the 2nd Cille of Instruction, who Bride is said to have taught Cian, son of Anu. The origin of Salmaine, that became Beltaine.
Beltaine, one of the two times of the year the salmon swim up river, the second quadrant of the astrological cycle, the partnership and mating. The finding of the new true mate to pass the sword to. .... and the choice of blessed water to bring back life and fertility to make that possible.
Oh, the blindfold?
Another legend is that before Beltaine, women would approach the pool of Lasir blindfolded. And then after a blessing with water from the pool, were allowed to take off their blindfolds to have a vision of the man that would be their mate on Beltaine day.
Lasir's legends are like Bride, except where Bride and Brigid led a herd of cows; Lasir led a flock of sheep. So when sheep are sheared at Beltaine time, there is a honoury toast to Lasir to ensue another blessed year ahead.
Interestingly today, by the pool / well of Lasir ,there is no longer a standing stone, but a tall stump of an Ash tree that was felled there.
Also in Lake Meelagh nearby, Bronze and Iron-Age swords have been found, by folks who were looking for the legendary Dagda's cauldron which is said to be in there somewhere.
Not legends that are well known away from Co. Silgo, yet have travelled to be made into other stories. Of course , people of Co.Silgo made their own stories from what travellers told them too.
Another insight?

"This story can be found in 'The Annual - Volume One' - created by Stevenage Writers Group. Details of price and how to purchase a copy  can be found on their website

* It's now available in a printed pamphlet form , obtainable from me direct. Email me at


Sleeve Notes

*Marilyn Bledsoe, affectionately known as Hard Tail to her friends, is a poetess currently residing in the High Desert country of Mountain Home, Idaho. Now in her fifties, she has been writing for the last forty seven years in a longhand spiders-scrawl with added hieroglyphics of her own design, which makes it virtually impossible for anyone else to decipher her work. Having suffered a couple of mini-strokes making typing difficult for her, she is currently attempting to master the Dragon Speak dictatorial software for her Mac Air in order to be able to publish her work.
She is the eighth generation of a family of farming folk.
In her chequered history so far, she has been a biker, a bouncer, driven eighteen wheelers for a living, and even worked in a tattoo parlour for a while. The intricacy and variety of her personal ‘body-art’ would give Ray Bradbury’s ‘Illustrated Man’ a severe run for his money. She numbers many of the modern day legends of Folk, Blues and Country music as her personal friends. And she is well-known in the Memphis and Nashville circuits.
Coming from rural farming stock, she learnt to be able to handle guns from as soon as she could safely lift them. Her lifelong love of ‘long guns’, rifles and shotguns to the rest of us, is still prominent today. Living as she does in an area of the country where wolves and coyotes still run free, her reputation of still being a pretty good shot stands her in good stead.
As was mentioned earlier, aspects of her health have now marred some of her physical abilities. Typing is difficult for her nowadays but with close on fifty years of notebooks of poetry to draw from; this may well be her first printed collection but it certainly won’t be her last.
I like the way that her commentaries to the reasoning of the writing of some of her works give the reader personal insights to episodes in her life. The inclusion here of poems about Timmie D., her first husband and his untimely death as a Vietnam, Vet., coupled with some thoughts of Rip, her lover for twenty years, dying finally from the effects of throat cancer, having never smoked a cigarette in his life strike particularly poignant. Rip was the roving journalist for the ‘biker magazines’, ‘EASY RIDERS’ and ‘IN THE WIND’ and as she intimates ‘her press pass’ allowed her to frequent events and have access to places that us lesser mortals could only dream of! These unique experiences have as she tells me, given subject material for many of her poems. It is nice to see her piece, ‘Distance’ published in the special 30th Anniversary Edition of ‘IN THE WIND’ included here.
The development of her relationship with her beloved ‘Cowboy’ Charlie, her late husband, who died so tragically of a massive heart attack in her arms while awaiting help to arrive at their remote property, is also included in this first collection of some of her works, as is the first piece that she wrote entirely on the computer.


It is fair to say that Marilyn’s life has been ‘colourful’ so far; I hope that she continues to prosper way into the future. Her life has been beset by heartaches that most people never experience, the on-going current situation with her mother’s imminent death proving an example. But through it all, in her own words, she is ‘still standing.’ I think that this is a brave first collection of her work, and I for one am eagerly awaiting her second. * – Dusti Rodes  March 2015

Her book 'High Desert Siren' is available in paperback versions in two different print sizes. For more details of these contact her by email 

To see more of her works, please view her website


​Maverick Mustang Manuscripts 

The Story Teller                 ​ 


Maverick Mustang Manuscripts presents
“Swimming with Swans”
The new collection of Poetry from Dusti Rodes....
Available exclusively from the website here, in late November now, at
In Mobiform  digital format.

Priced £3.30  Payable by PayPal 


'Bootleg Books'

"This going to be the 'Print Name' of a series of books to be  published in the near future by Maverick Mustang Manuscripts (England).

At present the titles include 'Swimming with Swans' 

'Ogham' - Linear Lines

'Aces 'n' Eights' - Dead Man's Hand

'A Bouquet of Barbed Roses'

'Cardsharps & Poker Players'


* At the moment these titles will only be available in  MOBIFORM​, a Kindle-reader, PC & Tablet friendly digital format; but  eventually I intend to add printed paperback copies of the range of titles available from this organisation. *


The news here is forthcoming!

Here is just a selection of  'quotes' & plot lines from the 'works' that the Triple M is  currently organising for publication later this year, under its 'Bootleg Books' banner.

The Story of 'Freebird' (Flying without Wings)

It was all Dave's fault. But then it would be, wouldn't it?

One of those stupidly brilliant ideas that sometimes turn out terrific.

Then he upped and died unexpectedly.


Ruben's Tale

Long ago. And far away in a land in the East,

Lived a Robber Rat, named Ruben.

His days were spent Bobbin' and a'weavin', Duckin' and a'divin'. Desperately tryin' to seek and find ways, not ALWAYS dishonestly, mind you; to keep his family fed.

By night, he lived in a stable.

In Bethlehem.

This is his tale.


'And all that Jazz'

John Hammond, opened people's ears to 'Jazz musik'.

He also opened people's eyes to Prejudice.


*Remember to check out on the website regularly so as to maybe see which is available in the coming months! *


* Book Review Spotlight *

'Yesterday’s Shadow' by Eris Berresford

* nuttymum303:   (Titch’s Reads on *

“We all have secrets… things from the past that shape our lives and make us who we are. Successful author, Bastian Crow has a secret: something dark and disturbing. It is a secret someone wants him to keep hidden. They have killed three times to ensure its secrecy… and Bastian Crow is next.”


"I would like to thank the author for allowing me to read her novel. Also for a friend who recommended this terrific book to me as well.

I found there were a few grammatical errors and maybe some spelling mistakes. But nothing to hold back the impact the book had for me. I found the characters rather intriguing and wondered at times where the book was leading. I will say that it had me stumped at the beginning wondering what Bastian Crow had to do with the story in the sense of why he was next. But as the story carried on, I found myself thinking I knew where it was and what was meant to happen. What is Bastian Crow hiding? You will just have to read this book yourselves to find out the secret and answers: D

I found the author to be believable and loved her first novel. I pray that she continues to write more and if she does, I hope they are as good as this one."

Post Script

“I really recommend people to take time out and read this book. It’s written by a good friend of mine; and is now available in both paperback form or to be found in Kindle format from Amazon …”  

Dusti Rodes, November 2015


'Finding Ways of Helping Young Children Cope with Their Emotions ' 


​    'Neglect & Loss'

Once upon a time there was a little hedgehog who lived in the forest. The hedgehog lived with her Mummy and Daddy. There were other hedgehog families living in the forest and they all appeared to be happy.

The other small hedgehogs played with each other and laughed and had fun in the sun. But the little hedgehog couldn't join in their games because she felt different. She would just and watch.

She saw that the other Mummy hedgehogs would come and collect their tired little ones and take them home to bed, but no-one came to collect little hedgehog  and she just had to find her own way home,  by herself; even in the dark sometimes.

One day when little hedgehog arrived home her Mummy wasn't there. She was feeling  very hungry as she often did. When Daddy came home; he finally found her something to eat and she felt a little better.

That night Mummy hedgehog didn't come home at all. Daddy hedgehog said, "Never mind, I'll look after you"

Weeks followed and still Mummy hedgehog never came home, but Daddy hedgehog looked after little hedgehog and all was well for a while.

Daddy hedgehog was finding her nice things to eat everyday, but little hedgehog still didn't know how to play with the other little hedgehogs in their games. 

Now little hedgehog felt even more different from the other young little hedgehogs. She would sit in the shade, and watch them from afar as the young hedgehogs played their games in the sunshine.

One day the pain of the 'spine in her heart' was so strong that little hedgehog couldn't walk home properly. She so wished her Mummy would come back and help her.

So she just curled up into a ball and fell asleep.

Wise Owl was out getting food and came across little hedgehog lying in the pathway.

Wise Owl was worried and gently woke her up. Wise Owl asked little hedgehog why was she asleep on her own and not at home with her mummy and daddy?

Little hedgehog sadly told the Wise Owl that her mummy had gone away and she didn't know where she was.

She also told Wise Owl about the 'spine in her heart' and how much it hurt. 

Wise Owl told her that all young hedgehogs needed to be care for properly, and although her daddy was trying to do the best he could he was having lots of problems himself and so he wasn't coping very well.

So Wise Owl arranged for little hedgehog to go and stay for a while with another hedgehog family.

When she had been there a short while little hedgehog started to feel a little better but still felt the pain of the 'spine in her heart'.

When Wise Owl came to visit, she noticed that little hedgehog was still hurting. Wise Owl told the new family about the 'spine'

Father hedgehog spoke to little hedgehog one day and said he knew about 'the spine in her heart'.

Father hedgehog said he understood how bad the pain must feel now but little by little they would all pull together and in time the 'spine' would be removed.

Time passed and one day little hedgehog felt like playing with the other young hedgehogs in the sun. She suddenly knew that the 'spine' had gone. She ran and found Wise Owl to share the good news.

Wise Owl was very happy to hear that the 'spine' had been removed and that although there would always be the 'scar' left by the 'spine in her heart' the pain of it was gone.


Copyright ​Pied Piper