Tag Archives: writing

If I Should Die ….*

In this week of remembrances,  it seemed appropriate that I should dedicate this post to my great-uncle, my grandmother’s youngest brother.   He was born in 1892 in Royston, Hertfordshire, the youngest son of William and Eliza Andrews.  I first saw his name, when I was very young, on the enormous bronze ‘penny’ with Britannia and the Lion and his name etched at the side, Sidney George Andrews.  He enlisted in the First Hertfordshire Regiment aged 19 years and 8 months in 1911. This was a territorial section and he continued working as a blacksmith until 6 November 1914 when his regiment was conscripted and landed at Le Havre.   With no respite he fought in France until his death on 2nd August 1917 following the devastating battle at St Julien, near Ypres.  For anyone interested in the history of the Hertfordshire Regiment there is a very poignant and interesting website here.

He was awarded the Victoria,  British and Star Medals, sometimes referred to as ‘Pip, Squeak and Wilfred’.   The Star was awarded in 1914 so he must have taken part in the First Battle of Ypres.

This young man and many thousands like him changed the course of history and we are as we are today because of them.

* from the poem The Soldier by Rupert Brooke (1887-1915)


Sidney George Andrews 1892-1917


I wrote the sonnet below following a day school I attended at Craiglockhart and it seems fitting to quote it here.

Time Warp at Craiglockhart

Stride to the bolted door, towards the light;
find your way to the space that’s forbidden.
Make a left, a right, follow the crow’s flight,
keep safe some coppers for the ferryman;
beyond the glass sits the domed survivor,
temple white, stark against the black steel
pagoda lamps. Time to pay the silver,
climb the helical stairs, turn the wheel.
But first retrace your steps, past the quiet
rows of books which wait for sleeping poets
to rise from marble tombs, penning sonnets
about bugles and bigots with bullets.
If you think silvered metal slats dictate
the end of time – let’s negotiate.

Craiglockhart is now a university campus but it was used as a hospital for shell-shocked soldiers during the First World War. It was where Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen met and wrote.



January Project

This week I have to consider two poems and comment on the way the two poets represent their monsters.


‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

‘Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!’

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought –
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
and burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

‘And hast though slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
A frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!’
He chortled in his joy.

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome rathes outgrabe.

Lewis Carroll

The Kraken

Below the thunders of the upper deep,
Far, far beneath in the abysmal sea,
His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep
The Kraken sleepeth: faintest sunlights flee
About his shadowy sides; above him swell
Huge sponges of millennial growth and height;
And far away into the sickly light,
From many a wondrous grot and secret cell
Unnumber’d and enormous polypi
Winnow with giant arms the slumbering green.
There hath he lain for ages, and will lie
Battening upon huge sea-worms in his sleep,
Until the latter fire shall heat the deep;
Then once by man and angels to be seen,
In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.

Alfred Lord Tennyson

The Faber Book of Beasts, edited by Paul Muldoon

Christmas Magic

The-Christmas-Tree-FairyIt was Christmas Eve.  In the shop window the fairy at the top of the tree gave a dress a shake, gently wriggled her wings and twinkled her wand, hoping some passer-by might see the sparkle.  Many stopped to look but no-one came into the shop.

Then, just as the light was fading, a mother and small girl walked past. The child spotted her and stopped, transfixed.  She opened her mouth to call out but with a sigh, closed it again.  The mother, inappropriately named ‘Angel’ grasped her daughter roughly by the arm, giving her a shake.

‘Come on, Beyoncé, why do I always have to wait for you? What are you looking at now?’

The child pointed to the fairy.

‘Oh, for goodness’ sake, we don’t want an old-fashioned fairy like that.  They had some really cool Lady Gage ones at Asda.  Come on, or else they’ll be sold out.’

The afternoon passed, but despite the fairy’s twinkling, no-one seemed to want her until, just before closing, who should come into the shop but Angel and Beyoncé.

Angel looked cross: ‘Is that the only fairy you have?  She turned to her daughter. ‘It’s your fault, you’re so slow.  If I didn’t have to drag you with me all the time, they wouldn’t have been sold out.

So the fairy went home with Angel and Beyoncé.  Angel looked at the fairy with distaste as she jammed her on the top of the tree with a ‘take that you slutty fairy’.

Well, thought the fairy, who was called Jezabel, I know who I think is the slutty one!

When her mother wasn’t in the room, Beyoncé came and whispered to her: ‘I think you are beautiful.’

Over Christmas, Jezabel became more and more unhappy watching Angel neglect and abuse her daughter. A slap from an inebriated Angel which sent Beyoncé crashing into the door, finally decided her.  After the child had been sent to bed, she detached herself from the tree with a wave of her wand. She flew across to Angel, showering her with fairy dust, unable to resist adding a few sharp pokes with her wand.

The next morning, Beyoncé could not believe her eyes.  The fairy, who seemed to have grown overnight, was sitting in her mother’s chair.  Jezebel greeted the child with a smile and a big hug.

‘Happy Christmas Bea!  Do you mind if I call you Bea, much nicer don’t you think than Beyoncé? Your mummy and I had a chat last night and I’m going to be your Mummy now. Oh, we’ll have such fun.

‘But where did Mummy go?’ asked Bea.

victoria_frances___queen_of_fairies_by_sandraleeshadows-d4sthvtDon’t you think she makes a really ‘Cool Angel’, asked Jezabel, pointing to the top of the tree?