- Name: geraldusj
- Location: SULLY, Vale of Glamorgan, United Kingdom
I have worked as a professional artist and poet for many years and often exhibit a related mix of poems, short stories and paintings.Main subjects are industrial images and townscapes. Much of my work is dislplayed on a range of blogs.It is simply a matter of pictures by paint and pictures by word. I see little difference between one medium and the other.
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Friday, January 06, 2006
Aim and Content of My Blog
My Blog " My Writing" is a spread of poems, Short Stories and just about everything else that comes to mind. If there are, by chance, a few good folks out there who are unfortunate to to have a humour similar to mine they are welcome to share with me the enjoyment of my own little world.
The images are a part of my "An die Musik" series, which attempts to link the art forms of Fine Art and Music. The title is taken from the Song Cycle of that name by Schubert.
I make no secret of my dislike of editing my work and robust comment is more than welcome.
Please click on pictures to enlarge.
Aunt Lizzie's Cawl.
Aunt Lizzie was no giant of a woman but enclosed in her well rounded frame-one which had effortlessly borne nine children in as many years-there was a remarkable source of explosive energy. Much of this energy was utilised in her kitchen, a workshop and centre of a little world which lay inside the boundaries of the broad Maesyfelin farm. From inside this domestic powerhouse there often came a discordant clatter that repeatedly disturbed the tranquility of the lazy farmyard. Her oversized wooden clogs rattled like jack hammers on the cobble stones as she scurried in and out of her kitchen busily attending to her many duties. Each abrupt intrusion into the yard startled the restless hens who took to the air in a frenzy of dust and feathers.This unsettled the lazy sheepdogs who crept away to seek calmer havens.The explosive redistribution of the farm’s domestic animals occurred many times a day and it was only the pet lamb Myfanwy who remained unperturbed and continued to trot devotedly behind her. Mafanwy, a sickly orphan of the previous winter, had been reared by Aunt Lizzie at the back door to her kitchen.
Aunt Lizzie, a good natured farm wife, toiled harder and longer than any one else on the farm. The first thing one noticed about her, other than her strength of character, was the power of her voice. Its ringing tones which could be distinctly heard on distant farms dotting the surrounding hills, were employed to persuade the cattle to return to base for morning and afternoon milking sessions. Never in Maesyfelin was there a need to struggle to distant pastures. The docile beasts readily responded, as mariners did to the siren call, and shuffled homewards towards the comfort of the milking sheds.
Tuesday was known on the farm as ‘Dydd Cawl Newydd’ because Tuesday was the day when the traditional Welsh dish ‘Cawl’ was served. In its simplest form, cawl was no more than mutton soup but as all cawl aficionados well knew, there was much more to it than that. It bore no standard method of manufacture or recognised lists of ingredients and most of Ceridigion's cawl chefs were reluctant to divulge their recipes. But for all that it was regarded as a dish of considerable delicacy by the inmates of Maesyfelin. One could be forgiven for speculating that mutton soup served in a fashionable restaurant would have offered little appeal to its sophisticated diners. But in contrast, the aroma from a single bowl of the ’devil’s broth’ brewed by Aunt Lizzie would have had the establishment heaving with diners baying for second helpings.
The production process was a long one and work began the previous day. On Monday morning a large joint of fatty mutton was selected and committed to a cauldron of boiling water. The joint was allowed to simmer the whole day, cooled over night and the fat layer removed next morning.This offered the base to which Aunt Lizzie applied her culinary magic-a magic which was the subject of much good humoured speculation in local pubs.There they claimed that any mortal who made cawl as exquisite as that produced by Aunt Lizzie was obviously in league with the devil. This, of course, was discounted by those who new her for a God fearing woman who frequently read one or the other of the farm’s three large family bibles which together weighed, at least, half a hundredweight. Another mitigating factor in her defence was the omnipotent prescence of Uncle Dai, a part time preacher lay preacher, whose anaesthetic sermons invariably installed a sense of anodyne vacuity within his inattentive congregations. He, more than anyone, would have detected the presence of evil and driven it out of the shadowy corners of gloomy Maesyfelin farm.
Midday Tuesday, Aunt Lizzie's voice spanned the broad fields to call her hungry toilers to lunch.This was a remarkable achievement for Maesyfelin, as part of the war effort, was assembled from many small farms cobbled together to make a major food production unit. It was big and consisted of several thousand acres on which Uncle Dai grew corn, roots and many tons of potatoes as well as fodder for his livestock.To achieve this, he employed many workers who came from all walks of life. Aunt Lizzie reigned supreme in house and kitchen and dealt with poultry and sickly livestock which were temporarily based in the vicinity of the farmyard. Ceinwen, a statuesque red headed landgirl from Swansea, worshipped by men, tumbled and laboured enthusiastically in the fields with farmhands Tom, Gwyno, Euros, little Luigui the prisoner of war and any others who came her way. Their number and Ceinwen’s sphere of interest was augmented from time to time by the employment of casual workers arriving at Aunt Lizzie’s back door. She astutely interviewed this mixed bunch of itinerants and rarely let a ‘wrong one’ into the fold. With such an army to feed, her role was pivotal to the productivity of the farm and her main priority was always to “fill all bellies with good warm wholesome grub”.
Tuesday was her favourite day and she dressed herself in a plum red skirt, long and tight enough to impede her rapid movements and exaggerate her generous form. Her humour was at its peak and she enjoyed saucy but harmless banter with the men while, at the same time, scolding them for delaying the meal. Her jet black hair was tied back with a wide white ribbon and her face shone with a scrubbed cleanliness. The plum red skirt was protected by an attractive starched pinafore and supported by a silver band which encircled her body just below her lively and provocative breasts. She was the centre of attention and-what was more important to her-complete in command. The world was her stage and she, well aware of the attention afforded her, responded with her very best performance.
A pine table with benches, enough for sixteen people, stood on the terrace which extended from her kitchen door. This was separated from the yard by a short run of steep steps designed to prevent animals from disturbing mealtimes. On the one side was the orchard from which fugitive trees had invaded the terrace and which, partially filtering the sun, deposited textured patterns on the terrace surface. To the right of the terrace stood three majestic elms that dwarfed the house. These towering columns were noisy home and playground to many birds who chattered, sang and scolded each other from dawn to dusk. On a more sinister note, it was also the launching pad for predatory crows who fancied the taste of a young chick or two.
At midday, the long table was set with well worn bowls expertly turned from beach wood by a long gone village craftsman. Along side the bowls were placed a mismatch of wooden spoons and crude knives.The knives had been a prize purchase by a young Aunt Lizzie from an old Irish tinker who many years previously had called at her back door.The only other items on the table were three massive earthenware jugs of sparkling spring water, a set of plain drinking glasses and a large wooden platter of freshly baked bread accompanied by a pat of salty yellow butter. When all were expectantly seated, Aunt Lizzie burst out of her workshop and a little impeded by the clinging restriction of her tight skirt, moved with a series of staccato like steps towards the table. She carried a steaming black cauldron which, with a triumphant swagger, she heaved onto the table with a resounding crash. A little of its potent contents splashed on to the table, the air was filled with a mouth watering aroma and all eyes turned turned towards Uncle Dai willing him to to get on with it and get grace over as soon as possible. They knew well that he, usually a man of few words, could become a veritable Christmas Evans on such ocassions. Previous experience had convinced them that he favoured quantity over quality in respect of his sacramental deliveries and a simple lunchtime grace could easily evolve into an extensive exploration of the Good Book. But Aunt Lizzie always insisted that it did little harm for he was doing nothing more than testing the trickier passages of his next sermon. However on this occasion, the will of the convocation was recognised, the grace was gracious and proceedings were allowed to start with little delay.
The almost clear broth, seperated from the brew, was ladled into wooden bowls and quickly dispatched with thick slices of home made bread smeared with salted butter.Then Aunt Lizzie heaped the steaming vegetables onto the plates. From that moment all conversation dried up and the only sounds evident were the clicking of Uncle Dai’s ill fitting dentures and murmers of genuing appreceation. Aunt Lizzie ate nothing but stood at the head of the table in absolute command. There she responded to the needs of the hungry horde. She did not leave that post because she believed that a captain’s place was on the bridge where decisions were to be made and commands delegated. But her only real act of delegation was to appoint myself, as the youngest diner, to fetch and carry for the rest of the meal. This was not a difficult task for her healthy fourteen year old nephew but from that moment my meal was constantly interrupted by the stream of commands that flowed from their hyperactive source. “Giraldus will you fetch……. Giraldus will you take……” and so on…on, and so on.
The meal progressed towards its conclusion and everyone seemed contented, even mellowed by the good food. Some, in busy conversation, left the table and ambled along the yard to return to their tasks. But at the lower end of the table Ceinwen, Tom and Luigi were engaged in vigorous argument which contrasted with and threatened to spoil the congenial atmosphere. Then things took an ugly turn when a squeal of pain from Ceinwen was accompanied by the clatter of raised voices from that corner. The powerful Tom was standing menacingly over the diminutive Luigi and looked as if he was about to launch an attack. However, Aunt Lizzie, quickly intervened and before a blow was struck, she separated the men before chastising the lightly wounded Ceinwen for acting her familiar role as tempress. Ceinwen, who was well used to Luigi’s deft groping, normally absorbed his explorations in silence but on this occasion the attack had taken her by surprise and had been a little more ferocious than usual. It had hurt and she was in no mood to accept a lecture from Aunt Lizzie or anyone else for that matter. She swung around to face her opponent with eyes blazing and ready to do battle. In her rich contralto tones she began a scandalous salvo of invective,
“Now listen you me you interfeering old busybody. I can take care of my self and if I ddn’t want Luigi to goose me then I would n’t let him. Anway it is only good….. “
Her adversary and rival, in their a male dominated little world, stood firm with hands pivoted on her hips. With her face rouge red with anger, she silenced the outburst with, what could only be described as a bellow followed by a bewildering flow of words. An outflow which became more and more indiscernible as the pace of delivery and degree of pitch increased. When Aunt Lizzie ”lost her rag’ she dominated conversations and Ceinwen soon realised that there was no way in which she could edge her way back into such a flow of verbiage. She stood there as silent as the startled spectators who were scattered in small groups around the yard. It was not the first time that they had been witness to a battle between the collosusses of Maesyfelin and had enjoyed every minute of their previous tussles.This time, however, there was only disappointment for them when Ceinwen with head bowed failed to reply as Aunt Lizzie’s voice trailed into silence.There was a simple reason for this and all present knew of it. Ceinwen, a bold and hot spirited girl who could hold her own with any one else on the farm, was very aware of the supreme power that Uncle Dai had conferred upon his wife. He, devoid of the skills needed to communicate with those with their feet firmly planted in this world, had delegated all administrative duties to her. She, beeing the pragmatist she was, took her duties seriously and applied them fairly but ruthelessly. Though much of what Ceinwen had heard was indiscernible one thing was clear to her- her boss was on the verge of sacking her and had the absolute right to do so. This she did not want. What she wanted was to stay in the company of Tom and Luigi and the many others with whom she tumbled hehind the thick hedges that seperated Maesyfelin’s innocent meadows.
Recovering her composure, Aunt Lizzie with steel in her voice closed the episode with a mild rebuke. She knew Uncle Dai to be a gentle caring man who could be very upset by any staffing unpleasantary. She also realised that like all male encumbents on the farm, he had fallen victim to the redhead’s enchantment. An aggrieved appeal to him from the devious girl could be of grave embarrassment to her, especially if it was to be successful. She could ill afford to loose a single battle of the long war between them and concluded that her easiest course was to bring the episode to a gentle face saving close.
“If there is going to be anymore trouble” she lamely threatened. “I shall have to treat you in the same way as I did my kids in their early days. See if you would like to eat your meals on your own on separate tables at the bottom end of the yard. Any more trouble and that’s what you’ll do.”
A broad smile replaced the scowl that had latterly disfigured Ceinwen's handsome features but, somewhat chastened, the little group offered hurried apologies to Aunt Lizzie and disappeared through the kissing gate that lead down into long meadow. Aunt Lizzie walked with them for part of the way, gesticulating wildly, and was still bristling with indication when she returned to my side. With hands anchored on her hips, feet wide appart, she stood watching the little group as they crossed the paddock adjoining the yard. Then without warning she gave me a sharp dig in the ribs and with passion cried out,
“Ufern Diawl Giraldus. Do you see what that redead is doing. Hasn’t she got any shame”
With obvious disgust she turned her back on all of them, and with a vigorous shake of her head, retreated into the sanity of her powerhouse. Slightly startled, I turned to gaze at the last two figures on the trail to the fields and was amused to see that Ceinwen had one hand snugly tucked down the back of Tom’s trousers-passing Luigi’s message on I thought. But Aunt Lizzie had not finished and was soon back to continue her grumbles about her challenger but in a more objective way,
“There is going to be lots of trouble with that over sexed landgirl and one day she’ll get more than she bargained for. Playing that hot blooded Italian against Tom is a dangerous game-what with Tom and that temper of his!”To this she added with a snort,
“That greasy little Luigi does not help by pinching every bottom that comes within range of his twitching fingers. I can’t see what she sees in him. Though I suppose she’s a tart through and through and nothing willchange that”
She stopped her work,turned her attention to me and continued,
“Did you know that he tried it with me when he first came here! Only once mind you. Never a second time for I gave him such a whack with the washing ladle he had a lump like an egg on the head and was crosseyed for a month.” Then she fixed me with her penetrating blue eyes and offered me some advice,
“Keep well away from her my lad! She’ll drop her land army pants for anyone and has a great taste for the young ones. So be warned! She could swallow you up whole and spit you out in bubbles! ”
I was still trapped within that period where I blushed for the slightest of reasons and on hearing her graphical description of rustic seduction, I glowed like a sugar beet on a frosty morning. Though young and without experience of the world I was just entering, I knew why Aunt Lizzie had grown to dislike Ceinwen intensely from the moment of her arrival at the farm. She hated the ease with which she could turn a man’s head and the way she exploited every feminine trick in her feline armoury to attract, tease and trap her prey. Aunt Lizzie, still a very attractive lady, was profoundly jealous of the haughty landgirl who took all and gave little in return. It could be argued that she had good reason to regard her as a dangerous rival since, prior to her appearance, Aunt Lizzie enjoyed the undivided attention of a dozens of men embedded in the monastic state of Maesyfelin. She, queen of all she surveyed, was not going to allow any woman to take that away from her. The two contending ladies, though a generation appart, were similar in so many respects but despite the guile of the landarmy lass, I knew that if open warfare was to be declared, Aunt Lizzie would be the clear winner.
By then he terrace was deserted, save for a few panting dogs and one or two sly cats searching for discarded scraps beneath the scattered benches. We busied ourselves clearing the table and prepared for what she called “Y Golchi fawr,” But prior to this herculean task she stepped forward with one of her staccato movements, wrapped her strong arms around me and crushed me to her lithe body with its odorous blend of cawl camphor and rose water-all of which which failed to disguise the overbaring proximity of good honest stale sweat. This was the second time that I reddened like a beet on a frosty morning and all in the matter of a few minutes. To save my blushes I dashed into the anonymity of the dark kitchen where they soon were forgotten when I saw the pile of dirty dishes awaiting my attention . Then I knew exactly what Aunt Lizzie had meant when she uttered the phrase, “Y Golchi Fawr”.
Assembly of Fools.
can a one legged man swim duck if he is
of an assembly of fools capable
alone of multidirectional thinking
product of excessive ozone enrichment
that addles the brain and has no place to hide
but is soon snuffed out and destroyed
by the one legged man who can swim duck
can a one legged man swim duck when beset
by self constructed misfortune through the building
of sepulchres in holes that slyly bury
rhydderch’s white book thus loosing it’s mystery
while speaking with tongues ill forked with deceit
emphatically rejected out of hand
by the one legged man who can swim duck
can a one legged man swim duck when thrust
into the sea of political man’s murk
that tepid cesspool so often agitated
by the uncontrolled raging vortex
of dire unrehearsed political squabble
compromising for ever the clear Celtic thinking
of the one legged man who can still swim duck
of Billy Wynt,
into the gloom
of leaden sky.
proud to be
to the vale,
its lofty height,
to the cruel firing
of Iesu Grist, the pale child,
on Llantrisant hill
with steep slopes grey and wild.
gently the air
with the three saints
of ancient Morganwg,
And the wise Tyfydog.
Billy Wynt crumbles,
vulnerable to tempest
and its potential to destroy
its majestic form.
Princess of Whores.
Reeling, retching, nothing to give save bloodshot eyes;
Stale, reeking with dishonour, nowhere to go,
Arteries blocked both ends, blood can no longer flow.
Limp princess of whores, sphinx with the hots,
Insensitive razor edged feelings, cold wet to the touch,
Shake your gross corpse and cleanse your extremes,
Release hot blood, incite the passions of your dreams.
It's too late to love, too late to despair and repair,
So close your dark thighs at each day's soiled ending,
And regurgitate aloud that hideous roll call,
So that they will not be forgotten, one and all.
Ruin of St. Hilary
Shivering as the bold winds polish its ancient stones,
And firmly set in nature's mysterious strictures,
Is, charmingly crafted in her soft textures.
Demonically the fierce briar tears,
Gone are the windows, the doors and the stairs,
All save the shrouded outlines at twilight
Through which moan the winds of the night.
The ghost of St. Hilary moves close to the well,
While deep in the wood the shades sound a bell,
To warn all good mortals not to draw near,
For dark spirits rise and there is much to fear.
No portents of wonder or devilish dreams,
No spectre equipped with inconceivable screams,
A vision unnerving ,but gently serene;
St.Hilary dismantled, by nature in extreme.
The Last Evening
Slyly disturbing the still of the evening,
Burdened with missives, sinister and feckless,
To chastise cold stars for their lofty aloofness.
With many others who lurk in the forest,
Sad shades recline and claim their sweet rest,
There they take count of the souls that slip by them,
Each one a part of its vast requiem.
What will they see in the Depths of Valhalla,
Ruled by the sinister black Tuonella,
Who seeks the stark remnants of mortals past caring
But is unable to cure their tragic despairing
But there’s one other who lurks in Valhalla,
Quietly placed to his own satisfaction
Eager to drag down all souls so rejected
Into the squalor of grim putrefaction.
Listen to the breeze as it rustles dry leaves,
With it’s whispering and with it’s breathing,
For it’s missives declare that your God is aware
Of the evil abroad on your very last evening.
Island of the Mind
Dreams drifting in confusion
They are but brief interludes
Awaiting sacrifice on dawn's awakening,
No more than vaporous wisps
Facing cruel denial of their reality.
No more than over the moon or cool,
Wicked words like gutted I detest,
Send their perpetrators back to school.
A tragic shame,
Such a nice flower,
An ugly name.
A surreptitious synthetical,
Is patently neither religious or political,
Not even a concocted mythological;
This, I think, is somewhat illogical.
Old Jack some said was bad
But others considered him mad,
For with his long handled clippers
He cut up ripe kippers,
And addressed them Saddam, Baghdad.
Keep the Home Fires Burning
Of one of its favoured appeals,
The impetus that strives
To ease it smoothly along
As if on well oiled wheels
And caring not for survival,
The deceitful disease,
Clothed in shameful pretence,
Settles in all stations of purity
To rattle Mother Nature,
And destroy her hard won security.
For the foul will displace the fair
When managers of assiduous ambition,
Swollen as they are with ignorance who,
Not knowing what they do
Gnaw into central controls.
They disorder signals, destroy discernment
And pause but briefly to ignore
The sickly smell of burning flesh.
Which coats all with death’s black uniform
Distilled from the coal and fatty mesh
And spreadfar by it’s rampaging firestorm.
To those wolves in sheep's clothing,
Deprived of good sense,
Impart a clear message that tells them
It is the smell alone that is truth's essence.
Embedded in the white-hot desert.
Now we have it,
“Five, four, three, two, one zero!”
We have lift off!
The desert rumbles,
As a brilliant light dazzles the unsuspecting eye
And a screaming cloud of boiling steam
Wrestles to detach itself from lethal vapours.
In the calm courtyard, fountains lazily play
Waters to cool slender roots of tall limes
Standing silently in the afternoon heat,
Providing sustenance and shelter for the humming bee
That sips cool drinks and assaults the fragrance of flowers
When Smilog Winked at Me
And asked me once again,
Why did I leave his gentle slope?
And settle on the plain;
How could I quit his swirling mists?
With breezes fresh but tender,
The perfume of the shy foxgloves
The ash trees tall and slender.
My friend said I, you do forget
Once Smilog looked from high
Upon a vale unspoilt and green,
To which he gave a sigh.
Hidden in the morning mists
You dream the vale below
In gold and green is warmly bathed
By the sun's clear radiant glow.
How wrong you are my loyal friend,
For all has changed forever;
The air is dense with acrid smoke
That falls and stains the heather.
The sulphur fumes hum high to heaven
With day as dark as night,
Even angels cough and splutter above,
While from factory spills, the hills are
So never again will I return
To rest in you're cool shadow,
But will stay forever where grass is green
Within my pleasant meadow.
The Big Bang
Switched on the surge of time,
God was space and space was God
For those who choose to mind,
For God and space together they trudged
Through regions barren and black,
In manoeuvres quite intractable
Ad infinitum, there and back.
One day while God was at his rest
Feinting saintly sleep,
Space softly whispered to himself,
“I’m bored enough to weep,
For what I want is a proper job,
A challenge is what I need
To tease the tenure of my mind,
With tasks that I alone can lead”.
“I fear the harm that I could do
Should my plans go sadly awry,
But this is the time to have a go
To separate the earth from sky.
So I’ll make a move before the Greeks,
Who absurd as they are bound to be,
Can build their swish Olympian halls
And compete with the holy He”.
Then he said with a satisfied grin,
“Tomorrow at dawn,……….. I shall begin”
But sadly his dreams were cruelly dispelled
By an omnipotent kick to the rump,
And shrunk at the sound of the mightiest voice,
“Silence Space for I’m about to get the hump!”
So wisely he moved seven days to the side
While the earth was so created,
And with engineering skills unsurpassed
Its physical forms updated.
But I must declare for those who choose to care
That God and space still trudge along together.
“Pretty Polly! Pretty Polly! Are we all here?”
The smoke room is muggy and Mac in despair
Splutters and chokes in the poison laden air,
Is not the war over and the battle yet won?
Play your pipes, hurl hate at the heavens, run
Pull down the sky and cover your head,
Scream again “Pretty Polly” but only at the dead,
Surreptitious ladies, ready for the night
Dream of salamanders with chameleons in white;
Is the war over and can we have fun?
Pull your punch, drain dry your glass, run bloody run.
Exit a clown without parrot on his ear,
Poor Polly! Poor Polly! Were you ever here?
While in the corner the lounge clock is striving
To ask if the life that you have is really worth
The war is not over, shake your fist at the sun,
Stand still alone, harden your heart, run bloody
Good citizens rue it,
So stay in your bed,
For today it was said,
For our sins,
We have an election.
Now the bad news has struck
You can bob weave and duck,
For grey men will tout you
And run round about you,
When you hear their refrain,
Better close down your brain,
And ignore every antic,
Whether sober or frantic,
For they’ve never ever
Any sense of direction.
We can always assume
That they’ll play the same tune,
Betimes and much more
‘Till it commences to bore,
But surely by then
It’s too late for reflection.
But we’re told that there’s plenty,
The goody bag’s not empty.
So gather around,
Let your jeers resound,
And with vigour engage
In political insurrection.
wolves in sheep’s clothing
gazing with pride
across the broad vale;
Yet to fail
for the frailty within
your sad error.
Thursday, January 05, 2006
Wednesday, January 04, 2006
What are you at?
Come hear this moment,
Don’t tease the cat.
Why play the fool?
Put on your jacket,
Be off to school.
Please leave the cat
For teachers will ask you
What are you at.
A little less chat
Or I’ll surely wonder
What are you at.
That night in a dream
He was taught by a cat,
Who made him repeat that,
It was Watcyn,
Who sat on the mat!
Next morning he awoke
To consider the fact,
That he never would know
What he was at.
Or even that
What was he at?
Scream with Silence
Let me scream
With the violence of silence.
The silence of dread
Shrouds my weary path.
Soul craves to cry out aloud,
“My journey ends, I may go no further”.
In the prison of my mind
Which, without mercy,
Triggers a needless dawn,
A crude intrusion
Not to be denied by the silent cry
Deep within my heedless frame,
A frenzied silent cry
Shrieking through the early dawn,
“Let me be! Oh let me be!
For ever let me be free!”
So I Spoke to the Sea
And the wind, ruffling my hair,
Chided me for my impertinence.
I listened to the wind
Sweeping over the beach into gloom.
Confronting the sea I cried,
“I am Giraldus go back”.
I heard only the screech of gulls.
My cries dissolved in fluid walls
Or dismissed by the swell,
Made for the open sea
To drift over seething shallows.
So the sea spoke to me,
“You are Giraldus go back!”
I ignored its shivering whispers,
Pale echoes of the sighs and cries
From the rocky causeway,
Perilous pathway to Sully Isle.
So the sea spoke to me,
“You were Giraldus”
There is no way back.
With a funky white beard,
He’ s wearing a dress
And calls himself Jesus,
He’s hungry he says
And loves bread and fishes,
Five and two would be okay
But which of the two is five
He would not say.
Jude, Jude! What in hell was he called again?
Jesus, Jesus ! J-e-s-u-s!! That’s a foreign name,
Never heard anything like it,
Asylum seeker perhaps?
I bet that’s his game,
Far too many sneaking in
And bumming now we find,
Well he’s come on a very bad day,
So tell him to lift his clogs and trot away.
But very nicely mind.
Wrecking summers hard won gain,
While slyly, with its freezing fire,
Bleak hoarfrost spreads its deadly pain.
Patient spring makes good the damage,
Cleaning up the mess that’s left below,
Then awakes with subtle breezes
Cold sterile earth beneath the snow.
Radiant autumn in its glory,
Reviving summers faded scenes,
Scatters rust, rich, warm and golden,
To repair the summer’s jaded greens.
A post-box passed me by,
It cast a sideways glance at me,
And then said with a sigh,
“I’m sick to death of Christmas tide,
It gives me little joy,
I’m stuffed with letters and cards all day,
And many a kind of toy”.
“They fill me up with paper and string,
Inside I’m in a state,
What I need is something nice
Like cheesecake on a plate;
I cannot stand it any more,
I‘m going on the run,
Awaiting me is a brand new life,
Where I’ll have lots of fun”.
This wistful tale he told to me,
Though sad and full of woe,
Was no excuse for him to flee,
For cards still have to go.
So I said to him, “Come back with me,
Return to work right now,
Then I will give you quite a treat
That’ll soothe your troubled brow.”
So late that day when work was done,
A treat he had for sure,
When wicked children filled him up
With sweets and toys,
And buckets of horse manure.
When you did what you did,
Said you would not,
Then you opened that lid,
Pandora sly maker
Of mayhem and noise,
Why did you let loose
Your dangerous toys?
Screamed out from that box,
Hot doses of pox.
You put into play
That cruelly torment us
To this very day.
Swift on their heels flew
The sweet voice of hope,
But she, far too timid
Was unable to cope,
Not so with Jupiter
Who punished new man
With his prototype,
Ungrateful Beasts (The Smile on the Face of the Fox)
Over Flashers Field I crossed,
Lush green gave way to rust and ash
From Ironworks sadly lost.
I scaled the grey embankment there,
My way a metalled rage
Of drams enmeshed in twisted rail,
Ditched by a long gone age.
Arriving at the arid ridge
I sensed an acrid smell,
A fox had climbed the other side,
We froze, both in a spell.
As close apart we calmly stood
With glistening eyes of gold,
He deeply searched my fragile soul
For mercy to behold?
I raised my gun, but took no aim,
He was, by far, too near,
He dropped his head, but stood his ground
And showed no sign of fear.
I could not kill that noble beast
And that he knew so well,
It was he who was in full control
As he sauntered down the dell.
Later as I tilled the dell
I saw him waiting there,
Reclining at the place we met-
Not a grave, I’d no cross to bear,
I leapt down from my iron steed
And climbed the ashen hill,
But making no attempt to move,
He tried my strength of will.
As I took his dare and moved on him,
His face curved in a smile,
As if to say farewell my friend,
Then loped down Lover’s mile.
That evening, late, I checked the yard,
I could not hear a sound,
Then I saw my twelve white hens
All Strewn about the ground.
Mangled guts and severed heads
Lay in a slime of blood,
Feathers floating in moonlight,
Phosphorescent in the mud.
Then I saw him standing there,
Grim form against the moon,
That raised its head, howled high to heaven
A deathly dirge. …... A terrifying tune.
Next day I cleared the sorry waste,
And closed the silent run,
I pondered why a man or beast
Considered murder so much fun.
With heavy heart I turned away,
And looked towards the gate,
There, to my surprise, he’d come to gloat
Or, maybe, my anger to inflate.
I raised the gun but aimed above
The cruel destructive brute
He stood still awhile….. then flashed a smile
Our bond betrayed …..its end….. absolute.
Ungrateful Beasts (Barney)
Barney the bane of her life.
Wits as sharp as a knife.
She always grumbling,
Whenever he started a fight.
In next doors dustbin
With manners akin to a brat,
Fairly jolted her,
Even revolted her,
So she swapped him for next-door’s cat.
And that was that the end of that!
Ungrateful Beasts (The Parasitical Wasp)
I gave it such a smack.
It traced, poor thing, a somersault
To crash land on its back,
Then I saw to my surprise,
Close clinging to its wing,
A parasitic wasp, no less,
Poised in readiness to sting.
I stooped down low to gently part
The host from parasite,
And with a twig I swished that wasp
To dent its appetite.
The creatures parted company,
The moth it calmly rose,
The wasp itself was not impressed
And stung me on the nose.
Tuesday, January 03, 2006
The Devil's Cry
Much startled by a cry,
I knew it was Old Nick himself
Who happened to be passing by.
He thrust his head through windowpane
And glaring at me he said,
"Hey you young lad its cold out here,
Move up and make room in bed”.
But while I burrowed beneath the sheets
And he started to draw quite near,
He gave off a smell of freshly burnt coke
Recently dunked in Brain’s best beer.
I keenly sensed his bodily heat
As he approached me in my bed,
Then with a sheet of flame and shower of sparks
He smacked me on the head.
Though painful was this deed to me
I stood my ground quite well
And cried "If it’s the Devil you claim to be,
In Devil’s name go back to hell”
Then he cast his eye on me
With an obviously evil intent,
So with a mighty punch I struck him hard
He cried,” You swine that’s my nose you’ve bent!"
With this he slumped down on the bed
And wailed until the flow
Of the steaming torrent of his briny wash
Short fused the power below.
The lights went out when the electrics blew,
Maesgwyn was flooded in blackness
And sitting there holding that hand
I was soothing the prince of darkness.
After a while he confided in me
That his career had reached its end
What he longed for were the good old days
When kindliness was the trend.
For there was no challenge left for him
With so much evil about
So he got off his ass
Collected a bus pass
Joined “the OhBeJoyful”
And opted out.
Now if an old devil should pass you by
A shuffling down the street
Remember the tale of the devil’s cry
And relish his wretched defeat.
It is I
Who will chose
I will not be
Of silent regret
That was me.
On that day
I will pray
That no cry
Or hollow sigh
Will herald the end
Of my brief stay.
Monday, January 02, 2006
The Miracle of Charlie Brown
“Mr. Charlie Brown. Please!” It was the green clad auxiliary calling the next patient. Cruelly jolted out of my reverie, I felt in the very depths of my water that it was one of those days when something crazy could occur at any time. I did not have long to wait before my premonition was confirmed by the remarkable reaction to the annunciation of this truly unremarkable name. It started with a peal of hysterical laughter from a high tenor sitting in the back row of backbreaking chairs. This was orchestrated by voices of every conceivable pitch until the room reverberated with a discordant anthem of uncontrollable mirth. It was a cacophony of sound that began loudly and became progressively louder until it reached a decibel level far in excess of the comfort zone. As it continued unabated, members of this disjointed chorus began to suffer ill effects from their exertions. The first casualty was the pale and perplexed Daisy Trot who, having stimulated the more acute symptoms of her asthmatic condition, was sucking frantically on her repertoire of coloured puffers. This she cleverly orchestrated with a succession of moans reminiscent of a heifer desperately seeking a confiscated offspring. Sitting next to her was the recently impregnated Iris who was soothing the more tender parts of her distended stomach. While, next to her, the larger than life twins Eirwen and Ellen slipped gently to the carpeted floor. There they lay helpless under their great weight, struggling for breath and sobbing with exhaustion. But it was the lovely Serena who stole the limelight when her giggles exploded with such energy that the tears ran down her inflamed cheeks and her personal waters trickled down her tights to seep from her sandal clad feet. It was not long before an ominous damp patch grew in the area shadowed beneath her widespread legs. In the centre of the room the braless Bettina shuddered and shook until she set free her significant breasts from the inadequate restraint of a low cut dress. These she allowed to gyrate unheeded like a pair of animated cherry topped blancmanges.
There was bound to be a physical limit to this frenetic activity and eventually the laughter subsided sufficiently to provide the perplexed auxiliary with the opportunity to locate her elusive patient. She clapped her hands and called his name again, but this time she infused a little sardonic humour into her delivery. This she mistakenly believed to be in the spirit of the occasion.
“Charlie Brown are you there! Come in Mr Brown. Your time is up”
From behind the shelter of a broad pillar a tall slim well-dressed Negro uncoiled his languid stature, hesitated for a while to survey the chaotic scene about him, cast a long hard look at the green auxiliary and then with one metre strides carried his two metre frame towards her. He inclined his head to hear her instructions and stooping low disappeared through one of the three green doors, which lead to salvation or, perhaps, eternal oblivion.
This sudden appearance of the elegantly dressed Negro, in response to the oddly couched call struck home a note of reality and an eerily contrasting silence descended upon the room. On his departure many of its incumbents examined themselves for personal damage. But the pallid Daisy Trot continued to launch, potentially, lethal doses of Salbutamol and Beclamethasone into her unsuspecting lungs. Anna, oblivious to her surroundings moaned softly as she continued to fondle her distension, while the twins hastily adjusted their disarranged tresses to make themselves decent enough to avoid critical scrutiny from the now increasingly rational assemblage. Serena became morbidly aware of the warm discomfiture of her moist knickers and viewed with some concern the expanding damp circle beneath her feet. Bettina on the other hand, a young lady without shame, gave a gracious bow in appreciation of the ripple of applause she attracted for the delicate manner in which she flipped her breasts into their rightful quarters.
Though all were settling after their exertions, many were afraid to move or breathe-as if they feared to draw attention to themselves, In the depths of the resultant silence one could have heard a capillary dropping to the carpeted floor: indeed it would have shattered the peace of that strange room of changing moods. It was in this eerie ambience that time seemed to stand still and the incumbents became aware of a revelation. Indeed it could be better described as a miracle for all their many and varied symptoms had been swept away on the appearance of the tall elusive Negro. To the amazement of the nursing staff the room steadily emptied and the corridor leading from it was besieged by a chattering band of contented beings hurrying to resume the delights of normal life. Behind them, the waiting room was deserted save for the lovely Serena and myself. She was snoring damp in contented sleep. The place, however, was littered with a mess of discarded medical appliances. Polly’s puffers decorated the front row and Serena’s patch continued to grow and threaten the possibility of permanence. There were discarded wheelchairs, N.H.S walking sticks, crutches of every shape and size, plaster casts and even a detached set of impersonal false teeth.
The nursing staff, surveying the scene, shrugged their shoulders and in turn retired through the green doors where they could reflect, at their leisure, on the strange happenings of the afternoon. But there was one remaining mystery: the tall handsome Negro had not returned to the waiting room via the green door. The lights were switched off and this awakened me from my slumber. I gently aroused Serena and pondered on the disappearance of the tall handsome Negro who had earlier walked through the green door and, vanished into oblivion.
I never Dream of You
I dream a dream
In pleasing shades of blue,
And in my dream
I dream of girls
From Ton Pentre to Timbuktu.
But when each time
I dream my dream,
Then in its gentle hue,
Not revealed to me,
I never dream of you.
Fell in love with, touched the glove of, the delightful Miss Dee.
For she brought them, as she taught them, the wonders of art,
Loves perspective, irrespective of each timorous heart.
Foolish Miss Dee, could she not see, with her eyes clear and bright,
That she gave them, saints preserve them, troublesome dreams every night.
So vivacious, too curvaceous, mind sharp as a knife,
She intruded, they exuded, their monastical life.
Why did that lass, stride into class with her head held proud and high,
Softly glowing, so slyly showing that delectable thigh.
Although as such, it was too much for those scoundrels to see,
There was no rush, but a calm hush fell on the rogues of form three.
It does seem wrong, now that she’s gone, to raise three rousing cheers,
For sad little boys, who’ve lost their poise are usually bored to tears.
Sadly confused, feeling ill-used, too much troubled with doubt,
They never again, were ever the same for the light of their life went out.
Oh! Callous Miss Dee why did you leave three,
For they, broken hearted, from the day you departed,
Ceased to be boarders and took holy orders,
Swearing again and again never to suffer such pain,
And to avoid evermore love’s unbearable lore.
Now as broken young men they’re in bed before ten,
Where they nightmare Miss Dee 'til something past three,
Then they toss off their cares and run down the stairs,
To cry, “enough is enough!” then savage a plate of matron’s plum duff!
the girl lies
damp in fog,
bright eyes searching,
am I pray
to false asking?
Tonight will I
in content lie?
as they rest,
girl and beast
in cold ditch,
or in comfort recline,
to the turmoil
in my breast.
Something to ponder,
let not the mind wander,
for is it decreed
I either concede
or retreat in haste
with justifiable distaste.
begin to bite.
of approaching night.
Broth of the Gods (Tales of Wales)
Brewed by the devil or should I say Diawl;
Sup up a measure but do take great care,
For it can blacken your teeth and whiten the hair.
At Ynysddu farm they speak of old Ned,
Who drilled a deep shaft behind his cowshed,
"I've struck liquid gold" said he with a cry,
When a gusher of cawl nearly blinded one eye.
People who came from the hills and the vales,
Sang loud "Long live our cawl and right up with
Soon Ned built steel tanks in Phil Flashers field,
"I'm to be rich” he cried, “I'll soon be well
Then Texaco, Mobile and the mighty BP
Pumped the sweet broth by pipes to the sea,
There in hot holds of the steaming Welsh fleet,
It's carried to nations who cannot compete.
Now Ned' s old farm is a spa of some note,
Where rich Celtic gentry eat, drink and float,
And the fair land of Cymru sits in a dark pall
Of cawl' s pungent vapours, not pleasing to all.
Leda and the Swan
Frame bears a blaze of anticipation.
His fall from heavenly heights
Takes him earthbound to Leda’s side.
As the night air bleeds
Beneath his feathery beating.
Her nakedness seems to sigh
With a shiver of exhaustion.
He enfolds, then absorbs her
In the privacy of his avian alcove,
And she, resisting no longer, submits
To fulfil the illusion of a mythical decree.
"But Wagner like a rushing whirlwind storms us, and despot like, submission doth demand."
These words, written by a colleague, aptly summed up the man and his music.
The mythologically based "Ring cycle" which took him the best part of twenty five years to complete was strangely prophetic of a crisis in civilisation.
My painting Niebelungen, above, borrows Wagner's Leitmotive musical device with which the composer characterized the important events of his operas with repetitive themes. These announced and emphasized the entry of a significant player into the unfolding drama.
A restless and fussy painting in keeping with it's subject.
Iechyd Da Mr. Noah Bach(Tales from Wales)
Homo sapiens had lost the plot,
To Noah he said, “Go! Build an ark”
To others, “You’ve had your lot”.
So Noah sailed the eastern sea
In his wide and woody tub,
But what it was that he missed most
Was a good old-fashioned pub.
For with water, water, everywhere
And he, thirsting like a drain,
The rising damp seeped through his bones
To dry rot his weary brain.
For forty days he steered that craft,
By then the sky was clear,
So he parked it by Llangeinor Arms
And called in for a beer.
And sitting there to his surprise
Was God with glass held high,
Saying, “Da iawn a chi Mister Noah bach;
Iechyd da; Here’s mud in your eye”.
“How well your garden grows,
That rhubarb all of three feet tall
Should be a winner in all our shows
And those cucumbers in delightful green,
Though somewhat tattered about their bends,
Have a pleasing appearance with a gossamer sheen
Which, delicately, disguises their mildewed ends.”
“I must say “said Brown to Jones “it was not so long ago,
When as head gardener to her majesty the queen
And the ladies in waiting waited no more,
My rhubarb covered the palace green
And in line with my reputation
I won every silvered cup
Across the nation;
“Now then Brown” said Jones,
“ I am heartily sick of your frolics,
So to you dear sir a very good day
And please go elsewhere to talk Bolics”
Of obsessive oboes intermingle
With a host of triumphal trumpets.
Magic moment in a memorable movement,
Ephemeral but never forgotten,
Borne by the dust of a bygone age.
Earthbound and living dangerously
The music leaves its heavenly loft
To become, perhaps, too much of a good thing.
Its unbearable beauty and poise stirs
And charms all with the Air on the G string.
With bold and tasteful ornamentation
The soliloquy gently fades to silence,
And signals that it can only be
The ineffable master J S B.
A brown diminuendo fiercely drives
Forward the oboe's vulnerable crescendo,
While violins, seductively soothing as they are,
Enlighten, with silvery voices,
The frenetic power of orchestral thunder.
Littered with instructions, the score
Stretches the conductor's imagination.
Until, without warning, a quartet of discords
Goes off, a firecracker in the hand,
And then under the master’s influence
Youthful imagination runs riot.
Aggressive, upper strings dominate,
As the Dies Ire is sung and mocked,
Mingling horror with high jinks.
Suddenly the fiery blaze of Berlioz,
Switching into a Beethovian trajectory
Startles, then cedes with a devilish fugue.
Of the hangman resonates from behind,
Freedom hammers on the prison gate.
The Fidelio four invoke harmonies
Which, with uncultivated beauty,
Innocently bewilder and implant
In all a sense of a false security.
Following a brief diminuendo,
The plot yet unclear progresses, But poses vital questions:
Can the master, with discipline and stealth,
Achieve clarification by resolution?
As if in answer the voltage jolts, trumpets soar,
And emotion charged with a kinetic tension
That even formality can scarce contain,
Lets out a searing cry of deliverance.
For this was, of all his conceptions, the one
That gave the cruelest of birth pains.
Smouldering with tonal sincerity
Creativity is the bedrock of passion,
A woman dedicated to a love
Capable of piercing prison walls,
A dreamer exploring the essence of her nightmare
From which she alone can distil reality,
Reality that enables her to rekindle hope,
Hope that compensates her feminine frailty.
Meanwhile, with cold blooded intention,
The fiend turns a nasty situation
Into his, even nastier, advantage.
Timpani and brass vigorously vibrate
To spit and splutter in protestation
As they anticipate Armageddon.
But right prevails as, with eerie crescendos,
Bone drying winds rattle the graveyard and horns,
Anticipating Wagnarian grandeur,
Induce turbulent woodwinds to pause;
Then wallow in the delights of victory.
Sheltering in a glow of forgiveness
All unite in a visionary coda,
And proceed with incandescent intensity
To rest in the surreal sound of silence.
Why do Nations Rage
Jubilant voices descending from heaven
Crash into orchestral chattering,
"Awake! Awake my soul, I will arouse the dawn."
Buoyant bongos cavort and infuse
Spirited dances with throbbing energy,
To give a strong hint of West Side Story.
This is no sopoforic church service.
Man exists in his infinite smallness,
God broods in his heavenly abode,
"Enter! Enter into His gates without misgiving."
The frailty of the alto contrasts The robustness of the warring psalm,
" Why! Why do the nations rage." A grim intrusion
That fails to silence the message of accord
And is destroyed, then swept asunder
By the sweet song of the shepherd psalmist.
With pure theatre, insecure voices mock
Man's atonal attempt to deliver
A message of vision and everlasting hope.
Hope for a world at peace within itself,
Peace wherein all will fear no evil.
"How pleasant it is to dwell in unity".
Stravinsky, a Russian composer born near St. Petersburg in 1882, worked in Europe and the USA. His individuality did not emerge until his contact with Diaghilev which resulted in the composition of the ballet, 'The Firebird'. This was succeeded by a series of startling works such as 'Petrushka' and 'The Rite of Spring'.
The Rite, with it's rhythms employed to orgiastic effect, famously created an uproar in the Paris opera house in 1913. My painting with its plush greens is an attempt to capture the staginess and cold individuality of the composer's works.
Saturday, December 31, 2005
The Chronicles of Raldus
1.Shall we start at the beginning?
Once upon a very nice time, not that long ago, there lived a happy little boy in an African bungalow that sat on the top of a steep Welsh hill. He was a very small boy and the hill was a very small hill-so small that he could chase after the princess, from top to bottom and back, without loosing his breath. He lived there with: his mother who was ill and often away from home, his father who was very strong and frightened him, the princess who cared for him when his mother was away and the “one ear up, one ear down corgi” Sossi.
" Inky Pinkie spider climbing up the spout,
Down came the raindrops and washed the spider out.
Out came the sunshine and dried up all the rain,
And Inky Pinkie spider climbed the spout again."
This was the princess’ song which she sang every evening when tucking him into his snug bed. Her voice was rich and comforting and if the verses ended happily a nice warm feeling crept through the whole of his body. Then he would slide into a restful sleep untroubled by any of those strange voices and weird dreams that, too often, haunt imaginative little boys at night. But now and then the princess, deep in one of her moods, sang about Inky in an ugly voice. This worried him for he was quite fond of his little friend whom he believed was not deserving of the rough treatment inflicted upon him. There were times when he shed a few tears for the little chap and was far too distressed to fall asleep. But, even then, the princess showed no mercy and dug deeply into her fertile imagination to draw out fresh stories packed with pixies, devils and a multitude of evil monsters. These she launched against the unfortunate Inky with a sustained ferocity. The princess had cared for him ever since his mother went away, and he loved her-so much that he had told her he would marry her when he was older. But lately he had become so disenchanted by her ill treatment of Inky Pinkie that he could, at any moment, change his mind. Though there were many princesses in his little world; his thoughts lingered on the one he saw every morning: Mavis the pretty smiley post girl who gave him a rosy apple one day and on another a big kiss when he wasn’t looking her way. It was a nice kiss that gently brushed his cheek- not a bit like the mushy ones from the princess when she “gobbled him all up.” But it still made him blush to the roots of his jet-black hair, and he wondered what Henry Harry would have said if he had been there to see it. At the very least, he would have teased him forever and ever.
One wild and stormy night in December with the rain beating on the windowpane, the wind rattling the tiles of the low roof and wild spirits whispering spitefully down the chimney into the bedroom; he lay in his bed and was not afraid. He felt secure knowing that the princess lying beside him had promised to tell him a story that would end happily ever after. Half closing his eyes he curled to a comfortable position and expected to hear another episode of the adventures of Inky Pinkie Spider. She started quietly enough with her voice no more than a whisper. But he soon realised that she was taking him on an adventure with someone very different from his gentle friend. It was, to his dismay, the tale of the terrible Babba Yagga, the dreaded witch with the iron teeth who had developed the disgusting habit of eating little boys for her supper.
The princess was at her best with this kind of material. With her many voices, she found it easy to exploit it's horrors and it provided her with many opportunities to create a grisly gothic atmosphere. He recalled the many occasions when her facial distortions achieved such alarming plasticity that every hair on the back of his head stood smartly to attention. Indeed her performance could be so convincing that he felt iced waters chilling his spine. As he lay there, he anticipated a repeat of this performance in which she, as a personification of the old hag, would scare the living daylight out of him.
With a serious expression on her young face the princess positioning herself on one arm, leant over him, and stared long and hard into his eyes as she drew him into her world of horror. Apprehensively he listened but was mystified by the strangeness of the story‘s beginning,
“Now then. Tonight I am going to tell you a new story,” said the princess. “ Its the story of Mrs. Hughes. You remember her. She’s the old hag living in that gloomy house around the corner by Henry Harry’s farm. You saw her once standing in her garden. Standing there and staring at you with eyes shining red like coals on fire.”
Raldus recalled, with a shiver, the weird old lady with her white face of death, who had stared at him with fiery eyes until he and the princess had hurried to turn Henry Harry’s corner.
“I can remember her. She was creepy and I didn’t like her at all,” said Raldus, “and she smelled like one of Henry Harry’s pigsties.”
“Well, she stared at you because she likes plump little boys,” laughed the princess and continued,
“Of course, Mrs Hughes isn’t her real name. That’s what she called herself when she moved into Gloomy Cottage last winter. Her real name is Babba Yagga,” and with a deep voice continued, “She was a horrid Witch with iron teeth. Did you know that she was thrown out of her little house that ran about on chicken legs in far away Russia? That was before she moved into the dark woods under Graig hill.”
“Why did she change her name?” asked Raldus, “Mrs. Hughes is a silly name for a witch.”
“It is a silly name,” agreed the princess but if they’d known her real name she would never have got into the country,” and added, “She’s been a very wicked witch indeed”
“And has she got real iron teeth?” Asked Raldus
“Yes she has and they were made in one of the biggest ironworks in Russia. This is famous for its tanks and railway engines, as well as iron teeth for the top witches throughout the world” answered the Princess.
“ Why does she want iron teeth? ” asked Raldus nervously dreading her answer.
“ To gobble up little Russian boys and now, perhaps, little Welsh boys,” she said with a hysterical laugh and she took hold of him and shook him until he was dizzy.
This was far too much for Raldus to bear and turning away from the princess, he closed his eyes tightly and feigned sleep. The princess continued, but was so engaged with her story that she was unaware that her voice was falling upon deaf ears. After a while he felt himself drifting away from her images of horror. Her voice, droning on and on, was gently receding until it seemed to be much further away than the spirits that were whispering to him from the roof. Gradually it mingled and dissolved within their hushed whispers and soon there was nothing to hear but those spirits on the roof that never stopped whispering to him........
“Soft o’er the fountain
Lingering, falls the southern moon,
Far o’er the mountain,
Breaks the day too soon”……..
This was his mother’s song. This she sang in a warm contralto voice as she worked around the house during the day. She was sad and often cried quietly to herself, but never told him why. In the evenings he loved to listen to the music played by village children who came to the bungalow for piano lessons. This was a time when, snug in the warmth of his bed, he was at peace with his little world. As the evening passed by, he would struggle to keep awake until the children finished their lessons and left for home. Then he was transposed into a magical world of sound through his mother’s playing of the music of her favourite composer- Ludwig Van Beethoven who she said was quite mad. As he listened he sometimes felt that it was the music of a madman-as angry as a raging storm one moment and gentler than the hush of falling snowflakes the next. There were clashes of thunder that made his heart leap and silvery glissandos that stretched through the skies to brush the twinkling stars that winked at him through the fluttering lace curtains of his bedside window. There was music, music everywhere and as it squeezed around him he felt himself slipping into a world of fairyland dreams devoid of elves, demons and monsters. And, there, waiting to greet him was his friend Inky Pinkie together with the omnipresent spirits whispering ever so kindly to him.
The village of Ceredin rested uneasily below the African bungalow. From his bedroom window, Raldus could see its dwellings stretching across the hilly terrain. Here and there, he was able to make out such monoliths as the Glitzy Ceredin Arms, the sombre Zoar Chapel and the ramshackle New Park farm. Another prominent landmark, scarring the landscape, was the main thoroughfare which straggled haphazardly around the village before it broke free and headed towards the Rhondda Valley. The village, itself, lacked the endearing features and rustic delights expected of a region bordering the fair ”Vale of Glamorgan”. It is a regrettable that on no occasion did this crumbling settlement follow the example of its neighbours and enter the “best kept village competition” or participate in the prolific Cymanfa Ganu festivals. Its high pinnacle of achievement seems to have passed unnoticed when it reached the final of the Vale Domino championship in 1949. Even then, its quest for fame and glory was dashed when several members of their team failed to make an appearance on the all-important night. It was remarkable that the inhabitants of this unremarkable little place were oblivious to the pervading ordinariness that cramped their very existence. It did, however, label them with something quite extraordinary that set them apart from the more active folk residing in the neighbouring communities. As far as the Ceredinites were concerned, Ceredin was their planet world set in the far-flung reaches of an uncharted galaxy- somewhere in outer space. There they lived in a blissful state of self-importance, which did not endear itself to their neighbours and was particularly alarming to new entrants and visitors. These were simply classified as intruders and faced a series of daunting hurdles before they could ever hope to achieve acceptance.
At the bottom of the steep little hill-the one part of the village that Raldus could not see from his window-lived the Denvers in an old house with its nameplate ‘Valhalla’ prominently pinned to the front door. Standing apart from the dreariness of the village it was submerged in a garden shaded by deciduous woodlands. This was home to the twins Tomos and Archibald who he knew only from the princesses’ colourful descriptions. Though her reports had been far from encouraging, he could hardly wait to meet them. But he had to admit that his interest in them had been slightly diminished by her cautionary hints, that on a bad day, they could be two little tyrants to be avoided at all costs.
“Tell me about them,” said Raldus impatiently, one day, when they were passing Valhalla.
“All I know is what Marie my friend told me,” she answered, “Marie is Mrs Denver’s skivvy. She’s not, at all, happy living there because the boys are always bullying her and their mother always takes their side.”
Determined to glean a complete picture of them Raldus fired a series of questions rolled into one and delivered at speed with one breath, “Are they older and bigger than me, are they good fighters, and what is their father like?”
The princess promptly dealt with his salvo of multi questions by means of one convoluted multi-answer,
“ Whew! What a lot of questions! She exclaimed. “Well I’ll give you a lot of answers. They are the same age as you. Tomos measures to your size but poor Archibald is a puny little mite. Marie says he’s like a rat with the sniffles. Marie likes Mr. Denver but everyone else thinks that he is a bad lot for he is forever chasing after women. He’s always done it and she didn’t blame him one bit because Mrs. Denver was such a miserable old sow. It was because of her that Valhalla was dark and gloomy. The place gives her the shivers and it was only when Mrs. Denver was off on her shopping trips that the sun penetrated through to its dark corners.”
A little while after this, the princess left him for a short holiday and one sunny morning when he was miserable and missing her company, he was surprised to hear his mother say,
“I was talking with Mrs Denver today and she would like you to meet her darling little boys-Tomos and Archibald. So we must make sure that you wash behind the ears and get you into your new grey suit. Then you’ll be ready for tea and cream cakes on their lawn.”
His mother’s use of the phrase ‘darling little boys’ worried him for he did not conceive that he would take to creatures of this description. It stood to reason that if they were darlings, they would be sissies like Pansy Potter from Mill Cottage who played with tea sets and undressed dolls. A heavy scowl enveloped his face and he frowned disapprovingly-signals his mother knew only too well.
“I don’t want to see those sissies,” he mumbled and thrust his hands deep into his pockets and stared defiantly at her.
After a little while, his mother, perceiving no movement on his part, caught him by the ear and led him painfully into the bathroom. There he was scrubbed and rubbed until his skin glowed a healthy pink. When he emerged there were tears, not of pain, but of frustration, rolling down his cheeks. Within minutes, mother and son were walking down the hill towards Valhalla. The mother strolled lightly, breathing in the pure country air and quietly humming a favourite tune. The son, assuming a sideways gait, dragged one foot behind him while he slapped the other in the gutter stream that bubbled down the hill.
When she reached the entrance to Valhalla his mother turned and was surprised to see Raldus, well back up the hill, still busily dragging and slapping his feet in the gutter. His shoes were wet and his legs and short grey trousers were spattered with streaks of yellow mud.
“God give me patience with that boy,” she murmured and added, “And I pray there’ll be no problems when the boys get together this afternoon.” This she said with little conviction for all signs pointed firmly in the direction of trouble.
Raldus, in the meantime, happily involved in his favourite pastime of construction and destruction, was unaware that their visit was not designed for his benefit. He would never have guessed that his mother had taken advantage of Mrs.Denver’s wish to get the boys together for one reason alone- to cement a relationship between herself and the most important lady in the village. She was the key that opened the door to acceptance by the most desirable of its institutions. A blessing bestowed from her self appointed position of high authority was an essential step along the rocky road of social progression.
“Well he’s not going to blow away my chances this time,” she mumurred and with hands on hips she stretched to full height and called him to her with a voice that resonated retribution. He detected warning bells and realised that he was close to breaching the limit of his dumb defiance; it was time, to postpone further protest; at least, until he was in the company of Tomos and Ratface.
When they were reunited at the dark and gloomy entrance to Valhalla, Raldus was briskly cleansed by a combination of spittle and elbow grease. This was applied by way of a grubby kerchief his mother discovered lurking in his secret pocket. With shoes, knees and trousers almost restored to their former glory, it was time to make a cautious entry into the unknown. Together they walked up the drive. His mother kept one hand firmly resting on his shoulder, while he marched forward purposefully, his exaggerated strides, scrunching loudly on the loose pebbles beneath his feet. As they reached their destination, the front door opened abruptly and a generously proportioned blond, with important bosoms, protruded from within the gloomy interior. Back in the darkness of the hall he could just make out two wriggling figures who circumnavigating the fleshy mound, darted up to him and inspected him intently at close quarters. With their expressionless eyes they continued with their close scrutiny but not a word was exchanged among them. Much to Raldus’ relief, eye contact was broken when Mrs. Denver warmly greeted her visitors. However his feeling of relief was short lived as she stooped low to welcome him with a bone crushing hug and a saliva-laden kiss. Already unfazed by the peculiar behaviour of the twins, he stepped back and almost toppled down the steps. Things were becoming very difficult for him of late he sighed. It was all very well for the princes and Mavis, the post girl, to kiss him from time to time but a sloppy soaking from this floppy woman was one kiss too far. He would have to think of a way to repulse further lunges from this potential tormentor. He would give it some thought.
As the ladies settled in the lounge, the princess’ friend Marie led the boys into the garden and left them by the side of ‘Lake Denver’-as she called it. Left to their own devices the twins, maintaining strict silence, resumed their detailed examination of him. He became increasingly uneasy, and began to wonder if he possessed some facial disfigurement that was of particular interest to them. He could put up with their soulless stares, but it was the eerie silence that worried him. Unable to think of a suitable verbal opening he picked up a flat stone, and sent it skimming it along the smooth surface of ‘Lake Denver’. This ‘cracked the ice’ and Tomos reacted with a refined but squeaky voice
“I can do more than that. I can make sixteen bounces,” he cried and took aim with a stone, chunky and jagged, which flopped in the water after two paltry bounces.
“I made seven,” said Raldus modestly, and graciously offered a little advice, “You only did two because you chose the wrong shape stone and didn’t throw it hard enough.”
“You can’t count wheedled Ratface” who selected a missile of more suitable design, and hurled it with all his might into the water where it sank without registering a single bounce.
Raldus was pleased by the way events were progressing. Even at that early stage of their relationship, it was clear to him that he was establishing a modest degree of supremacy over the strange boys. He had, already, demonstrated his superiority in the delicate art of water skimming and had generously offered them appropriate advice to improve their technique. He reasoned that if he was to acquire the role of instructor; he would soon qualify as leader of a gang of three. And in this position he would command his small force in many fantastical adventures around shores of Lake Denver. There, together, they would do battle and show no mercy to the monsters lurking in the gloomy forests that shrouded Valhalla. He could only contemplate a relationship with them under these terms- he would be the undisputed leader.
Unfortunately his dreams of totalitarian glory were rudely shattered when Ratface, deeply annoyed by his failure to make his mark as a “ducks and drakes” expert, embarked on a course of unbridled violence. Sniffing and jabbering he hurled his second stone, this time, straight at Raldus’ head. He ducked and the stone neatly removed a decorative windowpane from the Victorian conservatory. Regretting yet another failure, he gave a loud cry and charged Raldus with the specific aim of butting him in the breadbasket. Raldus easily avoided his blind onslaught and assisted the unfortunate traveller on his way with a neat tap to the ankle. The once peaceful garden echoed to a cry of frustration as he lost balance, to what was a good old-fashioned ankle tap and, after a hop skip and a jump, plunged into the muddy shallows of ‘Lake Denver.’ The splash soaked Tomos and Raldus to the skin, but their plight was nothing compared with that which befell Ratface. He lay there, partly submerged, in the agitated soup of mud and decaying vegetation while a stream of bubbles navigated around his still form to disturb the surface with gentle plopping sounds. After a while the dripping Ratface staggered to his feet and, subsequent to two further plunges, clambered on to dry land. By then his horrified mother, wobbling with anxiety, was hurrying towards him. Unfortunately for her, she tripped over another of the accursed tree roots to take her turn in the mud bath. Raldus felt that the afternoon’s events had reached an interesting stage but did not believe, for one moment, that he had contributed to the series of disasters that had occurred. He reflected that the ankle tap was his only act of participation but that could be fully justified on the grounds of self-defence.
Mrs. Denver, though physically powerful and blessed with rude health, was of a neurotic disposition, and could easily be provoked into bouts of irrational behaviour. In the light of the afternoon’s developments, it would be easy to conclude that the earlier exhibition of extraordinary behaviour by her son was no more than a hereditary trait- something to be expected of a small chip from a dominant block. This hypothesis was given credence when she, emerging from Lake Denver with her dripping offspring, grabbed Raldus and shook him until he felt his eyeballs loosening. His mother, who until then had stayed away from the firing line, intervened and tried to drag him away from the demented woman. As the two women pulled his body in opposite directions, he feared that he was about to divide into two portions. There had to be a way to induce at least one of the protagonists to release her grip and in desperation he relieved the situation by aiming his second kick of the day- this time into the fleshy Denver backside. Though his foot was small, this was no gentle tap and it hurt. White with fury she loosened her hold and chased after him with murder in her eyes. But handicapped by her bulk, she was unable to recapture her quarry and he slipped beneath her grasping hands. He raced away and hared out of Valhalla to the relative safety of the hill that lead to the African bungalow. Having lost her prisoner Mrs. Denver, who was waving her arms like a hysterical windmill, rounded on his mother.She stood her ground and did her best to pacify the raging lady.
At this point one may reflect that the little village of Ceredin, though insignificant in so many ways, had always been regarded as a haven of peace and tranquillity. It had, within living memory, never experienced a riot-that was until the fatal meeting between Raldus and the Denver twins. It may well have been a small riot; but the racket made by two muddy little boys and their muddier mother, screaming hysterical abuse up the hill at the indignant escapee, attracted a voluble audience of neighbours. As they took sides, applauding and jeering their chosen champions, Raldus noticed that it was his opponents who attracted the greatest share of catcalls and jeers. This pleased him and he was reminded of the princess’ story of the battle between David and Goliath. He imagined himself as David while the Denver woman was, without doubt, the bullying Goliath awaiting her demise. However, the distracted lady came to her senses and retrieved her decorum quickly when she spotted Dai Smith, the Ceredin news hound, approaching them with notebook and pencil at the ready. In the heat of the afternoon’s events, the unfortunate lady had summarily forgotten that, as the prominent member of local society, she owed herself the duty to appear to her public in the best possible light at all times. In realisation of this and sober in defeat she sobbed quietly with frustration and, gathering her soiled off springs to her bosom, disappeared into the anonymity of Valhalla.
The creatures of the air were quick to sense a return to normality at Valhalla and, once again, the busy droning of bees combined with the songs of the blackbirds and garden warblers graced its woodland. The field of battle was free for them to reclaim and enjoy. Its disruptive elements, the Denvers were safely entombed in the gloomy house where they could reflect on their various misfortunes. At the same time Raldus and his mother were returning by way of the steep little hill to the relative sanity of the cool African bungalow. His mother was disappointed by the way things had turned out, but believed the blame lay squarely on the shoulders of the two strange little boys that lived within the shadows of Valhalla.
As they arrived at the gate to the bungalow, Raldus still smouldering with resentment, spoke to his mother in heated terms,
“The princess told me that the twins were bullies and that Mrs Denver was an old sow who made everyone feel they were waiting to have their teeth pulled out” and added “She’s more of a witch than Babba Yagga and I told you that I did’nt want to go down to see them!!”
His mother smiled, and secretly agreed with him but fell short of telling him so. Instead she gave him his best news of the day.
“They’re a bit of a handful but don’t worry your little head about them. Your princess will be back with you next week and you can forget all about them.
Overall it had been a satisfactory day and he felt that he had coped very well with each tricky situation as it came his way. The clashes of personality, the battles, the site of his adversaries in damp discomfiture cheered him no end and there was the bonus of the princesses’ return. What a story he would have to tell her and his friend Henry Harry.