Category Archives: Childhood

“Hunger, filth, fear and death”: remembering life before the NHS


I came across the following article, by following a link posted on Facebook. It was published in the New Statesman, on 31st October, 2014 and, after reading it, I was so very saddened to realise that, once again, through the machinations of the ‘ruling’ classes, the UK has, in 2019, found itself in such a similar situation to that of Harry Smith, as he grew up in the 1920’s, that I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at the sheer waste of time, that so many people fought, strived, and died through, in order to make life better for themselves and their families and friends 😦

Once again, almost a century after Harry’s birth, there are countless people here in the UK, living in gruelling poverty – with Child Poverty at an all-time high since the Welfare State began – and it’s all due to the greed and corruption of the same class of people who, through their constant lies and deceit, have turned our country from the safe place I grew up in, into a similar scenario to Harry Smith’s early life 😦

Read his account and, if you can’t see the similarities, then you must be part of the problem 😦

Harry Leslie Smith, a 91-year-old RAF veteran born into an impoverished mining family, recalls a Britain without a welfare state.
  By Harry Leslie Smith

Over 90 years ago, I was born in Barnsley, Yorkshire, to a working-class family. Poverty was as natural to us as great wealth and power were to the aristocracy of that age. Like his father and grandfather before him, my dad, Albert, eked out a meagre existence as a miner, working hundreds of feet below the surface, smashing the rock face with a pickaxe, searching for coal.

Hard work and poor wages didn’t turn my dad into a radical. They did, however, make him an idealist, because he believed that a fair wage, education, trade unions and universal suffrage were the means to a prosperous democracy. He endured brutal working conditions but they never hardened his spirit against his family or his comrades in the pits. Instead, the harsh grind of work made his soul as gentle as a beast of burden that toiled in desolate fields for the profit of others.

My mother, Lillian, however, was made of sterner stuff. She understood that brass, not love, made the world go round. So when a midwife with a love of gin and carbolic soap delivered me safely on a cold winter’s night in February 1923 into my mum’s exhausted arms, I was swaddled in her rough-and-ready love, which toughened my skin with a harsh affection. I was the first son but I had two elder sisters who had already skinned their knees and elbows in the mad fight to stay alive in the days before the social safety network. Later on, our family would include two half-brothers, after my mother was compelled to look for a more secure provider than my dad during the Great Depression.

By the time I was weaned from my mother’s breast, I had begun to learn the cruel lessons that the world inflicted on its poor. At the age of seven, my eldest sister, Marion, contracted tuberculosis, which was a common and deadly disease for those who lived hand to mouth in early-20th-century Britain. Her illness was directly spawned from our poverty, which forced us to live in a series of fetid slums.

Despite being a full-time worker, my dad was always one pay packet away from destitution. Several times, my family did midnight flits and moved from one decre­pit single-bedroom tenement to the next. Yet we never seemed to move far from the town’s tip, a giant wasteland stacked with rotting rubbish, which became a playground for preschool children.

At the beginning of my life, affordable health care was out of reach for much of the population. A doctor’s visit could cost the equivalent of half a week’s wages, so most people relied on good fortune rather than medical advice to see them safely through an illness. But luck and guile went only so far and many lives were snatched away before they had a chance to start. The wages of the ordinary worker were at a mere subsistence level and therefore medicine or simple rest was out of the question for many people.

Unfortunately for my sister, luck was also in short supply in our household. Because my parents could neither afford to see a consultant nor send my sister to a sanatorium, Marion’s TB spread and infected her spine, leaving her an invalid.

****

The 1926 General Strike, which began just as my sister started her slow and painful journey from life to death, was about more than wages to my dad and many others. It was called by the TUC in protest against mine owners who were using strong-arm tactics to force their workers to accept longer work hours for less take-home pay. At its start, it involved 1.7 million industrialised workers.

In essence, the strike was about the right of all people, regardless of their economic station, to live a dignified and meaningful life. My father joined it with enthusiasm, because he believed that all workers, from tram drivers to those who dug ore, deserved a living wage. But for my father the strike  was also about the belief that he might be able to right the wrongs done to him and his family; if only he had more money in his pay packet, he might have been able to afford decent health care for all of us.

Unfortunately, the General Strike was crushed by the government, which first bullied TUC members to return to their work stations. Eight months later, it did the same to the miners whose communities had been beggared by being on the pickets for so long. My dad and his workmates had to accept wage cuts.

I remember my sister’s pain and anguish during her final weeks of life in October 1926. I’d play beside her in our parlour, which was as squalid as an animal pen, while she lay on a wicker landau, tied down by ropes to prevent her from falling to the ground while unattended. When Marion’s care became too much for my mother to endure, she was sent to our neighbourhood workhouse, which had been imprisoning the indigent since the days of Charles Dickens.

The workhouse where Marion died was a large, brick building less than a mile from our living quarters. Since it had been designed as a prison for the poor, it had few windows and had a high wall surrounding it. When my sister left our house and was transported there on a cart pulled by an old horse, my mum and dad told my other sister and me to wave goodbye, because Marion was going to a better place than here.

The workhouse was not used only as a prison for those who had been ruined by poverty; it also had a primitive infirmary attached to it, where the poor could receive limited medical attention. Perhaps the only compassion the place allowed my parents was permission to visit their daughter to calm her fears of death.

My sister died behind the thick, limestone walls at the age of ten, and perhaps the only compassion the place allowed my parents was permission to visit their daughter to calm her fears of death. As we didn’t have the money to give her a proper burial, Marion was thrown into a communal grave for those too poor to matter. Since then, the pauper’s pit has been replaced by a dual carriageway.

****

Some historians have called the decade of my birth “the Roaring Twenties” but for most it was a long death rattle. Wages were low, rents were high and there was little or no job protection as a result of a postwar recession that had gutted Britain’s industrial heartland. When the Great Depression struck Britain in the 1930s, it turned our cities and towns into a charnel house for the working class, because they had no economic reserves left to withstand prolonged joblessness and the ruling class believed that benefits led to fecklessness.

Even now, when I look back to those gaslight days of my boyhood and youth, all I can recollect is hunger, filth, fear and death. My mother called those terrible years for our family, our friends and our nation a time when “hard rain ate cold Yorkshire stone for its tea”.

I will never forget seeing as a teenager the faces of former soldiers who had been broken physically and mentally during the Great War and were living rough in the back alleys of Bradford. Their faces were haunted not by the brutality of the war but by the savagery of the peace. Nor will I forget as long as I shall live the screams that fell out of dosshouse windows from the dying and mentally ill, who were denied medicine and solace because they didn’t have the money to pay for medical services.

Like today, those tragedies were perpetuated by a coalition government preaching that the only cure for our economic troubles was a harsh austerity, which promised to right Britain’s finances through the sacrifice of its lowest-paid workers. When my dad got injured, the dole he received was ten shillings a week. My family, like millions of others, were reduced to beggary. In the 1930s, the government believed that private charities were more suitable for providing alms for those who had been ruined in the Great Depression.

Austerity in the 1930s was like a pogrom against Britain’s working class. It blighted so many lives through preventable ailments caused by malnutrition, as well as thwarting ordinary people’s aspirations for a decent life by denying them housing, full- time employment or a proper education.

As Britain’s and my family’s economic situation worsened in the 1930s, we upped sticks from Barnsley to Bradford in the hope that my father might find work. But there were too many adults out of work and jobs were scarce, so he never found full-time employment again. We lived in dosshouses. They were cheap, sad places filled with people broken financially and emotionally. Since we had no food, my mum had me indentured to a seedy off-licence located near our rooming house. At the age of seven, I became a barrow boy and delivered bottles of beer to the down-and-outs who populated our neighbourhood.

My family were nomads. We flitted from one dosshouse to the next, trying to keep ahead of the rent collector. We moved around the slums of Bradford and when we had outstayed our welcome there, we moved on to Sowerby Bridge, before ending up in Halifax. As I grew up, my schooling suffered; I had to work to keep my sister, my mum and half-brothers fed. At the age of ten, I was helping to deliver coal and by my teens, I started work as a grocer’s assistant. At 17, I had been promoted to store manager. However, at the age of 18, the Second World War intervened in whatever else I had planned for the rest of my life. I volunteered to join the RAF.

****

My politics was forged in the slums of Yorkshire but it was in the summer of 1945, at the age of 22, that I finally felt able to exorcise the misery of my early days. In that long ago July, I was a member of the RAF stationed in Hamburg; a city left ruined and derelict by war. I had been a member of the air force since 1941 but my war had been good, because I had walked away from it without needing so much as a plaster for a shaving nick. At its end, my unit had been seconded to be part of the occupational forces charged with rebuilding a German society gutted by Hitler and our bombs.

It was in the palm of that ravaged city that I voted in Britain’s first general election since the war began. As I stood to cast my ballot in the heat of that summer, I joked with my mates, smoked Player’s cigarettes and stopped to look out towards a shattered German skyline. I realised then that this election was momentous because it meant that a common person, like me, had a chance of changing his future.

So it seemed only natural and right that I voted for a political party that saw health care, housing and education as basic human rights for all of its citizens and not just the well-to-do. When I marked my X on the ballot paper, I voted for all those who had died, like my sister, in the workhouse; for men like my father who had been broken beyond repair by the Great Depression; and for women like my mum who had been tortured by grief over a child lost through unjust poverty. And I voted for myself and my right to a fair and decent life.

I voted for Labour and the creation of the welfare state and the NHS, free for all its users. And now, nearly 70 years later, I fear for the future of my grandchildren’s generation, because Britain’s social welfare state is being dismantled brick by brick.

****

My life didn’t really begin until the end of the Second World War. I fell in love with Friede, a German woman, whom I married and brought home to Halifax. My wife gave me emotional stability while the welfare state gave me economic stability. When I was demobbed, I didn’t have many prospects, except using my brawn over my brain. I took factory jobs while my wife and I studied at night school. But I am forever grateful for the foundation of the NHS, because it allowed my wife to receive first-rate treatment for the PTSD she acquired by having witnessed both the atrocities of the Nazis and the firebombing of Hamburg, which killed 50,000 people in three nights of intense RAF bombing in 1943.

My experiences of growing up in Britain before the NHS, when one’s health was determined by one’s wealth, and after 1948, when free health care was seen as a cornerstone for a healthy economy and democracy, convinced me that it was my duty to share my family experiences at this year’s Labour party conference. I agreed to speak about the NHS because I know there are few people left who can remember that brutal time before the welfare state, when life for many was short and cruel. I felt that I owed it to my sister Marion, whose life was cut short by extreme poverty and poor health care, along with all of those other victims of a society that protected the rich and condemned the poor to miserable lives. In many ways, making that speech freed me from the suffering of my youth. 

* * * * * * * *

Harry Leslie Smith is the author of a memoir: “Harry’s Last Stand: How the World My Generation Built is Falling Down and What We Can Do to Save it” (Icon Books, £8.99) 

* * * * * * * *

Harry Leslie Smith is a survivor of the Great Depression, a Second World War RAF veteran and an activist for the poor and for the preservation of social democracy. He has authored numerous books about Britain during the Great Depression, the Second World War, and post-war austerity. Join Harry on Twitter @Harryslaststand.

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Filed under Austerity, Benefits, Budget Cuts, Catastrophe, Changes, Childhood, Choices, Collapse of the NHS, Degraded Public Services, Deprivation, Despair, Divide and Rule, Eugenics, Homelessness, Human Rights, Impoverishment, Injustice, Low Wages, Self-interest, skewed presentation of events, Starvation of Resources, Tory Cuts, Tory Lies, Tragedy, Underfunding, Welfare Cuts, Workhouse

This is the main reason that I left the Jehovah’s Witnesses . . .

I read this post by JWVICTIMS.org and, having looked up the scriptures myself, I had to agree with the reasoning made.

Even when I first found out about the paedophilia problem within the Jehovah’s Witnesses, world-wide, and that the governing body were using the 2-Witness rule to counter any accusations made by a child, I couldn’t understand their insistence on using the Letter of the Law as an excuse!

Jesus taught us that people should always come first, and children should be especially protected, and this is what sickened me the most, when I was told that I should ‘Leave it to Jehovah’ to sort out the problem – and, far too many months onwards, the governing body is still using this excuse to cover their own blood guilt at protecting the paedophiles, while allowing children to suffer unnecessarily!

Every week, more half-truths and obfuscations*are spouted by these so-called ‘Men of God’, in defense of the indefensable, and it’s about time they were called out on it.

They consistently tell all the Witnesses that the ‘World’ is bad, and playing politics is even worse, but they are the best Politicians I’ve ever seen – well, they can certainly lie as well as every Tory Politician I’ve been hearing for the last 7 years!

Instead of hiding away in their multi-million pound compound (paid for by every Jehovah’s Witness who has ever given money, property, jewellery and anything else of value, over the years), maybe they should be doing as Jesus did, and protect the defenseless children in their Halls, by acknowledging that it’s a rare thing indeed, for a paedophile to allow a witness to his (or, indeed, her) crime!

Please click on the link, and read the post – you should find it interesting!

via: Allow Me to Disprove Watchtower’s “Two Witness” Policy Using Jesus, Some Grain, and a Withered Hand

*(Wikipedia: Obfuscation is the obscuring of the intended meaning of communication by making the message difficult to understand, usually with confusing and ambiguous language. The obfuscation might be either unintentional or intentional (although intent usually is connoted), and is accomplished with circumlocution (talking around the subject), the use of jargon (technical language of a profession), and the use of an argot (ingroup language) of limited communicative value to outsiders.)

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Filed under Child Abuse, Childhood, Choices, Faith, Human Rights, Politics

This is a New Me . . .

. . and I really don’t know how I’m developing as yet.

 

I spent too many years listening to some men in New York, telling me that I should have nothing to do with the World, and not enough time learning about everything happening around me – and then I woke up, after learning that those men in New York were more interested in protecting paedophiles, than the children they were supposed to be protecting!

It was quite a wake up call!

Then, before I could turn around, the UK was calling for a referendum, to decide whether to stay in the EU or not and, as it happens, because of a campaign of lies and deceit (on both sides, I have to add), the votes went with the Leave party – and what a can of worms that opened!

 

Now, when we joined the EU, I was just a young child, and all I recall about that, was my Mum up in arms, because the EU had decided that cucumbers, or bananas, or something of that nature, needed to be straighter (I may have misheard this, of course, but you get the picture, I hope?) and, suddenly, my pocket-money was given in Monopoly money, and I couldn’t buy as much as I used to with it! Lol

Fast forward all those years, where the EU and I were quite comfortable with each other (well, all right, I was comfortable with the EU – I don’t suppose it knows I’m alive! Lol) and I’ve been reading a ton of words about how things should have been, how they may be and, frankly, how nobody knows anything, but it’ll work out okay, won’t it?

Through all the last few weeks, I’ve been trying to learn what I can about those characters who are considered the movers and shakers – aka, our MP’s – because I was going to be voting – something I hadn’t done since the year I turned 18, and voted for a woman as, surely, a woman couldn’t make any worse a hash of things as the men have done – can she?

😦

Anyway, I was reading, and reading, and getting seriously depressed at the dearth of choices we have for our Prime Minister, only to find that the choices have got ever smaller (please, God, don’t let it be Gove!)

Anyway, reading about the various party leaders, I was interested in what was said about Jeremy Corbyn. All I knew was that the Media, and practically every opposition MP, were having a real pop at him but, rather than putting me off the guy, the fact that he seemed to be universally hated by everyone who has had a hand in making the mess we’re in right now, decided me to try to find out what he was trying to achieve.

I was pleasantly surprised:)

After the 172 Labour MP’s tried to stage a coup against Jeremy Corbyn, I expected him to be forced into resigning, as so many politicians had done before him – but, no, he stuck around, and continued to promise the Labour Grass Roots that, if he did ever become Prime Minister, he would do his best to bring things around to the way they should be, where Labour will be about the people who voted for them.

I would love to see a Labour Party that really protects those that need it, whether through illness, disability, through age, or because jobs are presently few and far between.

We need a party that will deliver on their promises of public ownership of resources, rather than selling everything off to private companies with no accountability; we need our NHS back up to scratch, with more training places given free to local people who want to work as our future doctors and nurses; we need to be building more homes for those people who, through no fault of their own, can’t, and never will be able to, afford to buy their own and, as a consequence of that building work, they will generate more jobs! We need a party that will make taxes fair for everyone – including making the super-rich companies, presently hiding behind unfair tax laws, cough up what they owe to a country that has provided their work forces, their raw materials in a lot of cases, and the land that the buildings they occupy stand on!

We also need to put a stop to the awful xenophobia currently splashing its way around the country – and this a country that has been made up of practically every nation in Europe, from the distant past, to the present day – plus all those Commonwealth countries, that were forcibly put under the yoke of the British Empire, had all their wealth stolen away, and were forced into slavery, to help make a few Elite even wealthier than they already were!

I digress!

Anyway, if Jeremy Corbyn can get the Labour Party turned back to its original purposes, and can then help to protect us all from the idealogically-driven ideas of this present lot, then we may actually get back some of that spirit that drove the working man to better his lot in the first place – not by climbing over the bleeding backs of others to get only what we want, but standing on the shoulders of those who came before them, with the dream of making life  – maybe not easier, but certainly better than it’s been for at least the last few decades.

Maybe I’m a dreamer, but I’d love to see our MP’s get away from seeing themselves as Career Politicians, or as a way to line their pockets with whatever they can squeeze out of an unaware electorate – and I mean that for every Party!

I would love to see the Politician doing the job they are paid for – protecting the rights of the people of this country, no matter what race, colour, or creed they happen to be!

I guess time will tell, but I hope that, in the meantime, someone will work out what we’re going to actually do about the pickle we’re in at the moment!

 

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Filed under Changes, Childhood, Choices, Disability Issues, Faith, Human Rights, Ideology, Politics, Reading

Shana Rae’s Challenge

I was looking at Shana Rae’s Blog earlier on: Shana Rae’s Books, and she wrote a challenge to her readers: To look at two pictures, and see what we could come up with from them.
I normally get my inspiration by just typing whatever comes into my mind – a sort-of stream-of-conscience writing, where odd ideas will pop into my mind as I write, but I have occasionally used pictures, mostly when I write poetry, so I thought I’d give it a go to write a very short story 🙂

 

Room 02

A breath of wind stirred the layers of dust as the door reluctantly opened. The squeal of  the hinges showed the years of neglect, and it seemed to Laura as if there were a miasma of gloom darkening a room that, in other circumstances, and long ago, had once been bright with lights and merriment.

As she looked around the ruins of her past, she sighed in despair, not knowing where to start first. The once loved glass-fronted cupboards, that had held the history of her family, were now gaping wide, some of them bereft of glass, and all of them covered with the neglect of ages. It seemed that people had sheltered in the house, and they had cared nothing for what the room had once been. She saw that some of the frames had been broken to use as kindling in the large stone fireplace that, in wintertime, had constantly held the warmth and light needed to chase away the cold.

Laura slowly walked into the room, and gingerly perched on a chair left abandoned in the middle of the room. It sat besides a round table, that held a few of the books that had been taken from the cupboards – at least these hadn’t been used for keeping a fire going, nor left strewn across the floor like the detritus of the ages!

Laura looked at the books, and realised that they were actually some of her favourite ones from childhood. The fairy tales written in them had been read to her by her parents at bedtime – a much-loved action that immediately brought back to her the sound of their voices, the laughter as her father deliberately changed the stories to suit them to her own wishes. She remembered those times, when her little family had spent long winter evenings  in front of the fire and, at Christmas, when the tree glittered with decorations, and piles of presents sat expectantly under it, just waiting for Christmas morning when they would all open just one present each, until her grandparents arrived for dinner. She remembered how even her grandparents would pile into the presents, excited as children themselves…….

Room 01

But those times were dead and gone, and Laura knew they would never come back again. She put down the book she had been holding while her memories played back to her, and sighed a weary sigh. She knew she had a lot to sort out if the house was to be made saleable, and sitting, thinking of a past long dead and buried, wasn’t helping it get done.

Brushing the dust from the book from her hands, Laura stood up again, and with a determined stride, she walked out of the room, ready to get the cleaning things needed to sort out those dusty old memories.

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Filed under Celebrations, Childhood, Choices, Family, History, Memories, Short Story

Nothing to declare . . .

I don’t know why, but I’m feeling terribly guilty at not writing as regularly as usual on this blog – as if I’m playing truant from school! 


I don’t think that’s something that I ever actually did as a child, as I’ve always loved learning (mind you, school itself was always a trial to me, as I was such a bookworm, and a real loner).


Thinking back, as a child living in London, one of the few occasions when Mum sent us along to a summer school (I think she’d got thoroughly fed up of having so many energetic children underfoot that year! Lol), I did play hooky for the day, with my cousin Paul, and Mum knew, almost to the moment, when we had left the building, and where we had gone for the day!


As children, we believed her when she said that she had eyes at the back of her head, but what she did actually have, was an extremely efficient network of friends. 


Mum knew absolutely anyone worth knowing in our neck of the woods in Willesden, and we always seemed to have a huge amount of aunts and uncles – those deemed close enough friends that these honorifics were apt, as they were like real family to us.


Coming from a big family (6 girls & 1 boy, plus 2 who didn’t make it past babyhood), and with a father who was the baby of 16 children, we were used to always being surrounded by hordes of people, and I learned early on to be able to read, and do my homework, despite the noise and bustle. 


If it wasn’t people talking, laughing, joking, or playing about, then there was always music being played, either from our little transistor radios, (in rather garish colours and very much prized as our latest Christmas presents in the 70’s – mine was florescent orange! {grin}), or on my parent’s Grundig Radiogram, where mum would pile on all her favourite LP’s – normally Irish or Country & Western, and she and her best friend Eileen (Oh, I do miss you, dear lady!), would sit with teacups in one hand, and cigarettes in the other, and sing along at the top of their voices, or just reminisce about the dances they’d gone to, before all the children arrived.


At times the noise would get too much for me, especially if I’d just got back from yet another hospital visit, and I’d creep upstairs to the bedroom  I shared with my 3 older sisters, and I’d get into bed, and snuggle down under the covers with whichever book was gripping my attention at the time. I think I was the only one in my family who looked forward to bedtime and, at one point, would be in bed by 6 O’Clock on a lovely summer’s evening, just for the short space of peace and quiet I got! {grin}


It’s an interesting thing, to look back on your childhood, isn’t it? 
Very often, if I mentioned a particular incident in our shared childhood, each of my family would tell it from their own viewpoint – and, more often than not, their memories would bear only a slight resemblance to my own recollections. 
I’ve always understood why the police on TV had trouble getting witness statements straightened out. If a murder was committed in a locked room, with 10 people watching, you’d get 10 different viewpoints as to what actually happened!


Memory’s a strange thing, and mine’s gone from excellent recall, to muddled memories now, due to illness and medications – but the further I look back, the clearer my memories become – is that a sign of age, do you think? {grin}





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Filed under Childhood, Memories, Reading

Peter Pan – the lost boy



We are dealing with Peter Pan at this point of our module and, due to my fluctuating health, I’m way behind everyone else. This panicked me for a while, but I realised that I’ve got all this holiday break to be able to catch up. 
Yet another reason to be grateful that I stepped away from all the madness of this season! Lol


It’s been really interesting to read the critics about Peter Pan, and my eyes have been opened to a lot more aspects concerning both the play, and it’s creator, J. M. Barrie.


My whole experience of Peter Pan, had been the story read to me as a child, and then learning to read it myself, and then I saw the 2003 film after it was released. These didn’t prepare me for reading the original play script, and it amazed me how differently it was conceived by it’s author, and how the passing of time has changed the aspects of it’s viewing.


I’ve a feeling that the Disney viewpoint is a much more powerful one to children today although, as it was originally written as a pantomime, and now enjoys a repeat performance as such every winter, that is something fixable – although I suspect that there are a lot more children familiar with the film than have ever had a chance to see the play!


At the beginning of this block in the module, we dealt with a whole section on poetry, and I was reunited with quite a few of my childhood favourites, in the book needed for the module, 100 Best Poems.
One of the poems, The Fairies, written by William Allingham in 1850, is one that I need to use in my next TMA and, on reading it, I could see why it was being used for comparison and contrast with Peter Pan. I’m very much looking forward to using it, as it immediately caught my attention:


      The Fairies

Up the airy mountain
Down the rushy glen,
We daren't go a-hunting,
For fear of little men;
Wee folk, good folk,
Trooping all together;
Green jacket, red cap,
And white owl's feather.
Down along the rocky shore
Some make their home,
They live on crispy pancakes
Of yellow tide-foam;
Some in the reeds
Of the black mountain-lake,
With frogs for their watch-dogs,
All night awake.

High on the hill-top
The old King sits;
He is now so old and gray
He's nigh lost his wits.
With a bridge of white mist
Columbkill he crosses,
On his stately journeys
From Slieveleague to Rosses;
Or going up with music,
On cold starry nights,
To sup with the Queen,
Of the gay Northern Lights.

They stole little Bridget
For seven years long;
When she came down again
Her friends were all gone.
They took her lightly back
Between the night and morrow;
They thought she was fast asleep,
But she was dead with sorrow.
They have kept her ever since
Deep within the lake,
On a bed of flag leaves,
Watching till she wake.

By the craggy hill-side,
Through the mosses bare,
They have planted thorn trees
For pleasure here and there.
Is any man so daring
As dig them up in spite?
He shall find the thornies set
In his bed at night.

Up the airy mountain
Down the rushy glen,
We daren't go a-hunting,
For fear of little men;
Wee folk, good folk,
Trooping all together;
Green jacket, red cap,
And white owl's feather.
        William Allingham (1850)

With the themes of fairies, magic, and abductions, it's a good poem to use, and I look forward to doing so 🙂

One poem I discovered in the book, was  Blake's 'Tyger, Tyger Burning Bright' - a poem that fascinated me as a child, and which I still love today, so it was fortunate that I had to buy the book for the module - it was so comforting to be reunited with a childhood memory! 🙂




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Filed under Childhood, Memories, Poetry, Studying

My TMA is finished, and sent! :)



I was really relieved to see the back of my TMA during the week, and I don’t think I’ve worked as hard on one as I did this – much to the bemusement of my hubby who, while used to my absentmindedness during TMA time, had it in spades this time!


Because I’ve spent the last two years dealing with Creative Writing courses, I’d got out of the habit of writing a purely literary essay, and so I was double, and triple, checking everything to make sure it was as exact as I could make it – especially the referencing at the end!


This meant more concentration, which meant more tiredness for me, with my health problems, and my hubby often came into the room to find me fast asleep in front of the laptop. Lol


But, it’s all over and done with now, so I have a week or so to wait and see how well, or not, I’ve done with it. 🙂


In the meantime, it’s on to Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, and Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson.

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Filed under Childhood, Health Issues, Reading, Studying, TMA's