The last full moon was amazing. It was most spectacular around 5:30, as it was just beginning to rise above a sweep of dark trees.

A Maxfield Parrish moon if ever I saw one. Like one of the lanterns from his Lantern Bearers’ painting. Sensual apricot. I imagined it as a gift from an old fruit tree, dropping ripe into the sky.

Or a kid’s ball, faded by so much kicking against the neighbour’s wall, slowly rising to the net of stars in the sky.


How to measure a Cheshire grin

Here’s some advice for writers that a local greengrocer once imparted to me.

“When you get those fresh parsnips home, the best thing you can do to them is put ’em in a brown bag and hide them in a cupboard. Everyone these days wants frozen food. Easier to defrost. All it takes is a microwave, a nimble index finger, and you have your supper all ready. Can’t I interest you instead in a flageolet? You can play it with only four fingers leaving your opposable thumbs for better work.”

To which I bashfully replied, “Don’t you mean a green kidney bean?”

And the greengrocer replied. “Hell no! It’s the green kidney beans of this world who are stealing the wind from us all.”

The record of a splendid exploit

Sometimes I can’t get over that I actually witnessed Lady Godiva ride through Coventry.

Afterwards Thorold of Bucknall and I went back to drawing doodles in the Domesday Book. We were unhappy since there was one swine who had escaped our survey.

He was a wily pig. He constantly outwitted our pursuit, but we needed him to complete the survey. It was unfinished without him.

To begin with he sailed the ocean blue in 1492. On arriving in the New World he traded with the Indians who discovered that you can’t make a silk purse from a sow’s ear.

Hot on his trail, he rode from town to town railing, “The British are coming!”

Then he found passage to Ireland and ate all the spuds, causing a terrible famine. From there he ended up on a slave ship bound for Liverpool.

He once more gave us the slip by catching passage to the South and hid himself by picking cotton on a plantation. And he got cleverer as he got older, booking passage on the first transatlantic flight with Lindbergh. I even heard that Charles almost called his aircraft the Spirit of St. Swine.

From there it was a quick trot to Sarajevo for the assassination of the Archduke.

He might have continued to elude us if it wasn’t for the Mustard Gas. It got him on Jan 1, nineteen hundred and eighteen. He was found dressed and with an apple in his mouth. The Tommies he’d gotten to know were very sad to see him go. But they’d eaten stiff horse for the last three days and pig was so much better.

That’s entertainment

I see myself as a spoon. Cocked on the half shell. A little dollop of something sweet in my concave brightness. A couple bent prongs at my head. A sharp knife below my belt. Two very curvaceous beauties full of heady stuff at my elbows. A plate of vices with a sprig of thyme. A napkin in case I shed tears. A candlestick to shove up my enemy’s orifice. A little prawn cocktail to dance with when the butler’s having his way with the Chinese figurines. A pair of nimble fingers when I need to fondle. A lap to fall into and never get used again. Used so ungratefully by mouths. So many mouths all wanting me. I’m up against palate after palate. And the tongues! oh, the tongues. And then there’s always a bastard who comes in and clears the table. Puts me in a drawer will all the other spoons. And I find out I’m not different. I’m like all the rest. And it’s then I wish I was a runcible.

Needful things

William: Mrs. Blake, any chance of a little divinity tonight?

Mrs. Blake…………….

William: (Louder) Mrs. Blake, any chance of a little divinity tonight?

(The sound of a kettle boiling on a stove.)

William: Ow! Bloody engraver’s now gone and disfigured Job. What will become of my close dark Harmony of Light and Shade?

Mrs. Blake: Mr. Blake, are you having visions again?

William: No yet. But I feel that I might if we wander up to the chamber.

Mrs. Blake: (Standing in the doorjamb dressed only in a nightgown) Mr. Blake, would you like to pray now?

William: By the spirit of Flea, I would, Mrs. Blake.

Mrs. Blake: Then blow out the candle.

(William blows out the candle. They climb the rickety stairs in the dark.)

William: Should we do it on our Knees or can we do it Standing up like we did the last time Mrs. Blake?

Mrs Blake: Oh, William, you are worse than Los and the Eternal Prophet. You know I like to do it under the sheets.

I’m down by law and I know my way around

This is how my mornings begin.

On waking, little Thom Thumb climbs out of his matchbox, strikes a match, and burns down the whole neighbourhood.

When the fire engines arrives, he is prepared.

He has lured three blind mice and a drunken Little Miss Moppet to the scorched remains. And in Moppet’s hand, he has gently placed the smoking match.

The rest is a fairy tale better left to adults.

Another love story

So today I was thinking about the duck that I grew up with. I don’t know his stock. Don’t have to. But I do remember his breed.

He lived with the chickens whose eggs we regularly pilfered for our table. He would waddle about their pecking like an aristocrat among rustics. I loved to watch him slurp water.

My mum abhorred the idea of clipping the chickens’ wings, so when they got to scratch around the garden, they did it on trust — my mum trusted that they’d never fly away, and, being chickens, they didn’t. Instead they strutted around the garden as if my mum’s trust had given the fowl dignity.

Not the duck, however. He, too , didn’t have his wings clipped. Which was a blunder of my mum’s leniency. She thought our mallard would follow the status quo. That he would shuffle among the dandelions, chained to earth by her invisible convictions.

But he was such a rebel. Every opportunity he got he’d spread his wings and fly away.

I loved it and was complicit in his misdeed. Would smirk each time he’d flap awkwardly over the creosote fence and fly crookedly away. But my mum would rail against all waterfowl,  round up  the chickens, and deftly herd them back into the coop.

But it never fazed the duck. He was in his element. He had achieved his coup d’ grace. He would sit on a neighbour’s roof , aloof, uninterested in the din of clattering bowls.

I think my mum thought she could win a war of contrition with the mallard. Thought she could drive him to repent by locking him up with the obedient fowl. I could have told her he was not to be hen-pecked, not to be tamed of his wild nature.

So when my mum gave up and retreated back to her kitchen, I’d always revel in the mallard’s  flights of fancy. I’d race around the garden, my arms stretched wide, feeling the soft down of freedom become as hard as the chickens wishbones my family broke every festive chance they got.