How should people of good will live in this fractured time?

Here are some bullet points to consider, some suggestions of how to survive with integrity in an environment which seems to have become inimical to good sense, tolerance and civilised values:   Listen to others, be polite and attentive, while holding firm to what you believe to be right. Do not provoke, or allow yourselfContinue reading “How should people of good will live in this fractured time?”

St Bartholomew’s birds

A congregation of cacophonous starlings chatters vivaciously in the tops of two trees only and because of the birds’ blackness against an indigo sky and because they have chosen for conversation a graveyard by an ancient priory church alongside its sister hospital their chattering seems ominous, filled with dark knowledge. Birds whose ancestors witnessed theContinue reading “St Bartholomew’s birds”

History of a relationship

My first visit I barely made acquaintance, dragged along by a medic and musician boyfriend in the hot summer of ’76; while he discussed diapasons in the organ loft I drooped around the pillars, glad of somewhere cool. My next encounter, more than ten years later, I was ‘depping’ for a friend who sang. LateContinue reading “History of a relationship”

Edward Cooke

Doctor of Physick, philosopher, you hold a teasing pen; what wisdom would you give us if your hand could move again? Scientific formulae, concepts to explain our mind and frame? – the spread of human knowledge still your worthy aim? Or would you spell out now the name above every name? Have you entered on eternity,Continue reading “Edward Cooke”

Three Stories from the Book of the Foundation

  GODRIC THE BUTCHER One day, as was his custom, Alfune from the Priory was visiting the butchers one by one, asking them for gifts to feed the poor; he decided to approach a man named Godric, famed as very stern and niggardly of mind. When Alfune saw that Godric would give nothing, being movedContinue reading “Three Stories from the Book of the Foundation”

Portrait of an Old Man

i.m. Miron Grindea A sultry afternoon; I identify the house; walk twice round Emperor’s Gate not wanting to be early … A tousled grey head from an upstairs window: – Who’s that? Are you the plumber? “I sent some poems; you called me.” – You haven’t come to mend the sink? Well, never mind… I stepContinue reading “Portrait of an Old Man”

The Smalpaces

Percival and Agnes stare from neighbouring frames. She outlived him thirty years, as her lined face tells. Stern in starchy Tudor collars, how remote they seem, as though their eyes would barely recognise our world. Yet underneath, their naked bodies tell another story and inform the formal faces with more sympathy, till hers seems sad,Continue reading “The Smalpaces”

The Vision of Rahere

At the shrine of Rahere the cowled monks read the same pages from Isaiah for eternity; little heads cluster like buds around the canopy and a winged creature with bestial but not unfriendly face recalls the monster who seized Rahere in dream before Bartholomew appeared to issue his commission. With our worldview, sophisticated – so weContinue reading “The Vision of Rahere”

My friend Walter Mildmay

what the dead had no speech for, when living, They can tell you, being dead … [T.S. Eliot, Little Gidding] Mildmay, in the dark you look ornate but barely comprehensible, and so dead; the tokens you’ve chosen to be remembered by far less eloquent than the naked Smalpace bodies. Your heavy marble out of place amongst theContinue reading “My friend Walter Mildmay”

1959: Woman Donkey Hours

Outlined against the fields, inevitable as landscape, a kerchiefed woman and a donkey trudge the dusty path, to where they fight the stubborn earth for food. Anchoress, she treads her daily silences, mantras iterating on her children; she knows no joy in exercise of muscle, spread of sky or shades of green on ten-mile trampsContinue reading “1959: Woman Donkey Hours”