Bicycle pumps & bananas

The other day I went through a box full of pieces that I’ve written in the past, and picked out seven items: poems, essays, ramblings. These are the titles:

  • Stirring abroad, without … within …
  • Bicycle pumps & bananas
  • Memories of a difficult day
  • Memories of a distinctly different day to the one I had yesterday
  • Surfing the Turf
  • Ms. Carriage
  • Written on the train to London some time in May

I also picked out a couple of pieces that I hadn’t written: one about learning and the other about ‘Being Human’.

I think the most important thing that I’ve learned about being human is to be able to accept that I get things wrong because I’m human, and for no other reason.

In any case, ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ in my experience aren’t always clearly defined, particularly since our lives are always unfolding, never fixed or final. We have expectations based on concepts of ‘normal’ but when we can drop those then all sorts of other possibilities arise.

There was a time when I thought that if I could do nothing else other than make sure that my cat – Bertie – had a good life, then that was enough. Who’s to say that it wasn’t?

I might publish ‘Bicycle pumps & bananas’ eventually but, for now, here’s ‘ Surfing the Turf’:

I'd like to roll myself
In earth-warmed turf
Like a bug in a rug
Safe from harm

The grass would tickle
My nose and toes
The worms would squirm
Warm and

I'd have to put an elastic band
Around the roll of turf
To stop it unfolding

But if it did
I'd need to find
A sleeping bag
To ease my mind

And then I would
If I could
Sit by the river
Forever watching
In awe and wonder
At the world
Bicycle pumps, yeh!

Tea towels

Trev and I went to a ‘Yes’ concert recently. The music was sensational and he bought himself a very nice hoodie from the merch stand as a memento.

I said it was a shame they didn’t have tea towels in the merch range. Trev said it wouldn’t really be in keeping with the rock band image but I don’t know why.

I’ve been to other music concerts where tea towels were part of the merch range, a favourite being Seth Lakeman. That tea towel is still going strong…

For the first time in my life, I’ve ironed a tea towel!

Whenever I use that tea towel it reminds me of my friend Rosemary, who I went to the concert with. She bought me the tea towel, and it has further sentimental value as she passed away a few years ago.

Ironically, I never dry dishes – only ever wash and drain – but I’ve got a really good collection of tea towels. I’d have bought a ‘Yes’ one though, if they’d had one, to add to my collection.

The Pie Poem

This poem was inspired by my partner’s love of pies generally and one in particular, The Famous Cow Pie at the George Hotel in Keswick.

However, even though he helped me to write the poem, I’m only crediting him with eating the pie, unless he wants to eat his words. Ha!

The perfect pie

The perfect pie
is sensationally satisfying
oozing with succulent
gorgeous, gravy goodness
as the nostril-caressing aroma
emanating from its slab-like form
stimulates the anticipation
of marvellous meatiness
turning into an explosion of flavour
the savouring of which
makes the world immediately
a better place –
on a plate.

Being 65

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on

In one sense, this post should just be entitled ‘Being’, because age is irrelevant.

I interact with the world essentially as a being, and don’t need a label.

On the other hand, I do have history, and the ways that I have worked through that history impact on the way that I interact with the world – and other beings in it – on a daily basis.

It isn’t always easy to put the past behind us, especially when heavily loaded with emotions associated with trauma and grief.

Accepting things that I cannot change has been a hard life lesson to learn for me, helped by meditation, affirmations, and Buddhist teachings (including one in particular by Gen Togden of the Kadampa tradition).

Not having had children is a major regret. Raising this as an issue with a therapist recently, still needing to work it through, I was met with a profoundly uncompassionate response: “So you decided not to have them then, did you?”

At one level, she was right. I made choices – decisions – that led to me being in a state of extreme mental and emotional turmoil in my late 30s and 40s. Decisions that I made as a struggling, vulnerable young woman in my 20s were mine, and I was an adult. But should I really have had to pay such a high price in later life?

Shit does happen though, and doesn’t discriminate. Thankfully, I have had previous experiences with other counsellors/therapists who’ve approached my distress with humanity and empathy.

Even so, some things take a long time to work through. Some ‘stuff’ from the past has just come up that I thought I’d put behind me, or at least wanted to. It doesn’t always work like that though, and I’m sure my brain dredged it up now because I hadn’t properly dealt with it previously.

Now I’m in a much better place than I have ever been before, living with a kind, loving, supportive, funny partner. Being 65 is a starting point for me, and it’s never too late.

If I can send out a message to anyone who’s going through personal difficulties – whether recently experienced or long-term endured – it is to say: “Don’t give up.”

We don’t always know what we’re made of until our backs are to the wall, especially if we’ve oriented towards ‘flight’ rather than ‘fight’ in early years.

Fighting for survival is a primary motivator and there is always light at the end of the tunnel. Even if you can’t see it for yourself, let someone else – a friend – see it and hold it for you until you can.

I’m only 65, and I’ve got all my life ahead of me. So have you.


I’ve never been very good at talking.

At primary school I was cast as a mouse in the school play: all I had to do was say “squeak, squeak”.

The career advice I was given at secondary school was to become a librarian. 

I didn’t want to become a librarian (or be a mouse) – I wanted to be able to speak.

There have been times in my life when I felt, finally, that some degree of fluency was coming through. But I’ve never quite reached the point of feeling that I could say what I wanted or needed to say, in any given situation. I think that’s why I’ve turned to writing poetry, because however much the spoken word evades me, and for whatever reason, I can express myself in poetry, one way or another.  It doesn’t mean I don’t end up feeling ‘dumb’ and stupid in conversation when my brain can’t tune in to what is being said.  However, in more positive moments I can also reflect on the many facets of communication, and the importance of being heard, in one way or another.

The Pebble, the Picture and the Plant

Perfectly placed on a shelf, they appear to have arrived where they were always meant to be, the pebble, the picture and the plant. Which is odd really because pebbles are meant for beaches and pictures for art galleries or walls; plants can be anywhere that nature calls.

I’ve no idea where the plant came from apart from the supermarket where I picked it up. Or did it pick up me, with it’s green and white simplicity?

The plant is now closely proximal to the pebble and the picture, in a ceramic pot.

Three things together that I like a lot.