Daredevil ~ Haiku

Inspired by this week’s prompt from haikuheights which is the word Daredevil I was reminded of my nephew who is in the Metropolitan Police.  He faces possible danger on a daily basis but manages to stay calm and positive in the face of it all.

Lured into their trap

Alone he stands his ground as

Gang gathers round him

My son too is unflappable whether riding his motorbike across the world, diving deep under the oceans or climbing up devilish rockfaces.

Devil rock lures him

into death defying deeds

He claws at its face

rich climbing


No School Day

angel of the north in snow

It snowed overnight and the roads are a fright,

So the schools are all closed ~ on a Friday!

Mums and dads can’t drive, their cars slip and slide

So its family fun on a school day.

Dogs in bright jackets are leaping for joy

Taken out for a walk, on a school day.

Babies and toddlers peep out of their prams

They’re going to the park, on a school day.

Tiny tots muffled in mittens and hats,

Squeal in delight, on a school day.

Giggling girls, hugging their friends,

Slide down the hill, on a school day.

Teen terrors in hoodies become little boys

Throwing snowballs at girls, on a school day.

Steep slopes draw the daring on sledges and boards,

They hurtle downhill, on a school day.

I sit at the window and, like falling snow,

My thoughts pile up into drifts.

My smiles turn to tears at the sights and sounds

Of my school days, as the frozen scene shifts.

Of ink wells and blotters, of wafers and milk,

Of chalk boards and outside loos;

Of walking to school by the RiverTyne,

Of castles, and coalmines and ships.

And then there are people, who wave as they pass,

Loved aunties and cousins and friends

A sister and brother no longer in touch

A mother and father I mourned.

There are icicles hanging near a frozen stream,

The snow covered branches are bending

The field is a snow frosted wonderland

Its beauty my broken heart mending.

Haiku Heights ~ Script

The prompt for Haiku Heights this week is the word ‘script’.  I knew immediately what I wanted to write about but it is a painful memory.  When my father was very ill with cancer I would sit by his bed for hours on end whenever I was not at work.  He was a self taught man who left school at the age of 13 to work in the shipyards in the North of England where he lived.  He spent his whole life working with steel, eventually owning his own business.  He was in great demand as a consultant on huge projects from bridges to buildings like Canary Wharf in London and Terminal 4 at Heathrow.  He was also recognised as a bit of an expert on safety in Nuclear Power Stations which he used to inspect.  I absolutely adored him and shared his passion for bridges, buildings and anything of beauty.

Now my father kept a diary all his life and his last sentence on every entry was a prayer of thanks for his day. He always used a propelling pencil and wrote with a beautiful script.  As he got weaker his diary became really important to him.  However hard it was to write he would still insist on filling in the days news.  He recorded every visit by doctors, nurses, priests and friends.  The day before he died he was quite distressed that he could not hold his pencil and he insisted that I should write what he dictated, which I did.  When he fell asleep with the exhaustion of it I took a peek at his diary and I was totally shocked by what i found.  For the worst months of his illness he had ended every entry with a prayer to St Jude ~ patron Saint of Lost causes!  This was a bit upsetting.  But the really upsetting thing was that for the last two weeks his entries were in mirror writing.  Every word and line was written backwards.  It was still legible although the writing was getting rather spidery.

I found this deeply moving as it seemed to me that his life was going into reverse.  After he died I mentioned the mirror writing to the doctor and he said it sometimes happens as a result of neurological disturbance.  I suppose this would make sense as he was so ill and on strong pain relief.  But I still found it very unsettling.

I have heard since that some people like Leonardo Da Vinci used to do mirror writing.  It is a strange phenomenon still not fully understood.

As in a mirror

His writing flowed in reverse

His Life rewinding

Man of steel, my Angel of the North

Man of steel, my Angel of the North

I am a grandma!

Just had to post my news ~ my youngest daughter Jenny had a beautiful baby boy at 6pm on Saturday 1st December.  He is 6lb 12oz and is called Stanley jack.  He is totally adorable and I had my first cuddle with him today.   I think I might just burst with joy and pride.

StanleyJack Jervis on his first day.

StanleyJack Jervis on his first day.

Stanley and Grandma

Stanley and Grandma

Stanley Day 1

Stanley Day 1

Remembrance Sunday

Poppy Day in UK

Remembrance Day falls on the same day as Armistice Day this year, Sunday 11th November.  This will not happen again until 2018.  Somehow as I get older it seems more special.  I listened to the BBC Radio 4 Remembrance Service at the Cenotaph in London today.  It was very moving.  There were 2 veterans of the Battle of El Alamein speaking.  They were only 21 in 1942 when the battle occurred.  It is recognised as a turning point in the war.   After this victory at El Alamein, Winston Churchill would write in “The Hinge of Fate”, his famous verdict: “Before Alamein we never had a victory. After Alamein, we never had a defeat.”

Field Marshal Montgomery and Rommel

With Durham Light Infantry in the Western Desert

My grandfather, Frederick Charles McCluskey was in the Durham Light Infantry with the Eighth Army and fought in this battle.  He was one of the lucky ones, he survived.   But he had a tough time in this war and it left him with Malaria, which recurred throughout his life, and dreadful foot problems from his long trek through the desert.  He was part of the long march through the Western desert and told me that he wore out the soles of his shoes, then the soles of his feet on this trek.  His friends wrote an obituary in the local newspaper after he died in 1988:-

“Tyneside war hero, Major Frederick Charles McCluskey who played a leading role in a legendary desert trek to freedom, has died at the age of 88.  In June 1942, he and 200 men from The Durham Light Infantry’s 9th Battalion evaded fierce enemy fire to escape after being surrounded by a division of Rommel’s desert army at Gazzala, North Africa.  They travelled 350 gruelling miles to safety.   Major McCluskey, who lived in Newcastle fought in both world wars.”

Major F C McCluskey

I also found out that my grandfather who was born in 1900 enlisted in the army for the First World War.  He was just 14 years 8 months when he joined as a Bugler with the Yorkshire Regiment.  He served right through the First World War.  After the war he joined the Durham Light Infantry and was with them throughout his career, ending it as a Major with a commendation for the MBE.  He only left the army in 1952 when my much loved grandmother, his wife, was dying of stomach cancer.

Grandad as a young bugler in the First World War

In 1952 he bought a general store in Newcastle where I spent many happy childhood hours sitting by the fire in the back of the shop, or helping myself to sweeties.

I am very proud of my granddad and it is lovely to remember him today and all he did for our country.

I also remember my dad who was in the Royal Navy.  My mum and he were married during the war in 1945

Mum and Dad’s Wedding 1945

Hearts under the hammer

There are some things that are just too sad to write stories about and so I write Haiku.

Scored in syllables

Sharp shards of sorrow spill out

solaced by sharing.

One of these is the auction of of my parents’ possessions, relics of my past.  The setting was ironic ~ an old school, and the weather was in tune with my feelings ~ the heavens hurling their hurt on the deserted playground.

 The timing could not have been worse, viewing on what would have been my father’s 89th birthday.  There is no happy ending here, a family stripped of its history under a hammer, and the grieving just goes deeper.

Some of the antique dolls mum lovingly collected over the years