Sunday, 7 May 2017

Clementine chicken

Or tangerine chicken. Or even orange chicken.  #anythingwillwork

Had a friend (Wendy, dear dear Renee's daughter, my age, ex-teacher, great reader, lovely sense of humour and as caring as her wonderful mother....) to lunch.  It had to be a slow-cooker job as we were in church all morning, so....

Chicken.6 - 8 thigh fillets
6 small clementines
1 small onion
1 carton (284ml) single cream

Brown 6 - 8 thigh fillets or chicken breasts with one finely chopped onion in butter.
While it is cooking, place three sliced clementines (the kind that are DIFFICULT to peel, not the kidn with loose skin) and four small new sprigs of rosemary at the base of the cooker.
Put the chicken on top, add another couple of tiny clementines, sliced, season.
Deglaze the pan with a little water - perhaps 50ml or a little more.
Cook for 4 hours on high.

Mix a large tablespoon of cornflour with a little cream. Add a ladle of juice/stock from the slow cooker, stir, return to slow-cooker. Heat up remainder of a 280ml carton of single cream in the microwave until hot but not boiling, add to slow-cooker. Let cook for a further 20 minutes if there is time, tasting and adjusting seasoning with a squeeze of lemon juice and more salt if required.

Absolutely delicious served with rice and mixed salad.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Guernsey. 1945.

Cold morning dawned over the mirrored sea. There had been no end
to gazing out at blackness, no moon to light the coming
of invaders, no warmth of light to break away the chill.
Eyes searched, bored, from our concrete fortresses.

Secure the islands, we were told. Churchill wants them back,
so buttress, shore up all defences, reinforce the
reinforcement, coerce this once-gentle shoreline to
brace against all comers.  Be ready.

They never came. Instead we, night after week after month,
yearned for our homeland, for beer and sausage; the smiles
of frauleins. Five long years we occupied those ‘dear’ islands,
rocky outcrops adrift mid-Channel.

Morning dawned over the mirrored sea. Soon
our occupation would be over. Starved of all
we needed, liberation would be welcome. Even

for us:  Germans.

Stitches in time

The door yielded gently, catching on the ruffled rug. Memories flew up, dust
dancing in a beam of sun streak.  A patchworked quilt of recollections lay
crumpled on the bed, hues faded. Soft curtains barred the light, muffling thought:
the air, cloaked in kindness, hung soft.

Worn fingers had woven stories in stitches, darns of in and out
throughout the turnaround of time. Creases in her skin spoke of a weft of adventures
athwart the warp of years. Holes in the heft of life, cobbled together by
the innocence of children, made beautiful in gentleness.

Air breathed, dry papery with age. Needles, thread, scissors
Beckoned on the dresser. Neglected rag bag nestled next to embroidery silks
spilling joyously from their box. An invitation: past to present, skill to artist’s

Silence smiled, remembering.

School games

I hurtle, unwilling ball hit with the racquet of contempt. Flying helplessly
towards the past, overtaken by small unkindnesses
I am again a seven year old. Outcast by the playground wall, eying up
confidence with curiosity. Perfect pigtails take wing
in rounds of merriment,

jeers and joking, laughter and lies, merry misery of games without fun
and I play alone. Who talks of the ‘innocence of children’?
Such who do suffer false memory, yet I KNOW.  Set up for mockery,
 humiliation of a tender heart;

wishing invisibility, edging slowly towards cold haven classroom,
I am halted by the sound of my name. She tosses dark hair from honest eyes.

“Would you like one?” Cautiously, I accept a lifetime of friendship.


Unlocking the treasure chest of yesteryear,
Initially, distance creates fondness, the patchwork lying below
indistinct, colours blending happily. Landscape of the mind breathes
with the contentment of time, viewed hazily through a cheerful heart. But then, the Jump
back into the past. Emotions plummet, skydiving towards the mess of memories.

The door yielded gently, catching on the ruffled rug of memory. A
patchworked quilt of recollections lay crumpled on the bed,
hues faded with time. Soft curtains barred the light, muffling thought:
the air, cloaked in kindness, hung soft.

Yet something seemed to stir. Some awful thing lay unmoving,
maleficent, a lacerated fur of innocent creation. Shrieks sparked at dust,
a howling heart left alone among dark conifers. Innocence wept in loss.

“Hush, child of my heart,” came the whisper, “you were not deserted.
Rescue has come: do you not perceive it?” Time had trickled onwards,
tender oil healing mercifully, pouring into wounds and healing scars.

But not enough. That cruel cloak still lurked within the closet, waiting
to be used once more in dreadful daylight. What I longed for
was annihilation of those destructive memories. No awakening. Ever.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

False dismay

There are tiny acts of unconscious unkindness
which pierce the sensitive self.
The unwitting exclusions
the snide remarks
the obvious put-downs
all these are noted, absorbed, built into
the corrupt decaying false image
of who I really am.

Such an edifice
can only be taken down
by the Living Water.
The unrelenting love
which may fiercely flood
washing away flimsy defences
or sometimes trickles gently,
eroding the foundations.
as long as I do not build dams or moats to withstand it.


Friday, 8 July 2016

Departure. Again. August 2014. July 2015. December 2015. July 2016

My face aches with tears
shed in sorrow
unshed in bravery, keeping courage up.

My skin is sore with melancholy
tingling with misery
at the very thought of loss of loved ones.

My eyes are gritty with grief
stinging in a wash of tears
bottled up and stored.

My heart.
My heart is rent, pierced, breaking.