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Shirley's Dishes

Shirley's Dishes


She often found herself washing up 

at one in the morning, for she'd never 


allow her guests to help, though did

once let me dry, when he had to go 


to a meeting, for that couldn't be left

till next day either. I wish now I'd


bought her that tea towel for her birthday 

and not the butterfly scarf I decided on


instead. I'm told he...

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Interview about my chapbook

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Esther Breuer

Esther Breuer


She’s the heroine I least imagine

to look like yourself - short hair, dark

I think you say, though for some 

reason I picture her as blonde.

Yet she’s the one I seem most

to identify with, though

I’m not sure why. An art historian,

not much of a reader, at least 

not of Jane Austen, except

surprisingly, according to you

or one of your characters ...

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I didn’t know what it was like until once 

near the pond at Castle Howard 

Arboretum my mother said, 

Can you see the meadowsweet?

Perhaps I'd have thought it was cow 

parsley if it weren’t for its honey scent.

I was reminded of this yesterday 

as I glanced out of the train window 

and there were stalks of it along

the railway line, flashing by


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Did your parents know the origins

of your names, or their associations?

Wendy, invented for a story

two decades before you were born;

Joyce, also a surname, often Irish

like your own. Your sister Rose

must have been called after the flower,

for she was never Rosemary, a herb

nothing to do with roses.

Kay perhaps because your mother

was Catherine, t...

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Language and Music

Language and Music


It’s no surprise that I recognise it 

whenever I hear it spoken

like I did that Boxing Day 

at M&S in Bath, though I hadn’t 

heard it for years, and couldn’t 

pick out a word - diolch, diawn,

and not at that time of day nostar.


My dad thought it was Polish

but I knew it to be Welsh,

for I used to listen to it spoken

every day in the sho...

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In Wales they used to fear my call

like the sight of a magpie

or the sound of an afternoon cock crow.


I can’t imagine why they call me gylfinir

there, for it sounds nothing like

the noise I make, cur-lee.


Now they dread the thought

of my demise, rejoice

at my return to the Yorkshire Dales.


Some think my name means running, 

which I never ...

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Just A Few Lines

Just a Few Lines


To accompany this year’s Christmas card -

I think you would have liked the design.

It’s as well you didn’t manage to write 

to thank me again for the hand cream

I sent you for your birthday, as you

may not have received my reply.

We couldn’t find it amongst your things -

did you take it with you to Cumberland Grange?


Your orchids seem to like i...

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Despite the Myths

Despite the Myths


There's no doubt that A- is Scarborough

where she died at the Grand Hotel,

but was the Weston named after

Agnes Grey's suitor? She loved the sea

as Emily did the moors, Charlotte the city,

yet unlike them she would never cross it,

though her other heroine does. 

Even Lucy Snowe never touches

Paris or Rome, or not as far as we know.

When we took ...

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The Other Bennett

The Other Bennett


Is he remembered in Fenton,

the town he left out of his Five

of the Potteries? Or even by guests

at the Savoy who order omelette

with haddock in it? Do readers

of Virginia Woolf know the cause

of her dispute with him,

or even that they had one?

I think many years hence I'll recall

the plot of Clayhanger and why

I read it after Hilda Lessways


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Mr Brian

Mr Brian


According to him 

there were only three forces -

push, pull, and as I 

put my hand up and told him -

twist. I was sure 

there was a fourth one - bend,

but I was too shy to say that. 

He knew the art department

would disagree with him 

about the third primary colour

being green and not yellow, 

but about the colours 

of the rainbow, or the spectr...

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Half Way Through March

Half Way Through March


I find it’s six years since I saw you 

at St Peter’s school. I sat near the front,

you wore a crimson jumper - red your favourite 

colour, I think. I didn’t really want to ask

a question at the end, rather to tell you

I was re-reading all your novels in the order

they were written. Not only yourself

but the interviewer too were taken aback


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The Marriott Room

The Marriott Room


I don’t think I’ve been in here

since last time we met - in this place,

two years and two months ago

at your book launch. Second-hand book 

sales on Sundays weren’t resumed

once the library reopened for fewer hours.


Today we face each other across a table -

you say as you did then, that I’d been your pupil

a long time ago. I don’t add that it’...

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Almond Blossom

Almond Blossom 


Your favourite work of art, you say,

but not whether you've done the jigsaw. 

It isn't mentioned in your personal history, 

which is not, you stressed, a memoir. 


Maybe when you've written that it will be.

I'm not sure what you'd say about 

the picture, other than that Van Gogh 

was joyful with his use of colour. 


It's hard to imagine it a ...

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Delighted that my first chapbook The Second of August has been published by AlienBuddha Press:

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