Smorgasbord Invitation to the End of Summer Party Deja Vu -August 25th – 26th – Far From This Thing by Paul Andruss

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At virtually this time of year – 26th – 28th August, I held last year’s end of summer party. It therefore seemed appropriate to share the post that Paul Andruss wrote for the event again. He is busy at the moment but will be with us in spirit tomorrow and Sunday…

This year I am going for broke… four posts to promote 36 bloggers and authors in two days.

Each one is a meal. Brunch, Afternoon Tea and Dinner on Saturday and Sunday Lunch.

There will be lots of food, the guests, links to their blogs and books, and of course music. This is also an opportunity for you to drop in to one or all of the meals, and to leave a comment sharing a little about yourself, a link to your latest post and to your books on Amazon. It is a party and you need to mingle.

To kick things off, here is Paul’s post from last year that I hope those of you new to the blog will enjoy and those that have read before… I hope it puts you in the mood for the next two days.

See you there starting with Brunch Saturday 10.30 GMT.

Over to Paul.

On hearing that I was holding my end of summer party at the weekend here on Smorgasbord, Paul Andruss donned his dancing shoes and headphones and volunteered some suggestions for music that we might play.

Paul once he gets on the dance floor is unstoppable and in this post we learn how to identify if we are an anchorite or life and soul of the party… (clue: one dances on a pillar and the other on a table). Paul also compares my writing to Fay Weldon.. (he does sometimes wander off into the realms of fantasy but I am flattered nevertheless). Anyway we also get to hear and absorb some of the poetry of Keith Reid who wrote all the lyrics for Procol Harum… including the classic Whiter Shade of Pale.

Grab your dancing shoes and get some practice in for tomorrow..

Far from this thing by Paul Andruss

Yes, I am fully aware how churlish it is to scribble something called: Far from this Thing when a dear friend invites you to a party. What can I say? I am a born anchorite. That’s why you always find me in the kitchen at parties.

An anchorite was a type of hermit, who during the early Christian Roman Empire, decamped to live on top of a pillar. Although in my humble opinion spending one’s life on top of a pillar seems very camp indeed.

Why did they do it you may ask?

Good question.

Perhaps they felt it took them far from this thing, you know, the old the sin-bin of the flesh. Or perhaps they were merely fans of David Blaine.

As with all exhibitionists, they gathered quite a crowd, who would invariable shout up their problems. And no doubt the holy man, being of limited experience, having spent his life on top of a pillar, would shout back down the answer to all life’s problems was to get a pillar of your own.

As these solitary saints invariably attracted hordes of followers, who wanted nothing more than to set up communities where they could all be alone together, it is a wonder some ancient builder didn’t have the gumption to offer designer pillars, with added features: like an internal staircase in case of fire, a flushing toilet and perhaps a sun roof.

Anyway, enough of my ramblings; let’s get to the point in hand…

When speaking of Sally’s work I always say how I admire the way she paints an entire scene in a handful of words and conjures any emotion with a well-turned phrase. She often makes me think of Faye Weldon’s The Lives and Loves of a She-Devil (while sincerely hoping Sally is more pleased than offended by the comparison).

The ‘Lives and Loves’ is a huge story told in few words. Each isolated scene fits, jigsaw-like, to propel the narrative forward at breakneck pace. If Faye Weldon had made less brave choices, its genius would have been chipped away. In the same way, Sally’s prose has no waste. Yet clipped of irrelevance, it sacrifices none of its power or art.
Without colour or nuance, words are reduced to bland reportage. While report is essential to narrative, it doesn’t put a shiver down your spine or bring you up short with a sharp intake of breath. Yet if pace struggles under the burden of description; if we painfully explain motivation, and the significance of every look, nod or shrug, readers are bored long before we catch their interest. So where do we draw a line?

Let me introduce Keith Reid, a bona fide poet who wrote lyrics for 1960s psychadelic Brit pop band called Procol Harum. It is claimed Procol Harum is bastard Latin for Far from this thing. In actual fact the real Latin for Far from this Thing is Hoc Procul. The band, to be honest, only ever claimed Procol Harum was the name of a friend’s pedigree Siamese cat.

In contrast to novelists, like Sally and Faye Weldon, as a lyric poet, Keith Reid comes from the opposite direction by stripping out the linear narrative to leave only emotional affect. In this way he can produce a story in half a stanza, making him the daddy of micro-fiction.

At this point I need to confess I am not a whole-hearted fan of micro-fiction. It often seems a bit of a curate’s egg (good in parts) – used to say well, things that should not be said at all.

By learning how the likes of Sally and Faye Weldon strip prose so the story tells itself, rather than is told, we become better writers. Except, of course, the problem is we read them because they are good writers, and so become seduced by the tale and forget the lesson. This is why Keith Reid is useful. His lack of conventional narrative means there is little to get lost in.

Procol Harum’s 2nd single Homburg tells the story of a mature business-woman’s, indiscretion. Her subsequent realisation, in the sober light of day, leaves her dejected young lover unable to see where it all went wrong.

Your multilingual business friend
Has packed her bags and fled
Leaving only ash-filled ashtrays
And the lipsticked unmade bed

Chorus:
Your trouser cuffs are dirty
And your shoes are laced up wrong
You’d better take off your homburg
‘Cause your overcoat is too long

The final verse describes the lover’s Kafkaesque depression of almost apocalyptical proportions. He suffers only as the young suffer. You would never find Keith’s ending in a story, but it perfectly expresses the youngster’s unfathomable rejection…

The town clock in the market square
Stands waiting for the hour
When its hands they both turn backwards
And on meeting will devour
Both themselves and also any fool
Who dares to tell the time
And the sun and moon will shatter
And the signposts cease to sign

With A Salty Dog Keith writes a complete novel, rich in imagery and myth, love and longing, in three short stanzas.

All hands on deck, we’ve run a float,
I heard the Captain cry.
Explore the ship, replace the cook,
Let no one leave alive.
Across the straits, around the horn,
How far can sailors fly?
A twisted path, our tortured course,
And no one left alive.

We sailed for parts unknown to man,
Where ships come home to die.
No lofty peak, nor fortress bold,
Could match our captain’s eye.
Upon the seventh seasick day,
We made our port of call.
A sand so white, and sea so blue,
No mortal place at all.

We fired the guns, and burned the mast,
And rowed from ship to shore.
The captain cried, we sailors wept,
Our tears were tears of joy!
Now many moons and many Junes,
Have passed since we made land.
A Salty Dog, the seaman’s log,
Your witness, my own hand.

Earlier I used the word Kafkaesque. It pertains to Franz Kafka one of the major figures of 20th-century literature, whose work fused the clinically real and absurdly fantastic. His isolated protagonists faced surreal situations and battled the sort of incomprehensible bureaucracy prevalent in the Austro-Hungarian Empire before World War I.

Metamorphosis chronicles a man’s transformation into a giant cockroach; The Trial a nightmarish prosecution by an implacable faceless authority for an unnamed crime, unknown both to the accused and the reader. Today, we have largely forgotten how to write like this. Over to Keith for a reminder of how to layer surrealist, even absurdist, images one on the other to produce, in this case, a spiralling descent into madness.

Shine on Brightly
My Prussian-blue electric clock’s
alarm bell rings, it will not stop
and I can see no end in sight
and search in vain by candlelight
for some long road that goes nowhere
for some signpost that is not there
And even my befuddled brain
is shining brightly, quite insane

The chandelier is in full swing
as gifts for me the three kings bring
of myrrh and frankincense, I’m told,
and fat old Buddhas carved in gold
And though it seems they smile with glee
I know in truth they envy me
and watch as my befuddled brain
shines on brightly quite insane

Above all else confusion reigns
And though I ask no-one explains
My eunuch friend has been and gone
He said that I must soldier on
And though the Ferris wheel spins round
my tongue it seems has run aground
and croaks as my befuddled brain
shines on brightly, quite insane

By now, I suspect you feel Keith is not the only one suffering from a befuddled brain.

Bet you regret ever wandering in to the kitchen to say hi!

Go on guys, you’ve suffered enough. Get back to the party…

(Phew!)

But before you go…

(Dang it!)

Here is one that speaks to all writers; mainly because if it wasn’t written, we would probably want to write ourselves.

Pilgrim’s Progress
I sat me down to write a simple story
Which maybe in the end became a song
In trying to find the words which might begin it
I found these were the thoughts I brought along

At first I took my weight to be an anchor
And gathered up my fears to guide me round
But then I clearly saw my own delusion
And found my struggles further bogged me down

In starting out I thought to go exploring
And set my foot upon the nearest road
In vain I looked to find the promised turning
But only saw how far I was from home

In searching I forsook the paths of learning
And sought instead to find some pirate’s gold
In fighting I did hurt those dearest to me
And still no hidden truths could I unfold

I sat me down to write a simple story
Which maybe in the end became a song
The words have all been writ by one before me
We’re taking turns in trying to pass them on
Oh, we’re taking turns in trying to pass them on

Lyrics: Keith Reid :

©Paul Andruss 2017

Buy Procol Harum music: https://www.amazon.com/Procol-Harum/e/B000APTG8C

About Paul Andruss

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Paul Andruss is the author of 2 contrasting fantasy novels

Thomas the Rhymer

Thomas the Rhymer – a magical fantasy for ages 11 to adult about a boy attempting to save fairy Thomas the Rhymer, while trying to rescue his brother from a selfish fairy queen.

Finn Mac Cool

Finn Mac Cool – rude, crude and funny, explicitly sexual and disturbingly violent, Finn Mac Cool is strictly for adults only.

Connect to Paul on social media.

Blog: http://www.paul-andruss.com/
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/paul.andruss.9
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Paul_JHBooks
Google+  https://plus.google.com/s/+jackhughesbooks

You can find all of Paul’s posts in this directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/writer-in-residence-writer-paul-andruss/

Thank you for dropping by today and please feel free to share the post on your own blog and networks. Thanks Sally

I hope that whatever your plans this weekend you will be able to spare a few minutes to drop in and sign the guest book in the comments.

 

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Posts from Your Archives – The Power of Singing. It’s Far More Than Music by Jennie Fitzkee

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I recently invited you to share some of your posts from your archives. It is a way of giving your earlier or favourite posts a chance to be read by a different audience. Mine.  Details of how you can participate is at the end of the post.

Jennie Fitzkee has been a pre-school teacher for over thirty years, I have reblogged several of her posts because they demonstrate how a dedicated and passionate teacher can ignite imagination and a passion for books and music in the very young. Today Jennie tells the story of how singing brought comfort and connection to a child who was distressed and how singing and music can bring all of us, whatever our age, a feeling of belonging to others.

Image courtesy of Pinterest

Yesterday a child in my class had a very difficult drop-off. All the words in the world from Mom, and all her hugs and reassurances just didn’t make a dent. I was equally unsuccessful in helping Mom to say goodbye and leave. Eventually she just had to leave. And, there was her child, crying and not wanting to be consoled at all. We headed outside to the playground, and this child simply sat down on the walkway, three steps beyond the door, full of tears. I sat down right beside her, and then I started to sing. The first song was, “Oh Mr. Sun”. I sang that song so many times, yet each time I would change phrases like, “please shine down on me” to substitute the name of that child. Then, I changed phrases to name other children, the ones that she could see close by. At this point she was not crying, but certainly was not ready to play.

So, I sang again. Actually, it was non-stop singing, making up words to any tune that came into my head. I just kept singing about the children, the playground, the birds; anything that popped into my head. When I did this, I made sure the words were rhyming words. If I started a phrase, I often stopped at the rhyming word. Eventually, she chimed in to fill in that word. Then we moved to the big swing. I made the swinging match the beats of the music. This is where things changed. The swing added natural rhythm to the song. That rhythm is the core of music; it’s what brings all feelings to the surface. It is soothing, whether it makes you cry or feel good. It is the heart of passion in music. We sang, swinging in the swing, over and over again.

I kept on singing, and she sang along. She laughed when I grasped for rhyming words, or when I made up a tune that was fast or slow, high or low. Now she was part of this. Together, we sang our hearts out. Singing works! In the simplest of ways, it makes you feel good, and it is pleasurable. In a deeper way, it is very connective, bonding you to a person, a time or a place. Music does this too, but singing brings music full circle. Pretty powerful stuff.

I frequently do my singing in the children’s bathroom at school. I’ll sit on the bench while they do their business and wash their hands, and just make up something; often about our current chapter reading book, or about a math game. It’s easy and fun to sing words, any words at all. We’ll sing adding numbers, sing about the characters in books, sing about each other. A song seems to ‘cement’ words and concepts, make them more powerful. It reinforces what we have learned in a fun way. A song can be a mini lesson, much more than rhyming and syllables.

Most importantly, singing is the heart and soul of connecting with each other. There were no words to help this child when she came to school. Even a hug was rebuffed. Yet, singing brought her comfort, and that comfort allowed her to participate in so many things. I didn’t need my autoharp; the singing alone did the job. It was a wonderful morning.

©JennieFitzkee 2014

About Jennie Fitzkee

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It’s the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That’s what I write about.

I am highlighted in the the new edition of Jim Trelease’s bestselling book, “The Read-Aloud Handbook” because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.

Connect to Jennie

Blog: https://jenniefitzkee.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jennie.fitzkee

My thanks to Jennie for sharing this lovely post with us today and look out for more next Sunday. In the meantime I hope you will head over to her blog and catch up on her current posts.

If you would like to give some of your posts from the past a little TLC then dust them off and send four links to me at sally.cronin@moyhill.com. If this is your first time on Smorgasbord then please include your links to social media. If you like the experience then we can always look at sharing more.

This is for posts of general interest rather then book promotion, although your work will feature. If you would like to promote your work here then please contact me at the email address above.

Look forward to hearing from you. Thanks Sally.

Something to Think About – Canadian Thanksgiving Day – And a chance to celebrate four years of blogging.

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This post was originally posted in 2015 but with everything that has happened in the last few months on the world stage it seems appropriate on the day that Canada celebrates Thanksgiving to remind ourselves of how much we have in our lives to be thankful for.

It is also four years since I posted my first blog and so a chance to thank some of those who have supported me all the way and to new friends who have brightened my life.

The original concept of Thanksgiving was one of giving thanks for a new life, new home and new friends and that tradition is celebrated around the world in one form or another by different cultures on various days throughout the year.

Today the world is so much smaller as the Internet has enabled us to find friendship, love and common ground in virtually every country that has electricity. But however global our outlook, it is always great to reflect on the people in our lives and those basic needs for our well-being such as a roof over our heads and food on our table.

There are so many who still do not have these simple but essential requirements and that makes me very thankful indeed for the fact that I do.

More than anything else it is the people in my life that have brought the greatest happiness. Some only fleetingly and others who have gone too soon. Some I have been able to physically hug or hold hands with, and others I can only do so virtually. So today I thought I would share some of those who I am thankful for.  Whatever our circumstances it is love and friendship that sustains us through good times and the worst.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you celebrating today and here are some of the things that I am very grateful for and those who will be by my side or in my thoughts.

 

Our families

sally wedding day 1980

sally wedding day 1980

Love

sally wedding day 1980

sally wedding day 1980

Old friends

sally wedding day 1980New Friends

new friends 2

A New Home

Plenty of rain for my flowers!

And last but not least a small selection of the global friends who have supported me and this blog over the last two years and certainly does not include everyone. Thank you so much and if your name is not here it is more about time and space than lack of thought!

Have a wonderful day and I hope that this will give you a nudge to whisper a thank you for everything that you have in your life…

 

Happy Thanksgiving and hugs to everyone.  ♥♥♥ Sally

Smorgasbord Weekly Round Up – Cafe and Bookstore revamp, Archived Post bonanza and great guests.

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Welcome to the weekly round up and so pleased that there have been so many guests this week. Delighted too that the Posts from your Archives has proved so popular. Some wonderful posts this week from Pete Johnson, Debby Gies, Carol Taylor, Jennie Fitzkee and Deana Metzke with more bloggers joining next week with the start of their four week series.

My thanks as always to William Price King, Paul Andruss and Carol Taylor for their contribution to the blog with fabulous posts covering music, mystery and legends and food.

And, last but not least, thank you for your continued support, views, likes, shares and comments...

Here are the posts from the week that you might have missed..

William Price King Meets Some Legends – Sir Tom Jones The Finale

This week was the last part in the series featuring Sir Tom Jones and some of his hits from the last decade. Still going strong at 77, this dynamic performer clearly has a huge following across all age groups.  Here he is in 1977 with another performer who has crossed the decades with style.. Tina Turner and Hot Legs. Next week we begin a new series with that fabulous talent – Dionne Warwick.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/10/04/william-price-king-meets-some-legends-sir-tom-jones-career-and-hits-2007-to-2017/

Writer in residence – Paul Andruss

It was Paul’s birthday yesterday and he recently sent me a post called The Gift and rather than share later in the series, I decided to share on Friday in honour of his special day. Paul writes exclusive posts for Smorgasbord that take a huge amount of research and time to prepare and I am eternally grateful that he accepted the invitation to be writer in residence. I am sure if you missed this post you will enjoy heading over to read. Thought provoking and resulted in some interesting comments.

Thomas the Rhymer

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/10/06/smorgasbord-writer-in-residence-the-gift-by-paul-andruss/

Cook from Scratch with Sally and Carol Taylor and this week the health benefits of watercress and some wonderful recipes provided by Carol after creating in her kitchen in Thailand.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/10/04/smorgasbord-health-cook-from-scratch-with-sally-and-carol-taylor-watercress-more-iron-than-spinach/

The Ultimate Bucket List – the top two items on Luanne Castle’s bucket list… time travel…and read on to find out what else.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/10/08/smorgasbord-sunday-interview-the-ultimate-bucket-list-author-luanne-castle-with-time-travel-and-zeeland/

Posts from your Archives

So pleased at the response to this series which showcases posts from YOUR archives. Perhaps from the start of your blogging career when you may have had fewer followers and you would like to share again with MINE.. It is a way of not only promoting your blog but also if you have books to promote I will add those in too. Email me with four links to posts that you would like to share again. If you want to promote your books then we can do that separately. I am looking for posts that are about life, love, adventure or an experience that you feel made a difference in your life.  Email me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com

Here are this week’s Posts From Your Archives.

Carol Taylor with an entertaining anecdote about her father who despite requiring a walker for mobility managed to do some Cirque de Soleil moves!

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/10/02/posts-from-your-archives-its-not-what-you-look-at-that-matters-but-what-you-see-by-carol-taylor/

Pete Johnson of Beetley Pete with a life changing experience that all parents can relate to.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/10/03/posts-from-your-archives-pete-johnson-with-not-waving-but-drowning/

Deana Metzke shared her experiences with the Olympics and her young son’s reaction to watching on television

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/10/04/posts-from-your-archives-parenting-raising-readers-the-little-engine-that-could-and-the-olympics-by-d-metzke/

D.G. Kaye – Debby Gies with a post on a relationship issue that applies to both male and female partners. When one is receiving more attention and success than the other it can require careful thought and management.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/10/05/posts-from-your-archives-5-indicators-your-partner-may-feel-insecure-with-your-success-and-how-to-rectify-by-d-g-kaye/

Jennie Fitzkee with reflections on the natural and unaffected conversation with young children

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/10/08/posts-from-your-archives-lunchtime-conversations-in-the-classroom-its-important-by-jennie-fitzkee/

New Series – Guess Who I Bumped Into – I shall be doing my usual browse through my readers and will share a blogger each week who is new to me and who I think you might like to meet too. This week  author Peter Davidson who has published 28 books and has just begun a blog.. Marital Advice to my Grandson.. very entertaining.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/10/03/new-series-guess-who-i-just-bumped-into-author-peter-davidson-and-marital-advice-to-my-grandson/

Book Promotions – Air your Reviews – A chance to show case your most recent reviews.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/10/03/smorgasbord-book-promotion-air-your-reviews-judith-barrow-and-vashti-quiroz-vega/

Pure Trash Bette Stevens

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/10/05/smorgasbord-book-promotion-air-your-reviews-paulett-mahurin-teagan-geneviene-and-bette-a-stevens/

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore Updates – New Releases and Reviews

N.B. The cafe and bookstore has had a facelift and over the coming weeks I will be increasing the number of book covers displayed and will also be including and extract from the most recent review for one of those books. The aim is to encourage readers to click the review link and end up in the buy page… I hope it helps.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/10/02/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-joyce-k-gatschenberger-john-w-howell-and-annette-rochelle-aben/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/10/06/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-update-jane-dougherty-mary-smith-and-lucy-brazier/

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore New on the Shelves – New authors on the shelves of the Bookstore… if you would like to be featured then please email me sally.cronin@moyhill.com

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/10/05/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-on-the-shelves-come-back-by-melissa-maygrove/

Odd Jobs and Characters – hosted by author Lyn Horner – My odd jobs that inspire my stories and characters.

This week I get to grips with a sword wielding champagne magnet and fall in love – not a bad day’s work! https://lynhorner.com/2017/10/02/special-guest-sally-cronin-the-odd-jobs-gal-swashbuckle-and-romance/

Media Training for Authors – the series continues with a look at the some of the online watering holes where readers gather. There are several out there and once you get started you can explore others that might suit you better but achieve the same result. Bringing you together with readers and reviews.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/10/07/smorgasbord-media-training-for-authors-advertising-gather-around-the-right-waterholes/

Moyhill Publishing – Update.

Now that the house and garden renovations are nearing the end (garden weather dependent!) Moyhill Publishing is up and running again and we have been working quietly in the background for the last couple of months. We have just received a wonderful testimonial and I have updated some of the details and covers.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/moyhill-publishing-working-with-indie-authors-established-2004/

Health – that time of year when we need to make sure we are making dietary and lifestyle changes to boost our immune system.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/10/02/smorgasbord-health-2017-winterising-your-body-influenza-the-opportunistic-pathogen/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/10/03/smorgasbord-health-2017-cook-from-scratch-snacks-and-dips-for-your-guests/

Smorgasbord Pet health – Hip Dysplasia – get to know your puppy’s relatives.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/10/05/smorgasbord-pet-health-hip-dysplasia-a-good-reason-to-meet-you-puppys-relatives/

Humour

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/10/02/smorgasbord-laughter-academy-some-gender-specific-nouns/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/10/03/afternoon-video-rewind-abstract-art-by-a-mammoth-talent/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/10/04/smorgasbord-laughter-academy-more-observations-on-life-from-cowboys-and-cats/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/10/06/smorgasbord-laughter-academy-dog-language-and-other-canine-behaviours/

Thank you once again for dropping and as always your feedback is very welcome. 

 

Smorgasbord Guest Post – One Foot in front of the other Walking by Julie Lawford.

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Time for another of Julie Lawford’s inspiring posts on lifestyle and weightloss and this week a look at walking. Something most of us do automatically from about the age of 18 months to two years and continue to do so until we die. There are times when we push ourselves physically to lose weight and that is incredibly hard to sustain day after day.. But walking briskly every day is less of a punishment and more a pleasure… as you will discover from Julie today.

With the proliferation of boot camps, gyms and celebrity fitness DVDs, one might easily imagine that exercise is hard work. But I’m getting healthier and steadily losing weight, on a very moderate exercise regime. I would hardly even call it a regime.

Chugging Along

Until the last decade or so, I’d been moderately but consistently active all my life. As a child, I swam (enthusiastically), played hockey (unenthusiastically), netball (defensively), tennis (ambidextrously) and rounders (exceedingly well, if I say so myself). I also walked everywhere, as young people used to do before parents became unpaid taxi services. In my twenties I bounced round a sports hall to the tune of ‘Cecilia’ (Simon & Garfunkel, great bouncy tune) in what used to be called Popmobility classes (that’s before aerobics was even heard of).

Since then, over the years, I’ve been a member of no less than four gyms, including three stints with a personal trainer – and that’s not including the one I dated; I’ve cycled (including, just once, doing the London to Brighton Bike Ride), played squash on a weekly basis, gone swimming with the same frequency, walked a mile each way to and from the train station every day, and joined my neighbours for energetic Sunday morning walks.


Yikes! A walkie selfie – complete with bug-eye shades

My periods of supervision by gym-based personal trainers and the London to Brighton notwithstanding, my approach to exercise has been consistent; moderate in preference to extreme, and gently glowing, in preference to sweating-like-a-pig. But if I think back, I realise that over the years I’ve always done something, to aid my physical fitness and counterbalance my largely desk-based occupations.

Until, that is, it all stopped.

Grinding to a Halt

In 2001 I fell victim to a damaging personal relationship and in the middle of that chaos, I was made redundant; a double-whammy that spawned a crisis of confidence. Determined (that’s a bit of a theme in my life) not to let circumstances and my tattered self-esteem beat me, I joined Weightwatchers. Through 2002 I managed the biggest weight loss I had ever, to that point, achieved. But for reasons I don’t fully understand even now, I couldn’t sustain it and the weight piled back on with staggering rapidity. That was when I lost the impetus to take proper care of myself – I gave up. Then the menopause showed up, slamming into me around 2007 and putting paid to what was left of my energy, motivation and self-discipline – and all bets were off.

I spent much of the next eight years sitting for endless hours on my ever broadening bottom, at one desk or another, in one car or another, or in front of the TV. The fact is, when it comes to general fitness and wellbeing, the less you exercise, the less you want to exercise. And the more you sit, the more you need to sit.

Worth saying, the one thing I kept up, right through from 2007, was a weekly one-to-one Pilates training session, and the modest amount of Pilates I did at home, from week to week. Pilates, whilst rarely aerobic, continues to make a vital contribution to my physical wellbeing. I got into it because of chronic back pain (brought on by carrying too much weight – duh); I stayed because I loved it. But more about Pilates on another occasion.

Cranking up the Engine

When I began my new healthy lifestyle last September, I sought help from a number of different sources. One of these was a Great White Elephant which had, a few years previously, taken up residence in my spare bedroom.

The Great White Elephant

I had, in a moment of madness several years earlier, purchased a full-size gym-grade treadmill. I had, with a burst of good intention, converted my spare bedroom into a mini exercise studio, with wooden floor, a TV mounted on the wall, and a fan for comfort. I installed a couple of pieces of Pilates equipment and a vibrating plate thing – and I bought the treadmill. My rationale was, the easier I made it for myself to exercise, the more likely I was to do it. And you can’t get much easier than stepping on to a treadmill in your own spare bedroom, can you?

As it turned out, even that wasn’t easy enough. But that was more about attitude of mind than anything else. And back then, I didn’t have the right one.

So last September, as I began to nourish my body with better food, I turned to my ignored and abandoned treadmill. I couldn’t quite face walking outdoors. I felt enormous and lumbering and it took only a few hundred yards before my face turned blotchy red and oozed with perspiration. On the treadmill, I could begin gradually, walking slowly for a few minutes – 5 at first, but I got to 15 without too much trouble, and kept going. I gradually increased the speed and length of time I used this instrument of torture, until I became thoroughly bored with staring at the TV and going nowhere.

My local park – not bad for London suburbs

I was deploying positive affirmations by then, which made me feel more engaged with the idea of getting out into the fresh air, and gradually I migrated my (nearly) daily walks from my spare bedroom to three or four circuits of my neighbourhood, varying distances depending on time and inclination, whether it was light enough to walk through the park, and whether I needed to pass by a shop. A few months in, and I added a longer walk into town, which, when combined with a bit of wandering around the shops, got me to 10,000 steps for the day.

I know that’s not a lot – but that’s my point. [Yes… I got to it at last…]. I’ve been losing weight and getting fitter on a modest 6,000 or so steps a day, with maybe one day a week on 10,000 steps. For a home-based worker, a 6,000 step day is a walk of somewhere between 2-2.5 miles or between 30-45 minutes, plus incidental wandering around at home. It’s really not a lot.

Once I got a taste for being outside (frosty, dark mornings in the winter, crisp springtime sunshine, now warmer lunchtime wanderings), I began to actually enjoy my daily walk. Now sometimes I stroll – stop and smell the roses – and other times I walk as fast as I can, using an App to check my pace. Sometimes I rock it with an exercise playlist, and other times I immerse in an audiobook. I go first thing in the morning, or at lunchtime, or when I’m fed up with staring at my PC. I’m trying not to slip into any kind of routine, because I know how all-or-nothing I can be, and I know that the moment I fail at my routine, it will knock me off course – and I don’t want that to happen. I’m just listening to my body, and making sure I enjoy what I’m doing, and never doing it under sufferance.

Now, with summer beginning to show up (odd days only, so far – this is the UK after all), I’m looking forward to getting the sun on my face and arms, to natural Vitamin D, to watching toddlers in the playground; to the scent of wisteria, honeysuckle and fresh mown grass; to the fact that I won’t be bringing in soggy leaves on my shoes, a curse to my cream carpets, for the next few months.

I have friends, slimmer and fitter than I, who regularly walk 5 or 10 miles a day – for fun. Imagine! I’m comfortably able to walk 3 or 4 miles with no undesirable outcomes, and I could certainly do quite a bit more now, though I haven’t yet had the occasion. Later in the year I’m going on a healthy retreat which will involve much longer walks. Meantime, I’m being urged to do the ‘Couch to 5K’ App, and learn to run.

Maybe I’ll get there, I don’t know at the moment if that’s something I’m prepared to put my 56-year-old body through. But in the meantime, I believe the most important thing is not running, nor jogging, nor even how far you walk, but that you walk – every day, or as near as possible. Because once you walk – once you enjoy the experience of putting one foot in front of the other outdoors, you can always walk more, or faster if you feel so moved, and then there’s no end to how far you can go.

©Julie Lawford – first posted 29th May 2016.

About Julie Lawford

Always engaged with the written word, Julie Lawford came to fiction late in the day. Following a career in technology marketing she has been freelance since 2002 and has written copy for just about every kind of business collateral you can imagine. By 2010, she was on the hunt for a new writing challenge and Singled Out – her debut psychological suspense novel – is the result.

Julie is based in London in the UK. Whilst penning her second novel, she still writes – and blogs – for marketing clients.

Singled Out by Julie Lawford

‘There’s something delicious about not being known, don’t you think?’

Brenda Bouverie has come on a singles holiday to Turkey to escape. Intent on indulgence, she’s looking for sun, sea and … distraction from a past she would give anything to change.

But on this singles holiday no one is quite who they seem. First impressions are unreliable and when the sun goes down, danger lies in wait. As someone targets the unwary group of strangers, one guest is alone in sensing the threat.

But who would get involved, when getting involved only ever leads to trouble?

Singled Out subverts the sunshine holiday romance, taking readers to a darker place where horrific exploits come to light, past mistakes must be accounted for and there are few happily-ever-afters.

A simmering psychological suspense laced with moral ambiguities, for fans of Louise Doughty, Sabine Durrant, Gillian Flynn, Elizabeth Haynes, S.J. Watson and Lucie Whitehouse.

The latest review for Singled Out.

Author Julie Lawford and I got chatting originally on twitter where I was envious of her new bookshelves! She had tweeted a photo. On discovering that she had published her debut novel earlier this year, and because I am always nosey where books are concerned, I took a look at its reviews and decided that Singled Out might well be a read for me. I was right – it’s a really good book!

Set on a singles holiday in Turkey, Singled Out is much more than a light beach read. In the very first chapter we meet an anonymous man who is preying on women. We soon learn that he is part of the holiday group, but not which male character he is or which of the female characters are at risk. Lawford deftly presents her story from two perspectives – a straightforward third-person recounting of the tale is interspersed with chapters from the point of view of The Man – and this creates a chillingly creepy atmosphere. I enjoyed trying to pick up clues and then discovering they could be applicable to multiple men. Great writing!

My favourite character is our heroine Brenda with whom I found it easy to empathise. She has a degree of the obligatory tortured soul persona, but is also warm and caring. She loves her food and the frequent descriptions of Turkish cuisine had my mouth watering and almost a plane ticket booked! It is refreshing to read about a woman who is not a stick insect and also not desperately trying to become one, and I liked that she is portrayed as strong, independent and desirable. Jack’s existence is nicely veiled and explored in an intriguing sub-plot.

Lawford’s presentation of people and places makes it easy to envisage what is going on and I know people just like Adele and Veronica. Singled Out is a good crime mystery read that is more about the participants than just the chase. The writing and plot have an interesting splash of originality and this book is definitely a cut above the identikit mainstream norm.

Read all the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Singled-Out-Julie-Lawford-ebook/dp/B00RO1GH28/

Connect to Julie Lawford at her website and on social media.

Website: https://julielawford.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JulieLawford
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/julie.lawford.1
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/julielawford/

You can find the previous guest posts in this directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/guest-writer-julie-lawford-health-and-weightloss/

Thanks for dropping in today and I would love it if you would share Julie’s post – Thanks Sally

 

Writer in Residence – William Blake A Man Born Before his Time by Paul Andruss

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This week Paul Andruss shares an exclusive post written for Smorgasbord. I am guilty of not looking beneath some of the books and poems that I have read. William Blake was required reading at school but I now realise how sanitised those lessons were. We never got to hear the cool bits.. or the events and writings that were frowned upon. And that lack of telling the story of the men and women behind the classics of the day meant that many of us did not revisit them in adulthood. As it was with Blake and for me… However, in his usual well researched and well crafted article, Paul Andruss does what my teacher was not permitted to do and ignited my imagination and desire to know more.

Ancient of Days (Frontispiece from Europe a prophecy- Blake)

William Blake 1757 –1827 is best remembered for lines from a handful of poems.

Jerusalem

And did those feet in ancient time,
Walk upon England’s mountains green?

The Tyger

Tyger, Tyger burning bright,
 In the forests of the night;

Auguries of Innocence

To see a world in a grain of sand
and heaven in a wild flower
Hold infinity in the palms of your hand
and eternity in an hour.
A robin redbreast in a cage
Puts all of heaven in a rage

The Sick Rose –   

O Rose thou art sick.
The invisible worm…
  Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy:
And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy

William Blake 1757 –1827

William Blake was born in 1757 to English Dissenters who had separated from the Church of England over State interference in religious matters. At the age of 10, he had his first brush with the spiritual and mystic realm that came to dominate his life, experiencing a vision of a tree full of angels on Peckham Rye Common. Blake continued to have visions throughout his life.

Around this time his parents sent him to drawing classes. When the young Blake developed a preference for engraving, his father apprenticed him at 14 to a print-maker. As a printer and engraver Blake was able to print his own poetry books illustrated with hand-painted watercolours.

Dismissed as idiosyncratic, his genius was ignored during his lifetime. An exhibition of his paintings was poorly attended and the only review hostile. In his twilight years Blake gathered a small group of disciples who kept his flame flickering until his biography in 1865 introduced him to the poet Swineburne, luminaries in the Arts and Crafts movement and the Pre-Raphaelite Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

The Pre-Raphaelite revival during the hippy era ensured Blake’s rediscovery. His unique artistic style and mystical poems struck a chord with a generation yearning for spirituality. Today he is chiefly remembered for his hand-tinted etchings and two collections of illustrated poems: Songs of Innocence (1789) and Songs of Experience (1794).

A large part of his work languishes unknown. These are his visionary books, a series of almost incomprehensible interrelated illustrated poems. Described by Blake as prophetic and apocalyptic, they show him to be a revolutionist.

A prophet is not a fortune teller but someone God uses as a mouthpiece. For Blake, God was the embodiment of natural truth and justice, while the church was no better than the Biblical Great Whore.

Babylon the Whore mounted on the Great Beast from Revelation (Blake)

In the Greek, Apocalyptic means to uncover or reveal; accounting for the Apocalypse of St John’s other name: the Book of Revelation. Having said that in Blake’s day the word meant the same thing we understand today: the end times. Yet in Revelation, when the old world is swept away, the righteous inherit New Jerusalem. Rather than the penalty of sin, it is the harbinger of heaven on earth.

Blake may have deliberately sheathed his work in allegory because his radical political views were considered treasonable. He was tried for sedition in 1803 after an altercation with a soldier where the old man was supposed to have cried out: ‘Down with the King!’ He was acquitted.

Blake was an advocate of the Free Love Movement, which wasn’t about throwing your car keys into a fruit bowl – I’m pretty sure Mrs Blake would have had something to say about that. Rather it espoused the political equality, and social and sexual freedom of women. It also advocated the removal of all laws against adultery, homosexuality and prostitution. And was the director ancestor of the Suffragettes and Family Planning.

Blake believed marriage was slavery. This was a time when marriages were often arranged. A woman was required to be obedient and subservient to her husband. Her wealth became her spouse’s on marriage. More or less considered her husband’s property, she was obliged to fulfil his needs and condemned to perpetual pregnancy.

It wasn’t until over a century later, Margaret Sanger opened the first birth Control Clinic in New York City in 1921. The police closed it down. A year later, Marie Stopes – scientist, academician, campaigner and author of the best-selling female sexual health manual, Married Love – opened a Birth Control Clinic in West London that fared better.

Blake was an admirer of the radical English philosopher Thomas Payne whose work ‘The Rights of Man’ played a significant role in the American Revolution and provided the blueprint for The American Constitution and The Bill of Rights. He also admired the French Philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau, who most famously said: Man is born free and is everywhere in chains. He may have even met Rousseau during his exile in London during the 1760s.

England was the birthplace of revolution. In 1215 King John capitulated to the barons in the Magna Carta. In the 1649, Parliament executed King Charles who believed he was directly appointed by God. In 1688, the Glorious Revolution saw Parliament overthrow of the Catholic sympathiser James II in favour of a restricted monarchy by his daughter and her husband: William and Mary.

Yet, the American Revolution was viewed as a unique and radical event in that it enshrined the rights of citizens and created an egalitarian society. Although women were not in actuality much better off, the ethos of Revolutionary Motherhood gave women a say in rearing their children and eroded the patriarchal rights of paterfamilias. Marriage focused on love and affection rather than wifely obedience; allowing the next generation to choose their spouses and use birth control.

Educated in the newly translated Greek classics, and struggling to shake off the last shackles of absolutism in religion and politics, Europeans looked on the American Revolution as a renaissance of (in their idealised view) ancient Athens: the birthplace of democracy (rule of the common people). That was in fact a slave owning society that denied rights to women.

America a Prophecy Frontispiece (Blake)

In ‘America a Prophecy’ Blake lauds America for overthrowing tyranny, considering it a beacon of liberty and equality. In ‘Visions of the Daughters of Albion’, he has the women of England look to America, where he believes all discrimination one day will end and where they will receive equal rights.

From the Visions of the Daughters of Albion (Blake)

Blake created a whole mythology around his romanticised version of England. He renamed the country Albion, after a giant who settled here island and whose sons and daughters inhabited it for a thousand years until Brutus came from Troy… the story which begins Geoffrey of Monmouth’s ‘History of the British Kings’.

Blake was very much in tune with contemporary historical ideas when he created his mythology, borrowing heavily from the Bible, including the newly translated excluded books, fragments of classical myth and medieval works such as Geoffrey of Monmouth and the ancient Welsh Black Book of Carmarthen and Red Book of Hergest.

As with all his work, at the heart of his mythology is a lament for the loss of the traditional rural past and a condemnation of the industrialisation and urbanisation ruining England’s once green and pleasant land. Blake’s poem Jerusalem (in full below) is a plea to end the madness of modernity and return to Eden, where Adam and Eve were equal.

It references the medieval story of Jesus visiting Glastonbury in England with his uncle Joseph of Arimathea. Christ’s presence made England a holy land; a New Jerusalem. Where, in the words of John Ball’s sermon preached 400 years earlier during the Peasant’s Revolt…

‘When Adam delved and Eve span who was then the gentleman? From the beginning all men by nature were created alike, and our bondage or servitude came in by the unjust oppression of naughty men… I exhort you to consider that now the time is come, appointed to us by God, in which ye may (if ye will) cast off the yoke of bondage, and recover liberty’

During his life Blake saw the agricultural villages and cottage industries that characterised Britain since the Middle-Ages, being overturned by farming machinery and more efficient practices requiring fewer workers. Common land was enclosed by landowners – preventing tenant farmers and smallholders the right to graze animals on common ground – denying an important source of additional income and effectively reducing them to servitude.

Abandoning the traditional way of life, the rural poor flocked to the newly expanding squalid overcrowded cities. Here they were forced to work long hours for little money and less consideration, as unskilled labour in the new steam powered manufactories – giving us the modern word factory.

Is it any wonder the French industrial poor threw wooden clogs into the machines that destroyed their livelihoods? The wooden clog or sabot gave rise to the name Saboteur.

Some analysts equate the ‘dark Satanic mills’ of Blake’s Jerusalem not with the new manufactories but the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford – spewing out the new-age men of science and engineering, and the clergy who enslaved Christ’s own Englishmen for the greedy landowner and fell industrialist.

Others, less given to allegory, point out he could be referring to Albion Flour Mills the first big factory in London, situated close to Blake’s house. When it burned down, possibly due to arson, a contemporary illustration showed the devil squatting over the burning building.

In 1776, France had helped the American Revolutionaries. This was more to piss off the English than for any genuine fellow feeling. The French Monarchy was far more totalitarian.

Thirteen years later it seemed only fair the Americans should in turn help the French Revolutionaries … despite their actions not displaying much gratitude to the French king. (In thanks, the French Republic later gifted America with the Statue of Liberty. Constructed by Gustav Eiffel, a copy gifted by America to France, stands in Paris not far from Eiffel’s Tower.)

With the French Revolution came another prophetic book ‘Europe a prophecy’, where Blake praised the French, as he had the Americans, for having the courage to do what the English would not: embrace liberty, fraternity and equality. This has led some to consider ‘The Tyger’ (in full below) a paean to the French Revolution.

Blake’s fervour is evident in lines like

What the hand, dare seize the fire?

A reference to Prometheus, who stole fire from the gods, putting man above the rest of creation; which begs the question: if man is the pinnacle of creation why are some less than others?

And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand & what dread feet

The French Revolution began among the poor and disenfranchised – the labourer working with his hands to produce a wealth he does not share. His tools, used to make profit for others, will now smash his chains. Its revolutionary anthem was the marching song ‘La Marseillaise’’ calling volunteers from Marseilles to fight tyranny-

“To arms, citizens,
Form your battalions,
Let’s march, let’s march!
Let an impure blood
Soak our fields!”

The Tyger’s concluding lines can be simultaneously read in two contradicting ways.

Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Is Blake parodying his earlier poem ‘The Lamb’ (from Songs of Innocence) with a jab at the complacent and long-suffering English working class; unfavourably compared to their French brothers?

In his complex mythology Blake thought Christ visited England. If Christ is the Good Shepherd; we are his flock. Unlike the tigers of France, Englishmen are content to be sheep and so he wonders: Is the god of universal justice, pleased to see his chosen people bought off by boiled beef and carrots?

By the time the poem was published in 1794, the ideals of the Revolution were lost to the Reign of Terror. Aristocrats and citizens alike where daily denounced and guillotined to the clack of les tricoteuses’ knitting needles. Worse the Terror played into the hands of the English Establishment who had always belittled the Revolution. The English press jocularly compared English Slavery to French Liberty in contemporary cartoons.

French Liberty and English Slavery (a satirical cartoon)

Because the Tyger is a savage beast who knows only how to destroy and devour, do we, in Blake’s last lines, hear his despair that man, by his very nature, is incapable of embracing the universal justice of brotherhood, equality and freedom?

End-piece to Jerusalem (Blake)

JERUSALEM

And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England’s mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England’s pleasant pastures seen?

And did the Countenance Divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among these dark Satanic Mills?

Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!

I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England’s green and pleasant land.

THE TYGER
Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies.
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand, dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain,
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp,
Dare its deadly terrors clasp!

When the stars threw down their spears
And water’d heaven with their tears:
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

©Paul Andruss 2017

About Paul Andruss

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Finn Mac Cool

Paul has written four novels, Finn Mac Cool, and the (Harry-Potteresque) Jack Hughes Trilogy. ‘Finn Mac Cool’ and ‘Thomas the Rhymer’ are available for free download

Connect to Paul on social media.

Blog: http://www.paul-andruss.com/
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/paul.andruss.9
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Paul_JHBooks
Google+  https://plus.google.com/s/+jackhughesbooks

You can find all of Paul’s posts in this directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/writer-in-residence-writer-paul-andruss/

Thank you for dropping by today and please feel free to share the post on your own blog and networks.

Smorgasbord Poetry – Requiem for a Grandfather by Sally Cronin

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I wrote verses from a very early age and filled books with them. Then I moved onto short stories; only rarely written anything but the occasional haiku. However, I am revisiting my scribbles and reworking some that go back nearly 50 years.

This one is a little more recent and is the poem that I wrote following my first visit to my grandfather’s grave in Northern France in 1998.

My mother was thirteen months old when her father was killed on November 2nd 1918. He was 31 years old and had been home for her birth following his third wound of the war since joining up in 1914. He had received this latest one when rescuing one of his officers from the front line. He received the Military Medal for his bravery.

He returned to the front when Mollie was six months old.  Her mother told her stories about him and that is the only thing that she could pass on as the few photographs she had were lost. The location of his grave in a small village of Poix du Nord in Northern France was only discovered by my sister Diana in the early 1990s and she and her husband took my mother shortly afterwards.

We visited again with my mother in 1998 when we were living about 70 kilometres away in Brussels. Standing there 80 years after his death it felt very emotional to imagine that this young man, Herbert James Francis Walsh, had died  so young but had still managed to  pass on his genes to those of us standing by his graveside, and since then to two more generations.

REQUIEM FOR A GRANDFATHER By Sally Cronin

I know you through my mother’s words
Even though she was so small when you left.
Her mother told her of your life
And how your sacrifice left her bereft.

Born back in Victoria’s reign
An Irishman, black haired, tall smiling bright
You courted a builder’s daughter
It was love for both of you at first sight.

Came war and you were first in line
To stand and fight for your adopted land.
How proud you looked so tall and strong
As you marched to the docks, kit bag in hand.

A soldier and a hero too
You never once turned your back on duty.
But returned time and time again
Horror muted by a new born beauty.

When the remaining few came home
To parades, loved ones and welcoming arms.
You stayed behind to guard your men
As they lay amid the burnt out French farms.

Today you lie in foreign soil
Tended by strangers who honour your name.
But you also live here in hearts
And a young child’s face whose smile is the same.

Your brief life carries on in us
And on and on through generations strong.
So even far in the future
A child with your blue eyes will read this song.

©sallycronin1997

I hope to post a poem a week but you are very welcome to send either a link to your own poetry or share one here with the story that inspired it.. my email is sally.cronin@moyhill.com

William Price King meets some Legends – Dame Shirley Bassey – The Early Years

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Welcome to the new series of William Price King meets some Legends and for me this is definitely a trip down memory lane. Dame Shirley Bassey was part of my childhood and teen years as my parents were devoted fans. I can remember my father calling out to my mother in the kitchen of their flat, to hurry back as Shirley was just coming on. Sunday Night at the London Palladium and The Royal Variety Performance were always the more special if Shirley Bassey was the headliner.

Over to William now to tell us more about her early life and to share some of the first public performances. As you will see life was not easy for the young Shirley Bassey which is why the first video might be considered appropriate.

Climb Ev’ry Mountain,” is an inspirational Rodgers and Hammerstein show tune from the musical “The Sound of Music.” Shirley Bassey’s cover of this song went straight to the top of the charts in the UK, peaking at #1 in 1961. Young Shirley Bassey gives an amazing performance in this emotional piece.

The Early years

Shirley Veronica Bassey was born in Tiger Bay (Butetown) Cardiff, Wales.  The docklands were established in the 18th century by the Bute family who owned most of the land in Cardiff as the new coal mining industry made Cardiff the capital city of wales. This caused a population explosion and dockworkers and sailors from across the world settled in nearby neighbourhoods known as Tiger Bay because of the verocious currents in the tidal stretches of the River Severn.

The records show that migrant communities from up to 45 different nationalities including Norway, Somali, Spain, Italy, Ireland and the Caribbean made this a melting pot and created a multicultural community that Shirley Bassey was born into.

Obviously being so close to the docks Tiger Bay developed a tough reputation with a flourishing red-light district and crime mostly unsolved with the suspects shipping in and out of the busy port.  However, from accounts of the day the locals who took up permanent residence reported a much more friendly and community minded spirit to the place.

Shirley was the youngest child of Henry Bassey and Eliza Start and was born in 1930 and then she grew up in the next community of Splott. Henry Bassey was Nigerian and her mother came from Teeside. Eliza had four children from previous relationships and by the time Shirley arrived the house was filled with two half-sisters, three sisters and a brother.

Surprisingly, considering the force of nature that Shirley Bassey is on stage, she was a quiet and shy child. She attended Moorland Road primary school and even at this young age the teachers did notice that she had a strong voice but she was given little encouragement.

“Even in the school choir the teacher kept telling me to back off till I was singing in the corridor!” A classmate recalled her singing the refrain “Can’t help lovin’ that man of mine”’ from “Show Boat” with such feeling that she made their teacher uncomfortable.”

Shirley went on to Splott Secondary Modern School but left at age 14 to work in a factory whilst performing in public houses and clubs in the evenings and weekends.

At age 16, Shirley Bassey signed her first professional contract to sing in a touring variety show  “Memories of Jolson,” a musical based on the life of Al Jolson.

“I knew I was a singer the first time I heard applause,” she would say later. But her love for song wasn’t what drove her to hit the road. “I think what really motivated me to leave Cardiff was that I wanted to travel,” says the singer, who these days owns homes in everywhere from Marbella to Monte Carlo. “I didn’t know as a 16-year-old that singing would be a springboard for my wanderlust. I wanted to be a model, I wanted to be a nurse, I wanted to be an air hostess. I thought all those things would get me travelling.”

This first tour was followed by an engagement in  “Hot from Harlem,” which ran until 1954. However, Shirley Bassey became pregnant and refusing to name the father was forced to return to Cardiff and wait tables until after the birth of her daughter. Her sister, Sharon took in the baby whilst Shirley returned to performing in various theaters until she was noticed by the band leader and impresario Jack Hylton in 1955.

By the 1950s Jack Hylton had already enjoyed a successful career as a band leader and toured both the UK and the USA.  He had met many of the early jazz greats and in fact is credited with bring Duke Ellington to the UK in 1933. An astute businessman Jack had also become director and major shareholder of Decca records.

At the time that he discovered Shirley Bassey he was a successful impresario managing radio, film and theater productions from ballets to circuses. He dominated London theaters with productions such as The Merry Widow, Kiss Me Kate and Kismet.

On meeting Shirley Bassey he invited her to feature in Al Read’s “Such is Life” at the Adelphi Theater in the West End. This brought her to the attention of entertainment agent Mike Sullivan who was impressed with this young singer’s powerful voice and he began to manage her career. One of his first moves was to change her image and the butterfly that emerged in her daring off the shoulder dresses and sophistocated performances was born.

This show was a turning point for Shirley Bassey as it put her firmly in the spotlight on stage and television. Phillips record prouducer Johnny Franz was impressed and offered her a recording contract which resulted in her first single  “Burn My Candle,” released in February 1956.  Owing to the suggestive lyrics, the BBC banned it, but it sold well enough nonetheless, backed with her powerful rendition of “Stormy Weather.”

Compared with Eartha Kitt, Lena Horne and Judy Garland (who she said she tried to “emulate”) Shirley Bassey scored her first Top 10 hit in Britain with the “Banana Boat Song.” This is a traditional Jamaican folk song commonly classified as as a work song, with a repeated melody and refrain (called call and response). It is also an example of calypso music.

This was followed in 1958 with two singles that would become much loved classics by the growing fans of her singing.  “As I love you,” written by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans for the film “The Big Beat” in 1958 and recorded by Shirley Bassey with the Wally Stott Orchestra, was very well received by critics and the public. “As I Love You” was originally released as the B-side of another ballad, “Hands Across the Sea.” This was Bassey’s first #1 single in Britain.

Later that year Shirley Bassey signed to EMI’s Columbia label and she was ready for the next phase in her long and successful career.

Buy Dame Shirley Bassey’s music: https://www.amazon.com/Shirley-Bassey/e/B000AQ2D9K

Additional material
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiger_Bay
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shirley_Bassey

About William Price King

William Price King is an American jazz singer, musician and composer. Originally he studied classical music and opera but over the years his style has evolved to what many refer to as the ‘sweet point’ where music and voice come together so beautifully.

His vocal mentors are two of the greatest giants in jazz, Nat King Cole and Mel Torme. His jazz album, ‘Home,’ is a collection of contemporary songs and whilst clearly a homage to their wonderful legacy it brings a new and refreshing complexity to the vocals that is entrancing.

His latest album Eric Sempe and William Price King is now available to download. The repertory includes standards such as “Bye Bye Blackbird” (a jazz classic), Sting’s “Englishman in New York,” Queen’s “The Show Must Go On”, Led Zepplin’s “Stairway to Heaven” and other well-known jazz, pop, and rock classics.

William and Eric Sempe have also brought their own magic to the album with original tracks such as Keep on Dreaming and Red Snow with collaboration with Jeanne King
Download the new album. http://cdbaby.com/cd/williampriceking

William is currently in France where he performs in popular Jazz Venues in Nice and surrounding area.

Connect to William

Website – http://www.williampriceking.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/WilliamPriceKing
Twitter – @wpkofficial
Regular Venue – http://cave-wilson.com/
ITunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/william-price-king/id788678484

Previous Legends can be found here:

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/william-price-king-meets-some-legends/

You will find the previous artists..  Luciano Pavarotti, Andrea Bocelli, Kiri Te Kanawa in this directory.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/classical-music-with-william-price-king/

And for the Jazz in this directory.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/william-price-king-jazz-and-music-series/

Smorgasbord Short Stories – The Flying Officer by Sally Cronin

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The first time Patrick Walsh saw her, was as he wended his way slowly down the hill between the slow moving trucks on his motorbike. The road was lined with women and old men who were handing out hastily cut sandwiches and mugs of tea to the men in the trucks, whose outstretched hands gratefully received these simple acts of kindness. It was clear from the their faces that they found the peaceful summer skies overhead, and clamour of women’s voices, a much needed reminder of home and safety.

He knew where they had come from, as for the last six days he had been flying over them as they had scrambled into small boats to be ferried out to the larger naval vessels waiting to take them to safety. He and his squadron were a part of the massive air defence operaton. Thousands of soldiers were pouring off the beaches having gathered over the last few days from the surrounding countryside; exposed and being attacked by superior German forces. On the last run today his spitfire had received a direct hit to the cockpit from a persistent Messerschmitt Me 109; luckily missing his head by inches apart from a cut over his eye, earning him a few hours respite. His plane would be ready to fly first thing in the morning. The ground crews at all fighter squadrons were working around the clock to get pilots back in the air until the evacuation from the French coast was complete.

As he carefully maneuvered between the trucks he responded to the shouts from the men above him with a small wave. He knew that their good natured jibes were aimed at his uniform and the wings that it displayed, and that their friendly ribbing was their way of showing gratitude. He decided that it would be easier to wait until the convoy had passed to continue into the village square. He dismounted, standing by the hedge to watch the villagers as they persisted in their need to comfort these dispirited men with tea and offerings of food.

She stood out from the crowd of women. Tall with long red hair tied back with an emerald green ribbon, she was dressed in overalls and wore heavy boots. She had a natural elegance as she darted between an older woman, holding a tea tray piled with jam sandwiches, and the trucks. Despite the men’s exhaustion, eager hands grasped the food, winking and flirting with the prettiest thing they had seen for a long while.

Patrick leaned back against the saddle of his bike and let himself enjoy this brief moment of humanity that was so rare today. He had been flying since the first weeks of the war and his squadron had suffered huge losses; particularly in the last few weeks as they had provided air cover for the retreating British forces. They had been warned that far worse was to come as the enemy amassed both fighters and bombers for an all-out offensive on the country. Having already lost many friends, Patrick knew that it was only a matter of time before he became a statistic.

Some of his fellow pilots and aircrew decided that they would live as hard as they fought. There were plenty of pretty girls around the station that were delighted to dance the night away and bring some laughter and sometimes love into the young men’s lives. He had seen the results of these whirlwind romances at the Saturday night dance in the village hall. As the airmen arrived in an ever changing group of young men, expectant faces would be watching the door and it was not unusual to see a girl being led away in tears by her friends.

Patrick loved to dance but gently refused the invitations to take to the floor and over the last few months he had become regarded as something of a misery. His friends gave up on their attempts to persuade him that he should live for the moment, and with a wry smile he listened to the chat up lines that were guaranteed to pull the heartstrings of a pretty girl.

But now as he watched the red head flying back and forth and smiling up at the men in the trucks, he felt an overwhelming urge to hold her in his arms and waltz around a dance floor. He shook his head and reminded himself that it would only lead to heartbreak for her, and he couldn’t bear the thought of those beautiful green eyes filling with tears.

An hour later the last truck in the convoy disappeared through the village square and out of sight. There would be more coming through from the coast, and Patrick watched as the crowd of villagers gathered up their cups and trays and disappeared back into their homes. They would prepare more from their meagre rations for the next wave of returning soldiers and be waiting for them by the roadside. He remained by the hedge until the red headed girl had linked arms with her mother and entered her house before riding down to the square.

‘Patrick, are you awake my friend?’ The voice of his Polish friend Jakub intruded into his daydream about dancing with his stunning red head.

‘Just about, do you want to go to the Black Swan for a beer? He sat up and rested his head in his hands and tried to bring his mind back to reality.

He looked around the Nissen hut that was their home, taking in the four empty cots that waited for the new arrivals. They would be mostly teenagers with only a few hours flying solo, and none of them in combat. He was only twenty-four, but he felt like an old man compared to the fresh faced and eager boys that would come through that door tomorrow.

It was now August and the skies were filled with formations of enemy bombers most nights. His plane was grounded again having the undercarriage repaired after a problem on his last landing. His mechanic said he had the ‘luck of the Irish’. Patrick was well aware that he was now one of only a handful of pilots remaining from the original group a year ago; he knew that his luck was bound to run out sooner or later. There was just one thing that he needed tonight, and that was the sight of Red, and she would be helping out her dad behind the bar at the Black Swan.

Two hours later he and Jakub sat quietly at a corner table with their glasses of beer. One beer was the limit as both of them would be back in the skies tomorrow; a cockpit was no place for lack of concentration. Jakub was married and expecting his first child and was happy to sit quietly in the warm and welcoming atmosphere thinking about his next leave in a week’s time. Patrick however spent his time watching Red as she served customers and laughed with the regulars. That laugh was in his head and was added to all the other pieces of her that he carried with him as he flew missions. The thought of those green eyes helped dispel the voice of the other constant companion that was by his side each time he buckled himself into the cockpit. Her presence in his heart and mind had helped him control his fear; bringing the realisation that he was in love for the first time in his life.

Over the weeks since that first day on the hill, there had been moments in the pub, when he would catch her eye and they would both smile then look away. By sitting at the bar when he popped in alone, he had gathered more information about her. She wasn’t called Red of course, but Georgina and Georgie to her friends. She didn’t seem to have a boyfriend amongst the regulars who frequented the pub, and one day he overheard that she had been engaged to a soldier who had been killed within weeks of the war starting.

He would watch as she gently refused all attempts by eager young warriors to take her on a date, realising that her heart had already been broken. This reinforced his resolve not to give in to the growing need to tell Georgie of his feelings; convinced it would only bring her further sorrow.

Through the rest of the summer months missions intensified, with both daylight and night bombing raids on the docks and major cities; almost bringing the country to its knees. In the October the tide began to turn, but not without the loss of thousands of fighter pilots and bomber air crews. It was then that Patrick’s luck ran out as he limped home with a badly damaged plane and shrapnel injuries in his chest and arm.

Patrick fought to stay conscious as the plane shuddered and bucked as he flew using his one good hand. Blood from a head wound almost blinded him, but as he saw the runway rushing up to meet him, he managed to bring the nose around and head for the grass to the side. The last thing that he thought about as the world went black was Georgie’s face and laugh.

A month later Patrick got one of the pilots to drop him off at the Black Swan and he walked into the early evening quiet of the bar. He had just received his new orders on his return from the hospital. From Monday he would be moving into an intelligence role where his experience in combat could be put to use. He was making a good recovery, but the extensive injuries to his arm meant the end of his flying career; now he would be ensuring that he kept others safe in the skies. In one way he felt that he was abandoning those that he regarded as family in their close knit squadron, but he also knew that it offered him the opportunity to fulfil a dream that was equally important.

Georgie was polishing glasses and looked up to greet the new customer with her usual smile but instead she took a deep breath. As he moved closer Patrick could see that there were tears in her glorious green eyes. Georgie stepped out from behind the bar and walked towards him, glancing at his arm in its sling and the scar that was etched into his forehead. She stood in front of him and neither spoke for a moment until he reached out his good arm to take her hand.

‘Is there any chance that you might let me take you to the dance tomorrow night?’

She smiled through her tears. ‘How are you going to be able to dance with only one free arm?’

He pulled her into him and looked down at the lips that he had imagined kissing so many times in the last few months.

‘Don’t worry Red… I’ll manage just fine.’

 

©sallycronin 2017

Thank you for dropping in and I hope you enjoyed the story. Thanks Sally

Sally’s Bookstore and Cafe – Book of the Week – Words We Carry by D.G. Kaye

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sally's cafe and bookstore

Welcome to the new series where I will be featuring one of the books on the shelves of the cafe and bookstore. There are now over 100 authors and their books, with more added each week as they are promoted in the regular features. To join the other authors you will need to be promoted in those posts first and here is the link for how you can do this.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/book-promotion-smorgasbord-summer-reading/

Book of the Week  kicks off with  Words We Carry by talented non-fiction author and friend to many of us in this blogging community, D.G. Kaye.. also known as the elegant and charistmatic Debby Gies. It so happens that Words We Carry is on offer all of this week.

Special purchase price for Words We Carrywww.smarturl.it/bookwordswecarry

5148dy-kWHL._UY250_First here is D.G Kaye with a few words about the book and I have also selected one or two reviews that the book has gathered from readers.

Words We Carry focuses around women’s self-esteem issues. My essays focus on my own experiences I suffered from my younger years when I was left to feel inadequate and harbored a deep inferiority complex.

Being a memoir, the stories are told through my own struggles, and I share the methods I used to try and conquer my own feelings of low self-esteem.

The stories progress with the impact that the residual damages have on our feelings of insecurity as we carry through into life and relationships.

Women of all ages can relate to this book. Ridicule, nor abuse of any sort should ever be tolerated. My goal when writing was to share and empower not just women, but men too who have endured similar events in their own lives.

Blurb

“I have been a great critic of myself for most of my life, and I was darned good at it, deflating my own ego without the help of anyone else.”

What do our shopping habits, high-heeled shoes, and big hair have to do with how we perceive ourselves? Do the slights we endured when we were young affect how we choose our relationships now?

D.G. takes us on a journey, unlocking the hurts of the past by identifying situations that hindered her own self-esteem. Her anecdotes and confessions demonstrate how the hurtful events in our lives linger and set the tone for how we value our own self-worth.

Words We Carry is a raw, personal accounting of how the author overcame the demons of low self-esteem with the determination to learn to love herself.

A selection of reviews for the book.

I just now finished “Words We Carry” and wanted to come here and write a review while it was still fresh on my mind. But it is actually the kind of book that you will draw from as needed in different circumstances as the occassion may arise.

It is a journey through this author’s life, describing the effect that words have had on her. And it really makes you think twice. It helps you kind of re-evaluate your own life and agree with a lot of the points she brings up and has you feeling not so alone in your own journey.

D.G. Kaye makes you feel as if you are sitting at her kitchen table, just having a friendly conversation about “life” and experiences we have as women. I wish I’d read “Words We Carry” in my twenties! She makes you think that other people think and feel and have had the same experiences as you. She talks about abuse and red flags, jealousy and lonliness. It is empowering and real and was timely for me, since I just quit a job of ten years and am beginning a new one next week!

A great gift for young girls just moving away or someone like me who has already lived a half a century, and am starting a new job! Thumbs up on this one!I am becoming an avid fan of D.G. Kaye books!Can’t wait for the next one.

I really gained a lot from reading Ms. Kaye’s memoir. I appreciated her struggles with self-esteem and how she came to terms with herself and began living life on her terms. I appreciated her candor about the process and her advice for how other women can do the same. And yes…I’ve been more conscious of wearing my lipstick…thanks D. G. 🙂

 Special purchase price for Words We Carry : www.smarturl.it/bookwordswecarry

Also by D.G. Kaye

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Buy all of D.G. Kaye’s Books : http://www.amazon.com/author/dgkaye7

About D.G. Kaye.

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D.G. Kaye was born and resides in Toronto, Canada. She is the author of Conflicted Hearts – A Daughter’s Quest for Solace From Emotional Guilt, Meno-What? – A Memoir, and Words We Carry. D.G. is a nonfiction/memoir writer. Kaye writes about her life experiences, matters of the heart and women’s issues.

D.G. writes to inspire others. Her writing encompasses stories taken from events she encountered in her own life, and the lessons that were taken from them. Her sunny outlook on life developed from learning to overcomes some of the many obstacles that challenged her. From an emotionally neglected childhood, to growing up with a narcissistic mother, leaving her with a severely deflated self-esteem, D.G. began seeking a path to rise above her issues. When she isn’t writing intimate memoirs, Kaye brings her natural sense of humor into her other works.

D.G. began writing when pen and paper became tools to express her pent-up emotions during a turbulent childhood. Her writing began as notes and cards she wrote for the people she loved and admired when she was afraid to use her voice.

Through the years, Kaye journaled about life, writing about her opinions on people and events and later began writing poetry and health articles for a Canadian magazine as her interest grew in natural healthcare. Kaye became interested in natural healing and remedies after encountering a few serious health issues. Against many odds, D.G. has overcome adversity several times throughout her life.

D.G. began writing books to share her stories and inspiration. Her compassion and life experiences inspire her to write from the heart. She looks for the good and the positive in everything, and believes in paying it forward.

“For every kindness, there should be kindness in return, Wouldn’t that just make the world right?”

D.G.’s Favourite Saying: “Live. Laugh. Love …and don’t forget to breathe!

When D.G. is not writing, she’s reading. Her favourite genres of reading are: biographies, memoirs, writing and natural health. Kaye loves to read about people who overcome adversity, victories and redemption and believes we have to keep learning–there is always room for improvement! She loves to cook, travel, and play poker (when she gets the chance).

Links to connect with Debby.

Goodreads – http://www.goodreads.com/dgkaye
Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/pokercubster
Blog – http://www.dgkayewriter.com
Facebook –   http://www.facebook.com/dgkaye
Google   –   http://www.google.com/+DebbyDGKayeGies
LinkedIn – http://www.linkedin.com/in/dgkaye7

Thanks for joining us today for the first Book of the Week from the Cafe and Bookstore. Please help promote Debby’s book on promotion by sharing. Thanks Sally