Genesis of a Memoir

Our youngest grandson, Jake, asked us ‘What was it like when you were my age?’ and how could he know as I rarely spoke of my upbringing to him or the other grandchildren?  This prompted me to write a memoir whose title was suggested by Jake’s mother Megan, “Me, My Beard and I”.  I had bought Anna Meryt’s book on writing a memoir and  my original plan was to print it using my laser onto A4 pages but as I began writing I thought that something better could be produced and decided to self publish a “proper book”.  We already had ISBN numbers and had used a great printer, One Digital,  for the Enfield Poets Anthology so I was all set.

I then decided to include some photos and this is one of me at about 18 months.  I still wear baggy trousers and braces.

Bearded in 1963

Mutton chops in the mid 70s

After I had written a couple of chapters I thought to join the Life Writing class run by the Bishopsgate institute tutored by Nick Barley.  In fact I enrolled with two of his courses and learnt much which meant re-writing!  Nick also encouraged us to plan the book and so I laid out the chapters with a sketch of how I wanted the story to unfold and the order in which the chapters were to be.   I then joined a short story writing class with Barbara Marsh  which was very interesting and helpful and lead to more re-writing!  Eventually I was able to manage 40,000 words, not many for a book but loads for me.  It covered from 1943 to about 1964.

The research, choosing the photos to use, all caused me to reflect on my life and enabled me to better understand why things happend the way and when they did.  I gained a different perspective of what had happend which was both useful and enjoyable.

Next came the design and layout a process I found very interesting.  First came the size and I decided upon B5, next type face and I thought Palatino Linotype looked good, is very readable and had a certain gravitas. The paper was 90 GSM and suggested by the printer. All this was fairly straightforward.  Other aspects were to resize the page, choose margin size, make sure every word was in the correct font which I found painstaking but MS Word enabled me to do all of this.  I am not good at detail.  The printer asked for text and images as PDF files and sent back a digital proof and the pages numbered.  This enabled me to finish the contents page.  Jools Barrett designed a wonderful front cover using a photo taken by granddaughter Holly and I decided to use my poem “Railing” for the back cover. and all was set, I just need to review the hard copy proof which I am reading in the Feature Image at the top of the page.

One Digital have impressive machinery and are extremely helpful and sent me some images and video of my book beaing printed and on the way to be trimmed.

And here are the pre-trimmed books.

And they arrived, on time!!!  Only 60 copies but already I am planning volume 2. Next I intend to publish my first collection of poetry ‘Goddess and Other Poems’

My Mother’s Great Love; Wiktor Szubania

I’m writing my memoirs, Me, My Beard and I.  It was Grandson Jake’s idea and Daughter Megan suggested the title.  I have completed the first draft and, to my surprise, written about 145,000 words and I expect it to be about 150,000 when finished. The idea is to write of my early life, my parents and close relatives for the children and grandchildren and my Mother’s story is part of this.  I was always told that my mother’s first , and I think, only love was a Polish Naval captain whom I only knew as Wiktor.  They were not allowed to marry as he was “foreign” and that he was Catholic I suspect.  I only remember  meeting him once.  Dad financed a fish and chip shop for him after the War and I went there once with my parents in about 1950.  It must have been difficult for him after the excitement of the war being helped by the man married to his Love.

My mother drove an ambulance in and around Rochester during the war and was bombed twice in the depot so she too had an exciting time.  She and her sister Margaret would visit the officers’ mess on one of the Polish Navy vessels where the officers would ply them with vodka and one of them was Wiktor.







The three sisters.  My mother on the right, Margaret the centre and Georgie on the left.  At this time Georgie was away in the Wrens.













I had seen photos of Wiktor in my mother’s wartime album but I could not read her hand writing so could not decipher his last name.  Whilst choosing photos for the memoir I mentioned this to a Polish friend and she offered to see if she could read his name and so I now know him as Wiktor Szabunia and his photo is to the right.  It would have been taken in my Grandparent’s garden.  Though they were not allowed to marry my Grandfather did much to entertain both British and Polish Naval personnel.


Justyna Googled Wiktor and, to her surprise found a Facebook page dedicated to the Polish Navy and that Wiktor was one of 12 officers rescued after the ORP Grom was sunk by a Henkel bomber in May 1940. The Grom was the most feared ship in the Norwegian waters because of its relentless pursuit of German naval vessels.  Wiktor must have been posted to a vessel in Chatham where he met my mother.

The featured image is of the 12 officers but I would like to repeat it here.

Wiktor is, I think, on the far right.

I suspect from the coquettish look on my Mother’s face, Wiktor took this photo.

In July 1953, there is an entry in my mother’s autograph book that Wiktor Szabunia and Helen, perhaps his wife,  came to dinner at the same time as Ebba and Torben from Denmark.  It is interesting as Ebba was my Father’s lover when he was in Denmark at the end of the War.  I can remember Torben for some reason but not the others though shadows are beginning to appear in my mind as I write.  It was only eight years after the end of the War so it could have been some sort of reunion.

More Things I like in our Home

The featured image is the collection of dried flowers that Valerie arranges in an old shopping basket on the top of the cupboards in our kitchen.  Every now-and-then she changes some to they always look wonderful.  She also has a collection of interesting objects to the left of the flowers including a range of invalid feeding bottles.  I enjoy looking at the diffent things, imagine how they were used, by whom and it looks very attractive when the fairy lights are switched on.


Valerie is very pleased with the half pint milk bottle that she found whilst mudlarking on the Thames with Cheryl who was over from the USA.

You can see it here  above the bunch of old keys.   On its left is a stoneware inhaler designed to allow the breathing in  of medicated steam.  In the stone marmalade jar, bottom centre, is the bullhead tin opener that Elwyn gave us.  An efficient opener but it does produce a very jagged edge.




I am not a Hindu but I have an affinity with Lord Ganesha who has helped me over the years and on my bedside cabinet I have a little carved, portable shrine of Him and Saraswati Goddess of music and writing, culture.  There are many statuettes of the Elephant headed God around the bungalow. By my left shoulder, as I write, is a  statuette of a very slim Ganesha.  Normally he has a magnificent belly that contains the universe.  Some 40 or more years ago during the relaxation period at the end of a yoga session a bright and intense scene appeared in my mind of an elephant-headed man dressed in Indian clothes, where there was supposed to be a rose that we’d been instructed to visualise.  He was leaning against a tree preaching to a small group and it was very hot and sunny.  I opened my eyes and it appeared on the ceiling about two metres across.  It was as bright as a film, I closed my eyes and it stayed.  This went on for about 15 minutes until the instructor called us back into the present. At the time I was ignorant of what I had seen.  I told the yoga instructor about it who, during the next session, informed me it was something that happens and to forget about it. Years later, I met her in Kings Lyn, when she said that the council were very worried and told her to mislead me in this way.  Much later I came to realise what I had seen and to realise that it was a very special moment that I was privileged to have had.  I can still see the scene, as vivid as a video, when I close my eyes.


The image on the left is of the window by my chair.  We bought the lovely Art Deco statuette at  the Southgate auction house, she is beautiful and so joyful.  I’d hoped it was a Chiparus but it is unsigned and on a cheap base so, though lovely, it probably isn’t.  In front of the glass plate on the right you can see another statuette of Lord Ganesha on the left are a figure and chain I carved out of teak from the door of the old Capital cinema in Winchmore Hill.  I am very proud of the chain, the links are separated and tinkle when shaken.  As always some art glass.  The green one is particular favourite and it changes so much in shape and colour in different lights.  The blue piece is modern from the Czech Republic.  I bought it at a glass fair where we first met our son-in-law’s late father Johnny King who was a very well known glass blower with Whitefriars Glass ,  He very generously made me a handkerchief vase, which he signed, and here it is:

I am very interested in origins and find the history of writing very fascinating.  The earliest is cuneiform developed in Sumer about 3000 BCE.  This led me to Enheduanna the earliest known poet writing in Ur in about 2350 BCE.  Cuneiform was invented by accountants for stock control and Egyptian hieroglyphics by priest for us in tombs and some say this is why Egyptian poetry the more human and passionate,  I like both.  The image below is of a precious object, the 11th tablet of the Story of Gilgamesh the first known novel.  It is written in cuneiform but the language is Akkadian and it is an early version of the great flood in which Noah is the central character in the Bible.  It is a replica but when I handle it I can hear the voices of the story tellers that told the story long before it was written down in 800 BCE.  It is on the window will in our sitting room and I was sitting in our tiny patio when I took the shot.


Finally an image I just like.  It is the reflection of the chandelier in my toilet, in the angular glass clock which is amongst various bits and pieces on he shelf over the cistern.  You can just see the shape of the clock.  I bought it in a car boot in Witney as I liked its chunkiness.  It did not work but, to my amazement, I was able to buy a cheap replacement over the internet. 









Glass and Things I like in our Home

Following on from my last blog of things I like in our garden, this will be about some of the things I like in our home.  We have been here for 27 years and being 77 it is not surprising there are quite a few objects I would like to write about so this may run to two  or more blogs!  Growing up after the war we never had beautiful things at home, everything was functional and somewhat tatty.  An exception was a glorious studio phonograph of polished walnut that had been converted to a cocktail cabinet with glass shelves and mirrors.  When we lived in Willow Road it played shellac 78s using thorn needles.  It was not wind-up, it had an electric motor but volume was controlled by opening or closing the front.  Doors  ran from top to bottom at each side, they were cupboards for storing records.  Here is verse from my poem Ten things I learned before I was Fourteen.

9 – Sunday was a time for pre-prandial drinks. 

I’d cube cheddar cheese,
spike some with cocktail sticks,
pile it in little glass dishes.
It was not long after the war
and Dad’s drink was Pink Gin
the officer’s wardroom favourite.
A drop of Angostura’s bitter
swilled around the glass, shaken out,
shot of gin and then water.
For Mum it was Gin and It;
Gordon’s with sweet vermouth.
The drinks and mixers were kept
in a saloon acoustic gramophone.
It was curvy, mahogany and burr walnut
now with a shiny mirror in its lid
shelves for bottles, mixers, glasses.
I’ve just remembered the soda siphon
with its heavy dull-nickeled lever and spout,
glass, re-enforced with cross braided wire.


Murano and Finnish Glass

We have art glass all over the house, these are from the collection on the window sill in the room we call the study.  To the left and right are typical examples of glass from Murano with silver metal and multi-colours.  The centre one I bought in a junk shop in Southend.  We were on the way home when I spotted it.  There was a collection of 5 glass items for £5  The shop owner insisted I take them all though I only wanted this one; I was struck by its beauty.  I was delighted to discover it was signed by Kaj Franck a notable Finnish designer!  I love the shape, the colour and how it feels in my hand.


The study opens into the hall where we have a wonderful Edwardian sideboard we call the Green Man.

Green Man

It belonged to my grandfather and I have wanted it since I was about four.  At breakfast it would bear chaffing dishes with egg, bacon, devilled kidneys and kedgeree.  There was a Duralit toaster that toasted bread one side at a time.  As it was patented in 1946 it was truly avantgarde!  My aunt Margaret died a couple of years ago, she was 97, and she had instructed her grandsons to offer it to me.  Yes!  Fortunately it just fits in the hall.  As you can see, it bears some of Valerie’s egg collection and the offering bowl from Celbic Hall Spiritualist Church now full of tiny, polished crystals and my wooden pendulum.  My sister-in-law gave me the bowl, she was President, and no one else wanted it.



There is also a wonderful cast brass Buddha we bought at Southgate Auction’s.  The artistry and craftsmanship is just wonderful and we are lucky to have it.   It was with a signed Daum glass car.  As we have nowhere to display the car it is in a box but it is one of the large ones.  Both for £30.00!


We call it the green man because of this magnificent carving:

Green Man 1

Crystals are everywhere.  Here is some black tourmaline, I always buy a piece if I see one.  It is very efficient at grounding, connecting the holder to the Earth, wonderful to hold especially a big chunk like this one.  The other is a quartz druze which is the lid to the geode you can just see to the left of the Green Man in the photo above.  Both the geode and black tourmaline came from the wonderful shop, Web of Dreams, in Crewes Hill.


Finally my art gallery.  Yes it is in the loo off the passageway running from the hall.

Toilet on Left

I hang prints, odds and ends, all manner of things.  In the reflection, to the right, you can see Al’s Dancing Fish  that bangs its tail and swivels its head as it plays Elvis Presley’s All Shook up and Don’t be Cruel.

It came from Plains, Georgia, home of Jimmy Carter.  Plains is just a row of about 7 shops and one was just magnificent.  Full of everything including this fish.  There was a cafe that had a notice “Open 7 days a week, closed Tuesdays.”  We were in Georgia on our Honeymoon and were staying with my niece when 7/11 struck and we were marooned!

As I mentioned our honeymoon…

One of my favourite pictures of us taken my my stepsister’s son.  We eventually made it to Canada and this is after our trip on the Maid-of-the-Mist at Niagara Falls.  On the right is a blacksmith in a small tourist town near Americus, Georgia  where were were staying with my niece.  The leaf is now on the windowsill in our sitting room.  We think it beautiful but blacksmith son Elwyn, sniffed and said he could have made a better one!

Next to the fish is a lovely letter from Sian Philips.  I had sent her my poems concerning my  welsh mother-in-law’s life on a small farm in Carmarthen as it seemed so like the tale she related, I had just read her autobiography.  She wrote that I had “summed up her childhood  in the best medium possible – poetry.”  It is such a generous comment.  I Like to collect old photographs and to the right of the mirror is an Ambrotype of a wonderful mid-Victorian gentleman.

Toilet on Right

Looking the other way you can see the motion activated screen that runs a video (see below)  made by Giovanna Iorio of the Voice Portraits she made of twelve of the translations of my poem
Londinium.  It plays when someones enters.  The sound track is audio recordings of the translations.  The link above is to my page of the 28 translations for a previous exhibition.  I now have 39 which were to be exhibited at Enfield Poets Literary Festival which had to be cancelled due to the pandemic!  Bottom left is one of my favourite photos of Valerie taken in Hadley Wood I think. Above her is of meandering Turkey Brook in Hilly Fields.  The tan plaques on the right are beeswax casts of cities in Germany.  They were given me by BASF as I was using their waxes at the time to make old fashioned, solid furniture polish in a round tin.  It was in the late 70s.  There were six but dog Merlin ate one.  The glass clock is facing the wrong way as the battery was flat.  I have since replaced it and it is now facing the right way.  There are lots of other things, including a telegram, but enough for now but please watch the video below.

Poppies and Things I Like in Our Garden

Lockdown and self isolation are limiting the number of places we can visit so it is a challenge to write a blog!  Why not, I thought, photograph some of the things I like most in the garden and bungalow and write about why I like them so much?

The day started with me photographing the glorious oriental poppies in our garden.  They are just outside the window of what I call “Café Queen Anne” which is where we have a little table at the end of our Kitchen.

Five Poppies - Copy

I look forward to them appearing each year.  Usually there are nine blooms, this year it was just eight, here are five of them.  I suspect my grandfather had them in his garden when I was living with them during the war.  I love the colour but also have a strong emotional attachment to them.  They are exotic and radiate uninhibited sensuality.  Perhaps it is passion that burns them out in just a few days.


Red Poppies Cafe Queen Anne - Copy

Here are seven of them looking from the garden into “Café Queen Anne”,  it was evening and the colours had become gentler.  We like to sit for lunch together  at the table. then read a while whilst  drinking our tea.  I sit at an old carver, on the right.  It was advertised in the local paper and when the seller answered the phone it was our recently retired accountant!   The chair had been his father’s.  Son-in-law Ryan repaired it and now I use it every day that we are at home.  Valerie’s chair is one we had found in a junk shop in Hereford.  She stripped the white paint to reveal wonderful dark, warm wood.


Yellow Poppies - Copy

Less flamboyant but equally beautiful, are the yellow poppies growing under our wonderfully unruly corkscrew hazel.  The dustbin is rather dented as I had knocked air holes in it with my mattock having completely forgotten that there was a tank cutter in the garage.  Behind it, you can just see the runner bean plants climbing the bamboo frame I had constructed using canes from the bamboo growing on the other side of the garden.  Back to the poppies,  I call them Icelandic poppies, Valerie horned poppies and friends Becky and Tony Welsh poppies.  I like their simplicity, their unpretentiousness and that they last for weeks. The plant on the left is growing out of a pile of large stones I had collected in Wales and taken from house-to-house since the mid seventies.

When I first met Valerie I was a committed and angry aetheist who refused to go into a church during a service.  This included family weddings and christening so I was, at times, not popular.  I still regard Christening an abuse of power and it is ironic that I have been twice!  Once in a church when I was born and then, in December 1943/January 1944,  on the battleship HMS Rodney when it was in Rosyth having its damaged and leaking plates repaired.


My mother took me there to meet my Father when I was about nine months old. He had yet to see me as he was at sea, I think on  Malta convoy duty They rented a bedsit for six weeks and it was here that my sister was conceived.  According to my aunt Margaret, I was christened on board by the ship’s chaplain which means my name may be inscribed in the ships bell.  In the event Churchill had need of this great battleship and she sailed without the plates being fully repaired.

Valerie introduced me to Spiritualism by giving me a ticket for a reading in The Beacon of Light.   The Saturday afternoon session was so organised that I entered through the kitchen so I did not realise that I was entering a church.  Once in I thought, “Why not.”  This led to years of studying under Dr Petia Prime and even chairing services in The Beacon!  Moreover I was ordained into an American Spiritual Healing Church and became The Reverend Fisher.  Valerie used to answer the door proclaiming that she was the Reverend Fisher’s housekeeper.  I was ordained in Palm Beach and it was lovely, I enjoyed the studying and experience but left the Church a few years ago. I now think of myself as being a polytheist.

For a year, I studied Crystal healing with The International College of Crystal Healing and enjoyed the course and developed an everlasting love of crystals.  Once a month I would travel to Fulham for one Saturday and Sunday a month.  I was the only male in a group of 11.  It was the same when I practised yoga some 40 years ago.  Then, I thought of myself as an honorary woman but this time I decided to learn to interact as me and it was great.  The course used the new NVQ system and I just could not deal with the filing and administration and did not go on to the second year.


There are crystals all over the house and I wear a tourminalated quartz cabochon pendant around my neck.  Here is a photo of the crystal garden I created.  The two huge lumps of rose quartz (my favourite stone) were being sold off by a distributor who was closing down. There is another piece in our lounge.  We we first moved in to our bungalow we were plagued with mischievous spirits who came in through two portals, one in the porch and one in our sitting room.  The one in the porch was beautiful  It looked like a curtain of electric blue silk shimmering in a zephyr.  I programmed the rose quartz to help return things to normal and they were very effective.   The light brown stones are two of those we brought from Wales.  There is an amethyst druze just out of shot to the left.

Cockerel 2

Art glass, especially from Murano, is another love.  The  cockerel came from an internet auction in New York and I was so pleased when it arrived.  Unfortunately when we were burgled the robber knocked it off the window sill to fall and break in the drive. It is so lovely I put it to guard the crystals for me. Hag stones are another favourite and we are always looking out for them and have a few scattered around and about.




Daisies are so lovely, simple cheerful.  When we were young we would make daisy chains by slitting a hole in the stem with a fingernail and poking the stem of the next one through it.  Daisies seemed bigger and more plentiful then. Before cutting the lawn I pick the daisies and put them in the little glass vase and put them on the table in Café Queen Anne.


Chimney cap

This is a shot of our lavender bed which also has sage and pink Japanese anemones.  The chimney cowl has such a wonderful shape and sometimes we put a soft toy in there to peer out through the flutes.  I treated it with a seal some years ago and I must repeat the treatment.  In the autumn we will plant the pink rose, which is in a pot outside our kitchen window, into the back of the bed.



Whilst I have been writing this, their passion spent, the poppies shed their petals.

Poppies Passion Spent



Named after the family that once owned it, the building is now a restaurant, but the park and ancient woodland are public spaces where we often like to lose ourselves amongst the trees.  I sometimes wonder if I tread in the footsteps of Guy Fawkes and his fellow conspirators;  they are thought to have planned the Gunpowder Plot here.  There must be forment in Enfield’s air, only a couple of miles or so away is Eslynge Manor where Henry VIII planned the restoration.  Reading David Pam’s Histories of Enfield, I was struck as to how unruly and unlawful the citizens were!

Anyway, á nos moutons! We wanted to feed the ducks as there had been reports that they had been seen on driveways and in Enfield away from the water, perhaps because people had stopped feeding them bread and they were hungry.

Whitewebbs Ducks


Were they indeed!  when we cast bread on the waters of the lake they actually turned their backs on us and glided away.



Whitewebbs moorhen



In fact there were very few ducks and just one moorhen who was mildly interested and ate two piece before it too turned its back on us and swum away.


Enfield council have put tape and, sometimes, netting on the benches and seats in the borough in order to discourage group sitting, however I think that the nettles are more effective by the look of things!

Whitewebbs lockdown bench

We dodged on and off the path as people loomed in our way, as we walked round to the other side of the lake to see if there was a sunbathing turtle. We were excited to see what I thought was a red water lily but of course, it was a rhododendron flower  that had dropped into the water.

Whitewebbs aspiring water lily edit




Still, an aspiring lily can be beautiful.



Whitewebbs not so distant socialising


There was a turtle sunning itself but I managed to lose it behind a hanging leave as I was concentrating on the not-so-distant socialising on the bench we had walked passed; not the one pierced by nettles.


It’s not often I can get close to a horse chestnut blossom.

Whitewebbs horse chestnut blossom


There was a low hanging branch by the lake.  They are very complex, almost Victorian, flowers, quite beautiful.


We decided to walk down the main path towards the golf course.  It looked stunning.  Woods are so beautiful and some views are just, well, magnificent.

Whitewebbs Main path

After five minutes or so, we had to walk away from the path as people approached, though we had our fetching masks on, we wanted to distance our selves and, of course, be alone in the woods.

I find it fascinating that two trees seem to join, become one.

Whitewebbs trees together



Some elegantly,





Whiewebbs joined tree




some rudely.





Walking back to the car, we came across a fallen tree that was still sending up branches.  Trees are tough but also receive help in the way of nutrient from surrounding trees through the underground network of roots and fungus.  I am always amazed at how big trees are when they are lying on the ground.

Whitewebbs fallen tree

Whitewebbs tangled trunks

For along time fallen and lopped wood has been left to encourage insects and flora, little animals.  Stag beetles are a favourite with their impossible flight.  Once in France walking back to the house, we were surrounded by a huge cloud of stag beetles in staggering flight.  It was an amazing sight.  I would love to witness it again.  Though they clouded around us none touched us.

We discussed the memory and went home.

Hadley Wood in Lockdown

We like to walk in Hadley Wood, normally we park in Camlet Way, Monken-Hadley but there were no spaces so we went to the car park at the bottom of Hadley Wood Road.  It is a magnificent old English wood with magnificent Beech and Oak trees.  Both Henry VIII and Elizabeth I and possibly James I hunted here, it was then part of the extensive Royal hunting grounds, and I imagine stepping where royalty once rode.

Hadley Wood 2


There were more visitors, couples, groups, single persons than usual so we took our selves to a part of the wood we’d not before been, it was weird having to social distance in a such large wood!  This new part felt and looked quite different.


I used this photo in the featured image but I like the whole photo so I repeat it here.


We absorbed energy from the trees, walked and chatted then found a convenient log to sit and stare a while.  Trees talk too, chemicals drifting in the air and dialogue through the network of roots and fungi running under our feet.  Even fallen trees shoot green and sometimes stumps are kept alive by nutrient supplied by the trees around it.

After a while to wandered off and came across a fallen oak tree that was being cut onto pieces.  Up close like this, trees seem huge I could see how oak is so very heavy, massive.

Hadley Wood Logs 2


Hadley Wood Logs



On one of them, that looked as if two trunks had grown together, you could see marks of the chainsaw used to slice it.



Eventually we came to the bridge made of railway sleepers, that crossed one of the little ditches that run down the hill.  It is near a pool that had form during the rain of last year.

Hadley Wood Pond



I liked the contrast of shadows painted on muddied water next to clear and bright reflections of trees and sky.




Hadley Wood Pond 2



More mud than reflection here.





Hadley Wood Pond 3



Here the tree seems to be holding up the bank in an upside-down world.




We dodged back into the newly discovered part of the wood to avoid some walkers.  Good job we did or we would have missed two shrines or, perhaps, shamanic portals to the other worlds.

Hadley Wood Door

I particularly liked this one.  One of the stones has red markings.

Hadley Wood Door 2

Then back to the car and home.


Poetic Voices – Sound Archive for Poets

The idea for this project came to me when I learnt of Andrew Motion’s initiative to create an archive for what I call “posh poets” and I thought “why not have one for all poets” and the Poetic Voices site was born.


Logo Poetic voices


I think it has about 40 poets at present and, naturally, I would like more; so poets please email me your recordings!  If you click here, you are diverted to the page in which I gave some simple advice about this.



For me, a poem comes alive when voiced, particularly by the author and especially if the poem is being read to an audience as there is then interaction between, poem, poet and audience; the poem changes and the poet gets a sense of how the poem is being received which is helpful.


Anthony Fisher



Here is me reading at an Enfield Poets’ evening in November 2019 at the Dugdale Centre; now closed as a culture and community centre by the council!!!




We do have an audience!  Usually 20 to 25 but can be up to 40.  The two photos below show the front row and whilst I was setting up.

Enfield Stanza May 15 2019



Though sometimes they can express disapproval.




Last year, poet and artist Giovanna Iorio contacted me about her site Poetry Sound Library which is a sound archive for poetry and the recording can be any one reading any poem.  It also has a fabulous map showing where the poets are.  During one conversation, Giovanna told me how important the sound of someone’s voice is to her and that it is sad how quickly we can forget what someone sounds like, I agree, someone’s voice is so much part of who they are.  Another reason why sound archives are so important.

If you would like to submit poems to be included or if you know of anyone who would like to have a page on the Poetic Voices site please click here.

Londinium and Voice Portraits

The new Londinium exhibition with 39 translations of my poem “Londinium”, which  was to be held at the Dugdale Centre in Enfield during April,  has had to be postponed due to the corvid 19 pandemic.  Together with the 28 versions from my last exhibition I had hoped for 40 translations but the delay gives me an opportunity to find the 40th!  One of the versions is Braille and the extra time also gives me an opportunity to consider how best to present this at the exhibition.

Jools Barrett 2





As well as A1 posters of the poems, designed by Jools Barrett,





Giovanna Iorio



12 Voice portraits created by poet, artist and photographer, Giovanna Iorio were to be hung.





Giovanna takes the spectrogram of the recording of the poems and transforms them into glorious images which can then be printed onto white acrylic sheet.

The 12 Voice Portraits with recordings can be found by clicking here.

As well as the above, I propose to add a QR code to the associated language notes so that those with a smart phone can scan it and connect to the the relevant page on my web site so as to listen to the recording.

I am not a linguist by any means, but I love language, the concept of language, that there are so many, 6,000 today, and that English is derived from 450 languages.  For anyone interested in this, I can recommend an extremely fascinating book “Don’t Believe a word” by David Shariatmadari.  One of his wonderful quotes is: “Language is not an island, it is a cloud drifting in a crowded sky”.

Also I love that London was built by immigrants and still has people from all over who, collectively, speak 300 languages; great!

Anthony 60th party edit
I was also wearing gold curly-toed slippers




Here my the poem in its original English.







 Put your ear to the ground –

hear the shouts of rotten flesh,

the clash of smith and wheel wright,

twist and stretch of the rope maker.

Your eyes will sting with the scent

of wood smoke, run with the bite

of ammonia from foetid urine.


Long below all this runs

the mark of Boudicca’s revenge

in the thin, red slice of burnt iron;

splitting a line of ash and clay

layered in the stones and tiles,

wood, old fires and bones.


Now squeezed by North and South

within its mud-soft lined canal;

the river once nurtured Neanderthal,

Homo Sapiens; lonely itinerants

drifting by for half a million years.


The first hut 15,000 years ago,

now a city of a myriad tongues

that adopts all who come –

hunter, farmer, the dispossessed.


© Anthony Fisher, February 2011




Watermill – Millgreen

Watermills were first used in and around what is now Iraq and Turkey about 300 BCE and would have come to England with the Romans. In Elizabethan times, there were watermills at each end of London Bridge which made the difficulties caused by rip tides through the remaining arches much worse.   I have seen it written that they use the power of water but in fact it is the power of gravity and running water is the transmitter of power rather as an axle is.  This is called Stream Power and there is an interesting and complex calculation needed to determine the power in a stream.  I did not know this when we went to visit the watermill and museum at Mill Green  nor had I thought to write a blog of the visit so did not take a photo of the outside which was an attractive wooden building attached to the brick-built house that was once for the manager but is now the museum.

The water wheel is just fabulous to see with its Elm paddles which would be fastened with nails of Holly Wood.  Here is a short video of it:


Pit wheel

The water wheel is driven by the flume at six rpm.  It is connected to the pit wheel, with 104 apple wood gear teeth by a large horizontal shaft of oak and this meshes with the wallower with 33 teeth taking the revolutions to 19 per minute.   The wallower joins with the Spur wheel via a vertical shaft and as this gear wheel has 112 teeth and in turn meshes with the 23 on the stone nut the running stone turns at 92 rpm to grind the flour.  Well, I find this fascinating, the gearing up through huge oak shafts driving wheels and gears of apple wood with Holly wood nails used when fixing is required.  The whole turns with a certain majesty and quiet rumblings.  Here are some photos and another video.


Wallower meshing with the pit wheel


Spur wheel with wallower underneath meshing with the pit wheel.











I noticed some graffiti, in 1824 a C. Bonico carved their name amongst old wood worm. I expect that the black squares are the ends of Holly wood nails.



Here is another view of the mechanism:









The miller was a magician in white explaining all to me, children, mums and dads.  He showed the sock with grain running though the centre of the runner stone where it floated this turning stone keeping it apart from the fixed bedstone.  This prevents the stones wearing away, and the grain is milled to flour and drops down to the floor below where the miller catches it in a sack.

The magician

Catching the flour

Hey presto, the flour!















Over the water wheel, there is a glass panel in the floor and I was fascinated by the flashing blades.


All in all, an enjoyable visit that I can recommend.  The staff are friendly and joyfully enthusiastic which was wonderful.  As well as the mill there is a small museum of 1960s clothes some of which I remember my sister wearing.

The whole experience inspired a poem and here it is!

Watermill – Mill Green

The gentle pace of the watermill its Elmwood paddles turning,
in the flume’s slow-revving flow.
Oaken shafts secured with Holly nails, geared with Applewood teeth,
104 on the pit wheel, 33 the wallower,
then the spur wheel, and stone nut, take this languorous pirouette
from six to ninety-two rpm, 15 feet above the race.

 There is a graffito carved amongst long – gone woodworm;
Bonico stayed a while enough to do this
but I move in the soft light, look down through a glass pane,
see the paddles splash and flash by.
Others are here, families with children who too sense the past
carried in timbers heavy with memory.

 The sound of the mill is gentle too. A rush of water, rumble of wood on wood.
The miller, magician in white,
shows us grain pouring through a sock, to float the runner on its bedstone,
to be milled to the powder that is flour
as has been done for the thousand years after the Domesday book;
soke demanded by the Lord of the Manor.

 © Anthony Fisher April 2019