The Words That We Use by Michael Healy

The Words That We Use by Michael Healy

The Words That We Use

How the Language we speak evolves?

I was sitting relaxing, at peace in our Lounge,

When in came two happy Grandchildren

One said to the other ‘oh yep’ and I said,

I think it is ‘yes’ that you mean.

The answer I got came as quite a surprise

Not that I minded, with those cheeky blue eyes!


‘No one speaks like you, Grandpa’

‘No one uses your words’

‘Do you think that is really so?’ (I am surprised),

It does sound somewhat absurd,

But then I know I say ‘it is not,’ instead of saying ‘it aint’,

and ‘how do you do’ ‘and not ‘aye up’ when I am greeting my friends again.

Apparently in the Twenty-Teens, English is not used my way.


When I was your age we were taught elocution,

Which showed us all how to speak.

But I guess what it did to the words we then used

           Was make us all sound the same squeak.


‘The real thing,’ I tell my Grandchildren,

             ’Is to understand what we each mean.’

‘Communication is what it’s about,’

           ‘And you do really know what I mean’…..I doubt.

                                                 Michael Healy




 By David Richard Graham

I have been writing thrillers for thirtysix years. Fortunately for myself, my family and my agent, my novels have sold in their millions all around the world.

I have made my living writing fiction. But what you are about to read is fact.

To begin with. My name is not Daniel Speare. I created him.

My real name is Edward ‘Shack’ Shacklton and forty years ago I was serving as a trooper in the First Battalion of the Parachute Regiment on a tour of duty in Londonderry.

At 02:05 on 1 February 1972 during a freezing torrential downpour myself and Trooper ‘Swan’ Vesper were in a Land Rover heading back to Company HQ. ‘Swan was behind the wheel when he instinctively stopped for a red light. He was twenty years old. I was nineteen.

We were both cold hungry and tired and caught completely off guard when the doors of the Land Rover were wrenched open. My senses barely had time to register this fact before I was struck between my eyes with such incredible force that the sound of my breaking bone was like a banger exploding inside my skull.

My world turned black. Hot blood filled my mouth like running water. I did not lose consciousness.

Cruel hands dragged me from my security.

A hood was yanked over my head. I gasped in pain.

I was carried by my armpits.

I cried in fear when I was thrown forward. I landed hard on metal.

An engine vibrated beneath me.

Something heavy fell on me. I heard a gasp. ‘Swan’?

I screamed in agony when something solid struck my broken nose. I retreated from the white hot pain.

I returned when the hood was wrenched off my head.

I was lying on cold damp concrete.

Bright light tried to penetrate my swollen eye sockets.

I saw several pair of booted feet.

A pair of boots moved towards me.

‘Youse two are gonna die, for what ye’s did yesterday’, a voice said in a matter of fact tone. ‘Ye’s are gonna t’die bad. Ye’s are gonna die bad, slowly’.

I heard a metallic click.

I heard an explosion.

I felt a terrible impact above my right kneecap.

I heard another explosion

I felt a terrible impact above my left kneecap.

I voided my bowel and bladder.

My clothes were ripped off.

Something sharp struck my right shoulder. Spikes of pain dug deep into my shoulder blade, then wrenched away.

Something sharp struck my right thigh. Spikes of pain dug deep into my flesh, then wrenched away.

Something sharp struck my right arm. The vibration of snapping bone exploded inside my head. I felt spikes of pain tearing through my deltoid muscle.

Again and again the spikes tore into my flesh.

Again and again I bellowed in an agony of the deepest terror.

Then I slid down a long black chute and left the pain far behind me.

Our naked bodies were left on waste ground.

The RUC were called when some local children saw several dogs sniffing round what looked like piles of meat.

Trooper Vesper was pronounced DOA at the hospital.

I was rushed straight into the operating theatre.

Fifteen hours later. I was on life support.

Fortyeight hours later. I was breathing unaided.

Seventytwo hours later. I was conscious.

Twentyfour hours later. I learned that ‘Swan’ had been beaten to death with spiked clubs and shot twice through his forehead. I also learned that I had been struck by six .9mm bullets. One of the bullets fired into my forehead had passed straight over the interhemispheric fissure of my brain and left a fifteen millimetre exit wound in the back of my skull. The other bullet entered my head just above my left eye: scored a three millimetre groove round the outside of my skull and left a ten millimetre exit wound in the back of my head. One of the bullets fired into my chest passed over my heart, missed my aorta, missed my pulmonary artery, missed by trachea and exited my back thirty millimetres from my seventh cervical vertebra. The other bullet shredded the costal cartilage of my fifth rib: careened round the inside of the rib; ricocheted off my sixth rib and left a twelve millimetre exit wound fiftytwo millimetres from my twelfth thoracic vertebra. A fifth bullet had shattered the base of my left femur and a sixth had drilled a neat hole straight through the base of my right femur.

In addition to these gunshot wounds. I had sustained a broken nose, a broken right arm, a fractured right scapula, seven broken fingers and one hundred and ninetytwo puncture wounds.

By dumping me naked on the waste ground, my potential killers had unwittingly saved my life. The cold had slowed my heart rate and prevented me from bleeding to death.

Eight weeks later. I was allowed home.

Eight months later. I embarked on my first novel.

Eight years later. I was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for my one work of non fiction A Study in Human Brutality.

Eighteen months ago, soon after a man was arrested following a foiled bank robbery in Edinburgh, my private past became my public present. In exchange for clemency a robber revealed the name of the IRA gunman who had organised the abduction of two paratroopers in Londonderry in 1972 and fired the shots that had killed one trooper and left the other for dead.

Trooper Vesper’s killer was named as Michael ‘Sig’ Lamb. At the time of the murder, Lamb had been the top gun for the Londonderry Brigade of the IRA.

The case against Lamb was heard in the Crown Court in Belfast. He was sentenced to life imprisonment after the RUC found he was still in possession of the prized Sig Sauer P226 .9mm automatic he had used to kill Trooper Vesper.

Bizarrely, to this day the only lasting effect of my terrifying ordeal is the constant taste of saffron.

Intruder by Michael Healy

Intruder by Michael Healy

The World is not always what it seems

It’s 4am in the morning

And I heard a definite knock

It’s coming from the far bedroom

Yet the outside doors are all locked!

There is no one in the house but me,

Yet something is stirring, how can this be?


Sleep’s veil from my eyes has fallen,

My head spins round and around

My ears, pricked, are listening intently

For that unknown, unwelcomed sound.

What can be inside our castle, our home?

Do they know I’m here by myself all alone


I slide from my warm bed and safety

My feet touch the soft carpet floor,

Standing I walk forward slowly

Cautiously feel for the door.

The handle turns down, the floor gives a creak,

The door eases open to the sound that I seek.


Dawn’s glow lights up the landing

The way is now clear ahead.

I would much rather turn on my heels

And dive back inside my warm bed.

‘Knock, knock’ again, there now I am sure

Something unwelcome lies behind that far door.


Slowly each step takes me nearer

To that hammering’s worrying source,

Will I be up to the task?

Will I have to use force?

That knocking is there again, ‘one-two’, ‘one-two’!

Should I arm myself? What should I do?


The hairs on my neck start to tingle

I am ready to take up the fight,

Standing my ground manfully,

Protecting my castle, my right!

The knock goes again and this time so LOUD,

Not one intruder, it must be a crowd.


The slightest creak sounds like thunder

As gently each foot meets the floor,

Too late to go back on my actions

I’m standing right up to the door –

My hand grips the handle and twists it right down,

I fly the door open in search of that sound!


And there he is standing before me,

The evil that shattered my sleep,

Incarnate a menacing presence

In black from its head to his feet

Attacking the ledge of the window alone,

Steely beaked stabs of Corvus Carone Carone!


So my sleeping dreams have been shattered,

And my heart made to force the bloods flow.

And the cause of this night’s consternations?

No more than an angry wild crow!


Michael Healy


Retwords – Retford Writers’ Workshop

2018 – our seventh year arrives

Publishing and publicity will be our new resolution

A group of around twenty aspiring writers from North Nottinghamshire all with a desire to improve their writing techniques.

We do this by sharing our work on a two-weekly basis at Retford Library, – alternate Thursday afternoons 2-4pm.

visitors-to-blog-year-to-septWelcome all our visitors from across the world this last year.

Do please tick a ‘like’ or leave a comment.

Have you got a yen to write – join us!

Some works in progress are shared on-line – on this web page.

All writing styles are used – fact to fiction, poetry to prose, short to long.

So – fortnightly

…and join us online – like, follow, and do please comment. The whole purpose is to receive constructive criticism.

Poo-Sticks by Michael Healy

Poo-Sticks by Michael Healy

Remember: actions have their consequences


Mary Porter sat on the Bridge

Playing poosticks with Annie Ridge

Along came little Tommy Cotton

And pinched that Mary Porter’s bottom.

Mary jumped so very high

That all the poosticks they did fly

And looking up towards the sky

They hit young Tommy in the eye.

With one great yell he did leap                                    

And lost the balance on his feet,

Fell off the bridge, and with a scream,

Went kersplash into the stream.


Help me, help me! He did cry

Annie, on her feet, said “why”?

‘I cannot swim, I will drown!

‘Oh do not be a silly clown!

Said Mary feeling very cross

‘Drowning you would be no loss!

‘O Tommy you are such a fool

I know the water’s very cool

But why not stand up on your feet

The stream is only one foot deep.

Tommy to his feet did get

Truly he was very wet.

‘Get my poosticks’ came Mary’s shout

‘Before that stream you dare climb out!

‘We want to finish off our game!

Came Annie’s comment, just the same.

‘If you don’t, it is you we throw

Back in the water and watch you flow

Under the bridge and out the side,

All six feet long and three feet wide.


The moral of this story’s clear

Dear reader if you happen near                   

That little bridge across that stream

Where people by the side do lean

Watching poo-sticks in the flow

Gently bobbing under go,

That lesson must not be forgotten,

Do not pinch them on the bottom!             

Love in a boat by Kevin Murphy

Love in a boat by Kevin Murphy


Ged McMahon loved his women, them and their bodies – strictly in that order. Married with three kids he liked to say “I’ve only had sex twice”. He certainly considered himself a ‘man-of-the-world’, qualified in Sex Education: to tell youth how good sex can be in a loving relationship.

He also knew how King Canute felt.

Seeking to offer unusual opportunities for raising self esteem, Ged included narrowboating. Dougal got Ged to take his village club for a residential on the canals of the Big City – Nottingham. It had all the ingredients – ‘boring’ sitting on a boat at three mile an hour, turned out to include tests of several unknown skills; team working with that lad you thought you hated; feats of strength; the promise of nooky at night when Dougal and Maggie, and Ged of course, were asleep; and talking about anything you like to adults.

Ged was a specialist at the latter. He had both the Hippocratic Oath and held the silence of the Confessional – and had he heard some stuff! ‘Opportunity’ was almost sinking under the weight of hormones they were transporting; sex was on the agenda, and the crew knew. Dougal and Maggie had a scheme to nip this in the bud, a curtain separated boys from girls – Dougal one side, Maggie the other. What Ged was able to reveal to Dougal three weeks later, was a night long traffic of kids out of the front to the back – and vice versa, and that Janine had at last succeeded in getting Big Dan to take her virginity.

It was a battle to draw any kind of realisation from the teenagers that sex could be a damp squib. He tried to warn the girls that sex could be an ‘is that it?’ moment. However, he said it could be a sharing, loving thing, a ready for it thing, planned for thing; sweet, gentle not panting and thrusting – a whole higher thing.

“Naagh, Ged – you don’t understand!”

Ged had to listen to them expounding their encyclopaedic knowledge of the Kama Sutra, then to hear that young people did know all the alternatives to dropping Acid, stealing a car, a quick shag, telling a copper to ‘fuck-off’ – it was not to tell them.

They asked him about his first shag; did he like doggy style; what about spunk floating in the bath. Yes, laughing was the way in – and shock treatment: “What? Me? I’ve only had sex twice”.

Dougal laughing, nudged his assistant youth leader Maggie.

“Thought you had three kids, Ged.”

“Yes I have. So what do I mean?”

“Yer lyin’!” “Other one’s not ‘is!” “He’s a saddo!”

Try as he might, Ged could not get over his distinction between making love and having sex. It was like taking a dummy off a baby – or in a youth context – taking the needle off a junkie.

On the way home, Dougal offered to drop Ged off at his house as it was on the way – no need for him to drive all the way back again.

Big waves and shouting out of the bus windows as he walked up his path. When he finally turned the house key,someone bellowed, “Third time lucky, Ged!”



by Pete Brammer

I must go down to the river again,

Where I played when just a child,

Paddling and netting minnows,

Picking flowers, varied, and wild.


Admiring the fluttering butterflies,

With fragile wings so pretty,

See mallards bobbing up and down,

Remembering the poem, ‘Ducks Dittie’.


Along the banks we’d build our dens,

Where we’d play and share a joke,

And unbeknown to parents,

We’d enjoy a crafty smoke.


I too have brought up children,

Who may have done the same,

But today, I’m fighting cancer,

And must go down to the river again.

built on a famous first line