The secret, parts 2 &3 by Michael Healy

(Apologies for late arrival of the end of Michael’s story, part 2 ‘got lost in the machine’. Ed)

‘No, don’t tell me’               (Part 2 of the Secret)

‘No, don’t tell me, I do not want to know.

You see it is a secret and so…

Keep it to yourself.  I don’t need to know.

It’s not supposed to pass to me.

Tittle, tattle, don’t talk free’.

 

Those were the fateful words,

That I had said to my friend.

I warned him that he should trust no one,

And not to say a word,

‘Loose talk costs lives’

 

He worked in engineering

At the local aircraft factory.

So you see he had to know the secrets

Of what was being built, to do his job.

Whilst I as a humble accountant

Who costed it out, knew little.

 

It seemed he had a pathological urge

To tell any secrets he knew

But it took stupidity and courage

To even tell a few

 

One day, as was likely to ever be

His free speech came to an end

Arrested by the local police

He was put before the Bench.

 

The Magistrates said he had an important job,

And was an intelligent man.

So why must he always tell his tales?

He must know loose talk’s a crime.

 

They fined him the sum of two hundred pounds

And said if he did it again,

He would go to prison despite his skills

And lose his job in the end.

 

What could I say, he was a fool to himself.

But many other lives were at risk,

From his loose and verbose tongue.

But at last he seemed to now understand,

What he had done wrong.

 

He said, no more would he talk so loose

He’d thought it had given his status a boost.

Ah, I thought, the reason he talked so free

It made him feel important, you see.

But in reality he already was vital to our War

And had no need to have stars on his door.

 

After, as we met in the dark of our usual nightly bus, I said,

Remember, don’t tell me, I don’t want to know!

 

                                                        Michael Healy

For background see ‘The Secret’ by Michael Healy

The Secret Factory  (Part 3 of the Secret)

There was a large area of grass

Where a football used to pass

As the works team played a game

With a team of men the same

But now the war was here

Not enough men would appear

To keep the games being played

 

So wooden sheds had now been built

On the grass between the buildings

Inside they housed the work for war

Where planes were made by the score.

A highly secret aeroplane was growing in this Factory

Keeping this secret was quite essential,

And that secret …?

Its body was made of wood, a wooden wonder.

 

Light, fast and very manoeuverable,

Flying higher than most; the enemy had nothing like it.

Armed with four canon, four machine guns and bombs

It had a sting,  just like a large Mosquito

Indeed, what a good name for it – the Mosquito

Fighter; bomber; photo reconnaissance; immensely versatile too.

No wonder it was such a vital secret, guarded through and through.

 

It was a Wednesday morning just before eleven,

Work was briefly set aside for the first tea break since seven.

The wail of the sirens suddenly rose to a high pitched warning scream.

‘To the Shelters quick’ the order went out and many a cuppa was spilled.

The guns guarding the factory began to blaze forth

A lone plane dived over our buildings, it came from the North

The guns stopped as he flew away.  We wondered why he came.

 

Two weeks went passed with no further disturbance

When the sirens went howling again. 

This time, from the noise above, more planes were coming to us

And then the bombs began to drop with a cacophony of crashing sound.  Twenty minutes and it was all over. Thank God.

The sirens soon sounded the steady ‘All Clear’,

and we crawled from our bunkers to see the dust, the damage, the injured and fear.

 

The wooden sheds had all but gone and the buildings were all badly damaged.

The machines that we used lay broken and twisted.  Even my pencil was snapped

It took us three weeks to restart production, with the help of one of our Shadow Factories.

Did the enemy know what we were making here?

Or was it just bad luck on our part that they came near?

One thing for sure after all this mayhem,

No one would ever loose talk again!

                                                               

                                                                      Michael Healy

 

For background see  ‘The Secret’ and ‘Don’t tell me’ by Michael Healy

WHERE COMFORT LIES by Faymarie Morris.

WHERE COMFORT LIES by Faymarie Morris.
It wasn’t long after her 5th birthday that Rosie first began to question things. Her Mummy had been very ill and Daddy had sent Rosie to stay with Grandad Percy, Grandma Bella and Auntie Meg, until Mummy felt stronger. Rosie loved Grandad Percy and liked nothing better than listening to the stories of her Daddy’s mischievous antics, when he was a little boy. But grandad was deaf and often had to resort to an ear trumpet in order to hear her. Rosie was mischievous too and would whisper in grandad’s ear until he took out his trumpet, then she would yell loudly down it. She always made him laugh though. Her exploits amused him and he loved her to sit near him, by the fireside, and read stories.
       Grandad Percy was deeply religious and had been a methodist preacher, when he was younger. Sitting next to him in chapel always made Rosie giggle because he used to sing all the well-loved hymns, in a rich, baritone voice, but just a few bars behind everyone else. The poor organ player struggled with the ever changing tempos and was constantly having to readjust. But everyone excused him because he was a well respected member of the community.Then one morning, while she was waiting outside the post office for Auntie Meg, a snooty looking lady with long grey hair approached her and asked.
     ‘Well, who are you? You don’t live in Milton, do you?’
     ‘No,’ answered Rosie, ‘I’m staying with Grandma and Grandad.’
     ‘Who are your Grandparents? I don’t recognise you at all.’
Rosie, a little miffed at this interrogation, leaned forward to wave at Auntie.
     ‘Oh, but that’s Miss Wise. So how do you know Miss Wise? The woman’s voice was quite sharp as she glanced at Auntie, then sneered knowingly.
     ‘ That’s my auntie Meg,’ Rosie said, beaming.
     ‘Well, that explains it, dear. You must be Mr and Mrs Wise’s granddaughter.’ Suddenly her tone had changed into some sickening parody of the original. ‘But, but, that must mean you…you are Hedley’s daughter? Well I never.’ Realisation had finally hit her. She peered sideways at Rosie with a look that anyone older would have described as envy, then added, ‘your father…your father was…ooh, your father was such a handsome young man. I remember that all the local girls called him ‘the dashing major’ each time he went galloping past them on his horse.’
Rosie was getting bored now and started to edge away. The woman had funny eyes that weren’t even looking at her.
     ‘I hope you realise that your Grandfather is the most well respected man in the area. You do know that, don’t you?’ 
Rosie nodded absent- mindedly and turned away.
     ‘Your Grandfather is a wonderful, god-fearing man and you must love him dearly.’ She had said, suddenly spinning Rosie around to face her. Rosie shuddered as she looked up at this woman with strange eyes, now raised heavenwards in some ecstatic, beatified trance.
      ‘Rosie, come on sweetie. Time we were heading back. If you want those new colouring pencils, we’ll have to cross the road to the newsagents.’ Auntie Meg whisked her away, leaving the frustrated, indignant, cross-eyed woman behind them.
      The conversation had puzzled Rosie and during that long afternoon she had gone over it, again and again. She had considered asking someone but Auntie Meg was busy baking apple pies. Grandad was in the conservatory, taking his afternoon nap and Grandma was sitting in the bay window, knitting, so Rosie decided to do some colouring in, instead.
The summer-house was damp and smelled musty and Rosie didn’t like it but soon that dislike was replaced by the look on the woman’s face. It was so clear in her mind it kept getting in the way of her pictures. Suddenly Rosie threw down her pencil, raced to her bedroom and flung herself down onto the bed, sobbing. She missed her Mummy and Daddy so much. They would have known how to make things better. Her innocent, 5 year old brain had no idea how to process what she had seen or heard.
    On Sunday morning they all went to chapel. It was the week before Easter and the chapel was full. The lesson and hymns all contained the Easter message, delivered with great passion and watched over by an image of Jesus, suffering on the cross.
    As the preacher delivered his sermon, Rosie had tried to take everything in. She listened to each emotive word the preacher used and studied his overblown actions. It was soon pretty obvious to her that Grandad didn’t hear much because he kept turning his head and cradling his ear. Then, while they were singing ‘There Is A Green Hill Far Away…’ Rosie was casually looking around at the worshippers when she noticed the woman with the funny eyes, about 3 rows back and immediately turned to face the front. There was something unsettling about her, apart from the eyes, that is and Rosie wanted to go.
     She grabbed Auntie’s hand and whispered that she felt sick and Auntie seemed more than happy to leave. Of course she hadn’t felt sick, well not really but she had felt uncomfortable and once outside, felt instantly better. She had imagined they would just head straight back home but instead, Auntie sat on the low wall, outside the porch, waiting for the others to come out.
     Rosie wondered if she should tell Auntie why she wanted to leave, but didn’t quite know where to start. She was watching the antics of a group of rooks that kept circling and swooping around the graveyard. One of them landed on an old gravestone, a few feet away, squawked loudly and then did a long white poo and Rosie watched it slowly trickle down. It made her smile but not for long because soon everyone started to file out then milled around in the porchway, like sheep.
     Suddenly the lady with the eyes burst out of chapel, into the light, and headed straight towards Auntie Meg. Rosie didn’t know what to do. She wanted to go, but she was only a kid and couldn’t. She didn’t even want to look at the woman let alone talk to her. What should she do? The cross-eyed lady was coming closer and Rosie’s stomach turned over.
     A stream of vomit ran down the woman’s coat and dribbled onto her shoes. Rosie started to heave again but managed to turn away in the nick of time, and aimed it into the flowerbed. All the pretty flowers were covered in bits of food and the whole disgusting mess was slowly merging into the soil.
    The woman, clutching her handbag closely to her chest was running up and down. ‘Keep her away from me,’she yelled, looking at Auntie Meg. ‘She did it on purpose. I know she did.’
Auntie Meg winked at Rosie and said, in a simpering voice, ‘But, but, Miss Ellis, I did nothing, really I didn’t. It wasn’t me. Ppplease don’t accuse me.’
    ‘I didn’t mean you, I meant her.’ This time she was looking at Mrs Foster, the vicar’s wife, who also strongly denied doing anything.
      Rosie was so confused. She kept thinking of what the cross-eyed woman had said outside the post office and could make no sense of it. Rosie loved her Grandad. Grandad was a good man, the woman had said so herself and anyway, wasn’t God supposed to be good too? Well, if that was right, she reasoned, with the simple logic of a 5 year old, why is my Grandad frightened of God? When the cross-eyed woman said Grandad was a wonderful, god-fearing man, Rosie had been terrified. She wondered if Jesus had been frightened of god too…but she didn’t say anything.
     No one knew how she felt, especially adults because they didn’t understand. They always said, don’t ask so many questions, Rosie. You are only a child and children should be seen and not heard and must always do as they are told. You will understand everything, one day, when you’re older…
     
     The years passed by and Rosie kept her own council. She was 13 when her favourite teacher Mrs Dobb, had been trying to explain something that Rosie obviously didn’t understand, and ended up by saying, 
    ‘Don’t ever be afraid to ask questions, Rosie. If you don’t understand something something adults say or if what they say feels at all uncomfortable to you, ask questions. Question everything Rosie. Just because adults say they know everything, doesn’t mean they do and, you know what feels right, don’t you? If you trust your instincts you won’t go far wrong.’
     And for the rest of her life Rosie had done just that. She trusted her feelings, questioned everything, and slowly decided, for herself, that there was no place in her life for god. God was unnecessary and as soon as she was old enough, had read about atheism. They were rationalists, humanists, sceptics and freethinkers and at that moment a light switched on in her brain. This had made total sense to her and just felt right.
     Atheism wasn’t even a little bit scary. Atheism was warm and soft, like a deep feather mattress and for Rosie, atheism meant comfort.

Doris and Polly by Joe Lyons

Doris and Polly

Doris was a chatterer she did it all day long

About the cost of this and that; and things that do go wrong

She bought a bird called Polly to keep her company

She thought it was a girl but then found it was a he

 After just a few days she vowed to teach the bird to speak

Instead the bird listened patiently just nodding its beak

In truth Polly could never get a word in edgeways

When Doris was sleeping; Polly repeated all that Doris says

Doris took Polly to the pet shop to find out why he wouldn’t talk

She left Polly with the pet shop owner while she went for a walk

Once Doris had left the shop Polly talked nonstop for an hour

About all the things that could go wrong and just who had the power

About this and that in Doris’s life that made Doris moan and groan

The pet shop owner was surprised how Polly’s vocabulary had grown

Instead of plain talking it was asking questions all the time

When it heard the answers Polly paused then answered; fine

When Doris returned she was amazed at the transformation

Vowed to take him on a quiz show where he would amaze the nation

Finally the quiz day came Doris was in a dither

Under the big screen lights Polly started to quiver

Saying why are the lights so bright I don’t understand who cannot see?

Why did you bring me to this place? What is meant to be?

Doris whispered shush! In a minute a question he will ask

Then you can answer and live up to your task

Now Polly was so brilliant answered all the questions right

He won all the major prizes without taking flight

Doris was so pleased that they had done so well

Thinking of home and the stories she could tell

The studio trip for Polly had been too much it’s sad to tell

Not another word or comment or question would Polly yell

He remained quiet for the rest of his days

His eyes still gleamed hearing Doris’s praise

Doris loved his company and his funny ways

She treasured Pollys time and loved him all the more

They’re still together happily I cannot say no more.

The Tale of the Unused Motor Car by Michael Healy

The Tale of the Unused Motor Car  
The Driver is ill, so the car sits still, to the dismay of both.
I have sat here for far too long,                  
Shivering, waiting to be gone
You parked me up the other week
Having run without a squeak
My engine purring as we went
Then roaring as your throttle sent
Me charging down that long straight road
Going faster and faster with no load
Holding tight around the bends
Going wherever your mind sends
Changing  gear with the steering wheel paddles
Making the riders shudder in their saddles
Wow! that was fun as we flew along
But now that fun is all but gone
Why don’t you come and sit inside
I’ll take you for a lovely drive.
 
Well you see, it’s not that easy
For I have been feeling rather queasy
Just not fit to drive my car
But, my dear, sweet Jaguar
You’re still my favourite drive, by far.
I’ll take you out again tomorrow
And wash away all your sorrow.
                                                          Jag 2 unused Michael Healy

AGE by Barrie Purnell

                       AGE by Barrie Purnell

 When I was young I was immortal and invincible

                                       The whole world was mine

The future a blank canvas on which all my

                             Dreams could be defined

I ran laughing through the storms the raindrops

                     Sparkled like diamonds on my jeans

The sun was hot, the winds were warm and snow was fun

                                                         When I was in my teens

New paths were there to walk along when I was young

 

Life was carefree and school just an annoying interlude

                                                         Between long holidays

I was forming lifelong friendships before we all went

                                                         Our separate ways

It was the fifties, teddy boys and rock and roll with the

                                                     Emergence of the teens

I wore a jay blue drape coat and crepe soled shoes, my hair

                                                               Coiffed with brilliantine

Beat poets were on my tongue when I was young

 

Riding my Triumph Thunderbird down country lanes

                                                         Risking life and limb

A leather jacketed Gene Vincent look alike just

                                                  Wishing I was him

My first real love affair was with Patsy I carved her

                                                         Name into a tree

She was the village beauty and I felt so good when she

                                        Walked hand in hand with me

There were love songs to be sung when I was young

 

In my youth I listened to those protest songs about

                                             Race and power and war

I was full of idealistic notions of how they had

                                             Got it wrong before

In my naivety I thought that maybe we could

                                 Change the world at large

Not realizing we could not reach the faceless

                                                      Men in charge

Tears were shed and hands were wrung when I was young

 

Student life was a great time for me just parties

                                             Interrupted by exams

And trying to understand thermodynamics and its

                                                         Baffling diagrams

This was a time for love a time for dreams it was

                                                     Youth’s curtain call

Ambition had yet to show its ugly face inside our

                                               Cloistered college halls

Life was just so much fun when I as young

 

Now I am old the future is uncertain and my time

                                           Remaining has decreased

My dreams are now of past adventures my personal

                                                       Inertia has increased

Now the sun’s too hot the wind’s too strong snows just

                                           Another cross that’s to be born

And storms just get me wet and means a raincoat

                                     And gumboots must be worn

I am always too hot or much too cold now I am old

 

Now I am old time is passing much more quickly than

                                                    It did when I was young

Those lifelong friendships are now sadly ending with

                                                       Requiems being sung

I look back on all those youthful dreams I had that

                                                        Remain unfulfilled

And look around my empty house into which my whole

                                                           Life has been distilled

I remember all those principles I sold now I am old

 

I return to the village of my youth to see Patsy’s’

                                               Name still on the tree

But try as I might I can’t recall her face and that

                                             Somehow saddens me

That canvas on which my dreams were painted is now

                                                         Just in shades of grey

When young I never thought I would ever be as old

                                                                   As I am today

That is how it is I’m told when you are old

 

With age has come perspective on the idealism

                                                               Of my youth

Replaced with scepticism of those beliefs peddled

                                                             To me as truth

I realise power and money come out the winner

                                                 In life’s murky game

And looking back in history we see it has

                               Always been the same

I see world problems just get retold now I am old

 

Now I have time to think about all the things that

                                                   I have said and done

All the battles that I have lost and all the races

                                                     That I have won

All those greasy career ladders I tried so very

                                                       Hard to climb

I see were of no consequence at all viewed through

                                                 The telescope of time

I have so few of life’s pages to unfold now I am old

                       

ONE SUMMERS DAY by Robert Tansey

ONE SUMMERS DAY by Robert Tansey

It was a cold summers evening, the sun had gone down early, the sky becoming overcast and getting dark. Earlier it had been pleasantly warm, but changeable, the sun had fought its way through the clouds enough to encourage the family to sit out in the garden for afternoon tea. The children had played by the little pond at the bottom of the garden, and were fascinated by the activity of pond life, midge larva, pond skaters and the occasional plop of some unseen beastie. But as early evening approached, we were inclined to go indoors, that is we adults were, the children seemed oblivious to the encroaching cold, they were intent on continuing in their production of daisy chains on the lawn by the pond, or chasing down the street to the local woods to play hide and seek, or simply search the overgrown lawn for the rare four leaved clover, that we had told them would bring them a lifetime of good luck thanks to the little people.

roberts fairies

We adults were settled in the lounge talking, and looking at old photographs, and having the occasional tipple of sherry or port. After a while the children came in and raided the fridge for pop and ice cream or anything else that took their fancy. In order to have some more adult time we sent the children upstairs to play in Rachel’s room, they had very soon emptied her toy cupboard, and spread everything all over the floor, as their grandma found when she went up to check on them. ‘Come on Rachel get this lot tidied up,’ she cried, ‘What will your mother say to all this mess.’ But Rachel said nothing. ‘Just a minute,’ said Grandma, ‘Where is Rachel?’ A little boys voice shouted out from the still emptying cupboard, ‘She’s not here, she never came in, she said she had to do something important.’ Grandma stood tall and put her hands on her hips and shouted, ‘She should not be out on her own, and besides she’ll catch a death of cold out there tonight.’ With that she raced down the stairs to the back door and peered out into the darkness of the garden, but could not see anything, she listened intently to the sounds of the night but there was not a sound out of place. She had half expected to hear little Rachel singing to herself on the garden seat as she was want to do occasionally when her boisterous cousins got a bit too much for her.

 

Grandma was by now more than a little worried, she got all the adults to leave the house and search the street and even look in the woods nearby. After an hour or so they all came back, and an anguished and fraught Grandma stood at the front door in a frantic state. They were all by now extremely worried when Granddad said, ‘Wait a minute I’ve an idea.’ A few minutes later he returned from the back garden, ‘You can all stop worrying, I’ve found her, but we must be very quiet, very quiet indeed.’ He slowly ushered them all into the back garden and told them all to very quietly sit down on the garden chairs. As they all did this they saw that Granddad was peeking over to the pond, and as they followed his gaze with theirs, they were astounded by what they saw.

REMEMBERING WHEN … by Cynthia Smith

REMEMBERING WHEN … by Cynthia Smith

 Mine was a very loving mother and I wish I had many more happy memories of her than I do. But, sadly, she was not always ‘my Mum’. Through no fault of her own, she was often that ‘other’ mother.

My earliest recollection, when I was probably no more than two years old, was squealing with delight as Mum puffed out her cheeks for me to ‘pop’ with my little hands, when she would blow a raspberry. She would only stop when I was in danger of being sick from laughing so much. I wish I could have stayed in that happy childhood bubble for ever.

My father was often bad-tempered. Mum told me it was because of the pain caused by his stomach ulcer, whatever that was. But he, too, was a very loving parent. He was fond of children and often good fun when my friends came round.

When we were quite small he liked to play ‘Peter and Paul’ with us. He would stick a little piece of white paper on the top of two of his fingers and recite:

         “Two little dickie birds, sitting on a wall,

          “One named Peter, one named Paul.”

Here he would wiggle the fingers representing the birds.

         “Fly away Peter, fly away Paul …”

Here the two ‘birds’ would disappear over Dad’s shoulder and his fingers return without the birds.

         “Come back Peter, come back Paul.”

Miraculously, as it seemed to us, the birds re-appeared on Dad’s fingers. There were delighted ‘oohs’ from us and no matter how many times he did it Dad seemed to enjoy it as much as we did. The birds ‘flew’ so fast that we small children could not see the sleight of hand.

One day our enthusiasm encouraged Dad to show us a new ‘trick’. He said he was going to take all his teeth out! Having seen dentistry in cartoons on the television, with the agony of just one tooth being removed, we were aghast at the thought of this. We knew nothing of false teeth, so there were gasps of horror as Dad removed first his lower and then his upper denture. With a theatrical flourish, he put them back, no doubt pleased with our stunned reaction.

Some people, however, are never satisfied. Tom from next door piped up:

         “Now take your head off.”