Each month the works the Group think are the best, will be published here
Here is a piece written by Richard Powell with Canadian idioms and local dialogue. He's also listed the meanings into English.
A Trip Downtown
Saturday morning and I hop in the old wagon for the 8 clicks to town to do some shopping. Good thing the mounties weren’t out checking for speeders. I needed gotchies so I’m headed for The Bay. I used to get them at Pimps and Queers but they are getting a bit pricey. I hung a larry off the main drag into the parkade and found a spot kittty-corner to the store. I was wearing my shit-kickers to break them in but they were a pain in the butt so I had to pick up some runners. I left my Habs toque in the car because I didn’t want any hassle with the Leafs’ fans.
On the way I spied a Timmies so I headed in for a double double and some Timbits. Just in case I was hungry later I picked up a couple of jam-busters too. You have to spend a lot of loonies and toonies now for your coffee. I saw that ah and dub has poutine now. The gravy is good but I don’t like their curds.
On the way back to the old clunker I remember to stop into the LDB and pick up at 2 4 for the guys and a mickey of rye for the wife. We love our barley sandwiches. The kids can get their own pop and a bag of homo at Macs. Ready for the BBQ today with a sockeye and some Alberta brain fed. The Habs are playing the Canucks. Beauty, eh.
old wagon (station wagon) = estate car
clicks = kilometres
mounties = police (Royal Canadian Mounted Police)
gotchies = men’s underwear
The Bay = department store (The Hudson Bay Company)
Pimps and Queers = Simpson Sears (another department store)
hung a larry = turned left
parkade = multi level car park
kitty-corner = directly opposite corner
shit-kickers = cowboy boots
runners = trainers or sneakers
Habs – nickname for Montreal Canadiens hockey team
toque = knitted wool hat
Timmies = Tim Horton’s Coffee Shop – large franchise
double-double – coffee with double milk and double sugar
Timbits – little round balls that taste like donuts
jam-busters = jelly donut
loonies = $1 coins
toonies = $2 coins
ah & dub = A&W fast food chain
poutine = French fries or chips served with gravy and cheese curds
LDB = Liquor Distribution Branch – government liquor store
2 4 = case of 24 bottles of beer
mickey = ½ sized bottle of spirits
rye = Canadian whiskey
barley sandwich = beer
pop = soda drink
bag of homo = homogenized milk in a plastic bag
sockeye = type of salmon
Albert grain fed = beef from cattle raised in Albert fed only grain
Canucks = nickname for Canadians – also Vancouver hockey team
NIGHT OF THE DEAD by Ann Joyce
Halloween, All Hollows, All Saints, All Souls, Day of the Dead have their origins in the great Celtic festival of Samhain, the festival celebrating the dead. In Celtic Ireland, Samhain was the most important of the four Celtic festivals. It was the division of the year between the lighter half (summer) and the darker half (winter). This divide between the two halves of the year gave it a unique status in time – it did not belong to the old or the new, a time when the division of the world was at its thinnest, allowing spirits to pass through, a time when the family’s ancestors were honoured and invited back home. Windows were opened to allow the spirits enter the house. The natural order of life was disturbed and the earthly world of the living became entangled with that of the dead.
Food was prepared and places were set at table to welcome home the spirits. This form of welcome ensured that only spirits with good intentions entered the house. In England special cakes known as ‘soul cakes’ were made for the wandering spirits. If the spirits were not offered food then another side of their character came to the fore and bad luck befell the house for the coming year. To avoid this, people dressed in costume so they wouldn’t be recognized. This may be why children dress up on Hallowe’en and where the origins of ‘trick or treat’ originated.
Since Samhain was the boundary between summer and winter, all boundaries were dangerous places to be on the night. Ghosts were to be found at gate-ways, gaps in hedges, bridges and crossroads but especially burial grounds were to be avoided as the dead roamed the countryside mingling with the living.
The Celts were fascinated with tracing their ancestry back as far as possible and often identified their earliest ancestors with the gods. So when they died they went to the house of the ancestor or the god of the underworld. In Irish Celtic mythology, Oweynagath or the Cave of the Cats in Co. Roscommon is believed to be the entrance to the underworld. In recent times, the local heritage group have organized tours of the cave at this time of year. The cave is underground and has attracted a new interest in the rituals of a bygone era.
Christian missionaries attempted to change the religious practices of the Celtic people and Samhain became the Halloween we are familiar with today. The Celts practiced an elaborate religion through their priestly caste, the Druids, who were priests, poets, scientists and scholars all at once. You might say they resembled the monks and missionaries that replaced them. The Druids and their gods were then deemed to be devil worshippers and evil forces.
The Christians made great efforts to wipe out the ‘pagan’ holidays and practices and they started with the ‘pagan’ festivals which has a huge influence on the people. In 601 A.D. Pope Gregory 1 issued a now famous edict to his missionaries concerning the beliefs and customs of the people they wished to convert. Rather than trying to obliterate these customs and beliefs, the missionaries were instructed to ‘rebrand’ them. So, if a tree was worshipped, then the tree should be consecrated to Christ and the people could then continue to worship it.
This proved rewarding for the missionaries. In Ireland we have many places that Christians now worship which were once sacred places for the Celts and those that came before them. Our holy wells are a good example. Wells and natural springs were sacred places where people gathered. Each well had its own significance and the cleansing, purifying water cured many ailments. Nowadays, religious ceremonies take place at these wells. They have become shrines where people come with their petitions and prayers.
The Christian feast of All Saints was assigned to November 1st, a substitute for Samhain in the hope of replacing it in the minds and devotion of the Celtic peoples. This has not happened, but the traditional Celtic deities diminished in status. They went underground becoming fairies or leprechauns or ‘bean sidhe’. The old beliefs associated with Samhain have never died out entirely. The powerful symbolism of the traveling dead, the ancestors, was too strong, and perhaps too basic to the human psyche. In 9th century, the church again made another attempt to subsume the original energy of Samhain under its own control. It established November 2nd as All Souls Day -a day when the living prayed for the souls of all the dead. This practice of once again honouring the dead ensured that the traditional belief system of Samhain lived on in the hearts and minds of the people.
To-day, Halloween still retains some features that harken back to the original harvest holiday of Samhain, such as the customs of bobbing for apples, carving vegetables, feasting with fruits, nuts and the special barmbracks containing rings and coins. Farmers mark the time of year by bringing cattle down from the high ground. The harvest is complete, fruits gathered from the orchards and a general easing of the workload takes place.
Houses are decorated with witches, ghosts and strange beings. Candlelit jack o'lanterns find their place on windowsills and both adults and children dress in costume complete with masks that challenge, mock, tease and appease the dread forces of the night, of the soul, and of the otherworld. Death, as part of life is being reaffirmed and both are celebrated with a certain touch of both magic and religion.
101 word challenge I Haven't Got it With Me. by Michael White
The golfer was telling his friends about his unlosable golf ball. For a start it was day-glow yellow, so that you could see it plainly. If it lay in long grass it bleeped until found, in water it would release a flotation collar and bob merrily on the surface until retrieved. Additional to that there was a GPS device built in and with an app on your mobile phone its location could be pinpointed. His friends were very interested and impressed they asked to see it “I haven’t got it with me” “Why not?” they asked. “Because I can’t find it!”
Ergo, I Am. by Evey Morgan
Stop! I’m talking here. I refuse to share myself with your incessant internal diatribe. Every time I read I pour my heart out for you I wonder how much of me is left? I try to wrestle these forceful words to create something meaningful. The least you can do is pay attention. I want some recognition, some one to listen, to notice or is this my insistent ego trying to gain control?
Give me fame, adoration, one hundred facey likes, retweet my life so I know I’m really real. Just one minute of undivided attention so I can show you the ‘who’ I am - or is that my persistent ego? As soon as I think of my, or me or I, there he is again! He muscles in, a verbal loose cannon in my mind fabricating gaslight stories that I struggle and suffocate beneath. His constant harassment wears my defences down and out. Get me a formal restraining order.
Like a narcissist husband, unrelenting ego can drive me so crazy, murder crosses my mind but is ‘he’, me? He tells me I need him in order to survive, that I’m useless without his view. He incites a case of severe self-doubting judgement. Master of manipulation and hypnotic as a snake. He tries to convince me that for my insecurity to dissipate I need to be bigger, better or faster but insecurity is my ego. No one else is bothered by how good I am or what I do, apart from me - oh no! Here’s Mr Ego again - with a capital E! Please persist off!
I can only know real when I’ve accepted the whole - my insecurity, ego and everything else in the messy mix of me and it’s only in acceptance that I surrender and let go. I know I’m free when I no longer have the need or desire to monopolise. When I listen to others instead of being so desperate for my mouth to open I hardly wait for theirs to close; before jumping in. When I don’t need to work out if you belong in my tribe like my ancestors did, because different tribes don’t actually exist - we are The Human Tribe - a cohesion of matching minuscule particles of an expanding universe. All different yet all the same. All equally ok. Let’s make our peace with that. Ego’s the deep root of confusion, a ridiculous destroyer that hates tranquility - I hope I didn’t bring one of those.
I’m only interested in the unguarded egoless you. Allow yourself to be free. Anything else is a silly smoke screen and I’ll just blow you away.
The old ways by Eddie Kent
Where have all the old ways gone
When good manners was to the fore
People said please and thank you
Gentlemen still opened the door
Boyfriends asked a fathers permission
When they wanted a lady’s hand
They wined and dined their girlfriends
Not looked for a one-night stand
Picking your nose was disgusting
Passing wind was even worse
When girls went to the toilet
Boys looked after their purse
Is chivalry still out there?
Do boy scouts still roam the streets?
If so why is it on a bus
Youngsters don’t give up their seats
Is what I’m asking so alien?
I just want people to have respect
Show their elders some courtesy
Is it too much to expect
When someone you see drops something
Be refined, and have some class
Don’t wait till they bend over
Then kick them in the ass
Remember good manners cost nothing
Politeness doesn’t have a price
Don’t be a sap and be ungracious
It’s always nice to be nice
So if someone you see is in trouble
Give them a hand, don't be rude
And if you do so just look at their face
What you'll see is gratitude
In the old days people they did this
For they realised politeness was free
So let's all just take a step backwards
Here endith the lesson from me
Just Another Day
By Eddy Kent
Winters here the snows have come
Joy and happiness to everyone
Peace on earth, is what they say
So whys the world, like it is today
Children living on a lonely street
Turning tricks, for something to eat
Christmas comes then goes away
But to them, its just another day
Young boys fighting in a foreign land
for a cause, they don’t understand
Families at home, waiting for word
Dreading the post, now aint that absurd
Watching T.V. with radio on
Waiting for word, when they’ll be home
Christmas comes then goes away
But to them, its just another day
Nations starving in temperatures hot
Dying of thirst, in a land we forgot
Disease ridden people, dropping like flies
Shedding dry tears, from dried up eyes
Living their lives one day at a time
Beneath the sun, amidst the grime
Christmas comes then goes away
But to them, its just another day
So reading this poem, please take care
To bow your heads and say a prayer
For the unfortunate people of this world
Mothers and fathers, little boys and girls
For Christmas comes then goes away
But for to them, you see, its just another day.
by John Goodwin.
Four weeks before Christmas and throughout the house
Nothing is moving except for a mouse
It clicked on E-bay and Amazon Store
’cos this is black Friday with bargains galore.
All so much cheaper than they were before.
That’s oh so easy let’s look for some more.
It clicked on an X-Box and children’s toys
Hours of fun for young girls and boys
It clicked on some headphones to cut out the noise
Faster and faster the cursor deploys.
Whipped to a frenzy, departments are scrolled.
Replace the hoover, well it is getting old.
And that fridge freezer, no-longer so cold
It seems like the shopping is now uncontrolled.
A brand-new telly, a much bigger size.
Hung on the wall, easy on the eyes.
We’ll keep it a secret, a Christmas surprise.
A family treat to strengthen our ties.
Such massive savings, now wasn’t that fun.
Reluctant to stop now, but it must be done.
The night has flown, now here comes the sun.
Proceed to check out, the shopping is done.
Donation to charity, if you’re inclined.
Children in need, guide dogs for the blind.
A fiver, a tenner, now that would be kind.
I’m sorry to tell you your card is declined.
What I want for Christmas
by Caroline Harman Smith.
No more dogma, creed or race
No sign of hate on any face
No dropping bombs on any place
That’s what I want for Christmas.
No homeless people sleeping cold
No human beings bought and sold
No cruel treatment to the old
That’s what I want for Chritmas
No creatures tortured every day
No children beaten every way
No one without a place to stay
That’s what I want for Christmas
Preserve the riches of our Earth
Value the magic of its worth
And live each day with love and mirth
That’s what I want for Christmas.
Oh Carol. By Maurice Holloway
Apparently it took fifteen minutes in 1934 for James Gillespie to write the lyrics for Santa Claus Is Coming To Town (No, it wasn’t Bruce Springsteen). In it we learnt “He knows if you’ve been bad or good / So be good for goodness sake.” Unfortunately for children and parents all over the world he didn’t spell out what happened if “you’ve been bad.” Perhaps a couple of new verses would help . . .
He knows when you are sleeping
He’ll get inside your head
And whisper lots of nasty things
You’ll be sure to wet your bed
He’ll make sure your gonna cry
Cos he’ll steal all your toys
He’ll take them back and give ’em away
To nicer girls and boys
Christmas lyrics have been changed over the years. “Oh! how soft my fair one's bosom / Fa la la la la la la la la” were the original words to a popular Christmas song. For the sake of propriety these were transformed into the yuletide wishes “Deck the halls with boughs of holly.”
In our enlightened twenty-first century various safety-conscious pressure groups flushed with their success at closing school playgrounds are now campaigning against the use of the life-threateningly dangerous prickly holly leaf. They have joined forces with a healthy-eating organisation who objected to the poisonous red berries to get the lyrics of two seasonal songs changed to:
Deck The Halls With Sprigs Of Spinach,
The Parsley And The Ivy
Another line preceding the previously mentioned fa la la, etc. was amended. With great foresight, the words “Fill the mead cup, drain the barrel” were removed a hundred years before binge-drinking was named as a scourge of society. Politicians believe they may have to reconsider the sexual connotations of its replacement which is currently “Don we now our gay apparel.” Likewise Hymn For Christmas Day will have to be made gender-suitable. A committee with no ear for rhyme has suggested, Him For Christmas Day, Her For Boxing Day and Anyone After The Lights Go Out.
Other old Christmas favourites which may offend are already under deliberation. The previously content but obviously prejudiced gentlemen will have their tune changed to God Rest Ye Merry Persons Of All Sexual Orientations, Races And Creeds. Similarly, Gloria who was quite happy singing on her own is now to be accompanied in the altered line, Gloria And Gerald In Excelsis Deo.
There are concerns about the commercialisation of the season. Recently it was discovered a lobby group working on behalf of condom manufacturers has been hoping to promote more sex during the Christmas period with carols such as:
O Come All Ye Faithful
Come All Ye Shepherds
Lo, He Comes With Clouds Descending
O Come, O Come Emmanuel
MPs, who are used to such coming and going, recommended changes to the House that such lewd lyrics should not be heard on television until after nine and that the pleasure of sexual climax should not be restricted to the religious or shepherds. Agnostics and atheists, shepherdesses and Welshmen with big wellies should also be encouraged to embrace the season. And each other. And the sheep.
Further lobbying by retailers is understood to have caused the change in title of another favourite to Jingle Tills.
There has also been much discussion in Westminster on the increasing use of drugs by bell-ringers all over the country at Christmas and the carol Ding Dong Merrily On High is to be banned.
It was decreed in the last round of budget cuts that the Twelve Days Of Christmas will be reduced to six. Further cutbacks announced were that the partridge and turtle doves will be replaced by a pigeon in the pear tree. French hens (or anything else of that nationality) are definitely out. Political correctness affects the four calling birds. There will in future be two calling birds and two calling blokes. Only three gold rings are required: one for each gender. And as geese are so expensive their place will be taken by one free-range chicken-a-laying.
Finally new information has come to light about Santa’s supposedly most popular reindeer. Far from being a helpful, friendly little fellow it turns out that Rudolph is a sycophantic, ingratiating, toadying little creep. For this reason he will in future be known as Rudolph the Brown-Nosed Reindeer.
© Maurice Holloway December 2017
The Dancing Marionettes
My story starts in a village
In a time called long ago
Where a man and wife stood hand in hand
for they were in love you know
The mans name well it was John
The woman’s name was Kate
And hand in hand they’d walk along
Till they reached their garden gate
There you would see them stand for hours
Just watching the children play
Kate saying, I wish that they were ours
But the Good Lord had his way
For John and Kate, it was not to be
To have children, not their fate
The hurt in their eyes was for all to see
As they stood there at their gate
Come on John, Kate she said
Its time to say goodnight
Its time for us to go inside
And sit by the fireside bright
So stoke up that fire John
and maybe well get a chance
To see our children wake
And watch the marionettes dance
So they cuddled up together
As they sat down by the fire
And Kate said its now or never
As the flames, they did grow higher
Suddenly the shadows came
dancing across the wall
Look said Kate here they come
And aren’t they beautiful
First the shadows would dance to the left
And then they’d dance to the right
Then holding hands they’d turn around
As John held Kate real tight
Look said Kate I’ve just seen Jack
He’s dancing with his Jill
And there goes little Mary
And I think I’ve just seen Bill
And there the happy couple would be
Until they fell asleep
To dream of dancing marionettes
And children they couldn’t keep
So if you see their cottage
Why don’t you take a chance
And look through their window at night
And watch the marionettes dance
The Hockey Match
Caroline Harman Smith
At the end of every summer term the senior girls at st Mary’s played the senior boys at St Stephen’s’ in a no holds barred hockey match.
Now hockey is a brutal game at the best of times but given the rivalry between testosterone fuelled lads and budding lassies it was a battle, if not to the death, definitely to the destruction of the girls’ chances of ever winning the trophy.
The trophy itself, a replica of Winged Victory, had stood proudly in the hall at St Stephen’s for the past eight years.
This particular year both teams had new sports coaches. Tall muscular Adam Marsden issued a challenge to willowy vibrant Lisa Atkins.
‘Loser takes the winner out to dinner at the best restaurant in town.’ Adam said this with confidence after seeing his team thrash the local state comprehensive 10-3.
Lisa invited her team for a pow wow and told them of the challenge. As she had expected the girls fired up at once.
‘We can win’ said the team captain confidently. ‘If not by fair .means then by foul’.
‘Indeed’ said Lisa, ‘we need a counter measure against their strength, We have to weaken them, Anyone got any ideas?’
In the days prior to the match it had rained heavily but the day itself was dry and warm. Parents from both schools filled the stand to watch the tussle.The smart money was on St. Stephens.. The groundsman had set up the scoreboard. As was traditional Lisa and the team had prepared platters of orange quarters for half time refreshment.
The two teams lined up facing each other while the Heads of both schools made their short speech of welcome . The boys hardly heard a word as their eyes were riveted on the girls. Their short hockey skirts had been shortened to just below the scanty panty line. Each girl wore a white shirt with the top three buttons undone to reveal the edges of lacy bras.
The referee blew the whistle. The teams assumed their game positions. As they stood together close to their opposing player the boys were assailed by the aroma of tantalising perfume. Lisa had sacrificed nearly an entire bottle of Guerlain’s Shalimar, billed as the sexiest perfume in the world. Each girl moved closer to her opponent to make sure he breathed in the arousing scent.
The whistle blew and they were off. The girls took the ball and ran with it, passing it across the field with deadly accuracy while the boys, suffering from teenage tumescence, could only manage a slow trot. The one boy not affected by the feminine assault on the team’s senses was the goal keeper. He managed to deflect the best the girls’ team could drive at him until almost the end of the first half when a penalty was given in the girls’ favour. Centre forward Bella White positioned herself directly in front of the goal,
Her left hand casually raised her skimpy skirt revealing a seductive tattoo of a nude woman whose finger was pointing directly upwards. Graham Jones in goal was mesmerised and while his attention was distracted Bella drove the ball into the net.
At half time both teams retired to the changing rooms to refresh.. The girls put on smoky eye shadow and glistening lipstick, brushing out their hair from its restraining head bands. The boys ate their orange slices unaware they had been laced with a good helping of vodka.
The second half was a walkover. The final score 4-nil. Winged Victory flew back in triumph to St.Mary’s.
The following weekend Adam and Lisa dined at Antoine’s. Adam watched Lisa cracking open her last lobster claw. while he twirled sluggishly at his seafood pasta.
‘Is there anything else you would like’ he asked warily.
‘Another glass of champagne would be lovely, thank you. And then perhaps back to my place for a nightcap’.
Adam waved the waiter over. Even defeat can sometimes turn into victory.
When all’s asleep tucked up in bed
a lonely snowman cries
He’s praying for some snow girl’s love
As tears drips from his eyes
Every night it is the same
He searches high and low
he’s looking for the girl of his dreams
the one that’s made of snow
Then back into his garden he does walk
a snowman without a care
not knowing that someone up high
has heard his lonely prayer
For on this cold and frosty morn
A young girl does awake
wondering what to do with her day
as the dawn begins to break
She spies the snowman in the garden
His cheeks all wet with tears.
And suddenly she understands!
Feels all his hopes and fears
You look so lonely Mr. Snowman
I think you need a friend.
So she dresses up and goes outside,
Her plan, his tears to end.
The snow was good for packing
Had fallen through the night.
She rolled and molded her creation
Making sure it was just right.
I’ll make this one a snow girl
As beautiful as can be
I’ll make the snowman laugh again
She worked so tirelessly
And then she runs inside the house
To gather the things she’d need.
A hat from Mum, a scarf from Gran,
An old wand made of reed.
And as the winter light does fade
She makes the snow girl fine.
Isinglass beads for her eyes
Laced lips that look divine
One last look before she turns
To go inside, then go to bed
This tired young girl is soon asleep
With thoughts amassing in her head
She dreams the snowman’s dancing
He’s waltzing with his girl
She can hear the sound of music
As the snow begins to swirl
His face now is full of wonder
No more sorrow only bliss
He’s found the girl he dreamt of
As on her lips he plants a kiss
The next day the girl awakes
And gets up to greet the morn
She looks out of her frosty pane
But sees that they have gone
Tears roll down this young girls face
But they’re happy tears not blue
For written in the frosted glass
Are two words that say, thank you.
This is where we will meet
in the mother-of-pearl evening,
walking in Rosses Point,
at the sheet of rock between
the first and second beach,
wave music entering like a cupbearer;
your jacket soaked with travel,
thumbprint of cities, dust roads,
ivory black bird feathers
encrusted with light,
as though you had broken through
the rings of Saturn, carried away
it’s light-maker and you gift
this incandescent hue to this twilight place
between shore and sea
where I let you go into the spindrift,
into the used currency of memory.
I have this little dolly
I love her like no other.
She lives in my big house
With my parents and my brother
I love to wash and bathe her
To comb her long blonde hair
My brother thinks I'm silly
When I pick out clothes to wear
For I like to look as beautiful
As my dolly looks, you see
We're like two peas in a pod
Yes, we are, my dolly and me.
My favourite time is shopping
Buying groceries with my mam
For I walk along beside her
Pushing my dolly in her pram
When I go to bed at night
After putting my toys away
I clasp my hands to my chest
And I have these words to say
Lord, please keep my family safe
My father and my mother,
My goldfish and my cat
Oh and even my silly brother
For I will love them always
But before this prayer does end
Please keep my dolly safe oh Lord,
Because she is my bestest friend.
Remembrance Sunday November 2016
Graveyard of Flowers
White roses standing in a row
As far as the eye can see
The names on them we do not know
But they died to set us free.
Lonely stones against a background sky
An ocean of deathly white
Brave soldiers who were prepared to die
For a cause they thought was right.
Whispers can be heard upon the breeze
As laughter fills the air
People, I think, should fall to their knees
To show these souls they care.
Let them know they are not alone
That in our hearts they'll stay
Loved ones who did not come home
From those battles far away.
Yes, just like roses standing in a row
As far as the eye can see
Gravestones, we should get to know
As they died to set us free.
Close your eyes and listen
Hear what I do hear.
Soldiers marching proudly
Through the mists of yesteryear
The sound of bugles playing
As the drums keep up the beat.
Sergeants shouting loudly
To the thunder of marching feet.
Nations watching, waving
As tears begin to flow
Loved ones fighting for freedom
In a time so long ago.
Some they lived, some they died
Some they never came home.
But to forget them, we will never
For in our hearts they'll roam.
So close your eyes and listen
Remember their forgotten song.
Fathers, sons and mothers
Proudly marching along.
Where Were You by Eddy Kent
Where were you when the world stood still
And all those people died
When the towers of death came tumbling down
And the whole world cried
Where were you when the towers were hit
And the whole world stood still
When suicide pilots crashed their planes
Not knowing how many they'd kill
Can you remember where you were
When all of this occurred
When the towers of death came tumbling down
And a deafening sound was heard
Where were you on that fateful day
When the innocents boarded the plane
Not knowing death flew with them
In disguise of men insane
Where were you when the screaming started
High above your head
When the innocent called their loved ones
To tell them they'd soon be dead
Can you remember where you were
On that sad September day
When high up in the gathering clouds
Passengers could only pray
Where were you when emergency services
Rushed up to the scene
Then bravely ran into the building
Never again to be seen
Where were you on September the 11th
In the year 2001
When thousands of people lost their lives
In the towers and the pentagon
Do you remember where you were
On the day those terrorists flew
I'll never forget where I was
And I hope I never do
Father Thomas' Dilema by John Goodwin
The weather was sympathetic to the occasion. The heavy overnight rain, that had raised the river to within an inch of its banks, had given way to a light drizzle but, as Father Thomas led the funeral cortege down the slope from the church, he could see the threat was far from over. Storm clouds boiled across the sky, black enough to obliterate the weak November sun. Any darker, he thought, and he would need a miners lamp to read the last part of the service.
Matilda Pennycorn had been a stalwart of the congregation far longer than he had served here, in fact ever since his predecessor was installed more than sixty years before. For all that time she had been in charge of the floral arrangements in the church, resisting all attempted coups from members of the “Ladies Committee” and even the all powerful W.I. with ferocious and often Machiavellian opposition. Despite her striking good looks she had remained a spinster, to some the village shrew. Only Thomas, as her confessor, knew the truth of it all.
That brought his thoughts back to Father Michael. Since his retirement the old priest had lived next door to Matilda merging the gardens of their terraced alms houses into a gloriously complimentary profusion of English country flora that was admired by locals and visitors alike. Thomas had expected to see the nonagenarian ensconced in his favourite place at the back of the church but as he took to the pulpit the box pew remained empty. Unwilling to delay the service Thomas sent the verger to see if the old priest was alright and pressed on. He had not returned.
Now standing on the treacherously slippery Astroturf that surrounded the grave Father Thomas waited for the coffin to be swung over the grave. The first coin sized raindrops began to bounce of his balding head as he carefully stepped forward gesturing to the dozen or so mourners to keep back from the edge he looked down into the blackness of Matilda’s last resting place.
A blaze of lightening momentarily illuminated the slurry that had formed in the bottom of the pit. The sight brought both sadness and relief to the young priests mind. The portentous crack and echoing rumble of thunder punctuated his decision.
A kindly parishioner reached out to extend an umbrella to keep the worst of the deluge off his bible and order of service, succeeding also to redirect the flow in a cascade down the back of his neck. Unheeding he went on with the internment resisting the urge to substitute, “mud to mud, splashes to splashes”, for the traditional lines.
Shaking the hand of the last of the mourners, that hastened away to see to the sandbags that buttressed their front doors, he found himself saying ‘They are at peace now.’ He smiled at the faux pas as he trudged back up to the rectory to change his clothes. He could feel the starch flushed out from his vestments giving him a stiff neck. Stiffening his resolve, he wondered how he was going to handle this event in his own confession. He had to decide if what he had done, or rather not done, was in fact a sin.
Father Michael had stuck to his vows, despite falling in love with Matilda the moment they met, and she had respected that, despite her feelings for him. They had lived so tantalisingly close. Unrequited as it may have been, theirs was a love of a purity that could only be transcended by one other. Now they lay together for the first time and forever. Where’s the sin in that?