Rosy Cole

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Rosy Cole was born and educated in the Shires of England. Her writing career started in her teens. Four apprentice works eventually led to publication of two novels. Life intervened, but she returned to authorship in 2004. She has worked as a Press Officer and Publisher's Reader and is a member of the Society of Authors. Among widespread interests, she lists history, opera, musicals, jazz, the arts, drawing and painting, gemmology, homoeopathy and alternative therapies. Theology also is an abiding interest. As a singer, she's performed alongside many renowned musicians and has run a music agency which specialised in themed 'words-and-music' programmes, bringing her two greatest passions together. Rosy's first book of poetry, THE TWAIN, Poems of Earth and Ether, was published in April 2012, National Poetry Month, and two other collections are in preparation. As well as the First and Second Books in the Berkeley Series, she has written several other historical titles and one of literary fiction. She is currently working on the Third Book in the Berkeley Series. All her books are now published under the New Eve imprint. Rosy lives in West Sussex with her son, Chris, and her Springador, Jack, who keeps a firm paw on the work-and-walkies schedule!

Tails I Win!

 

El Springador celebrates his prime on a very special occasion with a retro post of seven years ago. At eight-four, he's still a live wire!

 

I have pawsed the high-octane adventure that is my life to let you folks know that today is my birthday. I'm five! Thirty-five in dog years – the canine calendar runs on bobbins – neither Pup Gregory nor Caesar (the fellow who invented canned dogfood) could get the hang of it.

Einstein, of course, came up with his major breakthrough based on knowledge of Springadors:

E = MC2, that is, Energy equals More Chips, Too.

And I taught him all he knew about Black Holes, but not where they were located! Or wot they were for! Better whisper it low; mustn't get Herself started on that one. She's been missing a memory stick for a while now. I think we probably can't keep putting it down to a Spinone moment, or the onset of Alsatians. The thing is, you see, I read in the nosepaper about this dog-bone shaped asteroid they've discovered up there. If it should land in my patch, I need somewhere to bury it.

She's fully convinced that I'm also the genius of Chaos Theory when scatter cushions go AWOL and my rubber DNA toy is fielded by the nest of wires behind her computer. I keep telling her it's all on account of some Chalkhill Blue batting his wings up on Devil's Dyke - actually saw him once, right under my nose, looking for a pollen pad to land on - but will she have it?

Now go on, admit it. The world's still barking mad, but it's been a better place since July 10, 2004, when Dog put a spaniel in the works to set about uprooting unwanted Bushes. I'm good at that. Roses are a bit tricky, but dahlias come out a treat and I quite like the taste of camellias. I've been in the doghouse (again!) - just as well I've got my own little brick-built paw-de-terre in the garden where I can chill out – because I crashed into a blooming clump of her treasured arum lilies chasing off a hedgehog. They'd never let me in at the Hampton Court Flower Show!

Wot a life, eh? I just love every moment. And birthdays give you an excuse to create real mayhem!

It sure was a red-litter day, July 10, 2004!

Wags and Woofs,

 

Jack (Canine-Still-In-Much-Waiting to Herself)

 

Copyright

© Rosy Cole 2009 - 2016

Recent Comments
Katherine Gregor
I love it! Happy birthday, Jack!
Sunday, 10 July 2016 17:59
Rosy Cole
Multiwags, Katia! You're a fetching customer, but I'm feline a bit uppity about your name. It does give paws... x
Monday, 11 July 2016 12:53
Stephen Evans
Inimitable Jack ... Read More
Monday, 11 July 2016 03:08
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4 Comments

Losing The Peace

 

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A reflection on challenged borders, ancestral memory and formative experience in the wake of Brexit

In 1960, I was lucky enough to be taken by a friend's family to Bavaria. It was my first trip abroad and an exciting adventure at a time when few people on this island were able to travel to other countries. Britain was slowly rising to its feet after the body blow of two world wars. The first stretch of the MI had been opened between Crick and Watford. That, in itself, was an awe-inspiring development.

I will never forget a chill night spent crossing the Channel from Dover to Ostend on a heaving tide under ragged clouds and stars. Or the revelation of sunrise over Flanders which was haunting in way I still can't articulate. History rose from the grave peopled with ghosts. The mingled bloodshed of nations in the foreign fields of that long-embattled buffer zone of the Low Countries stirred elusive fragments of memory from a life that had never been mine. The eras of Hitler, Kaiser Wilhem II, Napoleon Bonaparte, and even further back, are scored deep in their psyche.

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Nor will I ever forget my first impression of the enchanted cities of Bruges and Ghent, their Flemish step-gables wreathed in a folkloric air. The new Brussels Atomium, gleaming silver, with its connected spheres, was a startling structure to someone who had never heard of it. And the glittering heights of Luxembourg where my first night was spent off native soil I clearly recall. Next day, a brief glimpse of Saarbrücken, renowned for coal, steel and glass, then only recently having been restored to Germany, the butt, like others in that region, of disputed borders and national identity through the centuries. (Strict border controls were in force in those days which sometimes involved a lengthy wait and, if you were unlucky, the vehicle you were travelling in might be taken apart and searched for contraband.) At Stuttgart, I braved the lift to the top of the new wonder that was the 500ft television tower and took black-and-white photos, woefully lacking in perspective, of the Swabian Alps.

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From there, we journeyed down to the otherworldly beauty of the Black Forest at the German end of Lake Constance. The lake has the peculiar distinction of being the only area in Europe where no borders exist since Germany, Austria and Switzerland can lay claim to stretches of its shores. Rules regarding fishing and the movement of goods appear to be honoured with reasonable amity.

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What can I tell you of Bavaria? This was the realm of that turretted castle on the calendar sent by a penfriend, of antelope carvings and cuckoo clocks, of those fairy tale white-spotted red toadstools I'd always assumed were make believe.This was the neighbourhood of the Swiss chocolatiers, Suchard and Lindt, who put English versions in the shade! It was the province of pumpernickel, sauerkraut, weisswurst and wienerschnitzel, of Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte, and an eye-popping array of layered torte with cream and chocolate and fresh fruit trapped in aspic, along with equally delectable apfelstrudel. Bavarian coffee and kuchen soon became a mid-morning ritual after a brisk walk.

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The towns were so quaint and characterful, evoking atmospheres of their multi-faceted history, with their cobbles and gables and half-timbering and green bottle-glazed windows, the exuberant diversity in their styles of architecture testifying to the salutary influences of other cultures. Aromas of garlic and spice, tarry coffee and baking rye bread, were all new and enthralling to an Englisch mädchen. Everywhere we went, the German people were warm and welcoming, determined to mend fences and forgive and forget. It was easy to soak up the nouns and phrases of daily currency.

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Heidelberg Old Bridge - Konrad Linck (more atmosphere than cropped photos)

The journey home took in some of the towns the cities of the Rhine, the spa resort of Baden-Baden with its springs and wells, its pleasure gardens and casino, haunt of the rich and famous. We visited Heidelberg Old Town whose venerable university was founded during the Holy Roman Empire, then on to Mainz, Coblenz and Bonn, spending our last night at Aachen (formerly Aix-la-Chapelle) before heading for Liège and the Belgian coast. At Bonn we saw the birthplace of the maestro, Beethoven, whose 9th Symphony gave rise to the European anthem based on Schiller's Ode to Joy.

Impressions of alll the cities and regions of the holiday have enriched my life. I commemorated about forty of them by sewing their woven crests on my duffel sports bag.

I can't say that the iconic cliffs of Dover were altogether an anti-climax, but rolling through the pastoral landscape of home was like coming out of a dream.

In those early decades after the wars, we were made very aware of our blessings - and they were real enough! - but seeing what had been achieved on the Continent, the general tenor and relish of day to day life there, gave the lie to some of our homespun propaganda. The driving spirit that had kept up Britain's morale through conflict had still to be invoked through the Peace if our renewal was to keep pace with other countries. It seemed the halt in progress, the loss of manpower and the cost of two world wars had hit this country particularly hard.

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The later Fifties and the Sixties saw the rise of the nuclear family and a dynamic change in our mode of thinking. In a strange way, we were untethering ourselves from the past. Customs and attitudes we had taken for granted began to dissolve and people to forsake that focus of community for all of life's ups and downs and rites of passage, the church. Our sense of pilgrimage and instinctive dependency on God was lost. The days of pulling together for the common good, of kindness, courtesy and neighbourliness, were ebbing away.

1968 saw a recall to old values in a panic attempt to boost the economy and sink the national debt with its 'I'm Backing Britain' campaign. The Poet Laureate Cecil Day-Lewis, in his poem Now and Then, wrote this:

To work then, islanders, as men and women
Members one of another, looking beyond
Mean rules and rivalries towards the dream you could
Make real, of glory, common wealth, and home.

The whole thing proved a fiasco, a turbulent comedy of errors, misapprehensions and vying factions.

Ring any bells?

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Early in the next decade, when we persuaded Europe we had prospects, we were rescued by the European Economic Community and the strikes and demonstrations eventually died down. Whether ultimately for our good or not, it rapidly changed the face of Britain for the better, bringing our standard of living up to the mark in countless ways and opening up opportunities which, as more and more countries joined and the EU was formed, gathered momentum and sent our demands and expectations sky-rocketing.

Do we have what it takes, I wonder, in the present circumstances, to strive for the Laureate's vision?

As for me, I'm eternally grateful to those generous folk, now passed on, who took me under the wing and enabled that first excursion to the Continent. It triggered new perspectives that were to change my future.

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 Footnote: This is where we stayed in the Black Forest...in the main building. I don't remember the extension. It was the outpost of a convent and run by nuns who assist the staff of the present hotel. Its interior, if updated a little, looks very much as it did then. The local fare was wholesome and varied. It was here I had my first encounter with health-giving peppermint tea!

This is the first of two posts.

UPDATE: July 11, 2016  There have now been enough lamentations over Brexit. I feel that it is time to pull together and look to the future, so have decided to forego a second post on this theme.

 

Copyright

© Rosy Cole 2016

Recent Comments
Katherine Gregor
Oh, yes, Rosy – it certainly does ring bells! What a beautiful, and highly appropriate piece. Thank you!
Monday, 04 July 2016 08:01
Rosy Cole
Thanks kindly for reading and commenting. Perhaps what amazes me most is that Shakespearian appeal to the British people by the Po... Read More
Monday, 04 July 2016 12:40
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Cloud Cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Image courtesy of Gerald England

 

 

There once were limpid skies
contrails ice-cut in cubic azure 
as if by skaters' blades

Dresden, Delft, and artisan
blue of bird's-eye speedwell
on gifted days of cloth-of-gold

Now scars crosshatch the heavens
each marred blank page of Grace
a grim rebuff, transcribing panic

Manic, lost-in-the-ether scrawl
whose turbid steam depicts
humanity's crushed vertebrae

It filters wide and stretches long
in jaundiced bruised-grey shrouds
screening a bewildered sun

The eye for paradise grows blind
remembered light is our epiphany
even as we breathe the chemistry

of oblivion...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright

© Rosy Cole 2016

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No Such Thing As Can't

 

My parents' wedding day

 

For better for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health...when Britain joined the EEC (EU) in 1973, a whole mode of living slipped away unnoticed. Until then, attitudes, expectations and material wants had been stuck, broadly-speaking, in the Edwardian era, held in check by two world wars which reshuffled the cards completely.

Today (May 27) is my late parents' wedding anniversary. They were part of the moral and economic struggle to get the nation back on its feet during a decade or more after WW2. Hopeful newly-weds were scrambling to find properties, and I don't know to this day how my parents successfully landed a Georgian cottage when there were around four hundred applicants. The rent was ten shillings a week. That's 50p now, or .73 US dollars! The kitchen was neatly equipped with an ancient Belfast sink and built in 'copper' under which a fire could be lit for boiling laundry. The fireplace had a cast iron cooking range which, I suppose would be the forerunner of the Aga. Improvements were done at the tenant's expense and, although there was gas, it was some years before electricity was installed. One of my earliest memories is of my father reading by the light of a paraffin lamp. By then, he had a good job so they were on the way up, saving hard and aspiring to better things. My mother, who led a reclusive life, was highly skilled at half-forgotten domestic arts and was well-employed in making ends meet. She was a fine tailoress, cook, gardener, decorator, a cushion, curtain, bedspread and rugmaker, with a thousand ways to make do and mend. It was the closest she ever came to happiness, except, maybe, for the day of her marriage.

Whatever the problems and emotional constraints at home, she sent me into the world in beautiful clothes. She could never express affection or give hugs, but I do remember finely-embroidered little dresses made of bone-white parachute silk. She made pinafores edged with emerald bias-binding conjured from shiny blackout poplin, and coats with velvet collars and matching hats, pleated skirts on shoulder straps and cardigans with pretty 'fair isle' borders. Ration books were still in use and her industry with garden vegetables, salting and pickling, and the bottling of fruit, helped to stretch the budget. I remember the tangy-gold plums and glistening garnet damsons lining the pantry shelves and my father bringing home a rabbit he'd run into on his bicycle in the dark. He cycled twelve miles to the office in the summer,  worked long hours, and cycled back. In the winter, the journey was a mix of bike and train. That was before Dr Beeching axed all the branch lines which didn't pay. It certainly put car manufacturers into business! I think there were three, maybe four, families in our village who had cars. One was a taxi service.

Though the general approach to life was upbeat and the peddled wisdom was that 'there's no such thing as can't', there was what can only be described as a miasmic gloom in the atmosphere. The stench of something terrible lingered in the psyche which I later came to associate with the Holocaust. It tempered the euphoria of victory and must have emanated from Central Europe whose disintegrating cultures led to an exodus into neighbouring lands.

We may have lived in the backwoods with next to no transport, but the upheaval of war brought the world to our doorstep and was the beginning of our multi-cultural society. War hits a close-knit country especially hard and turns the demographic upside down and inside out. At the end of it, fathers came home to children they'd never seen, who viewed them as interlopers. Or fathers didn't come home, which led to many adopted and stepchildren. Evacuees returned to their parents, mostly having formed close bonds with their host families, sometimes stronger than the natural ones. Unwanted youngsters were shipped in their thousands to Australia to populate the country with 'good white stock' and provide hard labour. Allied troops hung around and started new families, else whisked off their English sweethearts to other parts of the globe.

I was too young to understand all this, but its spirit was vibrantly alive in the microcosm of the schoolyard.

The local children, bred from Danish and Huguenot stock, had the varied features and muted colouring of bloodlines mingled with Celtic, Gaelic and Saxon, as did the drawling, good-natured Americans who had the world taped and expected to be liked. Their very nationhood owed its being to the religious purges of the northern hemisphere during recent centuries.  But among this medley were those with a distinct look of exile, the raisin-eyed Jew from Golders Green who fitted anywhere and belonged nowhere but the foothills of Zion, the Italian half-caste whose father had been a POW, the Poles and Romanies with their broad cheekbones and dark and dolorous stare from the camp on the main road out of the village. They throve on rootcrops and their skin was tinged with their native soil.   Sometimes, during lessons, they were lifted on to chairs at the front of the class and encouraged to sing folk-songs in their own thrumming tongue. They sang with confidence and passion of things that were gone, of vintages that would never be repeated and dances whose measure they no longer trod, of costumes banished to the wardrobes of theatre.

I was drawn to the refugees. There was a wholeheartedness about them. They seemed to live on a metaphysical plane, imbuing every act with a tribal significance which kept their identity intact beyond their homeland. I understood the outsider’s plight, though there was no such thing as racial tension, then. The issue had not reared its head. Every child was familiar with the picture of Jesus gathering the youngsters of five Continents about his feet. We knew that the blood under the skin was one colour. Some of our soft toys were golliwogs in those days, and black dolls, which, paradoxically, were banned as un-PC to the next generation.

Then came the era of spending and shopping as a leisure pursuit. Household crafts were largely forgotten. Gypsies no longer knocked on the door to sell pegs and tell fortunes. Nor did the dapper 'man from the Pru' collect weekly insurance premiums.

They started to build motorways in Britain in the late fifties, and open supermarkets, and fit homes with central heating. The wonderful patterns woven by frost on the bedroom window on a winter's morning melted away. No more sitting around the fire as one, listening to the BBC Home Service, or reading quietly to the driven clicking of knitting needles, whilst, in another corner, the broadsheet was shaken pointedly behind which my father had retired to lap his tea in peace.

During those years, people developed a taste for going abroad. Our palate began to change. Air travel became cheaper. My parents never ventured further than the Isle of Wight, but for me there were short school trips to France and holidays on the Continent with the families of friends.

It all sounds so quaint, and barbaric, too! But I think my generation is the most privileged in history. We were linked to all that. Most of us knew we were well off. We rode the tide of economic prosperity in such a way it has followed us through to middle and later years.

If the apocalypse comes soon, if utilities fail and our method of living breaks down, we shall know how to set about re-inventing the world in an eco-friendly way, aided by developments in popular science. It behoves us to pass on our knowledge to our children and grandchildren and support those revivalist movements that are seeking a viable alternative lifestyle.

But our best gift must be the wisdom that there's no such thing as 'can't'.

The Leicestershire village of my first home. King Charles I was said to have taken refuge in this timber-framed cottage during the English Civil Wars. However, in latter years the legend has metamorphosed into one concerning Richard III on the night before the Battle of Bosworth. For many reasons, I think the latter defies credibility and the original is true.

(previously posted at pilgrimrose.com )

 

Footnote: As to the heated debate on the imminent EU Referendum, I devoutly hope voters will realise that the whole issue is bigger than party politics and nationalistic fervour.

Copyright

© Rosy Cole 2010 - 2016

Recent Comments
Katherine Gregor
I love reading about your childhood experience in the period after the war. You write it so well, I can almost smell, taste and f... Read More
Friday, 27 May 2016 20:17
Rosy Cole
Thank you so much, Katia, for reading and for your appreciative comments. That era seems like a different lifetime now. It's tru... Read More
Tuesday, 31 May 2016 12:32
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2 Comments

Latest Comments

Stephen Evans Spark Plugs and Synonyms
10 December 2017
The book of John was certainly the most poetic of the gospels. :-)
Rosy Cole Spark Plugs and Synonyms
10 December 2017
Steve, in your inimitable way :-) you have come an unconventional route to the all-time, universal T...
Stephen Evans Spark Plugs and Synonyms
09 December 2017
I have just started reading Umberto Eco's Kant and the Platypus (great title ) and this basic proble...
Rosy Cole Spark Plugs and Synonyms
08 December 2017
John Betjeman likened poetry to journalism more than to poetic prose. It's a helpful comparison to b...
Stephen Evans Spark Plugs and Synonyms
07 December 2017
Neology is an under-rated science.

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