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!

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 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

The Art Of The Nations

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have never belonged to a writers' group as such, but long ago attended a course run by an English Lit. lecturer where books were debated.

On one occasion, the subject of prevailing characteristics in various countries came up, how we use the shorthand of stereotypes to convey identity, and I remember a Welsh lady suddenly protesting: "But you can't nationalise human nature!'

This is something I have never forgotten because, although human behaviour arises from the drive for survival, it develops and is shaped by a myriad influences. Time, geography, prevailing climate, constitution of the ground, profile of the landscape, mythology, beliefs and social codes are just a few. These run deep in the psyche but are 'read' by the outsider through surface traits and dealings. Cultural values can differ widely and it is never safe to assume that we're all coming from the same place or envision the same desired outcome.

Years later, I came across Kahlil Gibran's interpretation of racial characteristics which provides much to ponder, and, perhaps, to disagree with. I thought it would be fun to add a few of my own and wondered if readers might like to suggest their impressions.

 

Kahlil Gibran

 

The art of the Egyptians is in the occult.

The art of the Chaldeans is in calculation.

The art of the Greeks is in proportion.

The art of the Romans is in echo.

The art of the Chinese is in etiquette.

The art of the Hindus is in the weighing of good and evil.

The art of the Jews is in the sense of doom.

The art of the Arabs is in reminiscence and exaggeration.

The art of the Persians is in fastidiousness.

The art of the French is in finesse.

The art of the English is in analysis and self-righteousness.

The art of the Spaniards is in fanaticism.

The art of the Italians is in beauty.

The art of the Germans is in ambition.

The art of the Russians is in sadness.

 

Rosy Cole

 

The art of the Americans is in sustaining the Dream.

The art of the Portuguese is in adventuring.

The art of the Antipodeans is in breaking new ground.

The art of the Romanians is in elusive presence.

The art of the Hungarians is in tribal aspiration.

The art of the Japanese is in landscape in miniature.

The art of the Scandinavians is in overcoming enclosure.

The art of the Dutch is in quiescence.

 

And to finish on a capricious note...

The art of the Sicilians, when life hands them lemons, is in the sublimity of Limoncello (de Sicilia)!

 

 

 

 

Copyright

© rosy cole 2016

Recent Comments
Stephen Evans
Interesting. Not sure I think art is the right word. Maybe essence though. Not that I know many Romanians. And for Japan I would s... Read More
Wednesday, 11 May 2016 03:52
Rosy Cole
You have some excellent points about those nationalities.It occurred to me some while back that St Francis of Assisi's lifespan o... Read More
Wednesday, 11 May 2016 22:21
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A Ride On The Cosmic Ferris Wheel (Review of The Circus Poems)

 

Adults are inclined to the illusion that all children love clowns and masks and life-sized puppets, but the unknown being inside a funny fuzzy bear costume can sometimes reduce a bemused infant to tears.

 

 

 

Alex Grant's THE CIRCUS POEMS picks up the theme of FEAR OF MOVING WATER** and goes on to describe anthropoidal existence in a bewildering universe where even symmetry and order are random. He stresses the fragilility of living forms while showing their tenacious commitment to a beating pulse. We go hurtling through constellations at the mercy of sheer momentum until, worn down to dust, we disappear through a pinprick of light that is birth. Thus the cycle begins again. Of the Human Cannonball, he says:

 

"He dreams the same dream night after night – he is shooting down a narrowing opening towards a pinprick of light – he hears the muffled voices, clanging metal, the soft, liquid rumble sluicing behind, firegush and cordite thick in his mouth - a subterranean voyager riding towards his nightly salvation, high above the pink blur of humanity, upturned faces calling out his name – knives glinting in their hands."

 

Was there ever a more vivid analogy of birth? One wonders whether the poet dimly remembers his own to have infused this with so much elemental energy.

 

 

 

The circus characters are the acceptable face of the sinister aspects of human nature. Such entertainment ensures the riveted curiosity of an audience in ecstacies of alarm about how close to annihilation it is possible to steer while keeping balance on life's tightrope. They are all present, the Clown, the Bearded Lady, the Contortionist, the Magician, the Lion-Tamer, the Strongman...

 

"Listen as he tears a telephone directory of hearts in two. The strongman fears nothing, Tiger-striped, thicker-skinned than the elephant, wilderness in his eyes, hair thick as tug-boat rope, he'll crush your ribs like a bar of sodden soap. Children ride on his shoulders, powder pink and soft as guilt."

 

 

In different ways, these individuals sum up what our dreamlike span means on a disintegrating planet. The Fortune Teller's words have a soporific hum that 'winds in your ear'.

 

"You are on a very long voyage, unsure of your destination – many companions will come and go, certain places will hold you – you are moving, returning, always returning."

 

To capture any of it is a feat as great as any prowess demonstrated by the Acrobat.

 

"...then flips her grasshopper body and lands on the white stallion's back as it canters past. Her body melds with the horse -its snort and rumble pulsing through her feet...mane flapping like white seaweed in a bridled sea of dust and plumes and memory."


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Between the big-top spectacular and peeping in at the sideshows, we dip into a few of the calamitous events of global history's fair. Here, the characters are unmasked projections of those ogled from the ringside. The edges of the Self melt and the lives of the many are contained like fluid in the life of one.

 

There is a vivid and atmospheric account of the Bolshevik drive to capture Archangel where the White Army put up fierce resistance. I found it reminiscent of the Komarovsky train scene in Doctor Zhivago. The narrative moves from phrases about rutted earth, reddened snow and shards of bone, through wind and ice and men and animals pitching camp in the forest until the wheels turn again:

 

"and I am done with tents and pegs and iron cages

 

...Today, I heard a gunshot from my window – the blast echoed

 

 like a lost voice and I imagined the animal falling, its hooves

 

extending like a four-pointed star, its breath gushing

 

to the center of the world, its body sucked into the vortex..."

 

 

to this, the following day, as if a grip on reality were only to be conserved within the memory:

 

 

"...The democracy of snow falls noiselessly to earth. Tomorrow, I will walk

 

and eat snow and think of my wife – but in this moment,

 

I raise a glass of Bull's Blood to the world -

 

my first in seven years, and it tastes like the ache

 

of a young boy – like summer by the Bosphorous - "

 

 

and, finally, to this:

 

 

"...The Buddha said that to be born human

 

is like coming up for air in an infinite ocean

 

and finding your head inside the only ring that floats..."

 

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When the circus passes through Mesa Verde on its roll from Colorado to Utah, a flash flood washes away the big cats' trailer, but the show goes inexorably on with its thrills, spills, its contortions and deformities. There is a quotation from the Lancashire Evening News of November, 1871 in which a two-headed, eight-limbed female entertained an audience at the Temperance Hall with her duets, one voice contralto, the other soprano, in a 'very pleasing manner'. This says everything about our amorphous values and attitude to Death. The story underlines the shiftingness in all things. Those stalwart Victorians might well have applauded themselves for their triumph over the demon liquor, and even a civilised lack of qualms, but their primitive palate for horror was undiminished.

 

As Virginia Woolf once remarked: the accent falls in the wrong place.

 

For, there are times when the circus itself, with its cracking whips, flinging knives, bloody teeth, fields the danger. During an earthquake which devastated an Andean Valley in 1971, dislodging millions of tons of glacial rubble, 25,000 people perished in one town alone. According to the Punta Arenas Citizen, only 400 people survived and 300 of those were children attending a circus performance.

 

The ghost of a Deity, neither benevolent nor inimical, looms through these poems. One such passage describes the Trapeze Artist:

 

 

"The cross-bar hangs like a churchyard flag in a lull - the congregation

 

waiting for one more revelation to come flying out of cloistered cloth.

 

The priest of the air mounts his wooden pulpit – throws his spangled

 

cape into the audience and genuflects in their direction. A silent cross,

 

a mumbled prayer, and he looks up past the blazing light, the catcher’s

 

arms open like a pale sacrament, eucharist of skin and bone and wrist."

 

 

This is a superbly focused volume and is, in some ways, more sophisticated than FEAR OF MOVING WATER**. But there is little whimsical diversion, just unvarnished irony. Grant uses words like surgical instruments probing the deeps of the psyche to abstract the truth. He skilfully dissolves the barriers between all the human senses and methods of perception. The collection is not for the squeamish. Or the panic-stricken who are anxious to stop the world and get off.

 

This unnerving ride on the cosmic ferris-wheel will certainly affect your vision.

 

 

RJC

 

 

 

 

 

**Awards for FEAR OF MOVING WATER:

 

Runner-up for the 2010 Oscar Arnold Young Award - Best Collection by a North Carolina Poet. (June, 2010)

 

Runner-up for the Brockman Campbell Award - Best North Carolina Poetry Collection. (June, 2010)

 

 
 
 

 

Copyright

© Rosy Cole 2010 -2016

Recent Comments
Stephen Evans
Sounds fascinating - almost Tarot like.
Thursday, 21 April 2016 02:59
Rosy Cole
Yes, that's an interesting observation, not that I know much about the Tarot Pack, but this collectiion is reminiscent of the Shak... Read More
Thursday, 21 April 2016 14:10
Barbara Froman
Marvelous review, Rosy! Another title for my list. Looking forward to the read!
Thursday, 21 April 2016 17:53
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Rosy Cole's books at New Eve Publishing

 

New Eve Publishing
 

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Click ISBN numbers for Free Delivery Worldwide

 

LITERARY FICTION (1)

 

New Eve Publishing 2016

ISBN 978-0-9556877-4-7 (Free Delivery Worldwide)

Excerpt

Snow fell unexpectedly in my hopeful seventh spring. It made shadows of the bare boughs. It sent shivers down the spindly spine of young birch. It found out the eroded pointing in the brickwork. With a gentle insistence it gathered along the window-ledges, made portholes of the panes and silenced the astonished birds. Flake by flake, it settled upon the lawns Simms had already mown twice that season, and obliterated the paths as though it meant business. Soon it had created a ghostly monochrome world. A child’s world.

No one guessed it was coming. The weather forecast had been promising. It came without warning, this taste of winter in May; a thief in the night...

...It was as we were stamping our boots, about to file in, that a resounding thud drew our attention. A young blackbird had collided with the window and lay, a tumbled heap of feathers, on the path. I darted to his rescue, but it was too late! He fixed me meekly with his beady eye and lapsed, quivering, into stillness. I stretched out a finger and stroked his soft wings. He was as warm as my own flesh and blood, poor scrap, so deceived by the reflected universe. I couldn’t take it in. I fell on my knees and moaned and rocked to and fro and refused to be comforted. How could I bear such passive obedience to order?

That night, I had a nightmare about the hole in the garden and how it could be made good before Simms found out. I awoke, sobbing, to the recollection of yesterday and that precocious silence about which I could never speak.

 

________________________________________________

HISTORICAL TITLES

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New Eve Publishing 2014  (Read excerpts)

ISBN 978-0-9556877-3-0  (Free Delivery Worldwide)

 

When the Earl of Berkeley narrowly escapes death in a duel at Arundel Castle, he realises the outcome is not what his opponent intended. His wife has been compromised by a deadly foe, Prince Ernest, Duke of Cumberland, brother of the Prince of Wales.

After a long spell of seclusion, the Countess is launched upon the beau monde. The couple strive to subdue gossip caused by the failure of the 1799 Pedigree Trial to recognise their first marriage. A careful strategy must be adopted to ensure their eldest son succeeds to his father's honours.The blood of kings and tradesmen runs in Fitz's veins and he struggles with a conflicted identity. In many minds, his courtesy title, Lord Dursley, is far from fixed, whilst his reputation for philandering is every bit as robust as Lord Berkeley's. Equally at home in Green Room, boudoir or barn, his proudest conquest is The Fair Greek from Smyrna, bewitching wife of the English Consul in Egypt.

Dursley's beautiful and tiresome Mama dare not put a foot wrong. The Prince of Wales is courting her favours and her watchful spouse well understands that safeguarding her virtue may exact penalties as surely as risking her good name.

Among other intrigues, Lady Berkeley finds herself caught up in the Delicate Investigation of Princess Caroline, banished wife of the throne's heir. A scandal involving risqué conduct and an adopted child brings the Princess into disrepute, a scenario exploited by her husband who wishes to divorce her. One of his chief spies, Lady Charlotte Douglas, grew up in Gloucester and is familiar with Mary Cole's past. She tells how a distinguished barrister once enjoyed a liaison with the Countess at a time she vows she was married.

The Earl's demise after a tragic accident means his widow must confront the House of Lords Committee of Privileges alone. Witnesses are summoned from every stratum of society and her history taken apart. Rogues emerge to stake a claim upon the Berkeley fortunes and romantics to set the record straight. The aristocracy closes ranks. Royal promises are broken and allies melt away as the lengthy hearing wends its sensational course before Cumberland inflicts the coup de grâce.

It seems the only emblem of true loyalty is a Jacobite white rose.

 

New Eve Publishing 2008. Reprint 2013

ISBN 978-0-9556877-1-6  (Free Delivery Worldwide)

Free 2013 Print Edition Ebook


When Mary Cole, a butcher's daughter, caught the eye of Lord Berkeley, it was as flint to tinder. A libertine and a forsworn bachelor, he was taken aback that the Catholic-reared beauty refused to be his mistress. Within weeks he'd brought her family to bankruptcy. When, still, she eluded him, he devised a theatrical plot to abduct her.

It was then that he knew he could not let her go.

Aided by his corrupt chaplain, Hupsman, the Earl duped his 'shepherdess' with fake nuptials.

Tumbling to the truth, Mary became passionately committed to gaining her eldest son's birthright. With an astonishing grasp of pastoral economy, she repaired the Berkeley fortunes while a succession of children compounded her plight.

Her estranged sisters, meanwhile, were moving among the glitterati of Pitt's England and the New America and their scandalous activities had to be curtailed at the highest level before a legal knot was eventually tied.

Upon Hupsman's death, the temptation to affirm the ‘first marriage' proved too strong for the Earl and Countess and they conspired in a criminal act to ‘find' the registry. The upshot was a sensational trial in the House of Lords in 1811 whose repercussions were to shake the foundations of the Berkeley dynasty for ever and put Mary's life at risk.

Was that marriage a sham? Or was it a timeless truth?

Excerpt

"I have been as much sold as any lamb that goes to the shambles!"

Often she had watched them in the fickle days of spring, skipping about the lush meadows of Gloucester, exulting in the gift of life. Steadily they grew fat and independent of the placid ewes, unaware of the shadow of the butcher's blade, or that they were destined for some rich man's table.

That was long ago, when Mary was a slip of a thing and Pa kept The Swan Tavern at Barnwood and grazed livestock there. He used to send his meat into the city of Gloucester and numbered among his customers many of the great houses of the Vale. They were well-known, the Coles. Folk grumbled about their airs and graces, but William Cole was a respected tradesman who never sold anyone short. He was proud of his three lovely daughters, of whom Mary was the youngest, and had high hopes of his fourth child, his namesake, Billy, despite the shameless way the women of the household mollycoddled him. His wife, too, was a comely body who earned pin money by nursing sick and newborn infants and saw no contradiction in this humble occupation and that state to which she aspired. "For," observed she, "high birth or lowly, tis nought but an accident. Nobility of character is what signifies." Mary possessed a natural reserve and took this dictum to heart, but her sisters were wanton and Cole was relieved when his eldest, Ann, took up with Will Farren, a likely fellow in the same trade as himself, and went to live in Butchers Row, Westgate, in wedded safekeeping.

Life was simple then. The sun always seemed to be shining. Mary delighted in picking nosegays of sweet peas and lavender from her father's garden and went capering off to school with them, adding poppies and buttercups and Queen Anne's lace along the bridle way.

But in the year 1783, when Farmer George was King and Mary was full-grown, the recent death of old Cole marked a dramatic change in the family's fortune....

 

More Reviews

Excellent review of History both family and English

'This book is wonderfully done. These are my ancestors. Her research is remarkable.'

Jean Batton

 

Temporarily Unavailable (New print edition February 23, 2017 )

(Original edition published by Robert Hale 1984.)

 

Echoes of a strange past haunted Kate. She dimly knew her destiny lay far beyond the South Downs rectory where she had been so strictly reared. Manoeuvred into an uninspiring marriage, she escaped to make her own way in a society overshadowed by the Napoleonic Wars where values were a stark contrast to those at home. She was to meet La Belle Madeleine whose brilliant establishment was not what it seemed; the stormy baronet whose young daughter was dying of consumption and whose half-mad sister had eloped with a penniless lord; the Brighton soldier who won her heart one enchanted evening, and as swiftly broke it. It was through a dramatic sequence of events that she was lured inexorably back to her roots in the wilds of Cumberland, to Silvercragg Castle and the baneful spectre of Meg McCullough, the blacksmith’s daughter crossed in love. There the mystery began to unfold, but it was not until months later, on the battlefield of Waterloo, that Kate's future was finally sealed.

Excerpt

In a cloud of dust the London stage when spanking along the road which snaked through the valley between mountain and moor. At Carlisle, the last port of call, the merchant in broadcloth was pleased to see confirmation from the jubilant pages of The Times of Napoleon’s imprisonment on the island of Elba. The prospect of resuming trade with the Continent was long overdue.

It had been a mild spring day. Dizzying columns of insects were hanging over the horizon. Away to the right, the grey steeps of Helvellyn closed with the oncoming darkness. A bloated amber moon loomed up behind Raven’s Ghyll. Vagrant sheep were nosing over lichen-covered outcrops and dry tussocks of heath grass, their plaintive bleating echoing around the fells like lost souls in search of their tribe. Low on a hill crowned with firs, the towers of Silvercragg Castle stood proud behind a fretwork of larches, mirrored in the placid gloom of Lake Mereswater and possessed of a desolate air. Built in the Gothic style, it intrigued the traveller and exerted a mysterious influence over the humble homesteads scattered throughout Wrydale.

On such a night the White Lady was said to appear, lamenting her lost child, the daughter whose heritage had been denied her. There were tales of bold, bad lords who feared neither God nor men, and tales of ghostly revelry by night when visions of the past startled ordinary mortals out of their wits. There were rumours of sorcery and dark deeds performed to keep strangers at bay. Folk wagged their heads ominously and harked back to the winter of ’95, that fateful Christmas Eve when disaster struck. But none knew of the psychic forces that bound living to dead.

All was deserted now, all still. The coach had shaken off the dust of the place and gone thundering south. Ere long, wise folk would be taking to their beds. A curlew’s thin cry cut through the silence emphasised by the timeless purling of the beck which knew all things and kept its own counsel. Save for a few retainers who went about their business with one eye on the clock, nothing stirred in the Castle.

It was on the South Downs, far beyond that road linking Silvercragg with civilisation, that the shades preyed on the finely-tuned mind of the dale’s errant daughter…

 

New Eve Publishing Reprint 2016

ISBN 978-1-84799-354-0  (Free Delivery Worldwide)

Free 2016 Print Edition Ebook

A compact novelised history

This is the story of one community's struggle to bring New Jerusalem out of the clouds during a quarter of a millennium of radical change. The spiritual dynamism inspired by John Wesley in these parishes was multiplied throughout the British Isles and steadily contributed to the welfare and stability of the nation when Europe was in ferment and the beast of anarchy was baying at the door. King George III himself fully recognised the part played by Methodism. He even donated ships' timber for the building of Wesley's Chapel in the City of London and presented them in person.

Excerpt

On Moody Bush Hill, just off the bridle path which traces a lackadaisical course to South Croxton, stands a forgotten relic of feudal times. It is neither milestone nor monolith, neither cairn nor cornerstone, a granite tooth inscribed with the words Moody Bush. No one knows how it came to be there or who was the mason who tooled its weather-hewn face. Legend claims that it marks the meeting place of the old hundreds court which debated local affairs when William the Conqueror took it into his head that the Gallic touch was needed to civilise the mongrel peasants of this island. Where the mighty emperors of Rome had failed, he would not!

It is an idyllic landscape, thickly populated with oak and ash, with elder, blackthorn and sycamore, diligently tilled for almost a thousand years since the Vikings first tamed its forests and subdued its stubborn clay with their peerless ploughshares. It rests at the heart of a heart-shaped county, about as far from any alien horizon or the cut and thrust of everything associated with seafaring as you can get.

Queniborough nestles in the valley, distinguished by the dragon's tail spire of St. Mary's church, and a mile or two to the north-west, the tower of St. Peter's Church rises foursquare in the parish of Syston. In the archaic tongue of its Anglo-Saxon settlers, the tiny hamlet was named Sithestun after the broad, blunt stone where its patriarchs gathered.

Little affects the tempo of its days. The warring factions to the north and south which contest the right of the Catholic Stuart over the Protestant Hanoverian for the nation's throne are no more than a whispered rumour. Ever since the Roman occupation, shiresfolk have preferred to cherish their roots rather than tangle with offcomers. The fact that St. Augustine, despatched by Pope Gregory I to these pagan shores, had converted Penda of Mercia's grandson, Offa, and the kingdom had grown fat and prosperous as a result, has long passed from memory. Those who work the land assume God's in his heaven and that they know how life should be lived.

But deep below their pattens and hunting-boots, nature still seethes. The middle ground is riven by an ancient fault line. Some say that, until the titanic upheavals of the Ice Age, the undulating plain which forms the backbone of Charnwood Forest was the highest range of peaks in England. Every so often the earth's core rumbles and sends forth a shuddering ripple which undermines buildings, causes lightning cracks to appear in plasterwork and stirs up a gale. Thunderstorms occur more regularly than anywhere else in the British Isles.

Today, these rocky outcrops, Breedon Hill, Beacon Hill, Burrough Hill, fortresses from the cradle of man, are stations in a chain of beacons. They might warn of advancing armies, hail a new sovereign or proclaim the birth of his heir.

So much for earthquake, wind and fire. But what of the still, small voice...?

__________________________________________________

POETRY

 

ISBN 978-0-9556877-6-1 Paperback 

Free 2016 Print Edition Ebook

 
DOG STAR

 (After Robert Browning)

 
That's my last canine pictured on the wall
looking as if he were alive. I call
that piece no blunder, now.
A Canon Powershot and sleight of hand
captured his mischief and there he stands.
Do sit awhile and be amused.
I said this camera by design, for none
saw Maximilian - Max for short - composed
and would have missed him altogether,
his rump fast disappearing in the rearguard
of a hundred miles an hour tornado,
had it not been for A1 technology
and the patience of a saintly spouse.
Perhaps Di chanced to pat a seat and say
Come, sit with me on your part of the sofa
and harken while I spin tall tales of your begetting.
His tail would wag; he loved a tale,
the rhythm lulling silky, pendent ears,
adjusting the helter-skelter of his heart
to gentler pace, his dark eyes bright
with immemorial knowledge
of spells woven by camp fires at twilight,
the day's work ably done, aroma of rabbit
run to earth, now sweating in a stockpot,
pheasant plucked of feathers, fit for hanging.
(His, sadly, didn't work, so why should theirs?)
Max was of noble Spanish pedigree, she'd say,
his sire and dam a coupling from the gods,
embellishing her yarn with arcane words
like 'perambulation' and 'peregrination'
that rang vague bells, and words like 'stroll'
he knew had to do with new-mown grass.
He'd listen, rapt to be the epicentre of Creation
There now, she'd croon. Keep still. Good boy! Click!
The flash would spark spontaneous momentum
and anguished squeals at apperception vanished,
nowhere the source of light found and rounded up.
But Good boy meant rusks and rawhide treats
and that magic word which, once articulated,
bound the speaker on pain of mayhem: Walkies!

 

 

SAN FRANCISCO'S REPLY

To Katie Burke who wrote a Valentine letter to her native city

 

My heart's forever
yours, Miss Burke, let me count the
ways you bridge that fault,
 
deep-riv'n below your
feet, with golden eulogy,
Narcissus himself
 
had no greater joy
in his reflection than mine
in your limpid eye

you exculpate my
treachery with a soulful
blink denied frail man

must I then believe
you'll not yield to the human
dance and play me false?
 

'The Twain is an exquisite collection of poetry by a writer of tremendous power and range. From the title poem's observations about that which separates nations and their peoples, to the lighthearted depiction of canine antics in “The Nose that Interposes,” Rosy Cole treats readers to verse that engages, intrigues, challenges, and beguiles, all with a profound respect for form and substance, and especially, language itself. As with all great poetry, these poems beckon the reader back for multiple readings, so that the layers in each word and phrase can be explored. This is a volume to keep close, and to treasure.'

Barbara Froman, Musician and Author of Shadows and Ghosts

 

'Abounds with delights and insights.'

Stephen Evans, Playwright and Author of The Marriage of True Minds

 

'I can open a page of this book and read one sentence... It sustains. It feeds. It is delicious poetry.'

Mary Wilkinson, Writer and Broadcaster

____________________________________________________

CHILDREN'S

 

New Eve Publishing 2011

ISBN 978-1479341696 (Free Delivery Worldwide)

A children's play about Mary Jones, a Welsh girl of Georgian times who saved for six long years and walked 25 miles barefoot to obtain a rare copy of the Bible in Welsh. Her amazing story saw the British & Foreign Bible Society launched in 1804. This edition launched to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible.

This is a one-act/4 scenes play for 8-11 years and has been successfully performed in the UK and New Zealand. It runs for approximately 30 minutes and is especially designed as a children's presentation within an act of worship.

The play can also be read as a story.

Excerpt:


Narrator (1)

It was autumn of the year 1792. Across the Channel, Revolution was rife and King Louis XVI had only months to live. In Britain, John Wesley was at rest in his grave after a lifetime of service to his Lord. His zeal for the gospel had fired all parts of the country and had helped to stem a crisis of the kind in France. Everywhere, chapels were springing up. The Methodist mission hall in the village of Llanfihangel in North Wales was well-attended and one of its most enthusiastic worshippers was a young girl of eight. Her name was Mary and she was the daughter of Jacob Jones, an ailing cottage weaver, and his wife, Molly, who made ends meet with a patch of land and their loom and spinning wheel. Mary loved nothing better than to sing the Lord's praise and to listen to the spellbinding tales of olden times from the Bible.

One evening, after a bright and blustery day, when folk had deserted the market in Abergynolwyn and gone home to supper...

Copyright

© pilgrimrose.com

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Stephen Evans Faith and Grace
20 August 2017
I find finding balance an ongoing struggle. This is a helpful perspective.
Rosy Cole A Word in Appreciation
18 August 2017
Thank you all for the gr8 posts!!!
Rosy Cole A Word in Appreciation
18 August 2017
Lovely to see you again, Nicholas. Hope you'll continue to share with us as often as you have time.....
Nicholas Mackey A Word in Appreciation
17 August 2017
Thank you, Stephen for saying this - couldn't agree more and it's great to find a home that we all c...
Stephen Evans On the Importance of Toasters
11 August 2017
Might have helped his headaches.

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