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!

Stitches In The Tapestry

 

When I was at elementary school, the term 'latch key child' was in vogue. Poverty and war widowhood had produced a few of them, but they were spoken of in compassionate whispers. Your mother didn't go out to work unless she couldn't make ends meet. She had her pride. So did your father in his role as breadwinner. When other families invited such children to tea a little too frequently on an understanding nod, their mother would spend her evenings embroidering linen tablecloths and knitting scarves to give as 'thank you' presents.

The women who had worked on the land and in the factories during two World Wars, as well as keeping the home fires burning, had returned indoors to contemplate a nuclear future.  The ambition kindled in them was focused on rebuilding family life within a whole new framework.

Your father worked in some place that was hearsay and your mother grew vegetables, preserved jam and chutneys, bottled fruit, baked bread, cakes and pies, crocheted garments, cut old rags into strips and dyed them bright colours ready for hooking on to a canvas backing and producing the multi-textured rugs that would last for decades. She knew how to unpick cardigans and wash the wool to straighten it before conjuring something new on her knitting needles. Your mother went off to market to seek remnants of parachute silk and offcuts of tweed which, by some sleight of hand and mechanical wizardry, she turned into finely tailored clothes, and curtains and eiderdowns, entertained the while by Mrs Dale's Diary and Workers' Playtime on the wireless.

Nonetheless, the obsessive perfectionism that prevailed put the poor woman in a grim mood. Secretly, you reckoned you could hear the cloth shrieking as the needle plunged up and down under her laser gaze. A stitch in time saves nine. And when you arrived tired and hungry after an hour's journey and she was up a ladder hanging wallpaper, don't mention it. Just be thankful she did a first-rate job and didn't have to call in the decorator.

But Mondays were the worst. You prayed for rain on Mondays. You trod on eggshells when you got home from school because she'd been in fair old lather having spent the day dollypegging and mangling and rinsing again and again with Reckitt's Blue. It was hard labour. Top-loading washing-machines were on the way, with their oscillating agitators, but didn't altogether do away with the heavy haulage of wet sheets and garments. Your whites had to be whiter than the neighbours'. Persil washes whiter...that means cleaner, said the adverts. Your school uniform shirts had to be pristine as fresh snow. And twilled cotton sheets and pillowcases were always white, albeit often threadbare and thin as muslin. This meant splicing sheets in two and seaming sides to middle, a cunning ploy to keep the purse fastened.

Bright candy-striped linen didn't arrive until the early sixties and what an innovation that was! The Great Exhibition of 1951, on the centenary of Prince Albert's, was mounted to show off Britain's inventive genius. It suggested a revolutionised way of being and fostered aspirations never conceived by humble folk. A nation that was all but bankrupt and had been preoccupied with digging for victory and 'making do and mending', found itself still stuck in the Edwardian era so that change did not come in gradual increments. Out went the charcoal blankets, edged in red stitching, and mattresses with black 'ticking'. Out went the crazed ceramics and enamelled and aluminium cooking pots, in came the pyrexes, stainless steels and melamines. Out went the jutting utility furniture against which you kept bruising hip and thigh, in came the light, bright, minimalist styles influenced by Bauhaus design and Swedish clean lines. If that was too great a leap, there were well-crafted antique reproductions to choose from, which were more to your household's taste. Your mother's prudence and your father's executive job and clear head with money enabled a new home and a new outlook that was tuned into the vibe. Peace in our time. The world was going places at last! Look after the pennies, and the pounds will look after themselves.

Five pounds notes were large and white in those days, printed in black in a florid font and were a truer reminder of what was owed, and what was owing, than the Monopoly versions superseding them. Just one of them might represent as much as a week's wages, or at least required only modest supplementation. Ten pound notes were unknown in daily currency among honest mortals and would certainly have been a sign that you were up to no good.

Your mother watched, one foot on the accelerator as the nub of your wings began to sprout, urging you to do better, to get a good education and increase your chances. At the same time, she lassoed you back with warnings about the wickedness of the world, dreading the prospect of the abyss, the loneliness brought about by lack of purpose and family network, the dearth of opportunities for her gender beyond the front door. Whereas homemaking had once been a respected career in itself, and an asset to community and country, since the Wars, domestic and parenting skills were seen as subsidiary to increased productivity and the 'real' business of living. Investment in future generations came by external means.

Only five per cent of pupils went on to university in those days. It was not an automatic choice just because you'd achieved prize-winning grades. Your school was noted for offering a free classical education with excellent academic results. Even so, entry to university was so prestigious and particular, successful candidates were announced in Assembly after daily worship. The staff drummed into you that it was a tremendous honour, as great as being selected for grammar school in the first place. Like most scholars, you assumed those dreams didn't apply to you. You had to make your own way. The gateways an honest girl could step on the ladder of success were few and far between. They were expected to marry and that was that. You thought you'd seen enough of that estate to last a lifetime and you had no idea of the power of the 'flow' that might bend you to conform to society's expectations.

The gingham dog and the calico cat
Side by side on the table sat...

A wife, if not quite the item of property her ancestors had been, was still pledged 'to love, honour and obey' her husband, come what may, and divorce, as well as being fiendishly difficult to obtain, carried a heavy social stigma unless you were a star. Moral codes were such that you scarcely knew whom you were marrying until it was too late. It was the luck of the draw. The terror of pregnancy outside of wedlock loomed large and many a woman's life of that generation was blighted by cruel treatment and the existential agony of having to give up her child for adoption.

Women didn't qualify for mortgages and a married man could only borrow a sum based on a quarter of his income, even if his wife was in secure employment. Like many other radical changes in the law which are taken for granted now, that was still to come. The choice of independence via a decent education has been hard-won for women.

Fast forward to the new millennium when the term 'units of funding' had become a thing. Higher education was for all, no matter if the substance of grades would have made many a kindergarten blush in former decades. It was anything but 'free'. Future governments had to be kept afloat and the jobless figures sunk. Yet none of it had much relevance to employment or what needed doing in order to provide a decent standard of living and advance human well-being while taking care of the planet. The notion of ploughing back profits into businesses and institutions, for the benefit of all, was redundant wisdom. Prosperity depended on long-term borrowing and permanent debt in the service of creating wealth for a minority.

Perhaps it is nature's hidden engineering, forcing a return to a wider family structure, that has seen a trend in adult children (plus families) seeking refuge in the parental home sooner than mortgage their future to a volatile economy which is failing them on every front. By that means, you dare hope human need may be better supplied and mutual support enjoyed in life's changing circumstances.

Women, it seems, have pretty well turned full circle. Subtle inequalities still abound in the workplace. The more pressing need is often the pragmatic one and the more loving one, among their families as the childminders and carers of the generations up and down. Today, they are called upon to juggle competing responsibilities and the chaos of the modern household. For women are the vital threads they have always been in strengthening the tapestry of life with their feminine gifts and perspective. Only now, the role does not have quite the same kudos, or command that respect it did three generations ago.

You can't help remembering how the butcher, the baker, the ironmonger and haberdasher stood to attention when your mother crossed the threshold. Perhaps they knew how privileged they were. She would normally have marched off to market, bent on outwitting the retail industry!

But back then, the customer was always right and shopkeepers couldn't do enough for her, even when their banter was met with a look that suggested she had bitten a crab apple!

 

Copyright

© Rosy Cole 2016

Recent Comments
Katherine Gregor
What an interesting account, Rosy. I think, as you say, women still have some difficult juggling to do – but I do feel very lucky ... Read More
Monday, 25 January 2016 14:37
Rosy Cole
Thanks very much for reading, Katia. Although postwar 'boomers' were born between two eras, we genuinely do feel privileged to h... Read More
Tuesday, 26 January 2016 11:05
Ken Hartke
A lot of memories. Thanks for posting this. I'm reading this on my laundry day (yes...I couldn't put off laundry any longer) and r... Read More
Tuesday, 26 January 2016 20:11
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4 Comments

Toast!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A sad omission is the boast

that bread aspires to perfect toast

when poesy cannot fitly utter

how justified a knob of butter

slathered on a crisp, hot slice

salutes the tastebuds beyond price,

for fresh-baked dough's an angel host,

I think this is a toast to toast!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 JupiterImages/Gettyimages/ComstockImages

 

Copyright

© Rosy Cole 2013 -2016

Recent Comments
Stephen Evans
Well done. As you know from reading The Marriage Gift, I believe toast is one of the defining achievements of human civilization. ... Read More
Wednesday, 06 January 2016 18:34
Rosy Cole
Ah yes. I seem to remember that the marriage split over whose was the responsibility for toaster crumbs on the kitchen counter but... Read More
Thursday, 07 January 2016 13:12
Katherine Gregor
Yummy! I'm definitely having toast for breakfast! :–)
Thursday, 07 January 2016 08:36
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6 Comments

The Banana Peel Of The Parts Of Speech

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some trenchant reflections on the art and craft of writing...

 

 

This book fills a much-needed gap.

Moses Hadas

 

Good prose should be transparent, like a window pane.

George Orwell

 

The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without the work.

Emile Zola

 

Grammar is a piano I play by ear. All I know about grammar is its power.

Joan Didion

 

Men of few words are the best men.

William Shakespeare

 

Why don't you write books people can read?

Nora Joyce (to James)

 

The letter I have written today is longer than usual because I lacked the time to make it shorter.

Blaise Pascal

 

There's no money in poetry, but then there's no poetry in money, either.

Robert Graves

 

Four basic premises of good writing: clarity, brevity, simplicity and humanity.

William Zinsser

 

The biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has been accomplished.

George Bernard Shaw

 

No passion in the world is equal to the passion to alter someone else's draft.

H G Wells

 

The adjective is the banana peel of the parts of speech.

Clifton Fadiman

 

The work was like peeling an onion. The outer skin came off with difficulty, but in no time you'd be down to the innards, tears streaming from your eyes as more and more beautiful reductions became possible.

Edward Blishen

 

An editor is someone who separates the wheat from the chaff and then prints the chaff.

Adlai Stevenson

 

I trust it will not be giving away professional secrets to say that many readers would be surprised, perhaps shocked, at the questions which some newspaper editors will put to a defenseless woman under the guise of flattery.

Kate Chopin

 

Where were you fellows when the paper was blank?

Fred Allen

 

You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.

Saul Bellow

 

This book has too much space between the covers.

Ambrose Bierce

 

 

Copyright

© Rosy Cole 2009 - 15

Recent Comments
Katherine Gregor
"An editor is someone who separates the wheat from the chaff and then prints the chaff." Adlai Stevenson This has to be my favouri... Read More
Tuesday, 29 December 2015 21:48
Rosy Cole
I think it's my favourite, too, Katia, although it's a close run thing with the H G Wells quote. If only we could return to the... Read More
Wednesday, 30 December 2015 15:03
Darlene Arden
These quote are marvelous, Rosy. Most of them truly resonated with me. One of my favorite quotes, which has been attributed to sev... Read More
Tuesday, 29 December 2015 23:24
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6 Comments

Mirage

b2ap3_thumbnail_Gifford-SunsetoverJuniataRiver.png

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In aerial latitudes
and the silent margins
of heat and cold,
day and clairvoyant dusk,
the mirage shimmers
above our wilderness,
evoking plangent echoes
of something lost and longed for.


Risk the serpentine defiles,
the jackal's jaws and searing sand,
risk the rugged rocks for miles
to gain a purchase on the land
rendered in such high relief
There we shall slake our dusty frame!
The image pales and comes to grief
All and nothing is the same.


So where to turn and how contrive
the lineaments of real estate
To dream, to sow, to dig, to strive,
to build, to spend, to save, to wait,
though noble empires wax and wane,
high thought and politics our pitch,
an out-of-line design's our bane
Exchequers fail to make us rich.


A temptress is illusion's muse
her laurels bringing frail content
ironic humour bucks the ruse
the stage, the screen, the game, were sent
to occupy the vision's see
If only this, if only that,
had shaped our path, we should be free
by now to revel in delight.


The mind's eye is the heart's big screen
beguiling fictions into facts
daydreams breathe lustre on the scene
our footprints follow in those tracks
Away the promised land foursquare
whose substance sinks in shadow's maw!
But, mind! The mirage memory
reflects a true celestial shore!

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_Sattler-Jerusalem.png

Copyright

© Copyright Rosy Cole, 2013, 2015

Recent Comments
Former Member
I had read this earlier but wanted to get to my essay after the long delay. But now I read it twice again and I'm staggered. Somet... Read More
Thursday, 10 December 2015 04:55
Rosy Cole
Thank you for reading, Charlie, and your kind comments. The poem was written in 2013 and was posted in a couple of other places. ... Read More
Thursday, 10 December 2015 13:00
Former Member
Disappoint? Far from that. The cover, incidentally, is very nice. But I would rather have read it first, which I did, before I got... Read More
Thursday, 10 December 2015 13:59
1091 Hits
6 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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