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. 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!

Sceptred Isle

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Merely pausing over the deep blue Atlantic on Google Earth is enough make me gulp for air. That drowning space, cleaver of continents, can inspire a dreadful awe in members of maritime families who have lost their kin to the waves in war and peace-time. Nor does it have to be in unduly dramatic circumstances. My youthful uncle lost his life in The Solent when he dived from the deck of HMS Acheron in a bid to rescue a shipmate who had fallen overboard. There is no record of his burial. The body was never recovered. It was 1940, just over a year into WWII. 

We are a nation of seafarers – it is in our plasma – an island people colonised at various stages of history by other seafarers, but never conquered by Napoleon Bonaparte who feared the 'wooden walls' of our naval barricades.

When I view a map of Britain, spread out like a spatchcock chicken, I muse on the  magical diversity of landscape and customs and its historic ethnicity, its coast circled at various times by Viking invaders from Norway and Denmark who tamed it with their agricultural know-how. Then there were the Roman legions who laid straight roads, avenued with trees to keep their troops cool on the march (spot the Mediterranean optimism!) and their mosaicked villas and cypress gardens dedicated to wholesale well-being. I think of their vocabulary foursquare as their architecture and the imperialism that preferred not to disrupt the tenor of life in the hostage nation. 

All this, before the Normans overran these islands in 1066 and taught us the art of cuisine and chivalry, assimilating with all the fine nuance of their mother tongue.

On the left flank of the map lies the mythical west, where ancient kings still roam the twilight mists and castles perch on promontories, telling of yore. Saints stir the dust of medieval churches and, if you are very still, you may catch the sprites' chorus in forest streams. The watered mountains and meadows are shamrock green and exuberant tides flay the shores with glistening spume. Rock pools silently teem with micro worlds. Like layered torte, the granite striations are imaged on the pages of Charles Kingsley stories, and sea-birds breed in the sky-scraping crevices. There are bays and sequestered coves in places along the whole length of the coast where the water is as turquoise as the Aegean and where the violet rhodora blooms well before spring. The vast blue yonder is all ocean, beguiling the curious and the fugitive to discover new worlds. 

The side to the east harbours well-glazed wool churches, big as small cathedrals, where the open light breaks over their altars with a pride in prosperity that founded the nation's wealth and gave its Lord Chancellor somewhere to rest his frame in the Upper House. Orchards and weatherboards give way to busy docks and august monuments, rolling pastures and Fens drained by Huguenots who brought their farming, weaving, silversmithing and legal skills. From the air, the earth intersected by glittering watercourses, looks a bit like cloisonné work. The coast lies open to commerce with Scandinavia and the Low Countries under clouds tagging towards the Urals and back. The North Sea is fickle and blue, an illusory transfer of clear skies on waves of industrial taupe.

And, as I stand on the Isle of Wight and face a ghostly meridian that becomes the Pennine backbone of the country, I think about those ancestors who thought it was worth defending and wonder where exactly it was that John Cornelius Pitt was engulfed by eternity.

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Copyright

© Copyright Rosy Cole 2015

Recent Comments
Barbara Froman
What a beautiful memorial, Rosy. It conveys all the aroma and allure of great bodies of water. I suppose it's appropriate, as Moth... Read More
Thursday, 30 April 2015 20:51
Rosy Cole
How interesting about your Mom, Barb, and I am touched by the kind things you say. Thank you. I seem to remember that you spent s... Read More
Friday, 01 May 2015 16:37
Barbara Froman
I find what is going on in Hungary now, their turn to the right, both sad and frightening. We were there from early February to ea... Read More
Saturday, 02 May 2015 19:51
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10 Comments

#amformatting

 

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The pilcrow is a cryptic beast

With character upright

A sentinel whose measured strides

Suggest a blessed foresight.

 

Observe him well and you will see

How firm is his embrace

Despatching with a guardian's foil

That ghostly random space.

 

It's plain his purpose justifies

A presence in the frame

For words are apt to mutiny

And stake a wasteland claim.

 

So love your friendly pilcrow

Forget his shoulders gnarled

His shepherding will bind and keep

Your sentences corralled.

 

Copyright

© Copyright Rosy Cole 2011 and 2015

Recent Comments
Stephen Evans
I never knew it had a name!
Saturday, 18 April 2015 00:36
Katherine Gregor
Love it!
Saturday, 18 April 2015 09:35
Anonymous
Ah, Wikipedia does have it. And I feel stupid. As for anybody else who's wondering -- look it up! That's what I had to do. Good p... Read More
Tuesday, 21 April 2015 02:57
2085 Hits
5 Comments

A Stepping Stone

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For Easter, a short extract from my first litfic novel, published in 1980, entitled
NEXT YEAR IN JERUSALEM. (Re-issue  2016.)

 

After a while, I emerged from that winter solstice of the spirit, entombed by dark days, as out of a long, long dream. It was far worse than anything yet endured. I had not known what it would cost to see things for what they were worth. I only wanted to sleep, forget. The very daylight impinging on the room each morning brought a flood of dread. Another day. Another battle for survival. Nothing could be taken for granted. The fastening of buttons, the shaking of quilts, loomed insurmountably ahead, an art to be learnt all over again. I was bound by a torpor wound round and round like bandages from which I had neither the strength nor the will to break free. “You must try to pull yourself together,” Jude insisted. “Get out more.”

Then one morning, I woke to the epiphany of sunrise, watched its arc widen over the rim of the howe and turn the loch to liquid fire. As it was slowly delivered of the earth, I felt I was being reborn. The stone was rolling away. The sun was round and pure as optimism. Independent. Made whole. The tears long imprisoned behind my eyes fell copiously. This was how Lazarus must have felt when he came back to the land of the living.

It was all over then, death, already behind me. And what was it but a nightmare banished at dawn? Or perhaps the draught moaning through a warped lintel against which you might turn up your collar. It wasn’t an event, yet you saw its effects, felt them. Death was a vicarious thing, a term used when others could no longer be seen.  

 

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Wishing you a Joyful Easter Season

 

Copyright

© Copyright Rosy Cole 1980, 2008, 2015

Recent Comments
Katherine Gregor
Beautifully written piece, Rosy.
Monday, 06 April 2015 09:01
Rosy Cole
Thanks, Katia, for reading and for the comment. Truly appreciated.
Monday, 06 April 2015 11:50
5864 Hits
2 Comments

Courts And Jesters

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Review of THE MARRIAGE OF TRUE MINDS by Stephen Evans

 

There are a myriad questions one would wish to ask the author of THE MARRIAGE OF TRUE MINDS, but the overarching one is: Were you aware you were retelling the Easter story in a twenty-first century context?

Don't get the wrong idea, gentle reader, this book is slick and wickedly funny. Its sequence of vivid backdrops is injected with what purports to be fast-paced dialogue, but is actually a stream of interlaced monologues, cutting to the quick of the human heart. It is a filmic novel, as perhaps befits the work of a seasoned playwright and, on the face of it, screams out for translation to celluloid (or whatever it is the industry uses nowadays.) Whether such treatment could ever do justice to this complex-cut and multi-faceted gem is doubtful. It is a measure of Evans' genius that a creation stiff with Byzantine allusions, recurring motifs, classical and philosophical metaphors, can stand alone as a tale of pure comic lunacy.

The action opens when former environmental barrister Nick Ward is arrested for releasing a hundred live lobsters into the indoor pool at the home of the Mayor of Minneapolis. He then has the Department of the Environment fill it with non-chlorinated water and ice to illustrate the effects of global warming on arctic marine life. At the hearing, Nick is delivered into the hands of his ex-wife, Lena (once also his legal partner.) He still considers himself married to her and the stress of divorce appears to have magnified the instability of a sensitive mind.

By dint of psychic manipulation of the proceedings, Nick ends up in Lena's custody for the duration of his sentence to community service, pending a psychiatric evaluation. This involves exercising dogs at a local animal shelter. Here he becomes awakened to the plight of the furry inmates who are 'euthanised' within a few days of being rescued if new owners cannot be found. Nick gets particularly attached to an Irish Wolfhound named Wolfram and when the dog's turn comes to be put down concocts a nail-biting and comically ingenious plot to save him, thus throwing into relief the colossal dilemma for the couple who run the sanctuary.

Meanwhile, Nick's passive handling of the domestic situation (an oxymoron that well describes his ex-wife's predicament) is gradually fretting Lena away from Mogadon Man, Preston Winter, her current squeeze. Nick is accident-prone and inclined to create chaos by his very presence so that Lena always feels pulled into responsibility for him. Although all the old contentions within the marriage are revived and Nick still proves impossible to live with, they come to a kind of existential truce.

On the day of Nick's assessment of competence to testify, there are hilarious scenes of confusion in the courtroom. Wolfram plays a part here, as does Sancho, an English sheepdog puppet, Nick's alter ego, who expresses himself more demonstratively than his tersely fluent handler. (“He's the best person I know. ...Real is trickier than people realise.”) Things are not going well and, in an attempt to prove that his animal activism is the product of a rational mind, Nick contrives to get hold of the bailiff's gun. In sheer frustration he threatens to do away with himself.

“What we need here is a good death... It's our method. Our proposal. Our solution... Inconvenience deserves a death sentence... But let's not hide it in an animal shelter or slaughterhouse or nursing home or prison cell or concentration camp. Let's get it out in the open where we can see once and for all exactly what we are responsible for.”

Deemed unfit to defend himself, Nick is referred to an institution until such time as he has recovered 'normal' behaviour on an appropriate therapy programme.

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But there is a triumphal denouement in store where Eden garners the marginalised and dispossessed. It fits well with the story's interwoven themes. While it is off-the-wall as high as a kite, it is profoundly logical and we are led to ask the question who is really insane here? The protagonist or society? If, as the book maintains, one definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over again and expecting a different result, then the history of our race surely proves that it is a behavioural mean of the human condition, the fallout of our expulsion from the Garden. The reader also might feel that the reasons for divorce point up the differences in psychology between men and women more than anything else. The whole scenario calls for an innocent scapegoat. This shores up the status quo and enables all concerned to preserve their conceit of themselves.

Nick haunts the narrative like a mesmerised child craning to engage with a mystifying adult world. He has no apparent game-plan and claims to be piloted by visions. Underlying all, the secret snigger of the jester is a little unnerving, until it dawns upon the reader that it springs from glee at his adroitness in turning disaster and the randomness of fate into something coherent. That is his intrinsic gift to Life. To describe it as cunning is miles wide of the mark. The child's vision is both pristine and penetrating and affects by osmosis all who come into contact with him. In reality, Nick is the one holding everything together to the point of exhaustion.

It seems churlish to criticise so accomplished a piece, but the tension is occasionally misjudged. For instance, I suspect the scene where the dogs are about to be gassed, which assaults without warning, is meant to shock, but perhaps it is better to allow your reader to absorb the tension rather than leaving him pole-axed on concrete and obliged to do a re-run! 

This novel cannot easily be slotted into a genre. It is a dazzling mix of comedy, magic realism, roman à clef, literary parable. The Shakespearian device of telling a story within a story is employed at a children's party with spellbinding effect and is the most compelling and finely-crafted part of the book. Evans would make a consummate spinner of children's fables, forged with a ring of timeless truth.

His premise that we imagine who we love (insistence on the subjective case, but the objective knock-on is implicit) is resonant of the words of Our Lord, the shadow and substance of all types, and poses the same reflexive and heart-searching question: Who do you say that I am?

 

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Copyright

© Copyright Rosy Cole 2009 and 2015

Recent comment in this post
Anonymous
Congratulations, Stephen. This sounds like a fascinating, offbeat story. Amazingly imaginative. I certainly wish you the best of ... Read More
Thursday, 02 April 2015 03:15
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1 Comment

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Latest Comments

Rosy Cole So May We All
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I intend to try with the cap locks on, but in a quiet, subtle kind of way :-)
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It's true, you can see more of them, and if paintings, details at closer and clearer quarters, at yo...
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I agree, Stephen. It's the simple things.
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