Just Life

Hi, how’re you? Yesterday I had a grotty night, and woke up feeling snotty. I hate colds, don’t you? I know in terms of illnesses, they are very minor, but they don’t feel minor, they feel rotten. I gave myself an easy day.

On Friday (before I was ill) it was my turn to cook. Several of the staff were away, and a few have retired, so I had to be very well-prepared, and it was all quite hard work. While I was peeling potatoes, one of the team members came to chat to me. Most of the team are older than me, so I love hearing their stories. He was talking about the war, and he said that one of his friends was in the marines and belonged to the ‘special forces’ (whatever that might mean). Apparently, before they went on a mission, they were given drugs, so they could stay awake for ages, and wouldn’t feel frightened, even though they were going into extremely dangerous situations. He thought they were given heroin, but when I told my son, later, he said it was probably cocaine. I have no idea myself—I didn’t know such things happened in real life. When the marines returned, they went straight into hospital, where they had to stay for the week, until the drugs were out of their system.

I don’t know if this is true, or exaggerated. But it’s kind of interesting, don’t you think? I wonder if things like that happen today. War is always terrible; the rules change.

Anyway, I survived the cooking (without the need of narcotics) and the seniors survived eating it. They also survived the ‘keep-fit’ session we have introduced at the beginning. An ex-PE teacher came, and showed them some exercises they could do. Apparently, if you have arthritis, it’s very important to use your joints, otherwise they seize up.

My other news in brief: The chicks are growing fast. Each day I look, and try to guess whether they’ll be cockerels or hens. Cockerels have a very red crown, and thicker legs, and even at this age they tend to be very dominant. I think 4 of the 6 chicks are cockerels, which is very bad. Last time, only 2 of the 6 were, and they lived peacefully together for ages (until the fox got one). I’m not sure how four will fare, plus their dad. I may have to separate them, which will be a right pain. Do you know anyone who would like a very noisy pet?

I have also nearly finished the first draft of my new book (due to be published in June 2019, because the next part takes ages!) This book has been fun to write, as it’s a lighter read than my last two, and has some funny parts. As it’s set on a farm, I thought I would take some photos of the cows in the field next to the house. They are young steers (boys) and when I arrived they were all lying under a tree, which was no good for a photo. I climbed over the stile, and called to them, but they ignored me. So very gradually, keeping an eye on how far I was from the gate, I walked towards them, my camera poised. One stood up, but they didn’t come any closer. I was talking to them, trying to look as if I might have food, making general cow-like noises. Eventually they all began to stand, and then, as a single mass, they lumbered towards me, their great fat sides swaying from side to side. I didn’t want to be pushed over, so I retreated to the stile, and stood on it. They came right up to me, the flies buzzing round their eyes, their wet noses dripping, their tongues reaching out to touch me.

I took several photos, while they took it in turns to lick me, and press their noses against my jeans. I returned home very soggy, and smelling of cows. I like cows though, there is something uncomplicated about them. Don’t you think so?

Hope you have a good week, and don’t feel the need to be drugged (and also hope you manage to avoid having a runny nose—there are a lot about!)

Take care.
Love,
Anne x

Anne E. Thompson has written several novels. They are available from bookshops and Amazon.
You can follow her blog at:
anneethompson.com
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As Time Goes On – A Poem

Now, and Then

IKEA homeware packed in boxes,
Heaps of stuff litter the hall, then squashed into the back of the car.
Last hugs, cheery goodbyes, the drive to uni.
Snippets of home, spread around the strange smelling room,
The lanky excited-scared almost man says goodbye,
And the mother remembers.
She remembers the feel of the bowling ball weight on her hip when she carried him,
The feel of his tiny hands on her cheeks when he offered snotty kisses,
The snuffle of breath as he slept against her shoulder,
She remembers the child as she looks at the man.
As she wishes him well, holds back tears until she has driven away.

Billycans and clothes stuffed in kit-bag,
A train to London packed tight, then bustle hurry find the right squad.
Last hugs, tearful goodbyes, a band plays on.
Heaving the bag, look around for friends joining too,
The lanky excited-scared almost man says goodbye,
And the mother remembers.
She remembers the feel of the bowling ball weight on her hip when she carried him,
The feel of his tiny hands on her cheeks when he offered snotty kisses,
The snuffle of breath as he slept against her shoulder,
She remembers the child as she looks at the man.
As she wishes him well, holds back tears until he has joined his unit.

The posts on Facebook show new friends and nightclubs,
Texts assure his food is fine, his studies easy.
He doesn’t discuss the drunken evenings, the sleepless nights, the fear of loneliness.
But his mother knows, she reads it in unsaid words and tired eyed photos.
And she waits. As life goes on.

There are no letters and the News shows little,
Bold battles move to the Front, the headlines proclaim.
They do not discuss the fallen comrades, the sleepless nights, the fear of injury.
But his mother knows, she reads it in unsaid words and tired eyed photos.
And she waits. As life goes on.

The war ends. The boy returns home.
Yet, not a boy, become a man.
A man who will not speak of horrors,
Will not discuss the stench of death,
The sight of his friends, falling.
The nights when he still hears the screams, still fears the dark.
But his mother knows, she reads it in sunken cheeks and, eyes so weary.
And she waits. As time goes on.

The term ends. The boy returns home.
Yes, still a boy, almost a man.
A boy who chats and loves to amuse,
Loves to debate the point of life,
Who meets all his friends, laughing.
The nights when they drink, talk at length, sort their beliefs.
And his mother knows, he is safe and content with life, has a future.
And she waits. As time goes on.

 

by Anne E. Thompson

xxxx

Thank you for reading. I wanted to write a poem as this week is Remembrance Sunday. I always find that a poignant time, I suspect every mother does. The stories and readings are always so sad and I’m guiltily grateful that it’s not my boys who had to fight, had to witness the horrors of war.

 I thought about adding another verse, perhaps linking the two mothers over time, showing how one has allowed the other. But I decided that was too twee, the reader can work it out for themselves. I rather like poems that leave you feeling they are unfinished, that it hasn’t been completely said. I hope you like it.