Tuesday, 28 April 2015


I cheated. I went to Morrison's and bought Betty Crocker's Red Velvet Chocolate Cake AND her Cream Cheese ((style) frosting, and took it to the 'Bring and Buy Sale' in aid of refugees in Syria.

To my embarrassment, four people asked me for the recipe ... What would you do? Well, I owned up. But I could have told a story ...

I am British. Brought up in a post-war society that REALLY knew what austerity meant. There was some considerable appreciation for the Americans, without whom, let's face it, the European Union would be a racist dystopia under the Nazi Jackboot.

There was a little resentment too. A GI had given my Aunty Mary a good time before going off to war, and let's hope that she gave him a good time too, but there was a feeling in the family that my aunt, who was a widow, should either have kept away from the dance halls, or offered her spare affection to 'our boys'. Whatever. The point being that my wonderful father, who was kind and gracious towards everyone he met, was very cynical about the USA. I thought this so remarkable, I decided to go to college, and 'do' American Studies, to test out his prejudices.

Great decision.

In the 1970's working class students surviving on a government grant, did not get to the USA, but I did have the next best thing. I went to a little bit of the USA in Yorkshire, Menwith Hill US Army Base, where I was met with such hospitality and support with my 5th/6th grade class in the Elementary School there, that I became an Americophile ( have I invented a word here?) and remain so to this day.

So what's this got to do with Cake?


I was mentored by a remarkable teacher, Ann Bamberger, who went out of her way to give me the best experience, academically and socially, that it was possible to have. One day she offered me the most amazing dessert I had ever tasted. "Waldorf Astoria Red Cake". I drooled over it and asked for the recipe.

Ann gave it to me, then told me this story:

Some years before, her aunt had taken tea at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York. She enjoyed the chef's speciality cake so much, she too, asked for the recipe, which the chef sent up with a bill for $200. Which Ann's aunt duly paid. Now owning the recipe, Ann's aunt passed it on, at every opportunity, for a small consideration, which she donated to charity.

I long ago lost the copy Ann gave me, but, I did find it again online. Accompanied by the story I have just told you, tagged as a 'legend'. 'Legend'? I think not.

PS: My father lived to welcome Dick and Darlean Hanner and their family as guests in his home. The Hanners from Bellevue, Washington, were the American half of my husband's teacher exchange in 1977. He may have held some reservations on US foreign policy, but what prejudice remained as to the people was entirely dispelled.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

"This Isn't Love, "She Said ...

" This isn't love," she said,

It's a poem.

And she handed him some words

That whorled and skittered,

Blazing like a sun in the era

Between them.

"This isn't "Au revoir,"

He replied,

Giving her his farewell.


I expect that startled you, didn't it?

You weren't expecting a break-up.

Poets usually deliver THOSE

With fireworks and floods.


Sometimes endings are

Because they just have to


And that's OK.


Ah, but wait!

If you linger here, you'll

See him slip inside

To warm himself.


He will look nonchalant, understanding that

She will pretend she doesn't

Know he's here.

Friday, 17 April 2015

MicroblogMondays: That God - He's Quite Something Isn't She?

Yes, I know, God's a problem for you.

And What ABOUT suffering?

Like HE carries a Kalashnikov and

Murders babies.

I suppose she could stop it,

If we really wanted her too.


Ssooo I said to God

What's it all for then?

Admittedly, I didn't really want to hear.


Somehow, the mystery holds

No mystery for me:



That suffices.

Anyhow, here's what God said:


" It's for you. "









Sunday, 12 April 2015

#MicroblogMondays: Take Something

Take something quite ridiculous:-

And fashion a poem with it.

I have an idea!

Conjure from the fume

An Oracle: dreamy-eyed and high

She speaks in riddles,

To hold you in a net suspended over a

Couldron of wish-fulfilment.

"A great Empire will fall"

Assume your enemies end-

For who would imagine, drunk on power,

The demise of his own?


Now, I will bring you back, laughing,

From this grave imagining, though perhars

We should repent and weep. For,

Have you not heard, the

Doomsday Clock is set at 2357?

THAT'S three minutes before apocalypse, to you.


Don't be alarmed. This is a nonsense poem.

Isn't it?


Saturday, 11 April 2015

See How Spring Comes

See how Spring comes!

Not gentle but with welly

Overturning Winter's deadening hand


The lilac that winterwise

Served only to hold the bird feeders

Is decked in green

And swelling fit to burst!

I LOVE it, don't you

When it's a joy to walk in

The woods again, and even the most ancient of the beeches

Is putting out? And beneath, anenomes

Bluebells and violets spread a carpet

That I marvel at, and scarcely dare to tread

So beautiful, all of this, and

Ah! Yes! I am thrown back

Into the dream of youth when

SPRING was my only season.



Wednesday, 8 April 2015

National Poetry Writing Month: When Was The Last Time ...?


Walked barefoot

Made a sandcastle

Smiled at a stranger

Gazed into your lover's eyes and

Touched him, lightly, on the cheek?


When was the last time


Planted a seed

Baked bread

Treated yourself

Wrote a letter, longhand,

Mailed it to a friend?


Tomorrow, return here,

And for One

Or Two





Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Bucket List #34

Last Saturday, I climbed a tree, and whilst I was up there ... 

Rebooting Monday

Flat-As-A-Pancake Day, bereft
Of froth and babble full of dread -
Mundane work-a-day 

SOMETHING must be done! 

Let's do it!

Smile. At everyone, some will stick ...
And come flashing back.
Run up the stairs
Make the coffee and
Hand round a crisp, white paper bag
Full of very sticky toffees.

Tip a  beggar 
Listen to a concerto
Or a rock band and
At the beginning of every email
Say something ...
Different. Kind, perhaps. 

Remember, when you 
Actually finish something,
How it felt when you were in the 
Juniors and your teacher
Pressed a gold star on your 
Careful scrawl.  Good eh?

Pick a moment when everything
Would otherwise be too tedious to bear -
Take yourself off to the Caribbean
Lie on on a beach with your lover
Let the  surf nibble your toes... 

Or, if this is too much,
Be ten again and play
Hide and seek in a bright Spring  wood
With your sister ...

See! It's working isn't it?

Already you're looking forward to Monday,
And have change jingling in your pocket
To buy toffees 
And to  tip a beggar. 

(Beach and wood may be switched if necessary, and if you have no sister, a brother will do!) 

#MicroblogMondays: Easter Vigil


At dusk, we, the congregation, gather around a fire. 'Christ the light of the world', we sing, as the Paschal Candle is lit. Our own candles are lit from it, and we process into an unlit church to await the moment in the ritual when we sing 'Glory to God in the The Highest ... !' Light blazes forth, darkness is overcome, death defeated, and once more we proclaim "Christ is Risen! Hallelujah!"


The ceremony around the fire takes me back to my deepest roots, to the earliest stirrings of religion in my remotest ancestors.


Drawn to the fire, I feel at one with everyone throughout the ages, of every faith, or none, who struggles to fathom the great mystery of the cosmos, and discovers that their role is just to be here, to stay with the mystery, and to say "Yes" to life.



Sunday, 5 April 2015

Fun With Iambic Pentameter (!)

The Elopement
(For Fans of Downton Abbey)

What a kuffufle: Hear the tirade!
The chef's ran off with the scullery-maid!

Her Ladyship's fainted, and when she comes to
No-one'll escape the hullabaloo!

"How could these ingrates do this to me?
They KNEW Lady Westmorland's coming to tea!"

The chauffeur, who loved her, won't leave his bed
And Pardoner, the gardener's, locked in his shed

(He had a crush on Monsieur, though nobody guessed
He stayed in the closet, at his lover's behest.)

His lordship has wisely left for his club
Constitutiinally unable to withstand the hubbub.

He was wounded in the whatsits during The War,
And leads a much quieter life than before ...

Bounty, the mastiff's, rolls over, plays dead -
And King Henry's armour now stands on its head.

The Tweeny, when quizzed, swore not to know
That Nancy (the hussy) was planning to go.

And what, you might wonder was the fate of this pair?
Decamped, with no character, they might have despaired!

But no! Holed up in Brighton, renowned for it's looks
They're living off the proceeds from cooking the books!