Gratefully sheltering

James Oglethorpe, Foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Virginia

Colorful couplets refracted in a droplet


In February, middle of winter, middle of the pandemic, my eldest son sent me a Spotify link to a song. I liked the violin, looked up the band on Wikipedia, found the name of the violinist. I went to her website and found she was offering a song writing experience, where people came to her with an idea for a song and she wrote, composed, and performed it for them. Before I realized what was happening I had clicked “buy a session.” I had a passing interest in writing songs, but that nascent desire got lost in novels. So I went to Cait with lyrics for a song called Subway Angel. Clients didn’t come to her with lyrics, but she rose to the challenge. An experienced performer, musician (piano, violin, cello), singer/songwriter, and a wiz with Logic Pro, we have worked together (never having met) for two hours a week over Zoom, putting together 15 songs for future release. So far I have written about 50 and counting - one or two a week on average.


Writing lyrics, as opposed to poetry, has been a liberating and energizing experience. Collaborating with another human being has been a wonder. It is richer than I could possibly have imagined. The whole experience has freed me as a writer giving me confidence, breaking the boundaries of what is seen as acceptable. Now I am down the road of learning something about the form it is clear that there are no limits. The boundary between lyrics and poetry is at best paper thin. In my collaborator’s hands poetry becomes lyrics. As a writer I have found a home where my love of music dovetails snuggly with a newfound craft.


We started out our collaboration with one golden rule: honor what is brought to the table. This also applies to the third member of this project, Jesse, who in addition to being an experienced musician its also a technical whizz who has mixed all our songs and in a few cases added instrumentation. In the latest song, Irresistible, he took our guide track and fleshed it out into something rich and special.


It is a wonder that words written by me have inspired the platform on which my fellow collaborators have built a song. The experiment continues, evolving with each song. My words love music and are loved in return.


At least something positive, creative and unexpected has come out of the pandemic.


Words from Wood Lane

Susan Neave, Beverley

We had a good week in Southwold at the beginning of October - a warm, comfortable flat in the town centre that we have stayed in several times. Windows all round, with views of the town, church, lighthouse etc - in fact rather like being in a lighthouse, especially on the first night when it was blowing a gale! On the way down we had a very enjoyable visit to Margaret and Peter at Old Hall. The following day our friends who moved to Norwich a couple of years ago came to visit us, and we took them to see the flying angels in Blythburgh church, then on to Walberswick.


During October we have had a couple of visits to friends for supper and our first trip to the local theatre for a long time (running at 50% capacity, to enable social distancing), all quite novel experiences. I've got a lecture to the local Civic Society in a couple of weeks that has been moved from the church hall into the church (with splendid golden Eagle lectern) where there is much more space. We know of several people (double vaccinated) who have caught Covid and we certainly don't intend to abandon our masks or social distancing, whether or not Plan B is implemented. We have had our flu jabs, and the Covid boosters are booked. 


This week we have both been chained to our computers, proof reading, indexing etc. So very sorry to hear last month's news from Marie Christine - our thoughts are with her and her family.



Care in the time of Corona

Shirin Jacob, Ålesund, Norway

I am mulling over October whilst lying in bed in an "arbeidshotell" by the coast in West Norway. 

These are very basic hotels catering to workers in the fishing and oil and gas industries. One receptionist, one cook and unseen cleaners. Basic breakfast from 6 to 8 am, no lunch service and a set menu dinner from 330 pm till 8 pm. We drove seven hours and took two ferries to cross enormous fjords to reach this hotel. The last hour was hair-raising on a narrow dark road lit only by reflectors and our headlights.  


It’s been a month of change, illness and death. 


I have found October challenging. It was hard for a time to get going in the mornings and I found myself spinning downwards in negative self-talk. Resolution? Keep away from toxic people. No need to be a nice girl trying to please. Spend time on Instagram looking at the best David Austin roses that I won’t buy! Enjoy exchanges with complete strangers on said IG, whom I will never meet. English and Swedish women are the best, I have to say. Funny and kind. Drink good coffee. An occasional shot of Ardbeg can be restorative. A wash and blow at my hairdresser (and speak to a kind human) or visit my fave cafe (and speak to a kind human whilst ordering a coffee). No, I’m not being pathetic. I understand that it’s the situational stress of Nothingness. My thyroid and Vit D levels are brilliant, thank you. In the spring, gardening will help. My warm Indian blood can’t cope with the biting wind, storms and deluge of hail and rain.  


The Norwegian government changed on Thursday, 14th of October. Erna Solberg and her wonderful team left after eight years in power. I was personally sad to see her and her excellent health minister, Bent Høie, leave government. They were a masterclass in executive decision making during the Covid outbreak, when other countries were flailing around and some even managed to throw their elderly under the bus. Erna and her government steered us to safety. 


A lone wolf in Kongsberg killed five people with a knife and a bow and arrow on the night of the 13th October. My husband had studied and lived in Kongsberg in his youth and I remember a very pretty town. The killer was able to enter residential homes with unlocked front doors, common in trusting Norway, and shoot innocent people inside as well as in a little neighbouring supermarket. Unfortunately, he had been flagged many times in the past by the police who put it down to mental health issues.

Jonas Gahr Støre, the new Prime Minister, is a man with an interesting story. He hails from a wealthy family, studied in Paris, worked briefly at Harvard and was foreign minister in Jens Stoltenberg’s government. 


As an aside, Jens Stoltenberg is the present secretary-general of NATO and his very impressive sister Camilla is a physician and director general of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. 


Jonas’s wife, Marit Slagsvold, is a priest in the State Church, an author of three books and a gestalt therapist. Jonas and Marit have been open about their struggle with her anxiety and postnatal depression and the fact that the couple continue to have marital therapy together. 


So Jonas has got the State, Church, NATO and the Health Institute all covered!!!

Jonas entered government with his 19-member team, 10 of whom are women. The youngest justice minister in history is a 28-year-old reality star. Her first day on the job was a trial of fire visiting Kongsberg together with the Prime Minister. A whole different world from reality TV. Good luck to her!


The Norwegian change of government should be required watching for the world. The incoming and outgoing ministers, put their differences aside for the day, say genuine warm words of welcome to each other and the new minister thanks the outgoing minister with a heartfelt Thank you, beautiful bouquets, the keycard to their office and in the case of Jonas, a present for Erna. The speech by the new Health minister, Ingvild Kjerkol to Bent Høie, made me cry. The handovers were elegant, kind and grown-up. So refreshing. 


Photo from NRK TV

Well, it was extreme downhill off piste skiing after that. I think the whole world is in mourning for David Amess. My heart broke as I read about it. What is happening to us? We seem to be going back to Medieval times.


One of our Plague20 journalists has shared her cancer journey with us last month. She is a study in Courage and Resilience. And has done too much for everybody else. I salute you, Dr Merleau. Please hold her in your thoughts and prayers. 


My best friend had emergency surgery on a torn knee cartilage. She has struggled all alone with a brace on her leg. To get out of bed, to go to the bathroom, to shower and prepare for her move to a smaller apartment on Saturday. One starts to understand the importance of access, wide lifts, wheelchair friendly bathrooms, food delivery websites and kind taxi drivers. And the utter desperation one can feel when alone. Courage.  


I encourage you to watch Aksel, a documentary on one of the most celebrated Norwegian downhill alpine skiers that I really respect. His knee was destroyed in a terrible skiing accident but he came back and did it again. 


My daughter had surgery this week. I couldn’t be with her but she shared with me the wonderful kindness and care she received from the nurses and doctors in the NHS at King’s College Hospital. I sent the Consultant who was assigned to her a box of chocolates. And asked my daughter to take chocolates for the nurses when she went for her follow-up. Rule: Feed your doctors and nurses. I remember the years of night duties, eating on the run, cold congealed food on our trays when we eventually got to it and hours and hours of non-stop work and stress. Please say “Thank you” whenever you pass anybody who works in a hospital.  


On a positive note, let’s all wish Annabel Grey, our lovely journalist, a very happy birthday. She is an artist, designer and interior decorator with beautiful taste and is a part of the Verandah Holt collective, a very addictive shop!


Sending you all Courage in your journey. 


Notes from a factory in the Midlands

MFS, Midlands

In mid-October we made our first overseas trip in a very long time, a “cultural break” in Rome. We were part of a small tour group enjoying four days of lectures, museums, galleries and churches, in the company of Andrew Graham-Dixon, focussing on the paintings and life of Caravaggio. The travel arrangements worked fine, so long as you had a good smartphone or laptop to comply with all the form-filling challenges. Heathrow and Fiumicino were surprisingly easy to move through. Once in Italy there was noticeably more mask-wearing than in the UK, with masks compulsory in all indoor spaces. Also, the galleries and museums required sight of our vaccine passports before allowing entry. In theory so did the restaurants, but most didn’t check. 


The weather was wonderful: clear blue skies and a mild temperature. And lots of negronis were consumed. I even had the honour of buying AG-D a negroni on the rooftop terrace bar of our hotel, in return for which he regaled us with entertaining tales of freelancing at the BBC. And this coming weekend we are having a couple of nights in London to see La Traviata at the RoH on Friday night and The Mirror and the Light on Saturday night.


But life is not all high culture. Last Friday night I enjoyed some corporate hospitality at Northampton Saints rugby: a good meal, limitless booze, and the home team winning 66-10. Thank you to our insurance brokers. Barely a mask to be seen anywhere, though I still keep my own supply of hand gel in my pocket.  


In the political world, the budget this week confirmed that government has decided to spend money like mad, borrow loads, tweak a few taxes, and cross fingers hoping for the private sector to somehow deliver economic growth to get the country out of a hole. It seems there is a magic money tree after all! The effectiveness of all this government spending is, however, quite another matter. Regardless of how many billions of pounds are shovelled into the NHS, it never seems to have enough. And in a remarkable turnaround, we seem as a nation to have accepted that it is the public’s job to “save the NHS”.  I would have thought that the NHS existed in order to save us!  


The Weimaraner puppy that son and girlfriend acquired at the end of July continues to grow at an alarming pace. We had a meal out with the three of them last weekend at a dog-friendly pub. Lyra (for that is her name) was very inquisitive and alert to comings and goings, but eventually settled down under the table to slowly work her way through a chew, which I think was a bovine trachea. After an hour it was all gone! And in the week that Jaguar Land Rover launched the new edition of the Range Rover (a project Thomas has been working on for the last 3 years) our son left JLR to join a new electric vehicle manufacturer called Arrival. Riskier, but more rewarding, and definitely more in tune with a world which sees global warming as an apocalyptic threat.  


And I have written a whole post without mentioning the factory in the Midlands. This shows, reassuringly, that I am starting to disengage from work. Only nine weeks to go, and then my nearly 40-year slog at the metaphorical coalface will come to an end. I am really looking forward to it.


From the black shed

David E, East Norfolk

It’s raining hard. There is a yellow weather warning starting this morning and going on till late tomorrow. By then we may have had 180mm of rainfall! Where are we? Not in east Norfolk that’s for sure and although Norfolk has had more than its fair share of rain this year it doesn’t come close to what we are experiencing here in Kendal in the Lake District. Why are we here, I hear you say, in late October when Atlantic low pressure systems are sure to arrive one after the other. 

Well we are on grandparent duty, looking after our granddaughter who is on half term while studying at Kendal college. We’ve had an “interesting” week so far. In our holiday cottage we had no hot water for the first four days which took two plumbers’ visits to put right, fortunately all fine today so we feel clean at last. The weather was better at the start of the week so I took the opportunity to do a walk which has been on my list of “fifty best hill walks in the UK”. For those who know the lakes it was the Kentmere horseshoe covering six or seven peaks including High Street named after the Roman road which goes over the top. Early on the walk I slipped on a wet stone and fell forward on my knees and forearms. I didn’t think much about it until I got back at the end of the day. To my surprise when I removed my jumper there was a large gaping wound in my forearm which no attempt at closing would work. Hence my visit to the local hospital for a nice row of stitches to hold it all together. Why I failed to take any notice about it all day says something about the effort and the splendour of the best of the Lakeland hills. 

Despite all that we’re enjoying our week and we won’t let the weather deter us. We’ve managed to get our covid boosters today at a very efficient vaccination centre which has taken over some vacant shops in the centre of town. We may go to the Brewery Arts Centre later which comes highly recommended. 

The good news at the end of all this is that the holiday company have refunded half of our booking charge. 

C’est la vie.



Thoughts from the Top of the Hill

Linzy, Pateley Bridge, North Yorkshire

The month started out so well. I had the great pleasure and honour of being asked by Margaret and Peter to help clear their book stocks, so on my return home I enjoyed sorting through them and discovering many poets who were new to me. Many thanks to you both! I spent a few days getting ready for our October sale and then suddenly the sale started and we were absolutely deluged with orders. People seem to be taking the advice to shop early for Christmas as there was plenty of evidence of books bought as presents, from a book of murder mysteries set in the festive season, to a set of miniature Beatrix Potter books in a little box with a tiny brass knob, which opens like a drawer. I was hoping to sell that last Christmas, so better late than never and I imagine some tiny hands will enjoy opening and closing it and reading the lovely contents.


However, the rest of the month is like a chapter from the macabre children's story 'A Series of Unfortunate Events'. Firstly, despite the Aga coming on without the tender touch of Dan the Aga man, the boiler refused to perform likewise and we had to get Nigel the boiler man to come. Then, in an unusual fit of housecleaning fervour, I stood on the toilet in my bathroom to reach some stubborn dirt in the grouting, there was a terrible cracking noise and the toilet seat lurched sideways. The brass hinge of the mahogany seat had snapped. Some research online uncovered the unpleasant fact that a replacement seat would cost £85. However, we thought we could just replace the hinges, so I obtained them very quickly on Amazon and Richard was despatched to the bathroom to refit the seat. Unfortunately the broken hinge refused to come out and I knew the worst had happened when there was a clunk and Richard made an awful howling sound. The porcelain had broken. Cost of new toilet £400 and an uncomfortable week with no loo seat while Andrew the plumber obtained the only matching toilet in Yorkshire. Tip, always get a plumber to fit the new seat.


Meanwhile the book sale was in full flow, books everywhere amid multiple trips to the post office. My daughter's family had to move out of their temporary accommodation for three nights as it had been let previously for half-term so they decided to go to Flamingoland for a few days and leave their cat with us. Then my daughter was taken ill and wasn't well enough to go, so we looked after her here. She had a negative Covid test and her doctor thought it was either viral or bacterial so did a blood test. Due to the efficiency of the NHS she got the result from the out of hours doctor when she got here and a prescription magically appeared in our local pharmacy, collected at 9am on Monday. An hour after taking the initial double dose she was violently sick. A phone call to another doctor eventually brought the advice to take another dose. She was sick again and after a call to another doctor it was decided she was allergic to the antibiotic and a new prescription appeared at once in the pharmacy. This antibiotic did the trick and she was well enough the next day for us to take her the 60 or so miles to Flamingoland to enjoy the rest of their holiday. On reading the small print inside the first packet of medicine, it transpired that 10% of patients experience severe nausea and 1% loss of vision...


Despite being so busy with the book sale, the family and the visiting cat, we managed to fit in some normal activities. We resumed our Amnesty letter writing group, Richard went to the football at Elland Road and all seemed to be under control, except that I had started with another cold, just after our daughter left. This meant I had to postpone my eagerly awaited appointment to have physio on my poor shoulder and couldn't rush to book my booster jab when the invitation came. I was just starting to feel better and things were getting done. Nigel the boiler man spent a happy hour filling us with technical reasons why the government's scheme for replacing gas boilers won't work, Andrew the plumber and his dad fitted the new toilet and stayed for a cup of tea to talk about bird spotting books and admire the impressive mountain of books I had to package that day. I had a site visit with the builder at my daughter's house and all is on schedule to complete at the end of November. I couldn't quite think why I felt so depressed on the way home, it must have been some kind of warning in the sub-ether, telling me not to be complacent.


When I got home Richard was feeling very poorly, took a rapid flow test and it was positive. Mine was negative. So, today we're awaiting the arrival of PCR testing kits, organising to self-isolate, living in separate rooms, keeping warm and taking lots of fluids, warning delivery drivers, wondering where the bug came from, though we'll never know, and deciding who we need to inform. My friend who is a retired nurse says she's 'done with it' and that it's inevitable we'll all get it. I hate to join in the general gloom, but I tend to agree. I'm hearing about more and more people I know, especially children, who have the virus now or have had it recently. I think we have to assume, from the ridiculous UK infection rate, that the government has given up any thought of containing the spread and are relying on the vaccines and herd immunity to save the day. People are just going on as normal, which we were too. The plumber has just come back from Madeira, the builder from Lanzarote and my cousin from France. The race meeting at Cheltenham and football matches seem to be going on unrestrained. I don't think I believed the behavioural scientists in the beginning, when they said people would get lock-down fatigue, but I see it now and I think we all have it. 


Breaking news at 1pm Friday, the BBC announced one in fifty people in England had the virus last week. The lady who bought the Peter Rabbit books wants a VAT receipt. The PCR test kits have arrived. I'm listening to Richard coughing and reminding myself we're double vaccinated.


Thank goodness the book sale ends today.

ps. Special greetings to Marie Christine, I hope things are going well for you and that you are on the road to recovery. I think you asked how people can take care of themselves. There aren't any easy answers are there and I'm not going to suggest yoga or vitamins or anything like that, although I am sure you will have had all that advice. Maybe good food and lots of sleep helps, or maybe finding that quiet place that fills you with tranquility and love. I would want to read perhaps, but nothing too serious. Love and best wishes to you.


Jane, just south of Norwich

Jane, Eaton

First of all a little message to you, Marie Christine, as you start your treatment plan in Montpellier. Warmest wishes come your way from Norwich. Your doctors sound excellent, you are in safe hands.


You questioned the expression “take care” and what it means to others. I say it automatically to my family and friends when saying “goodbye”. A way of saying, “stay safe, keep well” and it is said with love. To take care of myself is to find time to do the things that absorb me and take me away from any worries I may have. It is not easy to do, worries seem to find a way of creeping in sideways. Drawing and painting can absorb me, though I do neither very well - and weeding the garden. Writing this journal is a good distraction too!


I find that being in the countryside or by the coast is soothing these days, rather than in the city. Your lovely beach at Maguelone looks like the perfect place to relax and leave worries behind. 


News here in the UK gives cause for concern as Covid cases rise again and hospitals are stretched. The Government hasn’t made mask-wearing mandatory which surely would help the situation. Chris and I are so concerned that we have cancelled a long planned city break in London this month and with it theatre tickets. We are going to the coast instead.


On a happier note, our daughter and her partner, after lots of deliberation, have got themselves an adorable fox red labrador puppy. They take him to puppy classes and are determined he will be well behaved. Their lives have been considerably altered by this bouncing bundle of energy, but definitely for the better! Picture attached.


I’m also attaching a picture of our beautiful liquidambar tree which caught the late afternoon sun this week. Both pup and tree in their autumn finery.


Sending good wishes to all.



Strange times

Anna Stenborg, Uppsala, Sweden

Working in Uppsala these weeks and we have only a handful of Covid patients in the hospital. But we still have a severe shortage hospital beds due to a shortage of nurses. Thus, the surgeons must cancel some of the planned operations for patients who have already waited too long due to the pandemic.

Very few restrictions are still in place now, but there is one remaining restriction which cause a lot of unnecessary problems: children in kindergarten must stay at home even for minimally runny noses which mean their parents have to stay at home with them. Today the two young doctors on my team are at home with their children, so I am having quite a stressful day and I am looking forward to the weekend


Broadland type

Sheila, Norfolk UK

My news this month is all Dental - and my own experience has been massively variable.


My local NHS surgery has let me down quite badly and I am still waiting for treatment identified by them first in January 2020. But I am convinced that the problems I am experiencing are the fault of management and not the dentists themselves. I would not want to conduct my work each day in the oppressive attire that COVID has forced upon all medical practitioners and I particularly admire hospital doctors and dentists who have had to comprehensively ‘gown/mask-up’ just to do their day’s work. And their work is vital to our well-being so I am immensely grateful for their continued care of us all. 


Conversely, I have just received a FREE follow-up consultation and a comprehensive written report outlining suggested future treatment for me, from the fantastic private ‘specialist’ dentist in Norwich who did my root canal treatment (costly but worth it) during lockdown, and I am totally impressed with his work, organisation and the management of his practice.


The contrast with my NHS dental surgery is enormous as I have been cancelled three times, not informed of changes in dentist and promised return phone calls that never came. It strikes me that the management of my NHS dental practice is the thing that is letting me down - and in turn, the reputation of the dentists who work there. On one occasion as I sat waiting for my third ‘assessment’ appointment, one of the receptionists was conducting a jovial private conversation that we could all hear. Not professional - and in my world disrespectful of the professional dentists working in adjoining rooms heavily gowned up and performing a vital but difficult service for their patients.

My thoughts were reinforced yesterday when an acquaintance, who is a private dentist, told me that she is off work for two weeks through stress. I am not surprised at all but talking to her I discovered that her biggest problem is that she ‘cares too much’ about her patients and that she has nearly 1200 of them on her list! Really!

She cares when she can’t see them and cares when she has limited time in her day to do the work that she loves and is highly trained to do. Again it strikes me that her practice management is entirely at fault. The culture should be to take great care of the professional staff they have working for them. Surely the remit of management, including reception staff, should be to manage the workload of the professionals who are bearing the brunt of the awful measures COVID has imposed on them. Has ‘management’ gone soft and sloppy in these COVID times I wonder - it certainly seems like it to me.


Rant over I will now share probably the final harvest of blooms from my late October garden. I can’t have too many flowers in my life although perhaps this arrangement is a little too abundant - if that’s possible. You decide…


Much love to Marie-Christine x

Happy Birthday to Annabel x



Greetings from the far south

Mark Waller, Pretoria, South Africa

Maybe it’s because there are so many stark crises going on at the same time here that the pandemic seems to have receded into the background. 


The threat of attempted insurrection by the faction of the ruling party that was responsible for July’s mayhem remains. The poverty and dysfunction caused by the impact of the pandemic on the economy is more palpable now than ever. Crime statistics for the recent period show an increase in violent crime, and no one has a clue about what to do about it. 


Water and electricity cuts are increasing, due mainly to dilapidated infrastructure that keeps failing, wholly unable to meet demand. And there are local elections next week, the run-up to which has been infused with a weird mix of apathy and fear of possible violence and disorder.


Far less prominent is the slow burn of new Covid infections and deaths, now seemingly contained, temporarily. The vaccination programme has reached some 15 million people out of a targeted 40 million of a total population of some 60 million souls. 


This has slowed the rate of infection. The problem is that fewer than 2 million people have bothered to get their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine, the main one being used. So we may see an uptick in Covid cases before long. There are also other uncertainties that suggest the pandemic will bounce back. 


We’ve been in a low level lockdown for the last few months. For the most part there’s little difference to the pre-Covid days. Masks and sanitisers are still the standard, distancing rather less so.


I have to keep telling my kids, Gracey (13) and Masana (8) that they must still be careful, keep wearing their masks when out and about or at school, wash their hands when they come home, and so on. But it’s all become a secondary thing, a last minute reminder rather than the order of the day, as it was a year or so ago.


If the pandemic does accelerate and deepen once again we’ll no doubt be put under a more stringent lockdown. But we now know what to expect, how to adapt, and at least there’s the vaccine and the likelihood that booster jabs and even Covid treatments will be available. It increasingly looks as if Covid will be with us for a long time, mainly a low intensity threat with sudden flare-ups.


It’s all very different from how things were and felt early in the pandemic. Then, the whole experience of lockdown and having to deal with the threat of illness for which there was no vaccine dominated almost every thought and action. Things are different now, I find. The pandemic no longer shadows every waking hour. If I describe my day or that of my young ones, it no longer figures the way it did, even though I closely follow the latest news about it.


Which is all a round about way of saying that this is my last Journal entry. I no longer have much to say about the pandemic and its impact on life here in the far south that is not repetitious or somewhat irrelevant to the idea of this wonderful Plague Journal. 


From the Editor 

Margaret, Norfolk

October has been a very long month. Some lovely Autumn days, quite a number of visitors, wood fires in the evening, a visit from the tree surgeon, evenings getting shorter. 

I love Autumn but do feel its melancholy. I rather dread the long winter months, the darkness, however many candles I light against it.

Today the winds brought down the last few high quinces. I’ve left some to rot for the blackbirds to feast on.


We had a lovely drive round the Norfolk lanes yesterday after my booster jab, ending up at Wickhampton church on the edge of the Halvergate marshes. Wonderful skies.


I try to avoid the news, the political bickering, the idiocy of letting COVID rise and rise again. I see very few masks around now. Yet visitors from Europe tell us people wear masks without a fuss there. Why are the English so slack and lazy? Do they really believe Jacob Rees Mogg who says you can’t catch it from people you know! It has been a long haul from March 2020. Eighteen months. But I feel at least five years older!


A belated Happy Birthday to Annabel! And good news that John Mole’s poems (many first seen in this journal) will be published soon.

(Cover pictured).


I know from your emails that you all join with me in sending love and strength to Marie Christine. 


Enjoy these lovely flowers that Sheila brought me the other day.