Commit – Gardening: Unexpected Gift to the Spirit…

I was able to commit to the idea of ‘birthing’ a garden well before I saw the actual thing. That commitment has deepened and diversified in the subsequent months.

To my great surprise, gardening has become a real joy since I arrived here six months ago. It is so wise and dispassionate somehow, and it teaches you so much – both about the earth beneath your feet and, at one remove, about human nature.

As soon as my ex-husband and I put our house on the market, and I started looking for something I could afford to buy, a small garden – even if it was little more than a square of grass – was important. My reasoning, at that stage, was little more than instinct. I have never been a gardener – and, although I love colour and scent, have never tended plants in any serious way.

Then I found a little house I liked in Wrington. It had a little garden, a tiny patio and, wonder of wonders, a summer house. I was hooked – and, although this abode was sold before I had the wherewithal to put in an offer, the vision of a garden of my own became even more strongly incorporated in my search.

I first visited this house almost exactly a year ago – with my son. In fact, we saw two places in Glastonbury, this one first – and both agreed that this was The One. Although I only peered outside on that initial visit, something drew me to the garden instantly. It was bare then and almost devoid of grass. Several of the fence panels were in a parlous state (and, in fact, succumbed to Storm Doris some two months later) and there was no colour to be seen. But I sensed potential lurking beneath the soil and in the water-starved plants which dotted the place in small arid groups.

The whole place had a good energy – and I could envisage light pouring into it. I was right. It does, and is a continuing delight. I could also see growth, in nature and in myself, lying ahead. Oddly – or perhaps not – I could see this garden thronged with people; it seemed to whisper of social gatherings, of happiness, of shared food, of magic and the imagination, of love, of tribe.

Initially, I left it to its own devices – other than replacing the rotten panels back in February. But, drawn by curiosity and the nurturing urge, I started to engage with the space in a more physical and pro-active way. My son and his lass did the first planting for me. I did not, at that stage, have the confidence, feared I’d get it wrong. The Young Things dug in the raspberry canes (now proliferating with ripe fruit) and honeysuckle (which has now twined itself round my apple trees and is beginning its soon-to-be-perfumed ascent).

I then bought herbs in pots, lots of variegated flower seeds in packets, tomato seeds – and, in a frenzy of joyous naivety, started to arrange them around the garden. Of course, I didn’t know what the hell I was doing – and now cannot even remember exactly what I planted! In a way, this is lovely: Constant surprise and delight! When the first yellow Freesia opened its bud yesterday, I was beside myself with happiness. The orange Nasturtiums also gave me a frisson of sheer energy and triumph, while wholly un-expected small pink roses brought tears to my eyes!



But then, the truth about the new and the old, weeds and flowers, began to dawn on me. Much space was taken up by withered, dying, diseased plants, or pretty weeds which were strangling everything around them and dominating the garden. I knew I had to cull, fairly ruthlessly, for the good of all plant-kind!

This I have now started to do. My old philosophy of, ‘If I nurture you for a bit longer, maybe things will turn round and you’ll flower/fruit for me…’ has been replaced with a far more hard-headed attitude, a kind of, ‘Your time in the sun, in the bed, has passed. Now you need to go in order to give way to new growth, different colours, more subtle scents.’

The herbs, now freed from their pots – other than the mint which has a deserved reputation for spreading itself generously! – are, as of yesterday, dug into the small beds in the front garden. They have replaced a load of tall, pink-flowered, weeds and a decrepit wallflower plant! Another honeysuckle has been planted in front of the back fence panels, so that their wooden rawness becomes softened by trailing plants and my life soothed and enhanced by that wondrous smell. Clematis, planted next to the small rose bush, should add texture, covering and colour in that part of the garden.

A life-long creator with words, this movement – in late middle-age! – to an entirely different form of creation is tremendously liberating and exciting. I am, if you like, ‘writing’ an extended poem with soil and seeds, flowers and fruit. I, an Earth Sign, am expressing something of myself, my tastes, my philosophy, my hopes and, longer term, my gift to the future, in the space I have been so lucky to call my very own garden.

The analogy with humankind is exact. We all, at some time or another, have to prune back our relationship plants, making often difficult and heart-breaking decisions about which ones can stay and which need to go. It takes ruthless honesty and the aid of a dispassionate trowel/fork/spade. It takes another skill utilised in gardening: The ability to predict, to look ahead, to sum up the likely outcome and the bigger picture; to know, in other words, which plants are worth nurturing for another season and which would be better uprooted and recycled!

I think this can be done gently. We can, in effect, say, ‘You have enhanced my garden for a while, and helped make it beautiful, but now you are poisoning plants around you and dominating the space with your our-of-control growth – and you need to go. Thank you. Goodbye.’

Yes, I have come naturally to the world of the garden – and love it with a passion!

Trust Your Instincts…


This is something I have learned through bitter and physically excruciating experience. Too often, we over-ride that gut-instinct – and listen instead to those who are adamant that we are over-reacting, imagining things or attention seeking.

But our bodies cannot lie the way our tongues can. Our bodies cannot hide the immediate response the way our minds can. And our guts are especially ‘perceptive’ when it comes to wrongness, whether it be within a person or relating to the atmosphere surrounding a place or situation.

Nausea. Urgent need to go to the loo. Intense tummy pain. Or, in my case, severe epigastric pain., Any or all of which comes on suddenly and with little or no warning – until, that is, you look back at what you have been trying to deny for hours, sometimes days, weeks, months or even years.

I am not going to delve into the specifics on this occasion because I am still working through them. But six or seven times, since early last October, I have had very very negative vibes (which I have tried to rationalise into something far more benign) and, soon afterwards, have been felled by this epigastric nightmare: My gut fighting my attempt to ignore its warning message; its clear and urgent siren; its, ‘For Fuck’s sake, LISTEN!’

Trouble is, feelings can be so nebulous, can’t they? We get these vague intimations of something not being quite right; we feel uneasy for no reason we can discern; we hesitate before reading an email or answering the phone or opening the door, suspecting, often rightly, that something unpleasant or unhelpful or draining is waiting for us to invite it in one way or another.

And then we undo all the good our inner warning system could provide by over-riding its system with logic and psycho-therapeutic jargon and this absurd notion that failing to face up to everything counts as cowardice!

On all the occasions mentioned above, and despite sensing something was amiss, I opened the metaphorical door and let the Lords of Chaos in.

We are so easily influenced by the ancient promptings of guilt. We feel we have to be fair, decent, kind, welcoming, cheerful, hospitable. We are told that we must take nothing personally. We are advised to turn the other cheek. We are trained to see insults, acts of cruelty and aggressive stances as US getting the wrong end of the stick.

But why is it a sign of neurosis, or weakness, or over-reaction to strive to protect ourselves from harm? Why are our attempts at protecting ourselves from psychic attack given such bad press nine times out of ten? Why are we seen as weird or antisocial because we take pains to preserve a hard-fought-for sanctuary from malevolent invasive forces?

Why are we so often told, in the face of all the evidence, ‘No! I wasn’t attacking you! You just chose to see it that way!’

I mean, it is such condescending bollocks, isn’t it? We would not dream of saying to someone with, say, cancer, ‘No! You haven’t got cancer! You are just choosing to live your body that way!’ And yet instincts – seen in some quarters as fey, alternative, hippy-type-stuff – are sneered at so regularly that many of us hide them through shame, and then learn to our cost how incredibly helpful they ARE when an ignored gut allows a nasty through.

We do ourselves a lot of harm by this whole, ‘Oh, I probably misinterpreted that!’ faux-kindness and tolerance.


Because nine times out of ten, we interpreted it with devastating accuracy – and our throttling back on that instinctive understanding gives the other person the green light to  do or say more of the same at a later date.

If another says or does something unkind and hostile to us, and we do not react with anger or disbelief, we have, tacitly, just signed our names at the bottom of the ‘Abuse me…’ form. If we do not lay down boundaries of behaviour we are willing to accept, no one else will do it for us.

Too often, we are unable to make ourselves say, ‘That was bang out of order…’ or, ‘This is not for me..’ or words to that effect, because we are afraid: Afraid of being seen as Politically Incorrect, or paranoid, or in need of Anger Management or lazy or making excuses or mad.

Did I, on any of those gut-wailing occasions, put my foot down with a firm hand?

No. I am ashamed to admit that I did not – and still have not. The Ghost of ‘Are You Sure You’re Not Imagining It?’and his twin brother, ‘Are You Sure You’re Not Being Over-Sensitive/Hormonal?’ occupy the thrones at every ‘feast’ in my life – and their presence makes it hard for me to respond even to direct insult, inappropriate choices and calculated verbal assault.

Listen to your gut! Do not let the platitudes of a religion you no longer subscribe to, or the sibilant whispering of the expert Mind-Gamers, or the smooth words of those who think they know better detract you from what your body is trying so hard to tell you.

The body remembers. Hearken to its tale…

Choice: Priorities and Options…

Yes, it does. But it also gives clarity of choice – and, ultimately, an open door to freedom. I think we have to prioritise ourselves, make the person we are important and of true value. That way, no one else has the power to take that away from us; to make us feel lesser; to hurt us by suggesting that we are nothing but one of many coloured beads on a necklace. This way, we see the truth: The need to see us as options comes from THE OTHER and is no reflection of our inherent qualities. Because we know our true worth and magnificence; we know we are here to stay, even if others do not see it that way!

If we accept second place and lower status, that is precisely what, sooner or later, we will be reduced to. If we present ourselves as inferior, or easy, or ridiculously forgiving, we WILL be trampled upon, abused and cast aside – time and time again, until WE learn to erect healthy barriers and to see ourselves as the wonderful humans we are so capable of being.

I am no longer prepared to walk down the grenade-strewn road of prioritising those who see me as merely an option. I have done it once too often in my life – and, as is true of so many of us, had to learn the lesson the hard and painful way: If we make Gods and Goddesses of others, they will smite us with thunderbolts whenever it suits their purpose; they will behave as if they are, indeed, endowed with omniscience, omnipotence and cosmic wisdom; they will feel entitled to a full share in our rich treasure, whilst strewing the odd coin our way. They will fuck us around because, in their eyes, that is all we are worth.

By bowing down before any other human being, we are – in actual fact – handing over our own power and sovereignty and rights. We are saying, albeit covertly, ‘I am your willing slave. I exist only to please you. What is your will, Oh Great One?’

By a singular irony, many of us who have eschewed organised religion adhere with terrifying faithfulness to this part of the God Agreement! We just choose a different god-form to worship and pay our emotional tithes to!

It has taken me a longer time than some – but I now know my own worth. It is considerable! And the implicit, ‘You won’t mind if I afflict you with plagues, will you? After all, you are but a subject of mine…’ attitude no longer cuts any ice with me, for I can see how utterly pathetic it is.

Mate, if you knew my worth in any true sense, you wouldn’t even be asking!

A gentle kick in the teeth is not a signal honour. It is an attack. A nasty and rasping hint is not an honourable means of communicating with a fellow adult. It is a coward’s way out. A threat of replacement should only ever be met with one response: ‘Go ahead! The door’s there! Fuck off!’

Perhaps the most difficult lesson to learn is this: Those who makes others an option do not love us, and never have. Chances are high that these people are, actually, incapable of love as you and I understand it – since the act of punishing one with another is something most of us leave behind in the playgrounds of primary school.

Their egos need the power of making someone else feel second-best, needy, forever walking on eggshells. They make us wait because this is what Sultans and Kings, Queens and Dictators have always been allowed to do. We are like the rooms full of treasure, given by subjects – toyed with occasionally, then put back, our true worth never appreciated.

Their mindset is this bleak: ‘I can do whatever I want with you because you love me, and you are not up to my high standard.’

Says who?!

First time I’ve typed that and meant it!

You see, this is where they come unstuck: They are NOT Gods, or Goddesses! They are NOT Royalty. They are NOT entitled to mistreat others who love them (no matter how unadvisedly!). Unfortunately, these people often persist with their Power Delusions until their metaphorical Courts are empty of all willing subjects and their thunderbolts, used so often, are mere farts in the Heavens!

Never again will I say/think about ANYONE – man, woman or goat – ‘Am I good enough for you?’

No: I shall say what I should have said many times in the past, ‘Are you going to do ME any good?’

No more bleating, ‘Can I prove that I am worthy?’

Fuck that!

But: ‘Is this person sufficiently wise/good/loving/deep to see that I am not an option?’

And if not…

It is, as the following quotation states, very simple:

Love: Stealing Away in the Night? Poem – Paper

Rarely, if ever, do I commit any individual blog posts to paper. But, with this poem, I am going to make an exception. Why? Because, in the midst of insecurity, it reminds me of fundamental and grounding truths, ropes I can cling on to when I need to. This poem is not about falling in love, or relationships per se; it is more about the psychology of love and the barriers I (and many others) experience…

Why, oh why, am I so afraid of trusting love?

Why defend myself with shields of words –

And let the honey flow by untasted?

Deepest fears grow horns and talons

In the silence that is wordless darkness:

They breed, become deformed:

Grotesques created by a form of incest –

The mutation of black thought

Mating, endlessly, with its sibling.

The terror – canyon-echoing, Cave-man old,

That love, a being untended, will up

In night’s most wounding hour –

The frail times when Death sickles most –

Steal away on soundless feet,

Or mounting the horse of indifference,

Canter into the brightness of a better day.

But, delusions hold out hands of truth,

O’er the hearth-fires of heart and soul –

And clamour can rattle and shackle

Chains of habit ever tighter,

Scraping the softly-questing palms raw.

I stop. Sit tight upon an earthen floor –

Scuffs of sandalled silence marking dust;

I listen between, and beyond, and beneath,

The cataracts of endless flowing words;

I look at love, in cave’s solitude –

I peer, entranced, into its true-fire;

I hold hands over its vast warmth,

Hear the comfort-crackle of its logs –

And know, wordlessly, if fleetingly, this:

Steeds of insecurity battle silent giants

Pointlessly, to no good end:

Sparking up yet more words from frightened hoofs:

Fight to the verbal death with no clear winner –

Makes raging nonsense and maims truth.

Love, unlike man, is word-less:

Needs not the fencing of syllable, of letter,

Of bright tumbling word-streams covering all:

We catch it best in the quiet note ‘tween each drum-beat:

Hold it close in the imprint of kisses as yet un-burned,

And limbs in latent heated twining.

With intelligence of tongue and sweat and hands’ exploration,

With primeval thrusting of bodies in most ancient dance,

We know the loving of Eros, no caesura in sight:

With intelligence of instinct and heart –

With touching ‘tween minds and souls –

No moan of orgasm needed here! –

We know that love is not a word;

It is a living cord, pulsing and  shimmering,

That wordlessly connects.

Honey slips and slides o’er cupped hands:

I dip lips and taste its sweetness.



Cretan Heat: Rethymno Old Town at Night


I was last on Crete in Summer 2015. Here, taken straight from my 2014 journal, is a description of a late night in Rethymno. I have removed only those parts which refer directly to family and friends.

Giant sun giving way to a tracing of thinnest gold through mid-evening sky, a wedding band from Day to Night – hand-fasting of the twenty-four hours; down into Rethymno, along the sea front, huge concrete jacks ready to tumble onto the harbour’s checker-board; young people, two to a motor-bike, shirt sleeves, no helmets, happy, relaxed; the air-scented strongly, in snatches, of thyme, Crete’s olfactory signature tune; neon eyes winking purple, blue, green, red, gold; my body stiff with over-heated irritation – temperature twenty-eight at nine in the evening, down from thirty-eight during the day; striding ahead, in long green-patterned Indian dress, caught between youth and middle-age, I wanted to run and cry and scream and laugh and have fun, be spontaneous – Oh, the weight of adulthood upon my reluctant bones and wild spirit.

Lowest tide: Dinosaur-like bones of rock straddling the sea’s bed, yawning their way into the brash night-light of the twenty-first century; the Fortezza arrow-slitting us back into the unvasions of the oceanic imagination we all inherit and ignore at our peril; modern-day Pirate Ship Jack-Sparrowing its way across the bay, tilting its cutlass at the fragrance of herb-release under Cretan sun.


Later, at Goran’s taverna, food shared, whilst the beggars came a’calling with their tacky wares and stegosaurus hides: A tall young woman, sack full of glitter-strewn Disney monstrosities, and her little sister, garish in green and ghastly upon the accordion – metaphorical leprosy’s anaesthetised, nerve-damaged touch upon music’s transcendent keys. All ignored.

Serbian delicacies – Alvar, the delectable red pepper dip; the richness of tiny meatballs; octopus; jazzed-up potatoes; organic red wine – and, amidst this wonder of taste, the faulty stop-start of conversation’s damaged exhaust pipe.

And then, suddenly, a rough diamond in the great jeweller’s shop of artifice, there he was: A tiny boy, seven or so, dark of complexion and hair, trying to coax ‘Never on a Sunday’ out of the recalcitrant crimson and cream keys of the accordion he had slung round his neck. But he voice, when he sang, was deep and true – mesmerising for this irritating wee scrap of humanity who, waif-like, insinuated himself closer and closer to the people at each table, singing little snippets of song and crying, quite blatantly, ‘Money! Money!’

A member of staff, using his arms as a gentle broom, tried to brush this little urchin away – but he would not go. Our laughter revitalised him, and he mugged for the invisible camera, until he was shooed inside and told to find the kitchen and the warm goodies therein.

Off he went then, down Cat Alley, still singing, still cheeky and insouciant and somehow brave and rather sweet: Such spirit and determination, such boldness; I couldn’t help warming to him!

We wandered back, seeing a young lady, pliant as a pipe-cleaner, clad in Harem Pants and scanty top, juggling two torches; we stopped for ice cream – and, oh, the succulent softness of the flavours on offer left me entranced, englamoured almost; I wanted all of them – the smooth mauve, the tempting toffee, laid-back coffee, rich and deep chocolate!


How to decide?! Ah! Chocolate won in the end. Cone clutched in left hand, I licked and luxuriated and, in the twenty-five degree heat of midnight, allowed great splashes of melt to bleed onto hands and chin and dress – and so walked on until, back on the long promenade, I wandered, gazing at the darkness of sea and the lights of all the tavernas and shops still open.

Running – the risk of dying

Ruddy well said, Sue: I totally agree and have been muttering similar thoughts, usually under my breath, for yonks! xxx

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

Death: Paul Kidby

“Running just a few minutes a day reduces risk of dying”


Such was the headline on the news item that morning.

Now, I don’t run. There is a certain top-heaviness in the curves department that has always made running feel ungraceful for me. It holds few attractions unless it is barefoot through heather or snow when I don’t actually give the proverbial monkey’s about being graceful. I have huge admiration, and a certain amount of jealousy for those who can and do run, but personally, I’ve always preferred to get my exercise in other ways. But hey, if it is going to ‘reduce the risk of dying’…

Except, it isn’t… and the journalist who wrote that wants to be given some fundamental lessons in the mechanics of life. Because the one thing that is absolutely, unquestionably, unarguably certain is that dying is not a risk… it…

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Mosquito-Meddling;Irritability and Dark Humour…

Cease thy malevolent meddling with me, Mozzies, or it’ll be the Spray from which there is no Bodily Return!

Covered in bites – from bastard mosquitoes, I am assuming – and sweating like the proverbial dray horse, I am in no mood to be pleasant or kind or understanding! In fact, my irritability has gone into the red danger zone and is, in many ways, indistinguishable from yer actual bloody furious raging!

Oh, it’s nobody’s fault! Weather affects the old and young, sick and well, saintly and evil equally and indiscriminately. I ain’t taking this personally. But I am hacked off with the heat, infuriated by the insidious insects and am, in general, craving caverns of caressing coolth.

Honestly, this kind of climatic condition does bugger-all for a girl’s self-esteem – seriously! If I were on the hunt for a bloke (not high on my agenda at present), I’d be foraging around for large sacks to hide my body in and adopting a full-face-covering veil to obliterate the red weals, the tomato-hued visage and the constant salty waterfalls of effing sweat.

I feel – and no doubt look – hideous, would be fighting Grendel’s Mother for the Mere-Wife Most Reminiscent of a Gargoyle Award. The only good side of this unending Trial by Heatwave is that I am, and most unlike me, currently off my food (other than a shared splurge on home-made chocolate ice-cream with divers other members of Shadow of the Tor last night, that is!) – so might actually shed some of the rolls of adipose tissue which, at present, cause my outlying areas to settle back down several minutes after the rest!

Honestly, though, this has long been a source of mystery and infuriated jealousy in the Browning Breast: How is it that every other woman I know manages to look gorgeous and sexy and winsomely wet and curvaceous in this kind of weather, while I look like something the cat ate in-advisedly and then sicked up immediately? What is it about me that acts as a permanently open door to every frigging mosquito in a five mile radius, eh? I can imagine the little buggers telling their friends and family, ‘Hey! Got a ripe one here, Chaps! Get here pronto!’


I feel in imminent danger of Spontaneous Human Combustion, and may well end up as one of those medical mysteries in which a lower limb, sock and shoe still in place, is the only sign a person actually ever existed! Either that or instant and rampant Malaria from the Hun-like hordes of rapacious little fuckers feasting upon my dermal largesse!

Right: I’m off to ‘apply’ the cheese-grater to my multiple itching welts…