100_2739 BRecently I went to Lanzarote to do some research on the painter/politician Cesar Manrique as well as a spot of sunbathing.
I stayed at the Beatriz, outside Costa Teguise, and was given room 225.
How that number brings back memories!
My father was a GP. Perhaps because of his profession, he was inclined to spend as long as it took when meeting someone which meant that somewhere along his chain of  arranged meetings for the day, someone had to suffer.
As often as not that someone was me.
This may explain my obsession with punctuality – my own, not anyone else’s. I remember all too clearly the agony of waiting,  the nightmare dread, the sense of abandonment once the time for our meeting had passed without a sign of him.
Now, to avoid putting anyone else through that ordeal, I invariably arrive at least five minutes early for any appointment, no matter how important or unimportant. In fact I worry more about being on time than about the appointment itself, how I look, what I’m going to say, what sort of questions I might have to answer……
When I was ten I went with my father to Paris and on our last day there he arranged to meet me at 12 o’clock outside the main doors of Notre Dame. (All  this was way before the mobile phone came into being – one of the first presents I gave my daughter!)
Anyhow 12 o’clock came and twelve o’clock went.
No father.
Panic stations…..
At half past I started counting the number of people who passed me coming from the right,  having told myself that he would appear before I had even got as far as 30.
30 came and 30 went .
No father.
Should I leave the big doors and walk round  to see if he was waiting for me somewhere else? What if as soon as I wandered off, he arrived and went off looking for me? How would I get to the airport? Should I try explaining my problem to the gendarme who was standing with his back to me only a few yards away?
As well as counting I now filled my mind with how I would explain my problem to the gendarme. Excusez-moi, monsieur. J’ai perdu mon pere. Aidez-moi, s’il vous plait. Je suis…Je ne sais pas….Je pense que….
If I stopped counting or stopped rehearsing my speech, I didn’t know how I would cope, what I   –
The gendarme wandered off, giving me a passing look.
What I would do, in Paris, abandoned, no money, no –
225      and there he was, not even hurrying, smiling his usual smile. There’s a little cafe near the Metro station where I used to sit with your mother and watch the world go by, he said. Fancy going there?
I nodded.

That was my father. And Paris? I’ve never been back.


Aber 6


”  …………………………… then on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think
Till love and fame to nothingness do sink.”

I had been to Iona

for my last birthday –

not to celebrate it

but to forget  it –

and felt quite uplifted  there

(nothing so grand or poetic

as in  Keats’   lines quoted above

but something of that looking-out-to-sea thing)

yes, felt quite at ease 

walking the beaches  Cadell used to paint,

white sand,

pink rock,

turquoise sea.

This year,

more adventurous,

to escape the birthday thing

I  flew for four hours

to far-off Lanzarote

and found there

some things you can’t escape 

memos of mortality.

Neither Out Far Nor In Deep

The little boy(holding tightly onto his father’s pinkie) has still to read Frost’s poem:

The people along the sand
All turn and look one way.
They turn their back on the land.
They look at the sea all day.

As long as it takes to pass
A ship keeps raising its hull;
The wetter ground like glass
Reflects a standing gull

The land may vary more;
But wherever the truth may be–
The water comes ashore,
And the people look at the sea.

They cannot look out far.
They cannot look in deep.
But when was that ever a bar
To any watch they keep?



While her boy friend

with three red vertebrae

repaired his rock-damaged foot,


finely focussed,

inwardly balanced,

the pretty lady with the long brown hair

precariously standing

on one shapely leg

on this so rapidly turning world

on a windy summer’s day

on a long languid Lanzarote beach

had the top of her head sliced off

by a clumsy photographer

but nevertheless

managed to

cling to

her dainty