Just out on Amazon under my maiden name Heather Douglas is my book of short stories
Our Song, Stories in the keys of love and death
These dark stories of unexpected death explore the different viewpoints of family, witness, victim, policeman or murderer. They are sometimes disturbing, sometimes humorous, always gripping and take place in variety of locations and situations. Just as the popular songs of the titles are recognisable, so too are the emotions of love, loss and jealousy revealed here, but the steps to revenge, murder and remorse taken in these chilling tales are smaller than we might realise.
Ian Smith of the English Folk Music Club Costa Blanca put my poem set out below to music and here is the song:
The morning mist retreated leaving green hills bright with dew.
The sunlight dried the water drops, the grass thinned out anew.
Brown stains spread
Blood shone red
In splatters over stones.
Here lay the dead
Shot with lead
And carrion bared their bones.
The land retains our history enclosed in its rich earth;
Our crops feed off the wealth of dead and give us our rebirth.
New blooms spread
Petals shine red
In patterns over stones.
Rich flower bed
With love’s care fed
For our past sins atones.
The ground is hallowed where we walk in every country village.
Its history holds the sins of war, of death and rape and pillage.
Yet we forget
We’re sinning yet
We fight wars overseas.
New death is met
New grievance set
And we harvest bitter tears.
The land retains our history enclosed in its rich earth
Our crops feed off the wealth of dead and give us our rebirth
For National Poetry Day there is a new post on Verse:
A Little Night Music, (or someone told me tonic water is good for an insect bite)
After the parched, faded days of summer, autumn seems rich with ripe colour. After the tired summer sounds, stretched and thinned to carry far distant through the empty air, autumn sounds are round and full. Clouds bring the sky closer and longer nights draw down the day.
I would say that I love the warm mellow sun on autumn’s red and gold, that I love the sharp crunch of fallen leaves underfoot. I would say that I love the berries, the nuts, the overripe fruits. Harvest home is one festival that all humans can engage with as they come together to support each other through the long winter months. Even in the west where we have good transport and many supermarkets, storing up for winter still lingers in our genetic makeup – although we may call it getting ready for Christmas.
But what I love most is the drawing in – of time, of light, but most of all of people. The community comes home after its holidays and day trips, after its excursions into the outside world. Instead of playing outside in the long bright evenings, children take refuge from the dark, under the eye of their parents. With the curtains closed and the lights on, we come together for the familiar autumn TV season of sport and drama, of song and dance. Our world has grown smaller, it is one we know well and for a while we feel safe within our walls.
with thanks to Pixabay for the images
Cartagena has a natural, strategic harbour and an ancient pre-Roman history. It lies about 100 km west of the popular tourist spot of Alicante and very close to La Manga, a holiday destination on the Mar Menor lagoon known for its golf club and professional footballer guests.
Cartagena attracts many visitors for its Romans and Carthaginians Festival, which started in 1990 and takes place every September. It commemorates the Second Punic War when the Romans took over Cartagena in while its leader Hannibal was off attacking Rome and its re-enactments last several days, ending with a tremendous firework display.
It is only recently however that Cartagena’s magnificent Roman theatre has been fully excavated and given access through a lovely museum. The first time I visited Cartagena about ten years ago, the theatre site was behind high wooden fencing, with only the odd hammering noise attracting any attention. Now it can be seen in all its splendour, a huge structure just a short stroll from the harbour and surrounded by normal, modern, day to day city life. You have to wonder what the neighbours next door think of it as they hang their washing out on their balconies looking down on the vast 2000 year old stage.
The beautiful harbour is still a major naval base but in recent years has also become a stop off point for many Mediterranean cruise ships, bringing a welcome economic boost to the city. A variety of museums showcase its history, but just walking round you can see a wide range of architecture and some beautiful art deco facades from its trade and mining prosperity in the nineteenth century, not to mention bullet hole scars in its walls from the more recent Civil War.
Cartagena is well worth a visit and if you are hungry, there are many restaurants just off the main drag with really tasty examples of the three course Spanish menu del dia for about 10 euros!
It is 9/11 today and below is my review of a novel that shows the ongoing impact on one family while placing their loss in a wider, historical, human context.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – by Jonathan Safran Foer
Foer writes like an angel – or rather a cherub, since his protagonist is a 9 year old boy. Oskar’s father died on 9/11 and in an effort to deal with his loss, Oskar embarks on an odyssey through New York, trying to find the lock that belongs to a key his father left. His research reveals that there are 162 million locks in New York, but he has a name which narrows the search down to possible. As Oskar progresses, we are also shown more and more of the continuing effect on his grandparents of the bombing of Dresden in 1945.
We may count, or fail to count, the numbers involved in the big events history records, but each one is made up of innumerable individual tragedies. This family has suffered twice, and what we see in the juxtaposition of old and new grief is that the effects last a lifetime. However hard they try, those left behind cannot let go.
We see largely through Oskar’s eyes and hear his voice, so the characters are at first sight cartoonish, but as Foer stands them in the light we see more and more of their complexity. Particularly poignant is his portrayal of Oskar’s mother, who is not fully revealed until the end of the book, but it is Oskar himself who resonates with truth.
The reader does not have to ask or answer difficult questions about historical perspective or ethical slights of hand. We are simply placed inside the family, incredibly close, and suffer the fall out with them, which is extremely loud. This is a book about grief and while you will meet enchanting characters, be stunned by the quality of the writing and laugh along the way, if you survive to the end you will be beyond tears.
A Summer in Spain
There’s a gecko in the garden
And a cicada in the tree.
A locust sunbathes on the path
Where ants march so orderly.
Plant leaves rustle with the breeze,
Petals pink and red free fall
Then dance in the golden sunlight
Chasing shadows by the wall.
All rests in peace and quiet
In the afternoon’s heat haze.
It’s siesta, we are sleeping
Through the sauna of the day.
No sound of people calling,
No splashing in the pool,
No sizzle on the plancha
Til with sundown we feel cool.
Then the gecko in the garden
Will hide beneath the sage and thyme.
The locust will be long gone
And the cicada out of rhyme.
Now we parade in candles’ glow,
And greet the darkening of the day,
Raise a glass of foaming shandy,
Breathe the citronella spray.
The night is ours, let’s claim it,
Send our voices through the air,
Borne on song and laughter
This sweet summer time to share.