Extract from “Escape From Winter”

I’ve spent most of this last month back in cold, rainy England. Even though it happens every year, I’m constantly surprised at how August really is nothing special in England. In my memory it was always great, but I suppose that that was probably an assorted collection of days from June, July and September. Ho hum.

Anyway, in all that time, I have done no writing, except a journal with my twin brother, as we travelled around Wales, England and Scotland. Perhaps I could find an amusing extract from that and post it here at some point.

In the mean time, here is a little manuscript researching I’ve been doing. Yes, oooooooh. You see, my grandmother came round to visit my parents, and brought with her a whole host of materials and photos she inherited from her father. His name was W.M. Ridgwell, and is the inspiration for my pen name. (At the time, I didn’t know the name was without a central “e”, and I’ve been constantly debating since then whether or not to change my pen name, the problem being, it’s part of the web address and I can’t work out how to change that.) He wrote two published books – one I think a vanity publishing (if that’s the term) of his autobiography, and the other “The Forgotten Tribes of Guyana”, from his time as Organisational Adviser to the United Force of Guyana. My grandmother brought with her a third, unfinished book. Its name is “Escape from Winter”, and it is part autobiography, part guide book for the Canary Islands, composed in a Franco-ruled, pre-mass tourism time, and designed to encourage those elderly Brits who suffered from the cold to migrate. I haven’t finished reading it yet, but I’m really enjoying it, partly for an insight into a relative, partly to see how times and writing styles have changed, and partly from a Spanish-speaking, historical perspective. It’s great to find myself bonding with a relative who died when I was 7, and seeing what we had in common and what set us apart.

Continue reading “Extract from “Escape From Winter””

“Mauritius”

I expected setting up a blog to make me more creative, at the very least starting a little creative burst. But what I didn’t expect was for it to suddenly make me a much more vigorous critic of my old writings.

I didn’t want to start off with a half-finished half-baked poem, so I found a recently updated poem that I thought was a good “debut”, but I’ve been tinkering with it for a couple of hours now, finding small holes and imperfections. There are still a few problems with it, but it’s much closer to where it should be.

Mauritius from a bus
Mauritius from a bus

Mauritius

Same bus, same pre-dawn view,
Same seat in the back corner.
Barely awake, I slump forward
and nod at passing mopeds.

My heart-beat slows to near-sleep,
eyes glassed with lolling thoughts:
my life now, my life then,
my life to come.

My life now – A blue folder,
a pre-planned conversation,
leading to a discussion and
correction of minor grammar.

My life then – school, university,
friends, family, a summer holiday
in Mauritius: beaches, sugar canes,
green volcanic mountains in the sun –

and suddenly, the two lives coincide.
The bus flings right for a roundabout
and my seeing and unseeing eyes merge.
Ahead, the rising sun
lights up the waving cane.
A dust track winds through a
glowing field. Behind, a white wisp
clips a jagged mountain top,
A distant ramshackle town at its base,
and brilliant blinding sunlight
shakes me conscious.

We pull round the roundabout, and
glancing back, I see the reedy bush,
not sugar cane.
The road signs read in Spanish,
and my neighbours jabber in Catalan.
But for one, brief second,
I was not here, but then.

My life to come – every week,
I wake at that turn to gaze into
Mauritius.