Blog of Oonah V Joslin -- please visit my Parallel Oonahverse at WordPress

where I post stories and poems that have not been seen elsewhere - also recipes and various other stuff.

and see me At the Cumberland Arms 2011

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Family Files -- A GOOD Mother and good memories

Looking HOT in this cool snap; on the beach -- at Portrush I would think...
My mother never got to do glam much! She worked in service. Then she had too many weans -- 10 of us altogether in two batches -- the big 4 and the wee 4 (which included my nephew). Three sisters, May, June and Eleanor, died in the war years. She could never after listen to Over the Rainbow. (prefered Boy George to Judy Garland any day.)
I know for a fact that somewhere in her capacious bag on this particular day she would have had at least three pairs of navy knickers! Well -- we were quite young still and the sea at The Port never warms up -- with inevitable consequences ;) I wrote about it in my poem in The Sea...
All proceeds to RNLI

Mammy was always either 'deaved' or 'doiled' -- sometimes both at once in which case you stayed out of the way! I believe 'deaved' is derived from deafened but nobody I know can tell me the etymology of doiled. It may be an Irish derivative or lowland scots or just a Braid dialect word for fed up to the back teeth!

She was a good mother but then -- she had little choice but be a good mother -- in her day and in her situation in life. I know because she told me, in one of the few times we spent alone together, (it was a busy household) that she would have loved to be a writer and that her favourite subject at school was English composition. She was good too! She had imagination. (great fan of StarGate btw). She regularly beat us at scrabble and she did crossword puzzles into the wee hours (and doodled pussycats on the wallpaper by her chair -- though I am not supposed to let that cat outa the bag) and on all the 'O's in the newspaper and anywhere she felt the need to draw pussycats :) She always appreciated what I wrote -- what little she saw of it.

When I was little I was afraid of everything and so she used to lure me to the kitchen with praise -- I was the only one who could help her with whatever she was baking or cooking, so that my sisters could watch the scary stuff on TV in peace and I would feel 'special' rather than deprived. She was a clever woman! and a good plain cook who made a little go a long way for a big family but she excelled at buns and Bannock! Sometimes, looking back, I know she must have felt that her life was just one great big mealtime! Parsley Buns/Bacon Stew/Mince and tatties/Broth,Broth.Broth/Lentil soup//rhubarb and Ginger Jam//Homemade Marmalade. CHAMP 
She didn't eat eggs and she wouldn't even cook lamb -- couldn't stand the smell of it. And I won't say she never complained but she got on with it. And when my father died she got on with it. And when money was tight she got on with it! And I don't think any of us really knew her pain. She always seemed emotionally robust to the point of being a bit cold and she was certainly physically robust because despite all that child-bearing and stress, she lived to be 89.

My mother took us to every church in the town at some point -- just the once -- just for the experience. I think that is an unusual and very open thing to have done but particularly in an Ulster setting and when she took us to the Catholic Church one of the priests there said 'Hello Mrs, Kyle' as if we went there all the time. That was my mother -- got on with life and got on well with everyone.

  Her name was Agnes and our next door neighbour was Senga McQuillan, hence this poem title! AGNESENGA
People on our street were neighbours, We had and were GOOD neighbours and I can't tell you sad it makes me that the area we grew up in is now described as a catholic area! It was a very happily mixed area when I was a child and we all got on well. That is a step in the wrong direction. My mother would have thought so.

She was a woman with a quick turn of phrase and a most infectious laugh. She would laugh if anyone fell or slipped on ice. I remember her once sitting laughing on the pavement when she herself had slipped even though it hurt! And one day when she reached into her shopping basket and realised she had brought the teacosy and not her woolly hat :) she just creased up. She had a lovely singing voice rather like my sister Christine's.  And she could make you feel ten feet tall or smaller than the average bacterium with just a look or a word. She could be strict too -- got rid of the TV when I was 15 to make sure I attended to my studies.

 I have written a few times about her before and no doubt will again:
She kinda featured in all our lives, you know...

I am certain she would hate this tribute but she deserves recognition and I would not be who I am if I did not have such a strong woman, such a disciplined, open-minded woman, such a psychologist 
for a mother.
Mammy with Stuart and Tommy
Mammy and me

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Family Files

Memories are strange things. They are individual, specific and selective. My sister once pointed out to me that one of my 'memories' was false ie: it never actually happened. In fact I dreamt it and even though the entire household apparently got me back to sleep, I had no reccollection of ever waking up and so the 'memory' persisted for years and I actually wish it hadn't. But I was a sensitive child and always a bit lost... I mean I used to have nightmares after watching Twizzle or Doctor WHO.

These photos provide a background for snippets of what I think I remember about people I knew and some I never met -- but I wouldn't rely on their veracity.

To begin with there were my parents. That's how we all begin after all. Here they are.
Of course I never met these two people in this photo because it was taken around 1950 and I was not yet born but I remember that gate, the house in the background across the road from ours and yes I vaguely remember two faces not much changed from these. But you see how it is... I didn't know either of these people or how they were with each other. But this is more or less how I remember my father... Apparently he had ginger hair but I don't remember that. He was a plumber. She looked after us.

I got to know my mother quite well. She lived to be 89 and died in 2003. But Daddy died aged 48 when when I was just 5 years old. I wrote this poem aged 18 and it was published in The Braid magazine and Mammy really liked it so I can be sure this at least is fairly accurate.

My Father

I remember a man who used to live

at our house when I was a child;

a smallish man who used to wear

blue overalls with silver buttons

that I would twiddle when he nursed me;

a putty smelling man with oily hands

strong and gentle.

He used to call me

his girl when

I sat on his knee at dinner time each day

and I would kiss his cheek because

I liked him.

He took me to school each morning on his bike;

trousers held firmly to his legs with large black clips,

a cloth cap on his head.

He smelt of linseed, solder, copper pipes.

Each Sunday we all went with him

to church,

eating our way through sermons, hymns and prayers

with large white sweets

which were his favourites.

And then there were the walks;

the long cool walks on summer evenings

or in early spring -

I forget when.

Time dims the memories that remain,

just as it dimmed the loneliness and pain

felt by a child

too young to understand.

There’s no place now for sentiment or tears.

I’ve no tears left to shed.

Oonah Kyle  1972 

Okay it's  like drowing in syrup -- but I was only 18 after all.

This one was a runner up in The Binnacle Competition:

Another memory recently published in Silverbirch is Last Goodbye   
I do not think I dreamt that. Why would I dream something so mundane?

In fact I have written lots about my dad. When your life suddenly changes on one particular day forever, especially at such a young age, it tends to stick with you. 

I have written much less about my mother but one of my favourites is AGNESENGA
and Room for Living was published in The Shine Journal but that is no longer available online as far as I can see. I am currently revising some poems for publication and that will be one of them.
She was a tolerant and intelligent woman and she would have loved to be a writer. She took us once to all the different chuirches of the town just so we'd know what they were like and she was prepared to talk about each one if we had any questions. I think that is rare in Ulster -- or maybe anywhere! She was a clever mother too. She used to get me to help her bake wee buns so the othere could watch Dr WHO or whatever scary thing they wanted. She had plenty of practice of course. There were 7 of us who lived into adulthood and three that died and that's a lot of children and a lot of loss! But I reckon had he lived loong enough my father would have looked like my brother -- 
don't you?

What I remember is that I really loved my dad and he loved me. Maybe that is all that matters.

Monday, 15 June 2015

100 Bewildering Issues

My 100th bewildering bit of writing in Bewildering Stories is up TODAY!: and Don Webb poses the interesting question: In Oonah V. Joslin’sAnd She Shall Have Music,” does the poem lament the evolution of music or of its media or both? I would love to hear your thoughts on that!

(It looks like 75 on MY BIBLIOGRAPHY where you can get to all of them :) but some of those links cover series’ such as my Novella A GENIE IN A JAM and Armchair Observatory so it’s 75 over 100 Issues!)
and since that follows my 100 at MicroHorror, I am well chuffed!


Saturday, 13 June 2015

June bursting out in Cragside

It's that time of year when Cragside is filled with colour. Let me show you. (Just click on any picture to enlarge it)

and TADPOLES those very tadpoles we saw being made in March

Froggies a-courting in March
Tadpoles a-teaming in June

 Don't you just love it ;)

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Sweet Sweet -- the toothache you gave to me

Please don't try this at home and if you do, don't blame me :)

Memories are made of SUGAR

Liquorice catherine wheels covered in blue.

Pink candyfloss that stuck like glue.

Toffee poppets, peanut treats,

treacle toffee and barley sugar sweets,

mint imperials, spearmint lumps,

pink and white marshmallows, flumps,

scented satins and cherry lips,

flying saucers, sherbet dips,

fried egg jellies, midget gems,

brandy balls and pink bubble gums,

tooty-fruities, rolos, polo,

chocolate-coconut-sweet tobacco,

jelly babies, dolly mixtures,

flying saucers in pastel colours,

fingers of fudge, raspberry ruffles,

lucky bags and champagne truffles,

fruit gums, wine gums, space dust poppers,

mojos, penny chews and gob-stoppers,

parma violets, rhubarb and custard,

sour apples, gingers hot as mustard,

toffee bonbons icing-dusted,

chocolate macaroons coconut-crusted.

The corner shop was jewelled with jars

that we could contemplate for hours;

jars marked 6d, 9d, 1/- ( a bob) a quarter;

contents guaranteed to make your mouth water.

We munched insects, alien worlds, sugar crystals that shone like stars

a universe of chocolate;Galaxy, Milky Way and Mars.

Woolworth’s Pick-n-Mix a week of heaven to the tongue.

Ah! do you remember the days when we were young? 


  Some Retro Sweets anyone?

Monday, 11 May 2015

Spring 2015, Linnets Wings and Woodshed Live

The Linnet's Wings 2015 is online and on sale now and with a lovely new POETRY book because we just get so many great poems from people, Marie thought it had to be done. So if you want to be one of our poets, then send us some poems. I am still choosing for Summer but there's Autumn too. 
Send me poems. 

In the meantime here in the Uk a lot of us look forward to a TV extravaganza called SPRINGWATCH -- a wildlife program that celebrates hatchings and hoppings and the general juice that is SPRING. I imagined the animals would be getting ready for that too -- some of them a bit excited about being on't telly so to speak -- so I wrote wee story I hope you will enjoy.  

Wood shed live 
by Oonah V Joslin 

Mouse had been outside foraging and came back all excitement and fuss. He had news he couldn’t wait to tell; so much so that his whiskers were twitching and his tail just wouldn’t behave. It ripped right through the mend that spider had just made in her web. 
“No consideration!” spindled spider. 
Mouse took no notice. He didn’t understand spider anyway. She spoke a little too quick. 
“Where have you been all this time, Mr Mouse,” his mate scolded. “You were gone so long, I was worried!” “Never mind that. I’m back now, and I got what you wanted.” He dropped a nice bit if bread in front of her. She was pregnant again and he knew she was fond of a nice bit of bread. “But oh, Mrs. Mouse,” he spluttered, “you’ll never guess!” 
“No I won’t,” said Florrie Mouse, “and most likely never know either unless you calm down and tell me, Mr. Mouse.” 
“Fox told Sparrow and he told me, those people who were here last year filming the cubs have set up cameras right here in this shed. We’re going to be on TV!” 
Florrie immediately began grooming. “Oh Mr. Mouse for shame -- and look at the state of me! All fat and bedraggled.” 

Toad was Zen about winters. Winters made him lethargic and really one didn’t want to do too much other than breathe in and out. Mostly he slept. The rest of the time he pretended to be asleep but he was conscious of almost everything going on around him. “T V you say? Cam-er-as?” he croaked in his slow drawling voice. 
“Yes. Fox told me. Isn’t it exciting?” affirmed Mr. Mouse, skittering around. 
Toad really wished mice wouldn’t do that, it was exhausting. “I hope they get my best side,” grunted toad. He was an ugly old devil but he had his vanity. 
“You have a best side?” said Florrie settling down. 

“And there you’ve gone and ruined my lovely web!” spider complained, frenetically trying her best to repair the damage. “I may have to begin it all over again.” 
“What’s up with Spider?” asked Mr. Mouse.
 “Says you wrecked her web with your tail,” said toad very deliberately. 
“Didn’t mean to. Tail takes on a life of its own at times. Please do apologise to her for me, Toad.” 
“Says sor-ry,” Toad told Spider. 
 “Oh well I expect I shall have to manage. Maybe I can make an even better web for the cameras.” 
“Don’t know why you’d bother,” chipped in Armadillo Vulgaris. She and her friends had gathered in a puddle in the corner beneath the leaky the roof and were drinking water with their bums – a neat trick common to all wood lice. “Probably don’t like spiders anyway.” 
“That’s where you’re wrong, AV,” Spider said. “There are lots of arachnid fans out in TV land and even when they don’t like spiders, most humans appreciate webs – it’s both and art and a science, you know and I am told they have one as wide as the world!” 
“I still don’t see what all the fuss is about,” said AV. “I mean TV? I ain’t never seen TV!” 
“Oh but I have,” said Mr. Mouse. “I got into the house once and the humans were watching this little box much smaller than a shed yet it had a whole world inside, bigger even than the garden.” 
“Well, I never,” said toad. 
“And Fox told Sparrow that because people had watched him on TV, they actually feed his cubs for him these days instead of chasing them off.”
 “Well then, you never know, AV,” said Toad, “maybe some of them could even think you absolutely charming and not stamp on the next woodlouse they see! Anyway I like you. In fact why don’t you and your friends come over here and let me see how pretty you are?” He flicked out his tongue and gave a low, toadish laugh. “Now,” says he “where’s that camera?”

Monday, 20 April 2015

Beautiful Belsay in Spring.

I wish you could smell these
Gunneras will stalk again

Magnificent Magnolias
Lambs of course