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Here we have a selection of work from our members – poems, stories, drawings, photographs, craft items, etc. These will be drawn from our archives and the selection will be rotated periodically so come back regularly to browse.
(All items are copyright of the creators and used here with permission.)
Trafalgar Fountain – photograph by Terry Stoten
During a U3A Walk – a poem by Douglas Barnes
Learning to Draw Group – two collages in mixed materials by Joan Booth
The Turquoise Sea – a short story by Patricia Isaacs
The cross-country run – a poem by Dennis Evans
Card Craft Group – four greetings cards in various techniques
* * * * *
During a U3A Walk
by Douglas Barnes
Walking by the Thames on a sunny afternoon
I saw my ancestors – in my mind’s eye –
My dear unknowns from many years ago.
Across the river the tiled roofs shone
And I imagined them living, working there
In the wheelwright’s shop in Upper Basildon
At the bottom of Bethesda Lane. In 1841
The wheelwright’s shop and house were full.
Moses Barlow, the master wheelwright,
Was squat, broad-shouldered, dark,
Arguing prices with a farmer, yet shouting
Now and then his orders to his sons and workmen,
His thoughts upon an order from The Hall.
William, at eighteen years the family blacksmith,
To whom I owe my being, hot-faced at the forge
Was beating out an iron tyre for a wagon wheel.
His mother Ann, herself a blacksmith’s child,
Middle-aged though hardly forty years,
Worn out and aged by eight restless sons,
Came from the low cottage, aproned,
Her long black skirts brushing the mud.
Not daring to enter the workshop, she called
From the battered doorway, but Moses
Could or would not hear. John the eldest
Laboured with a spokeshave in his hand,
Cursing quietly when a half-finished shaft
Splintered beneath a careless stroke.
Isaac, at fifteen already a wheelwright,
Mallet in hand drove spokes into a felloe,
While six young children chased about
Or built a village in the brown mud of the yard.
So I imagine them, my ancestors, woodworkers
For generations in the Berkshire woods.
I see my William as a shy young man,
Slim, lightly-built, with straight dark hair,
Not quite at ease with his ebullient father
And soon to leave the village for the town
To work as blacksmith for the GWR,
Swinging a sledge in the dark engine sheds,
And then the tragedy of his young wife’s death.
They were familiar ghosts who waved to me
Across the river in the Chiltern Gap.
* * * * *
Two montage pictures by Joan Booth
* * * * *
THE TURQUOISE SEA
A love story by Patricia Isaacs
Four hens, four cocks, and Turkeys three
Sailed across the sunlit sea …
…and Chrissie fell in love with Adnan the moment she saw the sparkle of his turquoise eyes, remarkable against his brown skin. It was not true love, of course, but she had never been in love, only in infatuation, and she was unclear about the difference. Captain Adnan was sixty nine years old, and the big and beautiful wooden gulet was his own boat, and his crisp white shorts and T-shirt drew attention to the strength of his arms and long bare legs; seventy two year old Chrissie was one of his eight passengers, and her yellow bikini was made of insufficient cloth properly to contain her voluptuous shape. His turquoise eyes and her dark brown ones met and travelled over one another’s surfaces and met again, and Chrissie was lost forever, or if not forever certainly for the week she would be sailing the turquoise sea with Adnan. Was this love? What is love? The rapid beating of her heart, the dizziness in her head, the blush on her cheeks when Adnan spoke to her: if these were merely substitutes for true love, they would do very well.
……………………………...[click here to read the full story]
The cross-country run
By Dennis Evans
“Those who want to win something should enter the 100 metres. Those who want to experience something should enter the marathon.” – Emil Zatapek, Athlete (1948 Olympic Games London)
I wake every morning at six,
and prepare for my cross-country run.
I run alone;
except for the birds
and the words in my head.
In the billet
my companions lie dead to the world,
curled in their sleep.
I pack a glucose tablet into my cheek
and bouncing over the grass
anticipate the sickness-barrier
to my second wind.
I used to feel
that if I ran enough
the sickness would go.
I try not to think of it,
pace my running to my breathing,
take pleasure from the feeling
of contact with the ground.
The early-morning chill wraps round me,
thoughts of last night intrude
I adjust my breathing to my running.
I’m aware of the world slowly waking.
Rabbits in the grass,
And I’m on my way to the windmill,
half-way point on my run.
Bounding over rutted ground
in narrow country lanes,
feeling self-conscious in shorts
(but trying not to show it).
Past early-morning workers
who smile benevolently.
Close to the windmill
panic in my stomach,
“must be mad to have
the mill as half-way point.”
I plod up the hill,
feel my legs shortening.
“Try not to think of the top,
or look to the top.”
Plod, pant, plod.
Just me and my breathing,
me and my guts!
Some days I want to stop,
give up as I did at school.
Am I still frightened of the ridicule?
I strain to the top, body like lead.
Take a few breaths, run on the spot,
and marvel again at the mill,
deserted and gutted.
Built by a man for his wife,
I plunge down the hill,
thinking with my feet.
Four greetings cards made by members of the Card Craft Group