Friday, 20 September 2019

The Wild Water's Edge

I sit staring seaward at the brisk water's edge
With sand blowing south-east from the land,
Stinging, lounging quietly, and gently dredge
Glimpses of sparkling blue in another grand

Portion of my life when the world was younger
And so much glorious beauty surrounded me
In those halcyon days when there was hunger
To dive deep into the blue, cooling pool or sea.

Now I sit still at the wild water's edge and sigh
To strains of Mahler's Fifth, as the wind whips
My stationary, immobile frame while, still, I lie
As slowly the sun sets on a life well lived. Lips

Move, as I ask whilst deck-chair postured there:
"Why does the little white bird on the shore stare?"

No gentle going into the approaching dip of the sun
With three days to the Equinox. No. I am not done!

Friday, 13 September 2019

A Waling Mist Falls Silent

And thus it came like some grotesque woe
At nine and twenty minutes of the night
Only five months and five days ago
When pale eyes finally lost their sight

Of that fright fifty years less five months
Earlier when some nights walking past
An eerie north gate, or so he said, some-
Thing dead hovered that would last

In perception until his last breath,
Until his lingering, haunted death.
He now joins the hovering thing
That fades — that does not sing

But wails as would a wampyr impaled
By an almighty sharp, wooden stake;
And Kraken-like cacophonously rales 
From a distant, deepest, darkest lake.

Abominable, dreadful despair.
Will you now wash your hair
And finally prepare for where
You are heading? But, where?

Fare thee well, David Farrant,
For whom the last long exhale,
In frightful, feeble, nervous rant,
Has, clipper-like, finally set sail.

But to no avail.

I wish you Godspeed — and hail
Fellow, but perhaps not well met.

Friday, 9 August 2019

Nursing Queries on the Ward

"What do you do, then?" she enquired with interest and bright eyes.

This was in the ward where patients wait until fit enough to escape.

Slightly stunned by her question, I hesitated a bit before murmuring:

"Lots of things, I suppose."

"You sound like a teacher. I'd say you're a teacher," she declared.

She had inadvertently opened a floodgate.

"I suppose I could be described that way, but not formally," I replied.

"What do you mean?" And again: "You sound just like a teacher."

"I teach by example, I suppose, and we all learn from life"

"What is it you do?" 

"I write, paint, take photographs, compose and play music."

I slipped my very colourful cotton shirt on as I prepared to depart.

Then I volunteered: "I am a musician, an artist of sound in B."

Her eyes opened wider. "I can see it now. What do you play?"

"My instruments are the tenor, baritone and bass saxophones."

Her only reply was: "Cool."

"Yes," said I, "Cool jazz, hard bop and especially the avant-garde."

"Yes, I can see it now you're in that flowery shirt," she added admiringly.

"Well, I have signed all the forms; so I'll be off." I moved toward the exit.

She cupped her chin in one hand, tilting her head at an angle of 44°.

"What are you really?" she almost whispered, as I moved further away.

"I am a master musician. The entire universe vibrates in the key of B.
You will hear it if you listen from within with an open mind and heart.
I am a Maestro, and here but for a moment. Listen to the music I make."

"I will, I will," she chanted from the back of the ward, as I swept into
the distant corridors of ether-laden walls from far off yestercentury. 

When I returned to where I dwell, I grabbed by big bass horn in B, and
blew it for all I was worth with windows open and a strong wind rising. 

I had quite forgotten that earlier I had been lying on an operating table ...

Thursday, 8 August 2019

Operation Anniversary Day

"Now this is not the end. 
It is not even the beginning of the end. 
but it is, perhaps, 
the end of the beginning." 

— Winnie the Pooh

The day itself, I feel, was rather a success, albeit not how one would traditionally desire to celebrate an anniversary; never mind a thirty-second wedding anniversary. I had already gained dispensation to have by my side at all times Horatio (a Victorian bear with poor eyesight who nonetheless has his own mobile 'phone, something we did not disclose), and a modest, free-standing traditional crucifix. 

I had been asked about my religion. Their concern was regarding blood etc. I told them I was Catholic, quickly explaining not of the modern fold, ie traditionalist, indeed sedevacantist. That last revelation triggered a certain glazing over of the nurse's eyes. Thankfully, she did not ask what it meant, otherwise another quarter of an hour would have been lost. I was an old school believer. Hence the crucifix requirement. The bear was less easy to explain, but the nurse smiled and said she understood after I told her he had suffered with his own ailments in the past. At first a little on the cold side when we first met, she thawed in the presence of Horatio. When she told me I was slim, after taking my weight, height and other measurements, she became a friend for life. I had prompted her response by demanding that her metric measurements be converted into understandable Imperial ones that were once the English norm, and remarking on being a little overweight due to inheriting Byronic genes. When told I was "slim," I riposted: "What on earth do your usual patients resemble?"

Curiously, my wife was not allowed to accompany me once a nurse had been assigned. Indeed, I would not be reunited with Sarah until everything was over, and I was deemed fit to go home. She waited patiently in the hospital car park, listening to music in the jeep with the windows rolled down, surrounded by trees. I had told her to go on a shopping spree, which she did for about an hour or so, but ultimately she felt too far away, and opted to sit and wait. A ward nurse, at my insistence, 'phoned her as soon as I was out of the theatre to tell her that everything had gone well, and that I was fine.

Breakfast had been shortly after six in the morning, comprising no more than toast with marmalade and a pot of coffee. Then I had to fast, even abstaining from water after mid-morning. This was no real hardship with the mind focused, as it was, on having an operation later that day. All along I was told I would be having a general anaesthetic, the standard procedure for what I having done, but come the afternoon I was aware that something was amiss. Eventually, I was informed that the anaesthetist was ill, and that his replacement was late. Delay was inevitable. I had already signed the release forms to be anaesthetised, which was something that had been my major concern from day one. I have never had a general anaesthetic in my life, and I was aware that this could be every bit as dangerous as the surgery itself. That notwithstanding, everyone, including my harpsichord-loving friend William Mitchell, Arthur Hill from the days when I ran a studio, and a bevy of assorted medics I had spoken to about it, were trying to assure me. My instincts, however, had all along said otherwise.

A trainee anaesthetist visited me as I waited, and wanted to make sure I knew all the risks. Vomiting, soar throat, even broken teeth by the thing inserted into the throat, were not exactly uncommon. There were other possible side effects, such as blood clotting etc. None of them attractive. But enough of that. The patient at this point was growing impatient. I prayed a prayer to add to all the others. There was still no sign of the anaesthetist. I was disrobed and prepared for the procedure.

Then the consultant surgeon, whom I had already spoken to much earlier, swept in with a frowned forehead to ask a question, having informed me that the anaesthetist had still not turned up: "Would you be willing to go ahead under local anaesthetic?"  With a sigh of relief, I exclaimed: "Gladly!"

My surgeon consulted with his staff, came back to me to tell me they had agreed to proceed this way, and we were off in the direction of the theatre. At this point, some patients had been sent home, but I had been ear-marked to be operated upon come what may, due to the urgency of it all. I was pleased.

I have to be absolutely honest, the massive needle administering the lidocaine (discovered a couple of years after I was born, and the safest way used to numb a specific area), was not without discomfort, but, after that, it was plain sailing. One doctor asked if I would like to watch. Perhaps best not, I thought. They put up a screen to avoid me seeing what they were doing. Yet I could feel what was happening without any pain, and I heard everything that was being said during the entire procedure. I felt so blessed to have been spared the general anaesthetic, despite nurses telling me afterwards that I was "brave" to have agreed to a local anaesthetic. I wasn't brave. I was being looked after by an unseen force with Whom I was in communion. As they prepared for me to leave the operating theatre, I heard voices saying that the anaesthetist had arrived. Yes, I had been spared.

Thirty and Two Years Ago This Day

Monday, 15 July 2019

¾ Centennial Birthday

I am delighted with and appreciative of the thoughtful gifts received from friends for my ¾ centennial; especially the completion on my birthday of the restoration of a Victorian Sacred Heart statue by my talented wife. The love and patience put into its restoration is phenomenal, to say the very least.


This is the condition of the statue when it was first in our possession.

The restored statue in situ, completed in time for my birthday.

From Natasha I received a bottle of French Champagne,
from Arthur I received a bottle of Highland Whiskey,
and from Keith I received two books and a DVD.

Other gifts include a large photographic book of hitherto unseen archive pictures from the Sixties, and, not least, an antique grandmother clock, making it five long-cased clocks in the entrance hall. I was also given a gold chain for my Victorian locket on which real pearls form a cross and contained within are pictures of my wife and also myself. The locket has four compartments for photographs.

I wish to express my sincere gratitude to all who remembered my ¾ centennial birthday, and the many kind messages of goodwill online received from across the world from clergy and laity alike.

Encounters through the Lens