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'Journeys & Travel'
January 2011

04 May 2012

Half Frozen

I sat on the bus, half frozen.

It rumbled along in heavy traffic
As a young mother argued
With her boyfriend
Over the heads of her
Two young sons.

She shouted and he sat in

A drugged stupor while their
Friends in front chatted
Over the basket containing
Their own screaming baby.

The woman got up and

Walked away with her sons
'You'll never see them again' she vowed
As she struggled to carry the pushchair
And the children off the bus
I watched her face
As we drove away, mirroring
My surprise that he had not
Followed her. Much further along
He gleefully announced
'Stupid cow forgot her purse.
She'll have to walk all the way home
With the kids. That'll teach her.'

The couple in front nodded sagely

Over the head of their howling infant
And went back to discussing
The more urgent question
Of who would deliver their gear
And how it would be paid for.
The purse she had forgotten
Was the bottom line.

Eventually they all got off

And I stared at the darkness
Through the window.

Ashley Jordan

My Guiding Light
(Rondel Supreme)

I walk towards my guiding light
Which shines a path of golden glow
It leads my soul through blackest night
And steers me through times of sorrow

When I stay true, it shines so bright

And when I stray, it dips down low
I walk towards my guiding light
Which shines a path of golden glow

The choice is clear, for wrong or right

I always reap just what I sow
And where I am is where I go
Love can achieve far more than might
I walk towards my guiding light
Which shines a path of golden glow

Ashley Jordan


Last night I went a long, long way
Lived a lifetime in a single day
Moved in, moved over, on and out
I wonder what that was all about?

The stars streaked past, thin lines of light

A sparkling tube both straight and bright
No matter how I spun and turned
The path ahead most brightly burned

I took a step, and then one more

But how could I be really sure
The path I trod was right to take?
It might all be a big mistake

A voice whispered in my mind

“What you seek is what you find
And where you go is where you are
You have already travelled far

You are just where you're meant to be

You've seen all that you had to see
And heard all that you had to hear
There's nothing left for you to fear

But now you have to make a choice.”

“What should I do?” I asked the voice
“Stay here, return or forward go
It's all the same, you'll learn and grow”

“I'll learn and grow, I'll learn and grow”

It echoes in my mind, just so
Last night I went a long, long way
Lived a lifetime in a single day

Ashley Jordan

A Catholic Upbringing

They showed me my stepping stones

When I was very young.
Stretched out before me to the horizon
In a neat narrow row,
They shone clearly in the sun,
Each labelled
(They had taught me how to read).
And though the words themselves were rather strange
(And no real consolation to my small sad life at all),
"I'm A Sinner Born" was lettered
On the first great stone.
And there they kindly stood me
Just so I would not drown!
And so I stepped from stone to stone.
Safe on my rocky perch, I'd stare
Down into turbulent waters
And thank God for the solidity of stone.

Then suddenly one day I slipped and fell.

And yes, at first it felt like hell,
And yes at first I strove to grasp
Each stepping stone as it flashed past
My flailing, battered self. Then at last,
Exhausted and half drowned, I just gave up,
Submitted to the water's flow - so long ago!
You know,
It's easier by far to travel life this way,
And now I'm comfortable enough to say:
I might bump my head on a stone now and then,
But I'll never step out of the water again!

Lynne Clayton

No Smoking on the Bus!

He was first in the queue,

so I said “After You.”
But he stepped to one side,
smiled, gestured wide.
Then the man with the fag
took another drag.

I stood and looked to the right

let the others join the fight
to push their way to get in front.
Saying "out the way you silly old …”
Then the man with the fag
took another drag.

The woman with the wee boy

pulling him along like he's a wee toy
shouting, “Come eah”
while grinning “Little Deah”
the man with the fag
took another drag

Then it’s me for a seat up the stair

I have in my hand just the right fare,
ask for a ticket to East Ham
loud over shouts from the ‘dear little lamb’
again the man with the fag
took another drag.

His legs went funny

while he looked for his money
with his hands in his pockets
eyes rolled in t
heir sockets
and the man with fag
fell over and missed the bus.
He rolled his own you know.

Dave Chambers
Newham Writers


His eyes came open, looked around, and settled on the curtains which
were a lesser shade of dark. The faint glow of starlight was just enough to show that there was really a window in the room.

The frosty cool of the September night made the boy shiver and pull the
covers tighter round him. He wondered if he would have to wait long as
he struggled to keep his eyes from closing again. He listened intently
to all of the small silent noises of the night.

The view grew slowly brighter as his eyes became used to what light was available. There was the shriek of an owl, the cry of a lonely fox and
a slight scraping which may have been a mouse. Then there was the
uneasy quiet that often came at this time.

There was a rushing, like the wind but not like the wind, faint, growing louder. It's coming, he thought. Muffled, he seemed to be hearing it through a veil, but it kept getting louder.

Suddenly the veil was lifted, "One..." he said inwardly. It became much clearer, "Two... three... It's cleared the cutting. Seems to be quick." His concentration increased so that the count would not be lost as the pictures in his mind grew more vivid.

"Twenty...twenty-one..." There came an extra click-clacking.
"Twenty-two to the bridge! This is a fast run." After the bridge, the surging thunder would be closing in on the small group of cottages.
Louder, the room began to shake.

"Thirty-three..." His eyes opened yet wider as the clanking, hissing, roaring, rattled past.

"Thirty-four..." The sub count was lost at about twenty-nine, but the main count went on.

"Thirty-five..." His tone changed as the racing cavalcade swept forward. The hissing that was like a roar and the roaring that was like a hiss were blending together into an urgent onward thunder charging away to the South.

"Forty-six..." He knew that he may not be able to detect the next subtle change unless he concentrated very hard. "That could be it, fifty-eight. No, not so soon." The 'urgent onward' seemed to lose some of its urgency and he felt rather than heard that something was holding. "Fifty nine, it is. He's breaking already! He can't be there yet, something must be wrong." The count continued.

"Sixty-five..." The charging, holding, charging, holding went on and on. "Something must be wrong, he's breaking too hard." The boy's thoughts and senses alerted.

"Seventy...seventy-one..." The long doleful wail seemed to fill the room. His eyes widened, his body tensed, his head raised off the pillow.

"SEVENTY-TWO!" he said aloud, and the sound of his own voice startled him.

He waited a moment and the continuing charging from far away confirmed that nothing had gone wrong.

"Seventy-two," he breathed. "It must be a record. Seventy-two seconds. It's a mile and a half from the cutting and he was breaking hard right into Whistle Bend with at least thirty wagons." A shiver went through him again, but it had nothing to do with being cold.

There was a rushing, like the wind but not like the wind, fading, whispering. The room was steady and quiet and there was a faint scraping which might have been a mouse and his eyelids became too heavy to hold up.

The sleep which now came led to a place where adult rules do not count and a boy can race through the starlit dark, pulling the levers and
blowing the whistle as the driver of the Night Goods Express.

"I've always had a hankering to write, but never really got started until last year when I joined the Writers Workshop. With the help and encouragement I received there, I have managed to to get going instead of staring at blank paper."

Dave Chambers
Newham Writers Workshop


I held on tight, the movement incessant, wearing.
I saw only sea. The vast undulating swell,
grey clouds merged with grey sea, there was no join.
A flash caught my eye.
A shoal of flying-fish above the water,
phosphorescence glinting in the grey.
They disappear, they reappear.
They escape predators, hungry enemies,
or friends, a meal is a meal.
One stayed above longer than the others,
changed direction, headed for the ship.
Landed heavily on deck
rolled over and over.
Ball of feathers
stood up, shook, fell over
lost. 900 miles east of Africa
wayward, migrant, house martin.

We name it Budgie.
Water, deep baking tray, stale bread crumbs.
Budgie jumps in, feet, wings, head,
especially wings, feeds, rests.
Next day he's flying round and round
low, close to the waves, up, very high,
down low, round and round
then splashes in the baking tray, feeds, rests.
Then does it all again, and again.
We plod on, Westnorthwest, 12 knots.
Keep watch, check fuel level, check oil level
check hydraulics, check budgie's baking tray.
Routine continues, day after day,
Fourth day, off watch, morning.
“Where's budgie? You seen Budgie?”
“He flew high, then down, then due West.”
Gone. We look around, we mope.
A shout, radar ops has a contact
First for six days.
Tiny blip at the edge
“It's big” he says” “Really big”
“How'd you know? What is it?”
Tired eyes look up, “Africa”

Footnote: In late October 1966 two Ton class Coastal Minesweepers
crossed the Indian Ocean, refuelled and stored at Gan, an RAF base just south of the equator about half way across, then headed Northwest to Aden. They were off the main shipping lanes and had no radar contact, saw no aircraft, no vapour trails, not even any sea-birds, for twelve days, apart from the island of Gan and each other. Our housemartin was very lucky to find a lift in such circumstances.

Dave Chambers
Newham Writers Workshop


It could have been exciting. She was on an aeroplane, on her way to Australia for the first time. She had been to North and South America, South Africa, the Middle East and all around Europe. She had stayed in the best hotels and money was no problem.

She was a wealthy lady with a doting husband who had a successful business and would do anything for her. She had a beautiful house, wore expensive clothes, drove a big car, had someone to do the cleaning and whilst she did not have a cook, she had the most up to date kitchen you could imagine. She was always out and about, visiting, shopping or at the hairdresser, but when at home her most important piece of equipment was her telephone. She was a professional gossip.

There were only the two of them. They could not have children due to an accident she had as a child. She did love children and would have adopted, but he was not too keen and so she settled on being the bountiful aunt to her nephew, who live nearby.

As she was the richest of her siblings, none of whom had done nearly as well, she was looked upon as the family banker. Her nephew did well out of it. She bought him clothes, paid for his holidays, took him out to restaurants and theatres and generally smothered him. In return, however, she expected devotion and obedience. His parents encouraged him to be compliant to her as well, because it was implicit that she would guarantee his future security.

The problem was that he did not particularly like her and they did not have the relationship he had with his mother's other sister, which was a little bit special. He was not that interested in material possessions, keeping up with the Joneses or other people's business. He just wanted to have fun with his friends, read, get a bit of education and grow up in a natural way. He was always uncomfortable about the underlying competition for his attention between his aunt and his mother, who for practical reasons, would defer to her wealthy sister.

What he hated most was when his aunt would take him on visits to her rich friends, most of whom had children, to show that she had control of a child too.

It was a recipe for disaster, building up over many years. When his aunt tried to take over his fiance, who she was not keen on, but who his mother, who by now had died, had adored, it was the last straw. He lost his temper and he lost his inheritance from his aunt at the same time.

So she was musing on the aeroplane about what she should do with her money. There was a little child living a few doors away from her whose parents she had befriended. She might be a suitable substitute for her nephew.

Perhaps she should send her a postcard from Australia.

Andrew Diamond
Goodmayes Writers

This land had no siesta

Narrow was the bottleneck and dark the glass
No way of holding back
The flow that came to pass...

Author's Note:
I'm leaving this one open ended so others can finish it.


Which way is up?

He stood at the crossroads;two roads,two journeys a poster with the word on either side. Which should I choose for both seemed real:

Taking the first road,people from different worlds met him shaking his hand, immediately embracing his strangeness.

The figures had a familiarity in that the men wore pinstripe suits and silk ties,the women satin dresses and emerald brooches shaped like crocodiles.

"How strange" he thought as he found his way into a marble shopping precinct where every shop window held a red sign with special offers for clothes, electrical equipment and other items at discount prices. In each of the windows what was shown to him gleamed and glistened the closer he came to them.

Suddenly he felt two hands from one of the men standing by grab him throwing him into a shop. Inside were lifeless dummies - mannequins, each with their plastic arms wrenched off and thrown into a plastic container where many of the red posters seen outside were ripped to shreds. Feeling disappointed and more than a little confused a white mist engulfed him causing his hearing capacity to be wiped out. In the hours that followed he began to shout for help but nobody came. The shouts he uttered were causing him to go blind with each cry raised making his walk unsteady until sleep overtook him;as the energy he had used in seeking help had exhausted all faculties.

Awake once again; He stood at the crossroads; two roads, two journeys a poster with the word on either side. Which should I choose for both seemed real:

Taking the second road he found himself in a cave where he was met by men,women and children dressed in rags. Each had ruddy complexions, a rough manner and round bulbous eyes that seemed to come out of their sockets. Without warning questions came flying towards him to the point that he wanted to duck under them.

"Who are you? What do you want? How did you get here?"

With each one he seemed baffled,bemused and not a little frightened.

The remorseless scrutiny made him wonder if he would ever see daylight again, and the calm repose of his wife as she stood comfortingly beside him in the niche of her home.

"Get on that slab of stone and don't try to escape," a weasel voice called from behind him.

Within seconds two hefty arms threw him down upon the stone,gagged his mouth and tied his legs with a piece of rope.

A volunteer from the gathering crowd who had joined the malaise earlier, out of curiosity for the stranger grabbed an axe from one of the approving chieftains;to force it down upon the helpless man's neck; when a powerful voice from the crowd declared "Stop"!

"Untie him at once" The two henchman obeyed instantly lifting the man to his feet. A dark,handsome figure stepped through the party and what was evident was his air of authority and translucent blue eyes. His voice echoed around the cave as the people of all ages stood to their feet.

The only response they gave was a deferential murmur.

"Friends and co-workers;we have let ourselves down today. We may not know this man nor why he has come but tying him up on this stone and giving him as a sacrifice to the unseen power is not the answer. Let's
question him with a view to reconciliation."

Everyone stood silent and still. The questions after were almost a formality as the handsome figure would not allow false accusations. The only query that remained was of a blue stone hidden in his pocket; a rare symbol of protection for travellers to the underworld. The handsome figure asked if he could hand it over which he was happy to do.

Unbeknown to him one of the children in rags had put it in his pocket when he walked through the cave.

"It is time for you to return to your world; back to the crossroads from whence you came."

Before any explanation could be given the handsome figure touched his forehead and he found himself back at the fork in the two roads.

Looking at the sign above him two words in big black letters read SHOW MERCY. Now he understood why the second world was better than the first.

Simon Walker
Goodmayes Writers

Travel in 1963

I would like to tell you about my experiences with travel.

I once travelled to Lancashire. I set off on the on the night. I went
to Victoria Coach Station. I asked at the office

“What coach goes to Lancashire? I want to go Carranforth.”

I was going on holiday to Lancashire to a centre.

I went to the coach station on platform eleven, as they told me. They said that the coach would leave at nine O'Clock. Well I waited and waited and it got later and later, until a young lady came up to me and asked where I was going. I proudly said to her

“I am going to Lancashire .” Then she asked me

“What time is your coach?”

“Nine O'Clock.” I answered

“Nine O'Clock has gone!” she told me. “Let me see your ticket.” So she took my ticket to the inspector to ask him about the coach. He asked her where I had been and said that the coach had come and gone.`Anyway he told her that the only thing I could do was to wait for the other coach, which would come in at twelve. It would take me to Birmingham and then I would have to change to another coach to take me to my final destination.

I knew I was going to be travelling overnight. So I arrived in Lancashire and there was a minibus waiting for me to take me to the centre.

Well at last I arrived at the centre and I had a wonderful time. There were people of all nationalities there.

Marion Alleyne

Coming to England

I'd like to tell you a little bit about myself.

I came to England in 1962. I arrived at Gatwick airport. I knew I was going to the hospital but I didn't know how to get there or that I should ring them. So some lovely English ladies helped me and phoned up the hospital for me. I talked to the matron and she came and picked me up.

I was very depressed and I cried for days. I missed my home.

Anyway, after a few months I started getting used to the country and the people. Everyone was so helpful.

I made friends with a Irish girl, Kathleen . She was very nice. I also made made friends with another girl named Wendy. Wendy used to take me to Bible classes with her every Wednesday. She was English.  I was very happy.

As time went by I made lots of friends, The matron was very nice to me. I also made friends with the other nurses. Kathleen and Wendy were nurses. I went to the Corking Hospital. After four years there I moved on because Kathleen and Wendy left the hospital, so I decided to leave. I went on to Bromley Hospital, which was nice too. There were not many white nurses there – they were mostly coloured from Jamaica. Anyway I
stayed there for a few years then I left for Hastings where I applied to the St Helens Hospital. I worked there until 1997 when I retired at 60 years of age. However I did go back and continued working until 2003 when I retired again.

Then I moved home to Roosevelt Court in St Leonards, where I am quite happy at the moment. I also have a lovely son, grandson and daughter-in-law.

Marion Alleyne

Going On Holiday   

U have to buy your tickets & all that
Before U can get on the plane anyway
(TV): Soon there'll be armed police on the train
Like Heathrow Airport U know
U see them walking around with guns & all that

You've got 2 have other things as well things like passports & euro's 
U have 2 step through machines they check U & all that
They can C right through your clothes like X-rays & all that

U also need 2 have insurance called E H I C?
European Health Insurance Card that is what the 4 words stand 4

When they asked me about going on holiday
The 1st thing that shot into my head was Paris
That’s when they asked me “where would I like 2 go?”

They were talking 2 me about travelling
I told them I had already been on a plane B4

Then they asked Me, oh, what is it,
what things in France, sights U can C, that’s it
Things like the Eiffel Tower : Arc de Triumph :
Notre Dame Cathedral & the River Seine
That flows through Paris & the Metro is what they call their Subway
they also have Disneyland Resort Paris

They’ve got the Statue of Liberty there 

Which the French presented 2 the American's
Because they took in a lot of them during the Civil War

I've already been on the Computer looking @ Google Earth  
There R 2 statues of Liberty in Paris 1 in the Jardin du Luxemberg
Another, Larger, 1 is on the Ile des Cygnes, near the Grenville Bridge over the River Seine, if I can spot it
So the French had the statue long B4 the American's

U have 2 buy your tickets & all that B4 U can go on the train anyway
That’s Eurostar U catch @ (London Kings Cross Station) & all that.

By Billie Davis
21st January 2011


We travel by plain;
We travel by bus;

confusion at customs
always a rush.

From airport to airport;
baggage we claim
looking for the case
that holds our name.

Expensive locations,
unblemished by clutter,
secret rendezvous,
reserved for a flutter.

Sophisticated Paris
on the romantic Seine
avoiding London traffic,
away from drizzly rain.

Exotic Japan
with the Samurai swords
Broadway actors
treading the boards

snowboard adventure,
hiking through ice,
finding out why
Chinese eat rice.

Safaris in Kenya,
Norwegian fjords
when travel hits you,
There's no time to pause.

Simon Walker
Goodmayes Writers

Extract from Spanish Holiday Diary

That evening six of us prepared ourselves for the Flamenco night out, with a distinctively gypsy flavour.  Ushered into a taxi soon after 8 pm by our feisty Italian tour guide, [Graziella] we drove to the Ramba. 

Our driver was a proud Catalan whose sweeping hand gestures could so easily have taken us off the road; as they seemed to spend more time away from the steering wheel than on it; so keen was he to explain each of the sights to us. 

Jane seemed nervous  and excited all at once covering her eyes with the palm of her hand letting out a demure giggle. Thanking the driver with a fair and a generous tip for the entertainment we found our way to the restaurant.  What we saw didn’t disappoint! 

A marble staircase lead us into a fantasy world of a dining area; Alhambra tracery surrounded by Islamic patterns gave a clear indication of its lavish interior.  Jane wasted no time in asking me to order her favourite Paella as you had to make it a smash and grab raid – otherwise in minutes it would be consumed, such was its popularity. 

Not to be out done I ordered a mixture of salad,beef,chorizo and squid as suave waiters in their tuxedos covering body built physiques, made their way round each table pouring out generous amounts of wine.

Our guests were an interesting mix.  Mario’s wife had recently died of a stroke and he shared how this holiday he was hoping to let go of his inhibitions by having a few drinks.  James gently advised him not to wishing for an unpleasant scene to be avoided so early in the trip.  In contrast Norman took a more intellectual route; describing how the Russian economy had been severely weakened by the enormous consumption of vodka; people using it as a way of escape from the cold and other harsh realities.

Without warning the conversation was interrupted by the long awaited announcement that we were to be summoned to the Cavern below.

The following words are a poetic description of what happened next.  

We wait ready to acclaim the powerhouse troubadours snatching the nights plot for waiting guests.
Dusky ladies with leathery tan arrive and with a shuffle start their engines needing fuel from an audiences response.
Snapping their heels hard on the floor; with beady eyes and regal heads held aloft; they mesmerise like surging firecrackers, deafening  onlookers with colourful defiance.   
Could this be an outlet for some gypsy scenario of poverty in a ravaged landscape looking for a drink? Dresses deftly swivelled. Give room for machine gun feet never straying beyond certain boundaries. 

A male dancer enters with glistening jet black hair and with every contortion of heel and toe creates a feetfest of movement until you are absorbed into a telepathic tunnel. 
The end brings a deserved ovation for a traditional masterstroke laced with spice.

Simon Walker
Goodmayes Writers


How far can you travel
in a wheel-chair for one
A frame on four wheels
is not really fun,
I remember the time
when I couldn’t stay in
The pram filled with shopping
a babys’ wide grin.

My journeys were endless
miles to the park
Swings to be pushed
round a bouts - a lark.
Week-ends were frantic
so much to do
Work starts on Monday
school days for you.

Time flew so fast
like wings on a plane
Dreams of retirement
a recurring refrain,
My journey near ended
my book is well read
A traveller in space
in footsteps I tread.


The Light Within, The Journey Without

She searched deep
Within the darkest shadows
Feeling the velvety form of nothingness
Becoming aware
Becoming blind
She walked through fallen forests
Where memory of stardust still lingered
And her search took on momentum
Creating the smallest of vibrations
The rhythm of sound
And she could hear her footsteps
And the universe dancing in her wake
She smiled and turned as love overtook her heart
Light illuminating darkness
In the primal dawn of consciousness
And eternity unlocked the doors of time
The universal gift of life
The Light Within
The Journey Without.

Lucia Birch
Stevenage Survivors

Trip to London

I am going to London. What shall I need?:
a valid passport.
What shall I see?:
a British airplane.
I am going to London. What shall I need?:
a valid passport, round trip ticket from New York to London and hotel reservation.
I am going to London. What shall I see?:
British airplane, airport in London.
I am going to London. What shall I need?
a valid passport, round trip ticket from New York to London and hotel reservation, British money.
I am going to London. What shall I see?:
British airplane, airport in London, underground.
I am going to London. What shall I need?:
a valid passport, round trip ticket from New York to London and hotel
reservation, British money, a good guide and a map of London and
I am going to London. What shall I see?:
British airplane, airport in London, underground, Trafalgar Square.
I am going to London. What shall I need?:
a valid passport, round trip ticket from New York to London and hotel reservation, British money, a good guide and a map of London and underground, a powder blue suitcase.

Et cetera, et cetera.

Ad infinitum

Ad absurdum

Ad nauseatum.

Are we there yet?

Marie Neumann

The school run!

Anxiety is building up from the deepest pit of my stomach. The clock hand is getting closer to the time that I dread the most. The time that I have to mentally brace myself for the extremist of extreme challenges, the school run! It is a unique experience that no one unless they undertake it can understand.

Unless you’re a determined safe, but quick driver you may not even make it back alive or at least not in one piece. If you are really lucky
your vehicle will be unscathed but no doubt it’ll be your skill and split second manoeuvring that will insure this!

The children settle themselves in their allocated seats and we’re off, like the start of a formula 1 race. With 3 drop-offs at three different schools it’s no picnic. This means having to come up against three lots of parents/carers who are in the same frame of mind as me!oh yes ,not forgetting all the other drivers trying to get to work or other destinations.
Literally dodging and hooting through the traffic to get the 100% punctuality certificate at the end of term or to get to the before school clubs the schools have so thoughtlessly provided. Of course I’m grateful to them but whatever happened to lunchtime clubs?

The children literally have to jump out of a moving vehicle in the mornings and jump back into one at hometimes.The yellow line restrictions patrolled by wolf like traffic wardens have made sure of this! There are 6 allocated meter parking spaces near one of our schools which are always occupied so there is no chance of stopping your vehicle, school pick-up or not!

Like a rollercoaster ride no stops just slowing down and speeding up.

Morning school run ends with all the children safe in school. A few pleasantries exchanged with a couple of the mums and back home to all my chores, until the clock strikes three for home time.

The best and worst time of the day! Best because of my little angels
coming home and worst because I have to confront the little devils who
want to play bumper cars with me on the way! Some of them you can’t even see over the steering wheels. You just see two hands; white knuckled gripping onto the wheel and no head! They either drive big expensive jeeps or fast little numbers. God only knows who let them pass their driving test because the highway code failed to tell them to stop, give way, indicate or anything else to do with general driving rules.

After dodging, swerving swearing more than I have during any other time of the day, I finally arrive at the school to be met by other mums and dads who know nothing of the green cross code, so use the footpath and road as one. Casually walking as if through meadows on a summer’s day! Numerous emergency breaks later {if somebody up there takes pity on me} I’ll find a parking space.

Otherwise I’ll be circling the school like a shark until my children see
me and decide to jump in!

The school run, enter at own risk!

zahida shah
goodmayes writers

Time Travel

I travel on my journey at the pace of time.
Occasionally I think ahead upon this race of mine.
Sometimes I look backwards and think I’ve come too fast,
But I can’t do much about what happened in the past.
I can’t be any quicker and nor can I be slow;
I just have to keep moving and continue with the flow.
Do I choose direction, am locked into my fate?
A lot of things that happen are events I really hate.
This thing called life’s a mystery that we cannot unravel,
But we must just pass through it on the journey we must travel.

Andrew Diamond
Goodmayes Writers

Journey in my Youth

The smell was atrocious. We'd got off the boat at Calais, through passport control and straight onto the train to take us to Switzerland.

There were about twenty of us. Sixteen and seventeen years old, from a  couple of youth clubs, shipped off by our parents to give them two weeks of bliss. Not that they saw much of us anyway. We weren't the sort of`youngsters to stay at home, but I suppose we were all expensive and a nuisance to have around. Children of the sixties.

So we were travelling through the night. I didn't realise that the French countryside could smell so much. I couldn't sleep. I wasn't quick enough to get a couchette and even if I would have done, I'd have been too restless to stay put.

I wandered up and down the corridor in the train. It was full of French soldiers. Apart from the odd light through the windows it was pitch black outside. I was really bored. Everyone else in my group was dozing. I must have got through twenty cigarettes.

The dawn started to break and we were entering Switzerland. We'd gone through some pass or other. I was past caring. One of our group, Ian, looked out at the landscape. He was a geography nut who wanted to teach. "Look at the glaciers," he shouted. "Shut up," I replied.

Our hotel was half way up a mountain near Lucerne. There was nothing there and we had to get a taxi into town. The highlight of our stay was getting a cup of tea for three which gave us twenty five cups. I got drunk on our last night before our onward journey to Italy.

We boarded the train for Rimini and forgot to take our packed lunches. The journey was about nine hours long. There were six of us in my carriage and we had a bar of chocolate between us. It got hotter and hotter travelling through the day. We did manage to buy some water at a station when the train stopped.

When we arrived at our hotel at about nine o'clock we were famished. Fortunately we got food. The highlights of our stay in Italy were a friend twisting his ankle and having to be carried everywhere, getting lost on a bus and bumping into some people who lived in my street, pleading with them not to tell my parents I was smoking.

What I remember most, though, were the sleeping arrangements. I shared a double bed with my friend, Philip. He snored, he farted and there was a church bell outside the room that went off every bloody hour. And the people in the room next door accused me of making a noise. What a cheek!

We were all anxious to get home, particularly as exam results would have been received and our parents would give them to us when they met us. However, we had one more adventure before we got to England.

The ferry crossing was the roughest for years. We were the last ferry allowed out of the harbour. Everyone was sick except me. For some reason, I enjoyed it. The cigarettes must have settled my stomach. They diverted us from Dover to Folkestone, or maybe it was the other way round. All I know is that when I got off the boat and saw an English policeman I was glad to be home. I'd had enough of "Foreign."

None of us seemed to enjoy the holiday. It was very well organised and we saw a lot, but we didn't appreciate it. We were a bunch of kids who'd have been better off in Southend.

Still, it wasn't a bad way to wait for exam results. For all of us, the first of many. Plenty of resits, but we got there in the end!

Andrew Diamond
Goodmayes Writers

Trip of a Lifetime

If I can get the plane to crash
The people who I irritate
Will not have to tolerate
Me being around
On their sacred ground.
Blown up in the air
And out of their hair.

I have to go eventually
And they will all be
Better off without me.
I’ll be better off too,
And so that’s what I’ll do.
Although I’ll take a parachute
In case I change my mind en route.

Andrew Diamond
Goodmayes Writers

The Motor

I’ve just gone and changed my motor
From a Ford to a Toyota.
My Mondeo meant expenses,
So now I’ve got an Avensis.
Five door hatchback, touch of class,
With a spoiler on its arse.
Thirty thousand on the clock,
Had a test drive round the block.
Got it for a decent price.
Mrs. thinks it’s very nice.
Lunar silver, four years old.
Newer reg. than what I sold.
Paid the dealer; off I go!
How do you work the radio?

Andrew Diamond
Goodmayes Writers

Home to Work
(Return to the Good Life)

I climbed a weary mountain
and came down the other side
Round and round the river wound
and ran into the tide

We're going back en masse
to where we do all want to be
It can't be denied
Cottage industry is the key

When our time is no more stolen
As the land was all enclosen.
Every lifetime settlement shattered
All the tribes so long now scattered
The last bastion about to fall
That's family, that's all

The onslaught continues
It's never satisfied
Ordinary people
Got nowhere left to hide

Each home clawed back, duly made a castle
The sitting room, the bitching sofa, pass the parcel
Funny sort of habitation now the norm across the nation
A dormitory zone to industry (collectivised)

A blitzed condition off the job that's set to overstretch
Life destroyed in clockwork beyond the nest
So back we turn and back we go
It can't be denied what we will do to survive.

Author's Note:
Inspired, condensed and precipitated by Roger Drury's song of the Forest of Dean's last stand 'Pulling Down the Fences' performed at TheFED 2010 Festival of Writing.


Essex Girl on her Mobile Phone on the Central Line

We’ve just arrived at Leytonstone, I’m sorry I’m so late.
The journey’s been horrendous, get the dinner on the plate.
I had my lunch with Tracey. She’s been temping in the Strand
And the money she was earning was pro rata twenty grand.
But her governor, who was married, said he liked a bit of rough;
And when he tried to touch her up she left, she’d had enough.
There’s a new bloke at our office and he’s trying to impress.
But he’s gobby and his hobby is to stare right down my dress.
The geezer sitting opposite is ogling my boobs
And if he doesn’t watch it I might kick him in the tubes.
I’ll phone a little later when we get to Newbury Park.
You can fetch me from the station; save me walking in the dark.
I’ve been doing data entry. It’s been doing in my head,
So after we’ve had dinner, let’s have pudding up in bed!

Andrew Diamond
Goodmayes Writers


In life we travel
On routes we unravel.
All wondrous things our way
On places we go
Through Rain, Sleet or Snow.
We'll find a place to stay
Mysteries are far
Wherever we are.
But who'll tell us where to stop
Who'll say when we're there
The haven that we'll bare.
It'll be from the man at the top
If we Run, Walk or Stand
From the place that was planned.
Who has set it for you
You think that you see
You say that it's me.
But is this really true
This destiny
Your place to be.
It's already been set
Look deep inside
On what you reside.
Now think, has all been met
He'll show you the ending
And roads that are bending.
Ask yourself, who is your guide
Believe and you'll know who
The person who shows you.
You'll know why you travel around
Follow Christ's route
This one will suit.
True journeys you know that are bound
He knows your skill
And use as he will.
Through the journey you so far have taken
If he thinks you need more
He'll make sure.
You'll pass the test you've forsaken
There might be tests
That was best.
You should not have passed
The reason for this
Is he didn't wish.
Believe me it's not what was asked
Listen to his guidance to get there
Where the heavens resides you'll know where.
You've taken the journey and travelled avast
Then when you are slowing
You've arrived where you're going.
Now you are there at long last
You've reached where he was guiding
You are sure he won't be hiding.
Know the man who has came
He'll be standing there and no matter who
His first to all will be Bless You.
From Jesus Christ his name.

Jamie Fidgett


Wearily, I trod the hundreds of steps to my chosen mentor. My whole body ached from the never-ending climb. Here, I believed, lay the answer to all my questions about now and in the future. It was becoming dark; I could hardly see the way.

Far in the distance I noticed flaming torches that stood at the cave-entrance. I was beginning to resent the fact that I had to travel this far. Was it not enough that I had jetted halfway around the world to be in this unusual land?  Why could he not have an office in the City? I fumed. I became angrier. I could feel the heat of the torches as the wind blew in my direction.

I was kept waiting for half-an-hour before being granted an audience. An outstretched hand was offered to me. I did not move. I began saying

“I am…”

“You are very angry.”

“Yes. I am. I have travelled all this way to see you, and you keep me waiting.” I was offered wine and bread.

“But my friend, no-one asked you to make the journey.” I protested.

“But I thought you wanted me here.” He just smiled. For the first time I looked at his face. Yes, he was old; but I had never seen such a young face surrounded by a pure white beard. Sun-rays filtered through the entrance and reflected off his light-brown skin. His voice was soft and gentle.

“My friend, you did not have to travel so far to find the answers you are looking for. Why, you are even angry at me – and I have done nothing to offend you.”  I lowered my head.

“Then, what must I do?” I asked. I was told:

“Lose all your anger; rid yourself of all that resentment.”

“But I have not told you anything.”

“There is no need; I see what is troubling you. Just do as I ask, and see what happens.”  I screamed at him.

“You are a fraud! I thought you could help me.”

“But I have not taken your money, nor would I. Why don’t you return to your hotel and think on what I have said.”

“I am too tired. I do not want to go back yet.”  He took my hand and led me out a different way. He removed a remote-control unit from his robe and pressed three buttons. There were many trees in front of us. They all parted in the centre, to show a well-laid footpath. I gasped. Again he took my hand and led me.  Within minutes we had reached a mountain road. He walked me to a car.

“This will take you back to your hotel. Have a safe journey home.”  I threw my hands in the air.

“I can’t believe this – I needn’t have spent hours climbing all those steps!” He simply said,

“Need you not?”  I was driven away. His smile and calmness were still annoying me. Hoping to be able to criticise him even more, I replayed his words back in my mind. But I found that instead of resenting him, I loved his words. I had discovered the truth. I determined never to be angry again. If I did, I would be very cross with myself!

As soon as I reached my room I began to pack. I had to return home to see if I could really put his teaching into practice.  During the long flight home I had plenty of time to think.

I was not even aware of the person sitting next to me, though I should have been. It was some time before I looked at him. It was the man from the mountain. The beard had gone, and the robe replaced by a three-piece suit.  The smile was the same.

“Why are you following me?” I asked in a loud voice.  He looked surprised,when saying,

“What do you mean? I have never seen you before I got on this plane. We haven’t met, have we?” He offered me his hand.

“Where are you taking me this time?” I wondered.

“I am taking you nowhere.  Hopefully, our plane will arrive in Penang, Malaysia.”  I was astounded.

“But this is the flight home. I have just left there.”

“My friend, you have been asleep since we left Heathrow. We are more than half-way through our flight. We will land at Penang.”

“No – we can’t! I don’t want to go through that again.”

“Through what?” I was asked.

“You know. You were there.  This is ridiculous. I couldn’t have dreamt all that.”

“Why not tell me what you experienced. Maybe I can help you through it. I am a trained counsellor.”

“You want to help me again?”

“If you say so. Start from the beginning.”

“That’s the problem – I don’t know when the beginning began. I remember climbing all those steps.”  The man smiled.

“I too – the escalators weren’t working on the Underground station.”

Another journey now begins…..

Robert Brandon

The Cloud-Dweller

I was still getting used to my new state; and yet, I was having a seemingly ordinary conversation with someone the same as me. I wondered how long I would be with him on the cloud. I was being prepared for the next part of my journey.
Even now, I find our conversation remarkable so I shall recount it to you.

“How long will I be here?” I asked.

“Soon, you will be ready.”

“Ready for what?”

“The next part of your journey. You know you will not be returning to Earth, excepting when you will be required to.”

I realized my time on Earth was over, but who would require me to return? Just by asking that question, the answer came. I thought of others who had returned just to be with me. I confided in my new-found friend.

“When I quoted Jesus saying ‘In my Father’s house there are many mansions’, and then gave my explanation my church mocked me.”

“I know.”

”But how? Oh yes, now I begin to understand.”

“Yes I think you are nearly ready now.”

“What is it like where I am going?”

“It is a beautiful place, where peace and harmony reign. Remember, you chose to return to Earth last time.”

”Yes, I was told that by a great teacher.”

“When she told you that, you said you had changed your mind.” I smiled at my foolishness.

“I’m glad I stayed – I achieved everything, and more of all I wanted to do. This time I got it right.” My friend replied,

“It took you a long time, but you did get it right. Do you miss your body?”

“No, not really. It will be strange not needing to eat or drink, but I’m sure I will adapt.”

“Oh yes, you will adapt. See, your transport has arrived.” In amazement. I looked up to the heavens.

“A spaceship?”

“You are not quite ready to travel on your own, you need help.”

”Where is it from?”

“Your new planet.”

“Are they….like us?”

“Yes, you need not be afraid; sorry, I forgot – you haven’t been afraid for years.”

“I am not afraid now. Tell me, how many more journeys will I have to make?”

“In your Father’s house…..”

Robert Brandon

No Case to Answer

Standing at the carousel,
Though I know my suitcase well,
Other people’s look the same.
Punch up at the Baggage Claim.

Oh how bravely we all fought.
Then they took us off to court
Where, they found, I had no case.
They’d flown it to a different place.

Tried to claim on my insurance.
I was praised for my endurance,
But to pay they were unable;
Doubt about the luggage label.

So my case is truly lost
As I found out to my cost.
Where my stuff is no one knows,
If you find it, wash my clothes.

Andrew Diamond
Goodmayes Writers


My journey thru’ life has taken me far
Tho’ I still travel by the light of a star
I remember the candle shining so bright
A glimpse of comfort thru’ the dark night,
There in the war years with strangers I stayed
While the stars twinkled, nightly I prayed.

I remember the gas-mantle that crumbled at touch
A dull yellow glow that didn’t show much,
Shadows in corners ghosts crept around
Echoes of night-life thru’ the walls sound,
While high above stars shone so bright
I looked for stardust thru’ the dark night.

Now at the touch of a switch on the wall
Lights up the room with no shadows at all,
A box in the corner with picture and sound
Magic at work around me abound,
But no magic will match the stars in the sky
We travel together, our journey on high.

Newham Writers

A Scene from Tuscany

New Year in Tuscany
Moody and magnificent
Full of contradictions
Hints of spring
Yet awhile away
A taste of sunshine
Exuding gentle warmth.
A stark reminder
The cold air bites
‘Hey! Its winter
And I’m still here!’
Cloaked in mist
And low lying cloud
The hills rest
In their private space
Gathering strength
For the summer ahead.
Rain falls, replenishing
Feeding the earth
Passive in its waiting
For germination
As the Poplar’s,
Stand tall, all seeing
Sentinels of the land
Ever watching
The drama unfold
Of a New Year
In Tuscany.

Jan Hedger

Dangerous World

Volcanic ash, the planes might crash, so they no longer fly.
And up above, a greyish-blue, no engines in the sky.
No one’s going anywhere, we’re all stuck on the ground.
In Kew they can hear bird song, a most unusual sound.
The Country’s losing millions, no goods are being shifted
And that is how it’s going to be until the ash has lifted.
I want to book a holiday, but when I hear the news
I think, best not to try to fly, perhaps I’ll book a cruise.
But then there are tsunamis, giant waves and earthquakes too.
The number of disasters has increased from just a few.
And what with global warming, and the flooding that’s about,
Perhaps it’s best to stay at home, indoors, and not go out.
Apart from bits of shopping I must do around the town,
I’ll just sit in the garden in a deck chair turning brown,
And smell the pretty flowers that give off such a sweet aroma,
Whilst hoping that my freckles don’t turn into melanoma.
So beware the force of nature, because the day may come
When it turns round unexpectedly and bites you on the bum.

Andrew Diamond
Goodmayes Writers

Circling Foxe

Googled Canadian Surveys Lockheed 14 Hudson. Felt as though I’d been hit by a sock full of sand when I saw the photograph of the plane. Taken the day after. Fifty years ago.

High Arctic summer is constant daylight. Time melts away and you're left only with space: from here to there and back with no time passed.  Nothing external changes - not the shadows nor references. Eternity!

In late-September we stopped mapping before the terrible polar winter started. Radioed “Dazvidanya” to the Soviets over the Pole – who’d been observing us observing them, checked out of Resolute and boarded the old Hudson in from Thule. Nine Canadian Surveys men, plus a nurse hitching a lift South.

Seven hours to Frobisher Bay. The propellers snorted as we lumbered up over Resolute and wrecks of planes that hadn’t made it.

Seat belts off, thermoses out. Pay-off in Montreal tomorrow – dollars! Smiles.

I tried - wanted to - hold onto the consoling Arctic timelessness so I could get it back when I needed it, after returning to “normal” life.

“I’m Mary”, said the nurse next to me. Mid-forties? Reddish hair, freckles, friendly.

Doug the pilot called our manager into the cockpit. They came out together and shushed us.

“One wheel came up but won’t go down again. The other won’t retract. But we’ll fire a nitrogen bottle to force the stuck wheel down. We’re OK for Frobisher. You’ll hear a bang soon, when we fire the nitrogen”.

“Exciting this!” chuckled Mary.

A loud bang and clunking.

Doug: “That didn’t work. We’ll have to land with one wheel up. I’ll radio ahead to Frobisher – they have a hard runway and foam. Plus emergency services - but we won’t need them! Relax...”

We worried and chatted.

Doug again: “Guys - Frobisher’s socked in by fog and the weather’s bad back at Resolute, so we’re diverting to Foxe emergency strip. Be there soon. We’ll circle round to burn off fuel for five hours. I won’t kid you: not great news but ..we’re OK”.

Someone said “Our tanks are under the fuselage...there’ll be vapour. Sparks...”

Someone muttered “Jeez, we’re finished – it’ll explode!”

Mary started to sob.

I thought: “Where’s my fear? What do I feel!?”

Maybe if I was in position when the plane burst I could leap out and the wreck would swish on behind me!

I was sad death was coming so early. Hadn’t even graduated. Missed a lot. Damn. Damn! If only I could tell my family it wasn’t too bad. No fear. Wish I’d said Goodbye.

Mary offered cigarettes. We smoked together, circling the wooden shacks and tiny control tower.

No runway - tundra and ice. A few trucks. People in parkas waving. Someone in the tower giving thumbs up: we caught his white face each time we flew by.

Mary and I held hands, and watched Inuit down below – a dog team. Everyone knew we were in trouble and waved.

We talked about what we’d have done if this hadn’t happened. Sometimes nothing to say. But we knew each other.

The people by the huts were on their knees now, praying for us. It must be close.

Doug came out very calm: “OK, we’re going in now”.

Head in knees, hands over head..... “See you afterwards” said Mary.. ”Yes!”

Engines feathered, we hit the ground very hard and loud. Bounced. Port wing caught and the plane roared, soared, skewed left. Turning over...over? No. We slid and crashed. Crashed. Slithered. Slipped. Stopped. Stopped. Tick tock...

“OUT NOW. From the back. JUMP and RUN. RUN!”

We ran and flung ourselves down, waiting for the explosion. Nothing but ticking metal...

Cars took us to be patched up – bumps and bruises. Stitches - I’d sliced my hand. A miracle. Then we played cribbage.

Later, Mary and I took a truck to the crash and sat on the Dodge’s bench-seat with the engine running. Eventually we returned to the hut and there was rye whisky. The control tower guy was there.

Next day Canadian Survey’s Catalina picked us up and we went on to Montreal

Authors Note:
I left a comment on the website and got an email from that Foxe air traffic controller: long-retired, he remembered that day and us
Doug’s son got in touch too: I was able to tell him that his (late) father saved my life.
I suppose the crashed Hudson’s still rotting at Foxe
The Catalina’s in an aviation museum
I don’t know what became of Mary
This is all true.....

Roger Kirkpatrick

Is The World Your Oyster

If you were given the choice

To live where you wish
In this great big World where we live
Would it be a hard decision to take
What considerations would you give
Maybe the Culture or Climate
Comes uppermost in your mind
Is it a sun-kissed solitary Island you seek
Where peace and seclusion you’ll find
Perhaps far North in the Artic
In the land of a thousand nights
The Aurora Borealis
And spectacular Northern Lights
Or are you looking South from there
To the Ffiords in Norway maybe
With a nice little fisherman’s cottage
A boat and fishing trips out to Sea
But it’s cold very cold in these Northern climes
So further South we must go
Have you set your sights on Europe
In Holland or Belgium or France
In a nice little village you know
Past Spain and Portugal as onwards we sail
Past Gibralta to Mediterranean and Sun
We’ve travelled now a good many miles
Since our search for a Home was begun
Will it be Florence , Rome or Venice
Or the North African shore

Or one of the little Greek Islands
Like Kos , Majorca, Minorca or more
I forgot about Sicily and Ibiza
Where holiday-makers go by the flock
But I’m sure if you chose one of these venues
You’d see how they all run amok
So onward we go and we’re out of the Med
Down the West Coast of Africa, South
Avoiding Kenya for Capetown and Durban
Having seen the size of the Lion’s mouth
When we watched the film about Safari
As we cruised in the waters Blue
For apart from eating and drinking
There was little else to do
We’ve changed our mind about South Africa
We’re going to give Jo’burg a pass
As we sail across the Indian Ocean
Thank goodness we’re travelling First Class
‘cos the heat is nearly unbearable
As we are approaching Bombay
So we sail straight on past Singapore and Thailand
Until we reach Australia for a stay
We tried Perth & Adelaide & Queensland & Sydney
But we really weren’t impressed, I must say
So we were back on ship and sailing again
Bound for the U S of A
Like the Pilgrim Fathers in the Mayflowerso long ago
Those dedicated Quakers so plain
But when we docked in the East Coast in Miami
It was full of Holiday Makers……………………… again

And soon we left on our constant search
Only this time we went by train
The journey was long but the miles flew by
As through City and State we chased
I did try to make a note of theme all
But somehow that note got misplaced
We finally arrived in the Big Apple
Which, I must say, lived up to it’s name
For everything there is bigger and better
But that’s the name of the game
It wasn’t the place we’d like to live
Tho’ we’ve travelled far and wide
We’re crossing the Canadian Border
To the land of the Great Divide
And I must say the Canadian Mounted Police
In their Uniform of Scarlet and Blue
Stood out again the snow clad background
Forming a colourful hue
We saw Ontario ,Ottawa and Toronto
With not much further North we could go
For all that was left was Alaska
Frozen wastes like the land of the Eskimo
It’s so long ago since we left the Arctic
And circum-navigated the Globe, that’s nice
To find there’s not a lot here in Alaska
But lots of Snow, Snow Snow Snow & Ice

Dennis Shrubshall
26th December 2007


Your Name: Ashley Jordan
Your Comment: What a fantastic month! It's so exciting to see writing from people who have not entered TheFED Writing Challenge before.  Great work, everyone!  I can't wait to see what you all come up with for the next one!

Your Name: jan hedger
Your Comment: Great stuff Dave - I remember the conception of the 'bird and the boat'!

Your Name: jan hedger
Your Comment: Late run of entries making good reading!
Thanks for sharing your story Marion - well done!

Your Name: jan hedger
Your Comment: Slow but great entries coming in - well done Sally and Lucia!

Your Name: jan hedger
Your Comment: I shouldn't laugh at your 'expense of the school run' but I couldn't help it! You write with such tummy chuckling humour Zahida!

Your Name: Andrew Diamond
Your Comment: You tell it as it is Zahida. When I went to school we used public tranport and feet, a good excuse for being late!

Your Name: jan hedger
Your Comment: Just back from a journey of my own to Birmingham, visiting family. If I write anything it will be called - Motorway and Snaking Red Lights!
Prolific and great work Andrew!
Inspirational Maia

Your Name: Ashley Jordan
Your Comment: Excellent work everyone - I get the feeling you have all been waiting for this particular challenge for a long time :-)  

Your Name: Sue Rabbett
Your Comment: jamie, I found your poem uplifting and inspiring. It lifted me up when I was feeling low.
Thankyou Sue Rabbett

Your Name: jan hedger
Your Comment: Earlier comment gone on a journey to the ether!  So here is a fresh one!
A January Journey of Travel - and we are cruising already - great and varied work everyone! An escape from gloomy skies!

Your Name: Andrew Diamond
Your Comment: As expected, brilliant submissions to commence our journey through 2011. We're off to a flying start!


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