A Network of Writing and Community Publishers

November 2011

04 May 2012

Requiem for John

John is coming to number 506 leaning heavily on his crutches. "They called me twenty seven pills John." John is cutting down the pills, doesn't walk on crutches anymore and his talk is beginning to make sense. He always talked from his own experience, slowly, clearly, like he was talking to small children. He repeats the same simple message again and again. Someday it might sink for somebody. "If he will open his mouth again one more time, I shall leave." Of course he talks again and I never left. He didn't hurt anybody and he never offended me. He was a good man and he took me under his wing and his talks began to make a sense even to me.

When I was walking to the party with a lonely lesbian in the tow and a cake in my hand, the lesbian asked me:

"Where are you going?"

"To the party."

"I am coming with you."

"You can't." And I slam the door into her face.

We are at the party in the fourth floor apartment with the balcony. It is smoke free apartment. At one moment all of us are standing on the balcony, smokers and nonsmokers alike, and John, who was rather round, is coming to join us. The balcony is already full and I get suddenly scared, that the balcony will not hold all of us.

"John, you can not come here, or all of us will fall." John backed up and I hurriedly finished my cigarette and walked back to the apartment.

I left the party early afraid of conversations, because I am not willing to listen to anybody else then myself.

John approaching me on the porch of 506 is trying to penetrate a hard shell. Sometimes something sunk.

I am coming back from the long lasting trip and limping downstairs. It is three of us with an injured leg and John was one of us.

John who was able to give up smoking long time ago is standing with us outside on the freezing day and is trying to tell what he is doing with his life.The hard shell is cracking little bit. He is buying, selling and making little profit. He is coming to the house, when we are moving.

He is putting tasty cakes and Halloween candies on the table next to me.

"John is trying to fatten you up." John is smiling little shy smile.

"I live across the street." I came to borrow movie Titanic and returned after two days. "Do something with your life. I go regularly to fire company."

John stopped coming. He went to Reading instead.

Couple days ago John was strangled by another man who trespassed Do not kill amendment.

I do not cry, but I am sorry, John. I will not meet you anymore. What the way to go!

Marie Neumann


Friendship is not a commodity
But something to be earned
As I travel through my life
It’s something that I’ve learned
It’s Oh! too easy to scoff or laugh
Or take a name in vain
But amity is so important
And that’s why I’ll now explain
When you meet someone for the first time
A certain impression they’ll make
Then it’s up to you to follow it up
And decide which avenue you’ll take
If you’ve both got off to a really good start
And each on the other depends
You’ll each work hard to achieve your goal
And eventually become in-separable friends

Dennis Shrubshall
26th November 2010

Friends of Yesteryear

What happened to the friends of yesteryear
Where are they all today
How have they drifted away from your life
It’s always hard to say
For when you are young you don’t realise
Companionships happen quite fast
But friendships seem to take much longer
And they are the ones that may last
Remember for instance that last year at school
Where everyone had a best mate
But knowing how long it would stay that way
Was difficult to contemplate
Then on to a working environment
How did you cope with the vast change
Where now a lifetime’s career you’d select
From a really enormous range
Did you make a new pal in those early years
Which into a fond friendship grew
Confiding in each others secrets
As you travelled these Avenues anew
But then the years flew by at incredible speed
And from teenage to adulthood you sped
Perhaps met your Belles or favourite Beaux
And finished up happily wed
But all the time this was going on
New lasting friendships were often made
Building a lifelong Amity
Over many a past decade
But as you grow older the list of friends of the past
Seems to diminish slowly year on year
And then the question comes to your mind
Will they all eventually just disappear
But you know in your heart that won’t be the case
Some friendships are Eternal, never fear
So once again I’ll pose this difficult question
What happened to all those Friends of Yesteryear

Dennis Shrubshall
16th October 2011

('absent friend' in Gaelic)

Oh but for a thousand heartaches lost and gone
I would remember thee, as strong as fate
And know how love has bound my soul
To cobweb chambers, chained my eyes
From those who dream in silent prayer
For what they cannot have.

A cankered time is all my age
A mother gone, no kith nor kin for comfort now.
To see me whole for what I am
Where others mock and feel no pain
For those that they have slain and who
With backs turned to a distant sun
Go running from themselves.

You see me as I am, to never judge
The things that I should say and do
According to the rule of thumb
That others seem to follow to
A grave of their own making.



The joy of a new-born puppy who will bring comfort and unconditional love to someone who may be lonely.  The home is empty, no-one to greet you when you open the door.  But that wag of a tail and a nod of a head saying

“I am glad you have come home.”  

Pauline Faulkner

Lost and Found

My heart sank.   My beautiful and best companion Merlin, a very handsome greyhound, took flight, frightened out of his life by the sting of a wasp.

After weeks of gaining his confidence not to be scared by the terrible things that had happened to him during his short life in Spain.

I am so reliant on his love helping me to cope with the loneliness I feel, I could not imagine my life without him now.

Where do you start looking?  Calling Merlin. Merlin, stopping, asking people have you seen a greyhound?

I was just about to give up and go home when a kindly voice called out to me

“Have you lost a dog?”

“Yes, yes” I replied.

“He has been found and he is on his way home.”

My legs didn't seem to move quick enough and it seemed ages before I arrived home.

There he was, safe and sound.  When I looked up I could not believe my eyes.  It was my neighbour who had found him.

I could not thank her enough for her kindness and we both shed tears of relief and joy.

Pauline Faulkner


Who knows where a random act of kindness will lead.  Sometimes it brings a new friendship and sometimes it rekindles an old one.

Ashley Jordan


When I think of giving
I think of you
Each time I make a difference
It was you who inspired my actions

For every smile I receive in return
I am thankful to you
And whenever the world feels a safer place
I am grateful to you
Thoughts are most successful when they are for others
That is what you have taught me
And this heart is full of love for you
Now I have fallen and you have caught me

Antony May

Firm Friends

I've known you for a few years now and we've become firm friends.  You've shared a lot of your troubles with me.  I've always done my best to listen and I will never ever judge you.  
I guess I've gained your trust in me just for me being who I am.  You've trusted me with looking after your kids when you've had to go somewhere.  They are valuable to you and you trust me to care for them as I do my own.  If I ever have a problem I know I can always phone you up and you'll do your best to advise me.  I trust you too.  Thank you for being my friend.
Debbie Feltz


A Miracle
I wonder how it went before
The Internet arrived with us
I am so far from homeland shore
My friends I'd lose in days of yore
To Writers' Groups I still belong
Without the meetings to attend
I know Ashley will read ere long
And that my words won't come out wrong!
A miracle it is to know
That with my friends I join each week
My limited talents to show
My compositions row by row
Thank you so much, Microsoft
To give the chance to write each week
Thoughts which cross my mind at times oft
And keep my spirits well aloft
Henry Dallimore



How do you show your gratitude to someone who has given so much.  

No gift can be enough, money cannot buy such devotion.  

All you can do is be there for them, should they be in need.

Pauline Faulkner



Generosity and kindness
Events of giving gifts
Never counting the cost
Ending of death and error
Reaching inside to give of yourself
Opening your heart to others
Simple acts of charity
Inspiring others
Testing of ideals
Yearning to share

Sue Horncastle

Special People

Generosity is a very special thing to do by giving to charity and helping other people in need, for sick children and adults.

Friends are special people who are there for you when you need help with anything and when you are lonely.

Maria Gethin


Over the years I’ve made many friends. I have friends that have shared my life’s experiences, through the good times and the bad, ready to lift my spirits when I’m feeling sad. Friends welcome you at any time of the day or the night, to give you a hug or hold you tight.

True friends help work out your woes; they defend you from your enemies and foes. Friends give willingly and expect nothing back; they give you love and lots of respect.

Sue Rabbett



Friendship is when your friends are hanging around with you no matter what has happened, and will always be there for you. Your friends will always come out to play together. Friends will never leave you out of their games. Your friends will never say "No!" to you joining in a game. Friends will always look out for you and after you if you are hurt. Friends will always like you and laugh at you when you tell a funny joke. Friends will never hurt you on purpose.

Chloe Feltz


Our Albert likes a drink with the lads
At the local on top of the clough
Been darn pit, feeling rough
Our Albert likes a drink with the lads
In ragged clothing, not the fads
To drown away life that’s tough
Our Albert likes a drink with the lads
At the local on top of the clough

Mark Crittenden


Friendship is not something you should take for granted. In fact you should be very lucky to experience such a thing! Friendship with a friend, give or take, you will experience the good things and the bad things. Someone to cry on their shoulder. Someone who will understand you. But most important of all, someone who will always be there for you!

Sophie Feltz


Family of my choosing
Rally to my aid
In moments of crisis
Even when disaster strikes, I
Neither fear nor
Doubt that they will come
Saving me from
Hardship and
Inconvenience. I am
Protected by my circle of friends

Ashley Jordan


Fun and laughter
Reflecting memories
Important bonds
Encouraging one another
Never give up
Shadows playing
Holding together
Interesting times
Pals for life!

Sue Rabbett


Who'd have thought that all those years ago we'd still be best friends today. We met at Primary school and we were inseparable. We stood up for each other and backed each other up whenever the going got tough. Of course, we did have other friends as well, but we were always together.

When we went to secondary school we had a massive falling out. It was looking grim as neither of us wanted to make up EVER!!! Then our mums, who were friends, made us meet up and talk. We managed to sort out everything and got back on track again. In fact, we were stronger than ever. Every Saturday we'd go out somewhere together. We were always round each others houses. We shared everything no matter what it was about.

When we left school and took up our chosen career paths we weren't at the same college, but communication between us never died as we had our mobiles and face-book. We'd go on double dates with our boyfriends sometimes too. We always comforted each other in times of sadness too. We were bridesmaids at each others weddings. When we got pregnant we shared our pains and worries. Our babies will grow up together and hopefully be strong friends just like us. I had a girl, she had a boy. Who knows what the future holds for any of us. I guess we'll just have to watch this space.......

Debbie Feltz


My best friend

My best friend is Bill.  He is the same age as me.  We are both 22. I’ve known him for 9 years, ever since I moved to Hastings in September 2002. A lot has happened since then.

Bill and I drink together.  We watch football on TV.  I support Arsenal and so does Bill.

Weused to play fight together.  It was always choreographed and we used to tell each other what was going to happen.  When we were 13 or 14 we used to go to the Community Centre together.  We used to do football and drum & base.  We went every Wednesday from 7.30 to 9.30pm.  That club doesn’t run any more because of David Cameron’s government cuts.

Marc Everest

Friendship means

Friendship means...
Instant connection,
saying the same words
at the same time
and a ray of understanding
between two people.

It also means:
"I need somebody
to take care of my cat."
"Sure he can stay."
I am not to good at that,
but I am learning.

It also means
we know each other
for very long time.
Web connected long time ago.
Today nothing
can break these ties -
only an ultimate breaker.

It also means
a little, shy smile:
"Good morning",
when we offer a new one.

Marie Neumann

A Good Friend

There is nothing in this world quite like a good friend
Your personalities just seem to blend
Good times together you will always spend
When you need something they’re always there to lend
If things fall apart they’re there to help amend
Always keeping you up with the trends
When you’re not very well, best wishes they will send
To your every need they will tend
Until they’re happy you’re on the mend
If your in danger, or threatened they will always defend
They are loyal people on which you can depend
You’re every birthday party they will attend
Even though they may sometimes drive you around the bend
They always come with good intends
A good friend will stay with you until the end
There is nothing in this world quite like a good friend

Liz Jury


New friends, old friends and some you hardly ever see friends as they live too far away. To have text messages so you can keep in touch where ever you are. A very good friend of mine who I met when our first born babies were only 6 weeks old lives in London and I moved here. We try to see each other in school holidays whenever we can.

Although our older children who were once a real naughty double act have kind of grown apart. Our younger children play together really well when we get together. It's good to catch up with my friend though and see how she's been doing. It's also good when they go home as they use up soooo much loo roll and drink all my drink and eat all my food after inviting themselves for dinner every night and messed up my house. I do and I don't miss them.

True friends are often very hard to find as the mums outside school are way too cleeky to let anyone else in and look down their noses at me. I don't really care because I have my own group of friends outside of school and a couple of other mums with kids in other years to mine.

True friends will always listen to each other and be there when a friendly face is needed. So thank you all my friends.

Debbie Feltz


Friendship is sharing experiences when you're hurt or upset.  Confiding in someone to talk to and doing things together.  Having interests in common.  Share your worries, laugh and joke.  Sometimes you think a lot of them.  Eat together, be loyal, love and protect each other.  Lend money to and go to church together.  Pray together for people.  Find new hobbies and spend quiet time together.

Sue Horncastle

Pilgrimage to Wildernesse

Sitting beyond the vegetable patch, lay a deserted cottage
Roughened, white-washed walls, topped by a red slated roof.
Sliding off the saddle, I left my horse to graze
A rest would be good for him, as the hill had been steep.
This is where he had lived; a place where the eagle cried
And the Loch (lake) washed the shallow, pebbled shore
As he built an isolated friendship; with the solitary land.

As red as the earth, a thick coated fox flashed by
Startling the horse. A reassuring hand ‘steady girl’.
The animal went to ground in the steeply rising hill
Chased off his kill, by the beady eye of a Golden Eagle
Circling lazily above the cottage, enjoying the thermals
Emanating from the mist, hovering on the hushed loch
Which he had rowed across, for the last time, breaking,
The bond but leaving a long lasting legacy of friendship.

Author's Note: This piece of work was written in a rough draft, during a workshop set by Derek Smith - Fed Fest Nov 10. Us participants were given six words - one word to be used in each line of a two verse, six line poem. The six words given - to me immediately spoke of one man and his life.

Mike Tomkies lived for 12 years in an isolated croft, on the far shore of Loch Sheil, studying, filming and writing about wildlife.

I have read and re-read his books many times - he speaks not just of the romance of living in such stunning surroundings - but of the harsh reality of the isolated life.

For 8 of those 12 years his loyal companion was Moobli, a large, intelligent German Shepherd dog. When Moobli died, Mike was grief stricken, but struggled on alone at Wildernesse for 2 more years to complete his filmimg of eagles. Man and dog had a special bond and a friendship, that went far beyond friendship. When he did indeed row across the loch for the last time, he knew he would never return.

For this theme of friendship - I have re-worked the poem adding a couple of more lines.

Jan Hedger

I Love You

I love you, what more can I say
And that’s how it’s been since the day
That someone suggested I ask you out.
How could it be that someone like you would go out with me?
But I plucked up the courage; had tickets to a wrestling match,
Though you wouldn’t go, you firmly said, “No.”
Then there was a dance and I took a chance to ask you to that
And you said, “Yes.” More appropriate I guess.
One of the nicest teas I had was when I met your mum and dad.
My parents approved, so that was okay and we started to plan our wedding day.
We went on from there, more than forty years.
Engagement and marriage, shared hopes, shared fears.
Two kids, umpteen cats, lots of fun, lots of spats.
I haven’t been easy, not always a joy,
Perhaps you should have gone for a different boy.
I know that I’ve sometimes been an embarrassment;
Technically, you could have done me for harassment.
But you stood beside me through thick and through thin
At times when you just should have thrown the towel in.
You just saw it through, because that’s what you do.
I love you, there’s nothing more I can say
And that’s how it will be till my dying day.

Andrew Diamond
Goodmayes Writers


A brass plate namechecks a local woman
neither Tom nor Jim can remember, yet if
she drank in the Railway Tavern, the Queen’s
or the Maynard anytime in the last thirty years,
they must have known her, might have liked
her, or even loved her. They agree this view,
looking out over Crouch End from Ally Pally
is still their favourite, after two lifetimes of
travel for work & pleasure, and sitting on
benches, cliffs or hillsides all over the world.

They come back to their favourite day here,
Capital Jazz Festival 1978, with B.B. King,
Muddy Waters, and Dizzy Gillespie
so stoned he gave the crowd a contact high.
They’ve given that up, but they’re still here,
when so many of their friends are gone.
Nowadays they’re starting to look alike
though they didn’t back in their heyday,
and Louise always said she could tell
them apart in the dark. Jim’s daughter

was conceived right around then, perhaps
even that very Saturday, Louise never said,
he thinks he recalls good love that night.
Now he remembers this mornings mail,
folded into his pocket on the way out.
A letter & photos of Mary in New York,
with someone called Gary in Central Park.
She looks so like Louise, not him at all.
Suddenly he can see Tom in her eyes.
Jim passes Tom the photos. Ah, he says, Ah.

Brian Docherty
Word for Word Writers Group

Friends; Always

Posted in memory of Amanda -a true friend and artist, who sadly died aged just 21 - she would have been 25 today - Happy Birthday sweetheart. Miss you but remember you with laughter and a smile xxx

She sent me a feather
From her gossamer wings
Knowing I needed comfort
Belief and her support
As always

My heart skipped a beat
As I picked up the feather
And held it soft in my hand
As I will hold the memory of her
With me, always

Such a gentle feather
Like the gentlest of smiles
That adorned her pretty face
I’ll smile with you, and
For you, always

I imagine the feather
Dipped in paint of purest blue
Bringing life to a blank canvas
At the touch of her hand
An artist, always

A pure white downy feather
From the breast of a bird
Flying free in the sky
The wonder of nature loved by her
And by me, always

This feather brings these words
A tribute to her faith
In me and in my poetry
Amanda, my inspiration

Jan Hedger


Toffee was a lovely cat
And she loved me, I’m sure of that.
She’d sit upon my lap and purr,
I’d scratch her head and stroke her fur
And she would snuggle close to me,
A little bit of ecstasy.
She always knew when things were bad,
She seemed to sense when we were sad
And she would come to comfort us,
Just be around, without a fuss.
A skinny Tabby, big green eyes
And neutered, to put off the guys.
She spent most of her time indoors,
She licked her bottom, cleaned her paws,
But that is what a cat will do;
I bet you couldn’t do it too.
She liked a stroke, but not a poke;
Was always there to share a joke.
A little dim, easy to fool her
But impossible to rule her.
She wasn’t very fond of food
It seemed to hurt her when she chewed
But once the vet had done her teeth
It seemed to give her some relief.
She didn’t like our Tortoiseshell,
The one we call the cat from hell.
They’d hiss and fight, yet in the night
They’d sleep together, curled up tight.
We had Toffee as a kitten,
She chose us and we were smitten.
She fitted in so easily,
A mainstay of the family.
And she was there for eighteen years,
She gave us joy and also fears.
She once got stuck up in a tree;
The firemen came to set her free.
Then she grew old and lost her mind,
So we decided it was kind
To take her to the vet one day
And now our Toffee’s gone away.
A gentle soul, a little friend
Who trusted us right to the end
And there won’t be another cat
That I will ever love like that.

Andrew Diamond
Goodmayes Writers

The Irish Question

The British the Irish,
So near yet so far.
They speak the same language,
They both like a jar.
They marry each other,
Are personal friends.
It’s time that their national
Enmity ends.
The Queen’s recent visit,
The warm McAleese,
Has proved to the world
That it’s best to seek peace;
That hatred and bloodshed
Are terrible ends
And it’s better to open
Our hearts and be friends.
A difficult task
That we need to achieve
Despite all our deities.
Or am I naive?

Andrew Diamond
Goodmayes Writers

The Survivor

Three soldiers in a shell hole.
He was in the middle.
The guys on either side
Took bullets and they died,
Both shot in the head.
Three mates, now two were dead.
He was in a hell hole;
Mud and blood and piddle,
But he was alive.
He knew that he’d survive.
So, he got up and ran
Then died, a nice old man.

Andrew Diamond
Goodmayes Writers


Friends and family, people who care,
Sharing a tear or sharing a smile,
They’re always there, or so you think;
Then after a while something will change,
You’ll quarrel and part, or someone will die,
Time for goodbye, your friendship has gone
And you’re left on your own, but it’s not the end
If you teach yourself how to be your own friend!

Andrew Diamond
Goodmayes Writers


Your Name: jan hedger
Your Comment: Wow Garet - what amazing powerful words strung into such a meaningful poem - Shivered as I thought of me...

Your Name: Ashley Jordan
Your Comment: Fantastic entry Garet :-)  I love the title!

Your Name: Jan Hedger
Your Comment: A 'rush' of friendship - how absolutely wonderful!!!

Your Name: Andrew Diamond
Your Comment: Great writing this month. Dennis, you've summed up life's journey. Thanks for your comment Ashley; an animal can be a better friend than many people.

Your Name: Jan Hedger
Your Comment: Brian - I went to Ally Pally for the first time a couple of weeks ago - so I could visualise the park bench - moving and wonderful poem!

Your Name: Jan Hedger
Your Comment: Oh bless you Ashley xx
I think it goes to show how important friends are to each and everyone of us, albeit human or animal. I officially declare Nov 11 - friendship month! We already have great, funny and poignantly moving poems to start us off.  Looking forward to catching up with friends at Saturday's Fed! xx

Your Name: Ashley Jordan
Your Comment:  Good grief - I was only out for a few hours and when I got home I had all this waiting for me.  Andrew - your 'Toffee' entry is the first writing challenge entry to make me cry and Jan's 'Friends; Always' was the second!  I'm going to have to compose myself before commenting on the rest!  This is the best start to a Writing Challenge I have ever seen - how long have you all been waiting for this theme?


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