Monthly Archives: July 2017

Unforgettable Mombat

Order of ServiceOn Monday 24th July 2017 we said ta-ra to my mum, ‘Mombat’ to many of you out there in Internet Land. Here’s a brief thing about what turned out to be a very moving and celebratory day. As our three-car cortege left her house we passed her regular postman, Andy. He would regularly pop in and make sure Mum was alright, and she loved to give him mints. As we passed he stood and saluted in an emotional tribute, bless him.

“Blimey, she wasn’t half heavy”

cemeteryThe chapel at Poulton New Cemetery is small, and beautiful. My nephews, tall as the clouds, helped bear the coffin in to the strains of Patsy Cline’s “Crazy”, Mum’s favourite song. I don’t know how many the tiny chapel seats, but plenty of folk were left standing at the back as celebrant Jonathan Worthington began the service. Mum’s favourites, G-Line, had provided a coach to bring people to the service, since there was so little parking there, with Mum’s regular seat 3 left empty save for a picture of her, a simple gesture that touched my heart. Jonathan did us proud, taking us through Mum’s life, and including plenty of anecdotes to pay tribute to her humour as well as the song ‘Unforgettable’, which by crikey, she was. Mum had always told us that “if she went first”, she wanted bright colours and no religion, and Jonathan got it spot on. My sister Julie gave her own personal talk, and sang ‘Sunrise, Sunset’ with close friend Bernie, who called Mum ’Aunty Mum’. Brought a tear to my eye, so it did.

“Bye Mum, say hello to Dad for us”

After poems and more tributes, we moved out to the graveside accompanied by Andy Williams singing ‘Moon River’. Mum’s plot is between a Muriel and a Betty, so I reckon she’ll be alright for gossip. The pale sun hid behind a white veil as we held a short ceremony, including the poem ‘Do Not Stand at my Grave and Weep’ which brought more tears to my eyes. I was amazed at how deep the grave was. We dropped pink carnations (which Dad used to buy Mum regularly) after the coffin, each saying our own goodbye. I noticed Kit kiss her carnation before letting it fall.

“I don’t want a sit down meal, I want a bloody buffet”

CErylars and coach ferried us across town for the wake. At the Golf Club, large screens were showing a slideshow of photos from throughout Mum’s life, and a banner announced ‘Jeanne’s Jolly Send Off’. A memory tree slowly grew leaves as people wrote their Mum memories and tied them on. Mum’s favourite singer, Eryl, had travelled up from Wales, and sang a selection of songs beautifully. Her rendition of ‘I Dreamed A Dream’ The Slush (apparently)had my eyes rimmed with tears again. Mostly, though, we had a right good knees-up, with Eryl leading Mum’s friend May (who had travelled from Llandudno by taxi) and assorted ladies in a dance. Sod it, even I danced – blame the Bailey’s. And it was wonderful to meet Auntie Janet and John again, whom I haven’t seen for about five hundred years, and be reminded by Bernie of the flat I lived in at University back in the last century, where spaghetti hung from the ceiling.

“No, Nay, Never”

As the wake wound up and we said goodbye to the kind people who had come along, we hard-core family hied us away to my sister’s sunny, green garden, where we chatted and laughed and sang many songs. Mum would have loved it.

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UK Indie Litfest 2017

There’s not long to wait now until the 2nd UK Indie Lit Fest in Bradford. Come along to this FREE book event on Saturday 26th August and have a good old natter with me, as well as the chance to meet a wide range of UK Indie authors, poets and publishers.

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Visit the website here: https://www.ukindielitfest.com/

If you register for a FREE ticket before the day, you’ll be automatically entered into a prize draw to win a signed copy of a book from one of the attending authors. Get your tickets here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/uk-indie-lit-fest-tickets-31400928021

Happy 80th birthday, Spam – Spam Cheesecake recipe

SpamI found this a few years ago in a Lancaster charity shop.

Of COURSE I bought it – who wouldn’t? Jay C. HormelPrepare for a bit of a history lesson, along with (obviously) some piss-taking. Here’s the feller to thank for this tasty treat. Jay C. Hormel, son of a butcher, developed SPAM assisted by French chef Jean Vernet. It was ready by late 1936, but as yet was unnamed. Hormel held a New Year party and gave guests a free drink for every name they suggested, and $100 for the winning name. “By the 4th drink people started to show imagination” Yum!Hormel commented. The name SPAM was suggested by actor Kenneth Daigneau, and is short for Shoulder of Pork and Ham, as any fule kno. Some of the other products in this photo show doubtful taste – “Arf” (which I hope wasn’t dog meat), “Dinty Moore” and “Spic” (geddit? Spic and Spam?)

SPAM was launched on an unsuspecting world in May 1937, and was a huge success. During the war it was sent over to Britain, and to Russia where Kruschev said “Without SPAM, we would not be able to feed our army”. American troops were given a special cheaper American Government version of SPAM which lacked the true flavour, probably leading  to the low opinion this true food of the gods has among large numbers of misguided people.

Spam cheesecakeThe book’s got a lot of recipes – some of them seriously WTF. On the left you can learn how to make Spam Cheesecake (no really), while there are also such delights as Spamdoori Chicken Wrap, Nutty Spamburger and Deep Spam Pizza. I have a soft spot for Spam Porcupine – chunks of SPAM, onions & pineapple on cocktail sticks, poked into a cabbage – “the cabbage can be used afterwards for other meals” it says.

Spam sconesMy favourite though has to be SPAM scones, which appear to be normal scones but with chopped SPAM added to the mix. Haven’t dared to try them yet, but the recipe suggests using any leftover scones  on top of a vegetable casserole and baked in a hot oven.

My favourite way to eat SPAM? Sliced thinly, fried to a crispy edge, and popped in a pitta with ketchup or summat. Yum. Do let me know if you’re desperate for me to share further SPAM recipes, you saddoes.

Miss Pink Sings The Blues

APhoto by John Paul Palescandolo & Eric Kazmirek short piece for Miranda Kate’s flash challenge using the picture on the right there. The title was a gift from my lovely friend @sparkleytwinkle, though obviously since she’s not a Forties blues singer in New York the protagonist is not her.


Miss Pink almost purred at the ethereal light that cascaded through the arched blue-glass roof. The old subway station was all curves, from the roof to the track and platform curving on a tight bend. The space would be perfect for her new venture, The Pink Blues Club. The station had been closed at the war’s end, three months ago, and sold off cheaply by a City Hall desperate for funds. The proceeds from her last record had easily covered the cost.

She could just picture it; the platform could be extended over the tracks to form a wall-to-wall floor, a bar would run along the inner wall, a small stage at this end, private booths around the curve at the other. She was willing to bet that the arched roof would give great acoustics. She cleared her throat and sang:

Willow weep for me. Willow weep for me.
Bend your branches down along the ground and cover me.
Listen to my plea. Hear me willow and weep for me.

Lord, but the sound was glorious! She could just imagine a packed Pink Blues Club, glasses clinking, blue smoke curling upwards, happy punters chattering, dancing and spending money, Dizzy playing up a storm behind her. She smiled at the vision. A high sound pierced the silence and echoed at the far end of the platform, around the curve. It sounded a little like a child, laughing. She waited silently for a minute, but it did not repeat. Damn her imagination. She should not have chosen that song. It brought back memories of two small bundles wrapped in black, and being covered with earth beneath a willow tree on a cold, rainy night. Miss Pink shuddered. She had started to hope that those memories might be buried forever. She considered leaving to find a bar for a big, dirty martini, but she had always hated to leave any song unfinished. It seemed as though it would hurt the song’s feelings to leave the end unsung. She snorted at herself; it was only a song after all. Nevertheless, she took a deep breath and threw herself into the second verse.

Gone my lovely dreams. Lovely summer dreams.
Gone and left me here to weep my tears along the stream.
Sad as I can be. Hear me willow and weep for me.

There it was again, that laughter … and now it was joined by another child’s voice, giggling away. Miss Pink jumped a little as two small shadows emerged from behind a rickety booth at the distant end of the platform. God in heaven. The figures skipped along the platform hand-in-hand, laughing. As they got closer she saw they were boy and girl, perhaps three or four years old. What on earth were they doing down here? Where were their parents? Come to that, how had they got down here? This place was locked up tighter than a rat’s fanny. Now they were closer she could see that they were dressed in simple black smocks, and skipped barefoot along the cold stone platform. It was winter, for Christ’s sake, what were their parents thinking of? The children halted before her. They were, she had to admit, remarkably pretty, although their hair could have done with a brush. The boy gave a small bow, and the girl a charming little curtsey.

“Hello, Mother,” they said in unison.

Whisper to the wind and say that love has sinned.
To leave my heart a sign and crying alone.
Murmur to the night and hide her starry light
So none will find me sighing, crying all alone.

Miss Pink’s blood pounded in her ears. Her fingers trembled. Ice pierced her heart. No. No, this could not be; it was impossible. These children had broken in here somehow and were playing some sort of malevolent game.

“Who … who are you?” she asked.

“You never did give us names,” the girl said. “You just squirted us out, smashed our skulls and buried us beneath the willow out back.”

“God in heaven!”

“Oh no,” said the boy, in a tone far beyond his apparent years. “Quite the opposite, in fact. It’s beyond time you paid for the innocent blood you spilled that night.”

“Far beyond,” the girl said. “And look: here comes your train now.”

The rust-red rails began to sing, and a hot wind was pushed out of the tunnel behind Miss Pink.

“But I was … I was in a panic, terrified!” Miss Pink said. “Your father left as soon as he found out I was pregnant. And I was unmarried – if people had found out, my career, my life, would have been ruined. The shame, you see. People don’t forgive that sort of thing.”

“You stole our lives from us that night,” the boy said. “Now it’s our turn to steal yours.”

Miss Pink spun about as the noise from the tunnel rose to a screech. A subway train emerged from the dark mouth with a roar. The driver grinned at her, rotting teeth in a naked skull, and in utter despair she read the destination board: ‘The Flames of Hell’.

Willow weep for me. Willow weep for me.
Bend your branches down along the ground and cover me.
Listen to my plea. Hear me willow and weep for me.

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