Why Do Beautiful Days Hurt the Most?

A poignant post from Yvonne Marjot, with poems from Leonard Cohen and Philip Sydey.

The Knitted Curiosity Cabinet


Temple Wood cairn in Kilmartin Glen, by Lnolan at the English language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7247430

So… there I was, driving home from family visits in England. I crossed the border early in the morning, with a quick stop at Gretna for coffee and to say ‘hello’ to Scotland. I had errands to run in Glasgow, and ended up mid-afternoon on the last leg of the journey to catch my ferry, pushing on through torrential rain in a queue of cars all possibly heading for the same destination. Due to a road closure, I’d been forced to take the long way round, south from Inveraray to Lochgilphead, and then up the back road to Oban. The rain gradually eased and the sky lightened. I passed through an area of poor radio reception and pressed the CD button.

I hadn’t registered it consciously, but over the last few weeks I’ve…

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Poem on the Tube

Last week we had a short holiday in London.  Rosa loves to go there to indulge her love of art, and though I feel more at home among my northern hills, I can always find something to engage me on our trips to the capital.  I worked in central London for sixteen years, but I’ve worked my way through its museums and other interesting places much more thoroughly in the years since we moved north (also about sixteen, coincidentally).

It was a good little holiday, but on this trip I was reminded of one of the things I didn’t like about working in London.  Arriving at a tube station at half past five en route to Waterloo I found myself on a platform so full that there was barely room to move.  Then, when the train arrived, packed with people, the few who were able to get on it barely made a dent in the throng.  Somehow I managed to position myself in the right place to squeeze into the last bit of space on the next one.  For the next few minutes, I was then wedged, unable to move, between the door and half a dozen other people, through whom I had to push to get to the far door when the train stopped.

Anyway, all this reminded me of a poem I wrote a good few years ago when this was almost a daily occurrence ….

In a Tube Train

Forgive me; weight of numbers, not my will

imposed this man upon your private space.

My eyes have little choice but rest upon

this woman’s face that fills my whole perception.

I feel I know you: hollow cheeks and lines

too deep for one your age all speak to me

of sleepless nights and proud hopes long eroded

into sand. Upon the breath we share

I taste the sad perfume of love decaying.

I am a part of you; imprisoned, thumbnail

size, I stare back from your fishbowl eyes

that hold without possessing.

At last the train

sets free its captives, flesh recoils and lungs

receive the air denied them for so long.

You leave in haste, but at the door you stop,

look back, you realise. We were more close

than lovers. I was in your eyes ..

… and you in mine.



It’s an ill wind …

Here’s a light-hearted little piece I wrote at Holmfirth Writers a while back.  I can’t remember what the exercise was, exactly, but the idea behind the piece was that there is no event so terrible that you can’t find somebody or other who has reason to be glad it happened.

I stress that this is a work of fiction and the views expressed are not those of the author!


Thank God for the sinking of the Titanic!  Don’t get me wrong – it was a terrible shame all those people had to drown – but if one of them in particular, the Honourable Archibald Crenshaw, had not made his unscheduled trip to the bottom of the Atlantic, my grandmother would certainly have married him and doubtless given birth to a brood of Etonians rather than the rather more down to earth litter she and my grandfather eventually produced.

Thanks are also due to Gavrilo Princip for being so kind as to murder the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, for otherwise there would have been no First World War – or at least, not quite the same one that actually happened. And where on earth would we be without the First World War and especially, of course, the Battle of the Somme. It was only due to the skill of the German machine-gunner who shot him in the hip that my grandfather found himself in the hospital where he met his future wife, who after four and a half years had finally got over the watery demise of her previous fiance. I must say, the man’s accuracy was phenomenal. A couple of inches to the left and it would have been a mere flesh wound. A couple to the right and … well, let’s just say he wouldn’t have been in a position to father any children.

Moving on a bit, acknowledgements are also due to Adolf Hitler and Hermann Goering. Were it not for the Blitz, my mother would not have been evacuated to Harrogate or encountered the shy, bespectacled youth she got to know there. Even then, things were touch and go for a while. He dithered for years, and hadn’t yet got round to asking her out by the time when, newly called-up, he was posted to the Far East and thus finally forced into action. But if the war had dragged on, who’s to say what would have happened? Would the nascent flame of love have been strong enough to survive a lengthy separation? Indeed, would my father have succeeded in avoiding the shells and bullets of the Japanese? So three cheers for the atomic bombs, I say! Had they not been dropped, I would not be here to tell this tale.