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English: I took this image myself at the Austr...

Carrie met me in Costamuchamoulah, award-winning cafe, to regain her

emotional equilibrium, so sorely tried after a Bank Holiday with the


How is your mother-in-law getting on with her mobility scooter? I asked,

mentally focussing on the noun: balance.

Oh, she’s had a couple of parking tickets, but she said that an average driver

will lose over a hundred days in his or her life, looking for a parking space, so

she hasn’t got that kind of time left to waste.

Carpe diem, I nodded.

Carrie picked up on the Latin, but subverted it by commenting:

Oh, yes, she still takes her fish oil every day.  It should give her at least

another hundred days to obstruct the highways. Last week she was

reprimanded for trying to corrupt a warden by offering her a swig from

her hip replacement flask. She claimed that she had just been trying

to cheer her up.

Ah, Ginevra.., I sighed.  What’s a hip replacement flask?

Oh, it’s the aluminium one she bought online when we confiscated the old

pewter and horn one.

(Ginevra in her glory days.  Prohibition not a problem.)

Oh, right. But have you heard from Gyles’ sister, Victoria, recently?

Oddly enough, now you come to mention it- yes.  Only this morning. She says

that the weather in the Charente has been awful recently.  I think she must

be homesick as she included this poem in the letter.

Carrie rummaged in her designer handbag and took out a folded piece of paper.

Read it, she said.


By the eight species of forget-me-nots

remember England now that May is here:

doleful importunity of ringed doves;

primrose coronets shade coy violets.

Deep blue skies with scudding clouds;

pink candyfloss of cherry blossom;

hedgerows cobwebbed by fluffy Old Man’s Beard;

daffodils trumpeting Spring’s arrival-

their nodding heads encourage shyer buds.

Coral quince and resplendent redcurrant,

fronds of forsythia, magnolia

grandiflora and stellata’s waxed flash.

Lambs in aspic slither onto dry straw.

(Orphaned siblings tugging at rubber teats,

held teasingly by triumphant children.)

Brides step out in their soft satin slippers.

Kingcups clustering by water meadows

where cygnets float and moorhen chicks zigzag.

Bluebells burgeon in butterfly-rich haunts.

Cricketers clean and linseed oil their bats.

Not to be in England now May is here

is to forego the birthday of the year.

Robert Browning, only not, Carrie muttered.