Thursday, 20 April 2023

WEP - LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL APRIL 2023

 


 

WEP CHALLENGE April 2023 – LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL

N.B.

I have never heard of this film, never seen it.  I took the title as my theme, presumably not relatable to the film.

HERE IS MY STORY:

 

LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL

Jorja trekked up the hillside, her feet hurt and her hips were beginning to protest never mind what her back was saying.  She pumped her arms, breathed in short pants until she was at the top.  She sat on the rock which had already been smoothed by many bottoms taking a rest.  The cold granite feel of the rock seeped in to her bones, through her bloodstream and into her brain.

Life is beautiful.

She drew in a deep breath, tilted her head up to the sky and let out an almighty scream.  Once she started, she couldn’t stop.  Gasping for breath, she counted her heart beats – too fast.  She needed to slow down her pulse.  Steadily she breathed in through her nose and out through her mouth.  Again.  Again. Again, and again. 

Several minutes or maybe hours passed by.  Luckily, she had the place to herself, maybe because of the early start.  Up at dawn after a sleepless night, hubby snoring lightly.  She left him a note so he didn’t worry, ‘cos he would worry that she wasn’t in a good place.

Life is beautiful.

Why did people keep saying that? 

What about her life that was so beautiful?  She knew she was on a real downer but she was doing her best to get out of her funk and the only way she knew how was to go back to nature and the wonders of the world.

Life is beautiful.

Who kept saying it?  Why was it in her mind all the time?  It was as though some other entity was trying to break through and help her.  She heard the voice.  It was comforting.  The cynic in her vied with the spirituality of her nature.  She knew spirits would help her.  They always had done.  She couldn’t tell anyone because she’d been accused of being ‘weird’ of being ‘witchy-like’, of being ‘odd.’

Somebody once told her she wasn’t any of those things.  She was unique and special. 

Life is beautiful.

Someone was coming, she could feel the rhythmic thump of feet as they traversed up the hill to her resting place.  A slow breath touched her face.  A hand placed gently on her knee.  She looked in to her husband’s face and saw compassion, understanding and all the love in the world he could give her without speaking.

Life is beautiful.

As she felt his calming presence, she took a deep sigh and nodded, turned and gave Gerry a tremulous smile.  He murmured ‘it’s alright.’  He was never one for a lot of words but it was more than enough to know that he understood her.

They held hands and looked out on the vista.  Jorja heard the call of the birds as they soared and floated on the draughts, so beautiful and peaceful to watch.  They didn’t have a care in the world, except survival and looking for the next meal, other than that they enjoyed the wind, the freedom, going where it took them. 

Gerry opened his back pack and took out a thermos of coffee, poured her a cup and then one for himself.  They sat there in quiet contemplation, sipping the black aromatic coffee, the smell re-energising as much as drinking the liquid did.

This, this is what made her life beautiful.

Back to reality and the hurt from the deceit, the secrecy but hey-ho life threw you the bends in the road, potholes to navigate, she would not fall through them again, she’d come so far, even leaving her family to live on the other side of the world. 

Ha! Family! Such a dysfunctional lot of self-centred, egotistic, manipulative women …….. somehow, they snagged men who believed in them, believed every lie that came out of their mouths.

Stop it, Jorja, just stop it. 

Telling herself off seemed to help.  She couldn’t change what had happened.  She couldn’t change what people thought, she could only move on.  Help where she could and she would help.  She would hold the hurt deep inside but she would help.

Two weeks later and now she really understood that life truly was beautiful.  The new born grandson was a joy to behold.  He was just gorgeous.  She didn’t know her heart could expand to take in a love for the new baby as well as encompassing the love she already felt for her granddaughter.

Life is beautiful.

A new home for her and her husband.  A new baby.  A new life to enjoy, to watch grow, to nurture, to love, her family was expanding. 

Thanks to the benefits of technology, she could share her joy with friends and family, pictures, face-time, Skype, Zoom and all the other benefits this technological revolution has brought into their lives, so much quicker than six weeks waiting for an air mail letter or hard copy photos. 

Yes, life is beautiful when you allow it to be.

 

A baby boy as easy as pie

New born blue eyes

All knowing

All seeing

Born wise

Born before dawn

With a mighty yawn

A stretch of his fingers

Long limbs, gangly

Murmurs, and baby sounds

She held him against her chest

Feeling less stressed

By the minute

Heart beat to heart beat

Rhythmic

Tick, tick, tick

Joining in unison

With her beautiful grandson

 

Life is beautiful

Life is full of joy.  You just have to watch for the moments, drink them in, treasure them, remember them and pull them out when the going gets tough.

She has to move forward, let her daughter and little family enjoy themselves and grow as a unit. 

No interference.

She would not interfere.

She has learnt from her own lessons, from her own mother, what is not the right way.  Jorja’s way is different, there to help but not interfere. 

That will be her mantra – do not interfere and then life will be beautiful for everybody.

 

Word count 977

 

 

 

 


Friday, 17 February 2023

 


Starting 2023 theme with the YEAR OF THE MOVIES

Our first challenge is GONE WITH THE WIND

I would like to thank the WEP team for all their hard work behind the scenes to come up with such brilliant themes, overcoming personal challenges to keep WEP a success. 


Here is my contribution to our first challenge of 2023



TAGLINE:  The world is changing. 

THE RETURN

Fly my beauty

Fly on the thermals

Spread your wings

Soar high

Swoop and feed in flight

Come back to me my beauty

Speed back with the wind in your feathers

Land on my wrist

Bring your message

As I praise your effort

You reward me with sounds of joy

 


Run my beauty

The wind blowing at your rear

Taking me to our destination

Slow your place, beauty

I’ll give you your head

Take me far and wide

Scout the locations

Find the oasis in the desert

The palm fronds wafting in the wind

Gone with the dust of the sand

We will run further

 

AKRAM


Akram was tired, so very tired.  He’d been travelling for four months trading with many people, swapping stories, finding out the world news, some of it quite frightening, he wasn’t sure how safe life was going to be in the future.

His loyal companions had picked him up when he was homesick and feeling down, as he did the same with them. Together they made a brilliant team whether they were selling, buying, importing or exporting, always having each other’s backs.  Not everything went smoothly on this trip, unfortunately some fighting had been involved and he had a few scars to prove it.  He wasn’t looking forward to explaining that when he returned home to Ariana.

A cry went up from the lead horseman who pointed in to the distance.  Akram followed the direction of the finger, there – there was the first glistening dome, if he squinted, he could make out the spires of the beautiful palace.  

As they entered triumphantly through the city gates, marvelling again at the brick structures built by the ancients of old, he felt euphoric but also slightly edgy.  He looked around and could see slight signs of neglect, the maintenance of the buildings was not up to his standard.  How could it have deteriorated within the few months they had been absent. 

The stench became overpowering, drains were overflowing, refuse was piled up in the streets, horse dung and other animal droppings added to the smell.  He would certainly be calling the council the first opportunity he had.

First though, the major thought in his head was to greet Ariana and his son, she would have to wait a little while. He could see her through the upstairs window, looking down at him from their bedroom chamber, she smiled at him, he could feel her love and patience emanating through the air.  She understood he must tend to his horse first, then himself before he would be able to greet her properly.  She would not want to kiss him with the odour of travelling that had seeped in to the fabric of the cloth he was wearing. He would also bathe but quickly, there would be time for luxury wallowing in hot water the next day.

Akram bounded up the stone stairs, he stopped outside the door to their quarters, he was suddenly nervous, a grown man like him, strong, powerful, mighty, the leader of the city, a respected businessman and the thought of greeting his wife had stopped him in his tracks.

Swallowing the lump in his throat, smoothing his hands down his tunic, he gathered his courage and opened the door.

Ariana turned slowly as he entered, her eyes took him in, she drank the very essence of him, he could feel the love pouring out of her heart and in to his.  As he looked, he could see the perfect roundness of her tummy, full of child, her figure encompassing their passion.  A couple of deep brown eyes peeked out from behind her skirts.

‘Eyad, my boy,’ Akram knelt down as Eyad rushed to his father and fell in to his embrace, he picked his son up and moved to Ariana, using his other arm he gathered her to him, breathed a huge sigh of relief as they stood, foreheads together, two united (plus one and one waiting) as their love for each other and their small but growing family emanated from them.

 

ARIANA

He was back. He was back but for how long this time?  Oh, she understood his work, she understood the toll his leadership took on him.  She understood she was his haven, his oasis, his rock, his safe space. 

She understood her job was to keep him happy, to look after their children, to bear more children as and when they were fortunate enough to have more.

She understood the world was changing.  She understood there were wars to fight, diplomacy to negotiate, horrendous acts of violation against races, genders, creeds, too many to mention.  She understood being a woman with her man.  Not everybody understood their way of life. 

She was the power behind the leader, never seen to demean him in public, a smiling, beautiful face with their lovely family.  In their bedchamber, they would discuss all aspects of their lives.  Her perspective gave him new outlooks on ways to approach others.  He was always grateful to her for her guidance and wisdom.

She knew she had what others might call second sight, visions, the problem was knowing a timeframe.  Ariana sighed and snuggled closer to Akram, she felt his arms encompass her as their love for each deepened, became overwhelming at times.

ABDALHADI



Abdalhadi knew the time had come

He had to take Akram away from home

Again, they must journey far and wide

To remain neutral or take sides

To preserve their lands

Travelling through the dust and sand

A fortune to be made or lost

 

 Word count: 931





Tuesday, 13 December 2022

THE FIRST TIME I SAW YOUR FACE - WEP DEC 2022

 


This is our last challenge for 2022 - what a year it's been!  

Here is my entry:


THE FIRST TIME EVER I SAW YOUR FACE

 

‘Come on, let’s go down to the fence!’

I didn’t want to get in to trouble, never had and hopefully never would but somehow, I was pulled to the fence separating my girls’ only school with the boys’ only school whose grounds were far down the edge of the school perimeter kept apart by the chain link fence.

I tagged along with the other three girls, Mary, Susan and Beth as we quickened our steps, trying to act ‘cool’ at 15 years old and not look too eager to chat to some boys.  A gaggle of spotty, long-haired boys, acne appearing on some, whiskers sprouting on others, the beginning of a moustache on others were already hanging around in the dip of the slight hill.

We were hidden from view of the school, we hoped, the teachers rest room was on the other side of the building so we felt relatively safe from their prying eyes.

There he was.  My stomach flipped, my throat was dry and I wished I had slicked a smear of Vaseline over my lips – it was supposed to look sexy according to Mary.  Mary who came to school with subtle eyeshadow, darkened eye lids, flawless skin, no breakout of spots for her at certain times of the month.  She also wore dangling earrings, not the standard, allowable, gold studs that all the other girls wore, a bit of a rebel was our Mary.

Blonde curls, green eyes, not very tall perhaps but it was difficult to tell with us standing in a dip and the boys posing on the other side on slightly higher ground. 

Then he spoke.  All these years later I can’t remember what words were spoken but his image burned in to my brain from behind my retinas.  Oh, my! A deep voice, a sexy voice, a noticeable Adam’s Apple, not prominent but manly. 

My mind said, stop fidgeting, stand still, uncross your arms from your breasts, take a deep breath and stick them out a bit more whilst holding in a non-existent tummy.  My skirt was already turned up at the waist band, only once but it was enough to bring the hem up and over my knees by a good inch or so. 

Then we heard the pips go summoning us back to class.  We dashed by to our respective rooms, tummies rumbling as we hadn’t had chance to eat our lunches.  How on earth was I supposed to concentrate on maths (not my best subject anyway) when all I could think about was his face.

I dreamt of him that night.  Friday night, Saturday night, Sunday night without seeing him.  Monday came as I waited for lunch break, thoughts of our clandestine meetings were interrupting my concentration on French grammar, us girls and those boys.  I was only interested in the one boy.  The other faces paled in to insignificance.

The week flew by, I lost more weight by using up lunch time space to visit.  Gradually over the weeks my friends lost interest in the boys and played netball in the lunch time.  Not me.  I had to keep seeing his face. 

Six weeks of summer holidays, home with my mother and brother, Dad was away on board ship for 18 months, some already passed, letters received once a month from this strange man on flimsy airmail letter papers.  I got a job working as a Saturday girl in the local village shop, that filled in a good 12 hours once a week.

Somehow the weeks and days flew by, then I was back travelling to school every day.  I sat on the coach trying to calm myself.  Would he be there at lunch time?  Would he remember me? Would he look the same?  My hair was freshly washed, I pinched some of mum’s perfume and had dabbed a small amount at the base of my neck and on both wrists.  Every now and then I would take a surreptitious sniff, feeling slightly guilty that I’d stolen from my mother but hopefully it would be worth it.

Lunch time came.  I asked my friends if they were going to wander down to the edge of the field at lunchtime.  They laughed at me.  What on earth for, was the surprised response.  It seems they’d all forgotten our trysts with the boys but then one of them said, they built a brick wall down there, you won’t be able to see anything or anybody.

Disappointment coursed through my body.  It was all I could do to smile and say, never mind, shall we play netball instead.  I jumped around half-heartedly and still managed to defend my position and stop several attempted scores from the opposing team.

I arrived home in the evening, ate my meal and disappeared in to the dining room to start my homework.  I found it very hard to concentrate and to keep up a pretence that everything was OK although, in my family it seemed as though nobody took any notice of me anyway. 

All these years later I still remember the feeling, the image of a face, not the details apart from the hair and the eyes – I’ve always had a thing for eyes, the gateway to the soul or the locked door hiding a myriad of secrets.

That feeling, that first crush, innocent as it was then, has stayed with me on and off throughout my life, sometimes I wonder what happened to that young man.  Did he make something of himself?  Did he find true love with somebody?  Was he a good father?  Maybe he went against the law and ended up in prison – that wouldn’t have surprised me either. 

I will never know but to this day the first time I saw his face will remain with me, imprinted in my brain, subject to an abstract scrapbook of nostalgic images, filed away as a private memory, never to be sullied or dirtied in any way as I don’t know anything about him.  I can’t even remember his name!


Friday, 21 October 2022

WEP OCTOBER 2022 - WAITING

 


Here is my entry for the WEP October 2022 challenge. 


WAITING

She waits wistfully at the window

Wondering if he will be a no-show

Ready and willing for his caress

In her lacy, gossamer thin dress

A draught plucks at her alluring beauty

Drawing her heart strings tightly

She reads a text message just received

‘Five minutes, darling,’ her breast heaves

As she waits to see the glare of headlights

Through the country lane like two penlights

She waits with bated breath, her pulses throbbing

Every fibre of her being aching

His key turned in the door

He would satisfy her amour

Cherishing their love affair

Tonight, they would conceive an heir.

 

Lucinda waited one month, then two months until she was sure, the conception was true.  It was so hard being the hidden mistress but she knew his wife was barren.  The spell she had placed upon his bride at their wedding feast had worked!  Her training held true, through the maternal line , secret all these years until the daughter reached adolescent and proved herself to be fertile.  These days of planning ahead and taking all sorts of precautions made life much easier in choosing their intended sire. 

Lucinda sent a coded text message, ‘your goods are ready to pick up.’  Ha! If his wife saw that he could spin a yarn and she would believe him, the gullible hussy that she was.

The crystal ball that Lucinda scried in to when the moon was full had shown her that the ‘belle of the ball,’ the most ‘beautiful bride in the kingdom,’ was not as innocent as her looks would make people believe.  Hidden beneath the exterior skin was a heart made of stone.  One that wanted to be the wealthiest woman in the realm.  Oh, she really must get back to the real world and get some sense of normality back in her life.

Lucinda was sure, absolutely sure, that the foetus she carried was female.  She could feel her strength seeping through her womb.  She sang songs to her; she murmured incantations from long ago but then –

There was a blockage, a barrier, pushing against her mind, pushing against her thoughts, trying to stop her love.  She would fight for this girl.

As the weeks progressed the stronger the feeling became of something trying to stop her, trying to vie for her attention.

At first, she thought her spell was weakening and her lover’s wife was beginning to believe in her own powers too much.  Humbug! She didn’t have any powers.  She just pretended to get her own way, not just satisfied with her own paramours she attempted to keep her legal spouse under her thumb with her seductive powers. 

Through the ‘power’ of social media Lucinda learnt that Phoebe had secret assignations, more than one, in the vain hope she would be carrying a child and therefore could tether Aaron to her forever.

Lucinda sighed as she checked her reflection in the mirror.  The beauty she beheld came from within as well as her outside demeanour.

She arrived at the hospital ready for the scan, smiling benignly at the other mothers-to-be.  The technician began the ritual of passing the wand over her stomach which showed the first swellings of new life – her daughter – Lucinda was sure the female line was strong enough to continue the special lineage of her maternal line. 

Lucinda glanced at the monitor.  No, no, no.  That wasn’t right.  It couldn’t be right.  There was no way. 

The sonographer smiled, you have twins, my dear.

Lucinda managed a forced smile, thanked her politely as she left the table, seething inside.  This was not supposed to happen. Not to her.  There should only be one. 

Her mind raced with thoughts, discarding one plan after another.  She drove home on automatic pilot.  Took her tea to her room, sat in the nook of the window and gazed out at the courtyard.  Absent-minded she dunked her digestive biscuit in to the hot beverage, her mind racing until the biscuit crumbled in to the base of the teacup. 

Just as she was about to swipe the offending cup onto the floor in her rage she glimpsed Aaron’s sports car pulling up to the door. She rushed to greet him, putting on a cheerful face, pretending all was well.

He was happy, so happy with her.  She couldn’t let him down.  The words would not come out of her mouth.  She would pretend and then, well she would read and read and find a solution in the books of old, the books her mother, grandmother and those before them swore by that could cure all manner of things.

The time came.  Lucinda howled, screamed, pushed hard and was rewarded with the lusty cries of her first-born son.  She pushed him off the bed and concentrated on her daughter, so much easier this time.  The bright blue eyes, knowing, wise and so clear looked adoringly at her mother.

Lucinda chanted the spell, the incantation falling from her lips while the full moon rose and shared its silver light in her bed chamber. 

She swaddled the male dead form, grabbed the ready-made box and called her loyal servant.  She watched him trudged up the mountain side and return empty handed.  She heard the wolves baying, the silence as they gorged themselves on the unexpected feast.  The leader of the pack stood on the peak howling at the moon and she swore he could see in to her soul even from that distance.

As Lucinda aged, her attraction waned, Aaron stayed loyal to Phoebe and surprisingly they also had a son and a daughter.  Only time would tell who would win this battle of inheritance, Aaron would acknowledge her daughter.  If Lucinda had anything to do with it. 

 

 

TAGLINE:  keeping the power

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Saturday, 30 April 2022

COFFEE VERSUS TEA




Joining in with Rochelle Wisoff-Fields Friday Fictioneers

The next photo is the PROMPT. Remember, all photos are property of the photographer, donated for use in Friday Fictioneers only. They shouldn’t be used for any other purpose without express permission. It is proper etiquette to give the contributor credit.

Photo credit:  Ted Strutz



Coffee, coffee, coffee

I want tea, tea, tea

Can’t stand the bitter taste

Of beans roasted

And the smell, just awful

The noise of the machines

Whining and groaning like sirens

Screeching their alarm with steam

 

Please go back to the genteel art

Of drinking tea that calms my heart

A pot or two a day

Keeps the doctor away

Or so I believe

I certainly feel relief

 

Coffee addicts queue down the streets

Before they meet and greet

Friends or business colleagues

To kick start their day

While on their way

Commuting or studying

Give your step a spring

 

 

 




Thursday, 21 April 2022

GLASTONBURY CND FESTIVAL - WEP




WRITE EDIT PUBLISH

The music theme continues this month April 2022 giving us 

A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall 
Bob Dylan 




Glastonbury CND Festival

 It wasn’t the summer of love per se.  It was summer and I was in love. 

Glastonbury!

A music festival. 

A four-day weekend – travel on Friday, return on Monday. Work on Tuesday. 

Such a long journey straight across England, it seemed to take all day although the men said it would be four hours, they didn’t count on breaks, traffic jams and kids needing breaks.


                              Image taken from Google images

I didn’t really follow protests, demonstrations, politics etc but in my limited knowledge CND, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, was a pretty frightening aspect of life in the early 1980’s. 

We didn’t have much money but with another couple (and their two young kids, one a babe-in-arms) we hired a camper van and drove to Glastonbury in Somerset.  The two men took turns in driving and us girls and the kids were in the back on hard bench seats, no seat belts, thrown from side to side, especially when the friend took over the driving.  I’d never realised before that some people weren’t very good drivers – my chap was an excellent driver but Paul, well that was another story. 

As we approached the farm, stopped by police checks, my heart was in my throat as I knew there were illegal substances aboard – not for me – honest, well maybe I would indulge being away from home but I didn’t really like it.  Luckily, I think having the kids with us helped us get through that bit and we followed the directions.

We parked on the slope of a hill.  A good vantage point we thought, we could see the stage with its CND banner and logo over it and congratulated ourselves we had parked in a pretty good spot. 

So na├»ve. 

As the campground filled up, colourful tents were pitched, painted vans of all sorts and sizes parked haphazardly in front of us, to the side of us and behind us.  It was just a sea of chaos and cacophony.  Places were marked around your site with flags and banners and anything else you didn’t mind if it was ‘borrowed’ while you were out of the van/tent or just asleep. 

 

                                Image taken from Google images

It was certainly an experience and quite eye-opening for an innocent 26-year-old, sheltered girl originally from a small village who moved to a small town.

Facilities were basic (toilets – we won’t go there and I only went when desperate, very desperate).  Water was available from various standpipes; you could buy firewood and make your camp fire.  Luckily the van had cooking facilities but we often found we ate at the vendors selling all sorts of foods.  You could get burgers, hot dogs or more lifestyle foods, vegetarian foods, lentils, vegetable curries etc. - vegans hadn’t quite found the market they have these days.

We were very lucky and the weather was hot in the day, a tad chillier in the evening and night time.

The music was LOUD. 

The bands were good and CND were out in full force. 

It seemed to me that a lot of people, although probably agreeing with the cause, were mainly there to enjoy the music and to get drunk or stoned and have a thoroughly good time.

The smells were different, ranging from weed, hashish, alcohol and certainly some stuff I wasn’t sure about.  Having a wander around, people were enjoying bongs, hookahs and various other substances. 

Wood smoke from people’s fires wreathed through the still air, the stars were out and everybody was calm and mellow.

Wandering down towards the pyramid stage, the musky smell of incense and unwashed bodies, as you tried to shoulder past to get nearer the music, luckily my chap was tall and grabbing my hand powered through until we got prime position – well he did but little ol’ me, a foot shorter, struggled to see.  He offered to put me on his shoulders but I didn’t think that would be very comfortable for either of us. 

Returning to the van as the sun began to set, seeing the Tor in the distance, wondering about days of yore, watching my footsteps careful not to tread on prone bodies, flowing skirts or various other items littering the ground, my inaudible sigh of relief as we found our temporary home gave me some comfort.

To be totally honest, I couldn’t wait to be home again and in my own bed!  Such a lack of adventure, a creature who loved her home comforts and although I enjoyed my time away there are certain basic amenities, I found I really didn’t want to do without! 

Looking back on those days life was free and easy even though there were protests and demonstrations and people with the courage of their convictions trying to ban attacks.

Now I go to bed at night, sorry for the plight of war-torn people, displaced people, brave people fighting back against an oppressor. 

I wonder if my grandsons and granddaughters actually think about it at all.

Several of them of are of an age that - should the worst happen - they would be asked or forced to make sure we keep our freedom by freeing others whose freedom is being taken away. 

It is frightening times we live in.

Pandemic over – possibly…….

War – who knows ………..

Nuclear attack – who knows ….

Forty odd years later, people are still protesting, people are still fighting for their lives, people are still scared of the thought of war or even a nuclear attack.

Tag line:

Throwback but nothing changes – hard rain is still falling 40+ years later.

 

 

 

 

Word count: 909

 









 

Thursday, 14 April 2022

THE CHAIR

 FRIDAY FICTIONEERS

https://rochellewisoff.com/author/rochellewisoff/



The next photo is the PROMPT. Remember, all photos are property of the photographer, donated for use in Friday Fictioneers only. They shouldn’t be used for any other purpose without express permission. It is proper etiquette to give the contributor credit.

Photo credit - Dale Rogerson - thank you Dale

Joining in with Friday Fictioneers - here is my 100 word contribution from the above photo prompt.


THE CHAIR

Grandad would sit in this old wooden chair come rain or shine, snow or wind, his hands resting on his legs, his pipe in his mouth.

I can’t get rid of his chair.  I look out of my window and still see his essence; I imagine him sitting there. I would bring him a cup of tea, ‘thank you, Duck,’ he would say.

He would come in to the warm kitchen on a winter’s day, blow on his hands and stomp his feet. On a hot day summer’s day, he’d mop his brow and say, ‘it’s grand out there, lass.’