Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Dear Anonymous

May I call you dear Anon?

I am flattered by your attention --
or your clever program's efforts

but I just want to say --

I have no need for fashionable sheepskin slippers-to-be-worn-on-the-street
I can't use vi*gra as I am not appropriately equipped
I don't have a payday so such loans are not helpful


You are very thoughtful offering to increase my traffic!
(I worked for years to combat congestion and manage road demand)

I am pleased your university course is going well
is comprehension a subject you study?
and the blogposts of tree pictures that you find so informative --
I'd worry about being an electrician too

I must be a disappointment, my friend Anon
I wish you were a bit more disappointed in fact

but thanks for the attention, sweet Anon


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sunday, September 16, 2012

We're still dancing

Venus and The Sailor, 1925, by Salvador Dali

We’re still dancing

We’ve danced all night and skipped rope together
You spinning double tied to the railings coated in ice and then my hand

We’ve washed the dishes dried the dishes turned the dishes over
You standing  to swing against the sky in the cold autumn night: some naughty children on the run

And still you love me amongst the baby carriages and the flapping nappies and you’ve forgiven the passion-killer undies conceding defeat in the face of comfort

Ones we shared when the bundle of shared existence was too tight to separate for clean clothes or appearances

The shaken heads with wisdom telling it would never last
Never last once the lust had burned itself out

Still waiting
Still dancing all night 

Thanks to Tess at Magpie Tales for the image and inspiration.  Please read more here at http://magpietales.blogspot.com/

Sunday Trees

Two poplars and a spiral staircase next to the Palais de Tokyo, Paris.  

(three, actually)


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Breakfast Mag

Breakfast, 1921, Fernand Leger

Breakfast Mag

Well, my darling, I always suspected you were an empty-headed cloud-brain
My mistake

Apologies, because I quite admire M. Leger.  Thanks to Tess for the inspiration.  More meals can be found here.


Sunday, September 2, 2012


I thought you said ‘irises’
I was sure I heard ‘irises’
so sure I wondered if they were new
a spring vegetable, a pop group, the latest global crisis?
I didn’t want to disappoint, so ...
I peeled all the buds and sautéed them in lemon oil
Poisonous you say? And the garden naked of purple spikes

Must get my eyes tested
Shame, they looked spectacular on the salad ...
think I’ll serve it anyway

A new Magpie!  The image (which I am not clever enough to paste here) is beautiful. More Magpies, with images (no doubt) here.

Sunday Trees

It is spring in Australia, which means the national flower is on show.  Fondly known as 'wattle' to the locals, it has an elegant name for the rest of the world:  mimosa.   Wattles grow in many varieties across most of the continent and some of them have a delicious scent.  This one was blooming in Melbourne last month:

Oh yes,  and because it is Father's Day in Australia, here he is:

Happy Father's Day to all the father-shaped chaps.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Dear Friends, Readers and erm ...  Countryfolk  

(if you can figure out which country I should be referring to, please let me know)

Thank you all for your messages, emails and calls seeking my whereabouts.  I am touched by your kindness and care.

I apologise for causing concern and/or irritation at my absence. 

I entreat the Muse to sing to me again soon.  All entreaties on my behalf to said Muse, gratefully accepted.  I am tired of being gagged and bound.

I do look forward to catching up with your blogs.

Very best wishes 

Isabel x

Murakami's daisy face

Monday, April 2, 2012

Mums know best ...

image ParkeHarrison, via The Mag

Mum always told me to keep my room tidy
the dust, she said, would eat me alive

Thanks to Tess for the prompt.  More bunnies here:  http://magpietales.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Teapot Tuesday

Sticky Fingers

We glued my miniature furniture back together

Sticky fingers remain

Why miniature when no one will squeeze into such a tiny seat?

Sticky fingers

Why glue?

Sticky fingers

Thus we are held in miniature, secured with bondage of a chemical intractable nature

Sticky fingers

The miniatures restored, seats for miniature animals taking miniature tea

Sticky fingers

Only a lover of long would submit to

Sticky fingers

for such as these


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sunday Trees

Sunlit Flats

Walk with me along the smooth pavement of the footway

where the sun makes zebra-patterns with the tree shadows

and I will show you the light glittering on upper-storey windows of silent flats –

voices are never raised

Here the white paint always gleams:

dustless Saturday afternoons wait

while the natives (dressed by Harvey Nicks) drape on sofa and mantelpiece

and the cutlery comes in sets of twelve

A string quartet or baroque guitar hushes the hallway

free of cooking smells or greasy flyers for take-away.

The sun shines on upper flats

like winter glaciers in the Alps –

Do you see from the pavement it looks pristine?


Friday, March 16, 2012

We are a ship travelling across a desert sea

We are a ship travelling across a desert sea

We are a ship travelling across a desert sea:

passengers disembark at ports in time

some tours join in a crowd of couples and families

some lone transports slip alongside and move with us for a wave or two

then slip away turning across the current

We have our own captain's table for the chosen ones –

the receiving line

the fancy dress

the set piece dance

We have ‘A’ to ‘H’ decks

the inner and windowless rooms

the balconies and mansion rows

In the hold lurks secret cargo:

stories and discarded characters

There are whole cabins – corridors even –

devoted to good intentions and undelivered charity

From an upper deck I watch the smart couples promenade

take the air or smoke

change partners mid-stride

and wonder at their mysteries

We have our life boat drill and fire training

The dusty sea swirls about us

the ship heaves against a wave

the wind

an approaching storm

There are no icebergs in the desert


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Teapot Tuesday

The travelling teapot:

We lived in a hotel for 8 weeks when we first moved to Port Dickson.  I loathe tea made in a cup with a jiggly bag because it is never strong enough and it just doesn't taste quite right.  We found this teapot in a local shop for MR 2.00 - (Malaysian ringgit) which is about 30p.  Most of the time it lives in the cupboard, coming out with the suitcases. 

We don't take it everywhere, only when we plan to stay in a hotel for more than three or four nights.  It is in use as I am posting this!

And on the subject of tea - its closely related cousin breakfast is dear to my heart.  One of the joys of hotel breakfasts is the range on offer, and for us poor lost souls, the abundance of p*rk - quickly transferred from the plate to the waistline.


I hope you enjoy your toast and muesli this morning.


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Tales from Exile - The Siege Mentality

image courtesy of The Mag

The supermarket as temple. 

I've written before about the tendency to throw myself on the floor of the Waitrose supermarket around the corner from the hotel we stay at in London.  We're here again, twisting between delight and something close to misery as we scan the shelves of edible jewels that we are denied in exile.

Totalitarian rulers know the way to keep the populace most vulnerable is to keep changing the conditions, the prohibitions, the rewards.  We don't live under such an extreme regime;  however the random shortages of various staples and consumables tends to warp one's judgement. 

When we see say, Worcestershire sauce, we might buy three bottles, not because we drink the stuff, but rather because when we do run out, it may be six months before we see it in the supermarket again.  We can't predict what will suddenly become impossible to source.  In the last year, at various times we've had no wild rice, no water chestnuts, no capers, no vegetable juice, no muesli, no pine nuts, and for six weeks, there were no eggs.  My favourite brand of yogurt once disappeared for 4 months before quietly slipping back on to the shelves.  None of these are essential, life-threatening shortages, only unsettling.

This shopping situation changes one's behaviour.  We buy things when we see them, put them away in the pantry and then, we don't eat them.  We stroke the packages and count them, and feel a delicious anticipation because we know they are there on the shelf, waiting to be enjoyed.  We don't eat them because in many cases, we know we won't see them again, ever.  If I were more enlightened, I would enjoy my food and never treat it as some exclusive reward to be earned I-don't-know-how.

It is not only me  as the siege mentality strikes us all:  my friend R, who has just packed up for another international move, has been feasting on the remnants of her pantry, wildly consuming the odds and ends that have been hoarded over the last year.

Tess Kincaid's lost soul in the soup aisle doesn't look tempted to throw himself on the floor and have a tantrum or meltdown of ecstasy.  Just imagine it's me, pushing the trolley, pretending I live a few blocks away, and it is perfectly normal for me to buy luscious fruit and exquisite vegetables in sensible, quotidian quantities.

Thanks to Tess for the prompt.  Many artistic products can be perused here.


Sunday Trees

Brought to you from sunny London ...

... winter tracery at St Mary Abbots Church, Kensington High Street.

Spring is creeping into London.  We walked to our hotel through the quiet back streets  of emerging spring.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Teapot Tuesday

Tea for One

 Tea for two may be divine
            ... but sometimes
Tea for one is simply sublime


Friday, February 17, 2012

430 O Sacred Face! (Poems of Exile)

O sacred face!

O sacred face worthy of Bacchus or Apollo,
which neither man, nor woman can observe with safety!
O fingers which long to stroke –
even those of a young boy or maiden.

So fortunate, the woman who nibbles at your neck;
so fortunate, whose lips are bruised by your lips.
Happy the girl who rests her heart on yours 
and who would tire her tongue in your tender mouth.

Seneca at his most sentimental - or political?

Birthday Greetings to my divine Marius, from his own true love.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Sun, Veiled

The sun, veiled in dust,
 hangs tethered to the sea
Even such a barrage balloon
cannot stop the day unfurling.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

435 I am not in love (Poems of Exile)

      I am not in love

A certain someone (if you would believe it) is in love with me,

not only a little, She dies of love: she is consumed.

And thus, she will grant me favours I shouldn’t ask –

I would show her love always, but believe me:  I am not in love.

Perhaps Seneca can offer an antidote to too much chocolate and excessive sweetness?


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Teapot Tuesday

We are particularly blessed today as the Supreme Council for Public Holidays has decided that we all need to get more exercise and a Sport Day has been declared.  (I am not one to talk but the local population has an obesity rate of about 85% and diabetes problems to match.) 

It is mere chance that this year, the inaugural Sport Day coincides with St Valentine's Day. 

In true glutton-fashion, we commenced our healthy-living day with breakfast of freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, wholemeal toast, tomatoes, eggs and gammon steak (imported from London last year).

Here is the teapot, the one I use all the time:

with the red teapot from Primus at Christmas, in the background.  This teapot has a felted metal lid which keeps the tea nice and hot.  It also has a removable basket which I sometimes fill with chai spices to add piquancy to my tea, and it pours brilliantly without dripping.  This is the four-cup version.  We like the teapot so much we also have a six-cup one for when the family is here.

Breakfast was slightly delayed while my seat-warmer was removed:

Here you can see our new kitchen table in all its glory:


Monday, February 13, 2012

One Amongst Many Bloggers

image courtesy of The Mag

It was a particularly apt prompt from The Mag this week, today being my first anniversary of blogging, of being ‘Isabel Doyle’.

My experiment in blogging has taken me from my place of exile across the globe.  I’ve met interesting people from many walks of life; some have remarkably similar outlooks to mine, snippets of shared experiences and shared places; some are scholarly, some are fun, some angst-ridden and some full of questions and wisdom.  I’ve sat awe-struck at the feet of poets and story-tellers, and been moved to laughter and tears by what I’ve read.  I’ve gasped with naked jealousy over some of your gardens and walks, and I’ve winced in sympathy over bad luck, bad news and life’s miseries.  I’ve sung with second-hand joy at your triumphs and delights.  Some blogs make me homesick – for various places and times in my life – and some blogs make me grateful for being here and not there.

I’ve been frankly confused by some virtual relationships and mystified by cruel attacks and rants.  Mostly I’ve been touched by the kindness of strangers, the encouraging remarks, the thoughtful words, the flow of goodness and energy.

I’ve shared stories of the life of exile and I’ve told you a bit about myself – probably far more than I realise.  I offered you my own poems and  my translations of poems attributed to my great hero Lucius Annaeus Seneca, and you have responded politely and kindly to my efforts.  You’ve listened patiently to my cat-tales and dramas and been interested in some of the strange objects I live with (Buddhas and teapots to name a few).

I’ve avoided geographical references, politics, religion and human rights, although these are subjects I feel passionately about, they are not safe for me here.  I try to keep under the radar of censorship and arrest, all the while knowing my every keystroke is monitored and recorded.

I’ve tried to protect my family from embarrassment by not revealing names and places, and I have kept my health battles fairly quiet.  I have a horror of moan-blogs where ailments and treatments are measured for medals and sympathy.

I started Written in Exile a year ago today, with the help of my daughter ‘Prima’, mostly as a distraction – therapy if you will – from my spectacular ill health.  A year ago none of us believed I’d still be here today, writing and posting, but clearly I am.

Thank you all for reading, commenting and following.  You’ve kept me inspired, encouraged and sane.