Posted in Christmas

Off Duty

We were both surprised
you’ll be lucky said the agent
Christmas eve ….. “ must have been a cancellation.”

In the arrivals hall my mother was delighted
truth knew it was about yesterday, not today
the birth of a grandchild – her second.

We swung by the hospital
sister –in – law and new neice – brand new
very quiet
only, hours old babies and first-time mothers.
a group of burly men
uncorporate, untailored, unairbrushed
panel beaters
working men
skipping the Christmas booze up,
to deliver soft new toys,
to soft new arrivals.

Posted in Christmas


December 23, 6:55 a.m.
the phone
early – almost inappropriate
it will family or
wrong number. Wrong.
It is the Blood Service
could I donate today – yes
can I come in as early as possible – yes.
On arrival, no waiting, instantly processed – bustle
I ask
the blood will be screened immediately
then flown to a provincial city.

Three months later
another donation.
On the noticeboard, centre and proud
pasted on brown butchers paper
a cutting
from a heartland newspaper
chronicling the backstage of drama – logistics.

An urgent need for blood
a young mother, critically ill
an aircraft supplied without charge
express analysis by laboratory staff
12 donors
strangers all, to the recipient
a happy ending.
Across the bottom scrawled in children’s crayon
‘thank you for saving our mummy’s life.’

Posted in Christmas

Fingers Crossed

such wonderful promulgators of misconception
and mispronunciation.
A friend’s young son once told me
they had a boy puppy –
that it was written underneath
because daddy had turned it upside down …. then told him.
Buzz, the way of buzzer, Aldrin
would have been plain old Edwin,
if his sister had been able to pronounce brother.

And I grew up thinking Christmas carol grandma knocked down a reindeer
in our part of town people kept saying, old Mrs Derbyshire should stop driving,
she’s going to knock someone down.

I’ve always wondered what would’ve happened if our grandma
had knocked down a reindeer – or anything
and the police been summoned.
When she was 70 my father urged her to take the physical
required to keep her driving licence.
She deemed it not necessary
he persisted.
Ping-pong for 10 minutes
my father stated she would lose her licence to drive –
“they’ll take it from you”
“No they can’t,
yes they can!”

“No they can’t – I haven’t got one.” And never had.
Whenever grandma was driving and saw a policeman
she waved cheerfully to them,
often they smiled
and waved back.
She was still driving when she died aged 83 –
still without a licence.