Nothing heard or seen is ever wasted: Writers Quote Wednesday

the boy stood 3

The boy stood on the burning deck; whence all but he had fled;
Felicia Hemans 1739-1835

From the age of seven my two grandmothers lived upstairs. I could and frequently did pop in and spend time with them I liked visiting them and I also liked the chocolate or sweet they could always ‘find’ for me:)
They would tell me stories of when they were young, teach me tongue twisters and introduced me to poetry.

My grandmothers loved this poem, my father’s mother in particular.When I was very young I would thrill when either of them recited it, which they would frequently. I would cry as well, as they would, mourning the brave little fellow who would not leave his post until his father said he could.

‘Speak, father!’ once again he cried,
If yet my task is done!
And but the booming shots replied,
And fast the flames rolled on,

I imagined the captain telling his young son to stay at his post, be a brave boy. Imagined the boy watching all the crew jumping overboard, manning the boats, or dying at his feet. Imagined the captain croaking on his last breathe to save his son. Ah it was beautiful:)

But the noblest thing which perished there
Was that young faithful heart!

Then I grew a little older, joined the swinging sixties, and began to to see through the sentimental romanticism of it all. Why did none of the men fleeing scoop up the boy,save their captain’s beloved son? Why did the boy not run from the flames and save himself, surely he would guess his father didn’t want him to die.

No I was disenchanted with this poem for a long time. Discovered it wasn’t even about a British boy, a true story but one of the enemy! An event that happened in 1798 for goodness sake. I was living in the present. My grandmothers had died I no longer heard it recited with passion. Forgot it.

Then years later I read the poem again. Trying to figure out what had appealed so much to them. I was old enough by then to imagine another time, another mindset. Go back to 1800s – their time. Back to Empire, their days, to when brothers and cousins were sent to far off nations to bring glory to these islands. when they all hoped their menfolk would behave bravely against all odds. Back to a time of heroes and the English stiff upper lift. We haven’t always been known for stiff lips it is a comparatively new even in the British psyche.

The women left back home, while their menfolk wandered through endless dangers far from home, were fed a steady diet of hope and propaganda.

Heroes were not made at adulthood, heroes were trained from infancy. With the drip feeding of a code of honour, of an attitude, of the ‘stiff upper lip’. This poem is about the young hero, a boy full of duty, keeping promises, willing to die for honour. The grannies as many other women wept over the little fellow taken to heaven so soon, it didn’t matter what nationality he was, it was the bravery which mattered , the courage so admired.

Yet beautiful and bright he stood,
As born to rule the storm-
A creature of heroic blood,
A proud, through childlike form.

This boy may have grown to be a Shackleton, a Scott or even a Titus Oates leaving his companions to go out into the blizzard and certain death to help give his friends a chance at life. He could have.

My grandmothers were patriots through and through and they had their heroes. Not film stars, not footballers, but the brave(if foolishly so sometimes), full of dare and do. I grew up on tales of these men and women.

Then the world changed after the mess and loss of two world wars, the loss of the empire people’s tastes turned away from those heroes of old, away from romanticism bravery and nationhood. Our stiff lips grew weaker and then dissolved into a different kind of romanticism. I imbibed the grandmothers version and haven’t embraced the new.

I like my heroes old fashioned. The heroes in my books have all the old fashioned attitudes I grew up with. I admire the qualities my grandmother admired. Honesty, honour, truthfulness, loyalty. Grit and endurance, never say die and get on with it attitude. That little boy I wept over in childhood probably promised his father he wouldn’t move until told to and though he was scared he kept his promise. He didn’t desert the ship he was his fathers son and went down with the ship as the son of a captain should.

The flames rolled on – he would not go
Without his father’s word;
That father, faint in death below,
His voice no longer heard.

I have revisited this poem again now, older than my grannies were when I first heard it, because in my latest book a scenario with similarities has just been written, after I have finished the writing of the chapter I was reminded again of the boy. It had obviously lingered in my self conscious all these years. My boy (a girl) does get away from the flames, and feels guilt for having not obeyed her mother. The poem plus my common sense 60s attitude come together.  Nothing heard or seen is ever wasted:)


This quote is part of Silver Threading’s  Writer’s Quote series. Writer’s who have helped inspire my writing and my life. Pop over and follow other quotes there are many inspiring posts


Much better this week:ROW80


ROW80LogocopyBeen a much better week for creativity this week including good enough weather some days to get into the garden. There was an afternoon when the guide dog trainer came back but it was an afternoon appointment and I managed to get some work done in the morning – there was an emergency dash to the hearing aid department at the local hospital one day to fix one of my sister’s hearing aid which had packed up.

I have been pruning and tiding shrubs in between the wind. With the unnatural warmth there is so much coming into flower now and while I don’t approve of spring flowers in the winter, I’m a seasonal old bird me, they do help to cheer one up. The are not brash like the summer plants, they peep around corners and tuck themselves shyly into nooks and crannies, keeping their heads low from the wind. They tempt out insects and birds as well, so there is a low hum of life emerging out there. With the promise of spring nearly here. Of course February and March can be colder than January and February. We’ll see:)


Writing: The Children’s Tale progresses I wrote four new chapters and passed them through the first two corrections


Editing: I also did some more serious scarlet pen editing and reduced part one by 11,000 words and part two by 9,800 words, This meant that the writing probably being kept stood at 65,135. So have discarded over half of the original as well as the duplicates.

The new chapters add a further 6,862.

So am well pleased. There are still more words to come out as I tighten every thing on subsequent editing

Blogging: Although the unexpected trip to hospital put me a bit behind on blogging I managed quite well this week with my first something new every day, a writers quote and a post about Rizzling my new word. Over among my books I struggle with too many books and confess to buying some more!!

Networking: yes holding my own there:)

Reading:Good with The Bees by Laline Paull, A Man Called Ove byFredik Backman and The Lighthouse by Alison Moore

Other: been trying to tidy up blog sites and check that connections that should be connected are. Fell a bit behind on stuff like that last year.

Pleased with week’s tally and hopeful for next week

Next week I have three groups coming up as well as a quiz so may slow down a bit.

Hope all was well this last week for everyone, keep smiling :)

To take a Rizzle and a Sloom


I enjoy reading books about words and language. Apart from interest in my language, in history, social movements there is a continuing quest to find out why I’m so rubbish at everything to do with words and the writing of them!:)

However these books do throw up some great little nuggets.

In the Horologicon by Mark Forsyth I came across a delightful word I had never heard before, maybe the American amongst you, may well have as it appears to be your historical word


Apparently it cropped up in late 19th century America and then one day ‘poof!!’ it vanished. The respectable medical community of the day recommended a Rizzle a day as being beneficial to health and well being.

a description written in: The American Medical Bulletin 1890.

‘… How to describe I don’t know, but it is a condition as nearly like sleep as sleep is to death. It consists of doing absolutely nothing.I close my eyes and try and stop all action to the brain. I think of nothing. It only takes a little practice to be able to absolutely stifle the brain.

‘In that delightful condition I remain at least ten minutes, sometimes twenty,. . . I would rather miss a fat fee than that ten minutes Rizzle’.

Not only the word Rizzle that’s sounds delicious but also the state of a Rizzle.

I have been indulging in Rizzling for a few years now without knowing a thing about it, but often I then slip into a Sloom.

According to The Oxford English Dictionary:    Sloom – a gentle sleep or slumber.

I do that also:)

Sleep, sloom, and slumber such gentle sounding words, maybe that is why Rizzle didn’t make it into the 21st century, not soft enough. Sloom hasn’t made it either, too old, that one emerged in the middle of the Middle English period.

It is a shame they are not common words. I like them both so I may well continue with a Rizzle each day with the occasionally Sloom.