Friday, 9 December 2016

A book of short stories, Our Song under my maiden name Heather Douglas, is now available on Amazon. Warning:  more murder than romance!

"These dark stories of unexpected death explore the different viewpoints of family, witness, victim, policeman or murderer. They are sometimes disturbing, sometimes humorous, always gripping and take place in variety of locations and situations.  Just as the popular songs of the titles are recognisable, so too are the emotions of love, loss and jealousy revealed here, but the steps to revenge, murder and remorse taken in these chilling tales are smaller than we might realise."


Also on the website is the Story for Christmas below.

Christmas presents - such a lot of effort and in the end nothing but trouble!  Lizzie got me a theatre trip to London, train fare and hotel and tickets for a show, what a lovely idea.  She was that mad when I said I couldn’t go.
“You’ve done Christmas, Mum,” she pointed out. “You’ve done all the work.  Can’t you have some time off?”
“I can’t leave your Granddad, love, you know I can’t.”
“Dad can look after him,” she said.  “It’s only one night.  He can give Granddad a bowl of soup, can’t he?”  It sounded reasonable enough.
“Oh Lizzie, sweetheart,” I said, “Your Dad can’t –“  Can’t what?  How could I explain?  Can’t get Dad into his pyjamas and out of them again when there is no resistance in the limbs, dressing babies is simple compared to that.  Can’t tell him to wipe his bum or do it for him if you’re just not getting through.  Can’t persuade him back to bed at three in the morning when his teeth are chattering because the heating went off hours ago but he thinks it’s the middle of the day.  Can’t find the right reassuring answer to questions like where am I, who are you? Though it’s not the detail, not really.  What Jack can’t face up to is the big picture.  He and Dad used to have such a laugh together, used to enjoy the football and the quiz down at the pub.  Now Dad doesn’t know Jack’s name.  “He just can’t,” I said firmly.
“I wanted you to come with me.  I wanted some time for us, for me and you together.  I can’t go on me own.  But I should have known.”  Oh what a tear jerker.  She thinks she’s doing it for my own good.  She’s always been manipulative, our Lizzie.
“Yes, you should,” I said tartly, then tried to soften it a bit.  “One day, darling.  I’d love to go.  I’d love to go with you.  But not now.”
For a moment though, I was that upset, thinking how I’d spent my life taking care of Jack’s feelings and knowing he couldn’t spare a night to think of mine.  Did he never wonder what it was like for me, it was my Dad for goodness sake who’d gone somewhere deep and dark.  When it started I used to think his head was like a honeycomb, how if you were lucky you hit a connection and everything was OK, but more and more often you fell into the holes in between.  Now his head seems like an overgrown forest and he’s inside like a scared child, feeling monsters might lurk in every corner and thinking if he sits very still and doesn’t say a word, then they won’t get him.
But on that very day, in the dead zone between Christmas and New Year, when in another universe I might have been in London, all dressed up in some glitzy theatre waiting for the drum roll – that was the night I saw our Brian’s Jamie playing with a balloon.  He’s a quiet little lad, good as gold, you don’t notice him half the time and I suppose we’d kind of forgotten he was there, sat playing under the tree while Dad sat same as always in his chair in front of the telly.  People can be quite snotty about old folk parked in front of the telly but what they don’t realise is, it’s an anchor.  It keeps them still and safe and attached to the world.  They don’t follow it, they don’t know what’s going on half the time, but it’s colour and noise and it is familiar.  Most important of all, it’s someone talking who isn’t demanding an answer.  Real people come up close and put on a funny voice and ask questions more difficult than what’s the meaning of life, questions like how are you today?  The telly makes no demands at all.  It is everybody’s alibi and that includes the person with dementia.  People should remember that.
Anyway I’d been in the kitchen making a cup of tea while Jack was hiding in the back room listening to some match on the radio.  Janice, Brian’s wife, had taken Rebecca off upstairs to change her nappy and Lizzie was picking a fight with Brian in the hall about who had had the most to drink and who could go to the off licence to get more gin.  Brian mostly goes along with his sister’s ideas, years of experience, anything for a quiet life, but every so often he makes a stand.  I was coming through the living room doorway when Jamie patted his balloon to Dad.  I was just about to interfere like I always did, to distract Jamie from disappointment, to protect Dad from expectation, when at the last minute Dad’s arm shot out and he batted it back.  Back and forth that balloon went and I stood frozen, wanting this moment to last for ever, praying the others would stay where they were. 
It was dark outside, but the lights were sparkling on the tree and the fire was crackling in the grate behind the fireguard and I could smell the pine needles  and the mince pies warm from the oven.  It could have been another Christmas, any Christmas from before, from long ago. Then all at once Brian and Lizzie were laughing and agreeing to walk to the off licence together and Janice was carrying the baby down the stairs singing Jingle Bells off key and Jack came through to ask where was the tea.  The balloon lay still on the floor, but Jamie sent his Great Granddad a secret smile and my Dad nodded and patted the balloon with his toe before withdrawing back inside himself. 

That moment was my Christmas present.  It’s the one I’ll try to remember.

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Over Stones
The poem on the previous post was set to music by Ian Smith of the English Folk Music Club Costa Blanca and the song Rebirth can now be viewed on YouTube, link below:

Monday, 24 October 2016

Over Stones

This is a new post on my website , a poem called Over Stones.  

The morning mist retreated leaving green hills bright with dew.
The sunlight dried the water drops, the grass thinned out anew.
Brown stains spread
Blood shone red
In splatters over stones.
Here lay the dead
Shot with lead
And carrion bared their bones.

The land retains our history enclosed in its rich earth
Our crops feed off the wealth of dead and give us our rebirth.
New blooms spread
Petals shine red
In patterns over stones.
Rich flower bed
With love’s care fed
For our past sins atones.

The ground is hallowed where we walk in every country village
Its history holds the sins of war, of death and rape and pillage
Yet we forget
We’re sinning yet
We fight wars overseas
New death is met
New grievance set
And we harvest bitter tears.

The land retains our history enclosed in its rich earth

Our crops feed off the wealth of dead and give us our rebirth

Ian Smith of the Costa Blanca English Folk  Music Club composed the music for this, but unfortunately I do not know how to add an MP3 audio file.  


Thursday, 22 September 2016

In recognition of Cartagena's annual Carthaginians and Romans Festival this week, I have just added a new post about the beautiful historic city on my website


Sunday, 11 September 2016

I wanted to acknowledge 9/11 in some way, so I posted a review of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer on my website   

Foer writes like an angel – or rather a cherub, since his protagonist is a 9 year old boy.  Oskar’s father died on 9/11 and in an effort to deal with his loss, Oskar embarks on an odyssey through New York, trying to find the lock that belongs to a key his father left.  His research reveals that there are 162 million locks in New York, but he has a name which narrows the search down to possible.  As Oskar progresses, we are also shown more and more of the continuing effect on his grandparents of the bombing of Dresden in 1945.
We may count, or fail to count, the numbers involved in the big events history records, but each one is made up of innumerable individual tragedies.  This family has suffered twice, and what we see in the juxtaposition of old and new grief is that the effects last a lifetime.  However hard they try, those left behind cannot let go.
We see largely through Oskar’s eyes and hear his voice, so the characters are at first sight cartoonish, but as Foer stands them in the light we see more and more of their complexity.  Particularly poignant is his portrayal of Oskar’s mother, who is not fully revealed until the end of the book, but it is Oskar himself who resonates with truth.

The reader does not have to ask or answer difficult questions about historical perspective or ethical slights of hand.  We are simply placed inside the family, incredibly close, and suffer the fall out with them, which is extremely loud.  This is a book about grief and while you will meet enchanting characters, be stunned by the quality of the writing and laugh along the way, if you survive to the end you will be beyond tears.

Heather Gingele

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Sounding Board

Hooray! I got in! Thanks to Rob.....though I have no idea how I got here!

So, as promised, here is the link to Sounding Board:

Well what is it? (for those of you who haven't been to Writers' lately)

The best way to find out is to look here:

It explains what Sounding Board is and how it works. It's for readers as well as writers, by the way!
If you're unsure about anything please get in touch with me:

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Bloomin' Heather

There's been a lot going on with my family lately so I haven't been able to post much on  but there is new stuff on Places and the new poem below is on Verse, not to mention the Spanish Summer poem on the front page.  Do take a look!

Heather Gingele

The Victim
Dark is the storm coming in on the tide
Dark as my memories, the place where you hide.
When love was young I lived in the light,
I thought I saw clearly what should be held tight.
With arms spread out wide for all coming my way
I’d bring all my dreams to the plain sight of day.
I thought I had choice and I thought I knew best,
Some things I’d discard, some clutch to my chest.
But some people stick fast and won’t let you go
And some fly away though you’re calling out no.
I thought I’d be stronger for all I’ve been through,
I’d put it behind, what happened with you.
But I’m still that person who suffered for love
Scars aren’t buried deep, they are here up above.
I may smile at the world but it still calls me sad;
I may look after myself but it still whispers mad.
I make choices each day, but they are a small thing.
I can no longer choose to let my heart sing.
Dark is the storm coming in on the tide
Dark as my memories, the place where you hide.

Monday, 18 April 2016

Bloomin' Heather

I wrote the verse below some years ago but I still feel this way. Even if you start out wanting fame and fortune, you can only write what is true for you while at the same time a writer needs a reader.   It is currently on the home page of my new website/blog at   Please take a look!

I want to be a writer and do what writers do:
Sign autographs, make loads of dosh, have discussions on BBC2.

I want to be a writer and see what writers see;
Right through the dross to the golden gloss bought by Tesco and ITV.

I want to be a writer and say what writers say,
With incisive thoughts and snap reports on the happenings of the day.

I want to be a writer and go where writers go:
To far off places and behind faces, describing it all just so.

I want to be a writer and hold what writers hold:
In the palm of the hand, time’s grains of sand, life’s story to be told.

I want to be a writer, to be what writers are.
If I wield a pen and count to ten, will the words come from afar?
Or will they bubble up from deep inside, from feelings not to be denied?
Will they come out flat and need some work? Will I persevere, try not to shirk?
Will I find the thread I lost in bed at 2 o’clock in the morning?
Or will I suffer for art, feel the pierce of the heart,
And still leave my audience yawning?

I want to be a writer and live as writers live.

I’ll be one for a while, with a shrug and a smile, if you’ll read what I have to give.

Heather Gingele

Sunday, 10 April 2016


The immense water masses between oceans, the lump of  sea that our eye catches from the beach of our village, this part of the world where the fishermen live, with their families, their boats, is the spectacle of their daily audaciousness.
This sea that allows them to live through the treasures that live in it. From generation to generation the fishermen are pushing their boats over the waves, starting the unknown conditions that they will find further away from their villages, leaving behind their families.
Albert Rouiller, a Geneva sculpter, at the end of his life, close to the end of the 20th century decided to live in Mallorca. His art work shall be lightened and stimulated by the so special light of this Island and the sea around it.
He and his wife lived in a house on a cliff in a small village. They became friends with the fishermen and their families, sitting for hours together for their daily chatting about life, the sea and all kind of experiences. These local men were his dear inspiration.
One night, the sea was cross and an endless battle between the fishermen’s boat and the sea started. Nobody survived – the cruel sea had taken these men away and destroyed the boat.
Nature – sea – immensely strong and sometimes cruel – we will always be surprised by nature.
What remains of an old, broken, wooden fisherboat? Some broken wooden elements, may remind you of human ribs, the body structure of a human carcass, as well as the one of a fisherman’s boat.
From this day on, the artist sculpted ribs, ribs of boats, likewise ribs of human beings, curved and tortured, bringing to mind the strength of these water masses, far out there where the confrontation is bold and cruel.   

This piece was written, in English, by German speaking Kathrein Humbel - a recent new member of Torrevieja Writers;  it was inspired by the 'word of the week' for April 6.16 - 'The Cruel Sea - and Albert Rouiller, a Swiss born sculptor from Geneva - also Kathrein's home town. LD.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016


The poets of Stanza Mar Menor met again for the third time this month to discuss a plethora of writing which did include four that Douglas had written since last week.  He is prolific and that is something I need to be, but I (John) have been concentrating on other matters.

Douglas had previously paid tribute to Bowie, Mr Rickman and now we mourn Mr Glenn Frey.  I am sad that another person has left us having given the world so many lyrics that we can hang on to. Douglas was able to remind us in his lines of some of those titles.

He then introduced 'On Being Scottish'.  For me the one theme that came out clearly was the simple fact of 'him never leaving'.  He knows where his roots are.  There was one line that stood out ' We seem to be the artist's first macquette' and then he proclaimed in another line 'We are the nation that the world forgot'.  Well, how could we?

Then he was 'Dreaming' and back to the sixties with a nostalgic trip into a world that had never really been!  His words go deep and it has to be read line by line and picking one line, to quote here, is not effective.

Heather who read her poem Hello Dementia at TORREVIEJA WRITERS CIRCLE last  week had sent us a hard copy so that we were more able to give feedback.  We had a very full discussion on her work and sent her our comments.  It was poetic and we liked it.  What a subject to choose and she is to be congratulated on achieving some very beautiful lines.  She has a way with words.  We await her response from what we had to say about it and await her next offering.

Discussions have carried on from the early part of the month regarding what we see, as a group, those competitions that award prizes for something that we do not consider poetic.  It is an ongoing item for us and David has already sent a well worded article to the manager of the festival, Phillipa Slinger.  We had already examined Jane Satterfield's winning entry 'Forfeit' and decided that it was not poetic and was no more than words aligned in lines that contained no rhythm and had nothing to commend it.
We see that a single judge awards a fellow academic the kudos of winning and we note that almost  all of the winning entries are female.  What is going on, we ask?

Douglas had already written a unique response to Jane Satterfield's winning piece which goes to show what a good writer can achieve in only a few lines.  He knows his Hamlet too!  His last one 'Versifying' echoes in poetic form our contempt at writing masquerading as being poetic.  He says in there that ' I want to write my own true verse' and then his final line is 'But, sadly, I have landed out of time'.  He has not and when his writing is viewed it will stand the test of time unlike other much poorer offering.

Okay, now to examine a piece of writing by Deryn Rees-Jones who was the sole judge and we looked at her published 'poem', 'After You Died'.  We would prefer to be kind in our comments, but we cannot be. It left us wondering what it was really about.  We can accept the fact that a poem should linger on in the mind after the last line, but this one was not clear as to it's message.

If this sounds critical of what Ledbury is doing then we can say that we have listened to the recording of their Poetry Salons and this is a terrific idea.  We enjoyed listening to Adam  Horovitz reading his 'House built from Cloth' for it contained some wonderful pleasing lines.  What a difference. He is currently Herefordshire's poet in residence.

In attendance, apart from Douglas, was Margaret, Robin and myself.  Unfortunately Heather could not attend.

We recorded our event and it means that however scattered we are, we can remain in contact.  We have yet to set the date of the next meeting, but I intend that we should meet again in February.

Flash Fiction

At a previous meeting a member read a short piece of fiction.  This encouraged me to write a 55 word     Short Story on the theme of 'The Fondest Kiss', but I did err slightly!


'You will never see her again.
 You're a fucking bastard and
 you can kiss my arse' she screamed.
The neighbours heard. Curtains twitched.      
He left.                                                                    
Her foot kicked the door shut.                                
Shattering another pane.
Prejudice in the court room.
Two boxes of legal papers
held the pain and shattered hopes.
Now, a fatherless daughter.      

John Edwards.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016


We met again (18th)with only a week's break in between and we still had plenty to read, discuss and comment upon.  Feedback is essential.  However first things first.  We examined the offerings brought by Margaret, Douglas and an updated version of David's 'Fuming'.  Now that he has had time to digest our comments and to consider what should be amended he came up with a more rhythmic end product.  His lines contain a very good damnation of those that pollute the atmosphere having no regard to it, and to those who cannot escape the fumes.

Margaret brought two that she considered were work in progress.  'Alan' was given our scrutiny first.  It was one taken out of her early life where children were labeled and put into convenient compartments.  We liked it with its simple style and rhyming pattern.  Changes were suggested.
Her second one was entirely different.  It was entitled 'News from 2001 - 2016' and originated from the news items and her attitude to the horrors in our world.
This is part of the first verse.
.....Perhaps I will be desensitised, or sentimentalised,/But No, I find myself sickened, reeling/feeling hurt and angry for those terrorised. ........

Her final line hits out at the waste of human life.  
'Killing at a steady, effective, frightening pace'.
Says it all from 9/11, Charlie Hebdo to today.

Douglas had written 'Caliphate'.  This was his view of THEIR view of the 'war on terror'.  This piece is very thought provoking and chilling.  We are used to hearing the Western view and this swings it around the other way.  It expounds an external view, it being the very opposite of much of poetry that has an internalized version of life.  In my view the writing takes us to another place.  We discussed it and offered no suggestions.  It stands as it is and maybe should be submitted to a quality newspaper.

Death came several times last week with David Bowie and Alan Rickman departing this planet.  Both so well loved and now who can play the Sheriff of Nottingham?  Douglas wrote Valedictory for the former and a short Tribute to a great scary character actor.  I can now another sad note for Glenn Frey left us yesterday. No more standing on a corner in Winslow Arizona for any of us, but the memories are great and will live on.

John had reacted to a theme offered by TORREVIEJA WRITERS CIRCLE of ' The Fondest Kiss'. He had surprising comments from Margaret about the simple fact that she consider it poetry.  David is of the opinion that it is 'poetic, but not poetry.  A shock really as the three pieces were written as 55 word Flash Fiction. He will consider the thoughts offered and will probably read it for TWC this coming Wednesday.  There is no 'fondest' in his three versions, but I suppose that is what a warped mind does!

And now to something entirely different.  We are a small group and very enabled to spend time examining what is being offered by some in the poetry world.  Some of it we don't like and we have decided to say so.  This will involve much reading, digesting and the formulation of articulate replies - for we are writers after all!

We will look again at the winning entry at Ledbury, together with the TS Eliot Prizewinner, Sarah Howe and also Rachel McCarthy who has been labeled as 'the climate scientist poet unleashing elemental forces'.  Articles have appeared in The Guardian and so they are already in the public domain.  Ledbury Poetry Festival announced its competition winners and those can be accessed via their website.  We are going to see who has been examining and judging and who has decided and adjudicated upon what.   We will look at background and gender to see what prejudices ( if any) are in play.  This is not a 'witch hunt' - no sexism at all here - and having read some of the comments on social media I know that we are not alone in being skeptical about what is good and well written and what masquerades as poetry.  I believe that poetry is for every person and not for an elite group who evidently consider that they are the ones that know best.  It does not mean to say that everything must rhyme, but it must have rhythm and it must be poetic.

Monday, 25 January 2016

Why Write ?

From the moment many ages ago, when I saw my handprint on the cavern wall, I was inspired to write. It was my way to communicate; to record and to inform. I was the only one.
     As time passed I progressed from mud daubs with my fingers, to charcoal scratches of my world, then on to colours fashioned from the earth itself. Stone tablets followed as my brain developed, and languages were formed.  My tools were hewn from rock and slate: wood and feathers; bone and hair, all provided by our Mother.
      I wrote of everything I saw, to pass on my knowledge to my fellows, to educate through my hands and mind. As I experimented I brought forth new materials, parchment and ink in their crudest forms, later refined to paper and purer inks.
       I catalogued events as they happened, to be read to the eager to learn multitudes.   I had the power to influence my circumstances as others listened to my teachings, and they in turn spread my words. Yes, eventually my words became stronger than the weapons of my would be oppressors.
       It took centuries for most to understand my writings, and there are still many who have not received the gift of education I have strived for so long to provide. I battle every day to overcome ignorance with my new inventions. I have machines to mass produce world wide news, machines that now function without my original tool and obey my spoken word.
      The task goes on.
     I write because I can. I write because I am Man.
Tom F.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Hello Dementia

Thoughts after a care home visit
    Hello Dementia
There, there.  What else can I say?
It will get better, now, or later, or some other day.
Time and place have slipped from reality’s grasp.
It doesn’t matter when and where we are –
Peace is all I ask.
My peace, of course, my comfort, and you try in brighter moments to comply.
You try to soothe me, though you can only wonder why.

And I – well I am learning as I sit in this plain place
Empty space
Bare of possibilities for misinterpretation,
Shorn of objects which may one day
Whisper love and on another hate.
I am learning that nothing is fixed.
There is no stability, no reality
Only a reflection in the mind’s eye
Distorted by the light,
Most of all by the might of truth
Which pretends to stand firm and square
But sits as do we all on shifting ground,
On a merry-go-round’s chair
That constantly alters perspective.
Though life may jump off to stand still and stare back
At our progress with contemptuous indifference,
With no care.

And I reach out to take your hand and kiss your cheek.
There, there.

Heather Gingele

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Poets meet up


We met again on Monday 11th January 2016 and we intend to do the same again next Monday.
There were four of us assembled around the table with the IPad recording every word so that we can send our readings and comments to David in Murmansk.

Douglas had, with him, five sonnets and a five-verse-four-lined one entitled 'No Longer Daffodils' that referred back to Wordsworth and the Future Learn course that we had studied. It was not about daffodils, of course, but about something closer to our thinking.  That important subject of what or how good are a collection of assembled words.  Are they prose or are they 'real M'Coy' - Poetry.  He spells his view out eloquently and then we have one line 'that poetry can be sublime' summing it all up.  He and the rest of us are aware of what is being exhibited as poetry.  That's the modern form that lacks rhythm for one thing and masquerades as being poetic.  I do not blame the words for they are never at fault.  I blame the writers, the academics and the judges that proclaim and exalt this tedious stuff.  Poetry should be for everyone and not for some clique who think that they know what is best.  We don't concur, but still respecting their individual right.

Douglas's five sonnets were of personal thoughts and touched, delicately, on important things to all of us.  However, one of them, told of an old cure for sleeplessness.  Of course everyone should know that a peeled onion placed by the resting head of the insomniac will always succeed!  These last few months has seen his production rate soar and he has announced that his next book will be filled brimful with sonnets.  That's good as I think that I can find enough space for another signed copy.  Well done.

David sent one about the pollution he is experiencing up in frozen Murmansk.  I will give you a the first few words. - 'In this shitty city, power station chimneys/spew out plumes of filthy fumes'.  That sets the scene and he goes on to spell out the fact that the communities suffer while 'fat-cats' indulge themselves.  We commented that this rant was 'soft' unlike his previous sharp edged words.  It must be the temperatures!  Keep it up David.  Rant on for I do believe that there is ample space for poetics to protest.

He also sent to us more words on 'Tonka And The Shaman' which is a children's story that will be illustrated.  We will send him our  thoughts on this story.

Margaret read two 'stories' that she had heard in England that had been performed at an 'open-mic'.  She wanted to share them with us and to elicit our views.  Again we revert back to whether they were poetry or prose.  The verdict was that neither were poetic, but very good stories.

On exactly the same theme we looked at the product of a Poetry Society Stanza meeting that had been placed on the Society's Face Book Page.  It is all there for all to see and so we read and commented.  The theme picked upon was the original reason for the recipe for Bakewell Tart.  So we have a recipe 'poem' or several.  The one offered publicly contained some good words and lines.  We have to bear in mind that it was written in an evening, but we did suggest that things could be better.  For us, it was not poetic.  So be it.

Robin had joined us for only the second time and promised to write something again.  Margaret too hopes to get some more words into print.  John was not able to make a contribution of his own, but has several ideas to become more than work-in-progress.

We did also try to link up via Skype as well as record our meeting which was sent out by email.  It is all to do again next week.