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In case you can’t read the small print on this litter, it says:
Disclaimer: Seller accepts no responsibility for contents, which may differ from advertised offer.
Caution: Voting Tory will harm your health service, schools, environment, social services.
Especially harmful to children.

Colouring for Cumbria

If you are into colouring books and would like to contribute to fund raising for people affected by the winter floods in Cumbria have a look at this:


available at:


1 June

The bereaved house stands, neglected, at the end of a short terrace. Paint peeling around its windows, a bright green sea of uncut grass washes around its feet, waiting for the mower to be repaired. And the garden climbs up the walls and fences – roses, clematis, honeysuckle, on the brink of flowering.

Beside the back door, tumbled but convenient, three small piles of coal, logs and kindling.

Inside the neglect is more ingrained, the natural state in a house of two men (father and son – ‘we were two peas in a pod’) not much interested in housework and decoration.

Habitual hands have left their marks, on door frames and light switches, dark stains of countless touches. Many shelves line a room, crammed with dusty books, on art and magic, history and nature – a life-time’s library.

The disorder of illness overlies it all – the bed in the sitting room, a table dismantled in an upstairs room to make way for it, a small pile of plastic bags hold his clothes brought home from the hospital.

‘Here’s a picture of my father…and the dog we had…’ wiping the murky glass with tender fingers as he takes it off the mantelpiece, leaving its shadow in the dust.

But on the wall above the displaced bed there is a picture, a painting in a gilded frame, of a glorious sunlit afternoon – it shines like a jewel in this gloomy room, as fresh as if it were painted yesterday. (Though it is decades old – ‘He wouldn’t let me sell that one.’)

Two great trees stand in a green pasture which runs down to a hidden river. Beyond, the bluer green of farther woods rises to a low horizon.  A black and white cow, three quick dabs of paint, repeats itself, moving slowly from left to right across the picture plane. Leaf shadows ripple blue on the warm tree trunks and the trees’ crowns reach up into a tumbling airy height of sky.

Like a window into shining memory, it redeems the room.


Copyright © 2014 Fliss Watts

Earth Day


So it’s Earth Day today – one day to remind people about the planet we share.

Living where I do, it is hard to forget the climate change debate. There are reminders everywhere – wind turbines punctuate the horizon and colonise the sea. The local economy is driven by a nuclear power station some miles down the coast, while inland the fells and lakes show us a romantic image of a wilder, less peopled world, though they too wear a skin created by centuries and millennia of human action. Their bones read like a geology textbook of glaciation and its slow aftermath – U-shaped valleys, erratic boulders, benign flood plains awaiting the next deluge.

All this reminds us that on the almost inconceivably grand scale of geology, climate always changes, mountains rise and fall, ice advances and retreats, species evolve and are eclipsed.

But we cannot help but be attached to our little fraction of the great sweep of time, our infinitesimal point of differentiation on the curve, to worry about its gradient here and now. Can we affect it? Tweak the coefficients to slow things down and give ourselves and our earth-bound companions the time to adapt? Or are we like Canute, faced with an overwhelming tide? Have we already passed the tipping point?

The end of the beginning

Yesterday I added as a (rather long) post and as a page (for posterity!) Beginnings and Endings, the last of the accumulated stories that were my reason for starting this blog. So there may be a bit of a lull now, while I figure out what to do next. On the other hand I may already be addicted to this. Anyway I thought I should say thanks to the little group who have ‘followed’ me.

To anyone who is reading this, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the things I’ve put here so far. Before I started this blog I thought of it as just a way of putting stuff out there in the hope that it might be seen. But I have realised that blogging is not so much about publishing as about joining a conversation. The readers are all writers too (the magic of the internet), and, having cleared my backlog, I’m going to be more of a reader than a writer for a bit I expect. I’m looking forward to finding more gems out there. 🙂

Linocut: Reading


Copyright © 2014 Fliss Watts