Category Archives: Uncategorized

Oh Woman…Oh Man!


This first appeared in Robin Barratt’s collection of prose and poetry titled What Women Really Want, it’s been re-published under the title The Challenges of Finding Love: and why men sometimes get it so wrong. I hope reading this inspires you to download the book. It’s enlightening, amusing, provocative, and even heartbreaking.

For now, enjoy this one.

What do women really want?

How does one answer a puzzle that’s supposedly haunted humanity from the dawn of time?

Looking back as I can, to more than sixty years of memories, loves unrequited and imagined, friends and their amours, apocryphal stories from legend, lore and gossip, I do believe that the answer to the question has not been found.
How can there be one answer to a myriad minds?

Look through the kaleidoscope of life. Turn the scope. What do you see?

The well-known tale of King Arthur, Sir Gawain and the old witch, who ostensibly solved the puzzle by saying a man should “give a woman her autonomy”.

Turn the kaleidoscope again and look at it in the mirror of today:

What’s that autonomy thing? When was it taken from Woman or a woman? And by whom?

Am I allowed to believe that most modern women – barring those who live in severely disenfranchised communities (and for them I feel we need to campaign) – are self-thinkers, self-determiners and strongly independent? It’s a feeling I get when I look around and see so many women in so many parts of the world – in top jobs, in construction, driving taxis, striding in high-heels and smart corporate style suits as they catch a bus or a train or glide through automatic doors prepared to smash glass ceilings.

Assuming that that is the demographic that we’re addressing, the answer is as multi-faceted as women.

I think we all, men and women, go through phases.

At some point – once we’ve moved away from the parental aegis – we rely on someone else. Or perhaps a group of ‘others’. Depending on our levels of self-esteem that reliance could range from self-affirmation through that individual, fitting in with a group we feel drawn to, sometimes subordinating our sense of self in order to find acceptance. And here is where a problem could begin.

If a woman subordinates her ‘self’ to such an extent that she loses focus of it, then she starts to have issues. Now I’m no psychologist but through observation of human nature and looking back, clinically at my own life and the lives of those to whom I have been close, I can state that this is the crux of the trouble.

Turn that kaleidoscope. We have another image.

Is it love when a woman is so ‘in love’ with a man that she thinks pleasing him in every way is her raison d’être? I’ve also seen men equally besotted.

Is it love when a woman leaves everything that she holds dear to be with one man?

Is it love that drives her or anyone – to pace the street on which the loved one lives? To forget all else and wait only for his call? To be blind to all else and deaf to all other sounds?

That is passion. And it has its place and time; its flaring moment – the firestorm on which many an epic has been written.

The good news is, that that’s a phase too.

Put the kaleidoscope away. Look at life in all its beautiful reality.

Most people outgrow this ‘desperately in love’ passionate phase and learn to start loving themselves. And that, as all the pundits and gurus, Cosmo type magazines and pop quizzes will tell you, is what you must do in order to truly love another person and realise ‘autonomy’.

Now to the issue of two people sharing a life together. If a man is looking to ‘please his woman’ through reading a book like this, my first suggestion is change your attitude. She’s not ‘your woman’. She’s a woman with whom you wish to spend the rest of your life. Stop possessing each other and start recognising each other as individuals.

Be honest, but not rude. Sometimes what you say mayn’t make her happy, but that isn’t the end of your life together. Share your concerns with her. She wants to be a partner. Don’t leave heavy decision-making to her alone either. As every self-help column and book states, discuss things together. Don’t make decisions that affect both of you without consulting each other. That goes for women and men.

And as for those joke questions that women are supposed to ask men to which they profess they’re so nervous they feel there’s no right answer: “Does this dress make me look fat?”

If it does make her look fatter tell her. But really look at her and be honest. If it’s a special evening help her with the decision-making earlier in the day so that you’re not going through wanting to say ‘yes’ just so that you leave the house on time.

And to women I’d say, stop asking men silly questions. If you want ‘autonomy’ start making decisions yourself. He looks at other women? Sure! You look at other guys, don’t you? You can agonize over this question or keep the following poem in mind:

Khalil Gibran On Marriage:

“You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.

You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.

Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.

But let there be spaces in your togetherness,

And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

 Love one another, but make not a bond of love:

Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.

Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.

Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf

Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,

Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

 Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.

For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.

And stand together yet not too near together:

For the pillars of the temple stand apart,

And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.”

Now, toss a coin. What do women really want? It depends on the day, the time of the year, and the time of her life.

Your guess is as good as mine.

— end —


Clap your hands and we are gone


Flipping through my “work” notes I came upon this poem. Procrastination hits my work assignments too, sometimes. Many were the mornings I’d play a game of solitaire on my computer or do the cryptic crossword to get the cogs in my brain moving. In Halifax a young friend, Crystal, taught me how to do the ‘Cryptoquote’ a good solid brain-teaser, perfect to start the creative juices flowing. And now what do I find among my notes…

We are stardust, we are ephemera
Is that why our lives are so shallow in every way?
Unconsidered, unthought out, unplanned
There was a time when spontaneity
sparkled, lit up our unplanned lives
Today it’s lost its sparkle
Today everything sparkles
Flat, planned permanence and stability
Rock-solidity are spurned
Labelled boring, dull, unexciting
So we chase another dream
And yet another
Flickering flames of fantasy
Forever just there
Just out of reach.
And so we are forever running
Like Alice, twice as hard
Not realizing that Time and Space
Run with us
So we get nowhere
Our eyes always on tomorrow
We don’t see today
Nor realise that the here and now
Are a gift
That the ancients called
The present.

Winter Reading: Two books to keep outrage fatigue at bay


A good phrase, may we continue to keep it at bay


There have been times over the past few months when I’ve felt myself succumbing to a malaise. What’s the point in adding my voice to the chorus of disapproval – in my echo chamber at least – at the antics of Donald Trump, whose malevolent acts and attitude spreads way beyond the shores of the United States?

What’s the point in ranting about the incompetence of the British government in its handling of Brexit, and the vicious attacks by the likes of the Daily Mail on anyone who sees things differently from its bombastic editor?

Why continue to be angry about the role of allegedly responsible countries in prolonging the suffering in Syria? And why rage about the relentless encroachment of Israeli settlers, and the detention of a 16-year old girl for slapping a soldier after the death of her relatives?

And if we can’t be bothered to raise our…

View original post 836 more words


In which it is publication day and I have a whole new name


What a wonderful idea! Wuthering Heights is definitely one of my all time favourites.

Alison May

It is a new year. A new day.* And I have a new book out under a whole new name. Which, frankly, is a lot of shiny newness to get one’s head around.

So let’s focus on the new book and the new name. And I’ll do that by telling you all a little story of the birth of that new book and new name…

Once upon a time, in a land far far away** the Romantic Novelists’ Association held a conference and I did get up at that conference and give a little talk on adapting classic literature into contemporary fiction.

Adaptation talk Me talking. With PowerPoint. And excitable hand gestures.

After the talk I was chatting to Janet Gover who said, ‘I’d like to adapt Wuthering Heights but they’re all Northern and I can’t write Northern.’ (Because she is from Australia which is a really very long way South.) And…

View original post 406 more words

Desert Flower… the little story that could!

Desert Flower… the little story that could!

This is a post I wrote some time ago, but perhaps it will give this little story a bit of a boost.

I don’t usually use Fictionpals to promote my books and writing but every now and then something happens and I want to share it with the world. Also, perhaps because this was my first published story (re-published by Ex-L-Ence Publishing), I am rather partial to it. It also seems to be the one that keeps captivating readers.

Several months ago I entered Desert Flower in the Readers’ Favorite annual awards contest. I didn’t win anything of any significance, but did get a small prize of five express reviews. All the reviews aren’t in yet, but I have received four wonderful 5-Star reviews and I am featuring them here!






Drinker of the Wind


Untitled design

Some time ago when I was at the ad agency in Bahrain, I worked with some very talented artists and illustrators. One was Linda Strydom – who created the illustrations for Corpoetry and among so many others there was Francis Tiongsen, his brother David Tiongsen who is nothing short of amazing and many others who do so much more than computer graphics. If you check out their portfolios in the links provided you’ll know what I mean.

All that is by the by. Just thought I’d give some friends a plug!

This poem came about because Francis loved horses and at the same time we were doing a brochure for a real estate project created around the theme of horses, in particular the Arab. He’d created some captivating illustrations which then prompted this poem based on an old Bedouin legend.





DRINKER OF THE WIND (sharaab alrreh)

He was Erebeh, he was mystery,
The Arab steed that flew
Across the desert sands
Chasing the storm
His hooves thundering a warning
To those who had sinned
He was the first Drinker of the Wind.
His mane was midnight,
His eyes were the stars
The light from his hooves,
Four galaxies that shone from afar.
One look from him, one shake of his head
The other steeds followed wherever he led
He ruled the old dunes,
He ran wild and free
And his sinews were limned
With good honest sweat:
The Drinker of the Wind.
Long was he hunted,
Hard was he sought
And the Bedouin tribes
Over him once had fought
His was a spirit born to be free
A being not to broken, nor ridden was he.
But legends tell us,
One wild winter night
A lone Beddu approached him,
So humble, polite
And our Arab stallion
He pawed the hard dunes
And took unto him a mare
Pale as the moon
Then he left as he came
That dark winter night
Like a vision, a dream,
A mere flicker of light
Never again seen by mere men
For he truly was 
The first Drinker of the Wind.
Some say they saw him
Against the dawn sky
Some say they hear him,
When the wind rumbles by
But the Bedouin know
And their legends declare
The Drinker of the Wind
Can’t be seen anywhere

For he left as he came
On that wild winter night
When the sky was a mantle
As dark as could be
And the wind moved the dune tides
Like waves on the sea.
No moon, not a star
Shone that magical night
When the Drinker of the Wind
Disappeared from all sight
He flew up to the heavens
The night sky took him home
Where, as he was meant to
He still freely roams
The first Drinker of the Wind.

Note: The Arabian Horse – 

And God took a handful of South wind and from it formed a horse, saying: “I create thee, Oh Arabian. To thy forelock, I bind Victory in battle. On thy back, I set a rich spoil And a Treasure in thy loins. I establish thee as one of the Glories of the Earth… I give thee flight without wings.”

— Bedouin Legend

(Byford, et al. Origins of the Arabian Breed)



Lament of the Lotus Eaters


Lotophagi (pronounced lo’ toff-a-ji) is a collection of poems that came together when I was in Bahrain between 1982 and 1993. It never went anywhere. I had/ have around fifty poems that deal with a variety of people and situations that I encountered during that time. The first twenty five poems deal with people, like us, who were rather smitten by Bahrain and these are somewhat longer poems, the second twenty-five are short haiku-length inspired poems that deal with people who came here, couldn’t stand Bahrain and left very quickly, in one case within two weeks!

As with Corpoetry, I just had fun with it and even created some rather bizarre illustrations on the old software called I think, Paintbox, that came with the word-processing software.

Here’s one, and I may post a few more if the feedback is interesting. Some of the poems have already appeared in My Beautiful Bahrain.









Lament of the Lotus Eaters

A deep slumber

A dream remembered

Once upon a time, we lived

Between birth and death

Suspended like a dewdrop

In the dawn.

And all life

Was a desperate clinging to the leaf.

From each breath

Each ray of sunlight

Each wisp of mist

We extracted every molecule of joy.

And now, we wonder why


We just wait to die.

Growing old in Shangri-la

Having lost our precious ‘wa’

And yet not lost our equilibrium

We wait

Suspended, lives askew

Between don’ts, won’ts, can’ts, I could, I should

And I do.


Spring into summer


Written some years ago in Vancouver

Mists, grey as monsoon clouds,
Shroud the still snow covered caps
Of mountains in the distance
The park is as green as a henna bush
Displaying a myriad verdant shades
While tulips and rhododendrons run rampant
On its edges
Dancing in sunshine yellow, lipstick red
And muted hues of purple, pink, papaya orange.
I wonder why in all this splendid array
Of a western spring and early summer
My imagery still wanders back
All the way,
From Canada to India.





My kind of fun poem! Reminds me of my 🦑 squid!

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

Image result for mosquito cartoon

I am a small mosquito
And my task is not the best…
To be a nuisance all my life
And be a perfect pest.

It isn’t really all my fault
When deep within the night
You wake to find I had a snack
And left a nasty bite.

I need the stuff that’s in your blood
I have none of my own…
That’s just the way that I was made
And so the seed was sown.

I am the perfect predator
No tiger bite can beat
The stealth attack that gets to feed
Yet leaves you on your feet.

I’m made by Mother Nature,
Working to her own design…
So when you try to squash me flat,
Recall…the fault’s not mine.

I can’t turn vegetarian,
That’s not the way I’m made,
A mozzie needs her sustenance,
The Piper must be paid.

We may surpass our natures,
But we can’t be…

View original post 36 more words