The Postcard – Part 2 of 2

Back On The Rock

All the afternoon she walked until her feet were sore. She found the South Bay and walked along the sand, even venturing to take off her shoes and refresh her aching feet at the water’s edge. She bought herself tea and a cake at one of the many cafes along the beach. She window-shopped but didn’t buy. As evening approached Rose, thoroughly lost but not caring a jot, got directions back to her guest house. She snoozed in the lounge for a while, then read a few pages of her book. Feeling peckish she slipped out for fish and chips from the establishment on the corner then, worn out, she slept like a queen without a care in the world.

In the morning she paid the lady £30 to stay another night.

The Birmingham police scratched their heads. No one had seen Rose Hanley in three weeks. They had forced…

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The Postcard – Part 1 of 2

A re-post of a short story from eight years ago – Part 2 tomorrow.

Back On The Rock

She was pleased, proud, excited all at once. She stood on tiptoe, reached up and popped the postcard in the red letter box. Her mother and gran smiled and applauded.

‘But Mummy, how will the man reach the card inside there?’
‘He has a special key to open the box darling.’
‘And then he’ll take it to Debbie’s house?’
‘Yes he will.’
‘Can I be a postman when I grow up?’ 


The postcard sat on the mantelpiece, the colourful image of bay and castle transforming that side of the room. Rose glanced at it with a curious mixture of longing and pleasure every time she walked by. At least twice a day she would pause, take the card and read the childish writing on the back. 

Hi Debbie I am here on holiday in Scarborough why don’t you come too? Xxx Susie. 

Rose would have delivered the card…

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After the Thrill is Gone

Time passes and you must move on
Half the distance takes you twice as long
So you keep on singing for the sake of the song
After the thrill is gone
– Henley/Frey

A certain air of melancholy descends once the last person has left an event and the gate has closed. Different in the case, say, of a football stadium with the knowledge that the next game will soon be coming along in the next few days or weeks.

The recent Jersey Festival of Words took place here recently in a huge marquee in Howard Davis Park for the first time. Putting it up was one thing, setting up the audio and video, laying the flooring, setting out the seating was quite another. Then the panic of the day before with the setting up of the various desks and stalls in the separate foyer marquee and the arrival of the food and other stalls. Then the few days of appearances by authors famous and not so much, playing to the public. Then at 10pm on the Saturday night as Lionel Shriver stepped out into the foyer for her book signing session, the take-down in the main marquee had already begun.

On Saturday and Sunday last we had our annual Faîs’sie d’Cidre (Cider Festival). It is one of the remaining old Jersey country fairs and we have unaccustomed crowds visiting Hamptonne to see the big horse helping crush the apples as part of the cider-making process. There is music, food, and lots of other stalls and entertainment. But everyone is gone by 5pm to the relief of our local residents.

Going back in for my Monday shift was a little sad. The remnants of the previous day were being cleared away, the last pressing of the apples was dripping into barrels, very much interesting the wasps. We awaited collection of the last mobile vans by the various vendors. A couple of the staff were recreating their cricket glory days, bowling apples at a bench. I even had a go, reminding myself why I haven’t played for 20 years or more.

And what about the folk who lived here for centuries up to fairly recent times – the young Charles II in waiting was thought to have been a visitor here in late 1649 during his exile. There are fewer places more likely to harbour the ghosts and spirits of those who have passed this way, and the merriment of the weekend must have roused them. But as things returned slowly to normal and the first day visitors arrived, I was not privileged to meet them.


A little trot through St Martin

Our Friday morning Slackers & Skivers run group – an offshoot of the amazing Jersey Girls Run – had its heyday during Covid lockdown. Since then, most of the group have found themselves returning to work, resulting in regular turnouts of three or fewer. So it was this morning I kept the flag flying by running solo in the lanes of St Martin, the parish which best retains the character of old rural Jersey.

Starting point on a damp morning, the Millennium Cross at Archirondel.

To head inland from this coastal road one has no option but to head uphill. The long Mont des Landes provides an early opportunity to get the heart going and the calves stretched.

Ignoring the little track to the right which is even steeper.

Each of Jersey’s 12 parishes has its own character. St Martin always seems dark and quiet, no one ever seems to be out and about. Today the heavy drizzle is welcome after a dry summer and early autumn. Nature reigns, happy in its solitude and gets on with gently adapting to the season’s turn. Acorns and chestnuts lie in profusions along the lanes.

If there are fairy sightings in Jersey, St Martin would be the most likely spot.

Then over to the Farmers’ Cricket Field. The season having just finished, Jim Perchard has scarified the outfield in preparation for re-seeding. The ground was formerly agricultural land but opened for cricket in 2005 thanks to Jim the landowner and his passion for the game. It quickly replaced Grainville as the premier cricket ground in the Island, just as Grainville supplanted the FB Fields in the late 1970s.

Turning back towards my starting point and a little diversion down another quiet lane which runs, little used, back to the coast road.

La Solitude cottages
And the strange datestone at L’Oasis

Back to civilisation after just 9k. A welcome coffee at the Driftwood Cafe and entertainment from a woman complaining bitterly over the freshness or otherwise of the croissants.

Simpler Times

Out on a little run this morning I was pondering on how simple life can be. Yes, of course all of us have worries, issues, problems to a greater or lesser degree. But as with the practice of mindfulness, running a few miles along quiet lanes on a fine morning can reduce the world momentarily to the one you are living in – the buildings, the fields, sky, sun, clouds. Nothing else matters. The past is gone and can’t be changed. The future is uncertain and can be dealt with as and when it comes. You are experiencing and enjoying the now, which is usually, at least, OK.

But the meditative effect of putting one foot in front of the other can also have other, surprising effects. In the past I have suddenly had worrying problems unknot themselves, unbidden, on a long run. I have, now and again, ‘lost’ a mile or so of a run – no recollection of having run the roads which have got me to my present position.

And this morning I thought of a little thing that happened over 50 years ago. It was of no consequence, one of the millions of memories which are generally stored in the dark recesses of one’s brain to stay there, but occasionally to pop to the forefront for no reason. I was still at school and it was the early 1970s. I was in west Cork with a school friend of mine, looking up relatives who were plentiful at that time – aunts, uncles, cousins. We visited a woman whose identity escapes me, but we were aware her daughter (or granddaughter) was celebrating her birthday – maybe her third or fourth. Accordingly we bought a cheap doll, duly arrived at the house, and presented the parcel to the little girl. I don’t think I’ve ever seen wonder on anyone’s face such as that of the little girl as she unwrapped the present and saw the doll. Enraptured, she removed it from the box and clutched it to her chest.

(Not the actual doll)

Then she carefully put the doll back into its box and wrapped it up before walking away, returning to it and reliving the joy of opening the present once more.

That little girl will be in her 50s now. If she has children and maybe grandchildren I don’t think they’d be so easily pleased.

When Your Race is Run

In 2009 Jayson Lee, a fellow runner and all-round sportsman, collapsed and died. The following year his family organised a 10k race in his memory. More than 200 runners took part – I finished in 49.24. That year, 2010, was my best running year.

Last Sunday was the 13th running of the Jayson Lee Memorial 10k which again attracted an entry in excess of 200. I finished in 49.18.

And just a couple of minutes behind me was my daughter Emma with her 5-month old son Dawson.

At the end of the race I exchanged mutual congratulations with a few runners I’d brushed shoulders with out on the course, took a bottle of water and walked back around the track to encourage those who were approaching the finish. I know full well how a clap, a shout, a few encouraging words can give you a lift as you dig deep through the physical pain, having given everything. I’m in a good place with my running right now but there have been many times when I’ve struggled way back towards the end of the field.

There were many familiar faces there, young and old. Those I have run with socially, a pleasing number I recognised having coached them in the past. Most managed a smile and a word or two, others merely grimaced all the more – believe me I understand that! But for a few minutes I reflected on how lucky I’ve been to be able to stay healthy and continue to take part in the sport. And how many good people I’ve met along the way.

Tuula says, “Hi Roy!”

I have mentioned before my slight obsession with a 20-year-old au pair from Finland, Tuula Hoeoek, battered to death here in Jersey in the final hours of 1966. Yes, I still pass by the field entrance where she was found dead, 2-3 times a week. I say, “Hi”, remind her of the date, give her a weather update. I move on, never expecting or receiving a reply

This morning I paused there as usual, happy to catch my breath after a bit of a climb. The field is overgrown right now, but something had appeared that wasn’t there 48 hours earlier. Standing all alone.

Edit 10th August, eight days later. The sunflower has gone, no trace remains. Another life snuffed out too early.

Ballad of Easy Runner

(Apologies to Glenn Frey)

I’m running down the road feeling overshadowed
Got sixty runners on my mind
Most of them are faster
And those I’ll never master
But there are still a few behind

Can’t take it easy, can’t take it easy
Can’t let the sound of my own footsteps drive me crazy

I’m running round the corner I’m a long way down the order
But what a fine sight to see
A water stop my Lord which I can afford
And that’s because it’s absolutely free

Can’t take it easy, can’t take it easy
Can’t let the sound of my own footsteps drive me crazy

Come on baby legs don’t fail me
I wanna know if I can do it when I’m eighty
I may lose I may win
But I will never be here again
And that’s the day I might slow down and
Take it easy

Chasing a Girl

The sun’s going down and I have her in sight
She glances back and realises her plight
Will she resist and put up a fight

She knows that no one will come to her aid
Is she worried or unafraid
Her reputation disarrayed

Ten metres now we both breathe hard
All other matters disregard
She should have brought a bodyguard

Looks back again and with a smile
Knows now that I’m nothing worthwhile
And speeds up for the final mile

For road racing throws up these duels
Just one can win the others fools
But it’s our race too it’s in the rules

Joseph Hudson – a Paean

Back in the days when football was new
The players were honest and blackguards were few
The captains decided the rules which were best
Third parties weren’t needed they’d just cause unrest

But as time went on the game took a turn
Now winning was foremost a living to earn
The disputes were many and fretful and long
Now umpires were needed to tell right from wrong

So two umpires were chosen the game it began
The fouls multiplied upsetting the plan
The umpires tried hard as they waved their flags
No notice was taken by the player scallywags

The bosses sat down and said what will we do
The umpires aren’t working we haven’t a clue
Our game is in danger the players run amok
Without law and order the game is a crock

Then up spake a quiet man, they listened to him
He said there’s a man down in old Birmingham
He’ll possibly come up with a great invention
That will answer our call and relieve all the tension

Joe Hudson he sat there in Brummagem Town
The troubles of football he read with a frown
And then it came to him like an epistle
I know he said, I’ll invent the whistle

Football was eventually saved at the death
By a whistle blown by the referee’s breath
The play is now stopped and is brought to a halt
And when told the players accept who’s at fault

All hail to Hudson for his invention
Is worth more than a mere passing mention
Without a whistle to compete
Football would be obsolete