Thursday, 30 January 2014

Dum in double trouble (Dum tales 3)

Yum always chose where they would sleep at night as Dum didn’t care as he could sleep anywhere so Yum found a corner away from the families with children, checked the floor of the cave and swept it with her hands so there would be no stones sticking into them.

Dum meanwhile was grunting at the other men no doubt trying to tell them how good Yum was; so she decided to hit him when he came back to her.

Dum was surprised when she hit him but because he thought she liked him, so he got up again and went to look at the stars outside where a girl was there too looking up at the moon.

He could see its light reflected in her eyes so as he touched her on her arm she turned and smiled at him not noticing he had only one eye because it was so dark.

Dum was about to touch her again when he heard a scream as Yum came out of the cave, pushed him out the way and with one hand and pulled the girls hair with the other then scratched her face.

She turned to Dum hit him for a second time then grabbed his hand and pulled him back into the cave but he didn’t protest he knew she really loved him now despite the others in the cave laughing at him in the dark.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014


It is laughable

To think I am affable

Grr! That is not true


The In-laws have come

I must galvanize my thoughts

Look pleased to see them


Where is my baby?

Who is that rangy youth there

Laying on that bed

Mahuika's Tales No 23 The Birth of Maui

Hekeheke loved being married to Maui and he with her. Once Maui finally realised he really had her as his wife he was very jealous of her especially when he found out that she continued to tell stories to the village children whenever they managed to catch her walking about the village and the children would plead with her to tell them another story about Maui (the Maori superhero, not her husband!)
Hekeheke knew how important it was for her to fit in with the life of the village of Black Sands and she spoke to everyone she met especially when she went to the hot springs which made her feel so at home as she had been born in Rotorua.
She became great friends with Horowai who was the wife of Tangaroa’s who was the man in charge of the springs now that Horowai’s grandfather had died.
Tangaroa suggested that Hekeheke use the meeting hall there to tell the children stories of the past. Hekeheke was delighted and spoke to her husband Maui that night. Maui frowned at her trying to look stern. “Who shall I get to do the cooking and who will warm my bed?”
Hekeheke tried not to laugh but said “I will find someone, let’s hope she will be as good as me”. Maui didn’t know whether she was joking or not but said no more.
Word soon got around that Hekeheke was going to tell stories for the children there and about ten children were all waiting to enter the meeting house when she arrived.
The boys said they wanted to hear about Maui. Hekeheke shook her head, “I cannot talk about my husband, he would be cross,” she said and all the children laughed.
She sat them all down and said “I will tell you about Maui when he was just a new born baby”. And so she began.

Maui was the fifth of his parents' sons but he was born so premature, so weak and underdeveloped that his mother the goddess Taranga did not think it was possible for him to survive. So weeping with utter sadness she placed her cheek against his face to say goodbye then wrapped his little dying body in a knot of her hair that she had cut off and placed his body into the surf to be left to the care of the gods of the sea.
As you know Maui’s full name that he is now known by is Maui-tikitiki-a-Taranga or 'Maui, the topknot of Taranga. As the tide was on the ebb the little bundle was washed out to sea almost certain never to be seen again. Some seaweed in the water gathered round the bundle as if to protect him and it floated away until the tide washed him back on a different shore far, far away.
There he lay on the shore with other flotsam, the seaweed and a dead jelly fish which has washed up on top of him. All this mess attracted a lot of flies. So many were gathered over the beach that Rangi-nui the old ancestor god and father of the sky ran over to see what had been washed up. He shooed away the flies and the scavenging gulls and poked at the dead jelly fish and found the baby Maui underneath really in a terrible mess but still alive.
Rangi picked him up took him to his home, cleaned him up, and placed Maui in a kete (woven basket) and hung him up from the roof supports to keep him warm and safe from harm. So he looked after him as his son and nursed him through infancy not realizing that he was in fact Maui’s own grandfather. Living with such a powerful god, Maui learned a lot and was not afraid of anybody. He grew up to be a confident and tricky person to deal not afraid of anybody. With his luck right from the start he knew that he could achieve much living with such a powerful person. Later when he became a young man he decided to try to find his mother but I will tell you about that next time.

The children were very pleased with the first story from Hekeheke got her to promise that she would tell them another tale soon. She smiled at them and said “Yes I will, but now I must go home to prepare a meal for my husband, Do you think he will eat a jellyfish?”

Monday, 27 January 2014

Dum gains an advantage (Dum tales 2)

Dum was never sure of Yum for by day she was always happy foraging and eating of course. At night she was content that they kept each other warm. But when he touched her on her soft round bits she would either hit him or close her eyes and just say “Yum”. Dum thought that as he usually did that at night in the dark she was merely telling him who she was in case there were any other people close by in the cave they slept in that he might have touched.

Sometimes the other cave people would laugh at Dum and his one eye and the women would taunt him. But Dum was not like other men he ignored them whereas any other man would ravish the woman for her impudence or knock the teeth out of the men.

Yum knew that Dum liked her in his own way but wished he would like her in her way.

Dum and Yum often went back to the beach they had found to pick up shellfish and ate them there on the sandy shore. One day when the sun was shining hotly Yum waded into the waters to cool off while Dum first looked on, then he waded out after her.
She splashed him with water and he was angry at first but when he saw that she was grinning at him they were soon rolling about in the water being buffeted by the waves. Yum laughed and put her hand on his chest so Dum did the same to her and this time she did not hit him but wrapped him in her strong arms and nibbled at his shoulder as he felt her all over. As she did not protest he continued to stroke her until she nodded and he was at last to truly make her his woman and they lay in the water for some time breathing heavily. He knew that she was really his now as she would not let go of him no matter where he put his hands. Dum was so pleased he bent over her and licked her nose and face. Yum must have been pleased by that too as she jumped out from the surf laughing and ran up the beach with Dum chasing after her thinking he was finally gaining her trust.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Bleak Aspect

It's a bleak aspect

Being in a state of shock

I have lost you now

You’ve gone to a far country

With coral strands

Where time stands still

Without me

You were a gift sent to hug

Now where is your embrace?

What happened to our plans?

How do I write you?

How do I juggle my life

That’s the trick

Can I still tickle your toes

And kiss your nose?

While I count the hours apart?

Left in a hopeless state

Will we re-unite?

That’s the rub, the cruel bite

Who on earth will facilitate that?

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Domestic Bliss (Dum tales 1)

Dum and Yum were early cave people and wandered far and wide to find food on the trees and bushes as they were always hungry.

Dum stayed with Yum because she had good eyes and a nose that could smell danger even though hers was a little small…for a nose.

Dum only had one eye as his brother had poked the other out when he was child so he needed Yum to hunt with him and she also kept him warm at night.

Yum had gone on ahead and he heard her calling when she disappeared over the sand hills, “Dum, Dum, come, come,” she grunted and when he caught up she was already racing across the sand towards a large body of water.

“See, see” she grunted as she bent down at the water’s edge finding some creatures there.

“Yum, Yum,” he heard her say as she prized open the shells and gobbled the contents down.

When he reached her squatting in the shallows she tossed him a shell to try and he opened it and as he swallowed he looked back at her and thought, “She is amazing for a woman.”

Wednesday, 22 January 2014













Malevolent eyes

Those repulsive probing stares

Jim loathed his new school













Jane knew they loathed her

They repulsed her advances

Malevolent cows

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Mahuika's Tales No. 22 The tale of the Kiwi


Mahuika continued telling the stories to the children when they came to see her.  As it was a warm day she suggested they go into the forest which was just a short walk away. She sat them all down and then asked what animals they could find in the forest.
“Animals only come in here to hide” said one boy. Then a little girl said “birds like flowers but it is so dark and cool in here most animals cannot find what they want to eat.”
I will tell you a story about the forest then”, said Muhuika.

One day Tanemahuta one of the ghostly guardians of the forest was walking through the trees that were his children. Many were reaching for the sky when he noticed some of them were beginning to sicken as the bugs and other insects were eating them.
So he told his brother Tanehokahoka the guardian of the skies of this problem. So Tanehokahoka called all his children, the birds of the air, together and asked Tanemahuta to speak to them.
“Something is eating my children the trees," he said. "I need one you to come down from the roof of the forest and to live on its floor to help clean it up so that all my children can be saved. This is important as the trees are your home. Will you come?”
All was quiet and not one bird spoke.
His brother Tanehokahoka then asked the birds in turn.
“Tui, will you come down from the tree tops?”
The Tui bird looked up at the trees and saw the sun filtering through the leaves. He looked down at the forest floor and saw the dark cold earth and shuddered with fear.
“No, Tanehokahoka, it is too dark and I am afraid of the dark.”
Tanehokahoka then turned to Pukeko.
“Pukeko, will you come down from the forest’s tree tops?”
Pukeko looked hard at the forest floor and saw how dark and damp it was and shook his head.
“No Tanehokahoka, for it is too damp and I do not want to get my feet wet.” 
All was quiet and not one bird spoke so Tanehokahoka turned to Pipawharauroa.
“Surely you will come, Pipawharauroa?”
Pipawharauroa looked up at the trees and saw the small patches of light from the sky high above and looked over to his family.
“No Tanehokahoka, I am too busy at the moment building my nest.” 
Everything went quiet again and still no bird spoke up. Tanehokahoka felt so unbelievably sad. He knew that if one of his children didn’t come down from the forest roof not only would his brother lose his children the trees, but his own children the birds would lose their homes. So at last he turned to Kiwi.
“O Kiwi, will you come down from the forest tree tops.”
Kiwi looked up at the trees and saw the sun filtering through. He looked at his family waiting for him to make a decision and then he looked down at the ground and spied a bug crawling in the litter. Automatically he pecked at the insect and swallowed it down. He looked at his family once again then turned to Tanehokahoka.
“Yes, I will.”
Tanehokahoka then turned to the other birds and said, “Tui, because you were too scared to come down to the forest floor you will wear two white feathers at your throat to mark you as a coward.”
“Pukeko, because you did not want to get your feet wet you will forever live in a swamp.”
“Pipiwharauroa, because you were too busy building your nest, from now on you will never build a nest again but risk having to lay your eggs in other birds nests.”
“Kiwi, by you decision to help others and because of your great sacrifice you will be the best known and most loved bird of all.”

Just then another little girl touched Mahuika on the arm and pointed over into the dark bushes. Mahuika looked and with one finger at her lips signaling for them all to be quiet she pointed with another finger to a clump of ferns to the right of her. The children all turned in that direction and saw a Kiwi pecking away at the ground for his food.

Pipawharauroa - Shining Cuckoo who uses other birds nests
Pukeko              - Purple Swamphen who nests in the reeds in the water
Tui                    - Tui (modern name) The photo below shows one of the white feathers of shame on his neck

Monday, 20 January 2014

My mother had no faith in the sea

                  Weymouth,Old ferryman - Picture of Weymouth, Dorset
This photo of Weymouth is courtesy of TripAdvisor  It is however typical of the old ferry boat at Littlehampton

My mother had no faith in the sea’s trustworthiness. She panicked whenever the ocean, sea, tidal inlet or even a sluggish river were in close proximity. This became apparent to me as an 11 year old when we spent a holiday with relatives who lived by the sea at Littlehampton in Sussex shortly after WW2. We stayed in a village a tidy walk from the town and the sea itself was still a distance from the shops. The beach was flat and mostly sandy which was where most people congregated close to all conveniences such as the ice cream parlours, the tea rooms, the amusement arcade, the putting greens and of course the public conveniences.
My father was more adventurous and on hearing of a deserted beach on the other side of the river that ran through the town decided on an expedition to this haven from the hoi polloi, in order that games, picnics and sea bathing could be enjoyed without the need to jostle for space on the main beach, trip over others belongings and join hundreds of others in the an almost religious dip into the ocean akin to bathing in the Ganges. Mother approved the plan and we found that to reach the unspoilt pristine beach we would have to be rowed across the river by a boat plied by a boatman. This was exciting. The boatman himself was a gnarled weather beaten old salt that said little and merely did his job whilst smoking a old pipeful of rank tobacco that sent up a cloud and stench so foul no other water craft came near us. I do remember his hands though; great brown knotted clumps of flesh on the ends of his arms that gripped the oars and seemed to me to epitomise immense strength.
I could see the panic on my mother’s face as we and several other hardy souls intent on exploration also clambered into the boat. The charge per passenger was 1d and for this we were ferried a few yards across the River Arun. This comparatively short river rising somewhere to the north of Arundel was extremely fast flowing. At Littlehampton this was quite evident when the tide was out. When the tide was in, as it was this morning, the basin filled and the water was sluggish so rowing across to the other side was simple, much to the relief of mother. Thus it was when we crossed for the first time and safely delivered on foreign territory we trekked the few hundred yards to the beach and spent the whole day there, exploring, eating, playing and even bathing. Mother however merely donned her sunsuit and had no discourse at all with the sea.
With all the food eaten, bodies burnt by the wind and the sun, tired out from so much exploration and hungry again we made our way back to the ferry crossing. There was a queue of customers as the journey seemed to take longer this time. The tide was going out. No that is not true it was racing out and the pair of ferry boats in use were making very heavy weather of the trip. When we finally boarded and pushed off the boatman with grim determination immediately turned the craft and rowed with a steely look on his face in what appeared to be wrong direction upstream and continued that way painfully slowly. Only when the berth on the opposite side seemed totally out of reach did he carefully swing the boat around and drift with the current. The craft seemed hopelessly out of control until some yards from the berth did he nudge the boat into the waiting hands on shore to quickly fasten it and unload the passengers on dry land. Now we boys and Dad certainly had faith that all would be well. Mother on the other hand did not open her eyes until she was helped out of the boat on the other side.

I posted  this recollection originally in Aug 2010 on the old Sunday Scribblings web site

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Dreaming of you

It is not yet dawn

But I nestle in your back

Curled up like puppies


And I hear you sigh

I am a fine conjuror

It’s years since you’ve gone


But you’re here again

Carried back by memories

Sad trinkets of joy


The spirits hold you fast

Invisible twine ensures

I don't steal you back


I breathe in your scent

But I must not fall asleep

Neglect will lose you


But I am so weak

Morpheus has bent over me

You are gone by dawn

Saturday, 18 January 2014

I looked in her eyes


I looked in her eyes

How I’d love to ask her out

I’ll speak tomorrow


But on the second day

She sat with this tall dark man

My heart wept with grief


As I turned away

She then saw me, smiled and waved

I was filled with joy


Later as we talked

Our eyes were locked together

And we were both hooked


Friday, 17 January 2014

Up to his old tricks

Maureen came home as usual and her beloved Robbie was there to greet her, but she could tell from the guilty look in his eyes that he was keeping something from her. 

He came close to where she sat and put his head in her lap, “Robbie what’s wrong?” she said fearing the worst.

“It can’t be that bad” Maureen said as she knew that he idolized her but he just looked so incredibly sad that he went off to bed and curled up there whimpering.

Maureen then went into the laundry to find the washing was scattered on the floor and the socks and handkerchiefs had been chewed and there were holes in them.

She went into the Dining room and the library books that had to be returned that week had their covers ripped off. Maureen didn’t whether to laugh or cry as Robbie her dog was up to his old tricks again.

This is a true story of my wife Maureen's dog from before I married her.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

The girl with straight fair hair

I’m an observer

And I watch the world go round

You may have seen me


I sit on a bench

Drink coffee in a café

Or ride on a train


And I write stories

An anxious mother and child

A teen on the phone


I walk in the park

The devoted couple kiss

My eyes capture it


Hush, they talk to me

Unknown they tell their secrets

Even that scrawny girl


I'll write her story

That one with the straight fair hair

You’ll hear it from me

Mahuika's Tales No. 21 The Miraculous Flowering

                        Kowhai tree flowering with birds enjoying the blossoms

Hekeheke’s wedding to Maui took place at Black Sands towards the end of winter. Her mother and her mother’s new husband as well as Mahuika also went to support her. As Hekeheke was a close friend of Mahuika, Ahuahu the head man at Black Sands allowed them to use the Village meeting house and Maui’s family felt very proud to see what a great match their son had made for this offer to be made.
Hekeheke’s mother was surprised too that she was afforded such an honor when less than a year ago she had thought her own future was uncertain as a widow until she had been invited to live with a fisherman from Gannet Island after spending all her life at Rotorua. She had accepted for the sake of her children and was completely unaware until recently how close Hekeheke had become to Mahuika the former chief’s wife from Rocky Outcrop.
Neither did she have any idea that Hekeheke was a budding village story teller until late in the evening’s celebrations when after the speeches by Ahuahu and that by Maui’s father and Maui himself had taken place, Hekeheke touched Ahuahu’s arm and asked that she might say something.
Ahuahu nodded agreement stood up and then told everyone to be quiet as Hekeheke wanted to say a few words. And so she began:

On the shore of one of the lakes at Rotorua where I came from, began Hekeheke, there sat one day a long, long, long time ago a young Maori man and a beautiful kotiro, (young girl). The man expressed his love to the beautiful girl that he sought for his wife but she just laughed. She said that girls would not choose one man so soon when there were so many other men to choose from. She just said, we will see; she would wait; she would not accept anyone’s love until an Ariki or future chief of high rank and with many skills too, performed some great and spectacular deed just for her then she would become his wife. She would wed none but a great man, a man whose exploits no one could match. Much like Maui of old she explained. 

At this point everyone laughed. Then Hekeheke went on:

The prospective lover accepted the challenge. “You will see what I can do,” he said, He turned to the tree under which they were sitting. It was a Kowhai tree and the season was about the pakeha month of August which is in the cooler months of winter in Aotearoa (New Zealand). The tree was quite bare like many deciduous trees with neither leaves nor flowers.
“I shall,” said the young tohunga (future leader of his village) “make this tree spring into flower before your eyes.” With those words he summoned up all the magical powers that he could command, which he had been taught him by the wise men in the sacred houses of instruction. With his eyes closed concentrating hard he recited some magical prayers. Then all in a moment a miracle happened! The tree above them burst forth into a blaze of blossoms. All its naked limbs and branches were covered in a breathtaking display of golden hanging flowers.
The girl was amazed to see such beauty and was overwhelmed by his show of love. No man surely, could rival that wonder that this future leader of his village had performed. So she turned to him, looked at him directly in the eyes and said “If your love for me can achieve this, then yes, I will be your wife.”

Her short story completed Hekeheke then said: “Today this has happened again and Maui has colored my life with the blossoming of our love and he is now my husband and I am his wife.” She then sat down again.
Mahuika looked at Hekeheke, stunned at her ability to speak so well on her wedding day in front of so many people when up till now she had merely told stories to the children.
Everyone cheered and Maui’s father got up and said laughing “This will be long night of celebrations." Looking down at his son he went added, "I do not think anyone will get much sleep”. He then clapped Maui on the back, “You have made the best decision in your life in choosing Hekeheke my son.”
Meanwhile Mahuika was crying, for her it was a mixture of pride and sadness.

The Kowhai tree blossoms first in winter and the leaves come later. This helps birds find food in hard times.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Old London

                                   Sweet Lavender?

I do love London

Where else to treat the senses

To hear the hawkers cry?


“Cherry Ripe” she calls

The bold girl winking at me

Lips to match her ware


On the street corner

“Knives and scissors to grind, girl?”

With maids in a line


“Sweet Lavender sir?

Your wife will want this at home

Six bunches a penny”


I do love London

To flirt with those pretty girls

I’ll go back there soon


On rereading this I felt a bit embarrased at including the knife grinder so for a another salesgirl try this one:


 “Look fine strawberries

They are as lush as I am sir”

Just who would not buy?


Sunday, 12 January 2014

The Haunted House

The house was haunted

With scenes of devastation

Littered with bodies


One by one they came

The lifeless zombies drifting

And drowning in the pool


What a price they paid

The impact of the carnage

Known only by us


Remote desolate

Illuminated at last

A storm needs to come


Picture by 

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Sweeping the Threshold

Susan Higgins had married a boy from her village. Jas had a good job as a cow hand and had to get up early in the morning to let the cows in who had gathered round the dairy and to help with the milking in the afternoons as well. Sue was the last one left at home in her family and she could almost hear the sigh of relief when she walked out of door for the last time. When they got married the farmer offered them the cottage that her own granddad had lived in before he died. Sue could barely remember her granddad now as he had passed on when she was little. Her grandma now lived with her parents. Her Mum confided in her that she was worse than all the kids together as nothing was ever done right in the old ladies eyes as she moaned all the time. When she heard that Sue thought that her Mum would have liked to have her back home again, but those times were passed for she had her own man to look after now.

Jas came home after he had mucked out the dairy and the younger boys had taken the cows back to the paddock. He brought home a pail with his allowance of milk. She took it looked at it and sniffed it and said “I hope we can get a decent amount of butter from this Jas, we are running out”.

“You only have to ask at master’s kitchen door, girl.”

Susan shook her head. She wanted to show that she could manage without knocking on their door all the time. She had already got her garden dug up and growing veggies and there were a few chooks in the run at the back already laying eggs. She loved having her own home. She was proud to be married and being Jas’s wife.

“It’s bath night tonight Jas, so get the tin bath in will you? The copper’s lit so we can both have one.”

Jas’s eyes lit up. He knew what that would mean. Sue would have a bath as well and they would go to bed afterwards and she would smell so sweet and he would sleep really well afterwards when they had fondled each other and talked of babies and the names they would call them when they came along. Susan had already decided on the names if it was boy he would be called James like him and if it were a girl her name would be Jasmine so she could called Jas too.

After the meal was over, Jas brought in the tin bath, Susan turned down the oil lamps and bolted the door and filled the bath that was placed in front of the fire with water from the copper. Their towels were laid in front of the fire to warm up and as usual she had her bath first. When they first got married she had told him to go and make sure the chickens were locked up while she bathed and got out before he returned but now he was allowed to stay. He knew not to say too much as that would come later in bed but he was to fetch the towel for her and wrap it round her and help her out of the bath. Then he would have his bath while she dried off properly and combed and brushed her hair. She would scrub his back and then would disappear upstairs while he emptied the bath and hung it up again outside before locking the doors putting the guard in front of the fire and going to to bed himself. On this night they didn't talk much as there was so much more to do before they fell asleep.

In the morning they were up before six o’clock and she would be down first in the kitchen making porridge and toast. Then off to work he would go and return mid morning after the milking. By then Sue had made the bed, cleaned  the fireplace, churned some of the milk to make butter and swept everything out the door over the stone threshold. Then she grabbed the bucket of ashes and threw them down on the path that led down to the chook house. She checked that Jas had let the chickens out on the way to the dairy and gathered the eggs from the nests and put them in her apron as she walked slowly back to the house.

As she walked in through the door she said to herself. “I expect Grandma used to do everything exactly the same as me.” Then she laughed when she thought about Jas and her in bed last night.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

First Love

Oh, how I remember her now; the girl I had my eyes on at school.

She lived some miles out of town and I cycled to her small village one weekend on a whim and luckily I was directed to her house.

Was she surprised to see me at the door but her mother was delighted and suggested we go for a walk then she would make a cup of tea for us.

We were both shy as she showed me her village, she looked so fresh and pretty as we walked around and then returned to her house but we didn’t even hold hands.

I sat awkwardly as I ate a biscuit and balanced my tea but her mother still looked so pleased.

Fifty years later I met her on Facebook she vaguely remembered me but with sad longing I remembered her so well.