Armistice Day

The eleventh day of the eleventh month.  Armistice Day.   The day the guns fell silent on the western front in 1918.  Ten million soldiers and seven million civilians dead. Slaughter, on an industrial scale.  The world had never seen anything like it. Nobody who lived through it came away unscathed.  Nobody who witnessed the return of millions of wounded and mutilated men could ever forget it.

It was the first time the modern world saw what war can be like.  The impact was devastating and it marked the psyche of a generation.  ‘Never Again’ was the refrain repeated over and over as surely, given the cost, we would never let anything like it happen again.  But, of course, it happened again.  It’s happening now, somewhere.

My mother’s family always, always kept the day.  They would all gather in her aunty Alice’s house and have a meal to mark the date.  She would be kept from school for the occasion.  It was an important day.  Her father, Richard O’Reilly was at Gallipoli.  His regiment, the Connaught Rangers, were annihilated by the Turkish guns.  His arm split from the wrist to the shoulder by an exploding shell. He barely made it out.  His sisters at home in Drogheda worried sick reading the death lists. Watching the results of the horrific attrition unfolding in France and Belgium.

My mother’s aunties Alice and Molly lived long enough to see it all happen again, so did her dad. But they kept the day anyhow.  They kept the day and thought of what had happened.  They remembered as only they could.  They passed that charge to my mother, not in any practical way.  We didn’t keep Armistice Day.  We didn’t gather and share a meal.  But the day never passed unmentioned.  My sisters and my brother and I all grew up knowing that the eleventh of November is a significant day.  Perhaps the most significant day.  It is the day we look at war and say, never again.  That can never happen again.  Of course, the people who profit from war don’t listen.

After I left home I would always call my mother on November eleventh.  Just to talk, just to say ‘it’s Armistice Day today’.  But this year, she’s not here.  There was no phone call.  This year Armistice Day came to me.  I have to mark it.  So today, almost one hundred years after the end of the first world war, I take my place, I make the stand and I say, never again.  This can never happen again.  And I will say it, with all those who say it, on this day every year until I can’t and so humanity stands against war.

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It’s Out!

Our Happy Hours LGBT Stories From the Gay Bars

Yes, folks, from today you can buy this fabulous collection of stories and poetry. I am so proud to be a part of this project. Not only do I get to rub virtual shoulders with my literary sheroes, I also get to help raise money for two LGBT charities. All proceeds from this book go to the Attic Youth Centre in Philadelphia and the Ali Forney Foundation in New York.

My own contribution is a story set in Liverpool back in the 1980s.  It was a place where we found joy and pain, laughter and heartache. And through it all, we danced and lived the life. The Masquerade was the centre of our universe and I hope that you enjoy a glimpse into that world. Here’s a photo of my membership card, a treasured little possession.

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To Get Your Copy on Amazon.UK click here

To Get Your Copy on Amazon.com click  here 

 www.bellabooks.com ;

www.barnesandnoble.com ;

www.kobobooks.com

 

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Coming Soon

The book that many of us have dreamed of is about to be published and I am over the moon to say that one of my stories is included in it. Our Happy Hours, LGBT Voices From The Gay Bars is a collection of stories and poems from the lesbian and gay bars that have played such an important role in many of our lives.

My story is set in Liverpool and takes place in a club that everyone who was on “the scene” back then knew, The Masquerade.  It was a place where we gathered to be with our own kind. A place where we could be ourselves for a few precious hours. We cruised, we danced, we fought, we found love, we found heartache. I still have my membership card and every now and then I come across it hidden in the bottom of a draw, usually when I’m looking for something else, and smile at the memories. The original club is long gone, but there is still a club bearing that name in the city, a testament to the fondness that the “Mazzy” inspired in us.

I am really looking forward to reading this collection, and I am truly honoured to be in the company of writers such as Lee Lynch and Joan Nestle. Amazing.

The profits from the book will go to two non-profit LGBTQI organisations. Attic Youth Centre, Philadelphia, PA and the Ali Forney Centre in New York City. Lee Lynch and S Renee Bess are the collectors of the stories. The publication date is the 1st November, so make a note for your Holiday shopping! It will be available as an e-book and in paperback and you can get it from Bella Books, Amazon, Kobo and Nook.

 

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A Cautionary Tale for Cats

A Wild Cat And Me

by Jean Cross

 

It all started with the crows who lit upon my tree

and gave full voice to discord and cawed incessantly.

I watched them hop all o’er the top as twig bent under claw.

It looked just like an argument. Perhaps about some straw.

 

Then I noticed something, and my apprehension grew.

A feline form was climbing. The crows all noticed too.

They flew in all directions and left my tree quite bare.

Save for the cat still closing on the crows no longer there.

 

I’d seen this creature skulking ’round the farm just down the road.

It was a wild and untamed thing and of no fixed abode.

But I’d never seen it up so close, though perhaps it had seen me.

This ginger soul who stalked the night so independently.

 

Then it stopped and looked around and tried to turn half way

just as the wind began to stir and the branch began to sway.

That was when I went outside to get a better look.

Our eyes met through the branches the climbing cat was stuck.

 

What to do?  I could not leave. Nor could I get near.

The branching was too thin up there, the creature full of fear.

No use in trying to coax this one. No words would get it down.

I’d have to get a ladder to lead it to the ground.

 

So there I stood with arms outstretched to push the ladder high

The first rung was now near the cat. The final rung was I.

Of course I could not look at it as it made a cautious move.

I had to supplicate myself and stare down at my shoes.

 

But I felt it getting closer and I wished I’d worn a hat.

For in a moment from my head sprang a wild old ginger cat.

Then it was gone and I replaced the ladder in the shed

and went inside to attend the holes upon my head.

 

Later as I ate my lunch in silent reverie

I pondered on the episode of the cat up in my tree.

And here’s the thing that bothered me the thing I still don’t know.

What made that scarred old hunter think that it could catch a crow?

 

Perhaps in some back garden, or by some untidy bin

the bird might let it’s guard down and the patient cat would win.

But at the top of a tall tree the outcome was assured.

Danger for the sneaking cat, survival for the bird.

 

But still the ginger creature crawled out on a limb.

Driven by its nature to a situation grim.

And here’s the lesson that I learned from that old cat in my tree,

let others do what they might do and I’ll be true to me.

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Testing… Testing…

Thursday,  14 September 2017.

Feeling a bit like a monkey with a typewriter at the moment.  I have been feeling my way around this new site in an effort to make something of it.  So far I have found out that discovering that something is possible is not the same as making it happen.  But, as is often the case, it is the journey that matters in the end.

Feeling a bit like a monkey with a typewriter at the moment.  I have been feeling my way around this new site in an effort to make something of it.  So far I have found out that discovering that something is possible is not the same as making it happen.  But, as is often the case, it is the journey that matters in the end.

I know more than I did when I started this process and I am feeling absurdly pleased with myself because I figured out how to make links to other pages on the internet.  As if that was not enough, I am on the brink of understanding the mystery of widgets and their function on a website, getting giddy now.

Anyway, bear with me.  I hope the end result will be rewarding for the visitor and for me.  What I know I can bring to the effort is a lot of enthusiasm,  and hopefully, some interesting thoughts.

By way of explanation, the date at the top under the title is probably when I first got this site.  I kind of rediscovered it recently and decided the time has come to figure it out. The other date is today.

 

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