The best birthday present ever..the forgotten soldiers.

You came home.

In May 2003 a large number of men who served with Lancashire and Cumbria Volunteers, formerly known as reservists of 4KOBR received compulsory call-out notices to serve in Optelic 2 in Basrah as part of the deployment of Queens Lancashire Regiment. They were a jolly bunch of souls from across Cumbria and Lancaster and this was the first time any of them had faced a compulsory call-out to serve in an actively hostile environment. They were given 21 days to sort out their families, their jobs and their affairs before departing from Alexandra Barracks, Lancaster at the end of May.

They served in gruelling heat in and around Basrah Palace and were on duty for a six month active tour. During that time they saw at least one of their officers Captain Dai Jones killed. It was supposed to be a peacekeeping mission but they faced hostilities on a daily basis and there was the constant threat of exploding IED’s. They were “butchers bakers and candlestick makers” and part-time soldiers, and yet they served admirably alongside full-time fully trained army personnel.

Their families back home also survived admirably with little in the way of active support and no garrison to back them up.

There were 2314 reservists called up for Optelic 2, made up of both volunteer reserve forces like LCV and regular reserve forces.

My husband was one of them. He was 41 years old and an HGV driver. We had just moved to the Isle of Man with our two small children.

He missed his children’s first day of school but he came home safe.

For years afterwards, he demonstrated hyper-vigilance but at least he was alive.

He still won’t talk about many of the things he witnessed.

But he came home.

Not everyone did.

They landed safely on Nov 7th (my birthday), and whilst it was another week before we got him home at least we knew he was safe and sound.

Fifteen years ago tomorrow.

He got four days leave- shown in the top photo and saying goodbye again at Ronaldsway Airport.

 

 

On the temple steps at Nan Tien.

Once upon a heartbeat

Your small hand held on to mine

Once upon a full moon

When the midnight stars did shine.

 

Once upon a heartbeat

My child I gave to you,

Everything my heart held dearly

My dreams and wishes too.

 

Once upon a heartbeat

You walked with head held high

You were brave enough to stand up tall

Your wings were strong enough to fly.

 

Once upon a heartbeat

I watched you stride away

Grown up, confident and brave

To make it your own way.

 

© Alison Jean Hankinson

for d’Verse.

For Ellen.

 

 

 

The wealth and beauty in the time-worn.

In Japan they have a word Kintsugi and it relates to keeping something and continuing to use it even when it has become damaged and care-worn. I am finding that as I age in our very materialistic and modern world that this idea resonates greatly with me. I feel that I myself am almost Kintsugi as I have been broken and fixed so many times.

I no longer feel the need to have everything shiny and new and in the latest style, it is as if I feel now more than ever that there was a time where it was the meaning that gave the value and this was more important than the monetary value of the “thing”. On my wall I have a clock that my mother got for me many years ago and its monetary value is meaningless but it still adorns my wall, she got it for me because she thought it would appeal to me and it still holds that value and the love that came with it deep within.

Sunday afternoon was very cold and wintery and in an attempt to stave off the cold we ventured into Bruccianis for a hot chocolate. Bruccianis is on the promenade at Morecambe and it opened in 1939 and still occupies the same building and much of the interior design and decor is still untouched and it is now a grade 2 listed building.

For me the comfort is in its menu. It takes me back to days gone by when I would warm my hands on a mug of Horlicks in the Bus Station cafe in Rawtenstall after shopping with mum, Terry Jacks and “Seasons in the sun” playing on the radio. The menu here boasts Horlicks, Vimto, Bovril and the ultimate decadence of the Knickerbocker Glory. It isn’t shabby chic, or modern art nouveau but simply still the same as it was many years ago.

Its wealth and beauty is that it is what it is. No charlatan here. A place to warm up with a hot chocolate in the winter-time and chat with family and friends or a special ice-cream treat at the beach in a red-hot summer when the sand feels like it is on fire. Sometimes we don’t need perfection what we really need is congruence and familiarity.

 

Morecambe by the sea

Icy cold toes, winter sun

Horlicks comforts me.

 

© Alison Jean Hankinson

I am submitting this for Haibun Monday at d’Verse, it breaks the rules a tad, but I think it reflects change and perhaps it is also indicative of a change yet to come, a return to a different set of values.

 

Banishing Demons.

He slayed the dragon, the sun shone he wiped the blood from the sword and went on his way.

For her that wasn’t the end of the story though.

She cooked him fried eggs for breakfast, ironed his shirts, darned his socks, plumped his pillows and waited for the debt to be done.

Paid in full – but it never was. She began to wish she had eloped with the dragon or that at the very least the dragon’s breath had scared away her knight in shining armour.

She began to wish she had reclaimed the night without her knight.

She began to wonder what dragon children would have looked like.

Perhaps she already knew-with their curly locks and their churlish charm and the devil may care attitude they had clearly inherited from their father not to mention their charming eyes of blue.

And all he had had to do – was slay the dragon.

 

©Alison Jean Hankinson

I am submitting this for d’verse Open link night.

The link below will take you to a lovely dragon, created by the very talented Soju Shots-Evan Heasman fromWhangarei.

Facing your demons

The Ugly Grubbly.

Once upon a yucky time lived a grubbly gringly monster groo

He jiggled in the midnight sun

and feasted on wibbly bungaroos

 

He gribbled beyond the wobbly fronds and bumbled in the forest froo

He wimbled with the flowersong

and with the frimbles flew.

 

Once upon an ugly time when gringle monsters knew

That clovely bubbly mischief makers

Made life worth living true.

 

© Alison Jean Hankinson

For d’Verse poetics.

 

Not so lost in translation

At d’Verse this Monday we were discussing translation and poetry.

My daughter Ellen’s favourite poem as a young teen was the translated version of Past One O Clock by Vladimir Mayakovsky and it has also become one of my favourites. Mayakovsky was a playwright as well as a poet, he often satirised aspects of “the state” and found himself in conflict with the authorities. He reportedly took his own life in 1930 aged 36 although there had always been some doubt cast over the timing and nature of his demise. Both he and Lilya Brik had affairs but even after the relationship ended they remained close.

I have no idea if it is a good translation but feel that it is most beautiful. Having lived in NZ I realise that often it is not possible to create perfect translations, so for example some phrases in Maori are more than just translatable words, a poem is a Taonga, which literally means a treasure or something that is highly valued, but the word Taonga is a much more accurate description it carries a sense of the sacrosanct.
Anyway I have to let you read the poem to understand its poignant beauty. It was left as part of his suicide note.

©Alison Jean Hankinson.

Past One O clock
Past one o’clock. You must have gone to bed.
The Milky Way streams silver through the night.
I’m in no hurry; with lightning telegrams
I have no cause to wake or trouble you.
And, as they say, the incident is closed.
Love’s boat has smashed against the daily grind.
Now you and I are quits. Why bother then
To balance mutual sorrows, pains, and hurts.
Behold what quiet settles on the world.
Night wraps the sky in tribute from the stars.
In hours like these, one rises to address
The ages, history, and all creation.
©Vladimir Mayakovsky

With love to you all. XXXX

Light and shadows of loneliness.

As the day casts its long shadow homeward

I recognise that so much of it has to do with the light.

They say it is always darkest before the dawn and perhaps that dawn is the realisation that the fear, shame and guilt linger longest in the hours of darkness

and they dance and pirouette amongst the silhouettes and shadows to a tune that beguiles and steals the light.

We light candles, we whisper of hope and future happiness and draw circles in vain to cast aside the demons.

We crave love and long to belong to another so that we have a hand to hold in the darkness a kindred spirit to guide us through the pain and suffering and lamentable servitude to solitude.

Sunrise.

Night yields to day and despair drifts away and the endless ebb and flow brings us slowly to the shores of our halcyon dreams.

© Alison Jean Hankinson

This is my contribution for World Mental Health Day. I think loneliness is a huge issue for so many people young and old alike and I think the hours of darkness are able to bring/conjure up their own unique set of torments.

For those who struggle to sleep it seems a long night.

For my girls.

Submitting this for open link night at d’Verse.