Archive for November, 2013

1960s Coronation Square

1960’s Coronation Square, Kitwe. (Photo: David Howell)

Someone posted a clip on Facebook and it took me straight back to my youth in Central Africa:  We flew from UK to Lusaka (Capital) in 1955 but moved up to the thriving metropolis of Kitwe on the Copperbelt in 1961, when I was eleven.


1960’s – We had many a delish dinner at the swish Edinburgh Hotel! (Photo: David Howell)


Early 1960’s – I remember buying my mum a broach for 2/6 pence at OK Bazaars – loved all the tacky glitter. (Photo: David Howell)


1960’S – My Mum in a striped dress crossing the street to the VW and my Dad waiting for her, in the driver’s seat. They always held hands, too… (Photo: David Howell)

The clip: Look what happens to those who gorge on the Marula Fruit.

Jamie Uys made many heart-warming and clever films about his beloved home and nature.

My favorite of all time was “The Gods Must Be Crazy”  a gentle story about a coke bottle left in the desert.  A local man decides it must have fallen out of the sky and decides the Gods need their bottle back.  He tries his very best to return it.  The film illustrates the Africa I grew up in, so beautifully.

Many clips can be found on You Tube to enjoy… this one is very funny – perfect comic timing.

(My grateful thanks to the photographer for these un-credited photos found on the net although I suspect they were taken by David Howell, mostly on a now- defunct website “The Great North Road”  showing one of my African poems.)

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Co. Cork

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The young hare

on country roads,

blurred speed,

dance with danger.

Ears flat back along,

legs pumping, stretched out

in thumping rhythm.

Teenagers ‘vogue’

among foxgloves,

buttercups, daisies…

Identify fatal perfumes

inviting the innocent,

unwary sniff-er

to twitch

inquisitive noses


Sudden glare

of spotlights



star struck


My body

flies up,


Legs loosely

flap – fold.

Here lies…

with body stilled,

knees crossed

like a lady…


Frances Macaulay Forde © 2003

Text & Photos are Copyrighted: You are welcome to share what’s written here so long as the appropriate credit (my full name) is applied. Also ( as a courtesy) it would be good to know where and when my content is shared. Thanks. Frances.


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Lyre, Co. Cork

Lyre, Co. Cork

As I mentioned before, my gorgeous man took me to live in Midleton, Co Cork for 14 glorious months.

Every couple of days we’d get in the car and head out somewhere new.

Obsessed with trees and castles there were certainly plenty to keep me interested, meandering along byways bordered by stone walls built centuries ago, I loved tracing the steps of paternal ancestors.

Even got used to suddenly being confronted by huge tractors or hay balers taking up the whole (narrow) road.  Luckily small dents in the stone walls just big enough to fit a car are provided for just such surprises!

We’d wandered between Mallow and Ballyhooly in North Co. Cork, to visit a family grave…

Road Repairs

On a hill, Celtic crosses and angels wings
gather. We approve the view, weed and go.
Suddenly, unattended in a quiet Irish lane,

temporary traffic lights blink red.
Surrounded by green fields, we’re forced
to queue like country others, and reflect.


Frances Macaulay Forde © 2013

Text & Photos are Copyrighted: You are welcome to share what’s written here so long as the appropriate credit (my full name) is applied. Also ( as a courtesy) it would be good to know where and when my content is shared. Thanks. Frances.

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Shawn L Bird’s Monday Meme

Shawn L Bird suggested writing a poem to her photo.  Here’s mine.


To the left, on every 5th floor an apartment

is in darkness.  Perhaps the powerless have been

swallowed by the gaping facade of City Hall.

Or consumed in Concert space with brightly

lit wings to help sound sore heavenwards over

twin golden rivers, bordering.  Shooting off

as they do, streams of lives driven into corporate

havens for workaholics when, like those three dark

floors, they should be blissfully asleep, not empty.


Frances Macaulay Forde © 2013

Text & Photos are Copyrighted: You are welcome to share what’s written here so long as the appropriate credit (my full name) is applied. Also ( as a courtesy) it would be good to know where and when my content is shared. Thanks. Frances.

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Yeats House in Gort, Co Galway, Ireland.

For 14 glorious months I wallowed in the ‘Cradle of Storytelling’ Ireland.

Every Wednesday I attended a workshop at the Munster Literature Centre with the literati of the Cork Writing Scene which we’d break with a lunch at the local pub.


MLC Literati

A recent prompt from the Australian Poetry Centre inspired this epitaph for Gregory O’Donoghue whose brain held so much wisdom and knowledge, who generously critiqued and encouraged devoid of discrimination and I thank him.  

Forde's Pub, Cork

Forde’s Pub, Cork

Epitaph for Gregory O’Donoghue

Seasoned, some will remember boozy lunches, 

Tuna sandwiches peppered with slurred words

plated on sliced lettuce arranged ‘just so’…

Guinness frothed just right, creamy with subtext.

An Irish summer warm with purpose shared

eloquently with a visiting Australian at exclusive

Wednesday morning workshops, obstinately

overseen each week, by a recalcitrant at MLC.

Since his silence, reverence is a poetry prize

keeping his name associated with his life love.

His canon forever in the library and his portrait,

eyeing the new wave with his silent critiques.

This writer will remember clever poetic reviews,

evaluating layers of old knowledge like a river

flowing effortlessly from the master to his student

and inspiration needing a break, at Forde’s pub.

Frances Macaulay Forde © 2013

Text & Photos are Copyrighted: You are welcome to share what’s written here so long as the appropriate credit (my full name) is applied. Also ( as a courtesy) it would be good to know where and when my content is shared. Thanks. Frances.

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At lunch with a friend last week,  someone I hadn’t seen for many years stuck her head around the corner; Joan’s sister.  She looked so genuinely surprised and pleased to see me I was quite taken aback!

We’d never particularly been friends but I had been very close to her sister, until we lost touch nearly 20 years ago.

After a hug I was told exactly how Joan had passed away within a couple of years of our losing touch, correcting my long-held and erroneous belief that she was so depressed she’s taken her own life.

The truth was not exactly as I had suspected but she definitely suffered with a broken heart; such a sad and lonely ending for someone who gave so much to others.

Standing in front of her still-grieving sister, I felt very guilty for not making more of an effort to see her, before her life soured.


In the very early 1990’s Joan Medlicott started a small community group operating with enthusiasm, zero budgets and a fun atmosphere up here, in the Northern suburbs of Perth.  Most of the members were there for a good time and for three years, it really was a lot of fun to be involved.  

Our first performance was 3 x 1 act plays at Ocean Reef Senior High School’s theatre.  I did costumes, make-up, programs and tickets while my daughter helped with props and appeared in the hilarious ‘It’ll be Alright on the Night’ – her first acting role.

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(Curtains from the local Op Shop made reasonable dresses I thought…)

Then came a few Cabarets upstairs in The Mullaloo Tavern, right on the beach, doing skits and murdering favorite songs – but the drinks and the camaraderie saved each performance.

Our next serious performance was the Hammersley Recreation Centre ‘A Parade of Plays’ again 3 x 1 Act plays to make sure as many who wanted to act, got a chance.

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(Sorry I haven’t scanned the photos from this performance yet.)

I directed ‘Monday to Friday’.  My daughter Jessica McCallum was a very good actress but hated being on the stage.  I couldn’t cast anyone else because she was perfect for the role, so she overcame her nerves and took the part for me.

However, Angela Bray was magnificent  as Thursday.  She was so nervous on the first night, to give her  Dutch courage, she had one too many champagnes…

Naturally, as Director I also became a little more than concerned when she stood in front of me and offered her lipstick saying; “I can’t find my mouth”.

She looked perfectly alright but was totally somewhere else!  All I could think of were how many important lines she had and how she’d been word-perfect in rehearsal!

But I needn’t have worried – Angela didn’t miss a single cue or drop a word.  She did however drink and share around the Props Port while she delivered with perfect ease and timing – her face when the bottle was empty was an absolute picture.  The whole performance was conducted perfectly and totally in character.

If there’d been an Oscar available – Ange would have received it with my blessing and eternal thanks!

We’d grown in confidence and wanted to do a longer project – a play with 3 acts.  We also needed to try and add funds to our pot to get better equipment and cut down on hire fees.

The pantomime Joan had written called ‘It’s a Prairie Tale’ meant everyone could be involved, it also incorporated musical numbers and therefor the cast had to ‘dance’ a little too!  Again, I did many of the costumes, programs and tickets, while my daughter worked on her first love – props and staging as well as acting a small part.

It really was a case of all hands on deck – all of us did things we’d never attempted before or in many cases since.  Bit like film-making really…on a zero budget too!

A significant challenge but hopefully one which would appeal to many and put bums on seats – not just our family and friends cheering us on but the general public as well.

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The pantomime was fun and surprisingly somewhat of a success but although I thought it would bring everyone together, unfortunately the worms were turning.

Some expressed the opinion they wanted to be more serious (now their egos had grown with their confidence) so the group’s next project was a very well-known, tried and true English play called ‘The Anniversary’.

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The group asked me to direct and I’m happy to say the cast and crew of ‘The Anniversary’ did a wonderful job.  It was the group’s first SOLD OUT play and actually made money for  us.  

One member had decided she wanted to be in charge of the group and proceeded to denigrate and dismiss everything Joan was or wanted for the group, worrying and working behind the scenes until she had her way and turned everyone against Joan.  The bitchiness got too much for me so I resigned as soon as the play was done.  

I wanted to start a Youth Theatre Group for 12 – 25 year-olds because I felt there was a need for one – and I was right (but that’s another story).

In the 80’s I’d been involved in film and knew the value of documenting things so during the years I had done just that; I’d taken photos and recorded video (or got someone else to hold the camera) as often as possible.

And nearly 20 years later when I’d told her sister that I’d only been looking at video of Joan, tears came to her eyes.  

Although it had been more than ten years since her loss, the grief was still very raw.  (I don’t think we ever stop grieving, we just learn to cope better on a day to day basis, until someone reminds us.)

Because I’d recently converted some of the old VHS tapes of the plays to DVD,  it felt really good to be able to share moments with Joan which her sister hadn’t been part of.  

A reminder of earlier days and fun times when Joan was in her absolute element organizing performances for the theater group she’d poured her heart and soul into – until they kicked her out!

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I was lucky, I had my dad and mum until my early thirties – but so many didn’t.

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My Dad was a Pathfinder in the R.A.F. 35 Squadron and awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross by King George.  

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Mum blamed the blitz for making her take up smoking.


Dad never missed the chance to proudly honor his fallen mates in whichever country he found himself – it was the only time his medals saw the light of day and the only time he publicly acknowledged the war unless ‘Dambusters’ or ‘Battle of Britain‘ were on TV.    

My husband and I have been doing a lot of research into Mum and Dad’s life before Africa and have found out many surprising facts which have answered many, many questions we should have asked when they were with us.  

I now know why  ‘Don’t Fence Me In’ was one of Dad’s favorite songs – those words had so much meaning for a young man flying into unknown danger every night.

Listening to it again, the Andrew Sisters takes me back to being a little girl – I can only imagine where it took Dad.

Anything ‘The Force’s Sweetheart‘ sang was evocative:  ‘You’ll Never Know(…just how much I miss you…) “We’ll Meet Again” and so many more.

How many times did Mum have to ‘smile’?

 ‘Wish Me Luck as You Wave Me Goodbye’  Songwriters: PARK, PHIL/PARR-DAVIES, HARRY (Extract):

Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye 
Cheerio, here I go, on my way
Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye
Not a tear, but a cheer, make it gay
Give me a smile I can keep all the while
In my heart while I’m away
Till we meet once again, you and I
Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye
Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye 
Cheerio, here I go on my way.
‘The White Cliffs of Dover’ were particularly relevant to Dad limping home after a sortie, most often with a few holes in the fuselage.  Seeing those luminous cliffs would have let him take a deep breath in relief.

But life moves so fast and suddenly you don’t have the opportunity to talk about days past and if I was really honest, probably neither of them would, about ‘the best and worst time’ of their lives.

And it’s only very recently my mother has also been honored with a medal although she never knew she was due one.

Remembrance Day, 1973:  I remember watching the ceremony on TV during a working holiday in UK and crying for so many…

The Queen in Black    

How many thousands watched her lay

the wreath of poppies while they prayed…

Or held their breath and stood still in silence

– two minutes for the sacrifice, in remembrance.

As each petal falls from above so a page in the book

of memories ~ thoughts of someone they loved and lost.

They say each petal represents the life of one who gave.

Poppies seen growing amongst a countryside of graves…

Frances Macaulay Forde © 1973

And Eric Bogle also has the power to make me cry, today.

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My favorite bookshop in the whole world is in Ennistymon, Co. Clare, Ireland but I’ve never actually been there:  The Salmon Bookshop & Literary Centre.


If I could, I’d attend every book launch, every workshop and every reading of the many, many talented poets Jessie Lendennie has taken under her wing and nurtured then published over the last 30 years.

It’s my dream to  give Jessie a hug, browse the shelves and share a cup of team with the Salmon team who produce beautiful poetry books year after year.  Now she has the space to offer much-loved second-hand poetry to browse, as well.

Jessie has always been a fierce fan of Irish writing and if there was one available, should get a medal for her consistent and continuous efforts through tough times and good.

Jessie and Siobhan Hutson have made Salmon Publishing one of Ireland’s main literary publishers so it’s only right they should have a new home, large enough to accommodate many poetry-promotion extras.

I regret not being able to attend last Wednesday’s event when three more Salmon published books were officially launched, in Dublin:

This first book is one I recently sent away for and after the first page knew I was a fan of Jo Slade so I would love to have heard her read ‘Time Piece’, particularly.

It’s the sort of writing I completely loose myself in and opens with this line  ‘In the wardrobe of my belonging/is a bearskin coat.’  Her words hit me right in the heart.


“The Painter’s House” by Jo Slade


It seems Rita Kelly may also become a new favorite as a “… a love-poet of great lyric power and beauty, but her range is much wider than that.  Her startling capacity to transmute brutal experience into universal significance could hardly be better exemplified.” Máire Mhac an tSaoi.

“Further Thoughts in a Garden” by Rita Kelly


Knute’s ‘Fifty Years: Poems 1957-2007’ has been on my shelf for a while now… so I’m sure I’d enjoy his latest as well.

“Concerned Attentions” by Knute Skinner

For years I’ve been happily gifting Salmon books to family, friends and colleagues – perhaps now I’ve persuaded you to do so, too!


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Facebook is such a trigger for this blog:  Today a beautiful anthology of ‘Australian Love Poems’ was reviewed and linked by Adrien Abbott Prize page with the quote from Anne Walsh Miller: ‘You’re written in me in the before antiquity language of snowflakes. / Landing everywhere on me so thickly that you’re on me and in me and on my tongue / (you on my tongue is why I talk beautifully like snow under a streetlamp).’  

In the light of recent plagiarism issues with Australian Poetry, the quote reminded me strongly of a poem of my own published in 2005 when I was asked to write a love poem to be read at a good friend’s wedding.  As I had very recently found myself deeply and unexpectedly in love, Barry asked me to express feelings which overwhelmed me, at precisely the right time.

In 2003 I returned from 14 glorious months immersed in poetry and short story where I learnt the ‘I’ was usually taken out of poetry, so this would be a new public direction – I usually kept my ‘love’ poems very private.

The style of writing had to suit the audience – Barry’s mum was deaf and many of her deaf friends would be there with an interpreter to share our words.


Read my poem ‘Like Dust’

Those who ‘watched’ my words, apparently loved the poem although I didn’t find out until later there is no ‘sign’ for ‘dust’, so the interpreter had to improvise… but she managed beautifully.

And I was left wondering, what a shame I couldn’t submit my poem to the anthology  ‘Australian Love Poems’ because it was already in the public domain and those I did submit obviously didn’t appeal because they weren’t included. Not that I’m too disappointed, they let me down easily by saying many excellent poems were not included.


I actually bought two copies, one for me and a gift for a friend but was so pleased with the book in my hand, I’ll be buying more as gifts for Christmas.

Inkerman & Blunt’s next project is an anthology of Love stories.  No doubt it will also grace my bookshelves and be wrapped in Christmas paper.

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