I sat a long while with Godfrey’s sister Alice’s latest packet of writings..yes, her poetry remained dreadful,some of the worst she had ever shared, but I read it over with a strong sense that Alice’s summer in Nova Scotia had touched the curmudgeon in places no person had ever tried.. 

“The folks of Knockfollie’s Bridge recall my brother Godfrey with fondness,” Alice wrote, even having all beets removed from the only grocers in his memory. My friend, Nudge and I have been inviting ourselves to fish suppers, adding insighds to my book- “Alice- A life In praise of Myself”

Here in Canada, all of it, we drive “on the right”. Alice and Nudge thought this ridiculous, and in rental car, roared about as they would in Wales.

Alice indeed shares her “insighds”, with a brown boat to catch, and a lot of pranks left in her poke….TELL A POET THAT- from Alice-

I was recently informed- “Farmers do not plow, they cultivate”. We passed a field with such sweaty a chap,  on a day already warm. Sunrise of boysenberry swirls of hokey-pokey cream and crimson, tinged in wild mint. Tell  a poet that, tell a poet here down east, the summer nights don’t cool, the stars brighter than there. The poet may reply, I recall they are- “A blanket for the olders over heather, their fire, harbor home and safety to the bold navigator”.

Tell a poet, it is raining out, Nudge wear my hat. Cold the wet drips down spout, rusts the hinge, in the sodden apple tree bedraggled chickens cringe. don we boots and stalwart fourth, gather the hens in safe with me- and we shall pass the rainy eve over eggy toast for tea.

Tell a poet the delight of outdoor clothes line. “I ran to grab a passing verse, like laundry dry on end of day. Thunder in the hills a griping, storm is on her way. Scent of summer with first drops of rain, new mown hay, sweet on clean sheet splats…Ah tell a poet that.

Eau Duh Colon’- I’m oft asked of the perfume I wear, asked Alice is it sweet essence from France? From France do tell?  “I dab on baked beans, baked beans on fair skin, and behind my ears baked beans from a tin. Tell a poet how a poet may describe it- baked beans.

Tell a poet of Nudge and I as as two more “Tramps in Mudtime”. Squelch, did we squelch round Tinhorn Bay, with my stick moist things to slay, squelch flotsam flat. Squelch we muddy knee to hips, two tramps and greasy wrapped up fish and chips. Oh a good long walk with you, the snizz and crackle of hot deep fat, salt and malt vinegar, but tell a poet that.

Today in need to be alone, with my stick set out a stroll. I sat on a bench, wondering if I am thought of fondly back home. I waited for family or child come by so I could, with my stick quick flick to the sand their ice cream cone. And soon came a lad, (they always did) sticky of face, ignoring the warnings of his nit-picking dad.

As the wee brat drew boldly closer to me, I noted his rubber boots, odd haircut, the image at six of my late brother, Godfrey. I glared at the child in my best curmudgeon, such nerve, the young nipper not to take fright. What happened next left me in utter shock, he held out his ice cream to give me a bite….

No front teeth, dripping pink cone in grubby hand, I was not shocked or revolted, “No thank you my dear” came from some place deep inside me, I gathered my stick up and bolted.

Rundown Motel for the night?, tell a poet that. She may write- Rustic Roadside Inn steeped in history. Old couple down the hall inform me, “First sign of spring is a warm waft of Pig Farm cross the valley”. Hourly the train rattles by neath your rooms only window, tell a poet romantic the three a.m. trains roar. Wobbly table, one threadbare towel, someone has pried open the toilet door…

We re-bequethed The Outhouse Museum to one Domestos Harpic and her silent husband Edgar.  Fond friends of Godfrey, would weed and tend it. Our sojourn sadly soon over, we invited ourselves again to fried fish supper for to end it.. tell a poet of such an adventure we must end it…

And the ship we sail on, steam home to Wales on is painted brown. Give me a poet describe such a thing, from Melbourne to London town, a ships proper color be red, or silver to keep up with the clouds, our ship was brown.

I covet greasy life vest, should I consume herring, trip over a bollard and drown. the ship lists like Lloyd our village drunkard in Batley, it’s name on the bow changed, painted over and over yet again. The ship is crewed by wayward sailors, homeward bound like Nudge and me. What is not painted brown is worn away wood or rusty. Herring is served in some form breakfast, lunch and tea…Nudge feels an epic poem neath my pen, but Ah, tell a poet that again.. from Alice.


THE OUTHOUSE MUSEUM-From Godfrey and Beatrice

Tongue tracks in what once was the butter, last partial crust of bread, ineptly cut two inches thick at one end, left in a puddle of spilled tea, Tea pot empty, as is the marmalade tin, and missing it’s lid. Adelaide..elderly ex chambermaid to The Queen, and her partner Benny had breakfasted early, for it was summer and the two were away with wagon and plaid steamer trunk, “seeking yellow houses”, and whatever else they could scrounge. 

I was looking forward to peace and quiet on the farm, a read in the hammock, a ride on my mare cool of evening. But panicking hens and looming dust cloud, clang of gate, in her old black London Taxi- came Alice, Godfrey’s prank happy sister, Alice. She was clad in bathrobe and gumboots, stomped in waving a thick letter, “Those two old rogues of yours dove into the ditch when they saw me”, Alice shrilled,” but before you go pull them from under their wagon- read this.” Nothing upset Alice…ever, but I had to guffaw, when I read what she had been bequeathed.. 

Godfrey writes- Make your way slowly, slowly, slowly, under the clothes line- to where the weathered old outhouse stands vigil over the sea.

I’ve done many a job since wandering from Wales as a lad. Turning cents to dollars, learning the vagabond way. Singing in the streets got me pelted with rubbish and beets, but my best job ever was in Knockfollie’s Bridge, the town on Knockfollie’s Bay.

Twas first summer in Canada, I came seeking work fishing lobsters or cod as my grandparents did. As a kid I did not throw up in the herring bait, as my sister would retch oer the stern. Every person I asked looked at me with my suitcase and kilt, they all in unison said-” Go talk to Verne”

Make your way slowly, slowly, slowly, back through the cobbled town square. Ask anyone, for Verne Gergley’s Outhouse Museum is down there.  Verne was living his dream, it was not about money, but his passion was preserving the dunny. Vivid  his memories, a prairie boy, “The outhouse beyond the weeds and dad’s hives, twice shipped out of town by train as a prank, oft shifted three feet over, it was part of our lives”

“My friend Beatrice, I replied after handshakes, still believes a toilet indoors is nasty, only for the lazy and wealthy”. “A midnight skip to the loo in Welsh winter keeps her fit and healthy”

“We discussed outhouses we had known in fond recollection, and needing to wee from the copious coffee I’d drank, asked to see Verne’s collection”. “Make your way slowly, slowly, slowly, Verne walked with me, “Ive 200 toilets and other mementos to see”.

“It began as a joke, and as jokes do, it grew.” “I wrote a book on design, construction, and how to best photograph the old loo”. “Folks east of town donated the barn, and outhouses they could not bear to tear down”. “This one is made from the bow of a boat a chap named for his much loved mother”. “Ive a Mongolian Outhouse, Ming Chamber-pots, Bric a Brac, and the writer Farley Mowat’s  dear long-drop outback, it has a bookshelf, help your self”

“My last hired helper, sadly said Verne, was a “Snollygoster”, jailed pinching toilet rolls from the one shop in town, so I lost her”. “You have knowledge of the back-house, are personable to and do not bloviate, though you dislike beets, I will hire you”.

“In the shade of the ancient shit-house, I sit down and write. I’ve a bunk of my own, and choice of toilet to use every night. Most have a moon, carved in the door, I have found scrawled poetry, words of love to youth gone for city and several to war. I met my love on the pathway where the brambles doth entwine. I waited for her to use the privy, sweet summer of 1939. 

Verne Gergley reports that, “old folk oft return yearly, to tend the  outhouses they still hold dearly, it is they plant tomatoes, ripe and red on the stalk, oh the stories they tell, of Knockfollie’s Bridge when we sit up and talk”.

Make your way slowly, slowly, slowly,” two happy years, I lived at the Outhouse Museum, wrote Godfrey.” “I greeted the visitors, played bagpipes special celebrations, an old pair we found in an outhouse being given away”. “And yes it was Verne and I stuck for two nights and a day, on a sandbar  with barge load of toilets, aground by the low tides of Knockfollie’s Bay.

“Verne had a small crane on back of his Ute, and a winch.” When the local “Privy Council” town ordnance demanded an outhouse be removed we were there in a pinch”. Across the vast province we drove on this dark, winter day, almost home when a sturdy old hut, painted purple fell off on the highway”. It landed intact, upright in the middle left lane, even the door stayed closed, as I waved my kilt to stop traffic, and Verne got it loaded again”. Make your way slowly, slowly, slowly, I asked of Verne as we got underway, for I had to hold tight to the wayward crapper, on the winding roads home, to Knockfollie’s Bay.

Over the years, Verne built an iconic museum, “Latrine Enthusiast” magazine sent a writer to interview him. “Godfrey, he wrote, one day it will all be yours”, my children do not take my toilets seriously, but you do, from Verne Gergley.

Beatrice writes- “I settled Alice with Valerian tea, which she sniffed with disdain. The packet of legal papers, had come from Worzel, who still received mail for Godfrey.  Among it a copy of The Will and Testament of one, Verne Gergley- sadly passed, and a note from Godfrey-” Verne if I go before you, leave the Outhouse Museum in care of my sister, Alice, she will know what to do.” 

So he got the last laugh after all, Alice blew on her tea steam…”Somewhere in Nova Scotia, where I’ve never been is a shrine to the stinky latrine”. “Years of tormenting my brother the beets, my clever pranks, the paddlings he endured everyday”. He left nothing but a path of poems, a suitcase of moldy books, and 200 hundred toilets in an Outhouse Museum, down on Knockfollie’s Bay.  

I never knew, and in as much shock as Alice, had forgotten Adelaide and Benny, trapped in the ditch. perhaps it was a place I could send the two, perhaps old Verne left a yellow house for them there….we made our way slowly, slowly down the road to the overturned wagon…

ESCAPE FROM FEODOR-Godfrey- (Canadian Road Apples)

I never thought to ask Godfrey, on our Tuesday forays to the grocery store, why he would oft sidle up to an idling employee, or cashier intent on her nails, and whisper- “She’s Coming”.  There was usually a great display of diligence following this prank. When Beatrice and I read his journal, “Canadian Road Apples”, the chronicle of  adventures crossing Canada, the year before we met, it all began to make more nonsense…

I wish I was rich, rich, rich, I wouldn’t be here, here, here, I’d be there, there, there…

Every person has their story, this I well learned from Godfrey, everyone a reason they are where they are, and all they have gone through.

He learned this song from a chap named “Feodor” It is not long, I will share it with you. Godfrey wrote- “As a transient youth, I roamed your fair dominion, out to Knockfollie’s Bridge, down the wild eastern shore.” I had a room with a heater, and worked over winter in a grocery store. ”

” It is there, I met up with Feodor. “He wore a pink, knitted cardigan every day to keep warm. An older bloke, apron grimy, name-tag hung low, Feodor sang as he worked, the same song, everyday, all the time, every department that he chose to go”.

I wish I was rich, rich, rich, I wouldn’t be here, here, here,, I’d be there, there, there…   

“I charmed young Meg, for a chicken leg roast in the deli.” And pastries that fell on the floor, grumpy Betty would oft hand me”. “They felt for me for, on Mondays I had to sort cases of beets, that I abhor, with singing Feodor”.

“I put stickers on tins, helped elderly persons reach bins, swept endless aisles, mopped daily the dreaded mess, pleasant relaxation to escape from Feodor, I humbly confess. “Feodor did not eat his lunch, in the bile colored room set aside for the purpose, like I did, or you, if you working there had to”. “Feodor perched on a stool, ate hard boiled eggs and beets in broth, outside the door of the lone lady’s loo.”

“One cold day in Knockfollie’s Bridge, I stood trimming cabbages”. “Came the click of important shoes through the store, gossiping, eating, breaks ended abruptly, as whispered word spread…”She’s Here!”.    Twas the stores owner, came down from the city, random times of the year”.

” All was busy, in the bakery department you could hear a crumb drop.”Intent on my cabbages, soon realized, I could not see Feodor, who had been by my side, hear his tuneless singing anymore.” The Boss Lady, all of four foot eleven, stood satchel in hand, regarding me, from boots, up my kilt, and long hair tied back with a band from the broccoli.” “Feodor had  escaped to the walk in fridge- the story grew to legend in Knockfollie’s Bridge”.

” Peril had befallen Feodor. “Several cases of Weiners, still frozen, placed to rain down on whoever bolted to hide from the boss, when they opened the door”. “Boss Lady and I found him, Feodor, kneeling in weiners, scooping them into a bin”. In the midst of chaos, blue with the cold, covered in weiners, still he did sing”.

I wish I was rich, rich, rich, I wouldn’t be here, here, here, I’d be there, there, there…

“Thus concludes my story of Feodor and his song, I left Knockfollie’s Bridge come spring”. “But indeed I did learn this from Feodor,” wear your own  cardigan to keep yourself warm, and if life rains down weiners,  just sing.”

I wish I was rich, rich, rich, I wouldn’t be here, here, here, I’d be there, there, there…


Never the poet Godfrey was,  at this mardy turning of the year, I do enjoy a go at word-croodling…

November morning, out about dawn. Note that shabby and old but still warm, was the harbor’s autumn coat of pastel. Derelict boat stuck on the mud-flat below, bet it has a story to tell. It was called “Pride and Joy”, read the name in tattered paint faint on the stern. Sadly, I had to agree, recalled a memory, a cold morning one, crossing Knockfollie’s Bridge with the vagabond Godfrey.

And looking east where from the bridge we stood, was distant Mt Baker, ever winter, cratered peak the shoulder mother sun lifted herself up on. Her dome of Sherbert lemon, rose and lavender,her snowfield a cloud piercer- Godfrey always beheld the sight with awe- as he did with all that have been alone forever.

Dark, raining, Sunday afternoon. Memory is a pad-foot, sneaking into my room, wakes me from my daydream out the window. Coffee hot, ginger snap, wind is blowing seven bells of crap. Neighbors rowing third day in a row, hear them through the wall. What for years thought was one tree, I see is actually four now the leaves so thick and green dry up and fall, Godfrey would say, “well yes it did appear one stout tree to me”, shall we polish off the cream-buns with coffee and a story”?

I once met on a train, said he, a kind lady, genteel and elderly. She said she lived her long life on the rim of the world, told me as we rattled south, “As a young girl I liked to climb, up to the high point of land near our home, where a lighthouse was built above the sea”. Knowing from where I sat was nouht but open ocean all the way to Chile.   Funny how that same ocean rumbled up the sands and stone, Peru to far Gisborne, and with the tide to Knockfollie”s Bridge, where I stood with Godfrey many a chill November morn.

Now that I am old, walk there careful in the cold, I scratch his name with a dime, and often if one comes to me a rhyme, on the bridge rail in frost. Ice brittle below on the fringes of the inlet, though soon it will all thaw.On this day, to the east, one lone cloud drifts insolent, black on sunrise gold, shaped like a dragon, puffing pink mist, above the city as I crossed Knockfollie”s Bridge.  Wonder if anyone saw the dragon cloud I saw?   Somebody has scratched in the frost on the guardrail, out before me, perhaps scratched with a dime…the words, “I miss you at dawn, miss you I do, for all time”….