Worzel here, Finally a sunny Sunday, breezy out, my Arthurits  at bay, I am taking the day off to dust/shovel the flat. Even shifted a dead plant off to one side, found enough money down my turquoise chair to send out for chow-mein, and am now curled up in the thieving old chair, watching the cops watching a chap in the tent camp below. He has dragged a bunk bed down to the park, and is napping on the top half.

Days like this one, I miss Godfrey the most…he understood the wisdom in a song for every chore, and would have made his way down to the grass, to offer the cop apples and something to read. I have been saving one of his early journals for summer- here is a story from it.

Song lends itself to a vagabond’s rainy Sunday, many a fine ode has been penned by the wandering lonely. And I had tramped down from the wild Paparoa Range, steep muddy tracks, waterfalls- I return there when I dream of her low cloud mystery, the Paparoas and the small town of “Fairly”.

Twas Sunday morning, I’d stayed in a small hostel, sipping my tea looking over wet pavement. Usual grumbling and zipping of rain gear as travelers up early as they came and they went.

Leaned out the window, cool air to let in, for nothing smells fresher than a damp Westland garden, tinged with scent of coal smoke and the wild Tasman Sea, a ringing sound from somewhere distant intriqued me.

Donning hat and kilt, I sought out the sound of singing and hammering on steel, somewhere in the mist above Fairly. Now a vagabond always has plenty to do, like seeking sounds of a blacksmith, and noting on Sundays the chip shop opened at 2:00.

When the hammer bows paused, I diserned the faint singing,  noted horse tracks on the sandy verge, down one old side street, up the end of another, the doors were wide open and lop sided sign hung above read- “Banjo String  Forge”.

I was a young vagabond adrift in the Westland, bold were the blows from the smith’s daughters hand, rain it pounded on the shops iron roof, and the tethered gray cart draft held up muddy hoof. Intent on her work she did not see me, as waiting for her iron to heat, tied back golden hair with a grimy bandanna, sang in a voice low and sweet.

“Oh give me the spark and the slag and the tongs! and the worn leather apron left to me. I’d not trade a rusty file from my smithy, for all of the gold down away in your city”.

There was an iron bench outside the shop, where I sat- too shy in those years to intrude. Listened I did to her every verse, roar of the forge and her hammers drop.

“Ma, she sang was a blacksmith’s daughter, Pa a coal miners son, I hope my own will see the world, before I pass my hammer on- hope to pass my hammer on”.

The Paparoas too cloud shrouded to see, I knew looked down upon me. It showed no sign of clearing, so long I sat, happy, writing in time to the sounds I was hearing. Posh car passing, full of old ladies stare at me en route to church. Outside the pub on the corner, a drunk pair of laughing young mates lurch. From  The Old Man’s Home down the hill some chap has a nasty wet cough, deep patient sigh from the horse being shod, hiss of the quenching trough.

And I too shy in my younger day, to ask her name and tell her there was, beauty in her singing, down Fairly way on a wet summer Sunday. Too shy to ask her, “will you meet me at the chip shop, when it opens at 2:00?.  “For I seek higher wisdom and sense joy in the work that you do.”

I stayed a week in the little town, never saw the young woman again…I headed back out to pan for the streams of the Paparoas…was on a Sunday morning, in the cool of the Westland  rain…



THE HAGGIS IS GONE- And Beatrice’s Song- From Worzel

They teased him about his dread of beets, they teased him about his lack of teeth, they teased him about his ragged clothes, they teased him about the dented car his grouchy mother drove…Beatrice spoken softly of the childhood she and Godfrey shared as we explored the Welsh countryside in her equally decrepit vehicle. I was a prairie girl, knew the cold, but never the cold of the piercing, damp wind off the mountains, that cleared the fog and coal smoke, the blowing snow just long enough to reveal the magic of a castle, then veil it again, this modest and mystic treasure of a land. It was not until my third visit to Sonsie Farm, and the old puce house, that Beatrice shared more of herself. Propped against the canoe in her sitting room, and two dead plants was Godfrey’s old “Chupa Street Guitar”, dusted, with shiny new strings. Beatrice explained, “Sugar Mulgrew has taught me three chords, “I have always sung while shoveling manure, and have written a bit down, would you care to hear it? “indeed , yes, I told her, indeed.

  THE HAGGIS IS GONE- The haggis is gone, for there is no more, only beets and sardines, in the country store. And the store is far, far miles away, no haggis left, now many a day. The haggis is gone. Oh the track it climbs, round roots and stone, over ridges it winds, my boots are worn, the nights are cold, and though I dislike towns, it’s where haggis is sold.    Now down to the meadow, in the shady lea, where the cows have been, comes sweet memory..on the summer green, rest your bonnie head, as I spread cold haggis, over fresh rye-bread.       But the haggis is gone!, still I recall your face, the poems, the stories, and your old suitcase, and our childhood shared, love was all we knew, we could not be broken, me and you. But the haggis is gone, and the trail ends to, and I’m at a crossroads, it is winter dawn, with this dented guitar, for the haggis is gone, for the haggis is gone….

( The cows like this one, Beatrice smiled)  BEATRICE’S SONG- When was it you last saw Godfrey, was he up the high country when summertime came?  Asleep in the sun or did you pass on a switch-back?, or a cold morning campsite heading out bound again…Was it in autumn you last walked beside him?, down to the orchard the crisp, fallen leaves. Sit on his strong shoulders to reach those last apples, frost melts on the branches, runs cold up your sleeves.             Was it deep winter you last laughed together? Late nights over coffee by wood fires glow, let the snowdrifts fill in our tracks to the highway, talk of places he’d been and new places to go. Mt Thimbleweed, Smell Fox, Yampa Valley, Dragon’s Bay, all the way to the wild Otago.  What of the mornings I still hear his singing? And as hot afternoons fade dusty to eve, trout rise lazy in the cool of the stream bed, their ripples his laughter, I have to believe.    When was it you last saw Godfrey? was he up the high country when summertime came?  Turnberry Canyon, Holyoak Clearing, the rough scramble down to the wild Tasman Sea.    (I to, enjoyed it Beatrice, I to).    From Worzel.

THE HIDEOUS VASE- The 39th Wisdom of Godfrey

In the interests of clarity, Godfrey, Beatrice and I grew up calling a vase a “Vozz”, even though the only one we had was used primarily for funerals, for poetastic reasons we will call the vase a “Vaze”, as the rest of the whirled seem to.

..If I dared call my self keeper of his stories, he would probably have reminded me gently, “Most of them Worzel are fit to share” Beatrice, Godfrey’s life long friend was holder of mementos, and I learned something new of Godfrey each visit I made there, to Sonsie Farm.

Pink post box nailed askew, bottom of her lane, hay growing tall there middle of the track. Fig, Fennel and Flax the goats warmly welcome me back. Pat Amber, the Belgian mare, gentle noble gold. Feel  the donkeys warm coats and breathe when my hands are cold.

Beatrice, friend wise and strong, with something home baked and the kettle always on. Most of her puce house was rustic and dusty with books and tools, always a dead plant by the back door, rowboat she built and could not get out of the spare room, faded, chipped pottery she said had been her Ma’s, I had never up to now asked about her hideous vase.

It sat empty save a few old coins, wrinkled toffees, the corpse of a moth, alone by the window, no doily, no tablecloth. The vase was very large, with painted nymphs cavorting in a summer forest scene, they wore only bed sheets, and held what looked like beets or tomatoes overhead.

The rim was shaped like lips tinged horse slobber green, the most hideous vase I had ever seen. .. “A story is not a thing to hurry by nagging or demand itself to be told” Godfrey said, Time waits if you believe it will, if you give it the space” I knew eventually Beatrice would tell me how the vase got to her place.

When it came to gifts, Godfrey was known for his dubious sense of taste, so I was not shocked when she told me the story of the vase.

“He was like a magpie I agreed, for shiny bum-trinkets  and terrible examples of art I had a few, what “what knots” Beatrice did he send to you? She said, “A cactus that came on the bus, don’t ask me how, most of the stones in my garden wall, Australian Wax Toilet Roll, (I still have it all) , odd tinned fruit  he thought I may like, a framed photo of the remains of his pink bike, by the Tasman Sea, another  photo of the stitches in his knee.

And the vase, I could tell by her face she was desperate not to laugh, it came filled with Bon-Bons he won the vase in a   pub raffle some nameless outback place. He wrote- “I traded up for such a pretty vase, but it is not an easy thing to carry as I roam, please keep it safe until I eventually come home”, thank you from Godfrey.

First prize said he was a freezer pack of meat, which I swapped for the vase sitting high above the bar of Margaret Tuttle, owner of the place. She told me she had swapped a helicopter ride for the vase, and it was hard to have nice things, living outback, moving with the seasons and I always chunder when I fly, in the landing phase, such was the reason I swapped. With dour, wind burnt face, she lifted down the hideous are the young vagabond I hear who dislikes beets, my last old man and the ones before who died were all larrikins and cheats.

When my last one left he took all but the vase, for years I kept my treasures and my savings neath the ashes of my third husband Trevor, bottom of the vase. With a wine cork to seal it and Trevor inside, and being hideous I reckoned nobody would ever want to steal it.

She rinsed the vase before handing it to me, we Bar-B-Que’d the meat pack of sausages, out behind the pub wrote Godfrey.

So I padded it in wool, in a very stout box, taped it shut, tied it all with twine filched from hay bales, addressed it carefully- FRAGILE Vase- sent it on a journey half way round the world to Wales.

And the 39th Wisdom of Godfrey states- Wherever you find what you feel to be treasure, be it gold you can hold, or memories tattered with glory, time will wait, wait and when ready so to will be the story. thank you from Godfrey..