Croix de Guerre – Magpie Tales

frampton, meredith, a game of patience 1937

A Game of Patience, 1937, Meredith Frampton

‘They don’t know who I am,’ thinks Sarah, placing the cards deliberately, slowly, carefully on the table in front of her. The waiter walks past with a tray of drinks. He is heading to the back room, the private room, which hasn’t been available to anyone but a select few for several months. It is what it is, for now.

“Mademoiselle Dupont?”

The voice is firm and confident. Good, he has belief.

“Oui, Monsieur Levillaine. But please, call me Elodie.” She gesticulates to the chair opposite her, sweeps the playing cards together and returns them to their tattered cardboard case.

“And please, call me Guillaume.”

He takes a seat, places his newspaper on the table, a half-smile playing around his lips. He is handsome, with a five o’clock shadow just beginning to show even at this early hour. It covers the light scar creasing his jaw line from earlobe to chin – the scar that Sarah knows so well.

Drinks are brought to the table and sipped, and desultory conversation follows. The streetlights glow as evening descends. The men in the private room prepare to leave, chairs scrape the parquet floor as they gather scarves, coats and hats. The mood appears to be light, oiled by brandy. They have no reason to be serious or concerned, after all.

Her guest takes his leave just before the private room empties. He places his hat on his head at a jaunty angle as she stands and they faire la bise – one, two, three – then he is gone.

The grey-uniformed men flow past, paying no attention to the quiet woman sitting at the corner table, reading Le Figaro intently.

The pack of playing cards is safely ensconced in her guest’s coat pocket. The next link in the chain is complete.

The man stands outside in the shadows, lights a Gauloise, watching his wife through the windows of the restaurant. He has never been more proud, never been more afraid for her.

Hidden in plain sight is a dangerous, dangerous game, even in these desperate times.


Here’s my latest entry to Magpie Tales. I’ve not heard of this artist before but I do love this painting. I have no idea why my mind went to World War Two and the Special Operations Executive – but there you are. She just looked like she was waiting for something.

I hope you enjoy it – and please do visit Magpie Tales for more poetry and prose!


magpie tales statue stamp 185

dVerse – The snobbery of books

I wonder –
is there a certain cachet
to be gained from being seen
holding some vast tome
in your aching hands,
arms held just so,
biceps straining under the weight?
Such dedication requires admiration,
for the sheer girth surely reflects
the capacity and agility of the reader’s mind.

I wonder –
do men prefer to be seen
with several inches resting in their laps
– since as we all know, size matters –
even if the weighty article
shows no sign of ever having
been opened, not even to see
the name of the lucky recipient
of the heartfelt dedication
on the pristine pages within?

I wonder –
is it more earnest to handle
a whisper of a thing lightly betwixt
skeletal finger and thumb?
A novel so short it verges on the
novella, but not so short, you understand
to render it unworthy,
the mere sparseness of language, and
the economy of words is so artful and artless
and less is more more, than more could ever be.

I wonder –
does it really matter
what he reads, what she reads, what they read
as long as there are readers willing to read?

Hurrah! It’s Open Link Night at dVerse. At this time of the month, we are given free reign to write in whatever style we please, and on any topic that we wish. This piece of mine came to me on the train travelling home from work on Friday night. So many people sitting with closed books on their laps, spurned in favour of the smartphone…..

Do visit dVerse and revel in the gloriousness of word, words, words! I will be reading and commenting tomorrow, never fear… I’ve just got back from a day of unctious writingness – a masterclass and readings, with lots of discussion, so I am a little frazzled – but in a good way!

Spectacle Calcium Directive – dVerse

to want them, even

copy paper and of you will

an scissors, some cut

each the order infinitely

one, all unappreciated

each length left

the there

the herd in

conscientiously cut in

the this

the sensibility

poem article put bag-words

make newspaper

take which

shake you out, author

the out carefully

that by a next other article

choose – after

take poem

bag up you – gently though –

the an from original in vulgar

your take and resemble

article this cutting they are

a the of make next charming



This week, on dVerse Meeting the Bar, Victoria has asked us to write poetry as if we had taken a trip back in time almost 100 years, and were living and immersed in Dada.

This era and movement fascinates me and so I am delighted to be taking part – such fun! I have chosen to randomly re-order the words of the (translated) instructions of Tristan Tzara, who wrote guidance on how to generate what were/are known as ‘Chance Operations’ – methods of producing poetry independent of the author’s will or influence. He wrote, in his ‘Dada Manifesto on Feeble Bitter & Love’ the following:

“Take a newspaper.

Take some scissors.

Choose from this paper an article the length you want to make your poem.

Cut out the article.

Next carefully cut out each of the words that make up this article and put them all in a bag.

Shake gently.

Next take out each cutting one after the other.

Copy conscientiously in the order in which they left the bag.

The poem will resemble you.

And there you are–an infinitely original author of charming sensibility, even though unappreciated by the vulgar herd.”

I hope you enjoy my randomness – I can see me doing something like this again, just for the fun of it, and just because it makes no sense, perfectly. Which was kind of the point, was it not? The First World War made no sense, and Dada was a commentary on and response to it.

Please pop over to dVerse to read some excellent poems, Dada style. Join in – we don’t bite!