Posted on Leave a comment

I put a spell on you – the book

Book cover - Nina Simone

A book for Christmas? A fascinating real life story of a mega star, Nina Simone.

Book cover - Nina Simone

Nina Simone was a remarkable pianist and one of the great singers of the 20th century with a strikingly unique voice and presentation which could be powerful or tender or bitter, but always captivating.

I recently discovered that she had written an autobiography which is not surprisingly, entitled  I put a spell on you.

What lay behind that impression of great inner strength?
Like many people I have always been curious about the real life, behind the scenes, experience, of world famous people.. To the world, to you and me, they may have always looked supremely confident and capable. This biography reveals her complex and troubled character.

Poor beginnings?
It had always been my impression that Nina Simone grew up in poor circumstances, but that is an oversimplification.

She was the sixth of eight children. Her father had been a working man who had become a successful businessman and, at one time owned three businesses  –   a dry cleaning business, a barbers shop, a road hauliers business, For a few years the family had lived in a big house  with a very large garden. They had their own tennis court, but at the time Nina was born the family had hit really bad times. 
The Great Depression caused all three of her father’s businesses to collapse. They moved to a smaller house. The house burned down. Her father became seriously ill and had a major operation which put him out of work for several years. This was the time of great poverty for the family,  the time of Nina’s early childhood.

As a result of this they had to move to a small community living in shacks in the woods. Nina’s family made their shack into a superior one by building on a bathroom. Without toilet facilities their neighbours just had to use the woods.. 

Musical family  –  talent plus incredible hard work
Both of Nina’s parents played the piano as did all her brothers and sisters. When Nina was only a toddler she was impressing everybody with her ability to play the piano. She stood out even in her talented family.

She developed an ambition to become a  classical concert pianist. Added to her natural talent was a real passion for playing the piano which resulted in her practicing five hours a day in her late teenage years.

She studied classical piano in New York and Philadelphia and auditioned for one of the top classical music colleges in the US, The Curtis Institute of Music. She failed the audition and was devastated. Everyone told her, and she was personally convinced, the reason she failed was because she was black. For a time she decided to give up music altogether.

Nina Simone was very angry about racism in the US all her life and was very active in the Civil Rights Movement appearing on platforms speaking and singing alongside Martin Luther King.

Mixing marriage and stage career
She married twice, the first time for two years and the second time for 10 years. Her second marriage was to Andy Stroud who was also her manager. Towards the end of the 10 years Nina was feeling that Andy was very much more her manager than her husband and she needed rest and reassurance rather than a relentless programme of performing around the world. 

Bad with audiences
Nina Simone had a reputation for not always giving her best to her audiences and sometimes being very bad tempered with them. I took our family to see Nina perform at The Dome in Brighton, I think in the year 1990. There was a support act which was a bit lacklustre and it performed for a very long time. 

We were beginning to get the impression we would never see Nina Simone, but eventually she appeared on stage and performed a very short set. Then it became clear that that was it and she walked off the stage followed by her musicians. The audience shouted for more but she never returned.

Her autobiography gives some clue as to what might have been going on in her mind. Talking about the end of her marriage many years before the Dome appearance She wrote  “ We went on as before, touring, arguing and making up, never getting once close to the real issues. We just pushed on blindly until every so often my nervous exhaustion would force a crisis and I’d be late on stage or give a bad performance. Then we’d rest up just long enough for me to recover before starting up again.  I guess I wanted more from Andy than he was prepared to give.” 

Then comes a tragic insight into her personal feelings and experience as a top entertainer. “What I needed most was something that few men I have ever known have been able to give me, a sense of peace. My whole life had been full of doubt and insecurity, and I was never confident about what I was doing. I’d lie awake nights worrying about complicated musical arrangements, whether or not we’d make the plane the next morning, if I was still attractive to men, anything and everything. All I really needed was someone to pull on my hand and say, ‘ You’re ok Nina. Leave yourself alone.’ Andy wasn’t the sort of man to do that, never had been.” 

She went on to have many affairs around the world. Some of them were happy others were deeply frustrating or disappointing. She had an affair with a hotel porter in Barbados and a long affair with the prime minister of Barbados. 

Final years
She spent her final years living in France..

Nina Simone performed in Britain on many occasions, especially at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in London,  also the Royal Festival Hall,  the  Barbican Centre and venues in Liverpool, Glasgow and Brighton. Her last performance was in Poland.

For the years 2002 and 2003 she was booked to do several gigs in England, but she was dying of breast cancer and the gigs were cancelled. 

Three days before her death the Curtis  Institute of Music awarded her a doctorate in music all those years after they had rejected her. She died in the south of France on 21 April 2003 at the age of seventy.

I put a spell on you  –  the autobiography of Nina Simone. Published by Da Capo Press in the US. Available in the UK.

Nina Simone Pensive
Posted on Leave a comment

Poem – Easy Love

A leap into the River Ceze, France
A leap into the River Ceze, France

About Easy Love

Most of the poems in my book, Poems About Love, are about relationships I have noticed, or thought about, or imagined. Easy Love is based on personal experience. It was written on a cheap flight to Palermo in 2017. The the cheap flight made me think of “Easy Jet”, then “easy love” and then the idyllic summers when I was in love and a student in Brighton many years earlier. Life really was easy then. I had rarely been poorer but had never been happier.

Easy Love

the days 
of easy love?

the days
when love was light?

the smiles
that lit your life?

What a time to be alive!
No cash,
no cares,
no fears,
no ties.
What a time to be alive!

Work was soft
and life
was pleasure.
Those were the days
that would last
for ever
when all was fresh
and we were

the days
of easy love?

Those were the days of easy love.
What a time to be alive!
What a time to be alive!

6 September 2017. On Ryanair flight to Palermo. 

The book, Poems About Love, by David Roberts is available from Amazon. 
Link to Amazon page

Posted on Leave a comment

Poem – Revenge

Text of poem, Revenge

Before civilisation and the rule of law, murders were often dealt with by relations and friends of the murder victim. The idea of “an eye for an eye”. The idea that a murderer deserves to be murdered. Each murder generated a reason for a revenge murder and the continuation of violence had no logical end. Feuds went on for generations. When civilisations developed the tribe or state took on the role of punishing murderers, then, when the state had exacted punishment the aggrieved family and friends could know that justice had been done and the flow of violence was halted.

International law attempts to control wars by making attacking a state the most serious of all crimes. Leaders, in law, are personally responsible for the crime of attacking. Several countries remain outside of international law and civilisation.

In practice, big countries, like USA, Russia, and UK, get away with aggression. Nevertheless, the wisdom of not resorting to revenge remains the best hope for peace and security in every international dispute. Otherwise only the arms manufacturers and those who win reconstruction contracts win.


Hatred breeds hatred
and you have excelled in barbarism.
But how can you change
when you are overwhelmed by suffering?

Is it possible to suffer beyond belief,
to lose all you have worked for,
all you have loved,
and forgive?

Revenge calls out to you,
“Take me, and put an end
to all who gave you grief.”

Revenge can only put an end
to hope.

10 July 99

David Roberts in
Kosovo War Poetry
Saxon Books, 2000

For further insight into this topic in this blog see Comparative Terrorism.

Posted on Leave a comment

Poem – The Path to War

Poem, Path to war

The countdowns to wars often follow a familiar pattern which can easily be observed and  briefly expressed. Wise leaders might understand what is happening and take action to achieve happier outcomes, but so often they do not.

Sometimes they are encouraged in their descent into violence, cruelty and self destruction by countries benefitting from arms sales and nurturing out of date theories of war fighting. They imagine peace is achieved by  a “balance of power” or “dividing and ruling” or “demolishing  the structure  of a society to make it ungovernable and unsustainable by killing the leadership, destroying centres for administration, communication links, factories, and other civilian infrastructure”.  All illegal and punishable under international law. This policy was tried in 1999 in Serbia (the Kosovo War), and 2003 in Iraq. The cost in human suffering and the floods of refugees are part of the price of such a policy.

Most of the world, the peaceful majority of it, finds security through friendship and cooperation with neighbours rather than violence and threats of violence.

This poem, The Path to War, was written in 1999 about the Kosovo War, but readers may see the pattern applying to other wars.

Poem, Path to war

Saxon Books

The War Poetry Website

Posted on Leave a comment

The Pilot’s Testament

jet bomber image
jet bomber image

The Pilot’s Testament

A war poem by David Roberts about the moral implications of service personnel obeying orders to carry out lethal action, and the media and general public’s perception of those actions. Published in 2000 in Kosovo War Poetry by Saxon Books.

I seek no glory.
I bear no anger.
I hate no man.

I do the unspeakable
on behalf of the ungrateful.
I bomb targets chosen by others.

I have surrendered my will
to a higher authority.
I trust the cause to be right
and the methods appropriate.
There is no place for questioning.
There can be no other way.

I do my duty.
You can rely on me.
I will not let you down.

Though my task may be dangerous,
neither fear nor doubt
will prevent me.

Consider me.
Physically and mentally
my ability is exceptional.
My judgement and reflexes
are trained to perfection.
I am chosen from the elite,
the very best.
Many accord me
great respect.

I possess power beyond imagination.
Like a god I roar through the heavens,
the earth beneath me,
the whole of creation
available to me,
awaiting my quick shot
of death and destruction.

My victims are unaware of me.
I am unaware of my victims.

They go about their lives
not knowing only a few seconds remain.

We are arriving
at the appointed time and place.

At a touch I fix their fate.

Moments later,
in mid conversation,
a flash,
and they are gone.

I cannot pretend it was difficult

Their will was done,
and I, merely an instrument of death.
I did my duty,
but I accept no guilt.

I come down to earth
as a man among men,
unmarked, unrecognised,
unremarkable, unnoticed:
I easily blend.

I am not available for comment.
I am not an item of news.
The story is elsewhere.

I return to my family
as if nothing has happened.

David Roberts

Posted on Leave a comment

Jazz Breakfast at Sussex Yacht Club

Jazz at Sussex Yacht Club 8 October 2023
Jazz at Sussex Yacht Club 8 October 2023

First of a new series of Mike Hatchard’s Jazz Breakfasts, 8 October 2023.

This featured piano maestro, Mike Hatchard and leading UK saxophonist, Alan Barnes, with Bobby Worth on drums and Nigel Thomas on bass.

Mike Hatchard and Alan Barnes

Mike Hatchard and Alan Barnes

Riverside balcony, Sussex Yacht Club.

Some members of the audience relax on the riverside balcony during the interval at Mike Hatchard’s Jazz Breakfast.

Next Jazz Breakfast, Sunday 5 November, 11 am. Features Julie Roberts, vocals, Nils Solberg, guitar, Harry Whitty, trombone, Oz Dechaine, bass . . . 

Posted on Leave a comment

Big Day

Lorraine and Tristan, just married 6 October 2023.
Lorraine and Tristan, just married 6 October 2023.

Friday 6th October 2023 was a truly special day for our family – the wedding of our daughter, Lorraine, to Tristan in Horsham Register Office. A short but beautiful and moving ceremony as each made a commitment to the other.

And a wonderful convivial feast afterwards at The Ginger Fox with their many friends and family.

As father of the bride I made a short speech, part fun and part serious. I was able to say how delighted Julie and I are at the marriage of two talented and caring people that we love. I observed that “We celebrate marriage because it is a key moment in two people’s lives because it is an expression of total confidence of one person in another, and a public declaration of trust and commitment to each other – come what may. Marriage also joins together not just two people but two families as we become legally related. In law we have a new son. He is someone we appreciate and whose company we enjoy. And we have become friends with other members of Tristan’s family”

Posted on Leave a comment

Jazz Breakfast in Shoreham-by-Sea, UK

Poster announces Mike Hatchard's Jazz Breakfast

Jazz Breakfast in Shoreham-by-Sea, UK

Poster announces Mike Hatchard's Jazz Breakfast

Mike Hatchard’s new season  of Jazz Breakfasts is at a new, splendid venue, the Sussex Yacht Club with views down the river, a licensed bar and restaurant.
Each month Mike will have a special guest. After the launch of the series the plan is to keep to the first Sunday of each month.

  • October 8th   Special guest the outstanding UK saxophonist, Alan Barnes.
  • November 5th   The legendary Sarah-Jane Morris, ex-Communards’ singer with a truly international reputation.
  • December 3rd   Amazing vocalist, Julie Roberts and top brass player (to be confirmed. Watch this space.)

    TICKETS from 
    or phone the yacht club UK 01273 453 717

Sussex Yacht Club

Sussex Yacht Club seen from The Millennium Footbridge, Shoreham-by-Sea, UK

Posted on Leave a comment

Guitarist Returns to EU

Paul Roberts, guitarist with dog Roxy.
Paul Roberts, guitarist with dog Roxy.

Our son Paul set off at dawn last Wednesday on a long journey busking across Europe with his dog Roxy. For most of the last 20 years Paul has made his living entertaining the people of Europe by busking with his guitar or saxophone in their marketplaces, especially in the south of France.
He was given a small puppy in the marketplace of St Girons four years ago. For some reason he thought that the small puppy, a Pyrenean sheep dog, would not grow into a big dog, but she has and will now accompany him on his planned journey across France and Spain to the south of Portugal.
For the last three years he has lived in England but now he is returning under the rules brought in after Brexit which make his life very much more difficult.
He will be allowed to stay for only 90 days in EU countries before having to leave the EU for a further 90 days at least. To take his dog with him he has had to pay about £180 pounds for veterinary records to satisfy the French authorities. I think this is not an inevitable consequence of Brexit but a consequence of the French trying to make life difficult for people of countries that leave the European Union.
In addition, he has had to pay for vaccinations including a rabies vaccination, something he finds strange since there are no cases of rabies in England or France.
He plans to keep some sort of video log of his journey..

Paul Roberts, guitarist
Posted on Leave a comment

Hottest Day of the Year

Brighton Beach 2023

Hottest Day of the Year

Brighton Beach 2023


The hottest day recorded.
Towards ten at night
The rain started.

We walked out 
Into the garden, naked,
enjoying the refreshing rain.

The lawn was squelchy 

We lay down together,
made mud.

From Poems about love. How could you know?

Read more? Amazon book or Kindle download

Posted on Leave a comment

Fifty kinds of love – Introduction

Young couple in love

Fifty kinds of love - introduction

Young couple in love

Fifty kinds of love is the longest poem in Poems about love.

It is full of ideas and observations – some serious, some appearing to be “just playing with words”. The strange thing is that in the jokey parts there are often things that you would recognise as true.
The poem is divided up into numerous topics. I’ll start with two in this posting  –  Young love and The highs and lows of love.

Young love

Love without a care.
Love without caution.
Love without commitment.
Love without a risk assessment.

The highs and lows of love

Love without a care.
Love in the fresh air.
Love where the grass is greener.
Love in pastures new.
Love where the air is cleaner.
Love where the sky is blue.

Love at the crossroads.

Love that’s an uphill struggle.
Love that’s on the way up!
Love on a mountain top.
Love on a slippery slope.
Love that’s downhill from now on.
Love that’s without hope,
though hope lingers on.

that’s the end of the road.

Comments and questions welcomed
Read all the poems
You can read all the poems in the book by buying or downloading it on Amazon. LINK.
If you get the book please give it a star rating. I’d love some feedback so I’d really welcome comments on the book.

More background and poems to follow in future blog articles.

Book cover, Poems about love
Posted on Leave a comment

W B Yeats, Never Give All The Heart, poem analysis

William Butler Yeats, age 35, by his father

W B Yeats, Never Give All The Heart, poem analysis

William Butler Yeats, age 35, by his father

William Butler Yeats, age 35, 1900, painted by his father, John Butler Yeats


Never give all the heart

Never give all the heart, for love
Will hardly seem worth thinking of
To passionate women if it seem
Certain, and they never dream
That it fades out from kiss to kiss;
For everything that’s lovely is
But a brief, dreamy, kind delight.
O never give the heart outright,
For they, for all smooth lips can say,
Have given their hearts up to the play.
And who could play it well enough
If deaf and dumb and blind with love?
He that made this knows all the cost,
For he gave all his heart and lost.

W. B. Yeats  1865 – 1939

The poem’s warning
This poem is advice on love from the poet William Butler Yeats. The basic message is quite clear. He advises that one should never allow oneself to be completely in love with anyone and I am assuming that he would wish his advice to apply equally to men and women even though  the poem is clearly addressed to men.

Reasons given
Yeats’s stated reason for being reserved in one’s feelings of love is based on his understanding of the psychology of women. The idea he  seems to present is that if a woman is certain of a man’s affection she will lose interest. I assume that he believes that the roles could be reversed, and it may be true sometimes that someone who is overconfident in the devotion of a friend, or lover or partner, may have less respect for that person or may take advantage of the unequal strengths of feeling or may feel that the passion they are faced with is just too much to cope with.

But his idea is not very clear because he is suggesting that women do not anticipate that feelings of love may lose their intensity. He says,.”they never dream/ That it fades out from kiss to kiss.” Surely love may also grow stronger in time, just as it may fade away! And has this anything to do with his argument? I don’t think so.

His next comment  isn’t logically connected to what has gone before, but is simply a comment on pleasure “For everything that’s lovely is/ But a brief, dreamy, kind delight.” This is hardly relevant, and in any case, is not always true. Does “kind” mean anything here? Is there such a thing as “an unkind delight”?

Then there is a further comment on women in love and how they will behave. “For they, for all smooth lips can say,/ Have given their hearts up to the play.” He is suggesting that in love women know how to play the game of love, or treat love as a game. This seems to be a general comment on the sincerity of women who are in love. It is just a game to them. I don’t think it is reasonable or accurate to make such a generalisation. Surely in a situation in which the strength of feeling between two people is markedly different the disappointment of one may lead to resentment and speculation about the motives of the other person. He is searching for an explanation but doesn’t actually understand what is happening.

“And who could play it well enough/ If deaf and dumb and blind with love?” So a person completely in love with a woman would hardly have a chance to be loved in return because they would be too emotionally committed to be restrained or calculating. Such a person is Yeats himself as he now makes clear.

The final two lines are a strong statement that the poet really knows what he is talking about because he has lost out in a game of love. He didn’t play the game well and as a consequence got hurt or didn’t succeed in gaining the affection of the one he loved. “He that made this knows all the cost,/ For he gave all his heart and lost.”

Don’t believe everything you read in a poem. There is a deeply felt  truth in this poem but it is padded out with misunderstandings and imaginings.

The basis of Never give all the heart
Biographical records show that Yeats met the beautiful Maud Gonne in 1889 when he was 24. She was eighteen months younger. It is Maud that Yeats, in his own words, fell obsessively in love with.
[There is a photo of Maud Gonne at the end of this article.]
They had several enduring interests in common: interests in poetry, literature, the theatre, spiritualism and especially Irish Nationalism. (The present Irish Republic was part of Britain at that time.) Both wished to see Ireland independent from England, but Maud Gonne was much more committed to the cause of Irish Nationalism than Yeats. She was in favour of armed opposition to English rule. She organised pressure groups and was prominent in anti-English campaigns and protests.

Yeats proposed marriage to Maud on five occasions: 1891, 1899, 1900, 1901, 1916. One may wonder why he suffered so many rejections, but the problem may have lain in the fact that although all his marriage proposals were rejected he was not rejected as a person. In fact there was mutual admiration, common interests, mutual affection. Maud did not tell Yeats to go away and leave her alone. He featured her in his poetry and plays and as an actress she acted in at least one of his plays.

It may be that there was not that necessary physical spark of desire on her part. She wanted Yeats to join her as a Catholic and she wanted him to be more strongly committed to campaigning for Irish Independence. These two matters were extremely important to her.

How their relationship evolved
Their relationship was punctuated by some significant events. 
1887 Maud Gonne inherited trust funds in excess of £13,000.
1889 Yeats met Maud Gonne
1890 Maud Gonne met a married man, French right wing journalist, Lucien Millevoye.
1891 Yeats first proposed to Maud Gonne.
1893 Maud began an affair with Millevoye. They had a baby, Georges, who died after a few months to the mother’s extreme distress. Gonne and Millevoye separated. Gonne had a memorial chapel built for the baby at Samois-sur-Seine near Paris. Gonne wanted another baby to replace the first and wanted the soul of Georges to transmigrate into a new baby. To help to achieve this she wanted Millevoye to be the father of the second baby and to conceive the baby by having sex beside Georges’  sarcophagus, so the couple met again for this purpose.
1894 the second baby, Iseult, was born.
1894 Yeats met Olivia Shakespear, a married woman.
1895 .Yeats began his first intimate relationship with a woman, Olivia Shakespear. He wrote, “after all if I could not get the woman I loved it would be a comfort for a little while to devote myself to another.” and “at last she came to me in my thirtieth year …. and we had many days of happiness.”
1897 Spring, the affair ended because it was apparent to Olivia that Yeats loved someone else.
1899 Second proposal to Maud Gonne.
1900 Third proposal to Maud Gonne.
1903  Maud Gonne married Major John McBride. Yeats hated John McBride.
1904  Sean McBride was born
1905  The marriage was ended. 
1908  Yeats met Maud Gonne in Paris and  they had sex together for the first and last time. It satisfied neither of them. He wrote that that “the tragedy of sexual intercourse is the perpetual virginity of the soul.” They were not as one. She wrote a declaration of love, attraction and rejection! “I have prayed so hard to have all earthly desire taken from my love for you and dearest, loving you as I do, I have prayed and I am praying still that the bodily desire for me may be taken from you too.”
When Yeats told her he was not happy without her, she replied, “Oh yes, you are, because you make beautiful poetry out of what you call your unhappiness and are happy in that. Marriage would be such a dull affair. Poets should never marry. The world should thank me for not marrying you” [Jeffares, A. Norman (1988). W. B. Yeats, a new biography. London and New York: Continuum. p. 102.] Date of this remark is uncertain. 
1916  Armed uprising in Dublin against the English. John McBride was arrested as one of the key conspirators and was executed. Later Yeats was called on to write a poem to commemorate the heroes of the valiant uprising. In view of his feelings he did this with extraordinary skill.
1916  Yeats, 51 years old, final proposal to Maud. Final rejection.
1916  Yeats’s proposal to Maud’s daughter, Iseult age 22. She rejected him.
1917  Yeats’ proposal to Georgie Hyde-Lees age 25. Their marriage was happy and they had two children, Anne and Michael. Yeats had several affairs during their marriage.
1922  Ireland became an independent republic. 
1922  Yeats, by now a celebrated public figure, was appointed to the first Irish Senate. In a debate on divorce he had this to say “Marriage is not to us a sacrament, but, upon the other hand, the love of a man and woman, and the inseparable physical desire, are sacred. This conviction has come to us through ancient philosophy and modern literature, and it seems to us a most sacrilegious thing to persuade two people who hate each other… to live together, and it is to us no remedy to permit them to part if neither can re-marry.” [Foster, W B Yeats, A Life,  2003 p 294]
1923  Yeats awarded the Nobel prize for Literature
1934  Yeats, age 68 had an operation which ”rejuvenated him”. He had several affairs with young women.
1939  Yeats died age 73.

It appears that Yeats’s fascination with Maud Gonne lasted for about three decades. The reason for her rejections of his marriage proposals does not appear to be because he was besotted with her (“gave all his heart”) or that she was playing some sort of game with him, or deliberately manipulating him, or that she didn’t understand that “love fades out from kiss to kiss” but something much deeper  –  that they were not physically or ideologically quite in tune with each other and that her true passion was the cause of  Irish independence.
He seemed to be unable to appreciate her different perceptions of him and life. She continued her interest in him and even stated affection for him for many years which must have made it very difficult for him to “forget her and move on.” At any time he could have abandoned his association with her. Her response to him was clear and consistent. It may be noted that she seemed to have a problem with sustaining a relationship with a man. 

Why did he propose so many times? Even before the first proposal he must have had a good idea about how close their relationship was and was not. And subsequent proposals look as if he was lining himself up for humiliation. Was the problem not with Maud Gonne or the nature of “passionate women” as he understood them but his own inflexibility, his lack of ability to accept reality or even a masochistic pleasure in being hurt? Maud Gonne’s comment quoted in the 1908 section above seems to hint at this.
It seems that Maud  Gonne enriched Yeats’s life by their association whilst at the same time leaving him in torment. 
He wrote, in 1916 in No second Troy, presumably about her,
Why should I blame her that she filled my days
With misery,
Poor Yeats.

The wisdom of W B Yeats
What was he to do? He gave all his heart and lost. Does he convince us that total love for one person is a recipe for a life of torment? Surely if the feelings of two people are mutual then there is everything to gain from a shared attraction. In his case the reason that he “lost” may have been that he and Gonne appeared to lack a strong physical attraction, and a unity of shared feelings and ideals. The problem, in his case, was not “passionate women” but his inflexible, immature and masochistic nature. The sadness of the poem comes not from his account of the pain of rejection but from the sadness that Yeats’s had such an immature personality which brought him a life of misery.
It often happens that in romantic relationships the strength of feeling may be much stronger on one side than the other and this can certainly lead to discomfort and often rejection by the one who may feel overwhelmed or suffocated by an unwanted show of passion. To this extent giving “all the heart” may lead to rejection and “loss” but with balanced individuals this does not lead inevitably to a life of misery.

Poems About Love  –  How could you know?

My own collection of poems about love addresses the issue which Yeats  considers in his poem, Never Give All The Heart.
One very long poem called 50 kinds of love is admittedly very prosaic and is hardly more than a long list. However,  I believe it makes a number of valid observations about love. One section is entitled, Unbalanced love.
Another  section. which is related, is about expressing affection to someone who may not be expecting it and may be a little shocked by the expression of love. This is Love that moves too fast.

About Unbalanced love
In my youth I can remember myself being quite put off a girl who seemed to want to take me over when I hardly knew her and I ended the relationship. She was very tearful and I felt very mean. Perhaps I should have been more patient and cautious.

From 50 kinds of love  –  part of the list
Unbalanced love

The need-to-be-loved love
that’s unequal to the task of love.
Love that hasn’t got its head screwed on.
Weak and needy love.
Love that’s just plain wrong.

The I-love-you-so-much-why-don’t-you-love-me love?
Love that cannot handle love.
Love that’s out of control.
Love that’s a sticking plaster.
Love that’s a disaster.
Love that’s an own goal.

About Love that moves too fast
It can happen that simply expressing one’s feelings too soon or too strongly may surprise or shock or “put off” the other person in a new or developing relationship. The alternative, avoiding this risk by not expressing one’s feelings may also produce unintended consequences because silence may give the impression of not really liking the other person. This is discouragement by other means.

From 50 kinds of love
Love that moves too fast
Love that moves too fast
and shows its hand too early
and put its foot in it, 
and is, perhaps, a step too far,
or maybe just a slip of the tongue.  

A footnote to Yeats’s life
Yeats died in the south of France in 1939 and was buried there. He wished his remains to be buried in County Sligo in Ireland. In 1948 his remains were dug up and assembled. There seems to have been some doubt about the authenticity of the bones. He was reburied in County Sligo. The person in charge of this operation working for the Irish Government was the Minister for External Affairs, Sean McBride, the son of Maud Gonne.

I’d be interested to hear your view on the ideas expressed in this article. You can comment either on facebook or my blog.
Read all the poems in Poems about love
You can read all the poems in Poems about love by buying or downloading it on Amazon. LINK.More about Poems about love

If you get the book please give it a star rating. I’d love some feedback so I’d really welcome comments on the book.

More comments, background and poems to follow in future blog articles.

Book cover, Poems about love
Maud Gonne, Anglo-Irish actress and campaigner for Irish independence from England

Maud Gonne, friend of W B Yeats, campaigner for Irish Independence, actress.

Olivia Shakespeare

Olivia Shakespeare, friend of W B Yeats (1895), Literary Salon hostess late 19th century/early twentieth century, novelist.

Posted on Leave a comment

The poem “Marriage” from “Poems about Love”

Wedding group Sicily

The poem “Marriage” - part two

Wedding group Sicily

A wedding group in Sicily, 2017

Here is the text of the poem, and the third of a series of comments on the ideas behind poems in Poems About Love.

Here I comment on the second part of the poem.


When push comes to shove
marriage is not about love.

And a wedding
is not “the happy ending”.
It is the beginning
of a long journey
with a contract to travel for the rest of your life
with someone you hardly know
by a route and towards a destination
that no-one knows.

2004 and 1 January 2023

The stories behind the poems

Behind many poems in Poems about love lie events that set me thinking.

I discussed the opening of this poem in an earlier post.

Marriage – comment 2

Of course, every mature person knows that “a wedding is not the happy ending”.

Yet weddings are so often treated as an end-of-story event, the culmination of years of hope and striving, a glorious achievement to be celebrated with no expense spared, as if the wedding is the real life fairy tale come true and the beaming couple will “live together,happy ever after”.

Most marriages are of relatively young people (under 35?) with little experience of life. It struck me that the marriage commitment was the greatest undertaking two people might ever make in their lives, yet their knowledge of each other, the world, how they and the world might change in the future was very slight.

Weddings, therefore, are the beginnings of very risky enterprises.

So it surprises me that so many marriages can be described as happy or successful.

The poem raises the very important question of what does a happy marriage depend on in the face of so many unknowns?

Those marriages that are successful can’t put it all down to the common explanation that it was “luck”.

Although, having good health, having a good and reliable income, and living in a safe and prospering country – much of which is beyond personal control – is certainly a kind of luck that helps towards a happy marriage and a happy life.

What does it takes to make a marriage work? What is needed beyond a mutual attraction, mutual desire, “being in love”?

It would be interesting to compile a list of readers’ ideas.

One suggestion is that having a common interest is often a key factor, but in our village there is a woman, Bryony Hill, who was married to the famous football player and pundit, Jimmy Hill. She hated football. Her theory about their very happy relationship was that they got on so well together “because we were so different.”

I’d be interested to hear your view on this topic? You can comment either on facebook or my blog.
Read all the poems
You can read all the poems in the book by buying or downloading it on Amazon. LINK.If you get the book please give it a star rating. I’d love some feedback so I’d really welcome comments on the book.

More comments and background and poems to follow in future blog articles.

Book cover, Poems about love
Posted on Leave a comment

Publisher Saxon Books Returns

Publisher Saxon Books returns poster

Publisher Saxon Books Returns

Publisher Saxon Books returns poster

Popular and long established war poetry anthologies are not only back on sale again, but for a short time are being offered at big discounts. For example, Minds at War, which is one of the largest anthologies of poetry of the First World War. 

Minds at War anthology book cover

                     See  and

What happened?

You will probably remember that my publishing company was almost destroyed by a combination of things, covid, the tragic bankruptcy of my distributor (Vine House Distribution), the takeover of the warehousing company where our books were stored.

The latter’s new owners, who stored millions of books for the UK’s largest publishers, decided to combine the stock held in various warehouses and store in one mega warehouse. The transfer of so many books and the keeping of accurate records of the ownership of every box to be moved was a major logistics challenge.

Unfortunately, in the process of moving hundreds of lorry loads of boxes of books across the country and relocating stock in the new warehouse, the precise warehouse locations of many of the books belonging to Saxon Books were not recorded. In other words, HUNDREDS OF BOOKS WERE LOST!

They have now been found and are back on sale!

Posted on Leave a comment

Love in three plant pics and a poem, The last train

cactus flower

Love in three plant pics and a poem, The last train

cactus flowering for one day only

We are currently plant-sitting for friends who have gone on holiday. One of the plants we have been entrusted with is a cactus. We were told that this cactus was about to produce a flower and that the flower would last only one day. To me it seemed a very sad idea that it should be so brilliant but last such a short time – a bit like love and life, I thought.

Cactus flower day 2

Cactus flower day 2. Almost gone

Cactus flower day 3

Cactus flower, day three. Gone!

Nothing is for ever.

The last train

All things must change.
Sunshine turns to rain.
Lovers become estranged.

Tonight I think
the final kiss.

I didn’t want it
to end like this.

You’ve changed.
You didn’t explain.

You didn’t confess.
Perhaps I can guess.

What do I care?
But I do care.

I step out
into the rain.

Empty streets,
empty heart.
I feel
that too familiar pain

and tears
on my cheeks.

I can feel
my heart beat.

Just time
to catch the last train.

All things must change.
Sunshine turns to rain.
Lovers become estranged.

10 July 2007, 25 August 2016, 2 January 2019

I’ve caught a number of late night ” last trains” from London over many years. The atmosphere in vast railway stations late at night is always a bit bleak. It’s more than just the end of a day, it’s a cavern of emptiness and the last train pulling out of the station . . .  It seems the obvious place for a film scene of “a final kiss”. 

The idea of “a last kiss” makes me reflect on the transience of everything human.

Your thoughts?
I’d be interested to hear ideas, thoughts, feelings that this poem might bring into your mind. You could write on my facebook page or my blog.
Read all the poems in Poems about love  –  How could you know?
You can read all the poems in the book by buying or downloading it on Amazon. LINK.

Please help
If you get the book please give it a star rating. I’d love some feedback so I’d really welcome comments on the book.

More of my comments, background explanations and poems to follow in future blog articles.

Book cover, Poems about love
Posted on Leave a comment

The poem “Marriage” from “Poems about Love”

wedding couple going into water

The poem “Marriage” from “Poems about Love”

wedding couple going into water

Here is the text of the poem, and the first of a series of background infos and comments on the ideas behind poems in Poems about love  –  Where did the ideas for the poem come from? etc


When push comes to shove
marriage is not about love.

And a wedding
is not “the happy ending”.
It is the beginning
of a long journey
with a contract to travel for the rest of your life
with someone you hardly know
by a route and towards a destination
that no-one knows.

2004 and 1 January 2023

The stories behind the poems

Behind many poems in Poems about love lie events that set me thinking.

Marriage is one example

In this case the key line is the second line that asserts “marriage is not about love”. This was actually a statement made to me by my father when I was a young teenager.
He was not, himself, an expert on the subject of marriage because it was very clear to us children that our parents were very unhappily married – living together but sad and far apart.

Nevertheless, he could see what other people were doing and maybe guess what it was that led to a marriage that was “happy” or “fulfilled” or “successful”.
I didn’t know, till many years after I left home that he had a relationship with another woman and that may have inspired his remark. She actually worked for him and with him.
He maintained that what was needed to make “a successful marriage” was an ability to work together.
Obviously marriage is much more than this but my experience suggests that it is a key ingredient.

I’d be interested to hear your view on this topic? Do let me know, either on facebook or my blog.
Read all the poems
You can read all the poems in the book by buying or downloading it on Amazon. LINK.If you get the book please give it a star rating. I’d love some feedback so I’d really welcome comments on the book.

More comments and background and poems to follow in future blog articles.

Book cover, Poems about love
Posted on Leave a comment

Love poems – subtle change of title

David Roberts 2020

Love poems – subtle change of title

Book cover, Poems about love

Published as How could you know?  – Poems about love, it is now Poems about love  – How could you know?

Why the change? It’s to do with the way people search for books on Amazon and search engines in general. If someone is looking for a book of love poems they are more likely to look for the words “love poems” rather than “how could you know?” Why didn’t I think of this in the first place?

Personal relationships
Poems about love is about love and personal relationships.

Although the book was put together in a few days it actually took over fifty years to write.
Looking through old notebooks containing thoughts, observations, poems I discovered I’d written a lot about personal relationships, the way we humans connect with each other, live with each other, procreate, develop interests and lives together, and often change, lose enchantment, disagree, even hate each other and fall apart.
Also, how many people don’t feel love, feel excluded from it and develop different strategies for life and attitudes towards people.

What guides all this activity? What instincts, thoughts, principles, rules, social expectations and controls? What leads to “success” and happiness or causes failure and unhappiness? – It’s a very wide-ranging collection of poems about “love”.

Available from Amazon. Please download it or buy the paperback version and give it a star rating. I’d love some feedback so I’d really welcome comments. Link to book. 

Posted on Leave a comment

Love Poems – insights into the poems

Poems and life - the stories behind the poems 1B

The book: Poems about love  –  How could you know?.

The story behind the poems

Poem One (B), Marriage

That strange first line

“When push comes to shove” – a common saying in the UK which means, “When you consider what the basic issue is” or “in the end you will have to agree that [something is the case]” or”When you get to the truth”.  Why it has these meanings I don’t know but it just came into my head with the second line of the poem.

The Cambridge Dictionary has a different interpretation of the expression, LINK

I think the expression has more than one meaning. Any other views on the topic?

I think it starts the poem off in a conversational sort of way, asserting something but inviting a reaction.

What’s your view on this? Do let me know, either on facebook or my blog. What would you tell a couple contemplating getting married are the key things that will lead to success/happiness?

More stories behind the poems soon.

And you can buy or download the book on Amazon. Do buy it and give it a star rating. Link to Amazon

 (I’ve recently been out of action with covid.)

David Roberts

Posted on Leave a comment

Promoting poetry – a good idea being developed in Shoreham

Marilyn Stafford, photographer
Marilyn Stafford, photographer

Marilyn Stafford, distinguished photographer

Promoting poetry - a good idea being developed in Shoreham

The basic idea is to present a poem, by a local author, on a display board in an arts centre and change the poem every month, additionally to display a local poet’s poem on the local rail station, also changing the poem every month.

A very active organisation of arts enthusiasts based in Shoreham-by-Sea in Sussex, UK, run a whole series of arts and cultural events and have developed a big following over the years. They call themselves Shoreham Wordfest.

A founder member was Marilyn Stafford, the distinguished photographer who has an international reputation. ( It was her idea and wish to promote local poets. She died in January this year (2023) at the age of 97, and the plan is being put into action in her memory.

My good fortune
I was fortunate to have one of my poems chosen for the first display this May/June at The Shoreham Centre. Entitled Love is its own reward I wrote it as a tribute to the countless carers and carer professionals who work without regard to the personal physical or emotional cost to themselves. It seems to me that such people, people that society depends on, are insufficiently recognised and rewarded. They generate so much love but they deserve more from society.

Poem requirements
Poets are invited to submit poems of up to 16 lines
They are invited to send a picture to accompany the poem.
They should put their name at the end of the poem and may mention the source book and a website.
More information for poets in the Shoreham/Adur area:

poem poster - Love is its own reward, David Roberts

One of the first poems selected

Hope you will click the link to Amazon, buy the book and give it a star rating! Thank you if you do.

Link to Poems about Love. How could you know?

Posted on Leave a comment

Poem for Northern Ireland

Stormont Parliament building where the politicians have been refusing to meet for 18 months to govern Northern Ireland.

A Poem for Northern Ireland

Backward Vision

Sadly I see your future:
supervised political arrangements
finely tuned,
perfectly balanced,
but, introduce your politicians
and the will isn’t there.
They have problems with fixed mindsets,
old animosities
transparently disguised.
Every move is guarded,
They bicker, and are bloody-minded.

The problems you face are vast,
but you can’t step into the future
because you are rooted in the past.

15 August 1999

David Roberts
from Kosovo War Poetry, 2000, Saxon Books

I wrote this poem about an agreement between the Kosovo Albanians and the Serbs, but I remember I had in mind what was happening with the new “Good Friday Peace Agreement” in Northern Ireland. Undoubtedly a step in the right direction but some people have a real talent for disagreeing. Thankfully most people and most of the world do not behave in this bloody-minded way.

Note for non-UK residents about the background to this poem

Northern Ireland is a separate province of the United Kingdom and has its own parliament (Stormont).

For several decades up till 25 years ago there was a bitter and violent disagreement between two factions:

1. those (mainly Catholics) who believed that Northern Ireland should be combined with and governed as part of Ireland,

2. those (mainly Protestants) who believed that Northern Ireland should remain part of the United Kingdom.

For a long time the Catholic minority in Northern Ireland were discriminated against which led to deep-seated anger.

Each side was so convinced they were right that they formed militarised groups (often funded by criminal activities) and set about killing opponents. Over 3,500 people were killed and 47 thousand were injured before 1998 when a peace agreement was reached and politicians with opposing opinions agreed to work together and form a government. The agreement was called the Good Friday Agreement and was signed 25 years ago this week, on 10 April, 1998.

It was clear that not everyone could resist violence. The call to give up and hand in weapons was resisted by many. Killings have occurred since the agreement but have been greatly reduced and for much of the last 25 years Northern Ireland politicians from a range of political parties have met at Stormont to govern Northern Ireland.

Posted on Leave a comment

Love Poetry Extraordinaire

Book cover, Poems about love


Book cover, Poems about love

I believe that many people may find a lot to relate to, argue about and be moved or amused by in my new book.

 Poems about love, How could you know? has just been published by Amazon. It’s available as an ebook kindle download, or as a 100 page paperback.

How do I know?

I’ve been people-watching all my life, starting with my parents’ own troubled marriage. Looking through folders of poems I had scribbled over a lifetime, I discovered that I’d written rather a lot about love, and maybe at my age I have a few insights into the topic.

A few of the poems were written over fifty years ago but most were written in the last 20 years as I observed many relationships, their difficulties, tragedies, successes and triumphs, so this is largely a book of observations, but also speculation, imagination and a little bit of personal experience.

It’s a very varied and unusual book of love poetry because it goes beyond the normal kind of love poem. Some poems are thoughtful, even complicated and philosophical, others are lighter – suggestive or facetious with one or two that are surreal, or even bizarre.

How could you know? is the title of one of the poems, and if people ask how I might know so much about love to be able to write a book of love poems I have to say that like most other ordinary people I’m just an observer of life, fascinated by what is going on in the world and add this to my awareness of my own experiences.

I may have seen more than many people because I’m 80 years old, but these poems were written over a long period of time so they are not all written with the alleged wisdom of old age.

I have been married for over 50 years and live with my wife, Julie, in Hurstpierpoint, UK.

Poems include, Fifty kinds of love, [and I’m hoping readers will think of many more to add to the list], Love is its own reward, Does love exist? How could you know? Don’t vanish with the dawn, A heart in winter.

A new departure for me

I’ve spent over 25 years as an editor and publisher of war poetry so I am very pleased to have change and take on a topic that is positive and cheering. I hope readers will enjoy these very varied poems and leave comments on the Amazon website. 

Finding on Amazon

You can visit the books entry on the Amazon website by clicking here.

Or search on Amazon for “Love poetry David Roberts”

Posted on Leave a comment

Poem about Iraq

A poem about Iraq in 2003

Tony Blair's visit to Southern Iraq early in 2003. He explained the wisdom of the war.


A Message from Tony Blair to the People of Iraq

(Written a few days after the start of the attacks by US and UK forces, March 2003. It has been claimed by Tony Blair and others that the problems caused by the invasion could not have been foreseen.)

Note, 2019. I wrote this bitter, sarcastic poem shortly after the first bombing of Iraq feeling extremely angry about the sanctimonious arrogance, dishonesty and criminality and cruelty of Tony Blair. I feel the same way today and regret that he has not been brought to trial as a war criminal. – DR.

A Message from Tony Blair to the People of Iraq

​Poem by David Roberts

Look into my honest eyes.
Listen to my honest lies.
Look into my angel face.
Just hear the sincerity in my voice.

​I want you all to understand
the better future we have planned.
We bomb with Christian love, not Christian hate.
We come,
not to conquer,
but to liberate.

​It is essential, and I want to make this very clear,
that our first aim is to make the world a safer place.
And with precision bombing you need have no fear.
And though you’ve not actually uttered threatening words
to Britain and America, or indeed the world,
and though you haven’t acted yet,
we believe you pose a threat
a threat that cannot be ignored.

​I tell you frankly that so great is the threat
that act we must, while there is still time,
or we may live to reap the bitter harvest
of regret.

​I’m sure you will appreciate
that we have the right
to remove regimes
that we dislike.
We have the right to assassinate.
We have the right to decide your fate.

​So the purpose of our mission,
now that war has started,
is also perfectly clear:
we come to bring you hope
and take away your fear.

​Your army, as you know, is hopelessly outgunned.
Resistance by your soldiers is completely senseless.
We’ll simply massacre. We’ll wipe them out.
They cannot touch us. They’re defenceless.

​We wreck your homes, your lives, your infrastructure.
You needed help.
Without it you would have had no future.

​Our peace, justice and democracy
you will soon enjoy and celebrate.
Remember, we come,
not to conquer,
but to liberate.

​Your cities shake and thunder with our bombs.
Tumbling buildings. Plumes of flames.
Roaring jets and shrieking men.
The crash of glass and children’s screams.
We see the mushroom clouds again.
Now you can appreciate the genius of our civilisation.
Remember, this isn’t war:
it’s liberation.

​We destroyed your tv station. We cut your phones.
Your power and water supplies we cut.
We destroy public buildings and private homes.
You see billowing smoke and conflagration.
But it isn’t war:
it’s liberation.

​Your hospitals overflow. They cannot cope.
We are killing you softly with our love.
Death and destruction are everywhere.
Your future fills with hope.

​And if you cannot comprehend this desecration.
Just try to understand,
it isn’t war:
it’s liberation.

​Cruise missiles, depleted uranium,
pulse, cluster and bunker buster bombs
may shock you.
And perhaps, you’re just a little awed.
But please understand we come to help
and this is your reward.

​Regrettably we can treat nothing as sacred:
it is a fact of war.
No artefact of God or man,
no suffering, no pain, no law
can impede the progress of our plan.

​One advantage of our attack
is that we will build for you
a new Iraq.
So don’t worry about the scale of the destruction.
Our companies will make it all as new
and your oil will pay for reconstruction.

​Look to the future.
Your children will not easily forget
how we came to help.
Round the clock bombing
may have left them traumatised
and perhaps a little mad,
but soon we are sure they’ll realise
just what luck they’ve had.

​Some ask if I’m untouched by human suffering.
I can tell you my sleep is undisturbed,
though I deeply mourn the thousands killed.
I am not shaken,
and I am not stirred.

​So finally I say,
that for a brighter future
a little bombing is a small price to pay.

​Ignore the carnage, terror and destruction.
Our purpose
is not
domination or exploitation.
This is not
a war of conquest.
It’s a war of liberation.

​David Roberts
28 March-9 April 2003

Posted on Leave a comment

Apple strudel – verses for St Valentine’s Day

Apple strudel - poem for St Valentine’s Day

My darling,

you are the apple strudel of my eye,

naughty but nice.

And yet,

friends warn me

that you are dangerous

and I’ll live to regret

that we ever met.

I don’t agree,

my delectable extrovert.

Time will tell our fortune

and I shall be

content to get

my just dessert. 

David Roberts

Poem from How could you know? Poems about love.  – paperback version, 14 February. By 17 February 2023 it should also be in the kindle downloads.

My explanation

This poem is just fiction. It refers to no real person.

The words might be used by someone who’s in love with a girl who may be fun but seem a little crazy. 

I’m not addressing this poem to anyone I know. I just liked playing around with the well-known but strange expression, “You are the apple of my eye”.

Posted on Leave a comment

Love is its own reward

Poem - Love is its own reward

A poem for NHS workers and everyone in caring professions who go on caring for others, even though they don’t receive the recognition or respect or pay that they deserve. In spite of the main idea of the poem, love alone is not a sufficient reward.


Love is its own reward

Some people stand apart,

have no need of status,


or the world’s approval.

They have risen

above the need for love or lovers

because they have it all

within themselves and love to spare

and give it all to others.

5 December 2022

David Roberts

Posted on Leave a comment

My new book of poems about love

My new book

How could you know? –  Poems about love

Love experienced, love observed, love examined from different angles, love in the context of human life in all its variety. – This is an exceptional book of love poetry. It goes beyond expressions of adoration, wonder, longing, and loss  –  the rhetoric of love poetry. It is a wide ranging exploration of “love”.

My approach is often thoughtful – even philosophical, at other times it may be surreal, bizarre, suggestive or facetious. This is “poetry of ideas”.

Poems include, Fifty kinds of love, Love is its own reward, Does love exist? How could you know? Don’t vanish with the dawn, A heart in winter.

Available now for download on Kindle  –  Amazon website  –  £3.

Now also available as a 100 page paperback  –  £6-95.  Amazon link.

Posted on Leave a comment

Cleo Laine – Jazz Singer

Cleo Laine, brilliant documentary

I strongly recommend you to see the Cleo Laine documentary on BBC iPlayer.

I bought the All About Me Cleo Laine LP well over 50 years ago, and I once saw her with the Johnny Dankworth band in Worthing.

So I knew she was a wonderful singer with a great voice and a three octave range. But when I saw the BBC documentary, which included many of her performances, shown in full, to celebrate he 95th birthday on 28th October 2022, I was astonished by her brilliance as a performer and musician.

Available on iPlayer – really something very special.

Here’s a sample of her amazing ability. The BBC documenatary has better quality and a lot of interesting info.

Available only till 27th November 2022  –  iplayer link

Posted on Leave a comment

Hans Zimmer – Film Music Genius

Fascinating documentary about a musical genius

Hans Zimmer is the most successful composer of film scores this century. His story was told in a recent BBC2 documentary which can now be seen on BBC iplayer or downloaded from the internet at

It tells how he was expelled from eight schools in Germany before his mother brought him to England where his creative talent was tolerated or even encouraged. He has had a fortnight formal music education.

He began his music career playing working men’s clubs in the north of England before working with synthesisers and computers in a backstreet studio in London and being discovered by Hollywood.

The documentary explores Zimmer’s approach to creating a film score. He has been astonishingly successful.

Next year, with a full orchestra he is doing a European tour appearing in Europe’s major arenas including the O2 in London.

The BBC documentary tells his fascinating story. iplayer Link

Posted on Leave a comment

Brilliant South Coast Jazz at Shoreham Just West of Brighton

Just experienced another brilliant jazz morning at the Ropetackle Arts Centre, Shoreham. Sunday 5th December 2021. Mike Hatchard’s “Jazz Breakfast”. Top musicians on brilliant form. Duncan Lamont saxophone and flute, Nils Solberg guitar, Paul Morgan double bass, Mike Hatchard, Keyboard. A scintillating morning.

Mike runs these events every month on the first Sunday of the month at 11 am. Doors open 10.30 am. See what’s coming up at this wonderful arts venue:

Posted on Leave a comment

Willie McBride – a popular folk song relating to the First World War

I don’t know how widely known it is that some very popular and excellent folk songs were written about The First World War long after the event – poetry often overlooked.
One of the most popular is the lament for the death of Willie McBride, but its meaning is wider that just that.
I have heard it sung with great feeling many many times at folk clubs. There are several versions on YouTube but I think some of these make the song too sentimental.
Here’s one version

Eric Bogle

The picture above the video is of Eric Bogle who wrote the song in 1975 and returned to the grave of Willie McBride in 2018.
More on my war poetry website at
I’d be interested to hear of other folk songs about the First World War that you might recommend.


Posted on Leave a comment

Climate change? – Poem – What little I know

This is me in the Mojave Desert, California, in 2009

Climate change is not new

Ever since there have been climates on earth there has been climate change. Today we know that large areas of the earth are threatened by rising sea levels and other areas are threatened by droughts. Such problems have been common throughout human history. Mankind has always been at the mercy of forces beyond his control, and sometimes forces that he could and should control.

I, for one, feel powerless to do anything about the current climate crises. At the same time, in spite of everything, I think that mankind will survive and enjoy the benefits of modern science.

I wasn’t thinking of the climate issue when I wrote the following poem which my notes tell me I wrote over several years, returning to it from time to time when I happened to come across it in a folder, but I think the poem may be relevant.

Poem – What little I know?

What does anyone know?

What do I know?

The origin
of the universe
its scale
its destiny
are beyond my understanding.

This earth
so rich
so poor
so vulnerable
so uncontrollable
is all we have.

I accept
that I am less than a speck
in the sandstorm
of stars.
I only know
I am a citizen of earth
and this,
my brief home.

David Roberts
2000, 2015, 2020

Posted on Leave a comment

A modern poem for Remembrance Day

One of nearly 400 memorials at The National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, Staffordshire

A Hymn for Remembrance Sunday

May be used as a prayer or sung to the music, Finlandia, by Jean Sibelius

Grant peace, O Lord, across our strife-torn world,
Where war divides and greed and dogma drive.
Help us to learn the lessons from the past,
That all are human and all pay the price.
All life is dear and should be treated so;
Joined, not divided, is the way to go.

Protect, dear Lord, all who, on our behalf,
Now take the steps that place them in harm’s way.
May they find courage for each task they face
By knowing they are in our thoughts always.
Then, duty done and missions at an end,
Return them safe to family and friends.

Grant rest, O Lord, to those no longer with us;
Who died protecting us and this their land.
Bring healing, Lord, to those who, through their service,
Bear conflict’s scars on body or in mind.
With those who mourn support and comfort share.
Give strength to those who for hurt loved-ones care.

And some there be who no memorial have;
Who perished are as though they’d never been.
For our tomorrows their today they gave,
And simply asked that in our hearts they’d live.
We heed their call and pledge ourselves again,
At dusk and dawn – we will remember them!

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them.

We will remember them.

Charles Henrywood, 2009

From The War Poetry website  and the book, Remembrance Poems and Readings.

Posted on Leave a comment

Remembrance Day – Sources of Remembrance Poems and Readings

The sculpture by Ian Rank-Broadley is perhaps the best known memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas in Staffordshire. It was inspired by the Ancient Greek tradition of carrying dead heroes from the field of battle on a shield. Here the shield has been replaced by a stretcher and a grieving family has been added.

The memorial park is dedicated to all Britain’s armed and non-combatant services.

“The National Memorial Arboretum is a British site of national remembrance.  Its objective is to honour the fallen, recognise service and sacrifice, and foster pride in the British Armed Forces and civilian community.”

There are almost 400 memorials on this 150 acre site. We visited in August this year. It is an impressive and moving place to visit.

A version of the picture above is featured on the cover of my book, Remembrance poems and Readings.

Book of Remembrance Poems

Remembrance poems and Readings

This book contains a comprehensive collection of readings for Remembrance services and includes a discussion of the changing nature of remembrance events. There are poems that go beyond remembrance to offer hope for a world with sustainable peace.

A range of Remembrance poems freely available on the internet

You can explore traditional readings and a wide selection of Remembrance poems by living service personnel on my website,

Posted on Leave a comment

A witty, insightful and entertaining film about a mature woman with problems with work and romance

French Film, Aurore, I got Life

A witty, insightful and entertaining film about Aurore, a 50 year-old woman looking for love and struggling to cope with men, work and other stresses.  

I Got Life

Aurore with her friend

Aurore meets her daughter's boyfriend

Aurore is divorced, looking after her two teenage and maturing daughters and being plagued by hot flushes. She walks out on an obnoxious employer and then finds it difficult to get new work. She has plenty of advice from her friends, one of whom is a feisty feminist who puts real fear into men who make unwanted personal remarks in the street. It’s quite extraordinary to see one such man running away from this wild woman.

The film is very sympathetic, touching, and occasionally hilarious. It’s a great film and we will certainly watch it again

French with English subtitles. Currently it’s available on BBC iPlayer. Google play, YouTube, Apple TV, etc.
(15) 89 minutes, 2017. Stars Agnès Jaoui; and Thibault de Montalembert; directed by Blandine Lenoir.

David Roberts    25 October 2021

Please consider sharing this post.

Aurore chances to meet an old flame

Posted on Leave a comment


Welcome return of that positive, inspiring and cheerful programme about a couple raising 1000 sheep and nine children – OUR YORKSHIRE FARM. New series. 9pm Tuesday 5 October 2021, Channel 5. We are gradually catching up on all the previous programmes using the watch-again facility, “My5” via my phone and Chromecast. Brilliant people, brilliant family. Great TV.

Posted on Leave a comment

Hurst Festival 2021 is in full swing

DON’T MISS OUT. The Hurst Festival is in full swing in the village of Hurstpierpoint, a few miles north of Brighton.

Joe Stilgoe

We are going to see Joe Stilgoe on Thursday 23rd September. Dazzling pianist and great entertainer. Also Other events.


There’s amazing variety. A top Queen tribute band in the church on Saturday 18th. Drama in the village’s smartly refurbished theatre, comedy, classical piano, things for children, art and art tuition, classic films, a solo harpist etc

Pic is of Joe Stilgoe.

The festival runs till 26th September.

More info at

Posted on Leave a comment

Great TV – Our Yorkshire Farm on My5 Watch Again

Great TV - Our Yorkshire Farm on My5 Watch Again

Our Yorkshire Farm

A TV programme that is truly positive and life-enhancing. You may not be interested in sheep farming as a topic but it is hard not to find the events on this particular farm really interesting – especially if you have ever tried to bring up children.

Yorkshire model Amanda decides that modelling is not for her and that she would prefer the outdoor life of a shepherdess. She meets Clive Owen, a sheep farmer 20 years older than she is, and marries him.

Nine children

The story picks up for TV viewers some years later when the couple have 9 children who are all involved in the activities of a 2000 acre remote sheep farm in Yorkshire with its approximately 1000 sheep, plus cattle, horses, dogs, chickens, and wild, challenging landscape.

The children are keen workers

The oldest of the children is at university and helps around the farm during the holidays and the enforced covid break.
The youngest are just toddlers but even they are involved in the life of the farm and help to bottle-feed orphan lambs. Girls just a little older are involved in helping sheep to give birth by hauling lambs out of the back end of struggling ewes.

Remote and isolated farm

The school age children are picked up by minibus for a one-hour journey to school. The nearest hospital is 70 miles away.

The two youngest with an orphan lamb

We have watched about half a dozen programmes but there are four series that you can look at on My5 watch again. We couldn’t help but be impressed by the enthusiasm of the children and the amazing coping ability of the parents. Each programme has been fascinating and impressive.

David Roberts

Posted on Leave a comment

Philharmonia – psychological thriller on All4, on demand

Philharmonia - psychological thriller on All4, on demand

Philharmonia is a French six-part psychological drama. We are watching it on All4 via our phone and chromecast but there are other ways to access All4 free on demand series.
The story is set in Paris, mainly in the concert hall of a top French orchestra. The cast comprises mainly members of the orchestra as they try to cope with a difficult new female conductor, Hélène Barizet.

Ruthless musical director

 Hélène begins her relationship with the orchestra by firing the top player, the “first violin”. By doing this she immediately turns the whole orchestra against her, so the scene is set for many conflicts.
Added to this problem, the French horn player is having an affair with her husband and Hélène is stressed because she fears she may have the same incurable degenerative disease that her mother has. Further anxiety is caused when a super-rich financier is called in to bail out the near bankrupt orchestra. It appears that this individual had an abusive and frightening relationship with Hélène sometime in the past.

Common human problems

So the drama is not simply gripping but it does explore human problems, including the difficulties of managing a creative team.
One critic (in The Guardian) describes the drama as over the top. Perhaps it is, but if it were just everyday real life it would not have the same excitement. Hélène’s conducting is not very convincing either, but that’s not the main point.

Orchestras, with their extraordinary collection of huge musical talent and their astonishing cooperation in the pursuit of sublime music, are wonders to behold.

For me, seeing and hearing the orchestra at work and struggling with relationships and personal problems on and off stage makes for fascinating and rewarding viewing.

David Roberts 11 August 2021

Posted on Leave a comment

Montalbano – the last ever book and film

Montalbano - last ever book and film

Have we seen the last of Montalbano?

One episode has not been shown on British television. This episode is called Beloved Salvo, My Livia. It was shown on Italian television on 8th of March last year, 2020, and viewed by 9 million Italians. It has still to be shown in the UK, I believe.

I’ve got a trailer for this episode in Italian lower down this page.

Montalbano book still to be seen in UK

There may be yet another Montalbano film episode after this “final” episode because the author, Andrea Camilleri, wrote the book he wanted to be his last about Montalbano years before he died. He instructed that it was not to be published until after his death.

In fact Camilleri died in July 2019 and the final book, which was called Riccardino, was published in Italy in July 2020.

The English translation will appear on 14 of October 2021. I hope RAI TV in Sicily will make a film version of this final novel. More details about the book in translation from the Amazon link.

Trailer in Italian of the last film in the series about Montalbano Beloved Salvo, My Livia

David Roberts, 10 August 2021.

Please share this post.