Chemistry set

A glass cylinder contained crystals of the most beautiful blue I’d ever set eyes on. They were the colour of an Aztec or Mayan mask, a never-ending Pacific Ocean in Wish You Were Here. I didn’t eat them.

The kit was a birthday present and it must’ve had an impact as I went on to stumble through a degree in chemistry. Sadly, I’d never reach the same levels of excitement as I did burning the edge of our hearth rug.

There was a glass bottle containing methylated spirits with a wick poking out of the jar lid. I could light this and heat up noxious crystals and, instead of following any of the experiments in the boring booklet, dream that I could succeed where centuries of alchemists and Lord Percy in Blackadder had failed and produce gold.

I did the experiments in the shed or, if Mum was out, on the hearth. I’d heat the tongs till they glowed red-white and forget how hot things had got so when I dropped them back into the moulded slots in the polystyrene case they melted and stuck.


I’ve written earlier posts about Burleyfields and the huge housing development going on near to where we live. When development takes place it scours the landscape taking memories and places and even names with it.

That Burleyfields lives on is a small blessing. I had expected a Badger’s Leap or Stoats’ Hollow type name but gladly no.

These photos record what little is left of Burleyfields farm right at the foot of the slope from the castle next to the old disused Stafford to Wellington line.

Apart from a yew tree and a few scattered shrubs there are only the old foundations left. A fire – arson I think – destroyed the farm some 20 years ago. It appears in aerial photos of the railway line and farm fields in the 1920s but it is gone forever.

Part of Stafford’s psychogeography..

Coffee in Lockdown

Coffee is the least of our worries, but it’s important to us….

I want life back. I want coffee
Nothing special. Chocolate topped, frothy.
Signs on the door take me to task
You want flat white. So, wear a mask.
I use elbows to nudge the door
Then follow the stickers on the floor
A notice boasts ‘coffee from Milan.’
But the queue stretches to Birmingham
I’m made to scan the QR code
Or list my house name, number, and road
I’m paranoid. It seems so unfair
That Boris need to know which chair
I choose to sip my Javan blend
And ponder: When will this ever end?
I’d like to sit and read and sup
Preferably with a china cup
Instead I’m helping them washing up

Shell – dealing with grief

pebbles, Welsh beach

I was chucking out Brian’s things too soon. It seems there’s an unwritten rule on when it’s ‘decent.’ I think it’s best keeping busy, so I went through the loft and gave his wardrobe a clear-out. He watched me, grinning from the frame on the bedside cabinet. He knew who he’d married. Fastest duster in the West. There were binbags of his shirts and sweaters and boxes rammed with western paperbacks and sixties LPs, but I kept plenty, whatever she says at number 34. I’ve got his rings and retirement watch and the tatty copy of Dick Whittington he won at St Giles’s. I’ve got his tweed jacket. It’s all in the box-room. Sometimes I can’t bear to look, but I need to know his things are there and close. I press his jacket to my face and draw him in, worrying that each time there’s a little less of him. I have his painkillers, whole boxes of them in the white paper bags stickered down by the pharmacy. It’s only knowing he’d think less of me that stops me gulping them down. How do you go on, knowing that you’re never going to see them? That you’ll never hold their hand again or hear them chuckle? It’s the odd things that hurt most. He used to stuff his folded paper down the side of the chair; stir his tea twice and dink the teaspoon on his mug; leave his cracked boots to dry on the newspaper in the porch. I sat on the top step and I wept. I’d been dropping the LPs at British Heart when I heard her at 24 saying, ‘She doesn’t let the grass grow under her feet.’ I wiped my eyes, seeing the Ali Baba basket was overflowing with a week’s worth of bedsheets and towels. I tipped it so it spilled, and something stuck inside a duvet cover clunked the banister. I rummaged through the tangled sheets and took out a shell. It was the first thing he’d given me. He’d used modelling paint to add our initials and 1967. He’d found it in Llandudno. We’d gone on his Norton. I hadn’t seen that shell for years. I held it and stroked it with a fingertip. I’d no idea how it had got there, but I was happy to know Brian was still with me.

Minder at the Molineux

I was clearing boxes in the garage and found this old Wolves programme my Dad bought at the Molineux back in September 1982. Thirty eight years ago….

I love old boxing and football programmes and was delighted to see Dennis Waterman dropping in for a pint while sporting a Lonsdale inspired Wolves sweatshirt.

I loved Minder- still do – so recall Dad picking up the programme for me. But it’s fascinating seeing how much football has changed in those passing years. Wolves were top of division 2 but the match sponsor is a local stationery supplier, Wolves had drawn Sunderland in the Milk Cup, and young Billy Livingstone has signed for Wolves enticed by the £23.50 per week he’d earn as an apprentice.

How the game has changed. I’m still watching Minder on ITV3 though….