Another post, another challenge …

… a challenge that yesterday, I swore not to partake.

But here I am, m’dears … My single photo is a bit of a cheat. In that, my Dad took the snap but it was over fifty years ago … I swear!


My sister named the photo  and subsequent scan, Jamie-muffins … not sure why? As may be seen … some light leaked in on the right. For myself it just adds to the age. … Oh, happy days!

Paradise lost and found …

Day Sixteen: Third Time’s the Charm

Today’s Prompt: Imagine you had a job in which you had to sift through forgotten or lost belongings. Describe a day in which you come upon something peculiar, or tell a story about something interesting you find in a pile.

For inspiration, ponder the phrase “lost and found.” What do you think about or visualize when you read this phrase? For an elementary schooler, it might be a box in their classroom, full of forgotten jackets and random toys. For a frequent traveler, it might be a facility in an airport, packed with lost phones, abandoned bags, and misplaced items.

On day four, you wrote about losing something. On day thirteen, you then wrote about finding something. So, today’s twist: If you’d like to continue our serial challenge, also reflect on the theme of lost and found more generally in this post.

By the end of Writing 101, you’ll have multiple posts around a theme; material you could thread together in a longform piece.

Questions to think about as you write your post:

  • What have you learned about loss over the years?
  • What does it feel like to find an object that was once important to you?
  • When can reconnecting go horribly wrong?
  • When are things better left buried and forgotten?


Paradise Lost BOOK

1 John Milton (1667) THE ARGUMENT This first Book proposes, first in brief, the whole Subject, Mans disobedience, and the loss thereupon of Paradise wherein he was plac’t: Then touches the prime cause of his fall, the Serpent, or rather Satan in the Serpent; who revolting from God, and drawing to his side many Legions of Angels, was by the command of God driven out of Heaven with all his Crew into the great Deep. Which action past over, the Poem hasts into the midst of things, presenting Satan with his Angels now fallen into Hell, describ’d here, not in the Center (for Heaven and Earth may be suppos’d as yet not made, certainly not yet accurst) but in a place of utter darkness, fitliest call’d Chaos: Here Satan with his Angels lying on the burning Lake, thunder-struck and astonisht, after a certain space recovers, as from confusion, calls up him who next in Order and Dignity lay by him; they confer of thirmiserable fall. Satan awakens all his Legions, who lay till then in the same manner confounded; They rise, thir Numbers, array of Battel, thir chief Leaders nam’d, according to the Idols known afterwards in Canaan and the Countries adjoyning. To these Satan directs his Speech, comforts them with hope yet of regaining Heaven, but tells them lastly of a new World and new kind of Creature to be created, according to an ancient Prophesie or report in Heaven; for that Angels were long before this visible Creation, was the opinion of many ancient Fathers. To find out the truth of this Prophesie, and what to determin thereon he refers to a full Councel. What his Associates thence attempt. Pandemonium the Palace of Satan rises, suddenly built out of the Deep: The infernal Peers there sit in Councel.

Click to access ENGL402-Milton-Paradise-Lost-Book-1.pdf

Paradise Lost

In general terms, I’m not a believer of this type of hell and damnation sort of belief system.

Do I believe evil walks abroad? I guess so – yes. Do I believe in good and it’s opposition to evil? I guess so – yes.

Why the hesitations in answering my own questions? Because it is not so cut and dried.

Man’s disobedience? Now there a strange concept? For it basically put’s Homo sapiens as children, to be scolded. Who’s doing the scolding? Why other men/people who claim to be able to “speak for God”. Not exactly sure why or how? That’s not explained.

If God lives in our hearts? Then we are able to have our own conversation with the supreme being. Yet, the priests are fond of their status and income, to allow this to happen. So, they snort and deride and tell the people. Only we can interpret the will of God, etc.

Paradise was lost, once those people claimed divinity. We allowed it to happen and society’s leaders stood aside to allow it to happen. For they too saw the profit of controlling religious belief. Build a big house, for God to live in. Further divorce’s us from the responsibility of prayer and meditation. Keeps people busy tilling the fields. While their henchmen roam the land rooting out “witches”. To be put to death for the people’s entertainment. We can only suppose the demons saw that, as work well done?


The Poetry of John Milton:

Paradise Regained’s Stylistic Relationship to Paradise Lost Paradise Lost employs a magnificent, elegant, and artificial style which emphasizes cerebral wording, and which alters the normal way an English sentence flows, often adopting instead a polished style most associated with the best writers in the Latin language. Many scholars have commented upon the grandeur of the verse and some even hear within its wording the sonorous tones of background organ music. This grand style seems perfectly appropriate for the Epic genre, which in the Renaissance was generally considered the loftiest form of literature. It seems a bit surprising then, when a reader picks up the sequel, Paradise Regained, and finds the style remarkably different. Puritans tended toward things that were simple, direct, plain, and unvarnished as a means to avoid worldliness and to focus upon God and His Word. They didn’t like their church buildings towering and lofty, filled with Gothic arches, gilded altars, or rainbowhued stained glass windows. Instead, they preferred no-nonsense blank walls, a simple table instead of an altar, and perhaps a single cross on the wall behind the unornamented pulpit. They didn’t like their sermons filled with elaborate Sophistic rhetoric, glossing, tropes, or allegories. Instead, they preferred clear, direct, and logical Ramist rhetoric, a focus upon the meaning of scripture alone, with edifying application to their daily lives. Arguably, then, Paradise Regained can be seen stylistically as a Puritan Epic. It is clearly an Epic in genre, with its brief Invocation to the Muse, its statement of the Epic Theme, its Epic Council, etc., but it is an epic in a simpler style. Paradise Lost’s subject matter is above and beyond the experience of most readers; we do not usually overhear a dialogue between God the Father and God the Son, nor experience the War of Angels, nor view in detail the machinations of Satan, nor dine with a perfect and unfallen human couple. Such lofty material deserves a grand style. But Paradise Regained’s subject matter is more approachable to readers. The protagonist, Jesus, is someone the reader knows intimately from simply reading the Gospels, and the macrocosmic debate between Christ and Satan occurs to some degree microcosmically in the psyche of the reader every time he or she is tempted to have that second piece of cheesecake or to start smoking again. The simple truths of the Gospel seem to have required a simple style. Milton himself hints at this when he has Jesus denigrate the Greco-Roman intellectual style as “their swelling epithets thick laid / As varnish on a Harlot’s cheek” (Paradise Regained 4.343–44), but then he has Jesus extoll the biblical writers as writing “in thir majestic unaffected style . . . In them is plainest taught, and easiest learnt” (Paradise Regained 4.359–361). Most critics judge Paradise Lost as superior to Paradise Regained, but Milton is not among them; he considered the sequel equal if not superior to the prequel. Perhaps Milton’s attraction to Puritan simplicity is part of the reason he favored Paradise Regained.

Paradise Regained

So Milton has us believe that Jesus of Nazareth, dying on the cross. Regained Paradise?

I certainly have no argument with those who wish to believe this. I would urge anyone who has not read the two poems? To do so. Powerful stuff. Still, a product of the late 17th C.

I am often intrigued by the period after the Nazarene’s death and when this death became sanctified by Constantine. Emperor of a Byzantine Rome in what is now Turkey. Just a few hundred miles from communities of Gnostic Christians living in caves. Hollowed out beneath the tufa of the region. For the Gnostic Christian, bears little resemblance to what became the sanctified versions of what we now know as Christianity.

We know more about Buddha who lived 2500 years earlier, than we know about Jesus of Nazareth. Yet, people parade up and down with the symbols of crosses and tears. Not joyousness of re-birth and suffering overcome.

People who claim to be Christian are busy bombing others around the world. Too busy to remember that this Nazarene said his father … i.e. God. Who now commanded the people to “love thy neighbour as thyself and do unto others as you would have done unto you”. Not sure how that fits in?

My Aunty Babs and Uncle Ted. May or may not? Have been too churchgoing. Yet, they did do so. From time to time.

They were good and generous people, who lived lives humbly and with a gusto. If that is Paradise regained? Then I’ll take it and try to pass on their examples.





My Auntie Babs …

Day Thirteen: Serially Found

On day four, you wrote a post about losing something. Today’s Prompt: write about finding something.

Tell us about the time you retrieved your favorite t-shirt from your ex. Or when you accidentally stumbled upon your fifth-grade journal in your parents’ attic. Or how about the moment you found out the truth about a person whose history or real nature you thought you’d figured out. Interpret this theme of “finding something” however you see fit.

Today’s twist: if you wrote day four’s post as the first in a series, use this one as the second installment — loosely defined.


My Auntie Babs …

Was not a tall woman, yet at about 5′ 1” or so, could pack a punch when she wanted. Which was hardly ever. She was our sitter, when parents were out working.

My Dad lost his father when he was not quite, 2 years old. About a week before his second birthday. This Grandfather left behind my Grandmother and her six kids, of which my father was the youngest. He died in a hole, digging out coal on the eve of the Great Strike of 1926. They lived in the town of Abertillery, Wales. The local men had gone out to dig coal from an abandoned hole. One of many. That at the time littered the Rhonda Valley in Wales. There was a cave in and it killed my Grandfather, stone dead.

The family struggled to survive. The two eldest boys Chris and Dave, left school and went to work. Eventually, the family moved to London in 1930’s. Like so many other Welshmen. They bought a small house in Colindale, North London. My Grandmother, Caroline, was a religious christian woman. A protestant, yet she confided toward the end of her life, that she would have liked to have been a Catholic. Instead she settled for what is known as “high protestant”.

After the war, WW2. My father, his sister Babs, my mother Betty and Bab’s husband Ted. Along with my grandmother, moved to the house in Hendon. That I wrote about in this earlier post.

Auntie Babs too, had left school early. Before the war, going into what was called; service. Which was being a servant in a big house, of landed gentry. Where she learned her craft of housekeeping. She met Edward Sidney, before the war and they married before Ted went overseas. Ted was a corporal in Royal Signals Corp. Rode a motorcycle, delivering dispatches. Babs, Barbara, along with her sisters and sister-in-law Lily. All went to work in munitions factories along the Edgeware Road, for the duration.

I have a few vague memories of our life in Colindale. Enough that I was always comforted by them. Obviously my parents were the primary care-givers. Yet Babs and Ted, could always be counted on to cheer me up. I used to watch Uncle Ted in the mornings. Fascinated by his shaving process. All that foaming soap. Ted used a cutthroat razor, my Dad a safety one. They both stropped the blades on a leather, hanging on the back of bathroom door. From my parents bedroom window. I could see across to the rented garage where my Dad kept his car. My Dad was upwardly mobile. He may have been the youngest of my Grandma’s children. Yet he was always organizing them all.

After moving from Colindale to Hendon in the summer of 1955. Both my Dad and Uncle Ted were busy altering and renovating the house to their tastes. Before the war, Ted who was about five years older than Jimmy, my Dad. Had been a painter decorator. He lad learned the trade, the right way. He was meticulous. Rubbing down, filling, painting, etc. Both my Dad and I learned much of that from Ted.

My mother went back to work as a shorthand typist. Although she started in a pool of fellow workers, her skills moved her up to secretary of a manager. Passap and Singer through the rest of fifties. This bought in money to pay off the mortgage. Babs used her skills as a housekeeper, that my mother reimbursed her for. For the two years after moving, I was taken to school by my mother and picked up for lunch and after school by Auntie Babs. Once in a while my Mom would be there to greet me, especially if there was something on after school. Visit to the dentist, or to buy clothes, etc.

The walk to and from our house was about seven minutes long. Half a mile or so? I had started school in Colindale, in 1954. At that time I was a bright child and went close to the top for marks earned. The school in Hendon, was part of the Parish of St. Mary’s. The next two years. Was in the Infants School, before moving up to the next Junior one. The British school system of the time.


The school was located to the right of Churchyard, pictured here. To the left was “The Greyhound” pub.

Auntie Babs would pick me up, for lunch at home and back again after. Then after school. She often had a bag for groceries. We would visit a small parade of shops in Church End. Occasionally the huge? Brent Street! I once counted the pubs in the small area. Ten, in a one half square mile.


Lunch with Auntie Babs during this time was one of casseroles. Meats, veg and gravies. Foods that today, I would not touch with a bargepole. They were however plain and unadorned except for horseradish and mustard. Common English condiments at the time. She and Ted, lived in the flat [Condo.] over my parents.

Auntie Babs’ kitchen was her refuge. It looked out onto the back garden of our house and the others of the Crescent. Her front room or parlour looked out over Sunnyhill Park and across to Mill Hill.

Auntie Babs was a smoker. From about aged eight, she would send me. Complete with a little note, down to the local post office and tobacconist for a pack of cigarettes. I was told to keep thruppence change, for candy or ice cream. In the evenings, she would sit and smoke at her front window. Waving to me below when I was out on the street playing on my skates or whatever with Peter, my pal.

Auntie Babs died a few years back. Toward the end of her life she was very deaf.

Yet she could always be found in her kitchen. A cup of tea or instant coffee bestowed upon her visitor. While she had eventually kicked the smoking habit. It had been hard on her, to do so. Yet she always had love to shower on any of her visitors, relatives and most of all toward her son and grandson.

While I’m grateful to both my Mom and Dad for the happiness of this time. It would never have been the same without Auntie Babs and Uncle Ted. For they had a tolerance and unbridled love. For all who came to visit.


Brain Cancer …

Day Twelve: Dark Clouds on the (Virtual) Horizon

Today’s Prompt: Write a post inspired by a real-world conversation.

We don’t write in a bubble — we write in the world, and what we say is influenced by our experiences. Today, take a cue from something you’ve overheard and write a post inspired by a real-life conversation. Revisit a time when you wish you’d spoken up, reminisce about an important conversation that will always stick with you, or tune in to a conversation happening around you right now and write your reaction.

Take time to listen — to what you hear around you, or what your memories stir up.

I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.

– Ernest Hemingway

Today’s twist: include an element of foreshadowing in the beginning of your post.


It is interesting to me, the role intuition plays a role in our lives.

Many people are intuitive. Some more than others.

Considering it. The subject starts to devolve into those areas of life; that some will feel squeamish about. Mind-reading, ghosts, apparitions, spirits, and so on. Most animals are intuitive. They can sense things like earthquakes, cancer, sadness, etc. Even explosives and drugs. Yes, acute senses plays a role. Still for us that do not have such senses. I would say that beyond their sense of smell and hearing, is a sense of intuition.

Brain Cancer

For most mammals, brain cancer is a catastrophic condition. While some do escape its clutches, the incidence of mortality from it, is high.

One of my cousins with whom I enjoyed those summer vacations, as described in yesterday’s post. Carol lived with her parents for the first twelve years or so, in West Hendon. In one of those temporary housing units, we locally called “pre-fabs”. Pre-fabricated and clad on the exterior in asbestos board. Once in a while, I would stay over with Uncle Fred and Aunty Doll (Dorothy) and spend a day or so playing with Carol who was three years younger than myself. We would play postman. Using Aunty Doll’s peg bag. Or on child’s scooters, or I would bring my roller skates. Where would share one apiece.

Carol was an only child and Doll was an especially vigilant parent. Always scared Carol would hurt herself. Yet she, Carol, caught all the usual childhood illnesses of the time. One time when visiting our house, we went to play in my usual haunt the local park. … 40 acres of heaven for a child. We ran down the hill and almost at the bottom Carol fell and hurt her wrist. Taking her home, for I had been charged with keeping her safe. Carol was doted on and I felt sheepish. Carol was always pudgy as a child. Fred’s genes. Carol spent the next six weeks, wrist in a cast.

Growing up, I emigrated to Canada. Carol became a teacher and had some of her own children. Yet I was always reminded of how I had caused her broken wrist? On my occasional visits back to Hendon. I would see her now and then. Hardly ever speaking, except for greetings, for we had little in common. Then one day, I received a letter from my mother, in which contained the news. Carol has a brain tumour.

My next visit to England was about two years later and Carol had had some operations. It was believed to be in remission. Then about the time I was in England, the news was grim. The tumour was re-growing.

My Mom and I drove out to Chesham in Oxfordshire, where both Doll and Fred were living close by Rod and Carol with their daughters. Kim and Anna.

Visiting Carol later that day, was rather shocking. I was unprepared to see a previously robust person, now in a nightdress with bandages around her head. hair gone from radiation therapy. … I never quite got that? Radiation causes cancer and they use it to treat the condition? Does not make sense to this lay person?

We spent a lovely afternoon chatting and avoiding the question around her predicted demise. I was of course chided once more, for the wrist incident. All I had done was gently run, down a slight hill? … I never got it?

Leaving we hugged and it was if 35 years had rolled away.

When we reached home, back in Hendon. Over supper I said to my Mom. “You know when Carol goes, Doll will not last long”. That was my intuitive premonition.

Doll died, about three weeks after Carol’s death. Officially it was adult onset diabetes. To me, it was from a broken heart. Fred lived on for about fifteen, twenty years and I visited him when in England. I learned a lot from him, especially his role during WW2. His meeting with my other Uncles, during it. In places like North Africa and Greece.

He had been a mostly quiet person while Doll was alive. It became like a dam was burst, after.

Looking back from time to time. I think of that pre-fab, clad in asbestos board. The chalky white powder that would cling to us, when brushing by. Or on the ground as a residue. There is a strong link of asbestos and cancer. I blame the authority for those housing units. For failing to properly test how asbestos affected people.

When Carol and I would race around the house, on those skates or scooter. Playing postman and whatever else kids do.

Excalibur estate 1