Face to Lift and Time to Card

I set a little puzzle yesterday – it was one of those where you have two words and you have to change one letter at a time to change the first to the second word – all in four moves. The challenge was:

  • Face to Lift
  • Hand to Book
  • Neck to Ties
  • Time to Card
  • Left to Hand

Here are some clues:

Face to Lift

  • to tie up a shoe, or a delicate fabric with an open fancy pattern, made by weaving thread with bobbins
  • the plural of louse
  • the time from birth to death
  • Lift!

Hand to book –

  • a group of musicians
  • a link or the main character of many Ian Fleming novels
  • an onomatopaeic noise of something hitting something, often used for a hit on the head
  • Book!

Neck to Ties –

  • short for Nicholas
  • the sound a clock makes
  • facial twitches
  • Ties!

Time to Card –

  • not wild
  • a weed, especially among cereal
  • to look after someone
  • Card!

Left to Hand –

  • something which is loaned
  • to loan something
  • ground where something grows or can be built on
  • Hand!

If you still didn’t work it out, then here are the answers:

  • Face to Lift – lace/lice/life/lift
  • Hand to Book – band/bond/bonk/book
  • Neck to Ties – nick/tick/tics/ties
  • Time to Card – tame/tare/care/card
  • Left to Hand – lent/lend/land/hand

A true story of two sisters

It was nearly the end of term and the two youngest sisters were so excited – the summer holidays, the summer holidays! Audrey, the oldest of the three was quiet and silently bitter… this was the end of her wonderful time at Sharnbrook, the school in the next village. She had been so happy there, the teachers had liked and appreciated her, had made her feel clever and as a helper she’d had privileges the other children hadn’t. Now she had to leave, because of Father, all because of Father she had to leave Sharnbrook and go out to work…

Mother was calling Monica and Beryl to hurry, otherwise they would be late for church, and they couldn’t be late today of all days, it was their special  service for the end of term! The younger girls had been in the small garden, picking flowers to give to their favourite teacher, a lovely little tradition. They had their bunch ready, but Monica had suddenly had the idea to pick some big leaves to put round the flowers, to make them more attractive and posh,  she said and Beryl laughed.

“I’m giving my flowers to Miss Harper!” exclaimed Beryl as they wound a wisp of grass round the stems to hold them together.

“She’s going to have a whole six weeks without you nattering on about horses!” her sister replied and then they both pretended to gallop round the pump.

“Come along girls!” mother called.

“Yes, come along!” Audrey added bossily. “And Beryl, where’s your hat?”

The two little girls rushed round looking for the missing hat which for some reason was found in the vegetable garden. At last the four of them were ready; Father was working away, Alan was at his RAF camp, so with Edith, the little maid, they set off, to walk up Pavenham Road and then up Church Lane.

Soon Audrey and Beryl had left their mother and sister and were dancing along with their friends, all the girls together as the boys were playing chase and being silly. The topic among the school friends each with their posy, was who were they going to give their flowers to. Miss Harper was popular, she was young and enthusiastic, but Mrs Ball was a dear, so kind and always so helpful when someone didn’t understand something. Miss Jones was a favourite with some of the girls, those who were clever and likely to go on to the Grammar school…

“Will you girls stop this unbecoming noise! This is not the way to behave on the Sabbath!” Miss Poole called sharply. “Joan Wright blow your nose and wipe your face!”

Poor Joan, little and pale and with a little bunch of wilting buttercups in her dirty hand looked near to tears… the other girls might not always be kind to her, but mean Miss Poole picking on Joan, that just wasn’t fair! There were dark looks and scowls and handkerchiefs were pulled from sleeves and held out to the little girl.

Beryl pulled out her own hankie, took Joan by the hand and led her to one side, where she and Monica tidied the child up. She was in Monica’s class, but she looked much younger than eight. The sisters rearranged their own posies and added some flowers to Joan’s buttercups, then Beryl took her hand and the three girls went in through the church gates and up to St Peter’s.

“Hurry up!” snapped Miss Poole, “You’re going to be late, and Beryl let go of that child’s hand!”

As usual Miss Pool was dressed in sombre colours. Monica had seen Miss Harper, rather plump and seeming about to burst out of her summer dress, bright with poppies, and a red hat to match, and old Mrs Ball was wearing a pretty pink blouse with her usual black ankle-length skirt. She was carrying a parasol and was wearing a straw boater with some pink roses pinned to the ribbon.

“Monica Matthews! Will you hurry, late as usual, you’ll be late to your own funeral!”

The sisters stared open-mouthed at their teacher – shocked by the awful thing she had said. Come along Beryl, come along Joan,  Monica grabbed her sister’s hand and the three of them  hurried into church. Monica had seen Mother and Audrey coming up the path, she didn’t want them to hear anything mean and nasty like this.

The service was lovely; the vicar beamed and even put a few little jokes into the sermon. The hymns were all jolly and everyone sang their best. They bent their heads over their clasped hands as they knelt in prayer, many silent thoughts, hopes and wishes for the summer ahead and then the new class in September.

Old Mr Thrasher cranked up the organ and the vicar sprinted down the aisle with the choir in pursuit, and then the children squeezed past the adults and parents. They would be the first of the congregation out of the old church, and waiting for them in a row would be the teachers, waiting to say ‘goodbye’, ‘have a nice summer’, ‘don’t do anything silly’, ‘see you in September’ ‘goodbye girls, goodbye boys‘… And the children would hand their favourite teacher their posies… no doubt some of the boys’ flowers would have suffered a little, but the kind thoughts were there.

“I feel sick, Monica,” Joan whispered.

“I’m sure you’ll be fine, Joan, it’s hot in the church, you’ll be fine when you get outside… now who are you giving your flowers to?”

The other children were pressing past, but Monica wiped the little girl’s face again… perhaps she was sickening for something…

“Mrs Ball, she’s very nice, isn’t she, Mon?” Joan seemed a little cheered and followed Monica into the summer sunshine.

The teachers were surrounded by a mob of children, shouting good wishes and thrusting their flowers and some other little gifts at them. Suddenly Monica caught sight of Miss Poole, standing a little apart, as usual her mouth in a frown, her chin up disapprovingly. She stood alone, no child near her, no-one giving her flowers – and no wonder!

As Monica watched, Miss Poole turned away, and as she did, her head went down, and her mouth pursed and her lips seemed to tremble. She rubbed her cheek as if she had an itch… but maybe it was a tear.

Monica skirted the crowd and approached the tall thin teacher, standing with her back to everyone in her dark clothes, the navy straw hat tipped over her forehead as if to shade her expression.

“Miss Poole… I’m sorry I was late…” and Monica held out her posy, the dark green leaves had kept the flowers fresh and bright.

Miss Poole stared down at the dark haired child. Would the teacher make some bitter comment?

“Here is a posy for you, Miss Poole.”

Without a word the tall woman took the flowers, and slowly raised the posy to her face. She closed her eyes for a moment.

“Thank you Monica,” but Monica had gone to join her friends.

Only Beryl saw this… they hadn’t sung this hymn in church today but a refrain ran through Beryl’s mind…  Love to the loveless shown, that they might lovely be…


This is a true story of my mum, Monica and her sister Beryl. I have imagined the details of the teachers and other children; I don’t know who the nasty mean teacher was, but the kindness of Monica to this sad woman is truly inspirational. She was only a young girl, but her generosity in every sense shone throughout her life. I often think of her, and I often think of this little episode.

In Time Like Glass

Having loved poetry all my life I only yesterday discovered the poet Walter J. Turner – and yet I seem to have known his most famous poem, Romance, all my life! Although he lived most of his life in England, he was born in Australia in 1884… here is a poem I have only just met… wonderful…

In Time Like Glass

In Time like glass the stars are set,
And seeming-fluttering butterflies
Are fixed fast in time’s glass net
With mountains and with maids’ bright eyes.

Above the cold Cordilleras hung
The winged eagle and the Moon:
The gold, snow-throated orchid sprung
From gloom where peers the dark baboon:

The Himalayas’ white, rapt brown;
The jewel-eyed bear that threads their caves;
The lush plains’ lowing herds of cows;
The Shadow entering human graves:

All these like stars in Time are set,
They vanish but can never pass;
The sun that with them fades is yet
Fast-fixed as they in Time like glass.

Well, it made me laugh…

In puzzle books there used to be, and maybe still are puzzles where you are given a word and within a certain amount of moves, by changing one latter at a time and making a new actual word… here is an example from an interesting site, Braingle:

In this type of puzzle you are given a word that must be changed into another word in a series of moves. During each move, you much change one letter in the previous word so as to form a new word. In the example, you will see that WILD was changed to TAME in four moves.
Example – Wild, Wile, Tile, Tale, Tame 
See if you can change the following five words in four moves.

  1. Face to Lift
  2. Hand to Book
  3. Neck to Ties
  4. Time to Card
  5. Left to Hand

I came across a visual version of this – well, in a way; there were six pictures – here is what they showed:

  1. the president of France
  2. a popular confection, very fashionable at the moment, made from meringue, two discs sandwiched together with buttercream or cream etc. and usually brightly coloured
  3. a small circular type of biscuit made from ground almonds, egg white, coconut etc, often decorated with a piece of glacé cherry
  4. a type of short pasta, often served with a cheese sauce
  5. an Italian inventor who was very much involved in radio communications and telegraph system
  6. a diminutive American film star born in 1914

I just thought it was really funny, and chuckled about it for longer than was necessary…

Here is who and what were shown:

  1. Macron
  2. macaron
  3. macaroon
  4. macaroni
  5. Marconi
  6. Mickey Rooney

… as for the other puzzles… answers tomorrow!



Kill the lights!!

I’ve only set one of my novels in a real not imagined place; the novel is Flipside and it’s the story of a man’s struggle with PTSD as he begins a new relationship; the story is told by the new woman in his life, Jaz, the sister of his friend and business partner. They’ve known of each other for years, but it was love at first sight when they met properly – she had moved to Oldham to start a new teaching job, he was working with her brother in a garage they own. They actually know nothing about each other… until their first night together –

“Kill the lights! Kill the lights!” he hissed and jumped across me and grabbing the neck of the lamp, yanked it from its socket and hurled it across the room so it smashed against the far wall.

He bounded from the bed and went to the window and, standing back against the wall, peeped out and I was afraid that he might break the glass to fire from it.

By the light from the street lamp I could see he was terrified; he was saying something, the words stuttering out.

I leapt out of bed and tried to embrace him but his body was rigid, his skin icy and yet he was pouring with sweat.

“David! Wake up! It’s a dream, darling, you’re dreaming!”

He looked down at me, but it wasn’t me he was seeing. He jumped, as if at a tremendous noise, and crouched down, his arms wrapped protectively over his head.

“Down! Down! Get down!” and his body shook with imagined blasts or explosions.

It was like watching a movie without sound and it was utterly terrifying.

Slowly he stood, staring through me at something on the floor behind me. There was a look of such horror on his face and he was gulping and swallowing as if about to be sick. My heart was racing and beating wildly and I didn’t know how to help him.

His gaze moved and he focused on me, although it wasn’t me he was seeing. His lips moved silently and he looked into my face, into someone’s face, and then he said my name.

He stood back against the wall, arms spread, yelling now, forcing the words out but making no sense, a jumble of names and muddled denials.

“No! Don’t take her! Don’t hurt her! No! No!” almost screaming, yelling my name.

“Wake up, David, wake up! It’s a dream, wake up!”

He groaned in agony, his teeth chattering, sweat and tears sheeting his face, panting and gasping for air. I didn’t know what to do, it was so frightening.

His arms came down and his head bowed and I was able to hug him to my warm body. He was sobbing, stumbling over words so what he said was meaningless. He held me so tightly I could hardly breathe.

“They’ve got her, they’ve got Jaz!” and then his speech degenerated into incomprehensibility.

“I’m here, it’s me, Jaz, I’m here,” I spoke calmly as I would to a distressed child but he didn’t understand, just wept.

I took his hand and led him back to bed; it was the most scary thing I’d ever experienced.

This is the first page… if you want to find out what happens next, here is a link to ‘Flipside’


I walked in a great golden dream

I am ashamed to say that the author of this poem, so well-remembered and loved from childhood, is not who I thought he was! For some reason, I thought this poem was written by John Masefield! How shocking! Masefield is one of my favourite poets, and I really thought ‘Romance’ was written by him – maybe confusing it with ‘Cargoes’ and its magnificent opening line, ‘Quinquireme of Nineveh from distant Ophir’…

But no, ‘Romance’ was written by Walter J. Turner – and I’m doubly ashamed that I know nothing about the poet who wrote this verse! Walter James Redfern Turner born in 1889 was an Australian who came to England when he was eighteen and became acquainted with, then associated with and then very much involved with such writers as  Sassoon,  Woolf and Sackville-West. This must be his best known poem:


When I was but thirteen or so
I went into a golden land,
Chimborazo, Cotopaxi
Took me by the hand.

My father died, my brother too,
They passed like fleeting dreams,
I stood where Popocatapetl
In the sunlight gleams.

I dimly heard the master’s voice
And boys far-off at play,
Chimborazo, Cotopaxi
Had stolen me away.

I walked in a great golden dream
To and fro from school
Shining Popocatapetl
The dusty streets did rule

I walked home with a gold dark boy
And never a word I’d say,
Chimborazo, Cotopaxi
Had taken my speech away.

I gazed entranced upon his face
Fairer than any flower—
O shining Popocatapetl
It was thy magic hour:

The houses, people, traffic seemed
Thin fading dreams by day;
Chimborazo, Cotopaxi,
They had stolen my soul away!