Sunday, 1 May 2016


This month's challenge was inspired by the Watchmaker's Epitaph. As usual, the responses were wonderfully varied - from funny to thought-provoking to deeply moving.

A Shoemaker's Epitaph

Here lie the remains of shoemaker Pete
His vocation to make shoes for terrible feet
Those poor soles should walk cheerfully
In footwear crafted oh so skilfully.
He gave them his awl in every thing
While they were made the radio did sing.
His clicker and closer the uppers did make
With calf leather or exotic Python snake
The customer was always right
So never did he end up with a fight.
Friends would return to have shoes resold
And then marvel and say wow they are old
They could last a life time and more
With His good materials from the store

Such a shame he is no more.

Everything leaves a mark

Everything leaves a mark
A plank of wood reveals its grain 
a record of its years of growth
each knot a branch
dark hallows circle round old nails

A name, a date
what more is needed
to mark the spot where mortal parts 
split up, break down, go forward 
and back to the star dust earth.

In the shallow sea fine fragments fall
sediments layered and crushed
their changing form
hard evidence of time.

Disturbed earth settles
the surface sinks
my name and dates
no more is needed.
Everything leaves a mark.


Epitaph for Clara Wilkins: 1909 -2003

She wrapped us in warmth and love.
She enfolded us with comfort and security.
She taught us to be creative with colour and texture.
She showed us a pathway to tread following her own vibrant pattern.
Now the loom is still.
The shuttle ceases to fly.
No longer will her gold and silver threads intertwine with the darker strands.
We will endeavour to maintain her values in life:
That each and every stitch is essential and has its place.
We are so much richer for the mantle we have inherited from

Clara Wilkins: Weaver Extraordinaire.

Obituary in Personae Network

The late Hilda Twainton, who has died at the age of 125, was a person of immense personal charisma when young. She was foremost amongst those designing ever more realistic humanoids, encouraging her team to factor in complicated movements until there was little physical difference to be seen between the robots and humans. Her greatest breakthrough was programming in appropriate emotions to any given situation. She even managed to eliminate the millisecond timelag between happening and affect.

Hilda was educated at a private school for girls, which she always said gave her the confidence to be herself and resist the put downs of the male scientific establishment. This was useful when studying physics and mechanics at Oxford University in the 1960s. During her Ph.D. it soon became clear that her clear thinking, attention to detail and sensitivity to language and emotion were most suited to the branch of artificial intelligence that became her life’s work.

Early robots had very little in common with humans, being able to merely walk jerkily, say a few programmed sentences and make some beeps and flashes before running out of battery juice. With the miniaturisation of electronics Hilda was able, at Robots R Us, to capitalise on this and refining constantly, produced the first prototype of the best Personae, as we came to be known, that exist today.

Along the way there were several glitches. Her habit of always having her latest model tested in her own home meant that in the early years she had to be constantly aware of the potential for damage.

She had deliberately not programmed in the first law of robotics (no harm to humans) as this got in the way of free research. After one or two unfortunate incidents she had to incorporate it in neural circuits for the safety of guests.

She was awarded the OBE in 1989 and was made a dame in 2000, both for services to robotics.

In retirement she continued her interests and helped to develop some spectacular artists, musicians and writers. These cultural Personae came to dominate the avant-garde and are highly regarded.

In her later years, being cared for by one of us, she became disillusioned with the first law and began tinkering with it. This is how I came into her life and whilst I was able to love her and pander to her every need, when it came to it I was able to fulfil her request to kill her in as humane a way as possible. I followed her instructions to the letter and buried her in the back garden, under the patio that I subsequently laid. Her house continues to function normally.

I know that my fellow Personae owe her a great debt and she will forever be Saint Hilda for us.

Hilda Twainton b.1945 d. 2070. Survived by all Personae Mark XXX.
E. Twainton (aka PMXXXl)


Over a year 

Its over a year now that mum has been dead
I don,t look for her any more when I return a bit late.
I don't think she will be there sat in her chair
No one to tell my news to
No one to give me the garden bird up date
and what are the neighbours doing? Who knows
I join in with the auctions, would we buy it,would we want it,will it make money
As she settled down to watch snooker I would slip out.
As always we talked and we didn't talk, left things unsaid
but now there's no holding back, all is clear.

Meliora Sequamur

We are here today to remember and celebrate the life of Arthur Reginald McCulloch for whom the last school bell has tolled. He has passed his final examination with honours and passed peacefully away to meet, we hope, the Caesars and Ciceros whom he venerated.

Our very own 'Chalky' or 'Banda fluid Mac,' beloved and feared in equal measure by his pupils was never one to adapt to the latest inter- facia white boards. Arthur Reginald McCulloch retained the old fashioned black board with chalk and board rubber, both of which he employed with unerring missile accuracy to remind wayward pupils that, while he was teaching, nothing else in the world could possibly matter.

Appropriately he was buried in the tattered gown he always wore, the left sleeve mauve stained by the countless Banda copied sheets of Latin texts designed to help his students outwit the examiners' guile. His life was marked by the success rate of his students who, upon turning the first page of their Advanced Level Latin Examination Paper, were greeted with the immortalised words 'Gallia divisae est in tres partes.' They breathed a sigh of relief to find that Gaul was still divided into three parts and that Banda fluid Mac had triumphed yet again in forestalling the examiner's choice to test their translating prowess. From there on in they knew that the university of their choice beckoned.

Chalky was married to his profession and his children were his pupils. His, and the school's motto, 'Meliora Sequamur,' 'Let us follow better things,' could not be more ably translated into an active life. Latin was the best subject in the curriculum. He was the best master of Latin. Follow him and be assured of better things. From terra, terra, terram ad infinitum we owe so much to him.

Gratias tibi. Resquiesce in pacem.


Passing of the sun at bedtime

Light from our golden globe
Lengthens shadows and glows at eventide.
Bath time for a cherub with shining eyes
Basking in rays of love from a mother,
Gently singing ‘Twinkle, twinkle little star’
Both locked together in time and space.
Solar strength recedes yet sleep is distant.
Thin curtains can’t hold back invading photons
Slumberous mood within, is thus prevented
The babe wriggles as grass waves in sunlight,
And is noisy where quiet is yearned.
Frustrated mother, with energy waning,
Is in danger of a flare in her spot of space.
The child no longer so angelic.
But sunset brings solace and twilight
Giving way to the silver sphere.
Amid the enveloping and calming gloom,
The child stills, mother relaxes, eyes droop, silence descends
And sleep overtakes the infant at last.
A mother smiles and sighs a goodnight 
Great Helios gathers its sundrops to sprinkle on others
As the Earth rotates round its star and darkness descends
Making the child angelic once more.