Colonies Covid Chronicle 14: time for renovation?

Underground ~ Rupert Wolfe Murray

This is the time for renovation

Doors, floors, windows and kitchen

But the more I do

The more I find

Rusty railings, rotten joists, woodworm

It’s messy, dusty, noisy and chaotic

Every evening a Spring Clean is required

So I can turn this building site into a home

Some days I crawl under the floorboards

Alien-like in a gas mask

Fixing the rot, spraying the woodworm

And insulating for the winter

I like it down there

Even though it feels like a coffin

But why?

Why is it more satisfying to crawl through rubble

Than work on a computer?



Week 12, 22nd June: Lulled into Nostalgia ~ Hilery Williams

I emerge from two days of relentless migraine. Too drained to read, I permit myself – oh the decadence! – to watch The Borrowers on YouTube (NOT the execrable film), filmed in the 1990s from books set in the 1950s.

I lost myself in the Clock family’s miniature world: framed stamps on walls, corks for stools, a thimble for a table, clothes packed into match- boxes. Carpet fibres make excellent brushes for resourceful Pod, while Homily serves meals on bottle tops. Arrietty sleeps in a cigar-box. Even their names are borrowed, although they believe that human ‘beans’ are for Borrowers, like bread’s for butter.

Lulled, I turn to the News. The actor Ian Holm, who played Pod, has died, as my dad did a year ago, both so twinkly and kind. Homily bears a resemblance to my mum whose death occurred in the same month. How she loved her collection of little things.

I am undone.



The Tree ~ Pat B

I heard of a tree  today

Not too far away.

And its leaves were heavy

with sadness. Names

written of those who

before their autumn came

have fallen, withered,

victimed, gone;

from a virus which

moves rampant

where cracks have

formed in the neglect

over years, of

the most vulnerable.


Forgive us!



Always within Never ~ Alastair Hulbert

My wife and I have been re-reading that beautiful novel by Muriel Barbery that made such a stir a dozen years ago, The Elegance of the Hedgehog.

Do you believe that life has meaning?’ asks twelve-year-old Paloma, a profound question that interrupts the narrative of the secretive concierge Renée. At that stage we know the child is set on ending her life at her next birthday. But what happens later in the story between her and Renée makes her change her mind.

In a pandemic like we’re in now, with a lot of despair around and death a constant feature of the news, maybe the meaning of life can be found in missed moments of fondness between generations or friends. Or in moments of beauty, like the Satie Paloma hears being played on a piano somewhere in the building the evening after Renée’s untimely death. She calls them ‘moments of always within never.


Looking Up ~ Diana 

I’m locked down but looking up

At a blackbird dancing on a chimney pot

At a willow tree waving its arms at me

At a cloud drifting by with a dream on top.

Be sure to look up, there’s a lot to see.


I’m locked down but looking out

At the garden bluebells blueing and belling

At a fern unfurling against the wall

At Spring– the word nature is spelling.

Be sure to look out and welcome it all.


I’m locked down but tuning in​​​

To a world that’s suddenly quiet and slow

But the space in my mind is opening wide

For all my thoughts and dreams to grow

Until ready to plant in the world outside.


I’m locked down but looking up

At the evening star and the moon above

And a world that’s still full of hope and love.


​​​​From Stay at Home: Poems and Prose for Children in Lockdown

ed. Joan Haig and published as a free illustrated anthology.