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Write Lion: Deborah Tyler-Bennett

25 May 15 words: WriteLion
"My advice to any writer lacking inspiration would be to get on their local bus"
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illustration: Ian Carrington

Ice Cream

i.m. Ray Gosling

                Summat’s nagging, sense of a good day over,

                knowing I can’t bump into you again

                at stations, on trains, in The Vicky Centre.

                Punk white hair, something of the rocker

                in well-draped jacket, light shirt,

                drainpipes. Always contentious:

                ‘wear what’s costly with knock-off,’ talk

                              harnessing pure Notts, we sat in Derby Station’s

                Costa, gassing so long I’d missed two trains.

                ‘Keep going, just keep going’s my advice,’

                then, in wicked earshot of the staff:

                             ‘these Derby folk are slow.’

                Fondant-centred Arthur Seaton, bird boned

                through Ted jacket as we hugged goodbye

                for what might be the last time, but it wasn’t

                that was on a chilly afternoon (the Vicky where

                it felt less brass monkey). Waving at me, Granddad

                fashion, said: ‘hello, love, can I buy you an ice cream?’

Overheard on the Threes*

‘I were disgustin’ as a child.’

‘Were yer?’

‘I used to wet mi sen in public, regular as Granddad’s clock.’

‘That’s nothing, duck.’

‘Ent it?’

‘Neah. I used to suck the legs off rain beetles.’

She gathers bags about, looks almost satisfied.

‘Did yer?’


‘What are rain beetles? Sweets?’

‘No! Beetles, you know. They come out in rain, proper beetles.’

‘Never heard of em.’

‘You have.’

It’s clear she hasn’t.

The other woman shifts,

uncomfortable as fellow passengers tune in.

‘What do you mean, you never heard of beetles! Are they sweets!’

‘Are they like spiders then?’

‘No, they’re chuffin’ beetles! Like, like, cockroaches.

‘Urgh! And you sucked legs off them!’

‘Said I were disgustin’.’

They leave the bus via Abbey Road, though not the one

frequented by the Beatles.

*The Threes – Nottingham to Sutton-in-Ashfield bus service.                    

Hucknall Clay

                Pasty Lord Byron poses from his alcove

                above shoppers’ heads,

                looking down on him and the Market Place,

                sun-struck roofs bake to toffee.

                Signage returns, FEED MERCHANTS, SEED,

                something that could say MANAGEMENT.

                Look up, then close your eyes to hear

                the heart of this is beating below your feet,

                Byron hears it too, chatter of bricklayers

                weighed by hods, garments caked to stone.

                Girls appear, bring earthenware bottles

                their stoppers made of marbles.

                Brickies to make this town rise, then sign-painters

                outline slogans, working men will sing,

                curse, bellow … longing all the while for girls

                and babbies, or a hasty pint.

                                Sun melts them, sons of rest,

                back to red clay again.

On Reading Anna Adams on the Train

                                              and Realising

                    the Butterfly on our Ceiling wasn’t Dead …

                Assuming him closed for business I marked

                the shut fan of his wings, thought angle-

                          poised legs, their cling to ceiling

               nature’s posthumous trick.

             Fortunately, not yet tested with feather duster,

                or Hoover nozzle prodded his settling place,

                now just as well.

                           For I’ve just read your ‘Tortoiseshells Overwintering’

             through elegant lines realise him hibernating.

                Will he shadow that slight patch all winter,

                wake too early, falling to form a beech leaf

             on the carpet?  I wish him tremor

                of early sun

                                but not full shivered flight

                until more clement season

                so let him stay


                dark origami

                                until summer calls.

My Years as a Failed Perfumer

                After school, witnessing mums stroke scent behind ears,

                on wrists, we coveted cast-off bottles, names luminous –

                Mitsouko, Shalimar, elegant Je Reviens

                (Grandma, hearing a salesgirl’s translation:

                ‘I will return,’ said, ‘no, love, that’s no good,

                I want to buy it now.’)

                Aunts’ Tweed, Margaret Rutherford dependable.

                We were allowed solid Blue Grass, 4711

                precious in medallion-labelled flagon.

                ‘You can mek scent, me Mam says,’

                Alison insisted, recipe recollected

                decades on:

                Rose petals, vinegar, mint, brown sugar;

                add water, mix-in cornflower, stir;

                steep in a bucket (first take out the spade);

                check regularly; let stand for two days;

                pour in assembled bottles

                using Bettaware funnel.

                Meanwhile, we traced starry blossoms, deco lettering

                on jam-jar stickers, sniffing that acid brew

                knew these wasted.

                Not bearing the final product on ears or wrists,

                mums politely turning down eau de tea leavesdrain

                Scent, Christmas pudding furring in a pantry.


                Je Revien’s blue grandeur, wrapper’s cupid

                warning next year we’d try again, girls who,

                like perfumed petals, would return.


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