On the Road with Maggie Scratch, Arcata, California

arcata forest

“We pursued our destination one night with our thumbs jabbing at the headlights of a ’62 Chevy.

The driver slowed down and told us to get in. I started to hop in the front seat. Horace opened the back door for me.

“I’ll sit in front,” he said.

“Suit yourself,” the driver grinned, looking at me in his rear view mirror. “Where ya headed?” He released his foot from the brake and carefully moved it over to the accelerator pedal.

“We’re on our way to Arcata,” I said from the back. “Ever hear of it?”

The driver offered me a cigarette and I took one. Horace said he didn’t smoke. The car moved along the dark highway for a minute before the driver spoke again.

Maggie Scratch

This is Helen! By Maggie Scratch

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Helen Gosch

A Poet? A Potter? A Candlestick Maker?

She’s busy everywhere!

She’ll be there if you need her,

that’s what a friend is for.

Helen, today you are the

“coy mistress.”

I quote from a poem you wrote,

Pulled into the World.

“I can imagine the awe felt

In the hands of all that is warm and beautiful.”

I can imagine it too.

 

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The written word for you is not enough.

You love to get your hands in all kinds of stuff.

You pulled this woman into the world—

you created her on a tray!

Helen of Tray!

The coy mistress…

This must be you!

 

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Maggie Scratch Pays Homage to Friend and Rebel Writer, John Howlett

JohnJohn, I’m glad I knew you. Writer to writer, you knew me too. You said it took guts. You said to keep working, you said, that’s all we can do. I’m still here doing it and I wish you were too. I had seen your screenplay come alive with If… when I was twenty. That film tweaked my rebellious spirit, and I never forgot it, then I met the likes of you and understood, so this is what a writer can do.

I thank The Guardian, and your brother, Peter, for your write-up on April 8, 2019.

“His admiration of the rebel and actor James Dean and his research for the 1975 TV documentary James Dean: The First American Teenager led him to write a biography of the actor the same year and subsequently a West End musical, Dean, which had notable success in Japan – though less so in London.

Screenplays followed for his own Murder of a Moderate Man (1985), then a serial adaptation of Len Deighton’s Game, Set and Match (1988) for Granada TV, as well as several original radio plays for the BBC. He also co-wrote an outline story for a film, Crusaders, which became the basis of Lindsay Anderson’s award-winning 1968 hit, If…

From the mid-1970s John published a series of novels – mainly thrillers focusing on contemporary issues such as nuclear power, air safety, the Troubles in Northern Ireland and the origins of the Aids crisis. His leftwing sympathies and distrust of the establishment characterised these novels as well as much of his other work in the 80s and 90s.

John’s interest in the first world war, sparked by his teenage conversations with veterans of that conflict, allied to the meticulous research that characterised all of his work, provided the basis for Love of an Unknown Soldier (2010), which became the first of a six-volume saga set against the background of the political turmoil of the first half of the 20th century, covering the rise of fascism, the Spanish civil war and the second world war.

John was born in Leeds to Rex Howlett, a senior civil servant, and his wife, Leila (nee Cagna), who was born and raised in Milan. His early writing work was rooted in his experience as a rebellious student at Tonbridge school in Kent and then Jesus College, Oxford, where he studied history. It was with fellow Tonbridgean David Sherwin that he wrote Crusaders, which satirised public school life.

Later in his career, never having been comfortable with the commercial world of publishing, John found new creative stimulus and freedom through self-publishing and re-issuing his work online.

Living in Stone-in-Oxney, Kent, and then in Rye, East Sussex, with his Italian wife, Ada (nee Finocchiaro), whom he married in 1967, he was an active member of his local communities, renowned for his warm hospitality and strong opinions.”

He is survived by Ada, Isabel and Suzanne, five grandchildren, and his brother, Peter.

 

Do You Believe in Reincarnation? by Maggie Scratch

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My New Friend

That’s a gigantic bone Noire is chomping on.

I get a whole bag of bones from the village butcher.

 But Noire was my friend

before I ever gave her a bone.

One day, Noire the valley shepherd dog jumped up to greet me on the Camino

as if she’d always known me.

As if she was my dog,

from way back when.

I had a dog like Noire once.

And here she is

come back to walk with me

again.

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, bones to bones.

Noire, the valley shepherd dog,

my new friend

 my old dog

 come back home.

 

Noire in red

Noire in Red

 

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Infinity Serendipity

A Day With Marie by Maggie Scratch

This is what happens when you spend the day with Marie.

She makes things come alive.

And then she takes you for a drive.

Rain, snow, hail around us.

Marie turns on the radio.

Debussy sounds like Erik Satie.

Chopin.

Opera.

We talk of love.

“Love and Peace,” she says.

We arrive at our destination.

La vieille jument is waiting for us.

The old brown mare.

We have brought her favorites, carrots, and a bag of dry bread.

Marie stands under an umbrella, I have worn my hat.

She wants to take my picture, feeding the old brown mare.

When all the bread is gone

and the mountain hail is strong

we climb back in the car.

Marie rolls down the window and pulls up to speak to the horse.

Hail stones fly into the car, everything is wet.

We’re not cold, we’re happy, but when I mention it,

what does Marie have to say?

“No problem! It will dry!”

 

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Feeling at Home by Maggie Scratch

 

 

 

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Merci beaucoup a Rocio, grandmother, Nais, daughter and Kiliana granddaughter

It isn’t every day that people take me into their home, but when they take me into their hearts, that’s feeling at home.

Feeling wanted, feeling loved, feeling like I belong.

I’ve been a foreigner half my life, I’ve learned to live outside the klan, to find my own tribe’s drum.

But what—here I am!

Here I go?

Again? 

Yep!

Couldn’t deny the opportunity to live in a new country.

France!

People are people all over the world.

It’s the heart that counts.

Like Keb Mo says,

“It’s becoming clear I can feel it down in my soul.

I know that I am you and you are me.”

I like this way to live.

It’s a good way to be.

 

 

It’s Not That I’m Saying Goodbye by Maggie Scratch

Kasia and Me.jpgI’m leaving Barcelona, but I’ll be back.

There’s always so much work to do.

Spread the word!

The soul is love!

Have fun, be a friend, be a buddy, pass on the good stuff.

Here’s Kasia from Warsaw with a world of words in her head.

 Polish!  German! English! Spanish! And Catalan too!

A culture-bug-bookworm with Master’s Degrees!

Linguistics! Communication! Philology!

What does all this mean?

Find your path and hit the road.

Dig in.

There’s gold in our roots.

I’m getting my boots on.

I’m ready, let’s go!

Every step we take, here we are!

Is Caspar Still the Star-Crossed Mystery Man? by Maggie Scratch

It’s not every day I’m in the presence of Caspar. When I am, I don’t skip a beat. I can’t!

His wit! His information!  His jokes! Our ping-pong-cinema-trivia game!

It’s all too fast for me. I don’t even try to write it down. What? Take notes during a conversation with Caspar? Impossible! I don’t want to miss a word! I’m all ears and eyes, what will he say next? What will he write? Horror, comedy, religion, death? Will it be scary  and bloody too?

Caspar The Aristocrat!

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The Butler!

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The Minister of Defence!