Review of Lost on Mars by Paul Magrs

img_0004I can’t wait to read the second instalment of this trilogy. I am still thinking about the characters and the hard life they led on Mars, trying to grow enough to eat, like early settlers in the United States. And then their journey away from their initial homestead and all that happens there.
I felt unsettled and spooked out early on reading this – it seemed fitting to finish it on Halloween. It wasn’t a cosy read, though it seemed to get cosier when I understood more about what was happening in the world. Because of this, it’s not a YA book I would introduce to a middle grade reader or younger, but I would be pleased to recommend it to readers aged 12 or older. It’s an interesting and thought-provoking read about the nature of people, academia and civilisation itself.
I own many of Paul Magrs’s books and I think this is one of the best. I’m excited by the potential of the YA space novel and wonder what new level Paul will take it to, a pioneer in this genre as the settlers are pioneers on Mars.

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Mother – a poem #amwriting

amber-valley-20130123-00467Mother

The buzzards are circling your heart

Diggers rip your stomach

Turn your soil

They cut your trees because they could

Ancient oak and ash hacked away

Their remains a stubby finger stuck up to the people

But still you host the magpies as they tell their joy

Sparrows grub, hedgehogs hide and robins keep abreast

Bats track the night sky

Dogs and owners brush your long grass

But how long will that last?

(c) Rebecca Deans 2016

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Everything in the Garden is Rosy

IMG_2152I write this in response to my friend Anna commenting on how full my garden looked last Thursday, and because of our conversation about how the world of Facebook is fake, or on the edge.

 

Everything in the Garden is Rosy

 

That full garden

The brassicas were reduced to skeletons the next day by cabbage white butterflies

The sunflower couldn’t be bothered, neither could the sun

The strawberries flowered but didn’t fruit

The beans never climbed

The poppies grew in the cracks of the patio, but not in the wildflower garden

We’re still the only place growing healthy ash trees, but not in the hedges

The rocket didn’t

The mint in’t

But the sage thrives, we have yellow courgettes poking out everywhere

And the pumpkin might shock by October.

 

© Rebecca Deans 2016

 

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Hedgehog a poem for #hedgehogawarenessweek 

This week my Friday post is dedicated to the hedgehog, a disappearing species. I recently won a lovely bag on Twitter from the British Hedgehog Preservation Society packed full of goodies and it has opened my eyes to the threat that they face.

Hedgehogs were common on Codnor Common, less so since Peveril Homes put up the Heras fencing in an attempt to stop the village green application I am guessing.

You can find out more and donate here https://campaign.justgiving.com/charity/bhps/hhaw16 and if you can do one thing, make a CD sized hole in your gates and fences so they can travel in and out of your garden.

Hedgehog
This metal prison hemmed me in.

I’m thin. I cannot get out to eat.

I used to be so spiky, sparkly, prickly

And all that malarkey

I used to slug slugs like there was no tomorrow.
Now I cower at the big tower

That popped up in the field like a flower

‘Cos I can’t use my secret power.

(C) Rebecca Deans 2016

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Are you being influenced? #amediting

I recently opened a box that had been moving between lofts, and found myself a present, a book of poetry written down from 1993 to 1995, a flowery hardback book with fountain-pen entries, signed just in case. Now, at the East Midlands Writers’ Conference they told us to put our writing in a box and leave it for a while, but I guess over 20 years is extreme. But for me, it’s more like having access to a time capsule.

Some of these poems went on to be aired in university and successively updated. Some start as free verse and end up rhyming. I can date some of my experiences. The tone of the poems changes after a few months of university.

I was lucky to do a BA (hons) in English Literature and creative writing on a course that gave the eight or nine on it special access to writers. We had support from visiting writers and later on a writing mentor, and in the second year we started taking the courses that would make up our subsidiary. I still have the poems I wrote for Hugo Williams in Autumn 1997.

In case you’re not familiar with Hugo Williams’s poetry, he wrote ‘Toilet’ and ‘Creative Writing’. Look them up! And here, with time for reflection, is a poem influenced by ‘Toilet’.

Train Ride

 

I’m doing it standing up

On a seatlessly silent train

I’m riding fast, the day is vast

I’m playing my favourite game.

 

I’m going away from here

As the throbs and pulses grow

The world files by, a restless lie

I’m caught in accelerando.

 

The train is as fragile as light

The cheap soap opera set quakes

Then faster it fits as if nothing exists

But the grey walls, toilet door

 

Black fridge-sealant rubber

Holding the train together

We slow down and stop, a useless flop

And I’m elsewhere for ever and ever.

 

© Rebecca Deans 2016

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Too Many Stars Have Gone Out This Year #amwriting #music #recordstoreday2016

I went to a record store yesterday and bought my dad the latest David Bowie recording on CD. I didn’t think to buy the latest Prince album as well.

I had previously bought the Bowie from a well known online retailer, but the case hadn’t protected it. My dad, lifelong Bowie fan, had been at the point of putting the CD into his car when he realised it was split.

I vowed to myself to go to a proper shop and buy him the album, though it took me a few opportunities to do it. In the end I went to Rough Trade Records in Nottingham and they were happy to open it to check it was OK.

Dad usually complains when I buy him Christmas, birthday or father’s day gifts, so I knew my purchase was right when he didn’t offer to give it me back.

It was later when I was at home making tea that I realised that Prince had died as well.

My first 7 inch single should have been Prince. I clearly remember looking at singles in Asda in Preston in 1987. I seem to recall I wanted ‘When Doves Cry’, though my mum and dad wouldn’t let me have that. I was ten or 11 at the time. I ended up with ‘What’s the Colour of Money’ by Brother Beyond.

I got a turntable again recently, and was able to play my son a track off the Hunky Dory Bowie album my brother had passed back to me. I declined to play the Brother Beyond single. I was pleased to have a Michael Jackson album (Bad, 1987) and a ropey copy of ‘Pump up the Volume’ by MARRS on 7 inch (also 1987). I was even able to have a Bangles moment (with actions).

This is the bit where my brain will not get to the punchline and finish the blog because Prince….? Too many stars have gone out this year.

(c) Rebecca Deans 2016

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Simon Says Three: Your Sweetness is my Weakness

In the light of the Archers and the interest in coercive control, I am re-blogging this piece. There is no stabbing in this story, however, ‘only a domestic.’

beckydeans

Simon Says Three

 

Your Sweetness is my weakness

 

So here we were for the jam.

I’ve always liked the idea of a jam, if I’m honest, though not the fruit kind. More, the getting together of musicians and having play.

Not necessarily improvisation. This word scares me. The uncertainty. The bit where suddenly someone points and you and it’s your turn. So you play a few scales, get confused. You know the theory as you’ve read about it, but not the practice. So the conductor gets fed up and points to the lad next to you with the flaxen hair, who manages something exciting that exactly goes with the chords and goes very high. As if they planned it. And you’re looking sheepish again.

But a general getting together of musicians with sheet music is always a pleasure. Always a joy. And perhaps not a jam. How would…

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Lydia -for Lydia Lawrence #amwriting #strongwomen

Good golly miss Molly 

Did you marry a man with a miner’s lamp and 

No brolly? 


Didn’t you know that the marriage bed came sprinkled with

Soot? Did he blind you

With a title, then tempt you with a butty? 


How long did you keep that aspidistra flying? 

Through the childbirth and the child death

And the end of the piano music


Spinning lace while your son 

Learnt to spin a story.

(And how were your hands

After all that washing? )


When will you hold court 

With the scientists and the academics and writers? 


(C) Rebecca Deans 2016

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Friends of Codnor Common: History of Codnor Common:

Codnor Common used to be a much larger area, stretching almost up towards Denby. The 1835 map certainly suggests as much. The whole area of Codnor was given to William Peverel, the illegitimate son of William the conqueror, after the Normal conquest. Peverel built the castle at the other side of the village.

It’s likely the area now known as Waingroves Common – the Derbyshire County Council owned amenity including the children’s park – was part of the Common, as well as the site of Waingroves Primary School. We also have deeds placing Jessop Street on Codnor Common. Much of the land was lost in the 20th century to developments such as Holborn View, Eastfield Road, and Thompson Drive. And yet this small piece of the Common has survived – and we intend to celebrate and preserve it.

Sources: Codnor.info

Village Green application 2013

New information found on Codnor.info

Scarlet Closes
In 1467 Henry Grey’s men murdered Henry Vernon’s uncle Roger who was one of the Vernon squires in Belper. A battle is said to have taken place at Codnor Castle between the households of Grey and Vernon. The Earl of Shrewsbury had to intervene and both sides had to pay £1000 fine and ordered to keep the peace. Frederick Channer Corfield records in the Derbyshire Archaeological Journal that a field to the west of the castle was once called Scarlet Closes after the blood spilt during the skirmish. However due to mining and landscaping in recent centuries all evidence is now lost.

Sources: Archaeological gleanings in the neighbourhood of Codnor Castle. Corfield, F.C., DAJ, vol. 15, 1893.
Historical research & Re-enactment
http://www.houghtonkeep.com/history/15/grey.html

 

 

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The Taking #BringBackOurGirls #amediting #VAW

The Taking

 

We knew the soldiers were coming

Hid in our beds, no one to protect us

Goods on the shelf waiting to be stolen

 

Before, that day, we had lessons

Cursed algebra, embraced Shakespeare

Explored China, played tag outside

 

Fell out, made up, ate lunch together

Made apple pie, but not custard

Remembered the gender of French nouns

 

Now we are herded, our worth in flesh

We learn knots we can’t untie

How to stay still and hope they do not come

 

We wait to be rescued, damsels

In distress, hair out for climbers

Life asleep in the stomach of a wolf

 

I wrote this poem during writers’ group I seem to remember, but first had the opportunity to read it out at the Ted Hughes Conference: Dreams as Deep as England in Sheffield in 2015 to an academic and literary audience.

At some point I hope to blog my essay on men, violence and Sylvia Plath, as I have found the original hand written submission, but until then, here’s my poem.

(c) Rebecca Deans 2015

 

 

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