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> > > Richard Longstaff: Beyond Watford

I have largely kept my poetry to myself because of disabilities, but live in hope of finding a publisher that is disabled friendly. Nature offers me a escape from the pressures of this 'normal world' in which we live. I find comfort in the beauty of simple things all around. I also use my disability to find things that inspire me. I find the autistic mind sees things that others miss.

My brother builds a bicycle

14 May 2014


photo of the top part of an old-fashioned bicycle with curved handlebars

We were so poor that in the winter we would wait until my father ate a extra strong mint and then we would sit around his breath to keep warm. Okay, things weren't that bad but money was tight. Things had to last; shoes, clothing. You got a new toy on your birthday or at Christmas and very little in between. If you wanted a bicycle, well you wanted the earth. It wasn't a case of nip off to Halfords and spend a hundred quid. Then a few months later when the thing was knacked replace it....

Comments: 5

Witnessing dementia

8 May 2014


I would dread Saturday mornings as a child. It was our morning, my sister and I, to visit our grandparents, Fred and Mary. They lived in a small social housing bungalow not far from us and we had the pleasure of taking them shopping and making sure they were safe and well. Both had health issues. In fact with the wonderful rose-tinted thing we call 'hindsight' they both had dementia. Slowly the safety and comfort of the world they had known was slipping away. We called one...

Comments: 0

Three Day Week

30 April 2014


I could have fallen of my chair. There is the chairman of British gas trying to explain why his company need to keep making such profits and warning that if they are capped it could lead to black outs and a loss of supplies. I would have laughed but it so reminded me of a period from my childhood that my mind focused in on the past and I turned the TV off. The year was 1973 and the country was in a state of melt down, well that's what the adults were saying. The three day week, no power and...

Comments: 3

The hidden face of war

16 April 2014


I touched on the subject of war in a previous blog, 'Words of war' with the poem Volley of shots. It was just after writing this piece that Salerno’s Child came into my head. I don’t like writing about the same theme time and again but wanted to share this with you because it is a moving story. My father had served in the second world war and was part of the allied invasion of Italy in the September of 1943. The Salerno Landings as they are now known in the history...

Comments: 3

Mad Dogs and Englishmen...

5 April 2014


I love to have family over for a meal. It’s nice to catch up and fill an evening with idle chatter. Last week my brother joined us for a few hours. After all the usual talk of work and the rest of the family we got around to the subject of our childhood. At the time an episode of Top of the Pops was on TV from the year 1976. David, my brother began to chuckle. “Do you remember that year, the hot summer and old Joe the scrap man?”. At first I have to admit I was lost. It was...

Comments: 0


1 April 2014


watercolour illustration of a knitted boat sailing across a sea laden with fish under a sun with a large round face on it

A brief event. Why is it that these tiny fragments of memory seem to remain with us for so long and yet a major event, prolonged and drawn out soon fades? The choice of poem for this blog is based on events that took place in my early teen years. At that time my late brother owned a small fishing trawler. Every summer and half term holiday from school would be spent fishing with him. Three and four day trips to the seas off of Ireland or sometimes further afield. It was a wonderful time and...

Comments: 5

The nature of thought

25 March 2014


photo of a yellow-green butterfly with light black dots sitting on a purple flower

It was the darkest period of my life. Without knowing it I was in the midst of a nervous breakdown. 1996 was an awful year and things just seemed to be going from bad to worse. Well that was how it felt to me. Thankfully I had a good GP. At one appointment he looked through the endless list of medication. “You know Richard this is no good. All these pills are getting you and me nowhere. You need to do this without all this medication. The best way to heal your mind is to get out of the...

Comments: 4

Words of war

18 March 2014


Everywhere you turn at the moment we have some form of world war one story. The BBC have fallen in love with this part of history, dramas, documentaries. One thing that struck me about all this coverage was the language used at the time of the great war and how it has changed. “War wounded” was a common way of describing the poor souls returning from the western front minus arms and legs. Today those who have returned from Afghanistan with injuries have “Long term...

Comments: 2

The Unseen

7 March 2014


photo of a brown butterfly with white spots

In my previous poetry blog A Natural End To Things I asked is it better to lose someone from your life knowing they are still living, out there but no longer part of your life? Or would it be easier to except if they were dead? The Unseen - deals with the second part of the question, the dead. A good friend of mine lost his mother at the same time as I was losing a son. Theirs was a distant relationship made closer by her long term illness and his need to care for her.  Yet even with love...

Comments: 5

A Natural End to Things

28 February 2014


photo of a bright red / orange butterfly with thick black lines and white circular spots delineating areas across its wings

The Winter storms. TV radio, all media telling the awful tales of the storms. One word that seemed to be on every ones lips was , loss. The loss of property, the loss to industry and of course the awful loss of life. It came at a moment in my life when I was losing some one. I thought long about loss and asked myself this question. Is it better to lose some one from your life knowing they are still living, out there but no longer part of your life? Or would it be easier to except if they were...

Comments: 0

Looking at Limbo

17 February 2014


black and white photo of the poet looking upwards out of the top-left corner of the photograph

I love a good TV documentary. A winters evening in the company of someone that knows their subject inside out. I watched a really good one on the BBC not to long ago on the subject of steam engines and the role they had once played in our society. It was remarkable to see these huge old machines, spitting and spluttering out steam. The noise, the sheer size and power. I found myself a few days later putting together the poem, 'A Journey from Limbo Station'. It was one of those rare...

Comments: 1