Monthly Archives: April 2015

Essential Products For Modern Living


Artwork by Jane Basil. Original image:ña)_7.jpg

He looks like any other man
unique and different
like any other man
maybe his shoulders stoop
or they fling wide
His smile is one of a saint
or a scarlet horned demon
Tall he is
or possibly short
with gnarled smooth
long short fingers
on his changeling hand.

Multiplied a million times
he cries out his wears
the table groans
beneath the weight
of a thousand temptations.

Our designer heels
press dents
into the hungry soil
compacting it
it whimpers its plea
for worms to fluff it
for humus to feed it
for grass to protect it
for redemption
from its gritty sterility.

We marvel
at the colourful spectacle
a myriad of accessories
for graceful living
unfold before our greedy eyes
in this essential
bizarre bazarre
longed for for so long

stalls stretch to the horizon
visibility marred in places
by a contrary oak tree
if we cut it down
it will crush the valuables

we leave it
to starve

Neon lights
wink promiscuously
like pimps in pink cadillacs
they attract the eye
tickle latent lust
til you want a taste

but tasting isn’t enough.

How did we manage our lives before the invention of the designer handbag – before manufacturers created co-ordinated kitchen fittings and fiddle-de-dees?

“Look! There is the sweetest doorstop over there and who knows when I may need to stop the door from closing?”

“But it won’t match our living room décor.”

“It’s part of a range, so we could purchase everything.
I was tired of our curtains anyway.”

beyond our interest
another starving child
wheezes its last breath.
After a moment of silence
the mother screams out her anguish
and a nation continues to weep
into the dust.

Somewhere walls crumble, crushing our dispensable slaves.

© Jane Paterson Basil

Oak Tree


uncrowned king
of woodland and hedgerow,
your sturdy trunk
swells with each season,
over time your boughs
rot and break,

small creatures
make dark nests
within those fragrant bones

but you endure,
fresh branches
which age and
wither in their turn,
and again
dead portions,
mature and sweet,

admit burrowing
insect life
until their
houses crumble
to enrich the
hungry soil.

yet still, while
come and go,
harsh seasons
attack your extremities,
centuries die,
you endure,
towering over us,
feeding us,
breathing us
the gift of
clean air

© Jane Paterson Basil

I’m Sorry


I’m sorry I’m sluggish and stupid and slow,
I’m sorry for being me.
I’m sorry I’m dullwitted, dim and dumb;
I’m as sorry as can be.
I’m sorry I’m stuttery, spotty and scarred;
please accept my apology.

I’m sorry as soon as I open my mouth,
I have to apologise.
I’m sorry the sides of your mouth turn down,
each time I look in your eyes.
I’m sorry whenever I speak the truth,
that all you can hear are lies.

I’m sorry for hurting your fist with my face.
I’m sorry your skin has been marred.
I’m sorry for making a dent in the wall,
by falling against it so hard.
I’m sorry I’m struggling to get off the floor,
because my back is so jarred.

I’m sorry as soon as you drive away,
I’ll be limping out of the door.
I’m sorry I met you, I’m sorry for me,
and I want you to know the score;
It’s the last time you’ll hear me apologise.
You’ll find that I’m sorry no more.

© Jane Paterson Basil

One woman in four (and one man in six) in the UK will be a victim of domestic violence during their lifetime, according to research estimates. Two women a week are killed by a current or former male partner.

Domestic violence is officially classified as “any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between adults who are or have been in a relationship together, or between family members, regardless of gender or sexuality”.
We think of domestic violence as hitting, slapping and beating, but it can also include emotional abuse as well as forced marriage and so-called “honour crimes”.
It’s abuse if your partner or a family member:

  • threatens you
  • shoves or pushes you
  • puts you down, or attempts to undermine your self-esteem
  • makes you fear for your physical safety
  • controls you, for example by stopping your seeing your friends and family
  • is jealous and possessive, such as being suspicious of your friendships and conversations
  • frightens you

Where can you get help?
You don’t have to wait for an emergency situation to seek help. If you live in the UK you can:

  • talk to your doctor, health visitor or midwife
  • call 0808 2000 247, the 24-hour National Domestic Violence Helpline run in partnership between Women’s Aid and Refuge (calls from a landline are free)
  • in an emergency, call 999

This Week.

laura and jane
Jane Basil the writer has left the building. Jane Basil the fighter is in charge now. She wishes to apologise for the fact that in her current guise she is unable to pick up the remnants and cut them into interesting shapes. She cannt carefully sew them together with small stitches, into an aesthetically pleasing design. She doesn’t remember how to crochet, knit and weave the words into a shape that fits.

She will drop the broken threads and the ragged tatters onto the page and leave them as they fall. They will lie there until they are covered up by fresh and orderly ones.

May they rest in peace.

Easter weekend was fun, with family and the park, with grandchildren and picnic, swings and roundabouts, laughter and rolling down hills.

Muddy jeans, sunshine and laughter.

Tuesday arrived as I knew it must. Tuesday 7th April, that long dreaded day. A necessary evil which became inevitable some two-and-a -half years ago. The day that my daughter walked into the police station and made her statement. She was 26 then. When she was ninteen years old, she had become the victim of a crime; a crime that carried through the whole summer.

It was a summer of waking each morning knowing that she was free to carry out her job of work without interfference, but when evening came she would be a slave again. The man who was her boss would carry out whatever unpleasant and sadistic acts on her body that he wished.

I have lived and re-lived that time over and over. When I found out what was happening I urged her to go to the police, but she refused, saying it was her own fault. He was an experienced predator, and had convinced her that it was all her own fault. If I went to the police, she would deny everything. I realise now that she was terriiified of repurcussions.

She finally got away from him, but it was too late. She was broken, and she began drinking heavily, getting into unhealthy relationships and avoiding her true friends. Her dabbling in drugs resulted in heroin addiction, and she carried her brother along with her.

And then a friend was falsely accused of rape, which brought the horrible experience back in force. This resulted in a terrifying five day drug binge, and when she came out of it she went to the police.

Due to budget cuts and suchlike, the case took two years to go to court, and when it did, the defendant became ill on the second day, and it was postponed for a further five months, until the 7th April, this year.

My daughter’s health and state of mind had deteriorated dramatically. The professionals around her were scratching their heads, wondering how she was managing to stay alive. She was so chaotic that it was impossible to help her. Every time an effort was made to section her under the mental health act, so that she could be safe and cared for she would pull herself together enough to convince two out of three doctors that she was not a risk to herself or others.

We managed to get her to the courtroom on the first day, and on the second day, when she was supposed to be cross-examined by the defence. But her mind was in such a terrible state by then that she refused to give evidence, because in her paranoid state she was convinced that there would be reprisals. She believes that this disgusting man has been causing all sorts of bad things to happen to her. She even believed that he had her boyfriend killed. He died of an overdose three months ago.

The case was stopped for the sake of my daughter’s wellbeing, and a not guilty plea had to be returned. If he had been found guilty, he would have appealed, on the grounds of an unfair trial.

The local newspaper placed a story on its Facebook page:

Croyde holiday camp manager cleared after alleged rape victim refuses to give evidence
By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: April 08, 2015

David Mason had always denied raping the autistic girl when she worked at the Ruda Holiday Camp at Croyde
A FORMER holiday camp manager has been cleared of raping a young waitress after she refused to carry on giving evidence against him.
David Mason had always denied raping the autistic girl when she worked at the Ruda Holiday Camp at Croyde in the 2000s and insisted she had agreed to regular sex sessions in his staff chalet.
He was found not guilty by a jury at Exeter Crown Court on the directions of Judge Jeremy Griggs after the prosecution offered no evidence,
Gareth Evans, for the prosecution, told the Judge he had decided to withdraw the case because the alleged victim did not want to give evidence.
At the second trial this week she refused to go back into the witness box and told police she did not want the case to continue.
Mr Mason, aged 55, of Grove Cottages, Bournemouth, Dorset, denied four charges of raping the girl when she was 19 and working in the catering department at Ruda, where he was the manager.
The prosecution alleged he rigged the staff rota to manipulate her into staying overnight at his chalet where he forced her to have sex up to 40 times during the summer.
They alleged she had submitted to his demands after he forced himself on her and that he also bit her on the legs and private parts during sex.
The case was stopped before Mr Mason was able to give his account but in police interviews he said she had instigated sex after he agreed to let her stay in his chalet.
He said she continued visiting and they enjoyed consensual sex on a number of other occasions throughout the summer season.
In offering no evidence Mr Evans told the judge: “I can tell you the complainant quite simply does not want the process to continue. She does not want to play any further part in proceedings.
“She had refused to do so and although the court has the power to summons her, it is the feeling of the officer in the case and the Crown Prosecution Service that would not be appropriate.”
Judge Griggs told the jury: “The witness does not wish to participate further in proceedings and in those circumstances, having satisfied myself that is the position, I ask you to enter not guilty verdicts.”

We returned from the trial with my daughter in a more healthy state of mind than she has been for a while, and that evening I managed to get her to the hospital, and she was admitted for an operation on her leg. She has a swelling the size of a saucer on her thigh, as well as a lot of contusion and bruising. It is her belief that the injuries were carried out by others while she was asleep. She is down for surgery today, as it had to be cancelled yesterday.

Since writing that last paragraph I have rung the hospital and discovered that she can’t have surgery today, as every time the staff came to take her uo to theatre she was outside the grounds “having a cigarette”, and when she was told she should wait on the ward she replied that she couldn’t hang around all day waiting for them to be ready for her, and anyway she had had a drink, so she was no longer nil by mouth.

She has been told that her name is now down for surgery tomorrow. She must stay on the ward, and if she doesn’t, they will turn her out, and she’ll have to find another hospital.
I could have written about the difficulties that this has caused for her brother, and the change in the law concerning a particular legal high, and a few other things, but I’m tired, and all I want to do is sleep, rather than spend tomorrow morning in a hospital ward trying to keep my poor, lost, 29 year old autistic, bipolar, drug addicted daughter under control.

laura and jane 2



Image adapted from: photo by Peter Drier

(An everyday tale of love and marriage)

”Be mine.” he whispered, ”You are my chocolate coated limousine, my deepest bungee jump, my highest school yard leap-frog, my cool breath in a heated discussion, my hot water bottle at the frozen peak of mount Everest, my favourite cheese grater, my mix of perfect concrete.

”Stand on me, and crush my brain with the power of your sub-atomic love bomb; your over-exposed throat; your agile knife sharpener; your ready whittling and all of those things that you hide beneath the tittle-tattle of a thousand silences.

”And I will teach you to ride on the back of a butterfly as it flits from flower to flower; to scale the heights of fishes underground; to extract kettle fluff from the painting of the Mona Lisa; to build an atom from an elephant; to ignite the stars using a broken toothpick and an excerpt from Handel’s Water Music; to do all of the things that I have learnt from centuries of studying rotting carrot heads and the birth of synthetic fabrics.

”Come, share my bent nail and take the lonely word-processor from my empty heart. Be my new baked bread, my ocean of sky, my everything reduced for one day only, again and again, for ever and ever ’til death do us part amen. I’m begging you in B minor. Express a quiet acceptance of fate. Let me love you.”

(He wanted to win me,)

”I don’t like your tone!” I cried. ”Do not try to possess me, or I will extract your teeth with a sledge-hammer. I will destroy your father’s estate. I will make the tax office refuse your rebate. I will tear down your house. I will drive your Mercedes into a wall. I will kill your computer with a rash of vicious viruses. I will burn your books. I will break your bed with my passion. I will trifle with your affections and leave you raw and heartbroken. I will undo you.”

(I told him that I liked things the way they were.)

”But we could be a perfect match, like Morecambe and pistachio nuts, like strawberries and the little plastic blocks that you screw on to hold modern kitchen units together when you buy them from places like B&Q, like bread and hair remover, like a hammer and a list of things that pair up nicely.

”We could tie the tangle, dance the fandango, slide into sheets of satin on a brave raft of reality. We could build a barn and raise the roof, and fill it with glass and china and soft furnishings and small sharp metal objects. We could make tiny things with ten little fingers and ten little toes, that grow and go. We could wave them goodbye and turn to each other and say ‘It’s just us now,’ and ‘You go and sit down in front of the telly, while I make us a nice cup of tea.’ We could relax. We could retire and grow old together. And when the moment was right, we could die in each others arms.”

(He was just an ordinary bloke really,)

”Oh, I see,” I said. ”That puts a completely different slant on it. It sounds very nice. We’ll get a sensible semi-detached property in the suburbs. We could have quiet nights in, playing tiddly winks and tic-tac-toe. You’ll have to take your shoes off as soon as you come home from the office, because I don’t want you getting the carpets all dirty. When the babies come along, my mother can come and stay, to help me out until I get on my feet again. I expect I’ll need a nanny. They’re so useful, don’t you think? When we retire, we can move to a cottage in the country, and grow roses around the door. You could take up vegetable gardening, and I could join a bridge club. Yes, I’ll marry you.”

(I was seduced by his offer of security,)

When I accepted his soft, downy proposal, I thought to drown my passion beneath it. I thought it could save me from my nature.

He expeditiously discarded the word-smithery with which he had won me, and replaced it with practicality and rationalism. He lay carpets and furniture at my feet. In my hands he placed cooking implements and cleaning products. He tucked yet more gifts in hidden places: rank, balled-up socks under the bed, twisted tubes of toothpaste and bad smells in the bathroom, crumbs of toast and smears of marmalade in the butter dish. In the morning, his loud laughter and readings from the newspaper tangled my thoughts. In the evening the noise from the television killed my creativity. At night the heat from his body chased sleep away.

(However, he soon irritated me.)

After a while, I extracted his teeth with a sledge-hammer. I destroyed his father’s estate. I caused the tax office to refuse his rebate. I tore down his house. I drove his Mercedes into a wall. I killed his computer with a rash of vicious viruses. I burned his books. I broke his bed. I trifled with his affections and left him raw and heartbroken. I undid him.’

(We parted company.)

These days, in winter, I keep myself warm with many layers of thin clothing, and thick blankets, and I sleep through the long hours of the night. In summer, I wake up each morning with the dawn. I am eased into a calm consciousness by the daylight, as it soaks through the thin skin of my tent. Overhanging trees dapple a caramel silhouette onto the cream canvas wall that protects me.

My passion is consumed.

(I prefer being alone.)

© Jane Paterson Basil

Tipping the Scales

from generation to generation
the dignity of blood
was wrenched
to fit
to conform
to her

the levelling
the pulling down
of equality
not a man any more
for the memory of man
had been killed
the men in her family
were women
of a lesser breed

© Jane Paterson Basil

This poem was inspired by a sentence I read somewhere recently: “I come from a long line of women.”
It is a female dystopia, and is not in any way knocking feminism.