Tag Archives: tribute

The Words

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I don’t have the words
to describe how he saved me; how many times he
untied me, his voice cradling me, his
words raising me to a place where I could see the
raised, grey veins feeding the leaves, the
infinite gaps between the atoms, the
perfection of profanity, the
surprised depth of my tenacity, the
secret sinews that stretched for me,
the verdigris beauty
of our cracked

I don’t have the words
to say what he was to me.
If he crept inside my head, he
could write my truth for me.

He, and only he
whose honest bricks were
shaped from human frailty and faults;
from love and hate and pain and ecstasy,
from hope and desperation, and finally, from peace,
who showed us places we could almost reach,
who raised his turgid alter high
and humbly gifted it to us.

I don’t claim exclusivity,
my keening sigh is echoed
by a million souls with feeling,
but when he ceased breathing,
I wept for unsung songs
that were destined to be digested and dispersed
in the dank earth by cemetery worms,
and while I believe he was ready

we weren’t.


Dedicated, with friendship and gratitude to Ivor, who, in conjunction with Leonard Cohen, inspired this poem.

©Jane Paterson Basil


Addiction,Recovery, Relapse


Addiction, recovery, relapse; it’s a loop which grips you like a noose. That first step to recovery is painful and frightening. Many addicts are in two minds about it when they take the first step, so it comes to nothing; in no time they are back on the street scoring. It’s claimed that you have to hit rock bottom before you’re ready for recovery, but rock bottom can be an awfully long way down, with untold dangers on the way.

It’s unusual for an addict to go into permanent recovery at the first attempt. They often get into that familiar pattern: addiction, recovery, relapse, addiction, recovery, relapse. This is traumatising for everyone who cares. Each time the addict relapses they are at high risk of overdose, as their tolerance for the drug has gone down. Family and friends often give up on the addict, but they need to know that with every attempt, there is more chance of success, just as every time a learner driver takes a driving test, they are more likely to pass.

So, addiction, recovery, relapse is a loop which grips you like a noose, but a noose can be untied. The circle can be broken, placing the addict in permanent recovery, though only time can tell if this has occurred.

Addicts get clean every day, and stay clean for the rest of their lives. Some of them go on to work tirelessly to support other addicts through recovery, though their hearts may be torn over and over again. I have great admiration for all recovering addicts.

Today, I pay tribute to recovered addicts everywhere; in particular, two brave young women who will remain nameless (it’s enough that they know who they are); a local man called Jimmy, who has become an inspiration to many in this town; Adam, at the Bideford Lighthouse project, and, of course, my daughter Laura.

I live in hope that I may add my son’s name to this list at some point.

With Grateful thanks to Sumyanna, whose thoughtful suggestion has given me new hope, and who may be pleased to learn that she inspired this post.

The Daily Post #Loop

©Jane Paterson Basil



you did so much for my family,
your faith never ceasing to light the way,
despite medical evidence of impeding fatality.

Those warnings about your mortality were spoken
in words that confused doctors had to eat
each time the hungry tumour weakened, and retreated,
deferring your end.

Hard though it may be
to believe that my daughter and me gave you a reason —
or that your deity gave you strength to cling to this life
for a little more time — yet I accept it as true.
I’ll never forget how you thanked us
when it was we who owed thanks to you.

I wish you could hear my good news;
I wish we could meet,
so that my daughter and me could speak
our humble words of gratitude,
but I fear it may be too late.
You ceased communicating with this ethereal web of words
at the point where her speed increased
along the road to health,
and, for selfishness’ sake, I fear what that may mean.

But for the sake of you,
may wherever you are
be the place where you wish to be,
and may the atheism my father forced into me
be cruel falsity,
at least for those of true goodness and certainty, such as you,
so that, should you finally have left this terrestial plain,
you shall be making heavenly music on a celestial piano,
accompanied by the sweet harps of angels,
while other great peacemakers
listen and appreciate,
in the high place
where you deserve to spend eternity.

Anton, you did so much for me,
for more than this crude poem can explain.
I will always think dearly of you,
and I hope that someday, somehow, we may meet again.


©Jane Paterson Basil

My Reprieve


Lost in a mire
for half their lives and more,
two children, their maturity halted by addiction…

…and I could point my finger at causes,
or take the blame upon myself.
I could break down in shame and remorse,
but the past would remain the same.

I could try to turn back time
and change the way their lives became;
as if I may find relief in the madness
of that aspect of grief.

I could do all these things and more;
these sad practices I acted out a thousand times before,
but they relieved me of my feeble susceptibility,
when they exchanged lies and deceit for honest fight.
Each day they draw clean swords, and slash at their demons,
and with each clash the demons get weaker.

They are retrieving their lives,
thereby returning mine to me,
and so I say, with gratitude and pride,
Thank you for all you have achieved.
Thank you for the reprieve.

A tribute to my two younger children, Laura and Paul.

The Daily Post #Reprieve

©Jane Paterson Basil

The day the music died

The tragedy occurred on 3rd Febuary, 1959, and was later described in song, by Don Maclean, as The Day the Music Died. Buddy Holly and the Crickets were on tour with rising stars J. P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson and Richie Valens. Buddy chartered a plane to take him from Clear Lake to Minnesota, with two of his band members, Waylon Jennings and Tommy Allsup. Because the Big Bopper had ‘flu, Waylon gave his seat up to him, and Allsup lost his seat to Richie Valens in a coin toss.

The three of them – Buddy, The Big Bopper and Richie – set off, piloted by Roger Peterson, at night. It was cold and wintry, and the pilot was not qualified to fly in such conditions. He lost control of the plane, and it crashed in a cornfield. There were no survivors.

I was a week away from my 4th birthday, so the horror passed me by.  When I was about fifteen, my brother introduced me to 50’s Rock ‘n’ Roll. I discovered the music of such greats as Bill Haley, Carl Perkins, Chuck Berry and Gene Vincent. I loved Buddy Holly and The Big Bopper. I think I cried when I learnt how they left us, so prematurely. My brother was not a Richie Valens fan, so I didn’t know much about him, but his death was also a terrible loss to the world.

I will never forget the legacy left by the great Buddy Holly. So many wonderful songs, sung in his inimitable style.”That’ll Be the Day” and “Peggy Sue” are those which are remembered the most. I prefer his follow up to “Peggy Sue”, “Peggy Sue Got Married.” It was hard to choose what to share with you, but I’ve fixed on the slow, romantic “True Love Ways.” The images are stills, but they’re very emotive.

The Bigger Bopper was something else! He was totally, 100% adorable. Here he is, singing “Chantilly Lace.”

Finally, Richie Valens, with his cute voice – this is my favourite of his records:

Don Maclean – who went on to have another great hit with his tribure to Vincent Van Gogh – stormed the hit parade with this unforgettable song. At the time the lyrics didn’t make sense to me. It was only much later that I learned what it was about. This is the original video. It has better sound quality than any other I could find.

Buddy Holly, you were at the height of your career, and set to carry on making us sway, dance, and sometimes shed a tear.  Big Bopper, I’ll never forget your unique humour and your strange sexiness. Richie Valens, your voice made girls swoon. Thank you all for the music – the legacy you left for millions to discover and enjoy, down through the years.

You are not forgotten.

©Jane Paterson Basil