January 20th was My Birthday

Me at 19 years old. A long, long time ago when I still had hair

January 20th was my 84th birthday. Happy Birthday to me…

Who would ever have thought that I would have managed to last this long. From avoiding the bombs and doodlebugs of World War 2, to playing soccer all of my life and suffering blows on the head causing concussion, numerous broken limbs resulting in time spent in a cast, from irate husbands for daring to flirt with their wives and girlfriends including a spell in hospital by one who really did a number on me, living through three broken marriages including outliving one of those wives, losing the lives and friendship of countless doggy friends and living a solitary batchelor life for the past twenty eight years giving up on women and wives as a lost cause at least for me and preferring the company of those same doggy friends. Did I mention the trip across the Atlantic to a new life in a strange country? By the way, after fifty three years of living here, this country is still strange and bewildering.

Looking back on all of those years wondering what I would have changed if I had foresite really becomes a bit of a puzzler. Thinking about it, if I could have changed just one thing early in my life, which would have changed the whole sequence of events and making the future different, it probably it would have been that when I was ten, my Mother never left my Father to come over to America to marry a GI she met in the war. Who knows what would have happened if our family had stayed together back in those troubled times. One thing for sure is that I would never have come to America which for all of its greatness does have a lot of problems especially in the modern day political picture. Even after all of these years, I very much miss the old country although it has probably changed to where I wouldn’t recognize it.

Still, all of that is history as is my life up to this point. Nowadays, my concerns are much more mundane. Things like when and where to go for the next hike, what problems do the ponds and fish have today, is that a Heron out there? are all of the dogs OK and what to eat for dinner tonight. I do worry a bit about what little future I have as the body grows older and weaker and the mind is not as sharp as it used to be. Should I sell the house and move where? Into an old folks home to join all of the other old fogeys sitting around and waiting to die. I am not ready for that so I will probably live the way that I am until I am senile or I get carried out feet first in a wooden box preferably a plain old pine box with no trimmings to be buried under a tree in a natural setting.

Compared to a lot of people, I have been fortunate to have lived as long as I have and with relatively good health and being comfortably enough off to enjoy it. I hope that I can continue living for a few more years as long as my health stays good. If I do become senile, then I give anyone permission to shoot me just as they did in the old Wild West as I don’t want to become a vegetable.

Life is way too beautiful for that.

Written 01/20/2019


Another birthday has come and gone
just as it did last year
I hope that I can carry on
and next years will also appear
for each birthday represents a date
of time that is passing away
never ever to be regained
time lost with each passing day
I suppose that lost is not the right word
as memories we have gained
in all of those years that are now gone
none have ever been the same
each giving us a glimpse of wonders good and bad
as we go through life some happy and others sad
I have been on this earth for eighty three years
with all of it’s ups and downs
and I would like to see so many more
before the end is found
how many more birthdays will I see
how many years to add
how much more of Nature to enjoy
and memories both good and bad
of one thing I am very sure no matter what the end
the life I have lived is mine alone and for this I would like it extend
if I could ever do it again many changes I would make
but only in the way I lived not the person to forsake
for that man turned out alright the best that he could be
just an ordinary working guy enjoying life’s mysteries.

Written 2/4/2019

My Life at 80


Francis at 80

Today is my 80th birthday. That by itself is quite an achievement. Many years ago, I would never have guessed in a million lifetimes that I would make it this far what with the drinking which probably should have killed me in a car crash or something worse like falling off a cliff and the many irate husbands all wishing to do me harm for messing around with their women.

But, be that as it may, I am 80 years old which got me looking back on some of the high and low points of my life as best I can remember.

It was the 20th of January, 1936 when I came kicking and screaming into to this world that was shortly to be involved in another World War. Growing up in a little place called Old Heathfield, we were right in the flight path of the German planes and Doodlebugs as they came over in swarms at the early part of the war. When that was over, my next memories were of thousands of troops all massing for the invasion of Europe and all located around the neighborhood that I lived in. I even got to meet my future stepfather although I was too young to know it at the time. I can remember being on Spotter Watch at school when we had to ring the handbell if we spotted any German planes.

I was the youngest by 10 years of a family of 4, 3 boys and 1 girl. Being that much younger and it being wartime, I never really grew up with a family as all 3 of them were serving in the armed services somewhere in the world.

I was a bright kid, much different than later in life when I thought school work was a bore. I took and passed what was known as the 11 plus exam which sorted the smart kids out from the rest and then the smart ones got to go a Grammar School. Prior to taking my place at the Grammar School, my mother left my father and I didn’t see her again for 20 years as she made the trip to marry her G.I. across the water in the USA.

Things went from bad to worse as my father re-married to a lady who really didn’t have much time for me and that ended with me moving in with one of my Aunts and Uncle for a few months. It wasn’t long before I moved again, this time to live with my sister in Hailsham. In the meantime, my Aunt lost her husband who had been sick and she couldn’t live with the guilt of her nagging him all the time and stuck her head in a gas oven.

I graduated early from the Grammar School as I was wasting my time there and went into the construction industry as a Bricklayer Apprentice. The man who was teaching me the job, contracted T.B. and died and I moved around a couple of other companies as I continued to learn my trade. I was smart enough and had a gift for building things and learnt as much as I could about other trades as I possibly could. I was always watching and asking questions and this proved very helpful later in life as I was never out of work.

At 20, I got married to the love of my life and we had two beautiful boys. Being present and watching their births was probably the most wonderful and awe inspiring thing I have ever witnessed. A bit messy though…That marriage lasted 4 years and she left and I hit a bad spell for a while. I worked for a pipe line company and travelled around a lot and apart from the boys who hardly saw me, had few responsibilities.

Then I got involved with a married woman with kids whose husband was a sergeant in the British Army. It didn’t take long for him to put me in hospital and I deserved it. The saving factor to that whole episode is that we eventually got married, gained custody of her 3 kids and had one of our own, a daughter than we named Leslie.

The biggest thing in my life was the choice and opportunity to emigrated to the USA at my mother’s urging. As it happened, although the entire family embraced the idea, as the years progressed, it turned out not to be a good move for the family as my wife was very homesick and we were having difficulties. We were stuck there and had to make the best of it and eventually, the pressures got too great. In truth, I didn’t want to move back which didn’t help the situation. That marriage finally ended 15 years after we got married.

Then I met a much younger woman and we eventually got married and moved to Texas. We never had any kids as she preferred dogs and horses which was fine by me. Needless to say, one day she announced she was leaving and that was the end of that after another 15 years. Talk about 3 strikes and you’re out. On the other hand, not having someone to care for or be responsible for has its benefits. No honeydews for starters and I don’t have anyone telling me what to do or how to spend my money and the only bad and grumpy people are me.

With the move to Texas, I did land a good job at the University of Texas which set me up for when I retired and spent 22 fairly happy years working there.

It seemed that I was never destined to  be a married person. After 3 attempts I never tried it again and now it is way too late. I am way too selfish and stuck in my ways for any woman to put up with me. Now, I live with my dogs and cats and spend my time looking after the ponds that I built in my garden and in between, hike as much as I can at the various parks around Austin. I have even built a website for the local Pond Society which is where most of my friends and acquaintances are now and have totally embraced the age of computers, cell phones and men on the moon.

Years ago, I was quite the athlete and a very good soccer player. That was my main interest in life and I played until I was 72 and the knees gave out. I also was very interested in helping to run and organize the different leagues and teams that I coached from the youth all the way through an Adult women’s team that made it to the National Finals, twice. Now, the only soccer in my life is watching the English Premier League on the TV and supporting my main team, Manchester United.

When I look back over my life, it seems that I have done an awful lot in the time I have been alive. I have had good jobs and have always stayed busy. I have kept myself fit and quit drinking almost 10 years ago. I work out and I hike a lot and eat right. I plan on staying alive as long as I can but when that time comes, I won’t be happy but there will not be much I can do about it. My Mother lived until she was 94 and my sister in Florida is 90 in May so I’m hoping I have their genes.

Right now, I am looking forward to the next 10 years. Happy Birthday.

Francis at 20

Little Boys and Birthdays

Green and Peaceful

After training on Thursday night
the boys were through and thought they might
shoot on the goal as they usually do
but Cristina had other things in mind
things of the birthday kind
for she had secretly gone to the store
for pies so delicious we all wanted more
pies of the custard kind filled with topping.
Calories, whose counting?

Mine, a single candle did have
for that I am grateful for truth to tell
no room on the pie for anything more
nor did Cristina enough candles buy
she claims, the store had run dry
and she had bought all they had
and why I thought her incredibly kind
to not show candles of a mind
for none to see how old was I
not acting my years and still feeling spry
or maybe just living a lie..

The little boys did gather round and sing
Happy Birthday, Dear Coach their voices did
ring out with joy at this wondrous event
of eleven year old boys wishing Happy Birthday to one
who has spent many of their lifetimes on this earth.
And yet, the only thing they can see
is their coach, their mentor the one who can be
to them, matters not his age in their young minds
but this person, this man who knows the sport
and has played the game and now resorts
to playing it still through their young minds
and bodies as they say, Hey Coach, this is your day
and we are glad that you show us the way
to play this game and we all say
Thank You, Coach and Happy Birthday

They all gave the coach a hug
and must have looked odd for others to see
eleven little boys of all shapes and sizes
all hanging onto the coach and we
are so grateful for these little boys
for all their differences they are the same
when it comes them playing the beautiful game
and the thanks they all gave their coach last night
in a show of love and affection that only little boys might
say Thank You, Coach and Happy Birthday

Another Year Older

English: Happy Returns

Flowers are forever


Another birthday has come and gone
this one no different from the rest
like the others just a card or two
a birthday call from my friends who
wished me all the very best to be
another year older.

Those that called all said the same.
You look good not changed a bit
just like you always have but with
a little less hair, a wrinkle or two
an extra pound to carry around
another year older.

This year is different as it seems
messages received by electronic means
on Facebook, Twitter and my blog too
all wishing Many Happy Returns
and for all of my years, not left behind
messages of the electronic kind
but the fact remains for all of my skill
I cannot change nor have the will
another year older

The messages all did say
Happy Birthday, enjoy the day
we are sure you will in your own way
we know that you are happy to
celebrate this life with the view
of another year older.

One of these days
The Lord will come knocking
my soul to take and my body to rotting
in my grave when the time comes around
the time when is normally found
my Birthday to celebrate here on earth
no longer will happen for I will be
to all of my friends just a memory
and no longer will my friends say
another year older.

With heartfelt Thanks to all of those that remembered my Birthday. I love you all…

My Birthday

English: Word cloud of the translations of &qu...

This looks like my life...


Today will be my birthday, again
Seventy Six this makes and all have been
most welcome for at no time did I find
no longer a birthday I wanted this time
this birthday no different from the previous five
will be spent at home with my dogs and my cats
and the fish too as they do splash
happy birthday they say all with one mind
to make it the best for we are here
and to us you are more precious, more dear.
Happy Birthday dear friend they all do recite
even though you don’t hear us we see the light
of one more birthday as it comes your way
from us, your friends, have a wonderful day.

The last twenty years alone have I been
no mate to share how I spend my life
no one, it’s true, to give me strife
but no one to love unless animals do count
as endless of them have I shared as I mount
the stairway of life as on it goes
when it will end only God knows
but one thing is certain that in this life
birthdays do count even with the strife
they may bring as without them it’s true
life as we know it does not renew.

Every life has a purpose of this we are sure
what it is may not always be an open door
but unless suffering in body or in mind
with open arms each birthday we find
through one more year not shedding a tear
of all of life’s troubles whatever you hear
with that in mind we have nothing to fear
except fear itself as we march bravely on
looking for the next verse in this song
of life as its inevitable end we must mind
and no more birthdays we’ll have of the earthly kind.