Elsie and Muriel

To Muriel

a little token to record our stay in Colwyn Bay together 1940/1944

Love from



Dear Elsie

Thank you for the small blue book you most kindly sent to me on Tuesday. I remember our stays in Colwyn Bay as if they were yesterday.

Do you remember the splendid moons that always used to illuminate our visits and how if when we shared a bath and kept icy still the bombers passing overhead would ripple the waters and their huge shadows would pass silently over our white bodies.


I do, you were always the brave one as I was scared that the planes would accidently drop a bomb on to the resort and we would die without really living.

I remember on that hot August evening when you dashed quite naked out of the bath and ran into the garden to wish the brave boy’s goodbye and a safe return.

We became quite drunk that evening.


In seventy years’ time a poet will enter a shop in South Oxfordshire and purchase a scruffy envelope that contains twelve photographs. One of these will be that of your grandmother.

The photograph will show her as a dark beauty not long returned from the tropics. The pose is formal and her dress is white but her adventure glows radiantly .


I never knew my grandmother


Her family were missionaries in China and when of age she accompanied them to this far off country. She was known as The White Flower with Raven Eyes by everybody she met and broke many hearts during her stay. All men wanted to possess her but none achieved success.


She was a Bride of Christ?


Nothing could be further from the truth. She carried God in her pocket and presented him each day in her ministry. But in the evenings she would dance and behave outrageously within her limits.


What happened to my grandmother?


It is supposed that she was drowned in her twenty-eighth year when the Star of Edinburgh sank in a hurricane in the South China Sea. Her parents also perished, there were no survivors. The ship just disappeared into a tremendous wave and did not appear again.


You hint that she died without issue but she still was my grandmother is that not improbable?


That is for the poet to decide as he retains the likeness of your grandmother and the book that you so kindly sent to me.  We are only the characters he has invented. The poet may neglect to write another word about us and burn both the book and the photographs without thought. Then again he may write thousands of words about our lives and let us experience things we never thought possible.


That my grandmother lives quietly and did not drown in the maelstrom with her parents and the other unfortunates .


Everything is possible