(For Noah and Neve)

You may not choose your family,
but you’ll be loved by them,
because you are the flower’s bloom
and they your lasting stem.

If ever you have doubted it,
this love you feel inside,
not there by chance, but by design,
where your heart will reside

in everything and everywhere,
you’ll feel this poem’s rhyme
remind you that your family
will bear the test of time.

© 2014 John Anstie

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An Apology from Your Grandfather


A poem for my grandson, for all my grandchildren and for theirs …

Originally posted on THE BARDO GROUP:

(for Nathaniel)

This poem was written last November shortly after the birth of my third grandchild, a second grandson, and the first child of my son and his wife. I put it away for a while to ‘rest’, because I felt it wasn’t quite there; that it still needed something to make it work. Three months later, following several edits and adjustments, whilst it is perhaps less like poetry and more a narrative, (and was it Leonardo da Vinci himself who said that a work of art is never complete, only abandoned?) I have decided that I should let it go. I hope my grandson, when he’s old enough, all my grandchildren and onward generations, may find some use or ornament for it, to give them perspective on their own situations, whatever they may be, and to help guide them in their journeys through life …


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Hide and Seek


Alternative poetry …

Originally posted on THE BARDO GROUP:

[This impressive one man a cappella video wall production of Imogen Heap’s composition “ Hide and Seek ” brings me to another parallel of poetry. I should say that, whilst I much prefer live performance to what seems to be music’s equivalent of Photoshop’s adjustment and stitching process in photography, the main focus of the piece rests on this particular song written by Heap. Heap’s own production of it became a significant international hit when it was chosen to play out the finale of series two of “The O.C.” in 2005. It also featured in the film “The Last Kiss” amongst others a year or two later.

I chose this cover rather than her own production, because, well, because I have my own preference for a polyphonic choral sound. She is one of those impressively industrious creative musicians, who manage to make music and rhythm from an extraordinary array of…

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These Stones

These Stones. – A poem to commemorate how war penetrates all aspects of human life, in all corners of our world, however remote … over at The Bardo Group

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My Best Friend

In answer to a question
for an interview on line
“How would your best friend
describe you?”
I asked her.
She paid me compliments
that made me glow.
One good reason why
she’s always been
my very best friend
and why I love her so.

© 2012 John Anstie

Posted in Free Verse, Love, poem, poetry | 3 Comments

2013 in review

Here’s the 2013 annual report for my blog. It’s a good opportunity for me to say thank you to all those who’ve visited and supported me in the last year. I hope and trust that you all will have a successful year in 2014 and reach all the ports of call that you set your sails to reach and enjoy the beauty of all you see on your journeys to get there.

Here’s an excerpt:

A London double decker bus holds just over 60 people. This blog was viewed about 3,600 times in 2013. If it were a a double decker bus, it would take nearly 60 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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When I’m Sixty-Four

When I’m Sixty-Four.

I had a dream of being old, infirm and incapable of looking after myself, in which I harboured a hope that I would grow into this state with grace and equanimity. The result is a short essay, which is published by The Bardo Group, on my observations of how life’s perspectives alter with time and how this famous song by The Beatles prompted me to consider how our prospects of old age have also changed …

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The Wheelhouse Ballad

The Outside Track performing at The Wheelhouse in September 2013

The Outside Track performing at The Wheelhouse in September 2013

House concerts are the norm in North America; much less so in the UK. It was therefore a real find and a lovely surprise to be introduced to a place called The Wheelhouse a couple of years ago, whilst on the local folk and roots music festival circuit. It took until last September to secure an ‘invite’ and we attended a gig with what turned out to be a surprisingly talented and very entertaining band called ‘The Outside Track‘.

On Saturday, we went again and, with a capacity audience of thirty five people, saw the evergreen Phil Beer, a multi instrumentalist and virtuoso Musician / Singer / Songwriter / Composer / Producer from the South West of England, who has rubbed shoulders over the years with the good and great of the business. Considering he had woken up the previous day with what he described as Man’flu, with a rather crokey voice, his performance was quite frankly astonishing.

The warm up act, this their first gig, was no less impressive. Its anchorman, Jamie Roberts, established, with Katriona Gilmore, as part of the successful, two times BBC Folk Awards nominees for best duo, Gilmore & Roberts, is a real talent. His partners

The Dovetail Trio at The Wheelhouse on 4th Jan 2014 (Photo Allan Wilkinson, all rights reserved)

The Dovetail Trio at The Wheelhouse on 4th Jan 2014 (Photo Allan Wilkinson, all rights reserved)

(Rosie Hood and Matt Quinn) in their new venture, The Dovetail Trio, were shining examples of what quality young talent lies as yet undiscovered, at least by us. What a voyage of discovery this world of music is!

The poem that follows was inspired by that evening of music and its charming performers.

A floral bunting points and bows
to David Oddy guitars;
below, a tiny stage is set
for a surprising list of stars.

The first to warm this humble place
a name we’ve seen before:
the boy, who makes six strings his own
with the fiddle voiced Gilmore.

(A boy, whose sister Kathryn,
makes sweet folk music and
who’s wed to another sibling boy
from the ranks of the Lakeman clan.)

And so, the Dovetail Trio formed;
the Roberts boy made song
with Rosie voiced Hood and squeeze box Quinn,
they impressed the gathered throng;

a throng, whose body may be small
but heart is mighty big;
it’s not the size that matters here
’tis the quality of the gig.

This humble garden shed is home
to a couple with a mission
to bring to town the best of folk,
with energy from musical fission.

Whilst Lynn gives over house and home
to wine and dine the guests,
Hedley gets all stars to come,
securing the very best.

He never tires in endless search
for an international star;
visiting a shed in Wombwell town,
the occasional musical tzar.

So Phil your glasses with lots of Beer
and drink his music in;
his knowledge, virtuosity
and a striking mandolin.

With three guitars, he picks and strums
the songs of history;
of folk and roots and legends, with
great musicality.

He’s one of few that I have seen,
with fiddle and bow in hand,
can sing as well as chase the notes
like a one man ceilidh band.

There’s fame among the audience too,
who’re ” Willin’ ” to sing along;
Dave Burland sang the hook refrain
in harmony with this song.

He’s one of many, who’ve visited
this palace made of wood,
whose atmosphere casts a spell
like a lyrical plate of food.

It’s a privilege to hear this euphony,
an age-old way to define
original song, whose language tells
a story in every line.

Stories told in such a way,
they touch the souls of all,
who come to Graceland Wheelhouse
and leave with hearts in thrall.

Photo of The Outside Track and Poem © 2014 John Anstie.

Photo of The Dovetail Trio by Allan Wilkinson

Posted in Ballad, Folk, fun, Music, poem, poetry, Roots | 10 Comments

Walking the Sacred Path with President Nelson Mandela


[John says: This is a collaborative series of writings on Nelson Mandela, in which I am proud to have played a part, pulled together by core contributors of The Bardo Group]

Originally posted on THE BARDO GROUP:

Nelson Mandela

This post is complementary to a post created at I encourage you to read this and then read that post.

Today is the wrap-up in our recent series about President Nelson Mandela. As I was pondering how to close out the thoughts and hearts of our community, I remember that President Mandela was a deeply spiritual man who relied on the African theology of Ubuntu to carry the day. Ubuntu, which I have written about before, is the idea that “I am because we are.” It is deeply rooted in Africa with not only Mandela but Desmond Tutu subscribing to Ubuntu as core beliefs. Ubuntu is described below by Mandela himself.

“A traveler through our country would stop at a village, and he didn’t have to ask for food or for water. Once he stops, the people give him food, entertain him. That is one aspect…

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There but for Fortune … and a Rucksack


John says …

“The homeless are often maligned, and therefore the Rucksack Project brings a much needed boost to their cause. No-one deserves to be homeless, no-one deserves to be be poor; those of us who ‘have’ a roof over our heads. food and warmth, should be very grateful indeed that we did not fall foul of a kind of destiny predicated by our genetic heritage, environment, circumstances, parentage … that left us physically or mentally incapacitated or, more likely, both.”

Originally posted on THE BARDO GROUP:

The Rucksack Project Banner

The Rucksack Project Banner

Fortune seems to be the word of the moment for me; it keeps recycling itself and coming back to haunt me! On the one hand I’m not surprised, because I feel I’ve had my fare share of it. I was born into a middle class family, privately educated, for the most part and afforded the grants to enable me to attain undergraduate as well as postgraduate degrees. As a result of this start in my life, my career path has enabled me to get jobs in disciplines that require scientific, engineering and management skills, which later led to positions outside my original education and training, including giving me sufficient wit to own and manage my own company for a while.

Recently, I become involved, through the initiative and actions of Peter Wilkin, a Poet friend and co-author of the anthology, “Petrichor Rising”, which…

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