‘Gill Hartley – 12th May 1944-21st May 2022′

17/06/2022 // by Jan Moran Neil

‘Gill Hartley – 12th May 1944 – 21st May 2022’
During my lifelong career of teaching Creative Writing, Gill was one of the most talented writers and artists I have had the good fortune to meet. She was a valued and instrumental editor of the 1993 and 1994 ‘Rhyme & Reason’ anthology for the Rennie Grove Hospice Care.
I was privileged to work with Gill on both of her anthologies: ‘My True Son’ and ‘Aspects of Loss’ published by Moorleys, following the unexpected loss of her son Will. Profits went to the Compassionate Friends.
220 writers from across the world contributed to the pandemic anthology ‘When This Is All Over …’for the Rennie Grove Hospice. https://amzn.to/3xi8iay Gill was one of them and her poem was chosen as the final parting note.
As her husband has said, Gill had a wonderful way of expressing emotions in writing. And when I tracked back on our exchange of emails in the past year, she wrote, without ego, but with her excellent editing eye: ‘Yes, ‘Hope’ is perfect for the end poem.
So here it is.

‘Hope’ by Gill Hartley
Like me, the garden is desolate,
the mantle of winter has cast us both down.
Seed heads have replaced the flowers,
the rose arch is a bower of thorns.
The hammock where we swung on sunlit evenings,
stands dormant in the dank, anaemic air.
Everything looks abandoned,
bleak and starved of light.
The garden, like me, is bereaved,
now summer has turned into night.

This morning, I searched the sleeping garden,
trod the sodden, yellowed grass,
knelt amongst the hibernating bushes,
cast aside the crumbling leaves,

‘Dialogue with the Queen’

01/06/2022 // by Jan Moran Neil

‘Dialogue with the Queen’ by Jan Moran Neil

Last night I dreamt the Queen said to me,
“Oh Janet, weren’t you in the crowd at Jubilee
in … nineteen-seventy-seven?
Wasn’t it that little town in Devon?”

“Falmouth,” I replied.

“Ah yes, and in nineteen-eighty-two
at Regent’s Park, we remember asking you -
‘how has been the weather?’”

I said“I replied to you, ‘not bad’ but I lied.
In fact the weather could not have been wetter.”

“Janet,” said she,
“you were the invisible voice of Puck’s fairy.
This, I believe, is what you have always been …
a little one doing good deeds unseen,
It’s always so nice to see you
and we are always so interested too
to know how you are in particular.
And so is the Duke of Edinburgh.”

This is called ‘illusions of grandeur’.

It’s true – I was in the crowd in Falmouth in 1977 when the Queen had been Queen for twenty-five years. Then I did meet her and the Duke of Edinburgh, as I was an invisible First Fairy in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ in Regent’s Park in 1982. But the dialogue is all fiction as the last line states. In my dreams.

If you are one of the 220 writers from across the world who contributed to the pandemic anthology ‘When This Is All Over …’ for the Rennie Grove Hospice then send me a photo of yourself with the anthology so I can post on social media to boost sales.

‘Atrs Festivals and Anthologies …’

21/05/2022 // by Jan Moran Neil

‘Arts Festivals and Anthologies …’

Some nice feedback from the Chalfont St Giles and Jordans Arts Festival where I led a ‘Writing Memoirs’ workshop and did a reading from my novel ‘Shakespeare’s Clock’.

‘Thank you for joining us at the Chalfont St Giles and Jordans Literary Festival 2022! Your writing class on “Writing Memoirs” was very well received indeed. I spoke to several people who enjoyed the class immensely. Some said they had learnt so much or had even been reminded of things long forgotten. Others said they appreciated a “different” approach to the subject.’ Kathleen Martin. Chairman.

‘Thanks, Jan and I echo Kathleeen’s words as well.’ Sue Dorman. Organiser.

‘Thank you for a very interesting session, Jan. I really enjoyed it and learned a lot!’ Wendy Nicholls. Student.

And my poem ‘Bird Brains’ which was published in my collection ‘Red Lipstick & Revelations’ (available from me for £7.99 – just a few left now) will be published in Indigo Dreams’ anthology ‘Voices for the Silent’ to support the work for The League Against Cruel Sports. You can pre-order your copy here.


Finally, if you are one of the 220 contributors across the world to the pandemic anthology ‘When This Is All Over …’ send me a photo of yourself with the book as I am posting on social media to boost sales.

‘Radio, Readings and Memoirs …’

04/05/2022 // by Jan Moran Neil

‘Radio, Readings and Memoirs …’
You can tune into my readings of my novel ‘Shakespeare’s Clock’ (published by Cranthorpe Millner) on Marlow FM 97.5 radio here: www.marlowfm.co.uk/listen-again/ Good Morning Marlow, Friday 29th April at 10.40 am.
Or the interview and reading is available on the Home Page of my website.
Thrilled to say 516 copies of the pandemic anthology ‘When This Is All Over …’ published by Creative Ink Publishing for the Rennie Grove Hospice Care have been sold. You can buy here: https://amzn.to/3xi8iay
And a similar amount for my novel ‘Shakespeare’s Clock’ have been sold. Available on Amazon and here:




I will be running a ‘Writing Memoir’ workshop at the Chalfont St Giles & Jordans Literary Festival on Friday 20th May and all the info’ is here: www.chalfontstgilesliteraryfestival.org.uk
I believe some places are still available.

‘Sunday Shoes’

23/04/2022 // by Jan Moran Neil

‘Sunday Shoes’ by Jan Moran Neil

Thabisa, she like to hide things we know.
She only two years old.

Last Sunday Gogo Phindiswa say,
‘Your new shoes gone? Gonna be late to pray.’

Gogo Phindwisa she the one in control.
Thabisa she only two years old.

Thabisa, she never like them cast off shoes.
I think Thabisa choose to lose.

Thabisa she go to church in bare feet.
Thabisa, she trip on church concrete.

Gogo Phindiswa take her to hospital.
Mama Lisa say, ‘It just a fall’.

Me, I tickle bottoms of her bare soles.
Thabisa she only two years old.

Doctors, they wire our baby to a machine.
Switch off pipes when Thabisa dream.

Gogo Phindiswa she say she never forget.
She jabber, jabbered and now in regret.

Mama Lisa she made to burn baby’s clothes.
Thabisa she only two years old.

Mama Lisa made to rinse new in lake
when we take baby body to Eastern Cape.

Last Sunday Thabisa play in bare feet.
Thabisa trip on church concrete.

This Sunday she gone just one week.
Like she just gone on Daddy retreat.

Me and Thabisa we share a room.
Open cupboard where we keep the broom.

Thabisa she like to hide things I know.
Thabisa she only two years old.

They stare up at me with clasps like eyes.
Tiny two shoes, how they survive?

This poem was one of three commendations in the Enfield Poetry competition 2020 and judged by Ruth Padel. I’m proud of that – but I am even more proud to learn that Thabisa’s mother has framed this poem and has it on her wall in her home village of Masiphumelele, Cape Town. Just goes to show writing can give bigger pleasures than being published on the page. Thabisa would have been five this year, bless her beautiful little cotton socks.

‘A Poem What I Wrote when I was Fifteen …’

11/03/2022 // by Jan Moran Neil

‘Perhaps …’
A poem what I wrote in 1969 at the age of fifteen …
Perhaps soon
we’ll live on the moon.
Perhaps we’ll stop the world from turning,
day and night occurring.

Perhaps too
we’ll do everything.
Perhaps we’ll stop death and time,
heaven on earth, no crime.

But perhaps
we’ll stop everything.
Even the world, because a man decides a button should be pressed.
But we’ll never know, because we can’t stop progress.

Dreadful isn’t it? But my mum liked it at the time.

‘God Bless The Understudy …’ by Ms Paige Turner

11/02/2022 // by Jan Moran Neil

‘God Bless the Understudy …’ by Ms Paige Turner
Last weekend we took the plunge and saw ‘The Jersey Boys’ for the sixteenth time. There had been a long gap. The tickets were a Christmas 2020 present for Miss Trial and Master Mind. It was our first venture out into the indoor theatre for two years. We wore medical masks for the whole journey and performance.
‘In the old days’ signs would go up in the foyer when an understudy had been thrown into the den. ‘In the old, old days’, there would be a Tannoyed announcement before curtain up when the audience would audibly groan in earshot of the poor understudy.
Having understudied several leading roles at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre for two seasons I have an affinity with The Understudy. I was relieved when the actress in question for the night showed up, as I was never rehearsed. I knew the lines – but rehearsals for understudies strangely came in the last week of the season which seemed somewhat redundant.
These days, I believe understudies are called ‘covers’. And I believe they have rehearsals. It’s a good job that they do, as last weekend’s performance had half the cast covering, on account of Covid. There was no announcement, no programme note and no foyer sign so I didn’t know we were watching covers until Miss Trial googled.
They were all terrific. I am so pleased The Understudy is having their day. I am also pleased that Mister Justin Case and I have just tested negative on flow.
The Moral: what the eye doesn’t see the heart does not grieve over and wear your medical mask in crowded arenas.
You can buy my psychological thriller novel ‘Shakespeare’s Clock’ from my publisher Cranthorpe Millner, all major bookstores and Amazon.
And the anthology ‘When This Is All Over …’ for the Rennie Grove Hospice can be purchased on Amazon.