Hearts in London, 1


Hearts and a woman I’ll sing, but first a word
about another woman. I forget her name.
She had progressive aphasia. When I knew her
she hadn’t lost speech altogether
but would sing instead in a rough plainchant.

I thought she was being cute, but it was terminal.
She came to mind as I tried to write about Penny’s
Connecting Hearts project. My prose wouldn’t rise
to the task. So I invoke my late friend
(whose name may have been Joyce) and try again

in rough improvised verse. On Valentine’s Day
(also Ash Wednesday) Penny and I flew out
with thirty clay hearts in our carry-on. Hearts
are no problem for Border Force (I’d worried
theymight look like grenades) and soon

we were in Singapore, wearing red
to usher in the Year of the Dog and reading
our horoscopes writ large: Penny’s a Rabbit
and will reap what she sows in her travels.
I’m a Pig and should be mindful of my words.

I was reading some Amitav Ghosh, his
cultural mishmash perfect for the place.
We saw Monet and Manet, CornBread and Banksy,
Anish Kapoor and a durian iceblock,
noodles and pratas, hot pots, kopi and heat.

Then with our hearts back into the sky
for fourteen uncomfortable hours
silent spectacular screens on all sides (I can’t
or won’t use earphones on a plane), to reach
London SE17 at half past one a. m.

weary and jetlagged and wondering what
we were here for. That was Sunday.
On Wednesday, we had our first meetings
with Anna and Jim and Vinya and Olla
and Jawad, and we were at work.

[In the next episode, the back story.]

10 responses to “Hearts in London, 1

  1. Hi Jonathan,

    Lovely to read your post. Good luck to Penny for her project. How long are you both in London? I am now settled here. Please give Penny my love. Would be great to catch up if you have time. You can get in touch via my email [redacted]@yahoo.com. All the best!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Shaista. What a pleasant surprise to hear from you and know that you’re close by! We’re in London for about six weeks. It would be great to catch up – though as I hope I’ll have the time and ability to report, our time is going to be very busy. Penny now has your email and will get in touch.


  2. I’m still in OZ – entertain no anxieties that I might want to catch up – though would if I were there. Chris and I once lived on a houseboat at what is now known as Cheyne Reach – 106 Cheyne Walk in Chelsea more-or-less beneath Battersea Bridge – all blue plaque territory. 19 years since actually IN London (living on the House-Boat “Stella Maris” now re-named “Amari” was 1976) to visit a cousin – a Jesuit priest – former Dean of Theology at UCL. Though other times out in rural or distant-from-London England. Your current visit sounds quite exciting. May it all go brilliantly. Looking forward to your next instalment. I am off to-day to have lunch with noted Reconciliation priest – Paul GLYNN SM – in Hunters Hill – 90, 91 years of age – the return of scores of WWII Pacific theatre (PNG etc) souvenired Japanese swords to their families (easily traceable from markings on the swords) a work of remarkable human connection – a brother, Tony GLYNN SM spent 40 years in Japan near Nara as a Parish priest till his death in 1994.


  3. like ✉️
    looking forward to more
    in the meantime here’s a 🥠 for you.


  4. Nothing wrong with basements.You’ll see spring come.Give my love to London..and take care of all hearts.And Jim Kable..have you read Nan Shepherd’s The Living Mountain ?

    Liked by 2 people

    • I agree, Anne. In fact at eye level outside our front window is a little garden bed with some little purple flowers and a lot of what I expect will turn out to be daffodils. London is cold, but hard not to love, so I don’t intend to try.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Hearts in London, 2 | Me fail? I fly!

  6. Pingback: Hearts in London, 3 | Me fail? I fly!

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