Dusk, the wayward princess of darkness, is reluctant to say goodnight. Stupid as it may sound I think she’s trying to tell me to turn tail. I cannot do that. Annie would think the worse of me.

I crane my neck, score her initials in the condensation, then wipe clean the steam train’s window. A shirt cuff has many uses.

To the beat of monotonous oscillation from the wheels of the passenger car I see a glum star submerge. An inevitable sinking into the quicksand that is the far horizon. No call for heaven’s vault, this night.

Travelling coast bound, I leave in my wake my impetuous sweetheart and head toward a place of trench coats, rain clouds, gangrene and mud.

Arras, I am told, is celebrated for its undeterred stray dogs. Dogs that will molest anything in search of sustenance in these times of war.

Shortly the others and I will arrive at Folkestone Harbour Station, our destination. The last piece of England we shall set foot on.

Soon we shall be in Calais. Soon we shall be at the front. Soon we will be bit part players in a war.

I shall write her daily if I can. I traded her intimacy, her flesh and soul for the thuggery of battle and know not why. Were I alone in the here and now I would shed tears. I’ve been informed soldiers never cry.

From the back of the train some of the lads break into chorus. Ribald ‘Mademoiselle from Armentières’ their anthem and no doubt they live in hope of meeting with her or one of her filles de joie friends. Good luck to them I say.

Me? I have a dream that I will be home by Christmas. That she and I shall toast good fortune with Calvados, ripe cheeses and bread, not the bully beef and stale baguettes they feed us with here. At least her goodbye kiss was fresh. I shall never forget that. It’s all that matters.

My mind wanders some more. My fantasy? Armed with Belgian chocolate I shall smother her all over…have her for desert.

The keen as ‘mustard gas’ corporal walking the soddened trench bellows out for my benefit, “Wake up son. No time for daydreaming. You’re not on the bloody train anymore. Get your act together. We’re going over the top”

Should you fancy any of my books, then if you ‘click’ the appropriate book’s front cover to the right hand side of this page, then it’ll take you direct into Amazon where both print and Kindle options are available.   

Copyright © 2014-2021. All rights reserved. Unauthorised copying, reproduction, hiring, and lending, prohibited although in a crisis I’ve no issue with any reader using the pages of said books as emergency’s loo roll.


  1. When i saw the title in my reader, I thought, ‘ WHo would wrote such a delicious title. I should have known. Not just a delicious title either. A ‘sweet’ piece on unimaginable horrors.

    1. Cheers, Ms S. It was in the harbour in Folkestone, taking coffee, that I had a ‘major think’ about the thousands upon thousands of soldiers sailing off to a pointless war, never to return. My first attempt was far too sad, hence this one. I’m so glade you liked it. Regards, The Old Fool

  2. Mike, your work is amazing.
    What else can I say?
    Joining the Colours
    There they go marching all in step so gay!
    Smooth-cheeked and golden, food for shells and guns.
    Blithely they go as to a wedding day,
    The mothers’ sons.

    The drab street stares to see them row on row
    On the high tram-tops, singing like the lark.
    Too careless-gay for courage, singing they go
    Into the dark.

    With tin whistles, mouth-organs, any noise,
    They pipe the way to glory and the grave;
    Foolish and young, the gay and golden boys
    Love cannot save.

    High heart! High courage! The poor girls they kissed
    Run with them : they shall kiss no more, alas!
    Out of the mist they stepped-into the mist
    Singing they pass.
    Source: Westminster Gazette (1914)

  3. Those war time fantasy are all the ladds have to keep them sane. Think I’ll have a go at some Belgian chocolate or at least the fantasy. Cheers 🍻

    1. Then you dad was clearly a good man. I only write the piece, if it reminds you of a compassionate, loving father then good on the both of you. You’ve rather made my day, LuAnne. My thanks, The Old Fool

      1. Daddy was stationed in England during WWII and I can just imagine him staring out of a train window hoping to come home soon. I’m glad he survived it or there wouldn’t be a me! He was actually quite traumatized by the war. Your poem made me feel a connection to the man he was at 19.

      2. Survival was all in those times of war. My own father was captured outside Dunkirk and spent the next five years in a POW camp in Poland. He’d left England a young man, 19 like your dad, with a football career in the bag, he came home riddled with frostbite and weight loss, his dreamed of career, dead. Makes me shiver to think about it. Thank goodness the Americans took the camp before the Soviets did and set dad, and those banged up with him, free. Regards, The Old Fool

      1. I may send it to some friends instead of birthday cards.I lay on the sofa and was enthrallled and at times shocked by your childhood.Keep on writing.Thank you,Katherine

  4. You’ve made a lovely piece out of dismal reality, Mike. You have a knack for that, and I commend you!
    Anyway, popped by for links for my post and found this.
    I’m getting there! Next (after doing dishes) I’ll pop by Zoolon for links.

    1. Young Resa. I’ve just spotted your email. Halftime as it is twixt Belgium v Italy, an opportunity. My thanks for the kind words. Re Zoolon, I found out earlier this week that Zoolon is no more…dead as a dodo. My son now travels only by his birth name, ‘George Blamey-Steeden’. From what I understand, at this stage in the evolution of GBS the only social media you’ll find him on for a week or so is on that of ‘YouTube’. Beyond that his Swedish new management have yet to place his music across all manner of masses of social media, and actually pay him royalties for the privilege. Life is so, so complicated for the young ones. Whatever, YouTube is your best bet, yet be sure you use the name ‘George Blamey-Steeden’ when searching as Zoolon is no more. His stats are low there yet that’s only because he’s written off the priviest lot since the change. Regards, Mike…few call me that.

      1. Yes, I went to his new blog, and do understand he is going by George Blamey-Steeden.
        However, his URL is still Zoolonhub.com. He can, and may change that. There is an annual fee to WP for that.
        I will use George Blamey-Steeden & when people click on his name, they will go to his blog…. whatever the URL.
        He’s got a nice clean looking theme.
        I’ll leave a message on his blog and Youtube, to see what he would like/prefer.
        If he says he will be deleting his blog, I won’t bother with that link.
        I see he is still on Bandcamp. I’ll ask about that, too.
        Thanks for the heads up!
        I can always alter the links thing, as his career evolves.

      2. I’ve just check. Bandcamp is now in the name of George Blamey-Steeden, if that helps. YouTube the same. It’s all rather complicated for me. Then again, so was waking up yesterday. I’m glad I’m the old fool. ‘Tis my get out of jail card.

      3. No worries! I’ll do my best, and change links if needed. Main thing is that he is George Blamey-Steeden. So, I’m guessing Shirl is much younger than you? George is quite young and handsome. How can he be so young and good looking…. and you be a TOF?

      4. I call her my child bride…that’s usually when she headbutts me, although on a good day she just throws rude words my way. We’ve been together for ages. I have three other grown up sprogs from a first marriage. Because of this wretched lockdown I’ve not seen them for awhile yet today is the day. I’m attending a family gathering this very afternoon. It’s a longish drive, hence no drinking of anything red. I have four million grandchildren to talk lunacy at. Deep joy…possibly. Regards, TOF

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