It’s #worldpoetryday

A poem from my cousin Gina to her father’s memory reminds me that I tried my hand at a few verses about the old time travellers

a bit ambitious for someone who never really did ‘get in to’ poetry, but here goes!

Feathered spats, flowing mane, tail a flicking
Clip-clop, snort, fart, whinney, the patient grai
Trundles my painted vardo
On the one-way road to Destiny.
For life is not a carousel.

Shining metal monster comes on puffed up with pride
It smells of coal, sour steam and oil.
Struts steaming on the road.
Its whistle blows. ‘Out of my way.’
Its mighty pistons menace

But naught can spook my vanner.
He’s earned himself some rest;
Crops grasses at the roadside,
As, chugging self-importance,
The thing goes huffing past.
Or as a sort of haiku moment:
Steam-belching Behemoth
Blocks pinto-powered vardo.
And my vanner calmly g(r)azes.

Having managed the above, I stumbled on the idea of trying to adapt John Masefields poem, Sea Fever, to Gypsy life at the end of the 19C. This might have been how Keomi might have expressed it, soon after she left Sandys and returned to the Romany life. I know it’s sort of cheating (like my version of Blake’s Tyger)
Tyger Tyger’s burning plight … Is thy mortal end in sight? ….. Will our human hand and eye…. See thee in the cimetrie?

but this is what I came up with:

On The Road
I must take to the road again, to the eternal whims of Fate,
And all I ask is my bow-top, and my patient vanner’s gait,
And the wheel’s kick and the bird song and the harnesses a shakin’,
And a chill mist on the barley, and a cool pink dawn a breakin’.

I must take to the road again, for the wanderlust of the Roma
Is a wild call and a clear call that never will be over.
And all I ask is a new day to bring its random treasures,
The pinto’s might, and the blown dust, and morning’s early pleasures.

I must take to the road again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the raven’s way and the pilgrim’s way, far from worldly strife.
And all I ask is a sweet song from my loving fellow-rover,
And a quiet sleep, and a sweet dream, when my final day is over.

With apologies to John Masefield.


More of my writings on bill-macfarlane.co.uk

#GypsyModel #Romany #BillMacfarlaneBooks #PoetsDay#PreRaphaelites



DSC03135A happy symbiosis of animals seems to exist at Agios Thomas on the road to Plataniskaya. The cockerel thinks he is in charge, but the turkeys look down their noses at him, and the rabbits and guinea fowl are too busy stuffing their faces in what must seem like a luxury resort in the sun; free range, all they can eat and drink, All in a rock garden too  – if this isn’t living….

But, paradise comes at a price, and maybe the cockerel has something to crow about. After all, he is the least likely of all of them to finish up on the dinner table. (Although coq au vin…) Besides he has the freedom of the chicken-run.   There was no evidence, though, that his erotic impulses lean toward the turkeys, the Guinea fowl or the rabbits.

DSC03128As for the Basset Hound and the goat, I don’t think they need to lose any sleep over him: his passions, though frequent, seem to be short-lived. Wham, bam, Thank you maam!
Elsewhere on the island, but not in this enclosure, the occasional ostrich has been seen*, and in Germasogeia valley, a quartet of beautiful spotted deer mingles with the poultry. Is this a new brand of humane husbandry? In the allotment adjacent to my house, rabbits disport themselves with various fowl and recently a couple of robust looking lambs have made their appearance.
*Mistaken on one occasion, in the distance, for a tree: until it lifted its head and moved off to more tempting pasture.


Magic Moment in Mathikoloni Village

I can still do it you know. They say you should never go back. Yes, but it’s not hard for me to conjour up moments in places like this: places that first exercised their magic on me so long ago. In fact, when we first stumbled on Mathikoloni, back in 1987, we thought its ruined structures were unique. Later we were to discover that abandoned villages were everywhere in Cyprus: the original Apsiou, Athrakos, Choletra, Mathikoloni, Vretcha (The Place that brought  Grief): the list is endless. It stretches back through time to the ancient cities, Kourion, Amathus, Kition and Lapithos and Idalion: back again to Choirokitia, Akrotiri and other traces of the Stone Age scattered about the island.

Already we had got to September, 2015. The ruins of Mathikoloni were behind me, the new village out of sight further up the road, though the church still in use, was in view, proudly surveying the ruins at the top of the hill. There are various reasons for the abandonment of so many villages, and indeed larger settlements in Cyprus. They range from land slips to urban drift, to political factors (along the Green line and of course, Varosha). Mathikoloni was abandoned during the particularly severe winter of ….? which exposed the weakness of its foundations. Other villages abandoned, for similar reasons,  at the same time include Evretou and Korfi. The latter actually suffered a land slip that destroyed a few houses. In all cases the situation was so severe that the inhabitants had to take refuge with relatives or even in temporary camps that were set up to  tide people through a winter when snow fell on the Mesaoria. Later government money became available for the relocation of new villages on more stable locations nearby.

So this was Mathikoloni revisited for the umpteenth time. I was sitting on a backside-shaped rock, eating my sandwiches by the side of a rustic road, feeling contemplative, even philosophical – well Okay, drowsy and maybe a bit sentimental. The irritations caused by a few flies couldn’t detract from the warm November sun, or the carob trees framing Kyparisha and the rest of Limassol Forest in front of me. I watched the occasional tiny car far in the distance crawling up the switchback road to Dierona.  In a detached way, I indulged  myself in reliving other moments the details of which were, I dare say, rosily inaccurate. Even so, this sure as hell beat staring at a  computer screen for hours on end.

Yes, the thriving new village of Mathikoloni, is now in commuting distance of Limassol and with that awful winter a one off of the past, the new village encroaches slowly back onto parts of the old site. Caution. New houses have appeared near the forest road up from Akrounda and, guess what, the weather has already got into a concrete enclosing wall built on the unstable marls of Mathikoloni.

I haven’t been there recently, but I wonder if the new house built near Korphi  on similar foundations, continues to list in obedience to the rules of gravity.  September and the clours of autumn were starting to appear in the terraced vineyards, reminding me of that magic moment I experienced a few years ago in Pitsilia.

Big OakYes, the Royal Oak was bigger. Not all that much bigger, but the spread of its massive boughs, the weight of which eventually tore it apart, was greater. I doubt whether its girth was much more than that of its surviving cousin (8.60m). In any case, understanding how that measurement was done, defeats me, such is the tortured structure that supports this leathery 800 year old leviathan. Leviathan, yes – leviathan hints at the animation that seems to lurk in its elephantine limbs. This massive organism, does have a presence, a kind of benign animal watchfulness. It seems a hoary receptacle for the centuries of wisdom it has accumulated. Fanciful, I know, but try a picnic in the shade of its massive boughs. Take a snapshot, or sketch the wrinkled mass of its trunk. Its magic will reach out to you, reviving the times, the people and the events it has seen. It was a mature tree long before Lala Mustafa Pasha ruthlessly ousted the Venetians from Cyprus in 1571.

When I last paid my respects, someone had removed the sign that used to be on the main Troodos Road, second right after the Laneia Police Station, coming from Limassol.  A few metres up the lane, though, the signpost indicating left onto an even rougher road was still there. This is oak country. High up on the mountain above Laneia is Agia Valana (of the Acorn). Oaks of all ages inhabit field boundaries and, under the giant dris her infant progeny struggle to survive in the shade of her massive crown.

It’s not too difficult to devise a stroll from here to the shaded streets of Laneia, home of artists and good food, just a kilometre away. The lane you turned off to reach the oak, leads directly to the village and alternative routes back to the main road can easily be discovered. The adventurous might even take to exploring the vineyards and farm track surrounding the giant tree, but this is best done after the pruning.

Kyrenia HarbourI seem to have discovered meditation. The transcendental kind? Maybe not, but at least it gets me off to sleep at the drop of a hat.

Not down on Dasoudi today, however. I was having a lazy stroll in late afternoon sunshine (cool day — max 15 degrees and snow on the Troodos) and was tempted by one of the benches facing the setting sun. The sea, both sight and sound, hypnotic and, having counted the ships in the bay, I started to let my mind follow its head (can you say that?) Next thing, ‘The Purple Headed Mountain’ was buzzing through my head like a pop song. Then it was, ‘He made their glowing colours…’ Half forgotten snatches of school assemblies. No, I haven’t got religion, but I did feel good (and maybe a bit philosophical, if not even assailed by feelings of awe. Dasoudi seems to bring this out in me — especially when the Russian goddesses are around. (No. I haven’t got religion!) Today the beach was sparsely populated: the odd jogger (one naked but for bathing trunks) the usual dog-walkers, baby-pushers, power-walkers and old women feeding sleek cats. Oh, and an ancient lady who could only manage two or three shuffling steps at a time, supported by her poor old husband and his oriental helper.

It said a lot; earth and ocean vast, but insignificant in Cosmic terms. Human beings, transient time-worms in the awful eternity of existence. But this one, sitting, sketching on a bench, looking into the setting sun, seems, in some way, able to encompass it all if only in his imagination.  I know, I know…megalomania, but it was a magic moment. I was almost tempted to a small KEO at the beach bar, but the sun was not yet over the yard-arm.

Oh what the hell! If Oscar Wilde was incapable of  saying no, why should I not succumb?

(From “Magic Moments in Cyprus”, coming out soon!)

Cyprus: Land of Miracles on Kindle


Perhaps it was fate. Perhaps this project has always existed somewhere in the permanence of Time and Space. All I can say is that my prize-winning entry for a ghost story competition led me into producing a collection of stories, Resonating Stones, set in Cyprus.
At presentations, people would ask me if these tales were authentic Cyprus ghost stories, and I had to admit that they were not. Perhaps they were not even ghost stories, but psychological thrillers, stories of obsession, dealing with the phantasmagoria that spawn in the mind of man. My fate was sealed though; the seed had been planted for Cyprus: Land of Miracles, and my own obsession for the past two years has been to follow the logic of my stories into the real world of an island that has been a nexus of psychic forces from the time man first made landfall, some 12,000 years ago. Ever since then, Cyprus has been the home of  a multitude of gods. It has been the scene of terrifying battles sieges and massacres, and it has seen conflicting faiths come head to head and develop in uneasy coexistence. Surely, if psychic forces are anything more that illusions with which we delude ourselves, there must echo in the land of Cyprus temporal traces of the people who lived through these events.

Be teased here:

Click here to buy on Kindle 


A second paperback edition to follow soon!