Thursday 30 October 2014

Still Life

The diary lies open and empty

A clock strikes the next hour again

Family photos loose colour and yellow

Raffle tickets bring hope to the pain.


One cup stands by the teapot

One plate, one knife and one fork

One pair of boots by the door for the winter

Two red roses tied in a knot.


Silent, the doorbell is waiting

for fingers that never come

Dust covers mementos in mourning

the stillness of a life well done.


© Sheila Ash, 2014

Tuesday 21 October 2014

An assessment of development trends and their implications for capacity development

One of the report outputs from my time in Nigeria with MSA has been published   -  An assessment of development Trends and their implications for capacity development.

"I just finished reading this solid publication. It treats in a very clear way a set of complex but important issues that the development practice community in Africa must frontally engage with if sustainable development is to be realized across the continent" Babatunde Ahonsi, United Nations Population Fund, Accra, Ghana

Friday 17 October 2014

The Glass Room by Simon Mawer

The Glass Room


Simon Mawer

The house in The Glass Room was designed as a futurist, modern work of art by its visionary architect when it is initially conceived and constructed in pre-WW2 Czechoslovakia . Surviving all its occupants, all the political upheavals and chaos the world flings at it, the house outlasts its various functions – home, laboratory, remedial hospital etc. Into its space, the present, that space betwixt the past and the future, various people enter and pass through. Their stories are told with all the coincidences, foibles, and loose ends of real life. The power of any work of art is to impact anyone who comes into contact with it. In this book importance is placed not so much on the book’s human characters as on their occupancy and connection with this particular space i.e. the building in a particular present time as it continues to be over time.

ashramblings verdict 3* A easy read. A good book club read, especially if a close reading of some passages is undertaken and the book is viewed past its initial story and traditional character based point of view.

Footnote: Read about the actual house which inspired this book

Sunday 12 October 2014

Uncle John

One side of the flacking, blue painted, panelled wood door stands slightly ajar on rusty hinges on this bright Spring day. I peep round, squeezing in daringly. No one is there. High above my head level on the walls of the cavernous, hillside excavated, potting shed, the garden tools hang from nails hammered into granite walls – spades, trowels, forks, suspended still in the safety of their lair. The great oak, old hall, table sits squarely mid-way in. It holds the soft compost I like to play with, but its crumbling textures lie out of reach today. As does the light switch, so I dare not venture further into the far black rear of the shed fearing it hosts the “ghaists and houlets” of my father’s stories, like the terrifying giant spiders which creep and crawl along the pipes and walls of the outside toilet. This is the underworld beneath our home, a place I have never seen my mum enter. This is his realm, very different to her warm kitchen with its smells of scones baking, jam making and Fairy laundry soap. Only a 2 year old ventures underground, embolden by the innocence of love.

A creak signals the sun’s rays streaming in as the heavy door is opened gently, and I see him as a shadow against their glow. As our eyes adjust, I see, what years later I would know, the locked in face, seeing but not seeing the world, feeling but not feeling life, that intensity of aloneness, the missing years, the lost youth, the shell shock. The man before me stands tall, his pure white curly hair escapes beneath his cap, his roma nose angular and pointed like his tight jaw line. Then he sees me, and the face softens, the eyes sparkle and the hugest of smiles brightens all my world. My Uncle John scoops me up and sits me atop the table and begins to show me how to plant up dahlias.

© Sheila Ash, 2014

Saturday 4 October 2014

The Watch

My Creative Writing Tutor set us homework . We had to imagine an item of jewellery, and using our term’s theme of light and dark, write a piece about the impact the object has. This is what I wrote.


Contained now within a small box

the remains of all her hopes and dreams

for what might have been, but now will not.

She reads again “To Rupert with all my love Florence”

and the tears roll down her face

dashing asunder her classless decorum.


The crack that cuts across the glass

a wound bleeding time till time ceased

Life on hold amidst the unseen unimagined horrors

unleashed by endless bombings by the Hun.


Amidst those squelching, mud sodden, rat ridden tunnels

the sudden smell of new mown hay

across fields yet to bloom their blood red poppies of remembrance

the colourless phosgene green clouds

seeping silently like water into paper

soaking into every nook and cranny, every pleat and fold

finding every uncovered nose and mouth.


The acid scars and blisters skin

the lungs gasp and rasp

till finally the heart stops

just like his watch

at 11.15.



© Sheila Ash, 2014.