I’ve kept the bag
and the envelope
that you gave me
Our map is covered with glitter trails 
You show me the way
The Modern Romantic

The Modern Romantic


You are wild
but you do not know it
Your beauty 
is in your heart
it is not in your words 
But in the light of the stream 
The glare of the sea 
Those red tinged clouds 
Staining a mountain pass 
Gulls that soar 
Over lavender sky 
Spread your wings 


Isn’t it funny how one person can make you go to the ends of the earth.

They’ll make you do things you’d never do.
Say things you couldn’t imagine yourself saying.
Buy things you thought you’d never bother with.
Experience life in a way you never thought possible.
Look in the mirror and see things about yourself you never saw before.
You laugh, cry, heal, forgive, love, trust, play, shout, promise, plan, talk, drive, walk, write… Over and over
And then one day
when it all goes quiet,
they’re just standing before you
but they’re driving you mad.
You look at them in the silence
And you realise
Why you did it all.
It’s buried under the rest of those words,
barely noticed as you trace them over.
One word.
Daffydd Ill 🌼

Daffydd Ill 🌼

On Tuesday, we gave my dad the best send off ever. Even though he had many health problems, his passing on 16th August was quick and unexpected.  That day, becoming increasingly poorly, he allowed my mum to call an ambulance and they took him to A&E. I met them there from work soon after.  On arrival,  he was conscious, albeit uncomfortable, and being assessed with my mum and I calmly looking on, but two hours later he became unresponsive and we were frantically calling for help. Within seconds a group of medics appeared but they were unable to revive him. It was a big shock and we’re still coming to terms with it.
I was going to write down and recite my speech at the funeral, but I decided to just speak from the heart there, and maybe write it down later on here instead. So here goes:
I don’t know who I’m going to watch Time Team with now. Whichever one of us was watching it first, two key questions would always have to be asked every single time: ‘Where are they?’ and ‘Which time period?’ To which the other would reply, ‘Oh, Somerset, medieval I think’. or something like that. And then we’d have fun trying to figure out what the late legend that is Mick Aston, and co, found and what it meant.
Who am I going to argue debate everything from world history to politics to philosophy with, now? Or bore my mum to death with endless discussions about archaeology and castles? I have a little Google Maps obsession with tracking Roman roads, and checking out cropmarks for potential forts and settlements, and I used to love telling him my suspicions about a country lane in Melling or a criminal-looking cropmark in Shropshire. I have to keep reminding myself whenever I think I’ve discovered something exciting that I can’t text him or run in and tell him now.
We’d wind my mum up with cookery and herb gardens and giant tagines and all sorts of illicit household-invading stuff (surely obtained on the black market) for birthdays and Christmas etc. Gift-giving is going to be really crap without an accomplice!
My earliest memory of my dad is much cleaner than an early one my mum remembers, of when he minded me for the day when I was about 3. She went to work and he let me make mud pies in the garden… When she arrived home later on and saw me covered head to toe in mud, she screamed, “Oh my God, what have you done to her?!”
I’m told I was unrecognisable…
No, my earliest memory of my dad is probably the one with the photo of us taken outside the Commer caravan in Rhyl when I was about 3 (pic below). I remember that vividly.
Or circa 1982 when he got me up on the sofa one night in front of the window in our house to watch a thunderstorm, to my mum’s horror,
“Ray, get her away from that window!”
“She’s alright!”, he said… 😁
My dad’s first name wasn’t actually Ray – that’s his middle name. He was called David. He was named quickly by a Welsh nurse at his birth because he wasn’t expected to live. His middle name, Raymond, is after the Spanish patron saint of difficult births St Ramón. His mum called him by his middle name, so everybody else did. It’s for this reason that I really like the fact that the undertaker driving our funeral car wore a daffodil in his lapel. I was happy because I’d realised too late I’d wanted to get him a daffodil for the coffin to symbolise that.
I do have earlier childhood memories than the mud pie incident, one going back to 6 months old with the daughter of my mum’s friend who was pulling faces at me and I spent most of the time looking at her wondering what the matter was (now we adults know what babies are thinking when we’re ‘entertaining’ them by doing strange things with our faces) but as far as my dad goes specifically, in terms of quality strong memories, 3 is about my earliest.
He told me I could do anything as long as I applied myself. At a time when Annie Lennox and Aretha Franklin were reminding sisters to do it for themselves (because it still sorta needed to be said in the 80s) he never made my female gender an issue. My mum dressed me like a girl, and I like that, but I knew I could also do what boys did. And then some. And I believed him. I grew up with a good balance of the two energies.
He always said I was a writer and he was spot on! He also said things like:
1. Give it a go!
2. Don’t waste your day. 10am?! It’s practically the afternoon!
3. Coffee is very important.
4. Learn history to understand the present and predict the future.
5. For the love of God read those George Orwell books I gave you. Read them!
6. Did I mention how vastly essential coffee is?
I’ve inherited a lot of good traits from my dad. We’re curious and bookwormish, with a good eye for topography, landscapes, and archaeology. We share a dark sense of humour, and also a weird, bizarrely accurate basic medical instinct which I can only assume has come from some medic ancestor somewhere. We’re also  calm in a crisis. Quite sociable and confident, we’ll try almost anything once, though I’m not quite as mad as he was. He told me his brother Tony used to call him the mad bastard. If there was something to try and nobody else would do it, you can guess where my dad was…! One time there was a tree his mates were scared to climb. Guess who climbed it. And broke his arm, I recall he said. But hey he bloody tried, right!
We also shared a gunshot wound scar. When he was a boy soldier in the parachute regiment (a time in his life he was very proud of) a bullet ricocheted during target practice and hit his inner right thigh. It didn’t hit as high up as he’d feared, a temporary anxiety for which he was gently ribbed by his army superior (a former SAS serviceman), but it left a scar about an inch long. One day, when I was around 5,  I was scratching my inner right thigh and noticed a strange white scar. I’d inherited it as a birthmark! Also ironic that I’m his firstborn and he initially panicked about where he’d been hit!
My mum and dad are different in the way they approach life – opposites attract! My mum is much more reserved and cautious. Throughout my life I’ve had one on each shoulder. “Go for it!” (My dad) and “101 Reasons Not To Do Whatever It Is You’re Contemplating Doing, Jennifer” (My mum) I’ve mostly listened to my dad, but to be fair sometimes my mum has had a point!
I was my usual calm self the night he died, and was the person tasked with ringing the family because my mum was too upset. I’ve tried to stop myself using the word ‘die’ since then because I hated it from the moment the doctor who came to deliver the news said it. But a writer with pathological fear of a word can’t be a good look.
I feel comforted that I was there, glad he was out of pain, and although I miss his physical presence, I have a strong belief that there’s more to this life than we can see. The other morning I woke up to find that a half-full medium sized bottle of apple juice originally belonging to him, but I partly drank (hehe!) was emptied out beside my bed. The emptied out bottle was stood up at an odd angle amongst things on the floor between the bedside cabinet and the bed, and the plastic screw top was sitting three feet away. Well I didn’t do it… and I don’t sleepwalk as a rule! Weirdly nothing but my pink nightie, which was on the floor and has the caption Love to Dream on it, was really affected. It was absolutely sopping wet. There is literally no explanation right now. Both bottle and top were robust, the top was screwed on and up to that point the bottle had been buried underneath other things.  He loved apple juice. I like to think he was trying to tell me something.
I thought I’d recite a poem by Dylan Thomas that my dad really loved and connected with. He used to recite it too and very well! It’s called Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night 
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Another trait I’ve inherited from our suspected resident apple juice ghost is my ability to talk non-stop to anyone, anything, anywhere; living, dead or inanimate; human, plant, object, animal, or alien. Hello podium. You alright door? So I’ll shut up now!
Thank you 🙂

The Un-wake

All the dead are awake
Whilst the living are merely sleeping.
Unquiet, they tiptoe with cake
And bottles o’booze a seeping
They are you know,
They are…
They skip upon the fire.
And form their fumes
To bawdy tunes
They made up on the lyre.
In memory of my dad, David Raymond Smedley, who became a bawdy dancer late in the evening of Friday 16th August 2019.
It also happened to be my parents’ 44th wedding anniversary, so I guess he wanted to be remembered.
Sleep well dad, you’re not in pain anymore. Although I doubt you’ll be asleep for long! x