war kids

Ethel looked at the photo it was the only image she had of her with her siblings. They were sitting on a bench happy and together. It had been taken about six months before the bomb, before their house had been destroyed by the doodlebug. Their parents had been killed, but somehow the three children had survived, hidden in the cupboard under the stairs the fireman had found them huddled together shivering and crying, but alive.

Ethel remembered the place they had been taken too, the place where all the children cried throughout the night, shouting for a family that would never come back for them. Eventually the new parents came, but they were old and felt three kids were too much and so they just took her. She last saw Gladys and Johnny when she had been taken away kicking and screaming by her new family. And to this day she could still hear Johnny’s screams as she taken away. The Micklewhite’s were not bad people, they looked after her well, but they were just not her Ma and Pa and it was like having a limb removed growing up without Gladys and Johnny.

She was eighty now and she had had a good life. There had been two husbands, both now in their graves. She had raised four children and there were eight grandchildren to visit and fuss over her. But all that mattered as she sat alone in the coffee shop nursing a strong cup of coffee as the world went on its merry way outside the window, was that in a moment the door would open and Gladys and Johnny would come in, they would be together again for the first time in seventy-five years.

© 2018 | Frank Regan, All rights reserved.

Originally Published: 17 March 2014


All is Well

Day 14 and a contribution from my storytelling blog. That particular blog On The Broken Road has been rather quiet over the last year as most of my story rather than poetry efforts have been focused on a larger fiction project. This is in addition to battling to complete my poetry collection Wreckage and my academic endeavours. This is why I really admire all of you attempting NaPoWriMo (and succeeding I hope) for not only having the belief in your ability to write that number of words but also sticking to the one project. Because while I am getting much better at completing drafts of stories and poems, I can never guarantee I’ll be working on the same thing two days in a row. To prove it here is a poem based on a character and location from a story.

On the Broken Road

photo credit: Michelle Hebert | Art & Fashion 2008. Menacing Garden via photopin(license)

I’m a coffee addict and a guilty pleasure for me is to sit in a coffee shop relaxing. I usually try to justify this downtime by doing some work while I’m there.

Today I was actually meant to be revising for an exam though (which is another story). I could not settle though, perhaps I was too much on tenterhooks waiting for an expected phone call to concentrate but the study juices were not flowing. So I put down my text book and picked up the story that began here as Watchers. I have written before about the combination of caffeine and creativity (Misbehaving) but today for some reason I could not seem to get up and running.

When Watchers first started it came over to me at least that the writing was direct and…

View original post 351 more words


Tayler climbed up on the zebra print sofa in the living room of his mum’s house, he was dressed up in his cowboy costume. Kneeling down he rested his elbows on the cushions and cupped his head in his hands as he looked out the rain spattered window. He looked out at the red and white balloons that had been attached to the posts in the front garden for his sixth birthday last Tuesday.

It was Sunday now the balloons had shrivelled up like his hands did if he spent too long in the bath, he watched as the strengthening wind dragged them along the ground on their strings. It made him think of Buzz the Doberman dog that belonged to Mr Riley who lived next door. Tayler sometimes went with Mr Riley to walk the dog round the Green, Mr Riley said that Buzz was dawdling when he had to pull at his lead to make him stop sniffing in the long grass. He was sure Mr Riley would laugh if he told him that Buzz was like an old balloon. Tayler liked hearing Mr Riley’s big mans’ laugh.

He had heard his Mum on the phone earlier, her voice had carried down the stairs as she shouted really loudly, she had used all the bad words that he knew you were not meant to say and he knew that she only shouted like that when she talked to his dad.

Tayler looked up at the clock it read half past eleven. Tayler knew how important it was to be able to tell the time, the judge had told them what time things were meant to happen on Sundays, and he knew as a lawman himself that you shouldn’t break the law.

Tayler was the sheriff now he had the costume on for his dad to see all he needed were the smoke signals of his dad’s exhaust.

Originally posted 17 May 2014

Alchemical Reactivity


© 2017 | Frank Regan, All rights reserved.

It is fitting that I came across this old blog post (originally posted 18 May 2015) now just as I am releasing my first poetry collection. As it was the first announcement on the blog of that goal. Back then I believed I’d have it released before the end of 2015 and I also intended to have some short stories included in the collection too – well both the timescale and the structure have morphed over time.

Part of the reason it changed and became all poetry was the vain hope that once I’d completed it I would have got all this poetry/feelings nonsense out of my system. A vain hope indeed – despite my continued assertion that ‘I am not a poet. I am a human being’.

It has taken so long either due to perfection or anal retentiveness. I’ll leave it to others to decide which of those two is the most dominant trait in my personality.

What I can say is back many years ago when I first thought one day I will write a book I intended to dedicate it to  ‘The Detractors, Doubters and Critics’ with the epithet ‘Fuck You’. But what I have come to realise was that the No. 1 detractor and critic of my work was me myself.

So the book’s dedication is now a far more positive statement and directed to a far worthier group of people. Because in the end the self-criticism was self-defeating and my harshest critics out in the real world are not the audience this collection is intended for. Because whether this shifts one copy or a million I am proud of my work. It is not perfect, but then it does not have to be.


Now here is the original post Ode to Ode Writing from way back in 2015:

Ode to Ode Writing

I am not a poet

I’ve decided to put together a collection of stories and poems; hopefully it’ll be ready to go some time later this year. But that is not the point of this post.

The real point is, when did I succumb to this poem writing infection and even to start aspiring to be a poet.

It’s kind of embarrassing isn’t it, this feelings malarkey, if I am writing fiction I at least get to put all the slushy stuff in the mouths of a character. Poetry doesn’t allow me that luxury, most of the time. The majority of the poems I have written, appear to me, as honest reflections of who I am.

I was originally going to call this post “Bungee Jumping” but I’m not sure there is a rope attached to my legs when I ready myself, pen in hand, to jump into the abyss.

Scary isn’t it?


© 2017 | Frank Regan, All rights reserved.



Fortune Hunter

Day 30 and to round off my review with another tale from On the Broken Road…

On the Broken Road

photo credit: vk-red good night princess via photopin (license) photo credit: vk-red good night princess via photopin(license)

She had silver in her hair and when I first saw her they had tied her to a tree and were mining their fortune from her as the metal, the equal of anything you would have found buried in the Mountains of Ahl, grew in shimmering waterfalls that flowed down her back.

I bartered with them for her eventually securing the bargain with aid of cold steel and leaving the five goblins dead, I fled the glade with my hard won prize.

I felt that I had traded the last halfpenny of my humanity in order to possess her.

© 2016 | Frank Regan, All rights reserved.

View original post

Consorting with the Enemy

Day 27 of my review of the year and a little piece of fiction

Made of sticks and stones

photo credit: Lammyman Rita Hayworth via photopin (license) photo credit: Lammyman Rita Hayworth via photopin(license)

‘American girls are not like us.’ Violet said.

She stood at the mirror fixing the suspender to her new stockings.

‘My Davey wouldn’t like me consorting.’ Enid replied, ‘He warned me watch me’self with the Yanks.’

‘So they get a little fresh.’ said Violet, as she smoothed the silk down her leg ‘Wouldn’t be good for morale to say no, not after they’ve taken me to the pictures and everything.’

‘It just seems wrong.’

‘It’s only a kiss and a cuddle, poor ducks might die fighting Hitler tomorrow. I’m only doing my bit for the war effort sending them off with a smile on their faces.

‘Anyway what about your Davey? All alone in a strange port you can’t tell me he wouldn’t?’

‘All the nice girls like a sailor.’ I sang.

Violet smirked at my reflection in the mirror as she…

View original post 324 more words

Leaving No One Alive To Light Them Again

Day 3 of my review of the year and another tale from On the Broken Road

On the Broken Road

photo credit: The Abbey via photopin (license) photo credit: The Abbey via photopin(license)

Once we were a dynasty that ruled an empire that stretched from the Crescent Bay to the foothills of the diamond encrusted Mountains of Ahl. We were feted; we were emulated; we were feared.
Whole populations committed unspeakable crimes on their neighbours to amuse us and armies marched on hopeless quests just for the opportunity to die in our service. We prospered, setting ourselves up as rivals to the gods, building palaces in the sky upon the skulls of the vanquished.
Then came the plague, the lower classes died first, the poor and enslaved. We thought they died for our amusement as we continued our laughter and feasting, peering down from out of our high towers at the circling vultures and bloated bodies that were carried away by a river that flowed red with the peoples blood.
But as we slept on in…

View original post 142 more words

How to Satisfy a Dragon

Day 2 of my review of the year and a tale about Dragons from my other blog – On the Broken Road

On the Broken Road

photo credit: Look into my eye via photopin (license) photo credit: Look into my eye via photopin(license)

Thomas stared directly into the eye of the dragon and the dragon stared back, unblinkingly at him.
Thomas knew he was responsible for his own predicament, as a long reptilian tongue snaked in through the open bedroom window – Thomas imagined the dragon’s tongue could taste his fear, the dragon salivating at the thought of eating Thomas down whole.
Because that was what the dragon had said “I like to taste their fear, it makes them so much juicier.” when Thomas had first summoned it and asked it to eat his stepmother.
Now as Thomas lay in bed his eiderdown pulled tight around him as the dragon’s tongue gently brushed his cheek. He realised that he should have made sure before he began whether one stepmother alone was enough to satisfy a dragon.

© 2015 | Frank Regan, All rights reserved.

View original post

Consorting with the Enemy

photo credit: Lammyman Rita Hayworth via photopin (license)

photo credit: Lammyman Rita Hayworth via photopin (license)

‘American girls are not like us.’ Violet said.

She stood at the mirror fixing the suspender to her new stockings.

‘My Davey wouldn’t like me consorting.’ Enid replied, ‘He warned me watch me’self with the Yanks.’

‘So they get a little fresh.’ said Violet, as she smoothed the silk down her leg ‘Wouldn’t be good for morale to say no, not after they’ve taken me to the pictures and everything.’

‘It just seems wrong.’

‘It’s only a kiss and a cuddle, poor ducks might die fighting Hitler tomorrow. I’m only doing my bit for the war effort sending them off with a smile on their faces.

‘Anyway what about your Davey? All alone in a strange port you can’t tell me he wouldn’t?’

‘All the nice girls like a sailor.’ I sang.

Violet smirked at my reflection in the mirror as she paused in touching-up her scarlet lipstick.

‘Oh Mo, how could you. My Davey ‘e wouldn’t.’

‘Sorry Enid, we were just having a joke.’ I said, ‘We both know your Davey wouldn’t look at anyone else. Don’t we Violet?’

‘Mmm,’ Violet mumbled, ‘it’s not just the nice girls that like a sailor though.’

I didn’t think I would have been friends with Violet if we had not been billeted together. “All fur coat and no knickers” Mother would have called her, but she was at least a spot of colour amid the drabness, a welcome distraction from Enid’s moon-faced earnestness and constant talk of her Davey.

‘What do you find to write in that diary Mo?’ Violet asked, ‘Scribbling away all the time like the Daily Mirror, is any of it about me?’

Violet had stood back from the mirror to turn side to side and view herself from all angles.

‘Of course it is Violet,’ I replied, ‘every single word.’

Violet turned around to face us now, arms spread wide.

‘So girls how do I look, will I make old Winston proud?’

‘Ooo just like Rita Hayworth,’ Enid sighed, ‘my Davey took …’

Violet stood at the door, giving us a “V for Victory” sign before slamming the door shut behind her.

We listened to the sound of Violet’s feet as she descended the stairs.

‘I’ll bring you back some candy Ducks.’ She shouted, her voice echoing through the wall.

Enid grinned at me, the only thing she loved as much as her Davey was chocolate.


© 2016 | Frank Regan, All rights reserved.


This little story developed out of an exercise I did on a course I went to earlier this year. Combined with a snatch of conversation overheard in a coffee shop; while I don’t know what exactly the person I heard speaking thinks is different about American girls, I’ve left it to Violet to express her opinion on the subject.


Bright Lights

I sat in the van as we waited underneath an oak tree by the side of the London bound A3 in the late afternoon sun for the charabanc and Malcolm’s car to appear. The van sat half in a ditch wheels caked in mud from the morning rain as the red and gold leaves of the oak drifted slowly to the ground around it. How we had lost them I could not say, having left Portsmouth in our usual convoy that morning heading for the Surrey Hills. I had been dozing in the passenger seat while Mack had been driving.

Now Mack prowled up and down on the verge chewing on the end of his cigar, his rotund figure a study in agitation. We had scenery to erect, costumes to lay out, fliers to distribute and Mack was eager to get to the Three Horseshoes, where we were staying, before last orders. Standing by the side of a road in rural Hampshire was not getting that done, but props, scenery and costumes were moot; if we had managed to lose the cast there would be no performance tomorrow. Mack shot me a consoling look for we both knew what Malcolm would say “Joshua you oaf.”

Malcolm was the guiding light of our little company as we wended our way around the grey highways of Post War England bringing Shakespeare to the great unwashed. “It was his mission” he said “just like my dear friends Larry and John to popularise the words of the Bard of Avon.” But Malcolm did not follow their exalted paths; his name was not destined to be up in lights. Rather it was found plastered on village noticeboards and lampposts declaring that “Malcolm Stanford-Leigh presents Shakespeare (abridged)” in the Parish halls and British Legions of the land.

I had applied to join the company as an actor, but Malcolm had been dismissive of my audition, a scene from Hamlet “far too provincial boy,” being more interested in my ability to drive a truck. This I had learned while in the army. I had been only eleven when the war ended but National Service and patriotic duty led me to spend two years with the British Army of the Rhine based in Westfalendamm near Dortmund, Germany.

Though as my Father had said, and he a man born to an Italian Father desperate to prove his own loyalty to Queen and Country, serving my country had turned me into a man. I had left a gangly youth, all strange angles and awkwardness. When I returned, I had grown gaining the muscle and bulk to compliment my dark Latin looks; though at twenty-two, I still lacked the adult confidence to match my physique.

This made me perfect as Malcolm’s factotum and general dogsbody. I was young and malleable enough to take his abuse. To move sets and costumes about, to be there first thing in the morning laying out scripts for rehearsals and last thing at night packing away props, long after the cast and Mack had retired to the pub.

I did it all for love of course. Just being around actors, watching from the wings, butterflies in my stomach prior to a performance was enough for me, well almost. Celia at least encouraged me and allowed me to help her with her lines. Celia was an exotic beauty, well as exotic as this lad from Gloucester had ever seen. She talked of Paris; of New York as places she had been to, but which to me were just a dream. As we shared long luscious kisses hidden from view amid the racks of costumes in the van our bodies pressed close together. Breathing in the heady scent of her French tobacco and exotic perfume, I dreamed I would one day get to travel to some of those places with her.

She was to play Third Witch in the production of Macbeth we were meant to perform the following night in the Village Hall, Thursley, as well as understudying Marion as Lady Macbeth. Marion was Malcolm’s amour, and the only one privileged enough to journey in his car with him. Their romance was an open secret, for in a closed society like our Company your private actions soon became public record. It was the only explanation for the parts she got for as Celia eloquently put it she was “A hatchet faced shrew with the dramatic range of a haddock.”

“Coach is here.” shouted Mack, as he banged urgently on the side of the van.

I must have fallen asleep for it was now fully dark, the reflection of the charabanc’s lights dazzled in the mirrors as it struggled up the hill behind us. The driver responded to Mack’s frantic gesturing as he waved his cheroot like a distress beacon and pulled to a halt behind us.

But where was Malcolm’s car. The cast, stiff from far too long sitting, emerged slowly from the interior of our rickety pre-war coach. The last to disembark being Marion on crutches, limping with her arm in a sling assisted by Celia who gave me a sly wink from beneath her tousled fringe of blonde curls. Malcolm was nowhere to be seen.

“Well?” Mack asked.

“A dog rang out in front of his car.” said Bernard, an elegant cove who was playing Duncan to Malcolm’s Macbeth, as he absentmindedly twirled the end of his RAF moustache “Dash bad show but the quacks have kept him in won’t be out before tomorrow pm. Without an understudy we have no Scottish play.”

Malcolm did not believe in an understudy for himself. He prided himself on never having missed a performance in twenty years, for him the show always went on. But with Malcolm’s abridgements baring only a passing resemblance to the source text. It left us in somewhat of a pickle.

Celia eyes sparkling piped up “Joe knows it, Joe knows all the parts and I know Lady Macbeth”

The company turned as one, all eyes upon me.

“Ahh” mused Bernard “but can you act my dear fellow?”


The agent Mr Gross who happened to be staying with a maiden aunt in Thursley, and found himself dragged along for an evening’s entertainment obviously felt that we could.

Malcolm, who had arrived during the second act, making a dramatic entry as Mack pushed him in in a wheelchair, had tried to take the credit and a pay-off for releasing us from our contracts. Mr Gross who recognised a shark when he saw one sent Malcolm packing and the last I saw of him was as Mack pushed him away his wheelchair squeaking ponderously.

The next morning both Celia and I found ourselves aboard a London bound train, taking the first tentative steps towards our respective fates. First step London, but then Paris, New York, Hollywood. Who knew?

© 2014 | Frank Regan, All rights reserved.

Originally Published 22 August 2014