The greying woman stands in the shallows, her shoes wet.
Waves play cold liquid games with her legs.  Clouds curl.
A fish swims up.  It wears her lover’s face.

When she awakens she puts the radio on.  Voices, cold light, no music.
She showers, chooses her clothes.  Imagines changing her hair.
Appearances almost matter.  Her car is clean.

In the classroom her face is caressed by an occasional sea breeze.
She stands at the board and remembers numbers and lines.
There is a boy with the face of a fish.  She carries on.

(Poem by our eldest son, Tom)

Pressure… pressure… pressure… pressure.  I must be motivated.  The click and grind and motion of the wheel in my head; the treadmill of the brain.  Cannot, must not stand still… must move on.
Success, success, success...  I must be inspired.  Please inspire me; inside I am empty.  Please fill me with your wise words, positive statements, your exhortations to achievement.  Without them I am nothing; another statistic in the data bank of human misery.  You tell me I am nothing and then you tell me to be something – thin, beautiful, clever.  And then you say: don’t talk so much; don’t be so silent.  So I cannot tell what you are thinking.

Anxiety… close cropped and bare as barbed-wire.  What is going to become of me?  You exhort me not be a failure and urge me to follow my passion. You talk to me of the global race and the part I have to play in it.  So I am looking for the finishing line and think about what will happen when I get there.  Will I then be spat out?  Chewed over and over until all outward form is lost?  Will I be digested then excreted in some unrecognisable form that once was me?  What do you think of me?  Do you like me?  If you don’t, then I won’t like you?

Entertain me!  Make me laugh, dance, and sing for you:  I can no longer do this on my own.  Absorb me in your cleverness, your silky long words like hypnotic snakes, and maybe, just maybe I could be like you.  Tell me what to do; don’t ask me questions; don’t make me think.  Reflection takes place in a darkening mirror, and these days the dark frightens me.  Comfort me.  I am frozen in time, like a mammoth in ice……….

But, I want to be alive!  For I am young and confusion is the state of all humanity.  I am young, and you, old man, what do you know?

You do not see me like you – you think we are separate.  You see my laughter as different from yours, my tears also.  But you are wrong, so wrong.  So stop transferring your pressure to me, old man.  You say you are dying, but tomorrow I also may not be here.

Slowly the vast bird circles below us, seeking out the warm air in the cool of the Himalayan mountains.  Wings edged with finger-like feathers that are stretched, tentative and gentle.  The sound of villagers at work seeps up on the same currents that support the silent flight.  All is embraced in the beauty of these mountains.

Don’t tell me what to do!  Look at what you’re doing; look at what you have done: the poverty, destruction, pollution, violence and, above all, the separation.  You continue to force me to think of myself as being distinct from others, from the air we breathe, from the food we eat, and from the stranger in the street.

So don’t pressure me with your exams, your hypocritical praise, your damning condemnation and your pathetic view of the world.  Just listen, look and be still for one moment.  Then, without pressure, we might be able to explore together this thing we call life.
The sun is warm with thoughts of the blistering hot summers that submerge this old Spanish city, and the breeze is heavy with the scent of orange blossom.  Down on the south coast, over the border in Portugal the sea rises and falls in a constant sequence of silky turquoise movement.  Back in England young leaves form against the background of delicate blossoms, whose petals loosened by the wind, fall to the ground in a covering of white and pink.