Heatwave in August

Recorded and Knit together by WSM

Most government ministers have gone on holiday, even though there are some bits of business throbbing under hastily applied band -aids, such as the brushing under a carpet of important school grades being estimated by post codes rather than teacher input. Meanwhile the Prime Minister looks like he is doing his bit to reduce obesity in Britain possibly having shed seven pounds in weight.

But during this now almost normal English heatwave, migrants are crossing the English Channel by the boat-loads from France, and Johnson is pushing this back into the French Prime Minister’s lap like a hot potato. But his language, calling the migrants criminal, is being called on by the Refugee Council’s director of advocacy, Lisa Doyle.

“Seeking asylum is not a crime, and it is legitimate that people have to cross borders to do so.” Pulling in the English Navy to stop the mere hundreds of migrants from landing seems more than a bit harsh at this point in their journey.

Arriving to England PA photo
Crossing the English Channel Photo PA

Last week Lebanon’s capital, Beirut, was blown to bits because of a boat-load of neglected fertilizer warehoused at the dockside. Estimated at 1/10th the size of the bomb on Hiroshima it became a weapon of mass destruction as hundreds were killed, thousands wounded and the city destroyed. Last night Lebanon’s prime minister, Hassan Diab, announced the resignation of his government, ceding to the will of the people, and saying the incident was ‘the result of endemic corruption. It was time to turn the country from a state of brokerages and theft to a state of law and justice.’ What a great phrase, but looking at the carnage it is hard to know where they can start.

And in Belarus, where you say, (it used to be part of the Soviet Union), Sunday’s election results brought another landslide victory for Lukashenko bringing thousands of protesters onto the streets. The Guardian paper reminds us that foreign observers have not declared a Belarusian election free and fair since 1995.

The opposition candidate, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, was apparently pressured to leave the country in exchange for the release of her chief of staff, Maria Moroz, who had been detained by police on Saturday. Her foreign minister was quoted saying “I can just say that she is safe and that she is in Lithuania.”

Last week Michelle Obama’s admission of a ‘light depression’ was on the front page of ‘The Evening Standard’. The paper is delivered to our doorstep by kind neighbors as they take their evening Covid Constitutional walk around the village in this corner of London.

When Barak Obama was first elected president of the United States of America in 2008 many of us wept for joy and relief but the mother in me also wanted to write Michelle Obama a note. Of course I never did, and when we heard that Michelle was bringing her mother, Mrs Robinson, with the family to the White House, I knew I didn’t need to. Michelle was going to be all right. And, of course, she was more than all right. For the often unspoken secret is that no one is ever ready for the role that is thrust on them, or they choose, but if their heart and mind are willing and focused then they will grow into that role, a truth for all who ‘grasp the nettle’ of their life’s work. Michelle Obama did just that. Then she wrote, “Becoming” knowing it would inspire, giving hope and courage to all those young women reaching over her shoulders to take this work forward. So many people are sick with fear and anguish, while others show their fear with hatred and rage. It is hard to think that anyone in the United States of America is not very afraid. As we enter the sixth month of sheltering in place and no real end in sight this low level of depression is palpable all around me here in London.

WSM/MAM Married August 6 1965

But we have a lot to be grateful for. Last Thursday we celebrated our 55th wedding anniversary. How on earth did that happen? With more laughter than tears, some incredible highs, our share of deep lows, and a lot of washing-up throughout all the years. And we have memories. A morning wedding, sandwiches for lunch with a cake and champagne before getting on the bike and heading a little way north to our first night at a hotel; borrowing a jacket and tie from the management, a trout for supper with at least a glass of wine, a purple haze in the morning dew outside of our window and a receptionist who, when I returned the keys, said, “Have a nice trip back.”

But we weren’t going back, we were going forward, North and then West into a life together.

However Walter had not really heard his mother’s marital advice, “Remember she is just a girl.” Maybe a rather tall tom-boy girl but still a girl. He had bought a war-surplus tent for $12.00. The tent smelt of creosote. It was 6’ long, 4’ wide and 3’ high. After our first night in the hotel, we were to camp our way north to Canada and west to Los Angeles. Maybe so, but for me the stars were better company than the tent. Somehow the tent fell from the back of the bike and he didn’t notice until we were long gone to the next stop. But it it had served a purpose, to show a girl about the Scott in Scott Murch and to show a boy what a girl will – or will not do.

MAM 2020 Still Married photo by WSM

This has been A Letter from A. Broad
Written and read for you by Muriel Murch

This is It, Found on a U.S. website selling such things.
G I Pup Tent – For sale

Hibernation Gin

Recorded and knit together by WSM. Aired on KWMR.org June 24 2020

The Summer Solstice has brought bright sunshine. But there are no trips to Stonehenge to divine what the sun’s rising foretold today’s Druids. The longest day turns us to face the oncoming months of summer and review the fruition of the last few months of solitude. We are lucky and blessed, each with work that can be done sitting in a dressing gown on the sofa or – as some of us prefer – dressed for reclining out on the terrace.

We are also surrounded by a wonderful mix of neighbors gently watching out for us all. Tentative new friendships have begun between those of us who have been aware of each other for a mere twenty years. I now know that Leslie likes to read historical fiction, ‘I’ve got bookcases full of ‘em. You are welcome to borrow anything, come over any time.” She now knows that many of the flowers she enjoys when looking out of her window come from my mother’s garden.

Pressure on the government by ministers, businesses and the economy is growing. Non-essential shops have begun to open, though I’m not too sure what separates essential and non-essential, and for whom. One of my essential shops remain unable to get to their Piccadilly warehouse for what I require.

“The Prime Minister will share his outlines for reopening the economy on Tuesday.” The Government hands out information like school homework assignments and I’m not getting too excited about what Tuesday might bring. There will still be queues outside of the shops, there will still be people mindful of how they walk, and others uncaring as they pass you. And this new reality does not bear looking into too far ahead. Whatever Tuesday’s briefing may bring, I know that ‘we will never get back to normal, how things were.’ Intellectually I understand that, I really do. But emotionally I am a little worn down.

A friend and I had a socially-distanced wine bar meeting in the Library Garden. But as she steadies me down off of the ladder, where I have climbed for a little pruning, I longed to take her hand. Another friend is coming for tea in the Square’s garden on Wednesday. Will we be able to hug each other then?

Touch is the glue that holds us together. The skin is our biggest organ, it covers, protects and feeds us all at one time. Again we are lucky, there are two of us living side by side and touch is as much a part of our lives as is ‘time for a cup of tea then?’

The moments of solitude and intense personal work can also be a time to pause and look inward. It is James Baldwin’s clarity of thought and literary articulation in his essay ‘Faulkner and Desegregation’ that helps me delve into the minutiae of my mind and think of the prejudices that I carry.

“Just because they speak the same language, remember, they are still foreigners.” Said my mother in 1964 as I sat on her bed late one evening before leaving for America. I was appalled, as I often was, at ‘the things my mother says.’ I left for America determined to pay no attention to her words. It took a month, six weeks at most, for our cluster of three Irish and one English nurses to start squawking at how the Americans we met, patients, doctors and fellow nurses, behaved. Where was their stiff upper-lip? Did everything need to be written out before we got a patient out of bed? What, in other words, was the matter with these people? Our little gang of gals grumbled our way through winter into spring. New York and all across America was in racial turmoil during those months and on throughout the summer.

My mother arrived in July for my marriage (to an American!) in August. She came bearing gifts, lists and more scoldings on what I still had to get done in the remaining two weeks and also with an openness that put me to shame. For her ‘They are different’ translated into a sincere effort to understand the differences she encountered in the Americans she met. Naturally, she found more similarities than differences, and absorbed them all.

After the Friday morning wedding and lunch time snack we left, heading out for a six week motorcycle Odyssey to California. My mother stayed with her new relatives for the weekend. I can only image that after we had left, and the guests slowly finished up the sandwiches, champagne and tea, and also departed, my new in-laws, the grandmother and uncle who had flown down from Toronto and my mother had all sat down together with some relief. Conversation would have relaxed as they sipped something soothing and maybe smoked a little before dinner.

On Sunday our mothers went to hear Martin Luther King speak at Riverside Church. For my mother whose knowledge of Africans was from Africa this must have been an extraordinary event giving her another glimmer of understanding. And a glimmer is maybe all that most of us can hope for however hard we try.

Hibernation on the Terrace Photo by WSM


Fifty-five years later I look back, and see how far we have not come, how much work there is still to do and how the tap and tide of human kindness does not always seem to be turning clockwise. On our little terrace I try not to be discouraged as I add Hibernation Gin to the Elderflower cordial and listen to the blackbirds calling to their fledglings. But I can smile and give thanks for all the young people we have raised who are finding those glimmers of understanding and a light to shine for us all.

This has been A Letter from A. Broad
Written and read for you by Muriel Murch

Motorcycle Moments

Motorcycle Moments

A Letter from A.Broad interviews a couple on a motorcycle with some big news!

Photos by Thayer Gowdy


Did you hear? Pretty wonderful news for us all. Walter and Sirima were married on August 8th at the Sea Ranch Chapel of Sonoma county in Northern California. They will be away for three days, which is all they can leave the chickens for at the moment. They’d love to have local friends and community come join them to celebrate this Labor Day weekend. Over the Thanksgiving weekend, their families and longtime-treasured friends will come together to celebrate once more.


Now their very modern links include 🙂
Walter and Sirima’s Wedding BBQ
Walter and Sirima’s Honeymoon adventures and beyond fund

If you’d like to help the couple celebrate, a contribution to Walter & Sirima’s Honeymoon adventures and beyond fund via Travelers Joy would be most welcome. 

This podcast production came together from three corners of our worlds — Northern California, Utrecht, and London. A mixture of experience from all the family.