Jeanne Rathbone

Jeanne and Dave’s 50th anniversary party with poetry

Posted in Jeanne and Dave's Golden wedding anniversary with poetry by sheelanagigcomedienne on March 22, 2017

Here are some photos and poems from our Golden Wedding Anniversary ‘do’.

50th cake

We got married on 27th March 1967 in Moycullen Church County Galway in the west of Ireland. We were married by my uncle George Quinn who was the parish priest there. We then drove in convoy across to Spiddal which is on the coast. Our wedding reception was in the Bridge Hotel owned by the Clancy’s  which no longer exists. It was chosen because of the barter system as Daddy had designed their extension. Dave used to like to cite this in his economics class.

moycullen church

We had to attend an ‘instruction course’ with the local priest in St Vincent De Paul church in Altenburg Gardens with Fr. Smith who was from what was then called Rhodesia who believed in UDI- unilateral declaration of independence for Rhodesia – which became Zimbabwe. I did not like the man and Dave was amused at how I had theological discussions with him. As Dave was not Catholic ours was called a ‘mixed marriage’.

We were told later that it was an embarrassment for my uncle with authoritarian  Bishop Browne whom I would have encountered at confirmation when we had to kneel and kiss his ring. Ugh! By then I was an atheist.

Our wedding photo in the car

So, fifty years on and we are celebrating our anniversary with an afternoon ‘do’in Omnibus Art Centre on 18th March 2017. This was formerly a library. We held it on that Saturday because Dave was singing in The Messiah in St Luke’s with the Festival Chorus on 25th March.

The Omnibus Art Centre 1 Clapham Common Northside,  Old town opposite the Holy Trinity Church which was frequented by the Clapham Sect – the anti slavery abolitionists lead by William Wilberforce and his cousin Henry Thornton who lived nearby in Battersea Rise House. This featured in EM Forster’s reminiscence about his great aunt Marianne Thornton who also had lived there.50th invite

We were in the Greene Room which was named after Graham Greene who wrote The End of the Affair. Set in London during and just after WW2.His own affair with Lady Catherine Walston  played into the basis for The End of the Affair. Greene’s own house at 14 Clapham common Northside was bombed during the Blitz.

The last exhibition held here in 2012 was commemorating Pamela Hansford Johnson who also lived on Battersea Rise and I organised a talk on her for the Battersea Society with her biographer Wendy Pollard and her daughter Lady Lindsay Avebury.…/pamela-hansford-johnson-battersea-.

We have been to some charming concerts and shows here.

50th group headmans

We are grateful to John Garrett for talking photos because we were not organised enough ourselves.

We had said no present/cards but invited guest to send a favourite poem. We have held a few poetry parties in recent years which seem to work well. As usual there was variety in the choices and none were repeated. Maya Angelou’s chosen were Phenomenal Woman, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Still I Rise, Old Folks Laugh, Today in Prison by Dennis Brutus (June 1967 South African Freedom Day) chosen by Trevor and Jill, Sunlight by Seamus Heaney chosen by Carol MacDougall, THE DOOR by Miroslav Holub  chosen by Anne Reyersbach, Warty bliggens, the toad chosen by Tony Tuck and Judy McKnight, A Time to Talk by Robert Frost, Follower by Seamus Heaney.

We did have a half hour of poetry readings. I started with one chosen by Ann Pettifer and Geoff by Billy Collins American Poet Laureate and ended with The Lake Isle of Innisfree by Yeats – a London emigrant’s poem ‘while standing on the roadway or on the pavements grey’


The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read,
never even heard of,

as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
to a little fishing village where there are no phones.

Long ago you kissed the names of the nine Muses goodbye
and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,
and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,

something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,
the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.

Whatever it is you are struggling to remember,
it is not poised on the tip of your tongue,
not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.

It has floated away down a dark mythological river
whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall,
well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those
who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.

No wonder you rise in the middle of the night
to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.
No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted
out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.

50th tony and oPenny

Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal read by Penny and Tony


Now sleeps the crimson petal, now the white;

Nor waves the cypress in the palace walk;

Nor winks the gold fin in the porphyry font.

The firefly wakens; waken thou with me.

Now droops the milk-white peacock like a ghost,

And like a ghost she glimmers on to me.

Now lies the Earth all Danaë to the stars,

And all thy heart lies open unto me.

Now slides the silent meteor on, and leaves

A shining furrow, as thy thoughts in me.

Now folds the lily all her sweetness up,

And slips into the bosom of the lake.

So fold thyself, my dearest, thou, and slip

Into my bosom and be lost in me.

50th Barbara

Barbara read these two chosen by Anne and Geoff

Siegfried Sassoon – Everyone Sang

Everyone suddenly burst out singing;

And I was filled with such delight

As prisoned birds must find in freedom,

Winging wildly across the white

Orchards and dark-green fields; on – on – and out of sight.

Everyone’s voice was suddenly lifted;

And beauty came like the setting sun:

My heart was shaken with tears; and horror

Drifted away … O, but Everyone

Was a bird; and the song was wordless; the singing will never be done

Sonnet – William Shakespeare

To me, fair friend, you never can be old,
For as you were when first your eye I ey’d,
Such seems your beauty still. Three winters cold,
Have from the forests shook three summers’ pride,
Three beauteous springs to yellow autumn turn’d,
In process of the seasons have I seen,
Three April perfumes in three hot Junes burn’d,
Since first I saw you fresh, which yet are green.
Ah! yet doth beauty like a dial-hand,
Steal from his figure, and no pace perceiv’d;
So your sweet hue, which methinks still doth stand,
Hath motion, and mine eye may be deceiv’d:
For fear of which, hear this thou age unbred:
Ere you were born was beauty’s summer dead

50th John 2

John Rathbone read one written by him and Marie.

Ode to David and Jeanne on the occasion of their Golden Wedding anniversary

We are gathered here to celebrate

An auspicious and momentous date

For ‘twas in 1967 on Easter Monday

That David and Jeanne were married in fair Galway.

Barbara, Aonghus, and Fingal too

All were born and the family grew

And while talking of children ‘twould be remiss

To neglect to mention the wee lassie, Grace.

We’ll not allow this day to pass

Without a call to raise a glass

To Jeanne and David’s two score and ten,

Hoping to see you all, for their sixtieth, again.

(In the style of William McGonagall, best recited in an over-the-top Scottish accent)

Anahorish  chosen by Clare and Christy

My ‘place of clear water,’
the first hill in the world
where springs washed into
the shiny grass

and darkened cobbles
in the bed of the lane.
Anahorish, soft gradient
of consonant, vowel-meadow,

after-image of lamps
swung through the yards
on winter evenings.
With pails and barrows

those mound-dwellers
go waist-deep in mist
to break the light ice
at wells and dunghills.

50th ClareClare, our niece, reading

Anahorish  chosen by her and Christy

My ‘place of clear water,’
the first hill in the world
where springs washed into
the shiny grass

and darkened cobbles
in the bed of the lane.
Anahorish, soft gradient
of consonant, vowel-meadow,

after-image of lamps
swung through the yards
on winter evenings.
With pails and barrows

those mound-dwellers
go waist-deep in mist
to break the light ice
at wells and dunghills.

50th Dave
Dave read his brother Colin’s poem and chose one written by his brother Michael who does write poetry.
50th Mike poem
 Yes, I do remember Galway                             by Colin Rathbone
The week of the wedding day
Very cold with sleet and hail
And loud the wind did wail
But distant views across the bay
Were sometimes very clear
And the mountains of Clare
In that clear air
Sometimes seemed so near
The day itself went well I think
Plenty of food and plenty to drink
So I’ll raise a glass
And just say cheers
We’ll done for fifty years.

50th group Srah, trev, John Alanah

Donald Hall, chosen by Christine who is on the right then Allana, Evelyn behind Sarah,Col Smith behind, Trevor, Ian John Spencer and Marie and Aoife and Peter standing.

Pale gold of the walls, gold

of the centers of daisies, yellow roses

pressing from a clear bowl. All daywe lay on the bed, my hand

stroking the deep

gold of your thighs and your back.

We slept and woke

entering the golden room together,

lay down in it breathing

quickly, then

slowly again,

caressing and dozing,

your hand sleepily

touching my hair now.

We made in those days

tiny identical rooms inside our bodies

which the men who uncover our graves

will find in a thousand years,

shining and whole.

50th Jen

Jen reading

Scaffolding by Seamus Heaney

Masons, when they start upon a building, 

Are careful to test out the scaffolding;

Make sure that planks won’t slip at busy points, 

Secure all ladders, tighten bolted joints.

 And yet all this comes down when the job’s done 

Showing off walls of sure and solid stone.

 So if, my dear, there sometimes seem to be 

Old bridges breaking between you and me

 Never fear. We may let the scaffolds fall, 

Confident that we have built our wall.




50th denise

Never go Back by Felix Dennis chosen by Denise

Never go back.  Never go back.

Never return to the haunts of your youth.

Keep to the track, to the beaten track,

Memory holds all you need of the truth.


Never look back.  Never look back.

Never succumb to the gorgon’s stare.

Keep to the track, to the beaten track,

No-one is waiting and nothing is there.


Never go back.  Never go back.

Never surrender the future you’ve earned.

Keep to the track, to the beaten track,

Never return to the bridges you burned.


Never look back.  Never look back.

Never retreat to the ‘glorious past’.

Keep to the track, to the beaten track,

Treat every day of your life as your last.


Never go back.  Never go back.

Never acknowledge the ghost on the stair.

Keep to the track, to the beaten track,

No-one is waiting and nothing is there.


50th John spencer

John Spencer read an excerpt from Peace by Michael Longley after Tibullus.

I want to live until the white hairs shine above
A pensioner’s memories of better days. Meanwhile
I would like peace to be my partner on the farm,
Peace personified: oxen under the curved yoke;
Compost for the vines, grape-juice turning into wine,
Vintage ears handed down from father to son;
Hoe and ploughshare gleaming, while in some dark corner
Rust keeps the soldier’s grisly weapons in their place;
The labourer steering his wife and children home
In a hay cart from the fields, a trifle sozzled.

50th Ian readingThe Rolling English Road read by Ian Smith
Before the Roman came to Rye or out to Severn strode,
The rolling English drunkard made the rolling English road.
A reeling road, a rolling road, that rambles round the shire,
And after him the parson ran, the sexton and the squire;
A merry road, a mazy road, and such as we did tread
The night we went to Birmingham by way of Beachy Head.
I knew no harm of Bonaparte and plenty of the Squire,
And for to fight the Frenchman I did not much desire;
But I did bash their baggonets because they came arrayed
To straighten out the crooked road an English drunkard made,
Where you and I went down the lane with ale-mugs in our hands,
The night we went to Glastonbury by way of Goodwin Sands.
His sins they were forgiven him; or why do flowers run
Behind him; and the hedges all strengthening in the sun?
The wild thing went from left to right and knew not which was which,
But the wild rose was above him when they found him in the ditch.
God pardon us, nor harden us; we did not see so clear
The night we went to Bannockburn by way of Brighton Pier.
My friends, we will not go again or ape an ancient rage,
Or stretch the folly of our youth to be the shame of age,
But walk with clearer eyes and ears this path that wandereth,
And see undrugged in evening light the decent inn of death;
For there is good news yet to hear and fine things to be seen,
Before we go to Paradise by way of Kensal Green.
50th Joan
Joan read the poem from her card but kept showing it to explain it.
50th Joan poem
50th John B
John Bartholomew read Poem on the Underground by D. J. Enright chosen by John and Pauline BartholomewProud readers

Hide behind tall newspapers.

The young are all arms and legs

Knackered by youth.

Tourists sit bolt upright

Trusting in nothing.

Only the drunk and the crazy

Aspire to converse.

Only the poet

peruses his poem among the adverts.

Only the elderly person

Observes the request that the seat be offered to an elderly person.

50th cards and flowers


 En famille and Mummy and Daddy’s wedding photo from 1939.

 We had a lovely day.

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