Old people and old pets
A mother's final, best lesson: Part 3

Journal of a writing man

Given the topic of my Weblog, there is no way to ignore John Bailey - aka the old grey poet - particularly after I had read this entry about his father:

“When I look in my mirror I can see him looking out. The same eyes. The same complexion. He's there as a young man and as an old man, smiling, not saying much. I don't feel haunted by him. It's nice to be prompted to remember those days we were father and son. And there's nothing sad about it. Just a safe feeling that, after all, he's still around. Safe, and warm. Satisfactory.”

My take is a bit different in a similar incident in regard to my mother, but we are thinking over the same kinds of things.

Bailey, a 64-year old poet, photographer and former systems programmer who has recently left south Wales for a bungalow in Lincolnshire, is the proprietor of Journal of a Writing Man which is, without doubt, one of the earliest blogs. In his first entry, dated 5 July 1998, John introduces us to one of his two cats, Harry, and notes in regard to the new Weblog, “I think I shall have a lot of fun with this.” He has been doing so every since.

Pay attention when you read John Bailey. His blog is deceptively simple as he seemingly natters on about the cats, the garden, preparations for lunch with his long-time partner, Graham, or describes his daily “medicine walk” prescribed for his “wonky heart.” But while he is cataloguing those domestic doings, he reveals himself to be a sly and thoughtful observer of himself and of life in general. While sorting his desk in preparation for the move to Lincolnshire, Bailey pondered the possibility of burning his decades of journals, files, folders, poems and other writings:

“Do I have a point here? Not really. Except possibly to observe that whereas an empty desk leads to empty thoughts a nice, comfortable jumble of paper is too full of useful ideas for emptiness ever to take hold."

Explore John’s older prose and poetry which is linked from the left rail of his Weblog, and don’t miss the photo albums from 1998 and 1999 of him and his partner, of his cats and flowers and landscapes. His recent entries contain breathtaking close-ups of flowers in his new garden and of the occasional oddity found while exploring his new surroundings.

One of my guilty pleasures is peeking into other folks’ homes when I can and I am most grateful to John Bailey for the excellent photos of two of his homes, both furnished with the care and good taste you would expect from from reading him. I eagerly await photos of the new house.


Hi Ronni,

Your early post about the "grandmother in the mirror" reminds me of one of the central themes to the poetry of Diane Wakoski. I wonder if you're familiar with her. One of the major concerns of Diane's work (she was my mentor in grad school) is with what it means to be an ageing woman in a culture that worships youth and youthful beauty. She identifies with the myth of Medea, and her books of poetry weave a personal mythology that allows one to follow the life of her body and mind in much the same way that one's web journal allows.

Take care,


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