Tag Archives: old age

The prize

Gladys couldn’t recall ever having won anything before, and now a nice young man from the local radio station was on the telephone, informing her that she’d won first prize in that month’s phone-in astronomy competition.

Gladys first discovered astronomy at the age of eight. Her brother was given a telescope for his tenth birthday, but soon lost interest. One frosty night during the blackout, a bored Gladys casually pointed the telescope at the moon and ignited a lifelong passion.

She hadn’t had a telescope for quite some time. Apart from any other considerations, she now lived in a one-bedroomed flat and she would have spent all her time tripping over it.

As soon as the young man hung up she realised she’d forgotten to ask what the prize was. No matter; it was being delivered tomorrow and she’d find out soon enough.

As usual, Bella started barking just before the doorbell rang.

“Where do you want the telescope?” asked the courier.

Gladys stood impassively for a moment, and then put her hands to her face to wipe away the tears that were beginning to stream down it. The courier placed his arm around her shoulder and helped her onto the hall chair.

“Why are you crying, love? Don’t you like it?”

“No, I love it,” sniffed Gladys. “I couldn’t have asked for a better prize.”

“What’s the matter, then?” the courier asked.

So Gladys told him, while Bella the guide dog gently nuzzled her tear-salted hands.


(c) Helen Lewis  2004

Old Joe


he fills

the underpass with music

gnarled hands coaxing notes

from a battered guitar



he plays to please the crowd

Free Bird or Smoke on the Water

but mostly he just jams


letting his fingers

dance across the frets

letting the music flow

into him and through him


every evening

as he walks back to the bridge

he passes the guitar shop

with the Gibson Firebird in the window


spotlights pick out

liquid swirls in black and red

frozen beneath a layer of lacquer

as thick as a ten pence piece


Joe presses

his palm against the window

and whistles softly


the Firebird sits mute

tethered by a security leash

caged behind a window grille


while Joe’s old strings

are free to sing


(C) Helen Lewis 2011

%d bloggers like this: