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Wednesday, 14 April 2021





                                                       DORNOCH WIKIPEDIA

Dornoch (/ˈdɔːrnɒx/Scottish GaelicDòrnach [ˈt̪ɔːrˠn̪ˠəx]ScotsDornach) is a town, seaside resort, parish and former royal burgh in the county of Sutherland in the Highlands of Scotland. It lies on the north shore of the Dornoch Firth, near to where it opens into the Moray Firth to the east.

The name 'Dornoch' is derived from the Gaelic for 'pebbly place', suggesting that the area contained pebbles the size of a fist (dorn) which could therefore be used as weapons.[4] Dornoch has the thirteenth-century Dornoch Cathedral, the Old Town Jail, and the previous Bishop's Palace which is now the well-known hotel, Dornoch Castle and a notable golf course, the Royal Dornoch Golf Club, named the 5th best golf course outside the United States in 2005 by Golf Digest.

It is also notable as the last place a witch was burnt in Scotland. Her name was reported as Janet Horne; she was tried and condemned to death in 1727. There is a stone, the Witch's Stone, commemorating her death, inscribed with the year 1722.[5] The golf course designer Donald Ross began his career as a greenkeeper on the Royal Dornoch links. The golf course is next to the award-winning blue flag beach.

                                                                Visit DORNOCH

                                                               THINGS TO DO


                                                           HISTORY LINKS


                                                BRORA VILLAGE WEBSITE


                                                    BRORA WIKIPEDIA                     

Brora is a small industrial village, having at one time a coal pit, boat building, salt pans, fish curing, lemonade factory, the new Clynelish Distillery (as well as the old Clynelish distillery which is now called the Brora distillery [3]), wool mill, bricks and a stone quarry. The white sandstone in the Clynelish quarry belongs to the Brora Formation, of the Callovian and Oxfordian stages (formerly Middle Oolite) of the Mid-Late Jurassic. Stone from the quarry was used in the construction of London BridgeLiverpool Cathedral and Dunrobin Castle. When in operation, the coalmine was the most northerly coalmine in the UK. Brora was the first place in the north of Scotland to have electricity thanks to its wool industry. This distinction gave rise to the local nickname of "Electric City" at the time. Brora also houses a baronial style clock tower which is a war memorial

Saturday, 10 April 2021




                                                                        Joe Cain's Review

                                                              Legacies of Eugenics at UCL

                                         Sir Ronald Fisher, Highly Negative Eugenicist


                                                                 David Finney,  Eugenicist





                                                       LEGACIES OF EUGENICS


Rare Books and Archives on Eugenics at UCL

What archive materials related to Eugenics does UCL hold? Where can these be found? What is open for inspection? Which parts of UCL collections are digitised? How does UCL’s ‘Galton Papers’ differ from the digitised Galton material available online through the Wellcome Collection?

I’ve spent the past two years researching the history and legacy of eugenics at UCL. In this video, I am in conversation with some of the specialists from UCL Special Collections who are experts on answering research questions in this area. They are:

  • Ms Erika Delbecque, Head of Rare Books
  • Ms Katy Makin, Archivist (Katy was also responsible for cataloguing the bulk of the material relating to eugenics at UCL)
  • Mr Colin Penman, Head of UCL Records Office

We discuss collections held at UCL relating to eugenics in each of the areas they oversee.

You can find our UCL Archives catalogue here and explore our Digital Collections here.

To find the Galton Laboratory Books in our Catalogues at UCL, visit our Explore Catalogue, and search using the string GALTONLABORATORY. Choose ‘Special Collections’ from the Library option to narrow down results.

Thursday, 8 April 2021





                                               Alan Turing O.B.E, F.R.S (1912-1954)

                                         Founder of Modern Practical Bayesian Statistics

    Every discipline needs its Purveyors of the Word, prominent, extrovert figures who are prepared to stand on a pedestal and project its concepts and ideas across other disciplines, throughout Society, and around the world, at the risk of appearing to be peering down their noses at the children on the pavement.


    George Tiao, Carlos Pereira, Pilar Iglesias, and Jose Bernardo popularised Bayesian concepts in the Far East, Chile, Brazil, and Spain. Meanwhile, P. Jeffrey Harrison and Michael West purveyed the wonderful advantages of Kalman-style forecasting around the world, 

    In America, the key Purveyors of the Word included Jimmie Savage, Arnold Zellner, Jay Kadane and Rob Kass, and the quintessence of Yankee and immigrant academia. In Britain they included Jack Good, Dennis Lindley, and Sir Adrian Smith, .


    The purveyors of the Bayesian cause have sometimes got it wrong too. When a ‘child on the sidewalk’ once inquired about the frequency coverage of his 95% Bayesian interval, Arnold replied to the effect that he didn’t given a toss.  And Jay Kadane still overemphasises the importance of the Expected Utility Hypothesis, as ever faithful to the memory of Jimmie Savage his stern adherence to the glaringly fallacious Sure Thing Principle and his over-formalisation of the key conceptual ideas of utility of the eighteenth century Swiss mathematician Daniel Bernoulli, which were published in St. Petersburg in 1738.

    Sir Adrian Smith got it triumphantly  "right", with Alan Gelfand, when he popularised MCMC during the 1990s, and he blinked in joy when the simulations eventually seemed to converge..

    In response to MCMC and the early 21 st. century development by Spiegelhalter et al of the model comparison criterion DIC, a pragmatic rather than a quasi-religious view of Bayesianism has emerged. Bayes theorem and DIC are nowadays regarded as useful parts of many statisticians’ toolkits. But they’re not the be all and end all, in particular in situations where the choice of sampling model is unclear.

    Sir Adrian has more recently taken the concepts of evidence-based medicine and evidence-based performance indicators into the widely-influential area of evidence-based public policy making. But beware poorly collected or skilfully reshuffled data, lest the conclusions be spuriously evidence-based. 

    In Britain, the Rising of the Bayesian Paradigm, like a phoenix from the ashes, began at Bletchley Park and the Universities of Manchester and Cambridge during the 1940s and 50s, continued in Aberystwyth during the 1960s, and led to a resurgence at University College London which almost flew out of control. In the 1970s, the now multi-lingual Bayesians at the University of Warwick took up the cudgel and they currently lead the rest of Europe

    The development of Bayesianism in the United States was subjected to some not inconsiderable post-birth traumas during the McCarthy era.

    But the paradigm soared majestically towards its Seventh Heaven at the Harvard and Chicago Business Schools, and notably at Carnegie-Mellon, aided and abetted by the adventurous ‘people’ in Wisconsin and the small all-Bayesian team at Duke. Nowadays, Bayes is alive and kicking in every state in the USA, and in almost every country around the globe.

    Meanwhile, the International Society for Bayesian Analysis has enhanced the links to other disciplines with a plethora of electronic communications. And new, at times highly eminent, scientific and socio-economic Bayesians are springing out of the woodwork from all directions


    Moreover, many generalisations of the conditional Laplacian approximations of the 1980s have now been well computer-packaged in INLA by Håvard Rue and his colleagues, and they provide extremely valid alternatives, in a great many situations, to the wild and woolly ramifications of MCMC, MMCMC, Particle MCMC, reversible jump MCMC, arty smarty crafty MCMC and so on and so forth.

    The pendulum has already swung, as various high quality applications of INLA begin to trickle in, and some of the old theoretical arts of Bayesianism from the Halcyon days are being restored.

    Perhaps the pendulum will swing even more, and maybe Le Marquis Pierre-Simon de Laplace will have the last laugh. He was of course the guy way across the Channel who had the cheek to develop the general forms of our ridiculously named "Bayes Theorem" following the 17th. development of conditional probability, by the pioneering Frenchman Blaise Pascal and Pierre Fermat,.

    A potentially debilitating mote has nevertheless been cast into our eyes by the gross misrepresentations and misuses of Bayes theorem in Courts of Law, for example when evaluating DNA evidence, and these have stained our profession for many years to come. If our cynical Establishments do not put a quick end to them, the ancient Greek Goddess Themis may perchance find it necessary to fry a token forensic scientist or Bayes factorist or two on her scales of justice.

    As evidenced by the material critiqued in my Ch. 7, the kaleidoscope of Bayesian discovery has now fully blossomed into an enrichment of many areas of science, medicine, and socio-economics. While the practical advantages of the Bayesian contributions to Genomics and Economics have yet to be completely clarifiedthe beneficial influences in Medicine, the Environment, Social Progress, Artificial Intelligence, and Machine Learning have been ginormous, to the point where the creative research within some of these areas has itself been rejuvenated. Both Alan Turing and Allan Birnbaum would have been proud.

I believe that most statistical investigations are inherently subjective in nature, and that statisticians should no longer attempt to achieve ‘false objectivity’. Rather than attempting to educate the public in a possibly misleading manner, I think that our leading statistical societies should focus on encouraging their members to invariably insist on fairness, professionalism, and impartial honesty, while acknowledging the subjective nature of their conclusions. It is only then that we can hope to properly educate the public regarding the real benefits that can be gained from statistical investigations.

Note added 8th April 2021. THE MISTREATMENT AND EXPLOITATION OF BAYESIAN WOMEN: I have recently become quite disillusioned by the ISBA sex scandal, and a scandal at Berkeley starting in 2002 and involving the alleged attempted exploitation of a young woman trying to make a start in academia,.As a gay person on the receiving end of endless homophobia and ableism in academia, I am appalled by this mistreatment and abuse of many Bayesian women.. I now realise that the apparent cosiness and bonhomie at many early Bayesian conferences, including Valencia 1 and Valencia 6 which I attended, may have concealed dark undertones, with which several of my male contemporaries may have been associated. I however feel reassured by the ongoing renewal of ISBA. More women and people from all countries are involved. I think that I can perceive precisely where the sexist attitudes originated in European Bayesian academia. I am completely dismayed about those situations in which power seems to have prevailed, particularly when some Bayesian women may have started their careers by being inappropriately treated at Mediterranean conferences or by their male mentors..


                                                Tom Leonard in his flat in central Edinburgh


Wednesday, 7 April 2021



My Dark Knight


by  Thomas Hoskyns Leonard


I’ve seen you walk my love,
Nimbler to the cultured eye than any fair lady;
No! You can’t take that away from me.
Your intellectual prowess radiates youth and harmony.
You’re straight, straight as any arrow can be.
And yet you’re my Octavian;
You cuddle up to your Caesar in my fantasy.
You can’t take that away from me.

© Thomas Hoskyns Leonard, May 2012


Away to A and E
by  Thomas Hoskyns Leonard

A huge purple bruise appeared in the wee sma' oors,
Flashing over my spleen.
Away to A and E! declared Dr. Molly Kirkcudbright,
And let the surgeons probe your innards deep.
So on to the Dickensian modernism of the Royal Infirmary,
Where patients freeze for eternity on their trolleys
And the lucky ones are starved.


I join the archaic peep show of characters bizarre, while they pore their fingers
over my yellow tummy and jest about my scars of war.
‘Why did your girlfriend kick you so hard?’ asked the student, with a grin and a
flicker of his eyebrow, as he touched me up for growths and clots of blood.
‘The besom’s away in Clackmannan.’ I mortify. ‘It must have been a creature of the night.’


‘It’s ultrasound and X-rays for you, if the lazy bastards manage to pull their fingers out
by tea-time,’ announced the lovely Dr. Snodgrass. ‘In the meantime, no food or drink.’
‘Help me; please help me!’ kept crying a lady in desperate agony.
‘Is anything going to happen?’ I ask, three hours later, while parked half-naked in the corridor.
‘I don’t know you from Adam,’ replied the face behind the Hercule Poirot moustache.
Then off to the jolly combined assessment ward where old ladies wilt on their beds awaiting death.


‘I’m thirsty!’ I cry. ‘Please give me a drink.’
‘Have a piece of my chocolate,’ said a matronly nurse, while completing my multitudinous
NHS forms and chatting up a lass from Tannochbrae.
‘What’s up with you?” asked the supercilious Dr. Sturgeon, belatedly on his rounds.
‘I’m glad to forgo your cordon bleu,’ I sardonically reply, ‘but I’d rather like a drink.’
‘You don’t need to be in a hospital,’ he said, glaring at my frightening bruise.
‘Heaven knows what caused that, but I’m sure that it will go away.’
So I beat a hasty from the place where I will surely die.

© Thomas Hoskyns Leonard, May 2012

by  Thomas Hoskyns Leonard

In what wondrous dream

Do I suppose

I met the Mayflower Rose?

Her petals turned to pink

In a hug and a blink;

Her stem twisted in the breeze

When I fell to my knees;

Her aura turned heavenly and angelic

As I plied her with Dumnonian magic.

But when the prickly thistle flew in,

Rose was gone in the din.

I twisted and turned,

As I drank like a tank for ever and a day.

When Yank fought Assyrian in the Gulf of Tears,

She, the Voice behind the Screen,

Spoke as if I’d never been.

Now she beams across the mind waves

In my wondrous dreams.

© Thomas Hoskyns Leonard, January 2013

The Mayflower Rose by Fabio Cunha




Life on the Yealm

by  Thomas Hoskyns Leonard

The jagged Mewstone,
Its restless seagulls,
And solitary hermit’s hut
Languished to the larboard
While the Jurassic Cliffs by Silver Cove
Veered skywards to the starboard.
We sat huddled in the fourteen foot Yvonne
For ever and anon
Tossing in the sickly green swell
To the sound of the Grim Reaper’s bell
Fishing for pollock
And the occasional haddock
While Mummy hit rock bottom
And got brassed off
With a thick-skinned wrasse.


When Brod peed copiously over the side
A conger from Neptune’s Hell took him for a ride.
When Daddy landed the eel
His toes began to peel.
But smart-arsed Tommy surpassed them all
With a Portuguese man of war
That made us all sting
With a ding and a ping.


When Dad revved up the ancient outboard motor
Wembury Beach was a safe haven in reach
But our wooden klinker-built skiff,
Designed in Devonport for a sniff,
Turned ever so abruptly,
Stern following helm,
Up the River Yealm,
And sped like a vole
Leaping out of a hole
Towards the heaven-sent niche
Of Old Cellars Beach.


Ginger Rogers overtook us
With a face like a porpoise,
Looking quite staunch
In his seaworthy launch,
Hauling several basking sharks
He’d caught for a fark and a lark
By the Eddystone light.
He was always good for a fight

And quickly left us out of sight.


As we crossed the fertile sandbar
On the Noss Mayo side,
The mackerel took us in their stride.
Tommy grabbed Brod’s fishing rod,
Kicked his skinny shins,
And tried to catch cod.
But Granny Flo was as good as a nanny
And tanned wicked Tommy’s spotty hide.
I began to feel squirmy inside.


When I tried to row,
I cried ‘Bollocks!’
As the oars got stuck in the rollocks.
I caught a crab,
My head felt bad,
And I was ever so sad.
Thereupon Brod teased me,
His little, put-upon sister,
With a gurk and a prod,
And said ‘Thank goodness the seagull missed her.’


Ned Charon the Ferryman approached us,
Carrying six pompous goats
In his sleek riverboat
Towards the mudflats up the creek
Where we play hide and seek.
‘Newton Ferrers next stop,’ he cried,
with a keen gaze which put me in a faze.
As Ned steered to the port side,
Tommy fired his catapult
And hit the fattest old goat with a bolt.
‘I’m sorry, Your Worship,’ yelled Daddy,
Twisting Tommy’s fearful ear.
‘That was entirely my fault.’


The magnificent mansion,
Where the reclusive sanitary engineer hid,
Heralded Newton Pool
Where the swans nested on a wooden raft
And the jet set were ever so daft.
We floated through the snotty kids
Relaxing on the topnotch yachts
Until we reached Captain Quacky Drake’s imperious craft.
But we poured onto the crestfallen Wanderlust
That was fit to disintegrate in the next hefty gust.
Once aboard, Granny brewed us
A piping hot pot of peppermint tea
And played fiddledee dee
While we hung Tommy’s ankles from the mast,
And everybody laughed when they sailed past.


Tom (right) with his brother and mother on the "Wanderlust" on the Yealm Pool about 1961


© Thomas Hoskyns Leonard, February 2013


Mothecombe Beach
by  Thomas Hoskyns Leonard

They will scatter my ashes
To the tune of heavenly bands
On the majestic golden sands
Which the waters of the Erme reach
On Mothecombe Beach.
There I ran with my black swimming ring
As a precocious child of medium size
And built mansions and castles
For the waves to vaporize,
Close to the rocks on the Flete Estate
Where the son of Lord Mildmay met his fate.
There I sat on the sands as the tides rippled in,
Savouring the blend and just about everything.

When I was festering in lands far away,
I thought of the river of my birth
That has nurtured me to this day.
I remembered pretty Yvette,
Great Auntie May,
And the picnics and ball games
Which kept me in sway,
And once again became happy and gay.

Now, while the Grim Reaper waits
My mind returns there at will
And I only hope to be permitted
One more walk
Down God’s sacred hill.


The Erme Estaury at Mothecombe

© Thomas Hoskyns Leonard, February 2013

The Sands of Salcombe
by  Thomas Hoskyns Leonard

We camped year upon year
For a fortnight,
With parental foresight,
On the bog-standard farm
That never changed hands
Behind North Sands,
In my father’s half-rent army tents.
We held hands around the camp fire
Listening to the bands of scouts
Singing ever so dire,
And ran to the public loo by the beach
Whenever that option was in reach.

Brod and I played a silly bat and ball game
On the silvery sands, to public disdain,
And we all took a dinghy too far
Along Tennyson’s mystical bar
And over to Sandy Cove
Where pirates once roved.

Daddy liked to drive us
In his rundown Hillman
Over the steep hill to South Sands
Where the Salcombe ferry lands
And the beach looks like Looe.
Not bad for a lower middle class, bullshitting crew.

Then the bleeding, throat-scorching walk
To the weird country house at Overbecks.
What a heck of a hex!
And onwards to lofty Bolt Head,
Where the Herzogin Cecilie went aground
And Mum and Dad once played around
In the rigging, only kissing not frigging.

Back on the camp site,
The wasps and the Morris dancers
Were in full swing.
A mellow fellow nicked me with his stick
Ting a ling ting!
My head went ding,
And I felt like going ping
When a bee stung my nose with a zing.
Brod sneered, with a wease,
And said, for a tease,
‘It serves you right, you freaky weakie,
You’re so focking dumb,
And a very silly Tommy Wommy to boot.’
What a hoot!

I returned as a corpulent
Imperial College maths student
To toil in the Tides Reach
Near the southerly beach.
Through the neurotic haze
Of misshapen youth,
I saw ghosts warped from the past,
And felt uncouth,
And ever so sad
That I’d turned out so bad.
What a strange lad!


Tom (right) with his brother on the North Sands campsite
in about 1954

© Thomas Hoskyns Leonard, February 2013

The Flying Windmill


by  Thomas Hoskyns Leonard


Dedicated to a Dutch windmill destroyed by Allied Forces in 1944


Faster than sound, Faster than light,
Hurtle my sails, through day and night
Faster than the fastest Japanese bullet train
Faster than spaceships trading in grain
Faster than the Psychons in the acid rain.

With my granite jaws I devour,
The maize, the wheat, and the rye,
And grind them into flour,
While I fly across God’s sky
For reasons heaven knows why.

And now I am the Federation’s artillery marker
For their attack on the Vulcans
From the Planet Darthlarker
And the nefarious Klingons
From the depths of Lukedarker.

What a proud, prestigious honour!
But Neptune wept, I’m a goner!
Which bloody fool blew me to smithereens,
Like James the Second and his silly marines,
Like a Dalek with twisted genes?

It was Captain Crassus Carrotneep,
Who objected to my creaky noise
While they was trying to snooze and sleep.
And now I’m lost without poise
In the Klag marsh ever so deep.


(Includes five lines from a poem written by the author at Sutton High School, Plymouth when he was 12)

© Thomas Hoskyns Leonard, February 2013


The Blue Preying Mantis


by  Thomas Hoskyns Leonard


It appeared during my dear Hypatia’s wedding
Man-size by the pulpit,
Prancing in prayer-like posture,
Its dark green pseudopupils bulging
Out wide
From its bulbous compound eyes,
Its spiky forelegs grasping
The sacred Book of Kells,
Flashing its leathery outer wings
And revealing
The four meaner things behind.
‘I’m Bishop Galloway,’ it cried,
Even though His Grace had gone away to hide.

‘Not the blue preying mantis!’ I shrieked.
The worthy canon was confounded,
The kilted best man turned around,
The youthful ushers ran up with a bound,
And I was bundled into the Lady Chapel
Where they gave me a rough grapple
And throttled my Adam’s Apple.
Thereupon, Hypatia happily married Damian
Attended by the Rose Gang from Granton
And an alsatian.

It appeared in the Havana
Just as the schemy Aussie
From Sydney with a single kidney
Was trying to get off like a toff
With a bent Dorothy from Tranent
Who wasn’t exactly heaven sent.
It tried to pull tricks without feeling,
Its sensors scraping the ceiling,
Its reptilian jaws munching the treats
With a surfeit of crunching.

‘Not the blue preying mantis!’ I shrieked,
And two hefty bouncers from Saturn’s Rings
Ran in, with jagged scars on their faces,
And threw me headlong onto the street.

It appeared in the respected Professorial Ward,
While Dr. Heinrich Vespasian was on his rounds.
It was leaping like a cricket,
Scampering like a cockroach,
Ever keen to encroach
On my King Gadeon broach.

‘Not the blue preying mantis!’ I shrieked,
And two ginormous prop forwards sped in.
‘Yank him, jag him, and make him do the splits!’
Snorted the kindly consultant from Auschwitz.
The guys from Hawick ground my face into the floor,
Koshed me with flupentixol,
Threw me into windowless, furnitureless solitary,
And locked the cast iron door.
What a way to jag a philanthropic young stag!
Thank goodness they didn’t acuphase me with clopixol.
Rat attacks are a snip compared with painful palpitations
And mind-bending heart attacks.

Their witches’ brew paralysed me waist-down
And put me on crutches.
So they switched me to modecate,
With an occasional pill of Largactil.
Now, after eleven years of scorching sunstroke,
Sleepness nights and scary days,
Red multiple scar tissue a posteriori,
And prolonged painful erections a priori
I chase after every lady in sight,
And heavily salivate
While I give them a fright.
I’m the blue preying mantis,
Who returned in the night.


© Thomas Hoskyns Leonard, February 2013

The Dancer in the Pink Tutu
by  Thomas Hoskyns Leonard

‘Ding Dong’ cried the dancer in the pink tutu,
Flourishing his arms in bird-like disarray.
‘It’s time for the cabaret.
So smell your rosebuds while you may,
And come merrily on your way.’

‘Ding Dong’ he cried,
Rubbing his fat belly.
‘Don’t even squeak on your Nelly,
But come and compose,
While I repose,
Or I will dispose of your guts in disarray.’

‘Ding Dong’, he cried,
Fawning up to lithe Lilith,
Come and sink your teeth
Into literary works of merit
Which we will all inherit.’

‘Ding Dong’, he cried,
Flourishing his pink tutu,
‘Fill me with life anew,
And read me your gut-wrenching stories,
While I retch and spew.’

‘Ding Dong,’ he cried,
As he most ignominiously died
After getting tossed and fried.
‘Tootoo, tootoo, and tootoo to you.

I always know when to take my cue.’

© Thomas Hoskyns Leonard, March 2013


The Gauntlet


by  Thomas Hoskyns Leonard


She spread her wings from Devonport Dock,
And headed like the Mayflower Rose
Down the jam-packed Hamoaze,
’Cross the ever pounding Sound
T’wards the Mewstone Rock;
A victor in the Tall Ships race,
Fully forty feet from stern to prow
With quite sharp a pace through the dizzy space
And the subtlety and grace of an Arabian dhow.

‘Turnabout, not whirl about, you bleary land lubbers!’
Cried Captain Malcolm Macey,
Who was dressed to look quite racy.
I successfully ratcheted my sheet
As Dad and Brod took the heat,
And the Gauntlet t’wards Cawsand twisted,
Narrowly missed the harrowing breakwater
By an inch and a quarter,
And headed into open water.

‘Top ho’!’ cried Lieutenant Martin Jago,
As the H.M.S. Illustrious led the incoming queue
From territories old and new.
‘Jibe to the larboard!’ yelled our cap’n,
To avert the Brazen in full spurt.
I ducked the swinging boom,
Narrowly avoiding my ill-fated doom,
And away we zoomed
Through the lofty waves
T’wards the Eddystone light
Like a bunch of knaves
Escaping out of sight.

‘Take the tiller, Tommy,’
Smirked Captain Macey,
‘While I make us each a round
With spam and hard cheese,
None too fresh
But well ground.’
I blushed and flushed
Like Noel’s right royal Nancy,
While I steered the Gauntlet
According to my fancy,
And we towards the Cornish coast veered
And flew by Looe without a clue,
While Neville the dumb Macey stood and leered
Nervously glancing at his papa most feared.

A storm blew up,
And grew into a gale
Of force well exceeding nine,
Tempestuous and not at all benign,
‘We’ll take refuge in Fowey,’
Cried Malcolm Macey,
Taking the helm,
As the waves o’er the gun’ale crashed,
And I to the near vertical deck was stashed.

When we ran the Gauntlet into our safe haven,
Lieutenant Jago pouted, and shouted,
‘Let me rev up the engines, Cap’n,’
‘No chance,’ spouted Macey.
‘We’ll give them a show,
And tack in ’gainst the flow.
We’re Her Majesty the Queen’s Royal Navy
You should by now well know
Even if you’re bred out of the arsenic mine in Mary Tavy.’
And all the pixies stood and applauded
As we approached the harbourside quay
While I was longing for a pee,
And I felt personally lauded.

‘Everybody pile in,’
Cried Martin Jago,
Lowering our remarkably small skiff.
In jumped Brod,
As stiff as a rod,
Followed by Dad
Looking fit to do bad.
Thereupon Macey’s bloated dimwit came crashing downward
And sank the skiff with all hands aboard.
‘It’s time for a drink,’
Said our cap’n,
When they’d pulled the sad crew out of their mire
Looking half bent and quite dire.
So off to the Pirates’ Ship we went
And sipped mulled wine by the friendly fire.

© Thomas Hoskyns Leonard, February 2013

Flying By Queasy Jet
by  Thomas Hoskyns Leonard

Fly direct by Queasy Jet;
It’s easy by sleazy jet.
Join the élite set
With people you’ve never met.
You bet they’re putting you in a sweat.

Amelia Marilia was heading for Mothecombe sands
To scatter her slothful Daddy’s ashes
To the tune of heavenly bands
Where the tide dashes, lashes, and flashes,
And smashes while it crashes.

The plane spiralled through the sky
And wobbled in the ozone
While Amelia was listening to Boyzone,
As sick as a bozo hoping to die,
And swearing never again to fly.

‘We’re diverting to Bristol
Because of the bog-like fog in Exeter,
And whatever and etcetera,’
Cried the pilot, doughty Crystal,
While she was zooming over the Black Country
Swearing at all and sundry.

‘What a fark for a lark,’
Exclaimed Amelia Marilia,
Burying her dead Daddy’s ashes
In the soggy boggy woggy,
‘It’s plastic for that spastic
And good riddance for me
Fiddledy dee!’

© Thomas Hoskyns Leonard, February 2013

In Praise of Thomas Tallis
by  Thomas Hoskyns Leonard


Salve intemerata virgo;
Ave rosa sine spinis;
Ave Dei patris filia;
La Vièrge Marie est sanctifié en musique,
Et le jeune Thomas était l’artiste interprète,
The youth with the whole world at his feet.

Hail, pure virgin Mary;
Hail, rose without thorns,
Hail, most noble daughter of God the father.
Thomas blesses you in music,
And, while never prosaic,
Emulates you in life mosaic.

Gaude gloriosa Der Mater;
Puer natus est nobis,
Et filus datus is est nobis.
The Queen is exalted,
By the son who is born to us.
The Roman rite is restored,
All praise to the blessed Mother of God
And the Anglican liturgy is, for a moment, shod.

Boy lover of the jousting Sir William,
Obsequious to the English Caligula;
Husband of the faithful Joan,
And peepholed by her dead sister,
Tallis would live to serve Elizabeth the Great.
Queen Mary? He never missed her.

Nine psalm chants for four voices,
The Lamentations of Jeremiah.
Jerusalem remembers all the precious things
That were hers from days of old,
As Thomas celebrates for us
The triumphant tales untold.

He never put faith in any but you, oh God of Israel;
Spem in alium was a fine motet,
‘If you love me’, a fine bouquet.
Author of this blessed memory,
Sound divine praises with melodious graces!
Office hymns, works from Liturgy, in full array
How wonderful the day.

As he dyd lyve, fully four score years,
So also did he dy,
In myld and quyet sort (O lucky, happy man!)
To God ful oft for mercy did he cry,
Whereas he lyves, let deth do what he can.
I’ll love your youthful soul, Thomas Tallis,
And the ghosts defy.


Composer’s Note: The first five lines of the last stanza are based on the last four lines of Ye Sacred Muses by William Byrd.

© Thomas Hoskyns Leonard, March 2013

St. Agnes Steve

by  Thomas Hoskyns Leonard

St. Agnes Eve, ah bitter chill it was;
Aleidh, for all her plumes and feathers, was acold,
And reassuredly on the purple pill,
When into the Fifian field she strolled.
Recalling the Gaelic myth of old,
She threw a handful of grain into the scant cattle fold.
‘Agnes sweet, Agnes nubile,
Agnes fair, Agnes with your thighs so bare,’
She cooed, and mooed,
As the owls sped through the midnight air,
‘Hither, wither, now repair;
Fragrant Agnes dear, let me see
The bonny lad who is to lie with me.
You can hanker in;
Have no fear.
We will make a likely pair
When we venture where
The timeless Twins of Trimontium seldom dare.

A bovine hulk in a green dress
(What an unadulterated mess!)
Appeared like a vision in Dr. Who,
As if by nuclear fission,
By the old ash tree
In doubtful harmony.
‘I’m Danny the Trannie’
He boldly declared,
‘And I’m here to give you a Kirkcaldy whammy.
Just creep under the white curl bush
While I give you a Dalgety push.’
Sod off!’ shrieked Aleidh, in distressed disarray,
Hurrying out of her endangered way.
‘I’m a fine Catholic lady,
And I’m ahome to my four poster bed.
Begone before I see bright purple and red!’
At that, the voluptuous vision did a vault
And a triple split stag somersault,
And landed on an inquisitive colt.

Not wishing to admit defeat,
Aleidh, feeling less than replete,
Tossed away her flowers,
In the wee small hours,
Stripped and skinny dipped
In her sizzling hot tub,
And gave herself a sensuous rub.
Then away, without supper or snack, to bed,
And gave herself a smack,
Hoping that another ancient superstition
Would come to a head
With a fancily fruitful fruition.
As she lay on her foxhair mattress
Anticipating fond duress,
With her dainty hands under her fluffy pillow
And her feline legs as shaky as a willow,
She peered at the wide heavens,
Without looking behind her,
As Jack Keats would’ve taught her,
Like a lamb approaching the slaughter,
Forever of God the daughter.

‘I’m Steve Porphyro from Crieff,
And I don’t want to give you unduly gratuitous grief,’
Declared a buxom boss-eyed buck,
Flexing his bristling burly biceps
As if from Crete in a superlatively Sapphoian dream.
‘May I squeeze your thrice blessed beautifully blended breasts,
My brash baby bonny bizzom,
Without creating a senseless schism?’
‘Yes please,’ shrieked Aleidh, in delight,
Spreading her legs out wide,
As if she had no parts to hide,
‘And then your mighty manhood to my rare rosebud show.
Please try to go quenchingly quick and ponderously

And so the lush wench from Largs was thrice well laid that night.
Neither a fantastical fantasy
Nor a dippy dream,
But at times a frantic fight.
Then she lay abed in delicious delight
Until the cock did thrice capriciously crow.
I’ve been a senselessly silly scamp, she grinned, I know!                             

Pel Porphyro was a slum landlord in Crieff,
Sometimes cruel and often a thief.
‘Come into my palatial parlour,’
He declared with considerable ardour.
‘Now you my son’s proud wife will be
While I give you gifts and treasure
And adore you beyond measure.’
‘But I’m a fine Catholic lady,’
Shrieked Aleidh, in disharmony,
‘And I’ll nae be a tart for the likes of ye.
Take a hike to Killiecrankie.
I’m aways home for my tea.’

‘Put her in a crate
And take her to Kate’s
For all to infuriate
And some to satiate.
Make her quake, hump her, and dump her.
I forsake her!’
Yelled Pel, like an Orcadian monster.
So off to the whorehouse
They dragged her,
Where the pimps tagged and ragged her.
But each time a man tried to make her,
She called upon St. Agnes to save her,
And the duff vanished in a puff of green smoke
Without ever a croak.

‘Drive the obstinate peach to Kirkcaldy beach,
And turn her and burn her,
Yelled Pel, in a mighty rage,
Not sounding fit to engage.
‘She deserves the fate of her pious Agnes,
For pursuing this madness.’
But when they drenched her with petrol
And set a light to her dress,
A magical wave swept in
Through the sewage on the portage
And saved her from further duress.
‘Thank you, my blessed Saint,
‘For saving me from your holy fate,’
She declared, though quite unprepared
As Pel rushed up with an axe,
And lopped off her head,
Just as our good Lord struck him stone dead.
As their blood rushed and mingled,
The hound dogs curdled and tingled.
When Steve scurried up, looking quite naïve,
He was utterly peeved.
Sad Steve did grieve for many years thereafter,
Downing gin and sin,
And snorting Charlies with the harpies,
Before hitting the rafters.


The composer would like to thank Thomas Tsartsidis, who is writing a Ph.D. thesis about Christian martyrs, for suggesting
the St. Agnes theme.


© Thomas Hoskyns Leonard, April 2013


by  Thomas Hoskyns Leonard


Prawn to King Four
Opened ‘Mishzucchini’ from Singapore,
Clearly hoping for the Ruy Lopez or the Guico Piano
And a Capablanca-style virtuoso.
After painting my eyelashes purple and pink,
(As ever the Glesca scouse!)
And admiring the tiny picture of the darling dear of a twink,
I, proud ‘Fartyartykink’, clicked my mouse,
Transposed the wench into the French
Built a trench around my king,
And made her queen go ding-a-ling-ling.
She tried to rook me, and to hook me
With a cunning knight move to the right,
But I forked the dork and
And put the porky joker to flight.
Then, with a black bishop fianchetto,
I caught her king in its ghetto,
Forced a delightful checkmate,
And laughed uproariously at her fate.
Eight more points and three complimentary joints!
Flashed a message on my Toshiba screen,
And my 1201 Chess. com rating made me preen.
Would I my long lost 2150 FIDE rating once again achieve
Or would I flounder like naive old Uncle Steve?

332 ten minute blitz games later
I thought I was revisiting my alma mater
When I crushed ‘Smartpeachblossom’ from Argentina,
To the tune of my concertina,
With my closed Sicilian which is worth a billion.
When the Smart Alec saw my Alekhine’s gun
(Rook, rook and queen piled
On the same file!)
He knew he was done.

A 1707 rating, no less,
After all that angst and duress;
Visions of pummelling a grandmaster
While moving faster and faster.
But while playing ‘Kissblarney’ from Ireland,
I experienced disaster unforeseen
And turned beetroot and green.
While trying to snatch his rook,
My mouse glitched on my queen and
Dropped her into the leprechaun’s nook.
Forsooth! She with a gleeful bishop’s pawn was took.
After many more foul ups and silly balls ups
And zwischenzugs going awry,
I was stricken with a stye in my eye
While my rating went bye bye,
And, feeling like a dim-witted kook, I forever forsook.


© Thomas Hoskyns Leonard, May 2013

The Garden and The Lake
by  Thomas Hoskyns Leonard

Dedicated to Thomas


I live in a garden
Surrounded by a wooden trellis
Where the flowers address my stress,
The weeds fulfil my needs,
The tatties turn into fratties,
And the trees keep me at ease.

Friendship is like a lake;
The ripplets foster harmony,
The currents create destiny,
The waves cause dialogue,
And the fish complete
A dish perfectly replete.

When the lake flows into my rose garden,
My cup floweth over with due pardon.
When my friends come to tea,
I feel like Zebedee.
And then it’s time for bed,
Magic sleepyhead!

© Thomas Hoskyns Leonard, May 2013

The Sprite of Sharpitor


by  Thomas Hoskyns Leonard


Daddy drove Mummy,
Violet, his kept woman,
Mollie the Collie, and us,
In his green Hillman,
Behind the green Tavistock bus,
Out beyond Rob’rough,
Still keeping relatively sober,
Past the dippy A.A. man,
Who stared at us like a very green Plymouth Argyle fan,
’Cross the crazy clattering cattle grid,
Which didn’t cost a dime or a quid,
And out onto the brown and green Moor.
Oh, what an eternal bore!

The picnic with the ponies
And a couple of Violet’s cronies,
And the freezing cold swim at Cadover
Were enough to bowl me over.
Then Daddy whacked Brod,
For calling him a silly cod
And laughing when he hurt his bod.
While Brod’s head was still ringing and swinging,
I started carol singing,
And when Mummy served up the chicken,
I kept licken and licken.
Meantime Violet Kewish
Was behavin’ remarkably shrewish,
While Daddy was acting up mulish
And Brod was looking exceedingly foolish.

Then off for a traipse around the half blown-away Yelverton Rock,
As a Spitfire zoomed over the ancient runway
While Molly teased the sheep and taunted the flock,
And I performed the Saltarello my way.
‘Let’s climb Sharpitor!’ cried Brod,
The wretched, bullying sod,
‘I want to catch slow worms under the stones,
And make a Druids’ cross with the sheeps’ bones,
Though the vipers make me very hyper.
Particularly when they sting me up my Khyber.’
So through Dousland did we go,
While Brod tickled me like a dim-witted gigolo,
And we climbed the triple breasted tor
Overhanging the lake at stupendous Burrator
Until we could see the Eddystone Light
Way beyond the distant shore,
Saving the seamen from eternal blight,
Helping the blessed Mother of God
Her struggle against the evil forces of nature to fight.

As I approached the summit,
A magical fairy leapt out from under a rock,
Bounced on a granite block,
And landed with a plummet.
‘I am the Sprite of Sharpitor’, did she declare,
‘And I’m here to inquire how you fare.
You are a much put upon laddie,
But you could turn into an inspiring mannie.’
‘They call me a cruel poof at Mudstone High,’ I wailed.
‘Even though I wouldn’t hurt a fly.
They crush snails in my pockets,
Their eyes blazing through their sockets.
They hide my trousers up the chimney during gym
And subject me to their every whim.
They attack me with blades
And pursue me through the hues and shades
On the endless Marsh Mills glades.
And as for Giles Snitchy,
That narcoleptic Narcissus couldn’t be more bitchy
When I finally thumped the creepy-crawly sneak in the mouth
He reacted like a bleeding scouse
And scurried to the prefects like a snitchy mouse,
For me to beg vain mercy from the cane.
But I will triumph by focussing on my chemistry, maths and physics,
And appealing to the spirits and the mystics.’
‘Childhood experiences are given to us from above,’ said the Sprite,
‘To mould character and put us in the right,
So we may throughout our lives fight
For what might never be and yet might.
You will hit rock bottom
Several more times in your life,
And yet you will occasionally rise to top ’em
Despite the never ending strife.’
‘Thank you, kind Sprite,’ I replied.
‘Your virtue cannot be denied.
I will plough my own furrow
And make the evil dingos burrow,
While suffering the vicissitudes of life,
And occasionally I’ll even be Mack the Knife.’
‘Good for you, Tosh,’ said the Sprite, with a smile,
‘And now I’ll sit on your shoulder for a while,
And observe your relatives at play
As they do come what may.’

So off towards Cadworthy Wood did we go,
While Mummy spewed verbal diarrhoea in full flow.
But when we drove ’cross Meavy Splash,
The Sprite leapt onto the bonnet,
And recited a sonnet and all sorts of trash.
When Daddy burped his horn,
She looked most forlorn,
And inside the old oak at Meavy did she vanish
To share a jug of rough Scrumpy, a turnip pie, mash, and hyacinth garnish,
And a sevenfold South Hamsian hug.

© Thomas Hoskyns Leonard, June 2013


The Peter and Mary Tavy Time Pixie
by  Thomas Hoskyns Leonard

’Twas early dawn and the fields were packed with maize and corn,
When I clambered from my badgers’ burrow
Six feet under the blacksmith’s grave
And followed a deeply cut furrow
On the top of Conan’s poetic Moor,
Like a capricious, though dyed-in-the-wool, knave,
Frozen to the core, but forelocks to the fore.
I live with my fellow pixies and Dixies,
Agelessly beyond the ancient stanary town of Tavistock,
Where ’Enery the Eighth put paid to the benevolent Abbey,
‘Cos he thought the rich monks were behaving shabbily,
Where the Dukes of Bedford took the people in their beds
And exploited them like a gang of inbred reds,
And where Tawi’s crazy, shot-around-the-inside-of-the-head bell ringer
In 1892 stood accused of the double murder
Of two St. Peter’s innocents, in the Guildhall dock,
Having given his guilty self an explosive dinger,
Jumping off the Harford Bridge like a cowardly smidge,
And imagining that he, William ‘Blücher’ Williams, was stone dead.
When the injured crackpot in Exeter Gaol was hung,
Some pined and others sung.

I ventured, in mind no longer desperately poor,
Feeling like an angel, no less no more,
From the remarkably docile St. Peter’s Churchyard.
Past the Peter Tavy Inn, longing for a gin and sin,
To the bridle path that leads like a petite boulevard
’Cross the Tavy from Tawi to Tavi,
Planning a random time warp,
With zillions of fractured seconds to gawp,
Around these suspended-in-time twin villages,
Not yet free from feudal pillages,
Long since renamed Peter and Mary Tavy,
Where the ale is so good,
’Cos it’s brewed in the wood,
And the beef pasties are laced with gravy.

‘Why hello, Beat Shank,’
Sang a rooster sounding like Country Hank,
As I crossed the Tavy o’er the Clam.
‘Would you care for a chunk of my hard-boiled ham?’
‘Yes please, Arch Buck Fedo, with a bite of Calstock cheese,’
I replied, ever ready to please.
‘I have to beat a hasty, Beat,’ said Fedo,
Fondling his left teat.
‘But my cheese ain’t half tasty.
I’ll see you later in the Elephants’ Nest
When I have a chance to take my rest.’
‘Hello Beat,’ said Gentle Annie,
As she leapt out of St. Mary’s Churchyard
And landed on her fanny.
‘Without wishing to sound untoward,
I wonder if you could lend me a groat for my dear granny?’
‘I only have a single farthing,’ I replied,
‘And I want to spend it on an aniseed ball.
But here’s a clover for you, my darling.
Don’t roll over, or your pride may fall.’
‘Watch you step!’ cried flaky Sammy Knacky,
Behaving typically whacky,
‘Or I’ll give you a fair smack,
And some sincere Moretonhampstead flack.’
So off I fled up to the summit of the hill,
Feeling that I’d had my whack and my fulsome fill.
There Tibbet the Highwayman was hanging from the lofty gibbet,
At some lost point in time,
Reeking of cow dung and pigs’ swill,
Fearing for his giblets,
And heading for a slimy coffin laced with lime.
Wally Weep wept tears beside him.
What an insidious creep!
Weep picked pockets ever so deep,
And deserved to be put to sleep.

I scorned the gypsies wintering on the Burrows,
And drifted ’cross the Time Doctor’s effervescent meadows,
To seek silver nuggets in the Prince Arthur
(A deep mine Captain Kent renamed the Wheal Betsy
After all the later public outcry and vent,
While renting it from Lord Fauntleroy Kermondeley-Kretsky),
Only for me to see the re-emergence of the Royal Duke of Clarence Ripper,
From the old engine room, with feisty menace;
Thereupon, His Munificence presented the captain with a gold pencil case
While staring me full in the face.
‘God damn your eternal soul!’ I cried,
Since the truth about that foxy Jack in the Box couldn’t be denied;
His brain deserved to be toasted and fried.

I hotfooted it across the landscape,
Heeled it passed the huge Buller water wheel,
And began to feel finer and in line
When I reached the mighty Wheal Friendship mine,
Where the Bal Maidens broke up the Mundic with their hammers,
And were paid a mere shilling a day despite their clammers;
The largest copper and arsenic mine in the entire world,
Where the workers grew old while the gents and ladies twirled
And the gentry their patriotic flags unfurled.
‘Hello, Beat Shank,’ cried Billy Go Deeper,
‘Can you spare a dime for Weeze Buck?
He’s down on his luck, and turning into an inveterate sleeper.’
‘I’d give him his shilling if he was wide awake and willing,’
I replied, wheezing for a tease
And feeling quite the sleaze,
‘But, Billy Go, why don’t we to and fro a’ fishing go,
And bury our spare salmon in the snow?’
Just then the shrieking siren wailed and bawled,
And Billy down the deep mineshaft was recalled,
To toil like a stunted Cornish mole,
While becoming increasingly outraged and dolefully droll,
’Til he to kind Ohio fled
To dredge for silver and lead in a muddy riverbed
While standing on his completely bald head.
To cap that, the sapper Jan Scuse turned into a recluse,
Without e’er a sick excuse,
Before setting sail for West Africa
On a dank Devonport slave trafficker,
Digging gold in the great Broomassie,
And wedding a fair Plymothian lassie
With a homely brother who was all too sassy.  *********************

I glanced at the dour Dowerlands Cottage,
Where the still-being-corrected fallen women
From all along the Tamar Valley and around West Devon
Were tending their flowers and potage.
I proceeded to luv’ly Laburnam House,
Dodging every gnome and giant mouse,
Where slick Uncle Herbie Minhinick was in fine nick
Running his coal and forge business on the quick,
With his usual kindness, common sense and sharpness.
Just then pretty Emma Doidge emerged from the shed-like Villas.
Munching a pork sandwich with all sorts of interesting fillers,
Sweet seventeen with plenty of spleen,
As energetic as I’d ever been,
As attractive a choirgirl as I’ve ever seen.
‘I’m having fun with the noble Squire Rector’s son,’ she beamed,
With an enchanting occultian gleam.
‘The dummkopf Blücher’s deadmeat and Philip knocks me off my feet.
He treats me like a lamb fit to bleat’.’
‘But that Bryant’s a duplicitous cad,’ I exclaimed,
Though from swearing and cursing I refrained.
‘He has two little daughters not even by his Dad maintained,
And this could end up menacingly bad.
If Blücher sees you walking together,
He may brew up a storm you cannot weather.’
‘Dinnat worrit, meaty-sweet Beat!’ smirked Emma, cocking her feather.
‘Philip and I meet in my father’s barn, for a weekly fling and a yarn.
But it’s Bill Rowe the organ blower who walks me home to my bower,
A handsome youth not yet ready to flower,
He always brings a brolly in case of a shower
And from girls has been known to cower.’
When I left Emma, I felt deep forboding and my confidence eroding,
And my magical neurotransmitters were in need of some recoding.
I prayed to Merlin, to the Goddess Fortune and to Baal,
In the hope that the Gods of Fertility and Nature would prevent
What I could not circumvent,
Hoping beyond hope that what was to be would not really be,
And that I was barking up the wrong tree.

Some fifteen years later I was aroused
By the Four Horses of the Apocalypse
Neighing in the clouds.
When I crept from my badgers’ sett,
Hoping to meet my long-yearned-for sweet Yvette,
I saw the ghost of the regal Squire Rector,
Doctor of Divinity from Wadham
(A proud college where the Warden liked to coddle ’em),
Recently nobly deceased as befits a learned St. Peter’s priest,
Dressed in a decaying suit with trousers well-creased
And weeping over the tomb of Emma Doidge (1875-1892).
Alas! The poor lass! There were so many sad things to rue;
‘In the midst of life there is death,’ was on her stone engraved.
After her funeral I’d always prayed that her soul would be saved,
Even though she’d mixed with the damned and the depraved,
And for the resurrection of her immortal soul I’ve for ever craved.
‘My days were like a shadow and I withered like grass
Years before my long-hoped-for-death came to pass.’
Bemoaned the ghost of Francis Bryant, wiping his misty glasses
And staring at the baying donkeys, goats and asses.
‘Young Emma and Bill were brutally shot after leaving my church,
And it didn’t take us long for the foul double murderer to search.
He, my bell ringer William Williams, was hung from a noose,
Though too insane to tell his neck from his boots.
However, my thus disowned eldest son was the worse villain,
Though he didn’t do any actual killing.
He was in truth and fact the blaggard who Williams intended to shoot
When the misfit myopically mistook Bill Rowe for the crass coot.
An old man also died at the scene of the crime,
From a heart attack, rolling in the dust and grime,
And the unfortunate farm lad Oxenham blew his own brains away
Bearing the brunt of the witchhunt for the beast of all blaggards,
Which could still continue for many a day
Until the salacious swords are finally replaced in the scabbards.
Meanwhile five of our families grieve and feud in utter dismay.’

‘The survivors will call this the Tragedy of Peter Tavy,’ I predicted, in alarm.
‘The feuds will last and your accursed parish forever harmed.
Such are the effects of the follies of youth
When their lovemaking becomes unmannered
And their behaviour so uncouth,
And of the crassness of older men when they lose their ruth
And never tell the Gospel truth.’
‘What is hidden from silly men can’t be hidden from our wise Creator,’
Opined the evangelical rector,
Flipping his lid like a childish spector.
‘And Almighty God doesn’t go light on the thunderbolts or the painful rod.
If only my delightfully jolly eldest son had gone to fish haddock and cod.
He’s since become a mere coal carrier, the totally miserable sod!’
‘Philip Bryant will die in an earth-shattering blast in the 1941 Blitz
Right out in the East London Styx,’ I forecast,
‘And his pieces will be buried under the roots of yon tree
Ten yards behind your aristocratic Hoskyns-Abrahall wife and pompous thee,
So that gentle people who visit Your Holiness his grave will never see.
The grief of his impoverished Plymothian offspring I also foresee;
His dying paramour Prothesa will pursue you shortly;
She is the mother of your cruelly disregarded, disinherited dynasty.
Since to her marriage to Philip you were too stuck up to ever agree,
And George Oxenham you failed to protect from the wild and angry,
A portion of the future blame will be assigned to Almighty thee.
So much for an over-the-top Christian busy bee! ’

Now, a century or more later,
Tawi is as quiet as a well-drugged fornicator,
Apart from the Peter Tavy Inn, where they still play and sin,
And the Harford Bridge Holiday Park, where the children fight
And the parents give in.
And, when all’s done and said,
Tavi is relatively dead,
With just six hundred sultry souls,
Though the ghosts still play cricket and bowls,
Its dynamic past lost through the many sins of its transgressors
Who never bothered to even seek their confessors.
But it’s still good to go for a drink,
In the Elephants’ Nest or the upmarket inn on the crest
Where the zestful locals are very occasionally at their best.


© Thomas Hoskyns Leonard, June 2013


Composer’s Notes: Some of my detailed information, including local terminology and people’s names, refers to the article ‘Mary Warne on Mary Tavy & Peter Tavy’ by Mary Warne which is published on the Mary Tavy Parish Council website. See my fictional short story ‘The Tragedy of Peter Taverton’  for further background. The Reverend Dr. Francis Bryant of St. Peter’s Church, Peter Tavy, was my great great grandfather, and his errant son Philip Hoskyns Bryant was my father’s maternal grandfather (See my Family Ancestry, which is published on my website, for matching photographs and my father Cecil Leonard’s 1979 account). Please read Chapter Nine of ‘Tavistock’s Yesterdays’ by Gerry Woodcock for a detailed description of the 1892 murders outside St. Peter’s Church and their nationally reported aftermath.

This poem is now published on the Mary Tavy Parish website.

The Thaw and the Revival
by  Nicola Romanski and Thomas Hoskyns Leonard

Another winter fades into memory
As the ice thaws during our half-centenary;
Rushing swollen streams extend their banks
While we to our Blessed Mother of Nature give thanks.
They burst forth from a frozen limbo
Like a surge of blood into a sleeping limb.
As we dally with Jumbo and Jimbo,
Tom loves Nicola again and she loves him;
Life shakes away the cold and remembers,
As death takes away and dismembers,
And in the mad rush the glorious thaw awakes the sleeping,
While our playful childhood dreams are ever deepening.
In the Wyalusing woods, the smell of death and decay
Gives space for other things to grow and flourish
And the animals the food to nourish
As the shady spirits go on their way
To return again on a tranquil day.

We explore our old haunts
Frail and fraught amidst the games and flaunts,
And with the feeling are struck,
That, amidst all the gooey muck,
The thoughts in this place,
From souls of every norm and race,
Have taken on some curious form
Like a spaceship in a sorority dorm
Or a Riemannian manifold without a norm;
Some remotely detectable shape,

Summertime in Edinburgh


by  Thomas Hoskyns Leonard


When it’s Springtime on Icarus
’Tis Summertime in Edinburgh,
And the space cadets, smart Swedes and Jerry boys come out to play
As Arthur C. Clarke to Charlotte Square wends his way;
The French in a human circus on the Meadows do entwine,
And the gruff Lady Boys self-impersonate quite fine,
While we in The World’s End down heavenly shots
From tiny plastic pots,
And fine Italian wine
From crystal glasses too divine.

Filled with glee, and feeling unusually twee,
I off to High and Mighty go,
To buy seven multi-coloured shirts in a row,
All twenty-one inch neck;
What the heck!
On Castle Street, I flourish in a traders’ market so fancifully replete
And buy a tight necklace and a curly bracelet
For Tomasz at ten quid each,
And for myself a locket,
An apple and a peach.

At another stall I try to solve a family mystery
By tracing my Hoskyns history;
That’s wot all kin of an Os in Anglo-Saxon times were called,
While by the Vikings they were being raped and mauled;
A giggling girl sells me a rolled-up scroll
Bearing three resplendent lions on my forbears’ Coat-of-Arms,
And an ancient recipe full of witches’ charms
But it’s headed ‘Finem respice’. Consider the end?
That’s enough to send me round the bend!

Come yet one more Festival time,
I feel particularly in my prime,
As along the Royal Mile I roam
While the clowns bounce in the foam,
The jugglers keep everyone enthralled,
And the dancers and the magicians are repeatedly recalled.
Oh, happy, happy day;
The whole world is coming my way.

At ten each night,
I disappear from sight,
An hour-long ‘Hot Chocolate’ concert to behold,
With every ticket scrupulously sold;
It’s in Old St. Paul’s,
Famous for its bells and smells
And homilies from o’er God’s dells,
Where now the pews serve as stalls,
And the singers and musicians have the balls
To return for multitudinous imaginary recalls;
Snazzy Sheila serves the mushy drinks
And solemn Nigel kicks out the dinks,
But everybody blinked and winked
The evening they brought on Seamus and the Kinks.
‘I could have danced all night’ sang Janet De Vigne,
When everybody burst their spleen;
To a more jocular show I’ve never been.

Come Autumn I go into free fall
As dourness and standoffishness replace Venus’s ball;
The grand city has a small town atmosphere once again,
While poets compose and writers take up the pen.
This winter to the Planet Icarus I will in a spaceship float;
To travel the twisting Vulcanian fiords in a Martian love boat.
Auld Reekie is such a sar sicht to see
Without the summertime tourists, happiness and glee
I’d prefer to go all along, down along, out along lee,
To Pennsylvania, or Portree,
Since from the quasi-posh crap I’ll always flee.

© Thomas Hoskyns Leonard, July 2013



Remaindered here without us,
That makes the satanic Archangels gape,
And their choirs sing the Benedictus Sanctus.
We wander, in our minds and memories,
Respecting our sleek contemporaries,
Through these extraordinary places,
Imagining we’re out at the hurdle races,
And the ghosts we encounter
Are as weird as a Jabberwocky monster
Embracing a Chicago mobster.

Time consumes our thoughts
As we grow carbuncles and warts.
Grass grows through the concrete we laid down
And bats and moths shred your multi-coloured gown.
The eternal process knows nothing of attachments,
But our identity holds onto these fragments,
To compile our personal histories
And remember our mysteries
And fleeting sense of self,
With due deference to the green Merlin elf.
From day to day, we struggle on our way
And with the utmost ferocity
To reclaim our childhood curiosity.
But so easily can these thoughts be misplaced
And ’til Purgatory disgraced,
By indifference, fear and fright,
As we struggle through the slumberless night,
However, we’ll never ever give up the paraspiritual fight
Until we see the purple and green Heavenly light
And address the dispassionate Mind Creator in all his might.
No redress! Forsooth! Our Valhalla is in sight.


© Nicola Romanski and Thomas Hoskyns Leonard, June 2013


Five Acrostic Poems In Ottava Rima
by  Thomas Hoskyns Leonard



Quintessential tile in Cosmatesque stonework
sed as pattern for planning a rose orchard
n architecture cross-in-square for domed kirk
o help for Brits facing Romans at York’s ford
alled saltire in flag of bygone Quatanurk
sed in ‘Grace’ to seat five men for Jesu’s word
eat arrangement for Saturn rocket engines
enophobic symbol for crass religions
(And smelly pooping grounds for silly pigeons)




Jerry Mander liked getting schmuck and blander
Each ev’ning he didn’t give a fuck ‘bout Rosie;
Rip van Winkle would’ve woken at his slander.
'E were stricken when Neil gave Rose a posy,
Mighty dumb stricken though goose for the gander,
Indeed Jerry hit the bottle, went dosey,
And slagged ev’ry Tom, Dick and Harry in Drem,
Having spurned naff Tarquin and the crème de la crème




Joe poked his snout into the white donkey’s trough
Over the top of the green orang-utan,
Ere he sneezed and wheezed after he’d had enough.
So he scampered home to complain to his Gran.
Nosey Parker!’ yelled his Sis, there in the buff.
Oh, dearie me,’ he exclaimed, ‘Now where’s my All Bran?’
Sod off!’ yelled his fat Mummy, twisting his beak,
Ere he ran to Kate’s and turned into a freak.




Noah and Noah bounded in two by two,
Off-green wallaby and bright red kangaroo,
Awash with slick hairspray and plenty of poo.
Hansel and Gretel joined throng with ne’er a shoe;
Susan wore a thong, came with a funny crew,
And the shark wore white, the whale his water blew;
Rory burped, and off into the floods they went;
Kath so enjoyed her view of the River Gwent.




Levi met Peter on road to Bangalore,
Even before red cockerel had thrice crowed,
Verily I say,’ he said, ‘You’ll hit the floor,
If you should ever manage to fit to mould’
To Hell with you,’ said Pete. ’I’ll with eagles soar
In excelsios Deo, and I’ll be bold
Cos you’re a ghastly excruciating bore.’
Up into the mountains the grumbling pair went.
Suffice to say, they weren’t soon to Heaven sent.


© Thomas Hoskyns Leonard, November 2013



My A B C of Faces


by  Thomas Hoskyns Leonard


Amelia has neat eyelashes and a pert snout,
rett a gracious smile and a surly pout,
olin a crooked jaw and a pirate’s ring,
ink a face like a kitchen sink which does ming.
artha with her red feline beak does entrance;
elix’s fleas across his speckled cheeks do dance
iles’s piles from his elongated nose intrude;
era’s divine dimples create an interlude;
rving’s regal wrinkles are bedecked with warts;
ames’s skin crinkles and the scorched sunburn thwarts;
eira cares for her sweet complexion fair;
eonard’s mug is a Neanderthal’s nightmare;
oira coats her visage with thick muddy sludge;
an’s facelift is an unadulterated fudge;
rlando is as handsome as a dark knight;
edro’s twisted konk gives me a ghastly fright;
uentin’s freckles freak bright ginger in the night;
odney’s teeth and spectacles are out of sight;
ally looks like a Cyclops in dire disguise;
homas wears a rough diamond tween his eyes;
lric’s bones protrude from his jaw like Yoric’s;
ivienne’s sexy grin gives rise to frolics;
illy’s camp make-up conceals his snotty sneer;
ia’s green powder makes her look really queer;
vonne simply can’t help appearing bovine;
ebedee’s look is overwhelmingly equine
(But I am the prettiest princess of all,
And I above you cretins will ever walk tall).

© Thomas Hoskyns Leonard, December 2013


The Moral High Ground
by Thomas Hoskyns Leonard

We, God’s honest ones, hold the moral high ground,

While millions suffer and die in the world around,

Some kowtow, others offend,

We, by our integrity, will the world defend.

Let them come to us, not us beg to them,

As the bureaucrats, shrinks, and procrastinators spew their flem.

All good Scots will eventually see what’s what.

And the bad ones? Stew them in the pot.

© Thomas Hoskyns Leonard, December 2013

Wherefor Dennis?


by  Thomas Hoskyns Leonard


Husband of sweet Joan,

Father of dynasties,

Pioneer at Cambridge

Of theory of queues;

Defender of the Savageous Bayesian faith

Creator of De Finetti’s everlasting fame,

Creator of Lindley’s enigmatic paradox,

Grand Inquisitor of Fisher’s Fiducial Inference,

His Bayes-Stein estimator reigns supreme

Scourge of iconic Florence

When he to the Chair at UCL majestically rose,

Then scourge of neurotic me.

Oh happy, happy, we gay people should be.

My grand educator,

Leaving my family destitute and forlorn.

Wherefor Dennis, oh noble Charon,

When he the Ferryman his penny pays,

And wherefor me?

In Memoriam, Dennis V. Lindley (1923-2013)
© Thomas Hoskyns Leonard, December 2013


An Adaption of a Traditional Irish Blessing

May the road rise up to meet you

May the wind be always at your back

May the sun shine warm upon your face

The rains fall soft upon your fields

And until we meet again, may God

Hold you in the palm of his hand

And raise you from the coasts you love

To the orchards in the Heavens.


The first six lines of this blessing are identical to an old Irish verse. The last two lines were composed by Thomas Hoskyns Leonard.

Ode to Uncle John

by  Thomas Hoskyns Leonard

Why does the Apostle He loved so much
Live in our midst in Dumnonia’s thrall?
Is it because he’ll be revered as such
Or is he here to spread love through us all?


My uncle and godfather was brought up
Listening to his grandpa heave and snore
Mourning his Dad lost on Zealand’s shores
And helping his Mum with the rent and chores


He adored Chris like Jonathan loved his prince,
His family like Jesu loved his flock,
Art, music, and all that poppycock,
And travelling along with British Rail.


John will be here when He returns again,
And my uncle will with Lord Jesus reign.

© Thomas Hoskyns Leonard, February 2013