Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Swan Lake

I have started posting my most recent YouTube recordings. If interested, the direct links are:
(Brighton in May 1 – Peace)
(Brighton in May 2 – The Time Keeper)

But you should be able to access my YouTube capers at any time from my YouTube channel: 

Treatment for my prostate cancer means I have to rest a lot either side of an active day out at the moment, but it is well worth it. Brighton has always been an inspiration for me since I was a kid, and it only takes an hour to get there on a fast train from  London.


This villanelle has not appeared on the blog since 2007 and is here today especially for ‘Roseanne’ and who says, ‘I adore ballet and am training to be a ballet dancer.’

Here’s wishing you every success, Roseanne.

Me, I loved Tchaikovsky’s music long before I knew he was gay. What has sexuality to do with talent, anyway, or greatness for that matter? [After all, there have been many great gay men and women throughout history.]


A love story on stage;
nerve strings of its composer
turning each page

As a bird flies its cage,
so music in glorious colour;
a love story on stage

Let dance, our pain assuage;
ensemble, solo, or pas de deux
turning each page

See art display the courage
of humankind’s old enemy, fear;
a love story on stage

Performance, paying homage
to the divided heart of its creator,
turning each page

Dancers, their talents engage
to read into art all human nature;
a love story on stage
turning each page

[NB.  Written after a brilliant performance by the Harlow Ballet Association at The Playhouse, Harlow, April 2007.]

[From: Accomplices to Illusion by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2007]

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Classic Somerset

Hello again. I hope some of you are enjoying the occasional dip into the blog archives while I concentrate on other things, not least my ongoing treatment for prostate cancer. I will be back from time to time, but not on a daily basis.

While several US readers have been in touch to say how much they enjoyed my new novel Catching Up With Murder (many thanks for that) it appears that UK readers are still having difficulty ordering from some bookstores although seem to provide copies fairly quickly. I have contacted the publishers (Raider International) and hopefully they will liaise with the UK’s main Book Suppliers to solve the problem.

I must thank all those readers who have been in touch to ask after my health. I am fine, just tired. I had my second (female) hormone implant earlier today, and will go for my third and last in July before starting radiotherapy in what seems likely to be August now (not July as I thought). I am not looking forward to that or the low fibre diet I’ll have to keep to for the duration. Still, it will be worth it. I will just have to hope I’ll escape the worst long term side-effects. Whatever, I have weighed up the risks carefully and don’t intend to change my mind.

The phrase ‘prostate cancer’ strikes fear into the hearts of many men. It is a fact, however, that more men live with it than die from it. Even so, if treatment is advisable, as in my case...Well, no treatment is without risk. I will just have to take each day as it comes.

Fear not, dear readers, there is absolutely no likelihood of the Grim Reaper having his wicked way with me for a few years yet.

I really am very positive about the cancer, but can’t deny it gets a little scary sometimes. Right now, writing up the blog, I feel fine. (Yes, I do, really!) I expect to have good days and bad days, but remain determined that the latter shall be kept to a minimum. Physically, I am in good shape and have no pain whatsoever. The battle is more of a mental one; living with the knowledge that the cancer is there inside me, and knowing the treatment will leave me impotent. However, regarding the latter, I am assured there is an 80% chance that something like Viagra or Tadalafil will do the trick should an opportunity arise when I need it. It shouldn’t bother me since, at 65 years-old, I haven’t been sexually active for a while. Even so, I guess it has to do with my manhood feeling threatened.

Mostly, I rise above any feelings of inadequacy and threat, but every so often they strike and refuse to go away. Yet, a long, leisurely stroll on lovely Hampstead Heath, barely fifteen minutes walk from my front door, invariably restores me to positive-thinking mode. As I live alone, I am also very fortunate to have some very good friends who help me keep a sense of perspective. It is always good to talk things over with friends when troubled. I should be cancer-free by the autumn, but as a kindly soul could not resist pointing out only yesterday, there are no cast iron guarantees about anything in this life. True, but I have always preferred to look forward to what is likely to happen, not worry about what might.


Several readers have asked how I came to write the poem about the death of Osama bin Laden so soon after president Obama announced it. [See my general blog:] Well, as I’ve already said, on the whole I feel fine, but every now and then I have a restless night. It was in the early hours (GMT) of May 2nd that I heard the news. The poem took a few hours to write before I finally managed to get some sleep.


While I am pleased that my new novel seems to be holding its own, I have no illusions about myself as a writer of fiction. I am not a great novelist and never will be, but I’m glad some people think I tell a good story. I certainly can’t compare myself with classic writers of some of the world most wonderful fiction. Among these, I include books for children such as Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, Wind in the Willows, Black Beauty, Little Women and Huckleberry Finn; some of these take on a whole new dimension of course when we come to read them again as adults.

One of my favourite novels as a child was Lorna Doone by R. D. Blackmore and it was from was this romantic adventure novel that I developed a love for Somerset. It is some years since I visited Doone Valley, but some friends have recently returned from visiting it while staying with relatives in the surrounding area. I felt inspired to take down the novel from my bookshelf, blow away the dust from its cover and devour it as eagerly as when I was a child. Later, I wrote this villanelle, and it will appear in my next collection Tracking the Torchbearer scheduled for publication in spring 2012.

Some readers may be interested in other poems I have written about Somerset that I also included in my 6th collection On the Battlefields of Love (2010). You might also care to go to the BBC site:

Oh, but how can I worry about prostate cancer when spring is here in the UK? There is so much out there to enjoy, not least in beautiful Somerset, and enjoy it I will.


Doone valley, classic fiction
for holiday images
conjuring true inspiration

Come any with a predilection
for turning nature’s pages;
Doone valley, classic fiction

At Badgworthy Water, listen
out for Carver’s rages
conjuring true inspiration

At Earth Mother’s invitation,
share a Love of Ages;
Doone valley, classic fiction

Celebration of Lorna and John
(birds singing their praises)
conjuring true inspiration

Cream teas teasing imagination
to revisit R. D’s pages;
Doone valley, classic fiction
conjuring true inspiration

Copyright R. N. Taber 2011