Saturday, 7 June 2014


The following is an observation of the time I wore the Milhaukee Brace...a brace to correct the curvature of scoliosis.


Her back was as crooked as the leaning tower of Pizza. Most folks regarded her as a foul creature.  To them she was Quasimodo’s Sister.  They would poke fun of her as she walked through the streets of town.  She was encased inside an ivory cage with metal rods poking through her thread-bare clothes up to her chin. What’s worse, her neck was caught in a most embarrassing contraption which protruded from the metal rods within her formidable cage.  She was the personification of Frankenstein’s monster.  Yet she was only a girl....a terrified, lonely little girl who lived with this atrocious deformity. 

Since the age of eleven she was diagnosed with scoliosis...a formidable bone deformity.  Her orthopaedic doctor recommended she have an operation, spinal fusion he called it.  But her mother didn’t have the heart to have her daughter undergo such a risky operation.  She couldn’t bear the thought of her little girl under the surgeon’s knife.  There was a second option:  The Milwaukee brace.  The child wore that hideous apparatus from the tender age of eleven until the age of sixteen.

© Mary Aris. All rights reserved

The Possession of La Sue Joy

The Possession of La Sue Joy

It started with a burning fever,
Deep within the recesses of my soul...
What began as a flame turned to fire
Scarlet and hot like a scourging fireball.

Spreading like a cancer that cell by cell...
Destroyed every fibre of my being
Till nothing was left but a hollow shell;
This thing devoured my soul; I’m bleeding!

My throat is parched like a drought
I reach to satisfy and quench my thirst
But my glass lies half empty; without a doubt
Someone has drunk from my cup first.

I look in the mirror and see a monster
Staring back at me with bulging eyes so mean;
I see a girl that I once knew and roar with anger
Why did she steal my crown, this beauty queen?

Now I am left rotting like a cadaver
Lying half naked in the streets of envy and desire!

  © Mary Aris. All rights reserved

Friday, 14 September 2012

A Tree's True Destiny

A tree is something marvellous;
Within its bark, lives a living soul.
A tree is something quite mysterious.
God, in his wisdom, did the tree recycle
Into many, many useful commodities.

The most versatile thing a tree can be
Is a book for the entire world to read.
A book is the tree’s true destiny.
For this purpose it grows from one small seed.

As a book a tree lives on forever
A thing of beauty that all can treasure.

-Mary Aris ©2012

Monday, 10 September 2012

Friday, 7 September 2012

The Weaving Widow

A widow dressed in black attire
Silently upon a wooden stool
Sat weaving by the light of the fire.
Diligently, daintily she worked the spool.

Throughout the night the silky skein she spun,
Into an intricately, delicate design.
I, in the corner, stared as the clock stroke one;
She wove her yarn the hue of deep ermine.

She wore eight pairs of glasses upon her head
The better to see the work she had begun;
An aura of mystery hung o’er head
As night turned into day her work was done.

I gazed at this masterpiece in awe
Gleaming like virgin snow upon my door.

 Written Aug 30 © Mary Aris, All rights reserved

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Welcome to the Maison Aris

      There was a mile-long queue waiting to be seated at the Maison Aris, my new restaurant. Only a week old, the Maison Aris buzzed with life, good food and a pleasant, friendly ambiance. The Maison Aris caters to hungry diners who want a taste of international cuisine.

    The Maison Aris was a life-long dream and ambition of mine to open up a quaint little restaurant in the middle of town where I, as a head chef, could flex my culinary muscles (excuse the pun) and feed hungry people in a nice, romantic atmosphere....and keep them coming for more.

    I chose a lovely building for my restaurant in the middle of this busy town. The building was sandwiched between a Waitrose Supermarket and Borders, over-looking a large field. The building’s exterior was made of white stones with large bay windows and a thatched roof.

   On opening day, we held a formal ceremony. My husband stood with a tray of butter cookies in the shape of our restaurant decorated with royal icing. The cookies bore the name of our restaurant on the front and our logo: "A Cozy little place to eat" on the other side. My husband handed the cookies to our first customers.

    Pierre, our Maitre D, escorted our first customers to their tables. I remember with clarity what my first order was—Toad-in-the-hole with mashed potatoes and a side order of peas. For dessert that evening I served Spotted dick with homemade custard, golden sponge pudding with crème anglaise, vanilla ice-cream served with butter cookies and plenty of Jelly with mounds of whip cream to make the children happy.

   A top-notch food critic from The Oxford Times, sat by himself near the window in one corner of our restaurant, sipping a cup of coffee, scribbling in a notebook; occasionally looking around the room with two enormous emerald eyes, scrutinizing everyone and everything about the place. I nervously stood behind the kitchen door.

“What if he doesn’t like the food,” I whispered to my husband.
“Relax, Love,” my husband, who was peeling spuds by the sink said,
” I’m sure he will.
“But what if he doesn’t and he writes a nasty review in the Oxford Times?”
I whispered. “We’ll be ruined, then!”
“Oh, stop worrying, woman! We’ll be fine. You are a great cook!”

   On my last nerve I sent Gladys, my Spanish waitress over to his table. Gladys, a sweet lady from Mallorca, spoke in broken English but was a good worker. She was a friend of my husband’s friend who recommended her to us. Gladys was here on a student and work Visa. She was learning English at the University.
“Gladys, go wait on that man, please. Make sure that he is well-attended.”
“Que?” asked Gladys.
“Gladys, atiende a ese hombre y atiéndelo bien.” I instructed in perfect Spanish.
“Está bien, Señora, lo atenderé muy bien.” Gladys went to the food critique’s table, pad and pencil on hand.
“What would you like?” asked Gladys in broken English.
“An interpreter.” the man replied.
“No entiendo, Señor. Un momento, por favor.” Gladys whisked her Franklin electronic translator from her apron pocket. She typed E-N-T-E-R-P-R-E-T-A-T-O-R. The thing bleeped that there was no such word.
The man smirked, throwing his hands in the air. “Wonderful! No hablas ingles?”
“Yes, I learn in university, Si!” replied Gladys.
“Let me speak to your manager. Quiero hablar con tu jefe, por favor.” The man looked into Gladys’s inquisitive brown eyes.
Gladys waved towards me and summoned me with a well-manicured finger. I nervously went over to table number nine. The man, wearing a black Oscar de la Renta suit, looked up at me, greeting me with his green, hypnotic eyes.
“Is there a problem?” I asked.
“Madam, is this restaurant full of foreign waitresses?”
“No, Sir, Gladys is our International waitress. She’s new...she’s from Mallorca.
“Gladys, traillé al Señor otra taza de café, por favor—ahora!”
“Enseguida, Señora, Aris”
I turned towards the gentleman who looked down at his notebook. "She's a very good worker, by the way, Sir. She studies English at Brooks University."
"Well, how is she going to take my order, by subtitles?"

 "We have customers here from Spain or who speak the Spanish language and she can speak in their native tongue.  We also have a French-speaking waitress here at Maison Aris.  We like to make our diners feel at home. We accomodate every one and make every one's dining experience a pleasant one.  Please, enjoy a free complimentary coffee, Sir."

   Gladys excused herself and went behind the counter. She poured a cup of fresh brewed coffee and brought it to table number nine.
“I’ll get Steve to wait on you, Sir.” I said as I motioned to Steve who was waiting on a Scottish woman. He took the order and headed towards table nine.
“Yes, Mrs Aris?” Steve asked.
“Steve, can you take this gentleman’s order, please?” I instructed.
“With pleasure, Madame.” Steve replied.

    The gentleman ordered a serving of roast beef with Yorkshire pudding and a side order of fresh green beans and carrots. I watched from behind the kitchen door as the gentleman ate bite after bite, writing in his notebook. After a few bites, he nodded, turned around and scribbled in his notebook. For pudding he ordered the spotted dick.

   Working laboriously, I filled a serving dish with a bite-sized portion of the spotted dick, taking care to place the serving attractively on the serving dish. I carefully poured the hot crème anglaise over the pudding. Carefully I wiped the perimeters of the plate with the corner of a clean tea towel and handed it to Steve to serve the diner at table nine.

   When he finished, the food critic from The Oxford Times stood up and stumbled to the cashier’s counter to pay his cheque. Analyse, our cashier greeted him kindly and asked him if everything was to his liking. The tall gentleman smiled at Analyse and whispered, “It was a very fine dining experience.”

    A week later, as I sat in the kitchen with a steaming mug of coffee, pouring through the Oxford Mail, my husband poked me on the back with a copy of The Oxford Times. He told me to turn to page thirty-one. There was an article about the Maison Aris by Daniel Arthur Johnson.

Maison Aris...
A lovely little Place to eat

Yesterday I dined at the Maison Aris, a new restaurant in town.  I was greeted with a friendly waitress who spoke Spanish.  I thought I needed an interpreter and was about to walk away unsatisfied, when the owner, Mrs Marylyn Aris, came over and apologized.  She explained that Gladys was a new waitress from Mallorca and offered me a free cup of coffee.  This told me two things:  1, that the Maison Aris is an equal opportunity employer and 2, that the owners will bend over backwards to make sure the diners are well attended and walk away happy.

I ordered the roast beef with Yorkshire pudding which was served to me by Steve, a fine waiter with impeccable manners.  The beef was cooked to perfection.  It was swimming in a sea of a jus.  Every morsel was exquisite, making my mouth water for more.  The Yorkshire puddings were light as air but were two huge mountains of golden perfection.  The roasted potatoes were crisp on the outside and soft in the middle....just as any roasted potatoes should be.

But the piece of resistance was the Spotted Dick.  It was heavenly.  I was presented with a moist and tender bite-sized serving of sponge with loads of sultanas and raisins soaked in brandy.  The dish was served with homemade crème analgise which, in my opinion, was the best crème anglaise I’ve ever tasted.  The atmosphere was very friendly.    Every diner seemed to be enjoying themselves.  On a scale of one to ten I’d give Maison Aris a nine.

                         ~Daniel Arthur Johnson

Friday, 4 May 2012


                                                                   The BHS
                                                                     by The Golden Pen

An Excerpt


   Rachel Bowers walked past Gregg the Baker on her way to work.  The aroma of freshly baked croissants made her stomach growl with hunger.  Down the road, the smell of Arabica beans being brewed at Cafe Bonjour Bistro et Patisserie, made Rachel sorry she didn’t have any breakfast that morning.  She didn’t even have time to brew herself a mug of coffee.  Rachel was running late.  Temptation won her over.  Rachel walked into Gregg the Baker and bought herself two ham and cheese croissants and a mug of coffee.  The attendant filled her order and soon Rachel was on her way.

   The sun was shining brightly over a blue sky that Friday June morning over Headington.  Already the avenue was crowded with busy folks walking to work and mothers on the school run, dragging their reluctant children to school.  Shopkeepers with smiling faces greeted passersby as they opened their shops bright and early for another business day. Rows upon rows of little tables dotted London Road as pensioners and tourists sat eating their croissants, crumpets, muffins, full English breakfasts, sipping tea and coffee quietly as they watched the parade of busy people stride by and the city bussing with life.

    “Good morning, Harry.” Rachel said to the postman as she was about to cross the road.
“Morning, Rachel,” replied the Postman, “Are you off to work again?”
“Yes,” replied Rachel, “I’m late enough as it is.”  Harry tipped his hat towards Rachel.
“Have a good day, Rachel.” he bade.
“You too, Harry! Say hello to Margaret.”
And with that, she crossed London Road and walked down Old High Street towards the library.  Several cobbled stoned houses lined the street.  Rachel smiled at some of the local residents as she passed along.  Mrs Henderson, who was sweeping her driveway, paused as Rachel went past. 
“Morning, Mrs Henderson,” Rachel greeted her neighbour, “Beautiful morning, isn’t it?”
“Indeed it is, Ms Bowers.” Mrs Henderson replied. 

     Rachel fetched the skeleton key from the bottom of her Louis Vuitton handbag. She almost spilled the coffee she was holding in her right hand.  She sighed as she opened the front door of the library.  Turning on the lobby lights, Rachel walked inside and placed the cardboard drinks tray she was holding on top of the adult circulation desk and put down the brown paper bag containing her breakfast. 
Rachel had a very busy day ahead of her.  She had a meeting with Annie Anderson, one of the Senior Library Assistants at 9:30 A.M. to discuss her latest project.  She had to make a few phone calls, a staff meeting at 11 and meet her mother for lunch.
A few people, mainly pensioners waiting to read the morning papers, mothers with overdue books, and people waiting to sign up to use the internet were queuing up outside the library.  Rachel had locked the door from inside, of course, for it was still way too early to open the Library.  Headington library didn’t open until nine A.M., and it was only quarter to nine.  Annie Anderson pushed herself amongst the crowd, walked up the stairs and opened the door with her key.  The throng of people tried to push themselves through the door, but Annie reminded them that the library would be opening at precisely nine A.M. on the dot.
“Good morning, Rachel.” Annie greeted Rachel, who was busy opening windows.

    “Good morning, Annie,” replied Rachel, “Don’t forget our meeting is at 9:30.”
“Yes, Mamme, I won’t be late.”  Annie switched on to the main computer.  The computer came alive, bussing and beeping as it logged on.  One by one, Annie turned on the six computer terminals then walked back to the circulation desk to set everything up for the day ahead.  There was a stack of books waiting for her in the book depository box.  Annie unlocked the book depository and retrieved the books. She began scanning each book when Naomi and Raj, two of the junior library assistants, waltzed in.
Naomi hadn’t finished removing her coat, when Annie barked, “Naomi, be a dear and let the crowd in, will ya?”
Naomi made a face when Annie wasn’t looking, grabbed her skeleton key and opened the front door.  The crowd of people stampeded inside, nearly crushing Naomi to death.  The pensioners all waltzed into the reference area where the local newspapers were kept.  Mrs Patel grabbed the Oxford Mail as Mrs Jenkins was about to pull it off the stick. 
“I was here first, Madame!” growled Mrs Patel.
“No, I grabbed it first!” barked Mrs Jenkins.
“Let go of it!” Mrs Patel ordered.
“Well, the nerve of you!” yelled Mrs Jenkins.
“I’m calling the Librarian to settle this!” yelled Mrs Patel.  Rachel raced over to the reference section.
“Shhhhh!  Will you ladies keep it down, Please?”
“Madame, will you kindly tell this lady to let go of my paper.” Mrs Patel said. 
“She practically yanked it out of my hands!” protested Mrs Jenkins.
“Grab hold of yourselves,’re in a library...if you ladies won’t behave like civilized adults, I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to leave.” Rachel warned.
“Well............I never have been so insulted in my life!” Mrs Jenkins remarked.
“Ladies,’s just a paper.  Can’t you too share it?”asked Rachel. She was already beginning to lose her patience.
“Here....I’ll let you read it, Mrs Patel, since you are most eager to read the Want ads. I’ll look at the Times now.” said Mrs Jenkins.  She settled down at one of the tables to read her newspaper.  Mrs Patel fumed as she grabbed the oxford Mail and stormed to the other side of the reference section huffing and puffing and rolling her eyes.

     Ten people were queuing up to use the internet.  Naomi signed each one for a thirty-minute session.  When their time was up, one of the users complained when he was told that his time was up.  He said he was in the middle of downloading a very important piece of information he needed for college.  Naomi tried pleading with him, but he wouldn’t have it.  He remained stubborn and sat down at his terminal continuing his download.
“I’m afraid this user has signed up for the computer, Sir,” Naomi said, “Your session has come to an end now.”
“Bugger off, Sister!” the man said. He took another quarter out of his pocket and shoved it into the library assistant’s hand. 
“Sign me up again for another thirty minutes, Bitch!” he said as he turned around to face the monitor.  To his horror, he was timed out.
“What the......ARRGH.....I’ve just lost my download!  I’m calling the council about this!”  He swivelled out of the chair and walked out the library, swearing under his breath.

     At 9:30, Annie waltzed into Rachel’s office, pad and pen in hand.  Rachel’s office faced Bury Knowles Park South.  Her desk, a pine finished executive desk, was laden with brochures, folders, letterhead stationery, overdue notices, and an overcrowded Rolodex.  The window was open and a refreshing breeze flowed in.
“Ah, Annie—do come in!” Rachel said.  “Please take a seat. I wish to discuss a project with you.”

Annie sat down on the chair facing Rachel, her pad resting on her knee.  She clicked her pen ready to take notes. 

    “Annie, I want to talk to you about an idea I have had brewing inside my head for a long time now.” said Rachel.  “I have just spoken to Mr Johnson over at Brookes University.   We have reserved a room at Headington Hall once a month on Wednesday evenings to host the BSH.”
“The BSH—what’s the BSH?” Annie asked, scratching her head.
“The Bookworm Society of Headington—it’s a monthly woman’s book club aimed at women who are avid readers to discuss the latest fiction and chick-Lit.” Rachel explained.
“That sounds like a wonderful idea, Ms Bowers.” Annie smiled.
“Annie, I’d like you to write down the details and call the printers right away.  I’d like 500 flyers up by next Tuesday.” Rachel went on.  Annie began taking notes.  After lunch, she rang the printers and had Mr Roy Sanderson print the flyers. 

The  B.S.H.

Bookworms Society of Headington
A local book club for women by women
7PM Wednesday Evenings of each month
          Headington Hall
          Headington Road
          Barton, Oxford OX3 OBL

 Refreshments will be provided
All female residents ages 18—53 of Headington welcome
  For more information please contact
            Rachel Bowers, head librarian
            Headington Library
            North Place
            Headington OX3 9HY
            O1865 775533