I want to break free / on showing my Dad my latest single


“The saddest thing..
the wish to break free from your life!”

The saddest thing..
at 10, to hear my Dad stating,
not knowing his earlier strife –

I’d understand in adult life..
the saddest thing.


Writing a rondelet for dverse. Here I recall myself on holiday at Butlin’s Minehead (Somerset), excited at having my second 7 inch single (Queen’s “I want to break free”). I eagerly showed my Dad, who then shared this solemn wisdom with me. Less than a year later he died, and it was only then that I learnt he’d had a wife prior to my mother, and that I actually had a half-brother (plus a nephew and niece). I often reflect on those words of his and understand them better with each passing year.


44 thoughts on “I want to break free / on showing my Dad my latest single

    • The upside is that both my Mum and Dad discovered they quite liked Queen: my Dad thought it had a “good beat” and he would have an afternoon nap with it playing, and my Mum, I remember her furtively sneaking into my bedroom with a woman’s magazine in her hand, pointing at an article, and whispering “it’s no good he (Freddie) wouldn’t be interested in either of us!”

  1. it was only after my father’s dad (when i was 17) that i learned as well that he was married before and that i’m having a half brother…i found this so weird and it made me angry that he never cared about his son…ugh..but then… i still don’t know about the details.. tightly penned rowan

    • Thanks Claudia. Yes, I feel sad my father and brother didn’t patch things up…but like father, like son, my brother also sometimes stops speaking with his children (even missed their weddings)!

  2. whew…now that gave me rather a shiver…the notes after all the more on your fathers final words and what that gave to you…def sad words, but also wise…to want to break free of your life…though i imagine some of us have felt them…

  3. How sad to know what the strife was all about ~ There are family secrets we don’t really understand till we are older ~

    Good work on the form ~

  4. If only parents would be honest with their children up front. It must have been / must be so hard for you to try to figure all these things out… It seems you have come to understanding. The rondelet form worked very well with your poem.

    • I understand his reasons: he was a man of his word, and to fail in the “sickness and health” vow must have hurt him (she finished her days in a mental institution), and for his generation (born 1905) there would have been societal judgements as well.

  5. …i loved the song Rowan and the story behind your rondelet is felt… that must have been tough… but as for me, i don’t know what to feel or say or react if ever i’d figure out i have brothers / sisters from dad with another woman… ah… so many thoughts evoke here… smiles…

  6. Congratulations, in recognition of the high standard and quality contributions of your blog I take great pleasure in nominating you for the Liebster Award. This award is designed for bloggers with less than 200 followers. The rules are:
    1. Share eleven facts about yourself with your fellow bloggers.
    2. Make sure to answer the eleven questions posed.
    3. Ask eleven questions of your own.
    4. Nominate eleven bloggers for this award.
    5. Notify the people you have tagged.

    Your eleven questions:
    1. How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?
    2. If you were awarded the Nobel Prize in literature would you look back on that as the best moment in your life?
    3. If you could meet any public figure (past or present) who would it be? Why?
    4. Best British actor?
    5. World’s best painting?
    6. Religion – relevant or dated?
    7. Vegas or Venice?
    8. Would you accept a free holiday in North Korea?
    9. Why are there interstate highways in Hawaii?
    10. What educational qualification does the President of Syria hold?
    11. Favourite French dish? (NOT a person)

    • Ever since my first day at school, when I picked a boy not a girl to show me around, which was met by shock from the girls/boys and teacher (and teased unmercifully by the girls when my angel Simon left for boarding school), I’ve had an aversion to picking people for things. Do I have a fair and valid reason for my choice, and do they even want me to pick them…isn’t it enough I have to pick my clothes out each morning? So, having shirked the responsibilities of picking sports teams throughout school, since starting this blog, I vowed to shirk the paying it forward of awards, and I have an “award free blog”. So I will now out..

      However, I am of course delighted to be nominated regardless, especially when it’s by someone who’s work and comments I value so very highly. So thank you, Mike. I couldn’t resist considering the questions, so while being a light weight, I will at least attempt the facts/questions, which might be of interest to other readers:

      1. Rowan Taw is a pseudonym taking the river Taw (a local river near to where I was born), and the Rowan tree that grows along it (I like nature names, including my real name “Heather”). I also had a sweet female friend at university called Rowan, who I lost contact with, but I smile when I think of her. I forget that a lot of people associate it more as a male name..especially when I send poems to friends forgetting the James’s attached.
      2.When I was 18/19 I was so inspired by the work of George Orwell, that I took my copy of “Keep the Aspidistra Flying”, with the cover featuring a painting by F.C.B, Cadell, to my local tattoo artist and since then the aspidistra has graced my upper left arm. I also have a first edition, which was owned by one of Orwell’s lovers.
      3. My female colleagues at work who’ve heard bits of my life story think I’m a modern, living version of Jane Eyre.
      4. I was the first girl to take part in my local FA summer school.
      5. My father was almost 70 when I was born.
      6. If I can get away with it, I stay in bed until noon. I much prefer being horizontal (and think of myself in terms of an old rock lyric “when she’s not upright, she’s grand”).
      7. I don’t deal with mediocrity well.
      8. I like to support local arts: Auckland Art gallery, and NZ Opera being my key preferences (though the latter really should have put a health warning on this season’s Madame Butterfly – I could barely drive home for tears).
      9. I hate being categorized, but I will also lament when “nobody seems to get me”.
      10. Unusually for a female, I don’t have body image issues. I put it down to my tendency to associate with males more than females, and so have avoided many neurotic conversations (the most fun I ever had in a class at school was electronics – all boys and me – mind, I was useless at the subject.
      11. My favourite tipple is Calvados.

      Mike’s questions:
      1. How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were? – Pi
      2. If you were awarded the Nobel Prize in literature would you look back on that as the best moment in your life? – NO! It’s hard to imagine how cool it would be, but I’d just want it to slide in with the rest of my life’s tapestry. Things I’d be more proud of: overcoming my fear of spiders, standing firm on issues of fairness and integrity, and getting through the tough times to have a smile on my face today.
      3. If you could meet any public figure (past or present) who would it be? Why? Buddha Shakyamuni (the historical Buddha), because I’ve already met the Dalai Lama, and I’m still working on seeking my inner Buddha.
      4. Best British actor? Struggling between Tim, Timothy, and Tom, but I’ll go for Tim Piggot-Smith his voice fascinates me. As Creedy in “V for Vendetta”, he’s so vile, snarly and gravelly, I want him kept away from me, yet in other things, such as Lord Ascot in “Alice in Wonderland” he has such a smooth, gentle voice, I’m swooning. I just think its awesome he can move me to extremes.
      5. World’s best painting? Totally stuck for a sensible answer, but I’m very chuffed with the blue paint foot print my 5 month old Godson sent me for Mother’s Day!
      6. Religion – relevant or dated? Both. People will always be spiritual and will always need ritual (whether personal or social), when they come together we have religion. What we don’t need is fundamentalism and intolerance. If I ever find myself believing something 100%, I’ll know I’ve gone truly wrong – I’d hate to be without doubt (faith doesn’t exist without it’s twin….I think…maybe).
      7. Vegas or Venice? Venice.
      8. Would you accept a free holiday in North Korea? Unlikely, I’m an academic and I believe in academic freedom, I fear I’d be eyed with suspicion.
      9. Why are there interstate highways in Hawaii? Psychologically they want to feel connected to the other states, even if they aren’t physically.
      10. What educational qualification does the President of Syria hold? Ophthalmology.
      11. Favourite French dish? (NOT a person) Crepès.

      I hope I’ve redeemed my slackness a little, and feel free to rib me over any or all of my responses!

      • Ye gods! A tattooed footballer with a penchant for Orwellian satire who runs the gamut from rock to opera without spilling her Calvados (even when horizontal?). How staid my life seems right now.
        A Rowan tree by a river is a common sight to me. In Ireland we call it the Traveller’s Tree because it’s distinct enough to guide you home – feel free to adopt this Celtic interpretation if applicable. Your Jane Eyre clue provides further insight into your personality (“…full of strange contrasts”) but having read much of your blog I am not too surprised that your female friends see you thus.
        You scored 10/11 for my questions – the Hawaiian interstate is so classified for federal funding purposes (as any random foreigner will tell you). Other answers reveal that you and I concur on the stated ideologies bar one (…I think…maybe).
        What really impresses me is your willingness to embrace this bit of frivolity and use it as an opportunity to humanise your pseudonym and enrich your work by giving our readers a sneak peek at Heather.

      • Oh yes, the traveller’s tree works well – it’s always good to know where one comes from, and the possibility of being guided back! I’m happy to be peeked at, I just prefer my students not to be distracted by my ramblings (e.g., there’s one in the page archives I especially don’t need them thinking of when I lecture)! IF there is an ideology we don’t concur on, I’m confident that our views would be sympathetic: I rarely think in absolutes, and you seem to have a considered, yet flexible disposition. Just to complete the round of mutual appreciation, I have to say I’m impressed with your voice, humour, and confidence, both in terms of your fugitive fragments writing, and your comments (it’s quite a skill to be able to tease: 😜 online). Anyway, you seem to have a knack for ‘reading’ me, and it’s very endearing.

  7. His words are, indeed, “the saddest thing”…I hope his words were not spoken with prescience of his early passing. Sensitive treatment of a sensitive subject.

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