Dear Dr Van …


My GORGEOUS little Mum has been trying to contact her surgeon for decades, just to thank him for saving her life back when she was a wee snapper of whips.

Today, she handed me a beautiful letter – complete with her own personal brand of “interesting” grammar. I’ve corrected her mistakes for the purposes of this blog, even though I love every last one of ’em. She wasn’t educated, you see, having been in hospital for most of her school years in the 1950s.

She missed out on so much, and yet, she has always given herself to others, often without a second thought. Kindness is like breathing to her – even though she does have a missing lung.

Please, folks – share, and share, and share. I would love this to go viral so that we might track down the surgeon whose name escapes my Mum. She calls him Dr Van something, although he may be a Mr…and if he has shuffled off this mortal coil, maybe we can find his son.

Here we go:

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Dear Dr Van

I have tried for years to find your full name because I often think of you. Let me explain. My name was PAT ROSSITER. While you were in Liverpool Fazakerley hospital in 1952/3, I met you and you told me your name – it was Dr Van Something… it was so long that we just called you Dr Van.

You removed half of my lung and my mother said you stayed by my bed for days until I came to, and she said the first thing I said to you was “you hurt me!” Mum was mad at me for being cheeky but you just laughed and gave me a big hug.

That Christmas I was in a side ward with a friend, and not allowed in the big ward because of infection. But when you came, you brought your son with you – and I had never seen such a lot of lovely black hair. You and your son took me into the big ward to see the Christmas tree and your son gave me a comb. You didn’t know what it meant to me to have my very own comb in the hospital – the nurses used the same comb on everyone, and at home we only had one that the whole family used. Anyway, after a few minutes, we had to go back to the side ward.

I also remember you giving me pocket money each week to buy something when I got home.

When you came to take my stitches out you put them in a little bottle and said “when you feel down and upset, just look at these stitches and think ‘I was saved’.” I didn’t know what you meant at the time, but many times in the past years, I have done that and it has helped me to stop feeling sorry for myself and just get on with life. So a big THANK YOU.

After a few more weeks in the hospital I went home, and my parents were told that I could live until I was 14 years old. I am now 74 and have a husband and three children, and five wonderful grandchildren. My eldest son is a doctor of psychology and is a senior lecturer in Manchester University, and our second son is a senior universal computer engineer, and our daughter is a writer and editor. I also know she has helped lots of people including stopping them from [committing] suicide (she couldn’t have done that if you hadn’t saved me) so THANK YOU again.

Lots of love to you and your family from Pat Rossiter. 🙂 Smile – God loves you.



POETRY REVIEW: You Took the Last Bus Home – by Brian Bilston



I’m not one to compare writers. I hate that. Yuk. Sure, it’s great for marketing, I suppose – if you must market. “Fans of such-and-such will love this novel by so-and-so…” YAWWWN. That sort of crap is lazy and unclever, and has never once given me that I JUST GOTTA HAVE IT vibe.

It’s somewhat pissing on the author’s skills, too: when the blurbage tells me that Writey McScribe is the next Clive Barker, all I hear is “this guy is wholly unoriginal, having re-hashed some dying old trope or other.” Talk about damning by faintstuff.

What I will do, though, is tell you who my own particular boat-floaters are, just so you know where I’m at; this *chick is notoriously hard to impress, particularly when it comes to those who poe. If you’re gonna rhyme your way straight to my heart, buddy, your wordplay is going to have to contend with the likes of Thackray and Lehrer, and you need to be eatin’ Shakespeare and Gilbert for breakfast – and you have to be able to think all four of ‘em under the table.

*Old bird.

Disclaimer: If you believe that poetry is simply defined as ANY OL’ PROSE WITH ARBITRARY LINE BREAKS arbitrarily shoved in ARBITRARY PLACES, then:









If you don’t put your very self into your art, please refrain from bothering my eyeballs. I ain’t interested in reading writing; I want – NEED – to read WRITERS.

So, what DOES make a poet? Or, rather, what makes my kinda poet?

It’s simple. It’s not about what the words mean to the reader – but what they mean to the person doing the poeing. Can they twist and bend words like Twisty McBenderson at his finest? Do they leave you salivating, dangling that end rhyme in the air, postponing it until you can cope no more, before landing it safely on the runway? A true (to himself and the reader) poet relishes how words feel, smell, and sound, how they taste in your mouth as you speak ‘em, and he knows exactly how to make ‘em DANCE.

I can count on one finger those I hold sacred amongst my contemporaries. Ladies and gents (and every gender in between), I give you Brian Bilston. This dude knows how to word.

THE LAST BUS HOME is Bilston’s debut … oh, bollocks to all that. I’m not going to tell you the stuff you can read anywhere else. That’s just padding. If you want to know when and where it was published, and by whom, then check the BUY IT NOW OR FOREVER HOLD THY WORDS link here:

This is the sort of book you should forget to feed your cat for. This is the sort of book for which you should drop everything, RIGHT NOW, and just reaaaaad. (Speaking of dropping, do not even THINK of taking said volume into the bath with you. I speak from soggy experience. Actually, strike that. DO bathe with it, because then you shall have to take purchase of a second copy.)

Unputdownable is a term that should be reserved wholly and exclusively for the work of BB; his very mind is on them thar poetic pages, I tellzya. From simple silliness to moments of sheer genius, there’s something for everyone. And if you have a brain of the more literary persuasion, then this stuff is nothing short of grey-matter-fodder.

To say there is wordplay in store for you is the underest statement since Tiny Isaac, my local skint midget, said he was coming up short. Who else would do poetry by mathlight to make words be all Fibonacci sequency? Who else could offer lip-reading lightbulb moments of broken hearts and fixed words? Who _ls_ would omit a l_tt_r from an _ntire po_m to mak_ a point?

I have many favourites. But Read My Lips is the one – THE ONE – that seeps right into the very core of me (I won’t spoil the ending for you):

“To be clear, I’m not talking

Fifty Shades of Grey here,

but someone who knows their way around

the complete works of Shakespeare.


“I would rip out my heart

and write her name upon it

if she might recite to me

his eighteenth sonnet.”

THIS – right here – is how he rips my wordy l’il heart out. I was using that, damn you, Bilston.

So yes – buy this book. NOW. Eat this poetry. Salivate, devour, and relish it, and savour every last drop of Brianness as you decide whether to envy or idolise the man. Me?  I’ll be right here, waiting for the next bus.

Linda Angel