A Review of Ronald Mackay’s ‘The Fortunate Isle’ – by Felicity Sidnell Reid…

Many thanks to the Story Reading Ape for posting this

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

The Fortunate Isle?

Take a trip there with Ronald Mackay.

An intriguing title is only one of the delights to be found in Fortunate Isle: A Memoir of Tenerife (Plashmill Press, 2017)by Ronald Mackay.

Ronald recently wrote an article introducing himself to readers of the Story Reading Ape’s blog, describing his life, travelling and teaching behind the Iron Curtain, in Mexico, England and Canada. Later he specialized in the design, management and evaluation of development projects which again took him across the globe. His latest memoir tells of a year he spent in the Canary Islands as a young man with everything to learn about the world and himself. The islands have often been called the Fortunate Isles, and yet another alluring name for the largest, Tenerife, is Island of Eternal Spring.

Mackay left home in Scotland at 18, after failing to win the University place he hoped…

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A Year with Grandfather – Guest Post by Felicity Sidnell Reid…

Thanks for posting this Chris, the Story Reading Ape!

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

As I toiled upstairs one morning in my grandparents’ house, a rumbling angry voice broke the silence. I couldn’t make out the words, but the emotion couldn’t be misread, even by an eight-year-old. I hesitated, but my need to pee made a visit to the lavatory imperative. Luckily the volcanic tirade, punctuated by the popping of the gas water heater, was coming from behind the closed bathroom door. I crept past and shut myself into the separate toilet. But then–a new problem—if I pulled the chain and released the water the noise would certainly alert my grandfather to my presence. And what about washing my hands? In the event, I chose secrecy over training and cleanliness and scurried away to the safety of downstairs and escape to school.

Born in 1875, Grandfather had grown up in the reign of Victoria and by the 1940’s was elderly not only in the…

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From biography to fiction – Guest Post by, Felicity Sidnell Reid…

Thank you for posting this, Chris!

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

Licence Obtained to use image – Copyright: Dmytro Pauk 123RF Stock Photo

The possible steps between biography and fiction seem to increase from year to year. Ian Jack, writing in the Guardian in 2003, commented, “Writing one’s own personal history used to be called autobiography. Now, more and more, it is called memoir.” Since then, the variety of memoirs has proliferated: we have the traditional memoir, the constructed one, the fictionalised and finally the fictional. This last categorization may still be greeted by a furore as some degree of “truth” is still demanded of the genre.

Biographies may trace accurately the life of someone, usually a person, well-known for their achievements or notorious for the life they’ve led. Though stuffed with facts and footnotes and even using the actual words of their subject culled from letters, diaries and interviews, the biographer usually remains somewhat detached presenting an overview of the…

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Shadows of Birds – Guest Post by Felicity Sidnell Reid…

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

Lullaby for a boy buried 7,500 years ago

at L’Anse Amour, Labrador

Lay his fragile flute, my dears,

Safely wrapped in woven scraps,

Near his fingers, stilled at last.

Fever’s gone and peace returns,

Innocence replaces pain,

Once again my eyes can see

The buoyant youth, he left behind.”

Grief has frozen mother’s arms

About his body, cold as stone

Pushed and pulled by tidal waves.


Years of sea cold lullabies

Whispered in his salty ears,

Once his life had slipped away.

He’d been young, a traveler,

Loved companion at the hearth,

Where, one day, he took a bone,

The hollow shaft of some great gull

And whittled it into a flute.

Then wild music rocked the waves

And blew among the flocks of birds.


Great auks nested there, and terns

Spun in winds above the beach.

Out at sea the supple seals

Tossed their heads above…

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Stage Struck – Guest Post by, Felicity Sidnell Reid…

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

Photo credit to Anne Sidnell and permission of Primrose Donkey SanctuaryRoseneath, Ontario

The first snow fell late that year. November was mellow, the sun turning the long grass pinky gold in the morning, the cedars holding their green, and the earth sending up a faint mist through the frost. Edward rolled in his field, next to the house, and brayed for his summer friends, who’d shared his pasture. Alone now, he huddled in his small, straw-lined barn on cold nights.

I’d inherited Edward from my uncle and aunt when they sold their farm. He became my daughter’s pet, but Megan left for theatre college. She came home sometimes on the weekend, but most of the time, Edward had only me. I felt sorry for him—he needed company.

One morning, the phone rang. I answered, “Nina Harris speaking.”

A voice said, “Hello. I believe you own a donkey. Right?”

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Blogging Bliss – Guest Post by, Felicity Sidnell Reid…

Thanks again, Chris!

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

What I like best about blogging is feeling free to write about whatever seems most important or interesting to me at the time I sit down to my computer. So this week, as I am still coming down from my high over the Festival of the Arts we planned, organised and executed and which turned into such a fabulous success, I’m going to tell you a little about the weekend and post some pictures of the various events.

We opened the festival on Friday night with a reception in honour of our sponsors and supporters at which Cobourg’s poet laureate, Ted Amsden, read his poem that celebrates Canada 150 and the town of Cobourg. This was followed by a staged reading of De Beaux Gestes & Beautiful Deeds, a musical play in which the playwright, singer-songwriter Marie-Lynn Hammond, performed and sang 10 of her original songs.

Marie -Lynn Hammond in…

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