By Bernie Bell

I’d written a piece for TON, entitled  ‘Who’s Who’, when I read Richard Wallace’s poem  ‘I Am We’, in his recently published book of poetry (‘Think About It’, published by Shuswap Press).   This set us off discussing migration, emigration, immigration, appropriation etc.  Richard  then sent me his piece, ‘The Barbarians’ which he had written, years ago, saying to share it, if I chose to.   A harrowing read – I knew about these things – but still, a harrowing read.

Here it is……………

Enter The Barbarians

And that connected with something I wrote some years ago.  When we lived in Suffolk, Mike and I used to go to a poetry group, which met once a month. The idea was, that we were given a topic to think about, and would come back the next month, with either our own poem or one we liked, by someone else, on that topic.  At one meeting of this group, we came  across a man with a very limited, and angry, view.  Basically, if anyone was any different to himself, he thought they were WRONG!!!! This grumpy old so and so had a go at my friend, because he didn’t agree with what she had written.  She is a gentle soul, and had written of the nature spirits which she encounters in trees. He didn’t just not agree, strongly, he was vehemently aggressive and down right nasty to her.  So, I wrote this for him, and, at the next meeting, I began by saying that this was inspired by our last meeting and different ways of seeing, then I read this to the assembled company…..

Travel Broadens The Mind

 First we have First Nation

With their love of Nature Spirits

Their Shamans and Sweat Lodges.


Then on down to Mexico town

‘Days of Death’, peyote dreams

Opening doors of the mind.


‘Dream-time’ in Oz

With the world’s oldest peoples

They won’t own the land

Just live upon it.


Africa, many nations, often warring

Different visions

Egyptian cat lore

Trackways to the stars.


And so to India

Hundreds of Gods

Of many shapes and colours

Each with a purpose

Yet all one God.


Across to the Norsemen

Following the Eagle

Burning their dead

On high funeral pyres.

Invading the  West

Carrying their vision.


And  – The Church of England

Blending from the Pagan

Using the old sites

Acknowledging the presence

Though often with anger

Whilst preaching love.


Strange ways indeed.

Bernie Bell

And then I said……”The point I’m hoping to make here, is, that there are a lot of ways of approaching how we see and deal with life,  but we’ve all got one thing in common – we are all people, and often with more in common than would first appear.

If any of us feel strongly about something, and express that in writing, and bring it here to share, that’s what these meetings are about.  Discussion is fine, argument is fine, but without venom.”

He didn’t come back. That was his choice.

Fast forward a few years, and, thanks to The Orkney News, people on opposite sides of the world, can connect, and exchange ideas.  That’s  community journalism. World-wide community.


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