Monday, September 22, 2014

Alan Johnson 50 years of Hospitality

Alan Johnson
Celebrating 50 years of Hospitality
                        A Toast

We had a wonderful lunch at the Palm on Santa Monica Boulevard to get together with favorite friends, and not a few celebrities, to congratulate Alan Johnson on his many years of excellent hospitality, a fifty year  milestone. Citations were given out from the City of West Hollywood in which Alan owns and runs the Ramada Hotel.  The affair at the Palm may be their last, for they are closing and moving to Beverly Hills.

Fifty years have gone in a flash,
A blazing name that’s well earned,
We can see where the flames have licked and scorched
And remember how brightly they burned.

The glow of his spirit still warms us
Like the breath of a wild bushfire,
And we bask in the glow standing here in a row
Of an Aussie whom we all admire.
So don’t be shy, “lift up your glasses”,
They’re full on some other bloke’s shout,
Give a cheer like thunder, to a mate from Down Under
’Cause that is what this is about.        

                Neil Stewart McLeod - September 22, 2014

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Upon Reflection - A poem

At a dance rehearsal when my daughter was very young I caught her during a short break, and the picture is priceless. She was a student at Miss Lisa Sutton's Burbank School of the Ballet.

Upon Reflection

It was the luck of the moment
She sat by the wall ’neath the bar,
Her legs to the side on the varnished floor
And her tired gaze looking afar.

A lacy dress fluffed up around her,
Hands resting down on her shins,
Those light ballet shoes her dancers pride
Supple and tight and thin.

With one click the camera caught her,
That’s how the image was gained,
It hangs on the wall as a memory
Simple but beautifully framed.

I reflect on the reflection,
How rapidly times flies away,
My daughter is grown, with a life of her own
But the photograph brings back the day.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Silver Tracks and Running Roses

It is a great day!  Today "Silver Tracks and Running Roses" went to press and became available on Amazon.

About three months ago in June, a lady confided to me that she had long wanted to publish her own manuscript, but had been unable to find any takers.  After my own experience using Create Space, the publishing arm of Amazon, I immediately said "Well why don't you just publish it yourself. Send me the manuscript and let me show you how I would do it."

Not long after the file for the galley was on my computer, I printed it out and started to read.  I could not put the manuscript down, and neither will you.  The lady is Thelma Edwards, and together we her daughter, Anne Talltree, we conspired to put this book on the shelves for all.  It is an absolutely stunning biography about Thelma's childhood in Goose Creek, Texas, in the 1920's.

The is clearly an American treasure, and I had the privilege of designing and editing it.  This book tells a special tale in a unique voice.  The imagery is bright and riveting as the author captures her priceless memories of another time and place for her family and the whole country.  Generations will long return to this fine example of classic American literature for inspiration and understanding.

So now I share it with you.

On the day the proofs arrived I was invited over to be with Thelma when the box from Amazon was opened.  We watched the dream come true.  Please buy a copy, tell your friends, and when you have write a review on Amazon.
Neil with Thelma Edwards on the Day her book arrived.
"From her unique perspective, Thelma Felton Edwards, tells the story of James Felton and his children as their lives unfold across Louisiana and Texas, ultimately settling in the Oak Addition of Goose Creek, Texas during the late 1920s and 1930s. By turns tragic, harsh, hilarious and beautiful, we get an unsparing view of a rich and distinctively American experience."

Sunday, August 24, 2014

School Editions of Poems

There is one book left to release in the series called "The Thorn With Me"  it sits on an Oxford professor's desk and I am praying that an introduction will be forthcoming.  Say prayers for me that it all works out.

For all of the bargain hunters here is a good one. All of the poetry books I have written are now available in special editions for schools that are greatly reduced in price. The trick is that the interior is in black and white only, but all the content is there. Take a look on Amazon and see for your self. The new editions are marked "SE".

Here is the link:

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Missing Teeth - Dental Implants

Today we are able to replace missing teeth better than we were ever able to do so in the past.  I mean George Washington would have been really impressed.  Even when teeth are congenitally absent we are still able to make room for the missing teeth and insert an artificial titanium root, and then build up a replacement tooth that looks natural.

Missing lateral incisors

Titanium implants placed under cover screws

The finished result

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Guinness Walk - Inter-Hospitals Pilgrims Way Stroll

An extra half at the finish line.May 16th 1970

The celebratory dinner menu
Have you ever walked so far that your legs froze up at the end of it?  Well it happened to me, and I have the book to prove it.  It was all a long time ago now, in May of 1970.  I was a dental student at the time, attending Guy’s Hospital Dental School in Borough, London.  The occasion was the Inter-Hospitals Pilgrims Way Stroll.  What a euphemism that was!

It was a misty Saturday morning, and masses of us were driven down to Compton Lane, just south west of Guilford in Surrey.  Sandwiches were being handed out to all takers.  I had already had a good breakfast, but I took a couple of sammies for which I was grateful later on.  We were all gathered to take the Pilgrims Way, a Chaucerian fantasy across the south of England on the old Canterbury Trail.  Well it was up hill and down dale for thirty miles all day.  Some of the entrants cheated, they ran all the way, tch!  I took my time through the soft rain and the muddy cart ways between various farms stretching out to the east. 

Neil the "Bovril Man" climbing the hill.

By mid-morning a bracing hill climb found me staring at what looked like a pavilion on the crest.  I was delighted upon reaching it to find a hiker’s snack bar distributing quartered oranges and half pints of Guinness.  I had never had Guinness before.  It changed the complexion of the whole day.  Although I did find myself regretting not having had a second half later in the afternoon.

On crossing the finish line all participants were awarded a copy of “The Guinness Book of World Records”.

That First Guinness

I never really cared for Guinness
Thick, black, oily smooth and bitter
Not ’til that day of the United Hospital Walk
When we traced out the path of the Canterbury pilgrims.

Up hill and down dale
On muddy farm tracks and over fields
By hedges in the cold misty morning
And me in my stripped pajamas like the Bovril man.

But by mid-morning in the sunshine,
When I was bracing myself against a steep hill,
It seemed that a pavilion was staged
At the very top.

Other walkers were stopping ahead of me,
And hot and thirsty I paused
For only a little while
To down a half pint.

It went straight down,
Thick, black, oily smooth and bitter
I never cared for Guinness till then.

(This poem can be found in "The Thorn With Me", on Amazon)

Monday, March 03, 2014

Riding Tortoises - A poem

Car-Hartley’s farm, in Rumeruiti- Kenya, was our home in the holidays in the 1950's.  There were two very large tortoises on the farm.  We loved to ride them, in fact, we tried riding everything we could, rhino, buffalo and even ostriches. Getting the tortoises going could be challenging, but once we got the knack we could enjoy a short ride. They were wiley critters and as soon as we were aboard they made a bee line for the fence knowing the wires would knock us off as they forced their way under it.

Here is a picture of my sister Roida, having a ride on a huge tortoise, while Ewan seems perhaps a little dejected that his pedal propelled jeep doesn't go so well.  You can see a huge Giraffe box in the background. 

Tortoise Toe-Jam

A tortoise, as every one knows,
Takes his home with him where ere he goes.
And he’s terribly strong and can take you along
But you have to watch out for your toes.

You are not going any where quickly
The view is not anything high,
You might find your ride is just hidden inside,
Its shell, but you give it a try.

A nudge with the toe of your sandal
To the back foot, just under the rim,
Should do the trick, but you have to be quick,
And not get pinched as legs are drawn in.

The thing about children and sandals,
Is they wear them until toes are bunched,
It’s with razor to go, that, you cut off the toe-cap,
So on tortoise rides toes might get crunched.

When our feet got too big for our shoes they cut the toecap off.


Sunday, March 02, 2014

When The Spirit Moves - the eighth book of poems

This week my eighth book of poetry went to press. The volume is called "When The Spirit Moves".  It contains poems that have a spiritual or religious connection, and are uplifting reminders of occasions when the human spirit is moved.  Amongst the compositions are “Mother’s Hands”, “The Folded Palm” and “House of Sighs”. Traditional Christian values underscore the sentiments expressed in these optimistic and uplifting works.

Here with an introduction by John MacArthur, our pastor at Grace Community Church,  is an assortments of spiritually moving tales. There is a Christmas story which is the versification of "The  Christmas Miracle of Johnathan Toomey", based on the book by Susan Wojciechowski Christmas 2001.

This volume is one in a series of ten books of poetry which has been written over the last fifty years.  Should you care to read any of these volumes and like them, your favorable review on the Amazon site, and here would be greatly appreciated.

More of my poetry is viewable on

Dr. John MacArthur had this to say in the introduction:
This is the real thing;
poetry that warms the heart,
stirs the memory,
enriches the vocabulary,
and brings a smile.
The settings are inimitably Scottish
and, for those who’ve been to that fair land,
they provide a brief visit.
I find poetry to be musical
if it’s well done.
And these rhymes sing.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Traditional Hand-Washing Cup - a poem

Lest We Forget

The painting that hangs in the dining room,
Was his Grand Mother’s, is what he said,
Depicting a man with a washing jug,
And a kufiya covering his head.
His beard overflows in its fullness,
Smile lines crinkling round his eyes,
Ready to help you wash your hands twice
Before breaking the Challah you prize.

That painting left by his Grandmother,
He brought from South Africa,
And the jug will remind him of all the traditions
Where ever he travels so far.
The handles are set at odd angles,
For ceremonial use,
When washing the hands before bread is broken,
Because you see, they are Jews.

For this is the way they have done it
Since Moses had written the law,
We keep the traditions and customs
Our parents taught us before.
There is the two handled water urn
With flowers beneath the fired glaze,
It serves as a symbol that we should keep
Precious for the rest of our days.

The ritual washing of the hands and feet is a traditional part of Jewish lore. Here is the result of seeing the painting of a ritual water jug at my friend Martin Horwitz’s home. The custom of ritual hand-washing, netilat yadayim, is commonly observed within Orthodox Judaism.  There is a reason for the two-handled washing cup used for ritual hand-washing.  After the first hand is washed, it is clean and pure. The unwashed hand, however, is not. If the two hands touch after the first hand was washed, it is necessary to rewash the first one. We use a two-handled cup to make the process simpler, making it easier to avoid the hands touching each other.