I have spent a lifetime observing people. On holiday, on trains, at work and in restaurants.

Here’s a poem I wrote way back in 1968. I wonder if they’re still meeting?

It’s the national past time –

meeting in restaurants!

A getting on man

with egg on his tie

rumbles in. Makes for

an already destined

corner table.

And the waiter brings

the right wine

right away

without asking.

(You can see he’s been here before!)

And our man waits

and sips and waits

playing with his handkerchief.

She comes. You know it’s she

he’s waiting for

because he smiles a schoolboy smile

and tries to hide his pleasure.

She sits and smiles.

He takes her coat,

her hand.

Who are they these people

that rendezvous à la carte?

They laugh and joke

and drink and laugh.

Order a meal and

hardly touch it.

The big hand whizzes

round the clock.

They clink their glasses

kiss with their eyes

and write table numbers

in their diaries

for another week.

Same time, same place,

same hopelessness.

And exit separately.

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems


In the writers’ group I attend ( we were asked to come up with a poem on the theme of transformation.

I wrote this poem with children in mind. I hope they – and you – enjoy reading it.

From my window

I awoke and drew the curtains wide

And everything had changed outside!

All that had been green before

Now wore a snowy pinafore.

The bird bath which had looked so nice

Was now glinting with shimmering ice

The flowers were all bent so low

Their delicate blooms all covered in snow.

And everywhere on the snowy ground

Odd little footprints could be found.

Creatures who’d visited in the dark

Had come to play and left their mark.

And there was nowhere to be seen

Not even the tiniest speck of green.

All was quiet and white and still

And had I not been so ill

I would have run to get my boots

And stamped in that snow

With loud whoops of joy.

Instead I heard my mother shout

What are you doing up and about?

If you want to be well young man

Get back to bed as fast as you can!

You’ll soon be up and out to play

The snow will keep for another day.

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems











high rise






to the sky.


a thousand




seek out


on the


                              c        h   


                                                           l     d    r e n   


© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems


As Kyle sang in South Park: “It’s hard to be a Jew at Christmas.” 

Growing up, Christmas to me always felt like I was looking into a toy shop or sweet shop window at things I couldn’t have.

I enjoyed the Christmas parties and the festivities – still do – but, being Jewish, I always felt like the outsider at the party.

At home, growing up, we neither celebrated Xmas nor Chanukah, the Jewish festival of lights, which takes place around the same time. Father Christmas didn’t visit Jewish children and my parents treated Christmas just like any other day.

When I had children of my own, not wanting them to feel left out, OH (other half) and I experimented briefly with Christmas. We left out mince pies at bedtime and crumbs on the plates when they awoke.

Our children had pillowcases rather than stockings which we filled with goodies. I would stash these away until Christmas Eve.  One year our six year old son found my hiding place.  He marked all the things he’d found with a felt tip pen so, when they later turned up in his pillowcase, he was able to prove once and for all that Santa did not exist!

As our children grew older, Chanukah replaced Christmas. So our kids wouldn’t feel left out we gave them a gift every day. Something special at the beginning or the end and small presents in-between such as you might put in a stocking. As Chanukah lasts eight days it more than compensated for Christmas!

Each night of Chanukah we light a candle on the special eight branched candlestick known as the Chanukiah or the Chanukah menorah. At the end of the eight days all eight candles are lit. Actually nine – because there is an extra candle on the Chanukah menorah that’s used to light all the others.

There are Chanukah parties, songs, games and special Chanukah foods such as donuts and latkas. A spinning top – “the dreidel” is spun. Raisins are won or lost depending on where it lands.

Our son, when he was seven, wrote this poem about Chanukah:

“How I love to go to bed with the candles shining in my head.

And when I have dreams, how lovely Chanukah seems.”

He’s now a father himself.

Each year, until the pandemic, he and his wife have made a Chanukah party for their children, friends and family.


Last week they held another Chanukah party – the first since Covid. The story of Chanukah was told and acted out with costumes, arts and crafts. Latkas and donuts were eaten. The dreidel game was played. Each child present made, decorated and lit their own Chanukiah.

It was a beautiful moment. One I think the children – and I – will remember for a long time to come. At least, until next Chanukah when we will do it all again.

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems



In 1961 there was a memorably creative advertising poster campaign in the States which featured photographs of non-Jewish New Yorkers (Asian and Native American amongst others) enjoying Levy’s rye bread.

The campaign slogan was, “You don’t have to be Jewish to love Levy’s real Jewish Rye.”

The ad was a first for its time. It was witty, memorable and demonstrated diversity at a time when that was not being done.

And that is why, as Jewish people all over the world are celebrating the festival of Chanukah, I thought I would share with you this lovely Chanukah song from YouTube.  It is heart warming, tender, moving and truthful. And, what’s more, you don’t have to be Jewish to appreciate it!

Song, “This Chanukiah” by Daniel Cainer

Video by Christine Lavin

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems


Are you, like me, a fan of Bob Dylan? The words of the songs he wrote decades ago still resonate today.

In May 1965, I was given complimentary seats for the Dylan concert at the Albert Hall. Our next door neighbour worked there as an usher and passed the tickets on to me. I was allowed into the Albert Hall when it was still empty. Empty that is, except for Dylan himself tuning up alone on the stage. I was able to stand a few feet away from him and watch him strumming his guitar. I felt like I had died and gone to heaven. 

That night Dylan sang, “With God on our side” from his 1964 album, “The Times They Are A-Changin”. It was the first anti-war song I had ever heard and it became the protest song that folk singers sang in all the folk clubs.

“But now we got weapons of chemical dust/If fire them we’re forced to, then fire them we must/One push of the button and a shot the world wide/And you never ask questions with God on your side.” 

The melody, said to be based on Dominic Behan’s “The Patriot Game” is a little dirge-like but the words are as powerful and meaningful today as they were then. Whenever I hear Dylan singing it, I am transported right back to my seventeen year old self.

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems