Sunday, 29 January 2012

A penis on a desert island...

Now I know that I go on, and on, about desert islands, and I know that I’ve written about this before, but it’s always worth a mention if only as an excuse to get to post this picture of Brigitte Bardot on location somewhere.

Today Desert Island Discs celebrated its 70th anniversary. Imagine that - a radio programme that was first broadcast 70 years ago is still going strong.

It was first broadcast on 29 January 1942, a few years after the outbreak of the Second World War and, as we are always reminded in the intro to the programme, was conceived and originally presented by Roy Plomley. The first guest was Vic Oliver, a fascinating Jewish comedian and entertainer from Austria who married Churchill’s daughter Sarah, much to her father’s consternation. He was on Hitler’s ‘Death List’, but not because of his bad jokes – he was actually pretty funny. I’ll blog him one day I guess.

Each week Roy asked a guest to choose eight songs, a book and luxury item for their imaginary stay on the island and discussed their lives and beliefs in the gaps between the music. At first it was scripted and the book and luxury element didn't actually come until later. Over the years 183 pianos, five trombones, the Albert Memorial and a cheeseburger machine have been taken as luxury items to the island. Morrisey considered choosing sleeping pills (Just in case he wanted to top himself. Well, what difference does it make?) but had to choose a bed instead, Ollie Reed chose a blow up doll and Brigitte Bardot chose happiness – which caused old Roy a few seconds of concern as it sounded like she was asking for "a penis".

I’ve listened for years; to Roy and Parkie, So Lonely and Kirstie. Hundreds of guests from the despicable Paul McCartney (who didn’t really chose all his own songs), the wonderful Bettie Driver, suicidal Morrisey, strange Anthony Burgess, brutally honest Kathy Burke, sad Hattie Jacques, sadder Kenneth Williams, but not the even sadder Tony Hancock – as I was only a few months old when he wandered onto his own particular desert island.

If you don’t listen to it then you should start.

‘A penis’ – I missed that one.

Well, that's that. I'll have my cup of tea and a biscuit now.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Not a Picasso...

I think it incredible that anyone would even think about giving a woman two noses, let alone three breasts. But the other night, just as I was thinking of calling it a day and going to bed, that's just what happened to me. Opening my notepad I picked up my trusty pound shop felt tips and began scribbling away. It was almost the work of a moment, well about two minutes worth of moments, but when I had finished there in front of me in glorious feltpenicolor was my Pablo Picasso.

"Oh no! I'm having a Picasso attack!" Whatever that means.

All those years of looking at his paintings on the television and in books must have seeped into my mind because there's no escaping his influence in this doodle. And I'm not at all sure that whilst I was doodling it I didn't feel something or someone take hold of my pen and do my scribbling for me. Mind you that could just as easily be my mind playing tricks on me. He does that sometimes. Once he put a bowler hat on a fish and told me to smoke a pipe that wasn't a pipe at all.

Anyway, This is not a Picasso. Not that you needed telling. But he's in there somewhere. He's probably in all of us somewhere.

Bet he wishes he had some felt tips now.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Ooooooooh... it just won't doo you know...

Ooooooooh... it just won't doo you know...

That’s my new catchphrase; everybody needs one, and back in the golden age of comedy (whenever that was) everybody had one and some still do – well not exactly catchphrases but - it's good but it's not right

Can ‘yer tell what it is yet? Well actually it’s a catchphrase.

Hello playmates! A catchphrase (or catch-phrase) is a phrase or expression - ooo err missus - recognized by its repeated utterance - listen very carefully, I shall say this only once. Such phrases often originate in popular culture - ere, stop messin’ about - and in the arts - can yer tell what it is yet?. Some are educational - Bend over, Wendover! - and others typically posed a question - is it ‘cos I is black or is it because I’m the only gay in the village? - and spread (I say, Ding dong) through a variety of mass media (such as literature and publishing, motion pictures, television and radio - please do not adjust your set), as well as word of mouth and it’s all done in the best possible taste.

Some become the de facto - they don’t like it up ‘em - "trademark" or "signature" of the person or character with whom they originated, well, a man’s only as old as the woman he feels, silly boy, and can be instrumental in the typecasting (beneficially or otherwise), but am I bovvered, of a particular actor. I don’t believe it!

It’s all a bit swinging… dodgy really. Some Catchphrases are near the knuckle, or rather my arse, and others are instructional – calm down. Some tell you something of import - this is a local shop – and others can be a warning –don’t mention the war.

Still with me? Well, look at me when I'm talking to you!

And now for something completely different

Hello playmates! Can you hear me mother? You lucky people. I have a cunning plan. I’m free. You rotten swine you. You're my wife now! Just like that!

Anyway, nice to see you, to see you ... nice! I thank you and it's goodnight from me, and it's goodnight from him.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Nike, FCUK, Rolling Stones...

How was my day?

In the words of the Beatles: just another day. I never knew I led such an exciting life until I didn't.

I used to work in advertising. Doesn’t that sound glamorous? Of course the advertising that I worked in for most of my life wasn’t very glamorous at all. Directories are directories and can be quite mundane, but looking back on it now and compared to what has been my life since, it was pretty exciting most of the time.

Shame it had to change, but then its just another symptom of the way technology is changing the way we receive our advertising information. I’m not going to go into the wibbley-wobbley-web thing or viral videos but my belief is that anything nice and tangible (like paper) has been on its outway for a while now (nice new word invented there).

Today advertising is all about hard data, gathered and analysed and kicked out as stats, with hardly a Toulouse Lautrec in sight.

So much data is collected these days that in general you can get it to read any way you like - and if it doesn't read that way then just keep collecting until it does. Supermarkets target us based around buying patterns taken from loyalty cards, and companies push advertising after sneaking a look at where you’ve been surfing or what comment you made on that blog you were reading.

And no... I’m not going to go down the Big Brother cul-de-sac.

Advertising used to be so clean. How I loved those grimy posters that were stuck up everywhere, and the wind-torn billboards, and the glossy ads in magazines, and dirty hand-making newspapers (good for only a day) and good old yellow pages (good for a year).

Particularly good old yellow pages.

How long before they are all crumpled memories I wonder, like enamel signs and neon lights - all replaced by high tech alternatives? How soon before all advertising is either uploaded on hand held screens or holograms projected into the very streets that we walk along and we become just extras in someone else’s commercial?

How long before consumer and product are indistinguishable, or are we there already as people become living mannequins for brand and hype? We can’t be far away from clothes that interact with the wibbley-wobbley-web – And will we get free T-shirts as long as we click the ‘allow advertising button’ button – And will that make us all sandwich board hawkers, or are we that already – Nike, FCUK, Rolling Stones?

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Natural communism...

Looks like the world is heading for economic meltdown if the newsmen and politicians are to be believed. Well, it’s hardly surprising is it? Not that I believe the newsmen or politicians any more than I believe the bankers and businessmen or the ancient Mayans come to that… although thinking about it the Mayans are probably closer to the truth than the rest.

Yes, the world is in turmoil and those of us who are used to having so much are beginning to understand what it is like not to have quite as much as before – just like most of the world always has.

The Western rich are no longer getting richer, or so it seems. The western rich seem to be getting poorer - tut-tut.

Yes, poverty is a great leveller. Not that the West is in poverty yet, but the rest of the world, the ones that have always known poverty, just might be getting a teeny bit wealthier - tut-tut, how awful.

Perhaps there is a balancing beginning where even the poorest nations might have a little more. It’s certainly happening in China and India, even in some parts of Africa. For the first time these people can afford meat and grain, expect to travel, maybe even own a car or a mobile phone, be educated, even pay for medicine to stay alive. My God (you know the bible one), just what is the world coming to?

Well, looks like the world is coming to the end of its tether.

Look’s like the world just doesn’t have enough to go around any more.

Looks like the world’s resources don’t only belong to the West as the West had always assumed.

Looks like the world’s resources belong to the world – and there really (yes really, not just a documentary) isn’t enough to go around.

I like to think of it as natural communism. A sharing of the world’s resources simply because those that couldn’t now can. Not that I like it, because I don’t - it's not what I am used to and it's scary. I think it’s going to be a big change for all of us who have been so comfortable for so long - but you can’t keep the world from turning (unless you are Michael Rennie and have a big silver robot called Gort).

As more and more people can the world’s resources need to stretch further and further, meaning less for those that have had and more for those who have had not – if you get my italicised drift.

Perhaps it’s the start of a new golden age where everyone has pretty much the same and we all live in almost-enough harmony.

Yeah right. It’s more likely to be like living in the middle ages - war, famine, pestilence and candles (if you can afford the tallow to make them), or maybe even worse (Kaboom!).

Yes, I wonder what the USA will make of things when democracy is dead and natural communism rules… and I wonder how they’ll deal with it?

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Little x...

'You know little x, the world is a book, and those who do not travel see only one page'.

How beautifully, simply true.

This strange and wonderful object was bid for and won on e-bay by a new customer of mine. It's a perfect and beautifully made crystal glass globe, about 4.5 inches in diameter and heavy, so heavy. Just right to hold in the palm of your hand. A world in the palm of your hand.

It stands on a square faceted crystal base with a hollow on the top so that the world can gently spin in its smooth glass axis. It's really beautifully made; all the continents of the world etched onto its surface, longitude and latitude engraved around its pure glass surface as it gently spins, and spins, and spins.

He won it for a tenner.
I covet it.

He came to me with a request I was loath to comply with. He wanted the words at the top of this page painted on this magnificent globe's surface and blue shoots springing from the words.

I asked why.
'A special gift.' He simply said.

Reluctantly I did as he asked, carefully spiralling the letters around the globe, painting shooting leaves with iridescent blues, doing my best, and pulling it off almost to my satisfaction. The baking was a nervous time. I didn't want it to crack in my kiln, and when it came out it remained warm for hours.

A warm world in the palm of my hand.

It didn't crack and I don't want to part with it.
He's coming for it Thursday.

'The world is a book, and those who do not travel see only one page'... perhaps I'll run off with little x and go missing, looking for all those pages I've never seen and taking the glass globe with me.

Should we run?
What do you say little x?

Monday, 23 January 2012

Just a little thought on war...

I've been researching the Second World War recently. Not for fun (although it is) but because I've been doing some blog writing for a few blogs other than my own.

Anyway, a thought has been niggling away at me for a while now and it kind of fruited when I read the blog post of a friend of mine this morning. He visited the Imperial War Museum at the weekend and as always it got him thinking.

Well, his thinking got me thinking, so I responded to his post.

I often wonder how today's people, yes us (adults and children) would cope with the change and disruption of something akin to either the First or Second World Wars. They touched everyone regardless of age, colour, religion, or social standing in a way nothing before or since could, did, or has. What must it have been like to be an evacuated child separated for years from family, a soldier in the trenches suffering from shell-shock, a wounded solider on the beaches in a time when penicillin was in short supply, or a woman volunteer manning the barrage balloons as pieces of a damaged doodlebug rained down around you?

Everyone in the country caught up in a tangle.

I know that this may sound awful but car bombs and even the twin towers are almost nothing in comparison. They only graze us as they pass through our TV screens and don't really touch our lives unless we are one of the unlucky few.

Let's hope that it is ever so.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Butterfly heart...

Only the doodle is mine tonight. The words, and wonderful words they are, belong to my 17 year old daughter, Holly. A talent already and something special in the making methinks - but then I would say that wouldn't I.

Have a read and see what you think, feel free to be honest - most of you are so discerning - and then let me know.

I only hope that the doodle lives up to her fantastic words.

Trust me. This ain't no teenage drivel.


Butterfly heart.

Out of every inch of my body, the butterflies flew out. They swirled around me, the epitome of hope and freedom and peace. And I knew in that moment, that I had set myself free. Finally.

They had survived. I had survived. And now, they were here to help me, to lift me up in their flight, to save me. They forgave me, for every one of their sisters I had killed, for every broken promise. They forgave me when I could not. Their forgiveness was clear now, for all to see, it could not be denied, I could not be denied, and they were safe, I was safe. It was over, forever. I hope.

The first day the butterflies came to me was, perhaps, the first day I saw recovery. I thought I was going to die, and they knew that, they came to me in their hundreds, delicately encasing themselves in my body, trapping themselves by their own will for my safety, recovery, and hope. Where I was selfish, they were selfless and many of them sacrificed themselves for me. I cut them open one by one, until I feared there was none left, again I feared I would die, but their delicate hum kept my heart beating, it was as fragile as two butterfly wings desperately beating in a storm. I was the storm, and the butterflies couldn’t escape me, until I had escaped myself.

The delicate life inside me, longed for escape, for freedom. I would not allow it. Determined, I punished myself, day in and day out, never lapsing, never ending. I was a tower of strength, yet an empty shell, nothing but the butterflies to hold me up. And they did. No matter my crime, they never let me down, never gave up on me, where so many had, where I wished they would. How I wanted to collapse into the air, and be weighed down by the grit. I deserved it, didn’t I? Yet, not once did they let me, not once. They forced me to keep going, they were not weak, and they would not let me win.

It baffled me, how such delicate creatures could be so strong, when I, a million times their body weight, was fragile and falling apart. They carried me, when I could not carry myself and showed me how to function. They allowed me to carry on as normal, to fake a smile, a bounce in my step, everything anyone expected, I could do. I was a fake though, because that wasn’t me, all along it was the butterflies. I owed them so much, they were saving me. I owed them their lives.

It was inevitable that one day I would have to set them free, for neither of us could carry on like this. They were becoming weak. It was my turn to save them, I had gone on too long relying on them, I had killed too many of their sisters, I had to redeem myself; I had to be strong again. It wasn’t easy, I won’t pretend it was. Many times, I failed them, and they allowed me to. They didn’t hold it against me, they gave me the grace to try again. Try and try I did. I learnt, slowly, to focus not on the turmoil of myself, but of the delicate beating of my heart, of the butterfly wings, and slowly I became calm. When that didn’t work, I learnt to draw the butterflies all over me, so I could see my saviours, so I would have to watch myself kill them, so it was real. The guilt would be too much, and I would watch the butterflies move around my body instead. Soon, the pain became less and less, until it had gone away altogether, almost. The butterflies sensed this, they saw me becoming strong and they knew I could hold myself up.

So, we’re back here. With the butterflies, ripping me open, and filling me with life, as they fly away. They’re not abandoning me, I know, they’ll be back as soon as I need them, should I ever. I’m determined I won’t, to show them ultimate gratitude and stay fixed. I’m strong now. One by one, they fly out of my window, into the real world. Free, brave and full of hope. I know I must follow them. I know it’s time to live. They saved my life and now it is mine to live.

Yet one butterfly remains, delicately beating. The wings are keeping my body alive; my heart.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Three runes...

A Wiccan friend of mine cast the runes for me this morning.

Three runes picked by a maiden moon. I've taken them to my island and made them on my beach, a standard for all to see, a solid shout of me.

Isa - Ice only appears to stop a river’s flow – my Overview
Ansuz - Find your ears before you search for words – my Challenge
Ehwaz - The mind will trust the body, the body will trust the mind – my Action

I think that I understand. It certainly rings true. And this, my mantra: As I develop my own culture, all else follows.

'Do as you will. Make it continue, have faith and all else will follow.' Good advice I think.

Rune chant

Me mine
Cast clean
Darkling sticks
Tell truth
Never for me
To misunderstand
Nor rue
Your rune song

Ice cleared
Make mine mind
With runed resolve
Thwart not me
To trickery or guile
Nor lay me

Inspired of Odin
Clear eyed
All seeing seer
Signal well my speech
Fill me clean
Unblack my back
Unbore my dark delusion
Vain me never with revealed manipulation

Twin steeds
Carry me
Steadily on
Not stumbled
Foul footed
To rush to change I crave
Reckless in my haste to run

Me mine
Cast clean
Darkling sticks
Tell truth
Never for me
To misunderstand
Nor rue
Your rune song

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Letting the dogs out...

It’s been a while since I got to a beach, a long while and I don’t know when I’ll get to go again. Seems I’m a bit stuck at the moment, my life going around and around in the same old groove, except it doesn’t feel very much like a groove at all; there’s not really any groove to it. I’m not quite in a rut yet, but I think I can see one hiding in the distance, just waiting for me to get stuck in it.

So, to the beach - the thing I miss most about the beach is opportunity. You never know just what you are going to find and I miss my beach creatures you see. Oh, I know they are all still there a-waiting, hiding in the wash-up waiting to be released, but without me just who’s going to release them?

Yes, I miss my beach creatures.

I’ve started to look longingly at the kitchen bin. Well, bins and bags and buckets really – we have to separate our rubbish into any number of exciting recycling modes. I’ve started to wonder what I might make from the cans and boxes, bags and bottles, bread and peelings that we throw away each week. Could I find a creature in the bin I wonder?

Probably; there’s always something lurking beneath the surface.

I’ve even taken to looking in the shoe cupboard. Could there be a something hiding amongst all those shoes and slippers and boots, flip-flops, sandals and clogs? I’m sure that there must be; a shoe dragon or boot monster patiently waiting for footwear release.

Ah, the joys of discarded ephemera and bits of old clothing.

I came across this on the web the other day, a chap that makes all sorts of fantastic things out of rubbish. David Kemp lives and works on the far western coast of Cornwall among the old mine workings near Botallack. He finds the material for his work in junk and then makes that tat into whimsical sculptures.

The hounds of Geevor, or "cannus stannus geevoritii", as David calls them, are a pack of underground dogs. Each hound is made from three and a half pairs of Wellington boots, discarded by the miners when the local tin mine closed down ending a four thousand year history of tin mining in West Penwith.

Four thousand years, almost a lifetime, and at the end of it all that was left was a pile of rubber boots. Well, at least someone saw the potential in them, saving the boots from landfill and letting the dogs out. Brilliant, simply barking brilliant - if I can get hold of enough old wellies I might try and make one myself.

In the meantime… maybe I can find something hiding at the back of the pan cupboard.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

On your bike…

When I was a kid everybody had a bike. My mum had a bike, my dad had a bike, all of my aunts and uncles had bikes, even my gran had a bike. All the kids in the road had bikes, stickered and flagged with bells and honkers.The butcher had a bike, the baker had a bike - even the candlestick maker (if there had been one) would have had a bike I expect.

Policemen rode bikes, newspapers were delivered by boys on bikes, midwives almost delivered babies on bikes. Of course postmen rode bikes as they do still, but back then they delivered huge parcels by balancing them on wooden board platforms placed on frames in front of the handlebars.

We never actually had our coal delivered by bike, but the paraffin man delivered the paraffin by bike and the meter reader made his rounds by bike.

The vicar rode a bike, the stationmaster rode a bike, even old mad Annie rode a bike, singing her head off as she rode around town in a dirty pink slip and a straw hat decorated with flowers.

Danny Dustbin, the rag man, rode a bike with a trailer, knocking on doors and carting away bits of rusty metal, broken radios and even bones. Occasionally the knife grinder would turn up on his specially adapted bike, engaging a second chain and pedalling away, driving his grinding wheel and sharpening the knitting scissors.

Mrs Mathews, my teacher, rode a bike to school, and Nappy, the gravedigger and child molester, rode a bike to the churchyard, balancing his spade along the crossbar and whistling hymns for those in peril on the sea.

The vet had a bike, Dr. Beer had a bike (although I never saw him riding it), Sadie the barmaid at the Brewers had a top-heavy bike, Jolly Jack (of Jolly Sailor fame - shut that door!) had a bike, even old Mr. Crumpet, who’d fought in the Great War and was always more than happy to tell you all about trench-foot, had a bike.

Some people (the posh ones) had two bikes – one for the weekdays and a Sunday bike to cycle to church on. The Harrington spinsters had bikes, tricycles with sun hoods in the summer, and sometimes, in the spring, you’d see visitors in shorts riding along the high street on tandems, and once I think I saw three Oxford chaps on a bicycle made for three all dressed in white trousers and college caps.

Yes, everyone and anyone had a bike in the heady days of my sunlit childhood.

Except me.

I never had a bike, never rode one, I never wanted to - part fear and part total disinterest. Oh, I could have had one; my dad would have bought me a bike in a moment, and my uncle Bob would probably have made me one, stripping the parts from old wreckers from the tip and painting it up with spray cans bought from Plater’s the corn merchants. Uncle Charlie (God bless him) would have ‘found’ me a bike and I could have borrowed a bike from the Braham boys, who had six or seven each.

But I didn't want one.

For years I was a figure of fun; pointed at, whispered and giggled about, taunted: “He can’t even ride a bike you know.”

And I couldn’t.

Years later I did learn to ride a bike after a fashion, but back then I was a non-biker in a world where everyone rode a bike.

How times change. These days’ bikes seem to be ridden mainly by men wearing lycra shorts, streamlined helmets and ‘I am the fly’ sunglasses. The country roads are awash with packs of three-abreast Mafiosi cyclists on Sunday mornings, and through the week they arrogantly weave in and out of the city traffic, ignoring red lights and popping onto the pavement whenever there’s an obstacle.

The hordes of bicycle riding children I remember from my childhood years and youth are no more, and hardly a child seems to be out peddling along the street even on the warmest summer evening.

I’m no longer an oddity. Lots of people no longer ride bikes - scrub that - most people no longer ride bikes, and children have given up cycling in favour of their gaming consoles where they still ride bikes - but virtually.

Only people who set out to ride bikes, ride bikes; they aren’t transport, they aren’t delivery, they’re no longer a necessity.

Pity really.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

A question of coleslaw…

When I heard that Antony Worall Thompson had been arrested for shoplifting last week I wasn’t at all surprised. After all a man who doodles a twirling time-tunnel psychedelic carrot for charity, colouring it in with fluorescent marker, and then having to re-examine his spelling, can’t be all there can he?

All where?
There, you know.
Where there?
Ah, there! Did he just slip something in his pocket?

I bid for this doodle on e-bay a few years back. Each March a whole bunch of pen-and-pencilled-up celebrities auction off their doodles for the epilepsy charity and I was lucky enough to get AWT’s carrot, plus a very fine signature, for around fifteen pounds or so. Of course if it had been on display in Tesco I could probably have simply slipped it into my pocket and slowly, so as not to cause any suspicion, walked away - but it wasn’t, so I couldn’t.

No, instead I bought my doodle in good faith and now (shock, horror) I find that my doodler is a thief who (if his appearance on TV last Sunday is to be believed) was sent away to boarding school at three, sexually abused, and has been undergoing psychotherapy for his ‘addiction’ - as he calls his petty thievery of cheeses and marked-down coleslaw.

How very outrageous! The nicking that is, not the abuse.

Mind you, watching him at the weekend I saw a very different man from the TV chef I’ve so disliked whenever I’ve watched him secreting his bumptious personality into my living room through the television screen. Good job that he can’t reach in through the telly, he might nick the remote and set it to repeat ‘Ready, Steady, Cook’ over and over ad infinitum.

Hell in a shopping-trolley.

Actually, I almost felt sorry for the obviously caught, confused, cook trying so hard to justify himself and failing, putting up with the tired jokes and jibes of the panel of jokers and satirists like the proverbial lamb (don’t forget the rosemary and fennel rub) to the slaughter.

Almost, but not quite.

Looking at his downcast eyes, the way his head hung, beard on chins, listening to his distracted mumbling excuses, I was sure I could see the old AWT beneath, the one that would have done it simply because he wanted to, because he could, and to slip the finger to everybody and everything, the angry AWT that we all know so well. The one that drew the jagged, over-bright, psychedelic carrot that hangs on my kitchen wall.

I’m sure that he’ll be back. But the question remains – Why?

Why a carrot?
Why a psychedelic one?
Why all those receding, diminishing, squares?
And just why is it drawn so very much off-centre to the page – because it is… very off-centre.

If I look closely can I see it’s the work of a sexually abused chef who was sent away to boarding school aged three and went on to become a shoplifter appearing on a comedy chat show as penance?


Perhaps I should put it up on e-bay, who knows AWT’s new infamy might increase its value, or maybe I should show it to his psychotherapist. Perhaps his doodle holds the answers – after all, they put carrots in coleslaw don’t they?

Monday, 16 January 2012

I'm not coming back...

In a world called hypnotism there’s a place that I could take you that's called ‘your special place’. It’s a place that you can go to where everything is safe and calm, where nobody wants or needs anything from you, and where you can go to whenever you want and it is safe for you to do (so not when you are driving or using a chain saw).

It can be anything and anywhere that you want; a cosy room, a forest glade, a beach, a place from your past or somewhere from your imagination – it’s up to you, it is your special place, a place of peace and relaxation.

It’s taken me a while to find my special place. At first it was a clearing in a small wood, dark and lush, a mossy pool at its centre surrounded by reeds. The sunlight dappled through the leaves overhead and in the distance I could hear the sea lapping on the shore of a sunlit beach.

Then it was the beach for a while. A sandy beach littered with seashells and interesting pieces of driftwood. Only the best quality flotsam and jetsam washed up on my special beach; glass net floats, ancient glass bottles, long thin seed pods from the West Indies, huge pine cones and thick bamboo canes from China. Yes, my special beach - the perfect beach sculpture beach.

And then I had a 'free association'' revelation.

It wasn’t the glade and it wasn’t the beach, but the island that they were on. My own special island and I’m drifting towards it in a boat.

I can smell the saltiness of the sea. I can hear the seagulls calling to one another, right up high. Sometimes it is warm and sunny, and sometimes it’s rough and windy. The sea is a deep sparkling blue... No, the sea is a grey and cold, the waves riding up high above me.

And in the waves go, and then out again. Over and over. In and then out, in and then out, all day long, and all night long, the waves on the sea wash in and out. Just as my breath goes into my body, and then slowly out again, over and over.

And over and over. My boat on the sea - just drifting, drifting, drifting...

Yes, you've read this before and recently, well almost.

Of course I’ll never get to my island. I’m not allowed. That isn’t my destiny. If I were to arrive on my island they’d be no going back, I’d stay - happy from dawn ‘til dusk just doing whatever I wanted, needed to, and at night I’d sleep through torrential rain, hurricane winds, light scented breeze, or lie on the sand and watch the shooting stars falling into the sea with a well-imagined splash.

No, I’d never come back - never - not ever, ever.

And that is why I never can go there.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Not much to write home about...

My blogging is becoming very patchy. Sometimes I post and sometimes I don't and I wonder if anyone really notices except me.

I always know when I don't post my daily letter to myself, though.

That's what they are really: letters to myself. Snapshots in my time detailing every nuance of how I'm feeling and not feeling. well, not every nuance but most, although they are often written in my own cryptic code - so cryptic that I wonder if in years to come even I will remember them.

Of course it isn't all there. It is an edited version, only revealing what I consider to be acceptable for my audience's pallet. Yes, it really is edited, oh the the truth is there but it's hiding in the shadows.

Yes my blog is patchy these days. Well, I haven't much to shout about, and time is scarce, and more and more I'd rather have my bed than my keypad, and inspiration seems to be a dimming thing and the most enlightening thought that I have had this week is a remark about scattering my ashes handful by handful all over the town where I grew up in.

'And when I pass away I'd like my ashes scattered in Thame - in the river, the churchyard, at the grammar school, the cricket pitch, the bus stop at the town hall, the Six Bells car park, KingsClose, Wellington street - little piles of me all over the place. I hope that someone will do it for me.'

There you go. My letter for today. Job done - and there's the rub.

Not much to write home about is it? Particularly not to my home.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Incident Number 0155 11/01/12

I've not blogged for a few days. I've been busy dealing with the mess, both physical and emotional left by the police trying to break my mother-in-laws front door down. Today I wrote to the Civil Litigation Unit seeking recompense. Here's my letter - the bold bits have been added afterwards.

Further to my telephone conversation of this morning I am writing as requested to request payment (demand) for damage caused to my mother-in-laws front door by two of your officers (thugs).

In the early hours of Wednesday morning (I was proceeding down the avenue...) two of your policemen (monkeys) tried forcing entry (smashing into) into my mother-in-law’s house through the front door with a crowbar causing damage (destroying) to the frame and glass.

My mother-in-law had left her living room light on (Call the police! Oh, somebody did already) and a neighbour (nosey, meddling bitch of a neighbour) decided that she should call an ambulance, and subsequently the police, after convincing her (mental) self that my mother-in-law had had some sort of accident or was unwell in the house (or had possibly been abducted by aliens).

To the contrary though, my mother-in-law was actually (tucked up sound and warm) in bed asleep and had taken her hearing aid out as people do when they go to bed (to prevent it slipping into her ear and piercing her brain) (she is very hard of hearing). So there was nothing wrong at all apart from a single light which she had forgotten to turn off (did I already say call the police?) - as most of us do from time to time (usually without the police battering your door down).

My mother in law s old (ancient) (82) but mobile, alert, and in touch with us daily (and not by ouija board). Her neighbour (the one who called the police) (the stupid bitch who called the police) saw (was spying on her) her at 10.30pm putting out the bins so she knew she was okay at this time. Apart from saying hello (smiling inanely) in passing she doesn’t really know anything (jack shit)) about my mother in law including any health issues, and obviously didn’t know that she has hearing problems (but we all know about the neighbours delusions of grandeur issues).

With this in mind, and given that my mother-in-law had not complained to her or anyone else of feeling ill or given her any cause for concern (she did leave a light on though), I find it hard to understand (friggin' gobsmacked) just why she called out the emergency services (panicky, stupid, nosey old curtain twitcher) . Oddly though she seems to watch my mother-in-laws movements (spies on her), she saw her putting her bins out and later that my mother-in-law’s light was on (yes, she spies on her). This wasn’t the first time either, on another occasion she mentioned to my mother-in-law (who sometimes has problems sleeping) that her light was on very late (a crime punishable by death I expect) and that she had almost called the police as a result (yes she's mad, quite mad)).

At some time before 1.30 the neighbour tried knocking at my mother-in-law’s door (rushing around, crying, pulling her hair out) but didn’t get a reply as she was asleep (well it was the early hours) (not that she would have answered anyway at that time of night for security reasons) (and just in case a mad neighbour kills her). Soon after the neighbour called out the emergency services ‘just in case’ (Yes, that's what she said 'just in case') my mother in law had had an accident (she could just picture it. My mother-in -law dead on the carpet after lipping on a banana skin). The ambulance men told her that they couldn’t break (because they aren't stupid) in so she then called the police (who were stupid) at around fourteen minutes past two. Two officers arrived shortly after and proceeded to try to jemmy the door with a crowbar (that they just happened to be carrying) managing to smash the corner of the door and frame, and crack the leaded stained glass insert in the process (well done boys).

As far as we can ascertain from other neighbours your officers did not (didn't bother) to try to check with them about my mother-in-law (some of them are aware of her hearing problems and would have realised the situation) and simply acted upon the (mad) imaginings of this single neighbour.

Apparently your officers tried the bell and shouted (just like hooligans might) through the letter box and went around the back of the house (like thieves), but as I’ve said my mother-in-law was asleep in bed without her hearing aid. (Mind you, if she had heard them she wouldn’t have answered the door anyway as she would have been too terrified, and we have asked her not to open the door to strangers particularly at night).

Eventually though the noise of your officers trying to break her front door (smashing at it and kicking it) down did wake her. Initially she thought it was someone trying to break in to her house and was too frightened (physically sick actually) to come down the stairs. It wasn’t until she heard the voice of her hysterical (crazy bitch of a) neighbour calling her that she came to the door.

Your officers took her name, age, next of kin, and doctor’s name (why they needed this is a mystery). They did not leave an incident number or their names and when my mother-in-law asked them about the damage to the door they simply said that they were on a routine call (yeah right, I think by this time they realised they'd been very silly boys), inferring that it was up to her to sort it out (and getting their piggy arses out of their as quickly as possible). They did not offer the address or contact number of the civil litigation group as (as I was told they are bound to do) they should have done. They just left without further explanation, leaving my mother-in-law confused, distressed, and feeling as though she had done something wrong when all she had done was forget to turn a light out (and crying , and shivering, and trying to deal with her mad, hysterical neighbour).

My wife and I went to Altrincham police station the following morning to find out how to proceed and register our dissatisfaction (understatement) with the way the incident had been handled (bungled). I asked the officer on the desk who would pay for the door and she said that the police would (yes, that is what she said). She also said there was no mention of any damage to the door in the report (I wonder why?).

I subsequently spoke to PS 15984 Dave (the dick) Birchall that evening and he confirmed his view that he was answering a routine call (well, he would do wouldn't he) - he was quite condescending in my view (actually he was a defensive arrogant, rude, pig).

Of course I am not disputing that there might have been something amiss, but given that this neighbour had seen my mother-in-law only a few hours earlier, only had a left-on-light as evidence of anything untoward, doesn’t know my mother-in-law (or Jack Shit) well enough to know that she is very hard of hearing (almost deaf, poor love. Not that she admits it), and that your officers didn’t check with any other neighbours (too busy being police warriors), I think that they acted a little hastily (like the Keystone Kops they are).

Yes, as PS 15984 Dave Birchall, in my rather frustrating conversation (actually really, really, annoying) with him continually repeated, I do understand that it might have been a different story if there had have been a problem – but there wasn’t (nope, just one small light bulb left burning). The door was damaged needlessly (destroyed) and my mother-in-law embarrassed, upset and made to feel stupid (not to mention terrified) simply because of the over active imagination (mad, paranoid, fantasies) of a neighbour she hardly knows and a light which she forgot to turn off.

Generally, I really am at a loss to understand (another understatement) the actions of your officers or why they left my mother-in-law without any information on who they were or what to do next (actually I think this one is obvious). Maybe they should have asked a few more questions of the neighbour (like - Are you mad? have you done this sort of thing before? What are the voices saying now?). At the very least they should have done more to inform my mother-in-law of what she should do next and he rights concerning the damaged door (perhaps they were simply forgetful - not).

It seems to me that they just tried forcing her door on the say so of a single overly-nervous (nutty) neighbour in the early hours of the morning, failed, then just left without any further explanation ('Lets get out of here. We just screwed up bud'). If she didn’t have any family to help her sort this out, she’d simply be left with a damaged door and no recourse for action (and that is what those two were hoping for).

As it is she is now worried about turning the lights on or even leaving her curtains closed in the mornings in case her neighbour overreacts (that's how mad all the people in the road think her to be) again.

As I said, she’d like to claim for the damage to the door please (£800). I’d also like to know why your officers were so remiss in their duty (apart from them being thoughtless, bumbling, cowards) in informing and giving the relevant information to my mother-in-law.

Yours sincerely (very),

We'll see - I may write an article for Take-a-Break.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Fran, the ledge, and sailing away…

I thought I knew exactly what I was going to write today but things happen, changing everything, tumblers clunking into place; and at once another door opens, shuts before you, or closes behind you.

Well known restaurant owners disappear, things become suitably camouflaged, trains are caught.

It’s behind you.

There are people who say that everything happens for a reason. Who knows; they may even believe it. Personally though, I don’t sign up to that. I (on the other hand) think that everything is pretty much random, happening to us because it can and not because there is some plan. No, if there is a Supreme-Being working it all out somewhere then he’s either over-promoted or sleeping off a skin-full in some great cosmic ditch.

But enough. There’s no way to camouflage bad news and today was a bad news day. Not my bad news exactly, but bad nevertheless and close enough to home to have its rippling impact. Bad enough to make me remember the ledge we’re all standing on. That ledge, the one that with the slightest change of breeze or tremble can so easily send us toppling off and over and out into whatever.

Never to return.

I heard of the death of an old colleague of mine today; Fran Weber, part of a past that for me has been gone for a while now, but still here in my mind. He finally fell off the ledge that he’d been standing on so bravely for so long.

Funny thing is I’d been thinking a lot about Fran recently, just wondering. Strange, because although I knew Fran as a colleague, I can’t say I knew him very well as a person. There from almost the start, I’d meet up with him when I went across to the US, but only as part of a group. Sometimes I didn’t see him at all. Sometimes I didn’t even seek him out. My loss - I know that now.

He left a big impact when I did meet up with him though. I spent a few days in Florida with Fran and some others once. We went to Cape Canaveral. I remember Fran laughing on the bus, telling jokes, exchanging tall tales. Fran was like that - big guy, big personality, big smile, and a victim of the big ‘C’.

My old friend Eric swore by Fran, seeing in him all the potential that proved to be so true. And Eric was a hard man to impress (I know, I never managed it), and yes, Eric’s opinion was good enough for me.

Looking at Fran the man, you’d never have known that he had cancer, at least I wouldn’t if I hadn’t have been told. He was one of those men that always seemed so well, on top of everything, so up for a joke or a beer, a golden boy in the best possible sense. A Pindar Guy if ever there was one - so much more than those others who sidled along after Pindar was no more. Old Eric would have cut off their toes and served them all for tea I think.

No, you’d never have known that Fran was up on that ledge with the rest of us, just waiting to fall, trying so hard not to - and closer to that edge than most. Some might have jumped. But not Fran, no I know that Fran would never have jumped.

Yes, if I was many miles from here I’d be sailing in an open boat on the sea. Instead I’m on this window ledge with the whole world below.

If you lie down in the boat, you can feel it bobbing up and down. Feel the sides going up and down as you lie there. And you can look up at the sky and see all the seagulls flying around up high, calling to one another.

You can hear the waves gently slapping against the side of the boat as you lie in the bottom of it, looking up at the sky. The boat gently swaying from side to side, a bit like you are being rocked. Rocked like a baby in a cradle, or maybe as though you’re in a hammock. Gently being rocked to sleep……

Goodbye Fran. Here’s hoping, that wherever you’re sailing to, they serve beer.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Flowers at the front…

Not every word I carve on this page has to be torn from my heart, bleeding and spotting, filling my sight with red. I can be easier on myself. I can be easier on my self.

Not every word.

I can be.
Grammatically in correct

I can be.

And then there is home.
Where the heart is
Where there is no place like
Where the memories live
Where I sleep sound.

I can be home.

Taken there.
To Derrydown.
Or back to home town.

Standing outside old pubs
I drink.
Visiting my girlfriend’s houses
I remember.
Places where I used to work
I laugh.

Some of it different
Most of it the same.
I laugh.

Time travel.
Without travel.

Standing besides my grandmother’s grave.
Listening outside the forge to Grandad’s hammer.
Bang – bang – bang – bump – bumppp

Close to sea
A house outside.
Feelings inside.

A home.
Your own.
Such freedom

Such freedom.

Be happy.
With flowers at the front.

Flowers at the front.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Back then...

Two sets of black and white contacts from the fifties. Sent to me by my aunt who, for some reason had kept them tucked away at a back of a draw probably. There I lay in the dark, mainly free from dust. Only coming out when somebody went rummaging for some sellotape or a birth certificate so that they could apply for a passport.

Look at me. How old am I? Two? Three?

Back then everyone went to the photographer to get a professional portrait taken. It was an expensive business and you had to save hard for it, forgoing tea, or bread, or meat, but it had to be done. It was expected.

Back then the photographer’s camera stood on a tripod and he stuck his head under a big black cloth, holding the needle trigger in his hand, shooting off shot after shot and trying to get the attention of his subject. And me? Well, I seem distracted by the headlights even then.

Just missed me.

Back then, hair combed, tears wiped away with some spit and hanky by mum. Mum in her best spotted dress and hat, smiling on. My Dad in the corner fuming, well I wouldn’t, couldn’t, behave. It was all too frightening. Tapping his pointy shoed toe, wanting to get away outside to have a fag.

I’m in here somewhere. I know I am. I can see it in my face. The start of the lines that would become oh so deeply etched with the passing of the years – my X face as I’ve come to call it. See my hands all wrinkly like an old man’s even then? Old man’s hands, far too much skin to firmly enclose the bones it slips across.

And that bear I’m holding. Was it mine? I don’t remember him. I don’t remember any bear to hold and hug. I must have had one, mustn’t I? He’s so shabby. A Mr. Shabby from Shabby Town – just like me.

Yes, I’m in here somewhere. Back then. In the beginning, as I am now. Startled and scared. For ever and ever? Well, no not that.

I’m in there somewhere though.

Yes, look. Here I am startled and scared. I wonder what it is I see? All the others aren’t me at all. Here I am - Mr (or should I say Master) Shabby, peeking out from behind the happy veneer made by the face pulling and waving of the photographer. Look at him, see his eyes?

And that other thing?

Well, that’s just a rip in the paper. The real scars don’t begin until later.

Friday, 6 January 2012

Kiss me - I may be a Prince...

It's been kind of quiet in glass world since Christmas. I need to try to do something about it, but at least Valentine's day is just around the corner.

I'm making wine glasses, and flutes, and Love Monsters in the hope that someone will want to buy.

But today it's frogs - 'rivet, rivet'.

Yes, I've started making some of my jars for Valentine's. This time instead of pet dragons, or Christmas wishes, or 'losing my marbles' it's a frog Prince jar.

'Be my Prince', 'I love you - Croak!', 'Kiss me - I may be a Prince', 'For my Princess' - a little frog on a glass lilly pad surrounded by blues glass water, a heart and 'xx Big Kiss xx' on the lid.

All able to be personalised with your own message of course.

Silly but whimsical and I hope that you like them. I do.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Not only St. Trinians...

I wouldn’t call Ronald Searle an early inspiration of mine exactly, but as I was growing up he was always there making me smile and titillating me on a Saturday afternoon at the flicks.

Well not him exactly, but one of his creations transferred onto celluloid.

Of course it wasn’t all St. Trinians. There was much more to Mr. Searle than that. But it wasn’t until years later that I recognised the incredible clarity and thoughtfulness in the way he swirled and scratched his ink on paper.

Yes - and the Devil’s in it.

Apparently he felt the same, feeling that his body of work was far more than St. Trinians, a lot more. And of course he was right. But for most he will always be the man who drew those black and white drawings of scruffy little girls in straw-hatted uniforms and eagle nosed spinster teachers.

And he did it brilliantly.

I’d settle for that.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Seeing Red…

This time last year I faced an uncertain future.

This time this year I face an uncertain future.

It isn’t even as if I haven’t spent the last year or so not trying to make it certain. It’s just that I think I’ve come to believe (at last) that the future isn’t certain. So who knows what future I’ll be facing this time next year?

There goes my last little bit of the arrogance of my youth, be seeing you – not that I should have been clinging to it at my age.

And then, outside the January wind is howling and inside me the wind is howling just as fiercely.

As a character from my imagination once said:
‘Everything is chance. Life is chance. Death is chance. Chance is chance.”
And indeed it is.

I can’t understand it.
I had it all worked out.
I’d prepared.
Nothing was left to chance.

Wrong! Everything is chance.
Sometimes it simply makes me see Red.

I was talking to Red this morning. Red’s a friend of mine, he’s been hanging around for a while now. He’s the sort of friend that you need when things aren’t going the way that you'd planned them. He doesn’t have many answers but at least he makes the questions easier to ask, loosening the tongue just enough so that I can face the way things seem to have turned out so far.

“This was my year Red.” I explained to him, “This was the year I’d planned it all for.”

I won’t go into the details but at one time it seemed so doable. I’d planned you see – both financially and life, even to the extent that I’d managed to bring everything to fruition at the same time – family, house, financial security. Everything came together at fifty-five. At fifty-five I would have choice, moderate security, and freedom.

Red just smiled at me. He didn’t say anything; he didn’t have to say anything, and anyway - he didn’t have anything to say.

Red’s like that, no answers but sometimes a solution – well, at least he’s not a six-foot-three-and-a-half-inches tall white rabbit like some... well not yet at least.

Monday, 2 January 2012

HNY - singing not screaming…

Another New Year’s Eve slipped away in the way they do. This year’s though I didn’t see in - just another symptom of all that’s gone on I guess. No worries. I’ll deal with it - whatever the outcome may be.

New Year’s day in Wales, grey sky and grey mood. So here we go, another New Year’s Day and another doodle. Pay no attention to this first doodle of my year, that isn’t blood, its cochineal and that scream… well, I could be singing I guess. And who says that's me anyway? It could be that other fellah.

Last year was a mother-fucking-bitch of a year (sorry I tried to find other words, but like a JD and coke, nothing else quite hit that particular spot). Yes, a real mother-fucking-bitch. So bad that it seems to have clouded my ability to see the forward that could (must) be coming.

Looking in the mirror this morning I saw that clichéd stranger so many lyricists and writers go on about. This time the stranger was grey haired, broken faced, and caught in a spotlight like another clichéd rabbit. Might have been that other fellah though. Who knows?

I smiled, he smiled. And smiling again I turned to my good friend Red who isn’t usually up and about that early.

“Wad’ya think Red?”
“Happy New Year, Grandad.”
“Thanks Red, Happy New Year to you too.”

Yes Happy New Year, lets hope it gets better as it goes on.
Anyway, I might be singing and not screaming.
And it might not be me at all.
Yes, definitely singing, and definitely not screaming -
But I’ve no idea what the song is.