Saturday, 30 June 2012

Green Tomatoes...

My tomato plants are growing. Tumblers; planted from seed, nurtured on the kitchen worktop, planted out in sturdy plastic troughs troughs, and kept in a cloche until the weather warmed a little. They’re outside now, lifted to the light on a thick strong wooden plank, up against the heat retaining back brick wall, and just beginning to make little green tomatoes. I always grow tumblers; they produce such small sweet fruits, but it isn’t the fruit I grow tomatoes for really – it’s the smell.

Tomato plants smell so green. I love to gather up the leaves in my hands, hold my hands to my face, and breathe in the lusciousness of the rich, clean aroma. If I were a man prone to having imaginings then that smell could take me anywhere – the Amazon Rainforest, a summer’s meadow after gentle rain, a lush fern-lined pool deep in an evening wood. What a smell my tomatoes have, it makes me giddy, it makes me smile – and yes, they are just tomato plants; nothing added, nothing else, simply the smell of greenness.

Friday, 29 June 2012

I've seen a horse fly...

Now I’m not a huge Disney fan but I often think about those crows in Dumbo:

C 1: Did you ever see an elephant fly? 
C 2: Well, I've seen a horse fly. 
C 3: Ah, I've seen a dragon fly. 
C 4: Hee-hee. I've seen a house fly. 

Well, I only really notice flies when they are being a nuisance. 

Yes, being big we miss so much that is so very small. I really didn’t see these three in the picture as I was snapping, but when I took a proper look there they were; fly one, fly two, and fly three. It got me wondering just how many different types of flies there are in the world and more importantly why are there so many different types. Isn’t one fly pretty much like another? Mind you, looking at these three they all have there own peculiarities and are as different I guess as a tiger, a lion and a leopard. Even so they pretty much all go by the label fly.

Unbelievably there are about 119,500 species of fly according to Google and there are bound to be hundreds of new species hiding in the rain forests just waiting for Sir David Hat-I-Borrowed or Kate Humble to come along and discover them.

The first thing to know about flies is that they have a single pair of wings. Yes, a single pair of wings. So, (also unbelievably) I found that when I stopped to think about it, and despite seeing thousands of flies in my lifetime, I had no idea that this was the case. If Chris Tarrant had asked me on Millionaire if it was 2,4,6 or 8 wings, for the million quid, I’d have had to go fifty-fifty and hope that 2 and 4 weren’t left. Mind you by then I’d probably have used my fifty-fifty and the other lifelines too. Surely I should have known that single wing thing?

Incredibly even though there are so many types of fly there are more types of beetle, more types of butterfly, and more types of bee and wasps. So where are all these beetles and butterflies? During my weekend in Wales I didn’t see a single beetle or butterfly, although I did see bees and wasps. Mind you there are 17 quadrillion flies in the world which might help explain it – not that I really saw the flies; they were just there doing fly things.

17 quadrillion! I don’t even know what a quadrillion is but it would seem to be a great number of flies.

So, why all this stuff about flies? No reason really, it’s just that they popped up in my photograph and made me realise that sometimes I’m amazed by how little I know and how little I notice. Now I'm not a huge Supreme Being fan - and sorry about the construction of this next sentence - but I sometimes wonder if somewhere there’s not something not noticing us? Mmm… perhaps we’re not so big after all.

Oh yeah – a dragonfly isn’t a fly at all, it can’t be; it has two pairs of wings. Just goes to show what crows know.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Run for the hills...

Yes, I always run for the hills and I know what hills to run to.

Coming up to the Llyn I glance to my right, Yr Eifl (a mountain, but so much more) towers in front of me, grey and scarred, seeming to reach to the very top of the sky, the sea sparking at its foot; dwarfing the jetty and the smudge that is the village of Trevor.

Trevor is a strange place, a quarrying community once. Dark granite gouged from the mountainside. Hard, tough, granite to be shipped to Liverpool and Manchester to build the buildings of those faraway cities

Opened in 1850, closed in 1960, they still sometimes quarry the finest of granites to make curling stones. Polished chunks of the mountain sliding over the Olympic ice of Japan and Italy and CanadaLondon too.

It’s a Victorian place, a once-working place, a Welsh place. Chapels dotted amidst the grey of terraced cottage on terraced cottage, men speaking in Welsh who never not meet your eye. A place cut off from the rest of the world by the mountain, the sea, and time – and reached by a road that could easily be blocked, just one way in and one way out. An easy place for the booby-trapping of buildings.

If ever the end comes - a man-made plague to turn men into zombies, a virulent virus; killing us all with a slow drowning in our own rotting fluids - then it is here that I might run.

High on the hill stands a fort. Just look at it; a structure from 'Alien'? A Tibetan monastery of a building, a Saracen Castle, a place where Knights Templar might practice their magic in peace, a sanctuary - a refuge for men to run for in times of trouble. A derelict quarry building, built in 1923, the main loading point for the stone that passed on the narrow gauge railway that ran down to the pier and then on out to the sea in the sailing ships.

Vast and impenetrable it stands, a home fit for the giant that sleeps in the mountain, a strong place to hide in times of trouble. With some work and repair you could hole-up here for years; far away from the cannibalism of the cities and the warring tribes of the countryside.

So, when it comes, whatever they are, you know where to make for when the aliens land... but for now I mainly pass it by. Those men - the ones that never not meet your eye - well, just who (or what) could they be?

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Summer mornings, summer nights…

A few days in Wales - impressions, dreams, thoughts. Don’t think, just write it down.

Wales. This corner, tucked away from the day-to-day that was once my bolthole, providing me sanctuary still - so hard to tell the dream from real here. No matter, I prefer it that way, a crossover between the everyday and the neveryday. Awoken by sheep outside my window, skittering along the lane as the farmer moves them to another field where the grass is greener. Greener grass; almost an entire day of sunshine, spent bone-achingly cutting my hedges (far too long left and on the verge of rebellion) then evening dining al-fresco - lasagne and salad - with my parents in the leafy lane between. Too much wine, then bath and an early night to sleep, dog-tired from the hedges, and awaking to see the sun set purple in the far distance of the sea and, later, waking again, to see it orange-red rise across the mountains. Long days, short nights, awaking yet again to birdsong, refreshed, and to a kittens rough tongued kiss “you are my family now” she says, pleasure pawing her pins into the skin of my neck; and yes, I am her family now. The secret sound of darting birds in hedgerow and the bright red-crested woodpecker spotted flashing for an instant at Poo-Stick Bridge. The standing stones, so close, seeming to never be seen in the same place twice, but with a little looking can be seen and touched and spoken to even, but never giving up their names - known. Dreams, with Puck’s Hill just a few steps away and that, as I am given entrance with a special knock, should wander down past midnight with the bottle of well-water in my hand and a song for Arthur to rise again. Same old Puck, same old me - and same old not-quite-dreams; flowers and fairy hats, not as plentiful as in those other years but still here to be worn if I choose to take a gambol. What more? The moon, the sea and the high mountains, the smell of the storm, the noise of gentle rain, the songs of far-off seals, the wind, the dipping of phantom whales, the seagull calling, a dragonfly gem on the water’s edge, the curling of the foxglove path, the singing, and a tap on the window in the dead of night.

Just a few days - what next?

Friday, 22 June 2012

Just for a couple of days...

Time to make like an


I'm going away for a few days to a place where electricity doesn't work and the internet is just a vicious rumour - so no posts for a few days. I can't tell you where I'm going, but me and Captain Ahab (may God hunt us all if we do not hunt Moby Dick to the death!) are happy to give you just a little clue.

I'm going mainly for a rest, but who knows I may even find a little biddy bit of

God - cue heavenly music - know I need it - my posts get harder to write each day and as for the rest of my life... well, let's just say - actually, let's not.

Besides... I need to cut the hedge.


Anyway, I hope that you miss me otherwise you won't be back and you not coming back would pain me like a bolt in the brain (luckily William Tell damn I missed him was a pretty good shot)

Back soon, take care, and don't forget me while I'm gone.

as always

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Moody world...

People say I’m moody; but it isn’t me, it’s the world that’s moody - constantly changing every day, hitting me with the unexpected. If only I knew what to expect, if only the world would be the same and predictable each day. If the world was consistent then I’m sure my mood would be consistent to match. But it isn’t; so I find myself having to adapt to the mood of the world around me.

Let me try to explain. This morning I got up to the music of the wind against my window and despite the heavily curtained room I knew that outside the day was grey, either raining or at least heavily fearful with the threat. So the sound of the wind and the scudding grey clouds set the tone for the day and, with the greyness I knew lurked outside, so was my mood.

Walking along the road, wind blowing at my heels, air heavy with that dank greyness of another dank grey day, I began to notice the minutiae of the world around me. A leaf tumbling along the path, the way that people walked all hunched and pocketed huddling from the heavy breeze, a torn poster on a window flapping its wave at me. Well, one thing leads to another and shot by shot the film in my head turned black and white, French, and sentimentally sad – it was all I could do not to search for a red balloon floating in the sky above.

Strangely, despite my ability to focus on the incredible detail around me and put it all together as what I like to think is a big picture, I hardly ever recognise the players moving within it even when I know them. So I may well have passed people I know quite well without any acknowledgement at all providing more evidence of my moodiness some might say. Truth is though; I’m so caught up in observing the mood of the world that I hardly ever see the people moving through it

So to my point, if there is one: If I cut you dead in the street, it isn’t because I’m ignoring you, or that I’m being moody – it’s just that I’m caught up in the mood of the world, listening to its music and looking to the sky for a single red balloon - and I'm sticking to it.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

In Gran's garden...

Reminded into reverie today I was in an instant a boy again. I spend too much time being a boy I know, but it’s so much easier than being a grown man. Grown men have things to think about and decisions to make, but boys can just play their days away.

Anyway, forget-me-nots, a staple in the country cottage gardens when I was a boy, allowed to wander in and out wherever they would, light blues peeking out from between the greens and pinks and yellows like tiny blue stars. My Gran's garden, just a mass of things that grew as it pleased, nothing ever planted - it just seemed to appear... what a place to be a boy who played his days away.

Lilac tree stands, multiple trunked and twisted, so sweet smelling, tumbling, flowers. We picked the fragrant fronds and stirred the cold tap water to make scent that later was left to brown and stink. We, my cousin and I, were going to make our fortunes selling this sickly smelling concoction to passers-by from the light blue iron garden gate, the one I was told not to swing on, but did anyway. Of course we never sold a single jar, nor our rose petal, or lilac, or the tall peach hollyhock that grew by the gate - which one day snapped its hinges as I swung; but we were perfumers nonetheless, our goods laid out on an old painted kitchen chair for the price of a shining sixpence.

Looking back now I see it in a Dickensian sepia - my Gran in hairnets, pinafores and aprons, the mangle, Aunty Flo and Uncle Ned next door. Uncle Ned seldom seen, a smiling shuffling man in an old brown suit and collarless shirt. Different days back then; days of lamb stews, a mouse in the kitchen fireplace, the blackened coalman delivering his brown sacks directly to the kitchen, the cats that were kept to catch the mice. Such different days; days of different priorities and values and games for boys to play.

We’d build camps in the lilac stands, pick our way through the tall nettles and docks (one to calm the other) and run in the brightness of marigolds and self-seeded sunflowers to the place where Uncle Charlie carried the bucket, brim full of water, and the box full of mewling kittens. We never talked about what he did there, just watched open-mouthed till it was done, the hole filled in, and Charlie’s tears wiped away from behind his thick glasses. He never knew that we were there in the lilac, different days, different priorities and values, just boys with games to play.

Later we left a jam-jar full of gentle blue stars as a remembrance of the softness of their stroking and the roughness of their tiny tongued kisses. Grown men have things to think about and decisions to make, cats are kept to catch the mice, and boys just play their days away. Forget-me nots? Never, how could I?

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

I blog therefore…

Why, oh why, do I blog? No seriously, why do I blog? I must ask myself that question a dozen times each week (scrub week and replace with day) and I’m not alone; one of the things I’ve noticed about the blogging fraternity is that lots of them have no idea why they do it.

Of course there are bloggers out there who have a message, a specialist subject, an interest, even a cause; but I’m not one of those. If there is any theme at all to my blogging activity it is ‘me’ and, as I often remind what I laughingly call my readers, it is all about me. So, I guess in some ways you might call it a vanity blog, me showing off - “Look everyone here I am. Take notice, I’m jolly interesting.” Of course the truth is I’m mainly only interesting to myself and my random collection of thoughts, comments, memories, stories, cries for help, and nonsense generally goes unnoticed. It doesn’t stop me though – I’m what you’d call a compulsive blogger, mangling myself with the agony of composing a post almost each and every day.

At first I fooled myself that I was simply blogging for ‘me’, pretending that it didn’t matter if anybody else ever read what I’d written. But you can only fool yourself for so long and it soon became obvious I needed the drug of readers and their comments. Sometimes my need for a comment fix gets so bad that I’ve found myself commenting on my own posts, fishing on Facebook and Twitter to drum up interest, even asking my daughter to comment. Sad - I really am desperate for attention it seems – roll up, roll up, read all about me!

On a luvvy note, some of it is about creative release. My blog drives me to try and do something creative each day, even though I fail sometimes – words and drawings, photographs and sculptures – and to be honest that can only be a good thing can’t it? Well, not according to my wife who says I am obsessed and that blogging, and the activities associated with it, take up far too much of my time. She’s right of course but just as my vocation in life is blogging, her vocation is never being seen to be wrong.

Then there’s the part of my blogging habit that’s about keeping a record, not in a Sammy Pepys diarised way – my life isn’t that interesting - but a daily account of me at a moment in time. It’s kind of a repository, a place to go if anyone ever wanted to know me in years to come, a place to go to understand the feel of who I was. Maybe something for my grandchildren to ponder over, who knows? I do know that if you look hard enough, between the lines and in the code, that you’ll find pretty much everything there is to know about me and even some that there isn’t.

So, why do I blog? Well, I’m still thinking about that one, but if I was really pushed for a single statement answer to that particular question it would be: "I blog, therefore I am." Yes, my blog is more me, than me, will ever be.

Monday, 18 June 2012

At the edge...

I’m not very good at living on the edge, preferring to stand back a few yards, seeing it all from a distance and wondering what lies beyond and beneath. Oh, I’m drawn to the edge, there’s no mistaking that and on a few occasions, on hearing its seductive call, I’ve sidled forward inch by sweaty inch, arms outstretched with the tightrope walkers blood that runs in my veins to peep over. Just a peep, a dizzying looking down at all the wonders spinning in front of me, calling to me.

And then I sit down making sure as much of my body as possible is touching the ground before backing away, on all fours, in a tremble and a flutter. Sometimes it’s hard to back away. Sometimes I want to stay on the edge and feel the pull of the magnetism far, far, below. Sometimes I even feel that it would be good to become a part of it and freefall for a while. It draws me in, scares and attracts me; scares because one day I may simply step into it I think. It’s in my mind you see.

Of course, past is past and there have been times when I’ve stepped so close to the edge that I could feel the crumbling air beneath my feet, times when looking down was easy, when I could stand and watch the sea crash below unblinking, without a flinch. Times when I’ve almost launched myself into the air trusting for a moment that I might fly or at the very least be eased down to the water by that magical umbrella I used to carry. My younger times, when the ticking clock wasn’t so important, The times before all these masks.

These days though I daren’t go near to the edge. I mislaid my umbrella years ago or perhaps I gave it away. The mask is firmly fixed and the clocks tick on, and if I get too close who knows? I may just give in and let it all fall away.

Sunday, 17 June 2012


I had intended to let is grow, but somehow I couldn’t quite recapture the teased and towselled look I manage back in 1982 when her name was Rio and she danced across the sand. Back then I could work all day, freelance most of the night and still manage to go out clubbing bedecked in a purple and pink paisley shirt. Thirty years ago, so much forgotten and still some things remembered if I turn on the lights at the back of my mind.

I think I knew who I was back then, or at least there was a me I could build on. I’m still trying to work out when the blocks began to drift apart; maybe the mortar wasn’t strong enough – not enough cement, a little too much sand. But of course I’m lying, I know exactly when the cracks and crumbles began to appear and all over a mistaken gesture that sucked me in and flattered my easily flattered ego. I was such a peacock back then. Of course it was my fault, inevitable really; just like what happened after was inevitable. Maybe that’s it, maybe the realisation of the inevitability made me less or more or something - anyway, I don’t go to that room very often, I’m scared of the happy memories I find there.

So instead of letting it grow, I’ve cut my hair – taken a pair of scissors and snipped and snipped, making the floor grey where once there would have been sunshine, swept it into a pile and thrown it in the bin. Funny, it looks darker when it's off my head, more colourful somehow, less crazy - so no more waking with a huge fluffy grey cloud upon my head and no getting it back even if I wanted. 

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Lightning rods and weather vanes…

The east wind is biting particularly cold today. I was going to write ‘fucking east wind’ but I didn’t really want to start a post with profanity. Mind you, with the way things are at the minute a saint might be forgiven for swearing. Of course I didn’t start out to be whatever it is I’ve become. Way back then, when I was at school, it was a little confusing but not as confusing as it is at the moment. Well, I had youth on my side and I didn’t expect to be asking that question again – that teenage question that still has me so confused, you know the one: “what should I do with the rest of my life?” It was this question that my careers master (also my maths teacher) asked of me in my single ten minute careers appointment; “So, what will you be doing for the rest of your life?”

I mentioned that I might go to Art College, Sir. He looked at me over his glasses and then asked me if I’d thought of joining the army.

Of course I had. I’d thought of that and any number of other ‘careers’ including astronaught, train driver, monk, pop star, magician and policeman – but somehow they didn’t quite suit. Of course what I didn’t think of were all the jobs that I’d actually have been pretty good at with the right training – plumber, builder, electrician, tree surgeon, blacksmith - blacksmith particularly as it was what our family had done for generations and I’d probably have been able to apprentice to my grandfather.

But no, and of course, none of those things were grand enough for me – after all, I’d scraped into Lord Bill’s on the borderline, I had an education, managed a few ‘O’ and ‘A’ levels, could go on to college and get a degree – why would I want to do something ordinary?  So instead of becoming a blacksmith or even a plumber I went to college and got a degree in colouring-in – although I called it graphic design at the time.

Just think if I’d just been that tiny bit less bright, or had made a couple more bad guesses on the day of my eleven plus then I could be shoeing a horse instead of writing this crap today; I might even have been forging a lightning rod, a whimsical weather vane, all fire and copper and iron. Just think of that – a life full of lightning rods and wind vanes, it'd have been like I owned the weather.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Another pavement find...

My latest find. Forgotten on the pavement, scratched and downtrodden, faded and slightly grubbied by the elements and time - my little bird. My little green bird.

Picking her up I popped her in my pocket and brought her home with me. I don't know how long she'll stay around, it isn't fair to keep something against its will, but she's mine for the moment and that's enough.

And when she wants to move on? Well, all she has to do is fly away. I just hope she leaves her whistle in my head.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

a bit of a wine...

I seem to have lost my sense of whimsy and I haven’t got much of the laughs about me these days. They seem to have blown away with the warm west wind, leaving the chilly east to fill my heart and lungs with sighs and groans and grunts. It’s the grunts that get me most; the involuntary grunts that explode each time I stand, a small ‘uh’ every time I bend. My own fault of course, I could have tried harder along the way. But then you don’t see the car crash around the corner until you’re on it do you?

But enough of car crashes; it’s a laugh and a grunt that this post is about. It could have been about something else of course; two or three ideas for posts flitted through my mind last night and, knowing that I should write them down didn’t, and they were lost. Yes, they were such good ideas that I couldn’t forget them - and then I did. Such a shame, they were all such brilliant ideas, so much better than what I’m writing now.  If only I’d taken the notebook out of my pocket and jotted them down. Yes, they were brilliant, truly brilliant.

Mind you, I’d probably have forgotten this one too if it wasn’t for the contents of my kitchen sink this morning. I’d almost forgotten about my shirt. It was one of my light blue Oxfords, probably the best one, and you know how I feel about those shirts. Goodness knows what I’ll do when they’re gone. Anyway, there it was soaking in a bowl of water and Miracle-Clean (removes all stains – FAST!) in the sink - and then I remembered last night.

I was watching the news when it happened.

To a picture of bungalows, three feet deep in floodwater, Julie Etchasketch announcing that despite the floods some authorities had not lifted their hosepipe ban. Not lifted their hosepipe ban despite reservoirs being 8o% full and despite a weeks worth of continual rain, at levels unprecedented since Noah and the flood. I shake my head and take a sip of wine, which proves to be my downfall. As I watch a car floating away down the road, Mizz Etchasketch continues and tells me that the authorities have no plans to remove the ban as they fear a water shortage.

Now I don’t know why, and I don’t know where it came from, but mid-sip of red - when I was least expecting it, and after such a long time – out of my mouth with a grunt and a splurge came a little laugh and then I began to giggle. Out sprayed the wine all over my shirt and in wine terms it must have been a very big sip because my shirt was covered to the extent that it looked like a very bad attempt at batique or tie-dye. I didn’t laugh for long, but it was definitely a laugh and my poor shirt was the victim of my mirth.

So why am I telling you this? Well, firstly because I didn’t write down my other blog ideas which were so much better – brilliant actually, truly brilliant - and secondly because of the ridiculous lengths people in authority will go to, simply to prove themselves right, never fails to amaze me. These are the people who start wars over a small and useless piece of desert, who close companies because that great idea that would have kept the business afloat wasn’t theirs, who let flowers die by enforcing a hosepipe ban when there’s plenty of water. These are the people who made me stain my shirt with red wine - actually no that’s the people who made the wine probably.

For their sakes - I hope my shirt comes clean. Yes, they're in my line and I'm waiting for the revolution.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Father's day card...

I slipped off and bought my dad his father’s day card this morning. I know, well somebody has to be my dad. Anyway, somehow and for some reason fatherhood has been on my mind a lot recently and buying that card started my brain going places I really don’t like to go and it started me thinking about fatherhood; me and fatherhood. Not becoming a father in having children terms I hasten to add, I’ve done that, but just being a father in general. You see the thing is after years of pretending I’ve come to realise that I’m really rather rubbish at it. Oh, I’m sure I’m not the worst father in the world but I must be in the lower quartile on the ideal father percentage scale. No, I’m no George Bailey I’m afraid - it just doesn’t come that naturally to me and if I’m really honest I’ve always known that.

Of course, I’d stand up for my children if they were falsely accused or unfairly treated – I’ve done that and always will. But I can’t simply support them when I think that they’re wrong and I don’t think I could love them unconditionally no matter what. 

I’ve often wondered how the parents of terrorists, murderers, child abusers, drug pushers, and all the rest of the riff-raff feel about their offspring. I’m incredulous at the ones who try to justify their offspring’s actions, or simply don’t believe that they’ve done it despite absolute proof. My children aren’t any of those things, but we all have our moments, and if they ask my view, back me into a corner or follow a path I can’t agree with… well, that’s when I become a rubbish father. Father’s you see should comply and I can’t. I can't be a puppet or a fool, not even to please my children. Oh, I know that the problem’s mine, an ideal father would do what ideal father’s do and make it all better - play the puppet, play the fool, but not me.

I can't. I don’t.

Thing is as well as being a father (warning - excuse, excuses, excuses) I’m a person too and (believe it or not) full of all the stuff that people have inside them. The stuff that makes them ‘them’ and the stuff that makes me ‘me’ – good and bad, warty warts and all – but maybe if I just ignored it and filled myself full of ‘father’ stuff then I’d be a better father – but where would me be?

How selfish of me to want to be me.

By way of confirmation a certain someone snarled at me this morning: ‘You need to work out what you are doing.” And yes I do, (big cigar for the girl with the pink hair). You blew my cover.
Yes. Indeed. I. Do.

I only wish I could, it’s what every daughter has the right to expect from her father. I’ll leave it at that I think.

And I only went into the shop to buy a bloody card.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

I might go to the pictures tomorrow…

My life seems a little empty at the moment, a little pointless. Yes, I know that I was saying just the opposite only a day or so ago, but I can change my opinion can’t I? Empty, drifting, purposeless. Not that I’m saying that it hasn’t ever been that way, and of my own making, but these days I have time to dwell - and time to dwell, in many ways, allows us all to create our own little hell. That’s why I spring out of bed (well, not spring maybe – a simple ‘get’ would cover it) because the more I dwell the more I worry and the more I think about what once was - and, thing is: everything is better when looked through the glasses of the past - and let’s face it you got what you got; so get on with it.

Is that a widow I see above me and are my sentences getting longer? Bloody internal conversations.

That friend of mine, the blogger one I often refer to, told me by way of his words this morning that his life was boring. Boring! This is a man that goes to the cinema! I dream of going to the cinema, it’s a treat, something to be worked towards, something to plan weeks in advance if only to get the energy up to make it happen. Spur of the moment cinema-going? You’ve got to be joking haven’t you? The nearest multiplex is a ten minutes walk from my home; it isn’t something you just up and do.

Perhaps my life would be a little bit more interesting if I was a more ‘spur of the moment’ person, but as it is I don’t even channel-hop – I go to the programme menu and ponder.

Maybe it should be like this…
Wakes up: What shall I do today?
Ponders: I know - go to the airport, get on the first plane available, see where it takes me and never come back.

No, maybe a little too much, perhaps this…
Wakes up: What shall I do today?
Ponders: I know - go to the seaside, pack a picnic for one and go watch all those metal men sink beneath the water.

Or even…
Wakes up: What shall I do today?
Ponders: I know - go to the pictures, choose a film, buy a ticket and watch it.

Instead though…
Wakes up: What shall I do today?
Ponders: …………………………..

And half an hour later I’m still pondering before doing what I always do and settling back into my comfortable, self-made, rut. Yes, I’ve become an expert in filling my time seemingly with nothing. Just how did I ever find time to do all those things and go all those places? Maybe time has changed or perhaps I’m moving in slo-mo through mud, it certainly feels that way sometimes.

Listen, I’m not complaining, I know everything is in my control, that if anything is going to be change it starts and ends with me – and yes, I know that some would feel my life was full, well-rounded and interesting. It’s just that I don’t. Maybe most people are like that - could be that we all are. I read somewhere that millionaires are more prone to suicide that paupers and successful people never stop worrying about failing. Yes, it can be shit being a human being, but as I said you got what you got.

So in conclusion: I may go to the cinema tomorrow. Maybe.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Luna loses a life…

Raining cats and dogs? Well, a cat at least.

Luna, three months old today. I heard the CLUMP but at first didn’t realise what it was. I checked the hallway to see what Luna had knocked over, but couldn’t see anything. Well, I wouldn’t – it was Luna who’d made that CLUMP as she landed (on all fours I would guess) on the hallway floor after falling all the way from the top landing. I’d warned her of course, clinging from the stairway corner post thirty feet up at the top of the house isn’t such a good idea – all it would take is just one slip.

And it's a long, long way down - three floors long with a hard wooden floor at the bottom.

Of course she didn’t listen and then slip and CLUMP, a falling kitty – of course I didn’t see it. A thirty foot drop – what’s that to a tiny kitten? Three hundred?

She seemed okay at first – sitting in the kitchen looking a little dazed, but then she began falling over, her balance all gone; even losing the use of her back legs for a few minutes. “She’s fine. It’s the shock.” I told myself watching her wobble across the floor. Picking her up, I gave her a cuddle and checked her legs and body. There weren’t any breaks, she didn’t cry with pain, but she was trembling like a leaf – well, she had just fallen from the top of a three storey building.

We kept her awake for an hour or so, just in case of concussion, and then let her sleep. When she awoke we fed her sliced beef (her favourite treat), and then took her out for a bit of fresh air. She stepped gingerly at first, not jumping or climbing. I expect her paws were sore. Imagine falling that far and landing on you feet – your legs would break, but not hers.

She’s fine now, just a few hours later. Up to her old tricks, eating and playing and jumping. Cats truly have nine lives; they’re built for survival, a self-righting miracle of feline engineering honed over thousands of years to perfection.

She still gave me a bad couple of hours though.

All forgotten? I hope not three month old Luna… that’s one down. You’ve only another eight to go. Do the maths.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Two minutes on a Sunday afternoon...

So today, sidetracked by a need to rescue some ornamental cabbage seedlings that had become so waterlogged that they were living in mud (help me, help me) I got stuck in my courtyard and kind of lost myself there for a while.

Damned slugs have been at it, despite the blue pellets I throw everywhere, but generally (smiles) – it’s all going well. Yes, I have high hopes for my little acre and can’t wait to see the oranges and yellows which I know are surely to come.

The ‘25 blue iris for £1.00!’, a pound shop bargain (all praise the pound shop for the pound shop is good... how much is this please?) are all up and through. Unfortunately I forgot the canary creeper seed I planted first - and then the Japanese cabbage seed I sowed after because I’d forgotten the canary creeper seed – (NOT TO SELF… Label Clearly – of course I never will).

As always the Welsh Poppies are everywhere – all yellow and lushish lush green. I’m told that they are weeds but they are far too happy to pull up – besides the bees love them and they add a cheer on an overcast day.

Here he is - Mr Buzzy Bee, busily buzzing as he bumptiously goes on his beaming bee way.

Oh well - break over.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Comings and goings...

Okay, first thing first – not that this should be my first thing. No, I have other more pressing things to be first - but somehow now seems to be just about the right time.

It’s raining. Not the refreshing rain that always makes me smile, but that grey, wet, drizzle rain that soaks everything and seeps through into your bones. Rain like this gets to my soul and when that happens… well, I need a happy thought.

My happy thought? Chicken for tea. Yes, I know not much, but something.

I have much to do, so why this first? Well, for one thing it has been a week of comings and goings. More goings really, but a significant coming inasmuch as little by little I feel a change in the very fabric of my world - what do I mean? I’m not really sure yet, but if there are some grand cosmic tumblers out there then I think I hear the starting to fall into place – just what place I have no idea, but scarily – warts and all – I think I may be becoming me. I hope so anyway. I can’t go on being all these others.

So a ray of hope and a Ray of loss. Excuse my pun, I’m sure Mr. Bradbury would. And others too - Robin Gibb, a long funeral procession in the town where I was born, a funeral service in the church where I was christened, the weeping of more tears in the graveyard where so many of my family are buried – Gran, Charlie, Len, Lena, Kate and all the rest – even my Gramps a man I never met but I’m sure I know. What a beautiful place, the yew tree walk and the standpipes with their watering cans to water the planted graves. So hard to find Gramps, so hard to find Gran's – not unmarked but almost.

I can still smell the dust of a sunny day, see the soft, not-quite-red oval berries scattered on the path. Down the steep stone steps and away with a whistle to the river. Just walk and walk, and walk and walk, until those silly, unmanly tears are dry -- and look a bright blue cornflower in the field.

And Sparkle? Well, I’m not quite sure - but I feel she might be off on a journey. May she find the right place and laughter - high on a hill in the warm evening sun to watch the fairies dance.

And that other? Some peace is my wish, peace for them all – a salted peace and a sleeping night.

Well, that’s it - all done and first things first. I feel better now. Still raining – well, lets get on with the day. Happy anniversary. xx

Friday, 8 June 2012


Some say that my head is full of fancy and they mean it in a bad way. Well, what do they know? Besides, what else is there to fill your head with? Lies? Hard-cash-column numbers? Lists of lists of lists? What grey, soggy things to put inside your head. No, give me fancy every time, it will do for me every time. Oh yes, you know where you stand with fancy – anywhere you want, or everywhere, or nowhere at all. No plane to catch, no axe to grind, no piper to pay – well, not unless you want to… and every day can be grey, or sunny, or the night time if you choose, whatever takes your fancy. Mind you, sometimes fancy takes you places that perhaps it would be better not to go, much better not, I fancy.

Let fancy take me away in a spree of seeing.

I think I’ve always been fanciful in that way. I remember spending hours one night, till early dawn-breaking morning, talking to the small dead boy who was standing just out of sight behind my bedroom door. How old was I - two, three? I never saw him again, but he never left either. My nightly flicker of bedroom horserace – flicker, flicker, across my ceiling, a rocking horse winner, without a single rocking horse, too many whips.

Later I fancy I heard voices in the hall below, whispering just low enough so that I couldn’t quite catch their secret words and then in my teens I’d fancy to sometimes see a thing, quick and sharp, dart across the mirror behind me as I feigned to shave – and did I really happen across my grandmother one early morning? Just fancy I expect.

As an adult I’ve fancied that I’ve seen and heard many things; a young girl standing by my bed, a voice on the stairs, a dark man staring up at me from below, my name being called in the empty house, footsteps walking up my stairs, a darting cat, the smell of old perfume, an empty face at an empty window, a shadow crossing where no shadow should be, a figure in the corner, a room I chose not to enter until later when it was gone. All my fancy, I’m fanciful you see.

I fancy that they’re always here, we’ve just unlearnt how to see them - just as they, or most of them, have unlearnt how to see us. But sometimes I fancy that we see each other across a divide wider than the space between us – at least that is my fancy.

Crrrrrk - dong…dong…dong…dong…dong…dong…dong…

Fancy, all fancy - throw salt, see light, say spells, tell lies, record hard-cash-column numbers, make lists of lists of lists - anything but fancy.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

The king of the fireflies…

So, that’s it. He’s gone.

Off with the autumn people, pulling down the big red and white tent, packing up his bag and gone to join their cavalcade. And there was I, sure that that whilst he was in this reality there would always be at least one who understood. I would have rode that carousel forever with him too. 

But now he’s gone, moving on with the deep ring of the bell of the train, running with the lightening. Up the rod and into the leaf-blown air - then out on the wind as the weather vane spins and spins and spins…

Just look at my hands you can see it all etched upon my palms. And what’s my fate? Well, turn the handle and see.

Greentown, Illinois. Listen you can almost hear the heat this hot summer’s night, the dandelion’s growing out on the lawn readying for the winemaking. If you need a place to seek refuge, from an unbearable or a boring, then this may be your place. A place of lakes and time machines, of love and murder and accidental deaths, a place of young and old, and fevers, and good home cooking, and passings quiet, and comings stormy, and happiness machines, and aging creeping on us like a long black shadow till - at last - we understand his name. Breathe and smell the warmth of the wind. Drink and taste the sharpness of the wine. Be quick, be quick - It won’t be here forever, we won’t be here forever, he won’t be here forever… or perhaps he will.

Sit with me on the porch swing awhile and reminisce. See the fireflies?

Who knows one day I may give up Bedford Falls and make my way there; perhaps some nights (when the sun has baked the slates upon my roof and I am sticky with the sweat of the retained day) I already have as I move on from sleep to breeze, breeze to tree, tree to firefly, firefly to rabbit, rabbit to the wheel of a passing buggy, wheel to the dust of the road, dust to the garden gate, gate to a blowing leaf, and up on leaf blown wind through my window – GASP - and back to me.

Welcome back me.

Goodnight Ray, been nice. I’ll see you around, we’ll have a beer or two my friend.

“Anyone could see that the wind was a special wind this night, and the darkness took on a special feel because it was All Hallows’ Eve. Everything seemed cut from soft black velvet or gold or orange velvet. Smoke panted up out of a thousand chimneys like the plumes of funeral parades. From kitchen windows drifted two pumpkin smells: gourds being cut, pies being baked.”

Ray Bradbury 1920-2012 and on…

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

And Jubileeily finally...

All this Jubilee stuff has got me thinking. Now, I’ve never been big on the monarchy (off with my head) but after seeing so many people enjoying (more beer, more beer) such good times last weekend it is hard to disagree that generally and for whatever reason the monarchy (God bless ‘em guv’nor) seems to be held in good regard.

Of course women have always done well in the job. Elizabeth One had sailing captains going all over the place discovering stuff and inventing America and potatoes and tobacco, wearing wooden teeth and being a tart virgin. Victoria, on the other hand wasn’t a virgin, and of course managed to end up owning most of the world and married a German who invented Christmas trees but couldn’t bring himself to wear a condom. She was also a keen inventor and came up with more inventions than it is possible to name – the flushing toilet, black lace (the material not the seventies pop phenomenon) and Ouija boards being just three of the most well-known and useful.

Our own Queen, Elizabeth two, hasn’t had quite the Golden Age of Elizabeth One or Queen Vic (who I believe was named after a pub) but then she hasn’t had quite the same opportunities -- what with most of the world being almost civilised and taken when she came to reign and let’s not forget that awful World War Two which couldn’t have helped, nasty doodlebuggy things. Who knows, if not for that war we might still have an Empire and not just a few tiddly islands that nobody else really wants anyway (well, maybe the Virgin Islands) - I, of course, exclude Malta (which is still ours really), the Falklands, and The Channel Islands from this overly sweeping statement.

But you do have to admire the way that she managed to so graciously let go of the Commonwealth (previously Empire) ( Note: Vic would never have done that and would have sent in the dragoons) - and apparently she’s a smashing mum – always ready with a cup of Olvaltine and a plaster for that poor, poorly, knee… and of course she adores corgis and horses.

No, I’ve never held that the monarchy was a good thing, but I now realise it isn’t a very bad thing either. This realisation came when, in a revealing revel of revelation, I realised that without her Tony Blair might have became our head of state and a President just simply won’t do – just look at George Bush and Ronald Reagan… most of them really and not just the Americans – Putin and that Frenchie chap too. Mind you maybe Boris could do it and make us pay our taxes with jars of marmalade or some such nonsense. No, thinking about it, not even Boris could replace the Queen, after all, you can trust the Queen (if you overlook the Dianna thing and we’re all allowed one mistake – unless you are Edward VIII that is).

So, long may the monarchy grind on and may she live to be 100 like her mum and pass her mantle to Charles and he to Wills and he to whatever fruit of his loins comes first – a girl I hope, I’d like to see another Queen – Queen Kylie perhaps.


Tuesday, 5 June 2012

The street party...

Sorry about yesterday but it was the day of the STREET PARTY and what with one thing and another, and all those lashings of smashing free beer, time just ran away with me as we celebrated the long reign of good old Queen Lizzie.

I arose early to clear skies and a warm breeze and proceeded to put out my bunting and balloons - All praise the Pound Shop for the Pound Shop is good and they do have all manner of things red, white and blue - I declined the Queenie mask and the three foot tall Union flag hat though. Neighbours were out and about doing likewise and moving cars (yes MOVING CARS... for the first time in living memory our road was CAR FREE) and erecting a long row of tables and chairs down the middle of the road.

I had planned to try to organise an escape committee and some of the lads had brought out an old vaulting horse into the middle of the road and had begun leap-frogging over it. But it wasn't long before the Street Party Police noticed the small piles of soil that were tumbling from our pockets to the ground - and, as they say, the game was up. Escape was pointless anyway as the party had been arranged by a group of eight very effective women organisers. So, bravely putting on my wrist band, I decided to stiff my upper lip and make a day of it in the way of us Brits... (Thinks - cold showers, Dunkirk spirit, floggings, queueing, never complaining, cricket, Dickie Attenborough, cross country running).

And, despite my original misgivings, a jolly good day it was with not a drop of British weather all day. I'll let the pictures tell you the rest.
There's nothing like boiled beef, tripe, mushy peas,  bread and pull-it,  dumplings,  Yorkshire pudding, whelks, and fried liver and onions to make a street party go with a swing.
Well, perhaps they'd had a couple officer...
Good of Her Majesty to pop in for a while. Nice anorak Ma'am... clearly she's not amused.
And indeed we all do, but is that any reason to draw images all over the Queen's highway? Off with their heads - even though they are only small children. Well, that is the British way.
And are there muffins still for tea?
Item Number 1 my Lord - Picture of Queen with glove puppet corgi in the window of Number 14.
The family were subsequently removed and taken to the Tower.
Of course no royal celebration would be complete  without reference to the  most tragic  shipping disaster of all time. Cup of tea anyone? (So it's White Star who built the Titanic - so I'm stretching a point...  so arrest me.)
Respectable father of three seems to know the moves to YMCA way too well... I say Carruthers!
A day when the sky was choc-full of flags and hardly a spitfire in sight.

Very competitive British dads trying to beat the children's times in the egg and spoon race - kindly note Captain England in the body suit  coming in about 5th.
The children won and were consequently soundly thrashed.
God Save The Queen... and yes, I'm sure that there always will be and yes, I'm sure that she will be..

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Puck’s dream of fireflies…

Well it is Jubilee, so it would be tardy not to drink her health - besides it might be treason. So that’s what I did last night and well, let’s just say I hope she is extremely healthy.

When I awoke this morning, clear-headed and in fine spirits I found this on my computer – open, unsaved, and unremembered as things are sometimes and maybe written in my sleep, who knows? Anyway, either awake or asleep I was unlocked, and this tumbled out like a half remembered dream. Maybe it isn't my dream at all, maybe it's Pucks…

Press Ctrl – Alt - Del to unlock this computer.

But it isn’t that or the too many fireflies that fly at my face trying to blind me with their tiny lights that so uncertain me; tiny lights that, in their futility, are both insignificant and powerful as they buzz and whisper the secrets of a song, so long forgotten, to each other - but not to me, and of course – I’ve never seen them in reality. Have I?

Did I not once see them from up on my hill, tiny pinpricks of light flashing and shimmering as far as I could see?

Yes, this is the stuff of waking dreams, the stuff made real by dark beer and rich Madeira wine and longings of a time I thought that I once knew but realise now - I never did. Longings for the warmth of a breath and a well-shared joke and maybe a kiss before I tumble down into uneasy sleep with a spell - hoping to never quite wake again, and if I do that it may be with a kiss and a joke and a glass of wine (and most of all that glass of wine).

Bliss. Ha- ha.

What’s wrong? Well nothing. But these fireflies are such an inconvenience as they buzz around and into my line of vision, trying so hard to get into my consciousness the way that some things do. If only I could find a waterfall and sleep.

Bliss. Kiss.

Well now fine Puck, tomorrow is another day - perhaps one that I might find better words to say - and if not? Well, the fireflies can’t harm me…

Can they?