Friday, 31 July 2015

Treats...

I’ve never been one for indulging myself. Oh, if it’s there I’ll take it, but treats are not built into my psyche. Mind you I come from a world where having ice in your water was a real treat and a slice of lemon or lime… Well, that was really pushing the boat out.

I’m not saying that I live frugally, because I don’t. But my idea of a treat is probably most people’s idea of normal everyday expenditure. Let’s take cooking. If I find a recipe that calls for an expensive and frivolous ingredient, let us say coriander, or cilantro as the Americans call it, I will: (A) either substitute with something else (like parsley which grows in our garden), (B) use some of the dried stuff that lurks at the back of the cupboards, or (C) not use anything and pretend it didn’t need it.

The fact that fresh coriander can be bought for less than a quid at Aldi doesn’t change anything. Coriander is without doubt a treat.

And then there are fish and chips. Fish and chips have always been and always will be a treat. There’s something so decadent about just going to the chippy and buying your tea freshly fried over the counter. In the old days they came wrapped in newspaper and I could go on about that for hours, but I won’t (even though they did taste better). In fact it isn’t just fish and chips; all takeaway food is ‘a treat’ in my world. Chinese, Indian, a kebab, even a Happy Meal; although I would no more order a takeaway pizza than run a marathon. Expensive cheese on toast in a box is really a treat too far.

Wine is another matter, and sometimes I will treat myself to a good bottle of the red stuff. The problem then is that I find it hard to drink it. No, not drink it, that’s easy enough, but finding the right time to drink it can be a problem. I’m always looking for that special occasion to drink my ‘treat’ wine and somehow most occasions just don’t seem special enough. I have bottles I bought as a treat which are fifteen years old at least gathering dust on the wine racks. One day though. Yes, one day.

Fortunately I’m not much into cars, so I’ve never treated myself to anything special. For me a car really is a way of getting from one place to another (shall we say Aylesbury to Zoar in Cornwall) and I don’t need all those bells and whistles that cars seem to have these days. They are more an annoyance than anything else, just something else to fiddle with and distract you when you should be concentrating on the road ahead or texting.

This brings me to holidays. Holidays are a treat, and perhaps the biggest treat of my life is soon to come about. Two weeks in Barbados in a beach house with a cook and maid with the Caribbean at the end of the garden is about as good as any treat can get as far as I’m concerned. Of course I agonise over the cost, knowing full well that the money could have been far more sensibly spent or put away for a rainy day.

But then, it is a treat and maybe that rainy day will never come.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Better red...

I really can’t understand why anyone is still surprised by the antics of our politicians. Why would they be when we are all aware that election promises will not only be broken but cynically overturned as soon as the votes are counted? Surely we expected this when we voted? Surely we knew that under their smiles and weasel words were lizards simply waiting to grind us all down with their self-serving plans and need for power and control? Surely we expect our nouveau Lords to snort coke and cavort with prostitutes, wear orange bras and leather jackets and basically spend our money on their own strange perversions. Why are we shocked or surprised? Wasn’t it ever so?

Let’s face it; you don’t become a politician by being a nice bloke. You have to have something else going on in your make-up, something that drives you, something that you will – at any cost – push through regardless of the consequences even if it is wearing a prostitute’s bra. Oh, you can wrap it up any way you want and use terms like elected representatives, democracy and choice, but in reality it’s hard for ordinary people to see through the lies or even understand that these people would promise anything, break any agreement, to get themselves in charge and have their own way.

I know that I do.

At the last election I voted conservative despite hating all of the Tories that are leading this country into becoming a smaller, far less important, America. In my case I was expecting a Lib-Dem coalition, a little sense injected into a Tory world that is becoming far too much like Germany in the thirties. Unfortunately I got it totally wrong and poor Nick Clegg, battered and dispirited, broken by his role as second fiddle sans bow, was ousted by us voters. In many ways at that time I believe he was our only hope.

Miliband never stood a chance. Unpopular and shifty-eyed, happy to stab his more popular and better looking brother in the back, a man pretending not to be a Tory when he had ‘almost Tory’ tattooed all over his seriously smug, slightly wrong face. No wonder Cameron won. As Kylie sang ‘Better the devil you know’, and then there was the Scottish threat to stoke the fires of fear as the Scottish threat so often does.

I’ve been advised by my conscience never to write about politics. I’m not very well informed and I am far too easily fooled. So in most ways I am just like the rest of the voting population, from idealistic kids straight out of school, to silly old ladies continually voting the way their dead husbands did. But we need a change and we need difference, so I’ve decided to ignore my conscience yet again.

How can you vote with any passion when at best the difference between the available parties is merely a couple of shades of washed out grey? Where is the red and the blue? Has it been lost somewhere in the mediocrity of failure, spreadsheet political accounting and point scoring? Has it faded and turned to beige?

I think I can feel a very slight breeze of change and I begin (at long last) to feel the need for that change to happen. I don’t want our children to be homeless and poor all their lives. I don’t want them to have to worry about how they pay for their children’s medical treatment or education or how they are going to keep them fed and warm through the winter. I don’t want them to fear the knock of the bailiff or the foreclosure of the bankers. I want them to have pensions, I want them to be cared for when they are old and not sit in their own piss all day. Maybe I am just getting old myself, or maybe I am thinking that I might make a tiny difference to the future if I can change my views a little.

Well, I can hope.

Last week I paid three quid to become a Labour Party supporter. I’m not (well at least not yet), but at least I now have allowed myself the option. My three quid buys me a vote in the Labour Party leadership election and my reason for doing this was simple. I listened to Jeremy Corbyn and what he was saying made sense to me. We do need to build council housing to provide homes, there is no need for a competitive gas and electricity industry so re-nationalise it and manage best price for all, of course the NHS should never be totally privatised and young people do have a right to a free-ish education.

I may not vote for him to be leader but at least I now have the chance to be involved if I want to. He might be a lefty, but at least he doesn’t wear a really expensive suit, dye his hair, use his hands to emphasise empty promises (as taught by a presentation coach), or give answers that don’t answer the questions. He seems to just answer the questions the way he feels and believes. Perhaps he isn’t a real politician at all.

Of course talking a case is easy, but he doesn’t strike me as a liar. He seems to be a fairly sensible and quite nice bloke who believes in what he is saying, not Michael Foot, not Tony Benn, certainly not Blair, just a man speaking about what he truly believes might work.

And it might.

What is it they say, ‘Better red than dead’?

I just hope he doesn’t wear an orange bra.


Parked up...


I love coming here and parking up to look at the mountains in the distance.

Our cottage is behind those three peaks on the far right. When I was working the sight of these mountains as we drove along the road every Friday evening transported me from stress to peace in an instant.

Sometimes I wonder what life would have been like without our tiny sanctuary from a  busy and indifferent world.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

The stone...


How I wish my heart was a stone.
Untouched by past,
Unaware of present,
Washed smooth by waves,
Made cold by ice,
Shaped by the wind,
Ignored by the world,
Hidden in deep,
Lost to all.
A certain thing,
Not a thing of beating.
A stone.

 I heard it beat from the shoreline.
That place where the road meets the sea.
Heavy as lead,
Hard as steel,
Calling out to me.
As if it wasn't enough to be alone
At that place where the road meets the sea.
Hurt to the bone
With the pull of a past,
The echoing beat of a stone.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Fo’shizzle...

I’m no Stephen Fry, but I do like my words I do. I like all sorts of words. So when President Obama used the ‘N’ word on TV quite recently I was surprised, not shocked, but also quite pleased. It’s just a word, a word that has become infected over the years with some of the worst connotations, far more negative than its original meaning of an ignorant person which had no colour connotation at all.

Of course this change of meaning happens to all sorts of words, clever once meant sly, gay once meant happy, lush until recently meant verdant, and pillock once meant a straw pillow scented with medicinal herbs (no, I made that one up, it’s actually derived from pillicock , the old Norwegian for penis. I like my explanation better though).

Words change their meaning all of the time and as language changes new words are always just around the corner. If it didn’t evolve we’d still only be saying ‘ug’ (yes) and ‘ug-ug’ (no) and that wouldn’t make for interesting TV or reading would it? That’s the beauty of language it evolves and morphs as the world changes and as language changes with innovation, new discoveries, science, pop culture, our vocabulary gets ever richer. There was no superglue, Teflon, maxi, mini, fab, turbo, lol, labradoodle, laptop, or lap-dance until quite recently.

There are around 1,025,109 in the English language, but a word can’t really be a word until it is in the Oxford English Dictionary and each year new words are added. Five hundred new words were added last month and as I don’t like to suffer from FOMO. I thought I’d take a look at some of them.

Fo’shizzle I’m not keen on anybody that drumbles, but I’d rather that words were on-trend and not stanky. After all, I’ve bukoed far too hard with my uber vocabulary to auto-tune it to flatline. I’m no freegan, and neither do I live in ecotown but I still like my go-juice black and hot in my koozie. By the way if anyone would like to sext me I won’t play at hard arse, life’s too short and shitshow for that.

BTW, that ‘N’ word I mentioned was the word for God in ancient Egypt. I wonder what will happen if it comes to mean something else?

There was once a Tory call George...


Osbornerick

There once was a Tory called George,
Who decided to cut out the poor.
His forty percent,
Well, it made quite a dent.
But his cuts were the sickness, not cure.


Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Old man coming...




Old man coming

I can feel the old man coming.
Shuffling his way with a groan.
Each small movement an effort
For his stiff and aching bones.
The stairs are becoming a mountain,
Each shoelace a tricky chore.
A grunt as he sits and settles.
His strong back is no more.

I smell the old man coming.
A miasma of decay.
Peppermint and Ralgex
And slightly damp sweet hay.
His feet need sweetening also,
His breath it needs a spray.
He has the smell of December
Like a dank and smoky day.

I can hear the old man coming.
With his sneezes and sniffles and snorts.
He’s answering aloud his own questions
Well, he’s feeling out of sorts.
When standing up his knees creek,
When walking he often gasps.
His body, well it needs oiling,
But his hinges aren’t going to last.

I can see the old man coming.
More each day in the glass.
Long grey eyebrows, a blemish.
He’s becoming a thing of the past.
His brow these days has lines on its lines,
His face yellowed dark and hollowed eyes.
And under his rough summer suntan,
You can see see the old man disguise.
  
I can taste the old man coming.
In my blood and tears and spit.
And despite all this pretending,
There’s really no changing it.
I’ve lived more years than are coming.
Who knows how far through I am?
‘Make the best’ of it I mumble,
‘I really don’t give a damn.’


Monday, 20 July 2015

Under the carpet...

I've been through a positive spell and now find myself surprised that all the clouds did not go away. Of course, I make my own weather and, with so many storms over the years why should I expect sunshine all the time? It is so hard to define why I act the way I do. I have clues, but even tiny things can set me in turmoil - a call promised that didn't happen (a two way street by the way), things that at one time I would just deal with become things that wake me sweating in the night, and then the ultimate betrayal of family which of course is probably down to me; at least that’s what I’ve been told. I no longer know, and I wish I could say that I didn't care - but I can't be a broom to sweep it all under the carpet any more.
There’s just too much dust, most of it my skin and bone.

Dust.

And then there are dreams. Why is it that you can keep people you have no time for out of your life but not out of your nightmares? Bedtime, it’s when the shadows come.

Dust and shadows.

I go to bed tired these days. I don’t know why, I don’t do much. Perhaps that’s it; maybe doing almost nothing is tiring. Of course I spend a lot of my time not thinking or thinking about things other than the things my mind tells me to think about. I use distraction techniques when this happens. I play memory games on my tablet, write the blog, check my mails, Facebook, drink, look for anything that will stop me focussing on the knock, knock, knocking in my head and the swoosh of the brooms.

It sounds crazy doesn’t it? Well, maybe I am crazy.

So I go to bed tired and use more distraction techniques to stop the knocking and swooshing so that I can fall asleep - a-z of islands, twenty nursery rhymes, a-z of pop groups, twenty fairy stories, a-z of Italian food, twenty cocktails, I make up jokes, count backwards in threes from a thousand, rhyme a word to the power of ten. Eventually I fall asleep and then the knocking stops, the whooshing fades, the door opens, and I slip into dream about rabbits, and sheep, or other things.

Dust and shadows and distraction.

I dream a lot and usually they aren’t good dreams. I suppose you could call them nightmares. There are no zombies or vampires in my dreams, but there might as well be, they distract me further. I wake a lot too, three or four times a night, and when I awake I use distraction techniques to get me back to sleep. Often I slip into the same dream as I was dreaming before I awoke, sometimes it’s a repeat and other times it’s a totally new version. Dusty, crumbling houses are a major theme in my dreams as is being lost in a strange city, finding myself naked in the street or in a hotel, steep roads with no side barriers, losing keys, cars, money, passports, meeting people I don’t want to meet any longer, talking to people I don’t want to talk to ever again, reliving feelings I no longer want to feel, loving people I will never love again.

Why is it that the people I have no time for any longer still turn up in my nightmares? How do they do that? What gives the right to pop into my life uninvited whenever they want?

They say new brooms sweep clean. Is that a knock at the door?

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Can-can, the watering can...

Just how can a galvanised watering can become an object of desire? I saw this on sale in Aldi and knew from the moment I saw it that it had to be mine. It was also available in green or cream and in an oval shape rather than round. But this had to be the one, a big round ten litre galvanised watering can for only £9.99. I was truly in watering can heaven.

Of course watering cans have a long history. The term ‘watering can’ first appeared in 1692 and before that they were known as watering pots. These early watering devices were just what they said on the label, a round ceramic pot or jug with holes in the bottom that the water dribbled out of. You simply held it over the plants and let the water fall out of the bottom.

In 1886 the watering cans we recognise today became available. This was the year that the ‘Haws’ watering can first appeared, patented by John Haws. The patent read ‘This new invention forms a watering pot that is much easier to carry and tip, and at the same time being much cleaner, and more adapted for use than any other put before the public.’

I’ve had dozens over the years, mainly plastic, but a couple of galvanised ones along the way. Oddly, watering cans seem to have the same vanishing ability as socks and pens and scissors, and no matter what you’ll always find one full of spiders and webs at the back of the shed - usually minus the rose.

I may start collecting up a few of my old ones and make a watering can sculpture.

That will have to wait for now though, it’s time to water.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Hang on...

Such a beautiful day to be hanging onto my hollyhocks. This one is ten feet tall and grown from seed three or four years ago. I've moved it once and it has survived and it provides such beauty that I think I will let it rest where it is.

Anyway, today didn't turn out to be great. Just after I posted this picture on Facebook my mother-in-law called to say her meds had not arrived last night from the chemist. She hadn't told us even though she was with us. If she had I could have fixed it with a single call. Instead she waited until this morning when the usual chemist was closed and her doctors unavailable as they don't 'do' weekends.

Long story short. After emergency doctors, prescription, visits to a lot of chemists we eventually got it sorted. Mind you a beautiful day had gone rushing around while she sat and eat sandwiches and watched TV.

The old (she's 85) are either very stupid or very clever. I'm not sure which in this case.

Holly's 21st...

Holly was 21 yesterday. Of course we had forgotten the balloons and banners, so my day began with an almost dawn run to Tesco followed by a bit of blowing-up and drawing pinning. Facebook messages were sent, presents and cards were opened, and then Holly and Karl were off to a local cafe for some breakfast.

How different from the hours and hours of preparation making ready for the indoor fairy picnics and whole-house treasure hunts. I can't say I miss those sulky, spoilt, rude, attention seeking seven, eight, nine, ten year old princesses, but I quite enjoyed dressing as a gnome and seeing them cry when I stopped the pass the parcel music, just as they had passed it on to the next person, was sheer delight.

In the evening we went to the Italian that where we celebrated Holly's 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th etc. She loves it there and we all like it, using it as our celebration restaurant of choice. The food is fine and simple, and of course there is wine which always helps. Holly stuffed her face herself with calamari (a favourite), veal and spaghetti, with a side of garlic and cheese pizza.

Joan (85) came along and decided upon a deconstructed chicken dish, deconstructed as she didn't want the mushrooms, peppers, or herbs, so basically had a bit of chicken in white sauce.

I drove and then, after dropping Joan off, we went home and lit the candles on the cake, singing happy birthday as we have been doing for the last 21 years. Not a very big cake, but a very sparkly one.

Anyway, happy birthday sweetheart. I hope it was an okay day.

Friday, 17 July 2015

On bookkeeping..

As the bodies burned, he kept the books. As children screamed, he kept the books. As people died of starvation, were kicked to death, were tortured and cut, he kept the books. As innocents were maimed, were broken, gassed and raped, he kept the books.

One, ten, fifty, one hundred.

Far easier being a bookkeeper, hiding your head in lists and tally sheets, than a murderer. Far simpler to avert your eyes and focus on numbers than take part in that genocide. After all, all he did was keep the books. It was his job to keep the books. Someone had to do it or the figures would not balance.

One thousand, ten thousand, one hundred thousand.

Keeping the books for ever straight as eventually, as always, the figures must be brought to balance.

Three hundred thousand. Three hundred thousand through the books.

Oskar do all those numbers haunt you?

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Two letters...



My back lane folly continues. It's pretty hard work in a number of ways, but there is progress and to be honest, in this ever increasingly self-interested, far too busy, sorry I have to dash world, that is good enough for me. This week I managed to tidy up the lane all the way to one end which means I am over half complete.

Gaynor and I sat in the sunshine in the lane yesterday afternoon and had a glass of wine, well we'd been sweeping and shifting for hours, so who cares that it wasn't even five o'clock. Here are the two letters, one to a resident of Byrom Street who insists of dumping his garden waste in the alley, the other to the Head of Trafford Council.

And people say I'm not an optimist.

Letter one:


Hello

My name is Andrew and I live at 10 Willowtree Road. I have spent today breaking down and filling four green bins, borrowed with my neighbour’s permission, with the bamboo and other green waste you dumped in our alley. I have also moved the already full bin that has sat there for the last six weeks or so as it is collection day tomorrow.

My reasons for doing this are various; firstly as the act of a good neighbour as the mess was getting some of the residents nerves. Secondly it is a health hazard and a number of years ago it was just such a situation that let to a rat infestation. We spent many weekends, and hundreds of pounds on skips clearing the alley and it has remained pretty clear until now thanks to the residents of Willowtree Road.

We do this because, although it is a public thoroughfare, it is our legal responsibility to keep it clear as we are liable. It is Willowtree Road’s access alley, not Byrom Street’s. You access is through the gates you each have to enter each others gardens. In fact you shouldn’t have rear access to Willowtree alley at all, although some have put in gates.

My other reason for this is that I am trying to interest Willowtree residents in the RHS’s Green Up Grey Britain Campaign and would like our alley to be a pleasant and safe place to walk through. I have the support and am in touch with The Head of Trafford Council on this matter and many Willowtree residents have contributed funds to this end. If you would like to contribute to pay for my efforts today please feel free.

I hope that this makes sense to you and explains things. I thought it better to write it down so that we are clear. I have no problem clearing up such a huge amount of rubbish this once, but I am not going to make it a habit. In effect you are fly-tipping, so I would ask that you remove the hard rubbish and the ladders from the alley as soon as you can. The ladders are a particular problem as they have security issues which may affect your insurance if a neighbour is broken into with them.

Best regards,

Andrew.

Letter two:

Hi Sean

Summer rolls on and the urban lane begins to green up. Interest from my neighbours is growing slowly with a few pounds for weedkiller and gas for the weed burner occasionally passing hands. My next door neighbour waters when I am away and compliments abound from all. But I could really do with something to make them fully sit up and become more involved.

I've spent the last couple of days clearing and sweeping the lower end of the lane, trimming back ivy and overhanging shrubs, so now there is a large stretch of very respectable thoroughfare. I'd like to get some signs made asking people to enjoy the space but not to drop litter or leave behind their dog mess, and erect them either end of the lane on the walls. Something fun rather than threatening.

We have had one problem. A resident of Byrom Street keeps clearing his garden of bamboo and shrubs and throwing it over the fence into the lane. It sits there for weeks, so on this occasion I have moved it (all five green bins full) and written to him, explaining what we are trying to do and why, and asking him not to do it again. Mind you this is at least the second time he has been asked not to fly-tip in this way. It annoys all of the neigbours I have spoken to particularly as Byrom Street has no real right of access.

I’m sure though that all of this can be resolved, and when I put out another communication I will include Byrom Street residents who back onto us.

I noticed in the Manchester Weekly News of the Be Prouds 'Upping It' scheme in  Manchester.  They are receiving £7,600 from Manchester council's clean city fund. I was wondering if there are any plans to extend this to Trafford. I'm not talking thousands but it would be great to be able to buy matching planters for the walls of our lane and it might inspire people to do more, giving them that little push they need.

Anyway, it is a much pleasanter spot these days (we even had a huge emerald green dragonfly dancing around this afternoon) and over the next couple of weeks I intend to clear the remaining 60 yards or so if my back holds out. I will then write again to my neighbours and ask them to take some responsibility for keeping it as tidy as possible. Just a thirty foot sweep behind their own properties every week or two, and a bit of hot weather watering, would do it.

Finally, my wife still thinks I'm made but at least she's helping with the clearing ;-)

Best regards
Andrew.

Monday, 13 July 2015

Adrift...



Adrift…

Push the boats out,
Push ‘em hard
Push me adrift on memory bliss.

Ah, my past. My dim, distant past.
A tightrope walk of images never meant to last.
Memories, spinning round and round,
Circus, saplings, broken hearts.
Tears shed in so many towns.
What if those memories,
Each and all
Could be dealt with a deck of cards?
Thrown out onto the lake of time,
Soft and sometimes hard.
Set adrift on memory bliss
At evening time.
A purple shift.
Low sun in flamingo sky.
I sit, drunk and expected,
And watch the times pass by.
Each and every memory card
Thrown on the water to scatter,
Good and bad and shameful.
Does any of it matter?
If only the bad would drift and go,
And happy times like diamonds,
Float to me, towards me flow.
I would gather all.
To set adrift on memory bliss
A lingering long forgotten kiss.
Choose direction with good not bad,
Laughter, good times,
Free from black, not sad.

I don’t want to remember those closed doors.
Betrayal, indifference, masters and whores.
Perhaps there is no past.
Just this instant,
And nothing more.

Bliss?
It was never meant to last.
Memory bliss
A diamond in each small instant
And then nothing.
Is that contentment?

Push the boats out,
Push ‘em hard
Push me adrift on memory bliss,
I'll survive without that kiss.


Saturday, 11 July 2015

Facebook world…


What a wonderful world Facebook is. All my friends are there, and their pets, and the meals they eat. I go on holiday with them, share their happiness and sadness, see their new cars, attend their kid’s christenings, graduations, marriages. I listen to the music they like, support the charities they support, know their politics, hear about how the feel about immigration, austerity, the NHS, education. It really is a window into their lives and they have a window into mine.

Of course we only show and talk about the bits of our lives we want to show and talk about. There are whole chunks that are hidden and, dependant on how open you are, some things probably should be hidden away. I am pretty open of Facebook, probably more that I need or should be and it has got me into some pretty hot water at times.

Facebook is where I go to share my sense of humour. Whether this is a good or a bad thing is debateable, but my almost daily joke spot generally goes down pretty well, groans and all. I would describe my humour as devilish even cutting sometimes and often I use Facebook as a place for my sitting down stand-up.

For instance, a few years ago I virtually ran the London Marathon. I was virtually there at the start, virtually ran the race dressed as a chicken, I even posted my completion certificate to prove I’d virtually done it. Of course I was only virtually there, I could no more run a marathon than persuade Tony Blair to be honest.

Last week I was at Glastonbury critiquing Florence and the Machine’s performance, complaining about my dodgy knee, bemoaning the fact that somebody had dumped outside my tent, and missing a performance by Jason and the Cuttlefish; a legendary and wholly fictitious group that I made up. Of course, again I was only virtually there.

Later that same week, on the hottest June day on record, I posted a picture of myself virtually dressed in a lime green mankini to many people’s amusement / disgust /  outrage (delete as applicable). Of course it wasn’t me, just a picture of some chap who bears a passing resemblance to me that I pulled off the internet and Photoshopped to look a little bit more me-like.

I also really went to Southport and took the picture above. Yes I really did go to Southport and there really is no place like the ocean, but this isn’t it. This is a snap of a mural pasted to the wall of the Beach Hut CafĂ© Bar where I had a really good sandwich and a coffee. I guess it’s easy to assume that it’s a beach I’ve visited, but sadly not. It’s still a nice picture though.

If you feel fooled I’m sorry, it’s only a bit of fun and I always leave clues in my comments. But there’s also a serious point to my experimental chicanery.

It is far too easy for us to portray ourselves as people we are not in the online world. Practically everything I post is true, but sometimes the devil in me has to have his day and if I can do it, then so can everybody else. My point is this: don’t believe everything you see on Facebook, or Twitter, or Linkedin and react to it. The online world is just words and pictures, open to interpretation and manipulation. That is what Britain First, terrorist organisations, many businesses, and some very nasty individuals are doing.

But they aren’t doing it for fun.

Friday, 10 July 2015

Coast road…

There is something magical about taking the coast road. It doesn’t really matter what coast you are on or where you are going, driving by the edge of the sea is so much better than driving inland on the motorway. For one thing you never know what you are going to see and, if you are exploring an area, what you are going to find.

I always take that tiny almost unnoticeable road just in case it might lead to the sea. Up Barrow-in-Furness way I once came across a tiny island village with a broken red phone box and a boarded-up pub. The place was surrounded by abandoned and half-falling apart fishing boats. It was a desolate place, but fascinating. I wonder what happened there?

Another time in Cornwall I took a narrow lane that led to a one-in-four drop to a tiny stone bridge that crossed a gorge high above the sea and on the other side was a one-in-four climb up again. My heart was in my mouth the whole time. That was the day I happened across the Minack Theatre which was magic in itself. There must have been a more direct route though.

In Wales I’ve ended up on deserted board-walked beaches, found tall foghorn-sounding lighthouses, a fort built to guard against invasion from the United States during the War of Independence, a causeway leading to an island church, and the occasional abandoned Second World War airfield. I’ve also had to reverse miles back up lanes because at the end of some of them was just the sea with nowhere to turn.

Most times when we go to Caernarfon we drive the back way through tiny villages and take the estuary road. It isn’t much more than a single track and it's full of potholes. At some very high tides it floods and once we had to drive through ten inches of seawater to pass. The road is where I go to look at wading birds in late summer and early autumn. It’s where I saw my first egret and sometimes hundreds of grey geese flock to the water and then lift to the air with the thrum of beating wings.

Yes, I’ll always take the coast road no matter the weather. There’s magic and a little danger to be had in it.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Light...

Believe this or not, this is just sunlight reflected on my fridge door.

Pack up your troubles...

‘Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag and smile, smile, smile,’ that’s what they say isn’t it? Or rather sang, those First World War soldiers off to the front. It’s what I’ve been doing all my life really. Of course I’m not likening my life to the horrors those men must have experienced, but into each of our lives a little rain must fall; sometimes bloody downpours.

My kit bag is crammed full of all the things that I don’t want to think about. The experiences and times of my life that I want to forget and don’t want to let worry me. After all, what’s the use of worrying? It never was worthwhile. So I don’t let all the hurts and slights get to me, the people who stamped me down, tried to stop me believing or doing, the relationships that vanished overnight, the cheating and lies, the slaps in the face, the deceits, the force and bullying, the theft, the ridicule, the shouting, the blows. All these are safely tucked away in my old kit bag, and (although I no longer smoke) whilst I’ve a Lucifer to light my fag that is where I want them to stay - and most of the time they do.

Most of the time… But as I said, into each of our lives a little rain must fall, and sometimes I get caught up in a storm.

When that happens it’s as if my kit bag never existed. All of the things and people I want to forget come tumbling out to surround and suffocate me. Sometimes I call it the black dog, other times a bit of a mood, when asked what is wrong I say ‘I’m tired’ or ‘My back aches’. I don’t really want to discuss the contents of my kit bag you see; the who, why, and what happened, the blame, shame, and embarrassment. Sometimes I just want to put a paper bag over my head and hide from everything. Perhaps that’s why I 'self-medicate' with what I delude myself are a few drinks.

Perhaps. 

It doesn’t keep ‘it’ and ‘them’ away at night when I sleep though. Despite how hard I drink and whistle or how many Lucifers I light I seem to tumble into this dark echoing place, and my whistling turns into screams, and then I run out of Lucifers. You see, walking away and cutting my losses is not as easy as I’d like to think. Keeping my kit bag firmly strapped shut has its own consequences, most of them bad.

Oh well, I guess I’ll just have to keep whistling in the dark and smile, smile, smile.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Boris Johnson...

A bit of a ditty about the King of London City.














Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson, Lord Mayor of London
As devious as David Cameron,
Cold as Thatcher, dangerous as Blair.
Don't be fooled by his flyaway hair.

Boris Johnson, old school tie.
To say he’s all Pfeffel would be a lie.
Bullingdon, Eton and Balliol,
He knows exactly what to put on show.

Boris Johnson, native New Yorker.
Knows which way to pass the porter.
He’s worked at the Times and Telegraph,
Faking the fool to make us laugh.

But Boris, well, he isn’t funny,
Overly keen on making money.
A serial philanderer, he’s far right clever.
‘Me Prime Minister? Not me, no never’.
.
Foxhunting, cycling, marijuana, cocaine.
Turn again Boris, Turn again.
He beat Red Ken twice to be King of London,
Watch out for Boris, Mr Cameron.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Breathless

On the hottest July day on record they come home.
Thunder and lightning outside, inside a ‘should have expected that’ groan.
Carried by soldiers, those lost few?
People who just wanted to sit on a beach and have a drink or two?
Well, what’s new?
Everyone’s a hero if there’s mileage for ‘the few’.

Now don’t misunderstand.
I mourn these few and luckless band.
But all they needed was a flag over those boxes
To make them part of the ‘hero’ gang.

Respect? No, I think it something far more toxic.

Blair and Bush hang your heads in shame.
This is the price of you pointless game.
These men and women weren’t soldiers,
They had not signed up for death.
But as a result of your actions
They will become just another wreath.

Breathless, this heat too hot,
Thunder rumbles, lightening illuminates my thoughts.
Keep the Friday silence,
But don’t buy into what shouldn’t be bought.
I will simply keep these happy holidaymakers
Alive inside my thoughts.


Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Fluffy white clouds and fluffy white cat...

Little fluffy white clouds in my mother-in-law's garden yesterday and our fluffy white cat seeking respite from the heat on our kitchen floor. She's molting everywhere, clumps of white fur roll along our hallway like tumbleweed. Poor thing, it must be awful wearing a fur coat in this weather.



Moon bright...

The moon was bright over Cheshire last night and I, yet again, found myself gazing up at it and thinking about those poor dead people on their much awaited holiday beach. How could that happen? As for why, well to me there seems no point asking; the answers are far too complicated and I expect even if I had them I still wouldn't understand. I don't have it in me to be a spree killer you see - not even in the name of an imagined God.

If they did this in the name of God, and all of our Gods must be the same one as there can only be one supreme being, then he must be a pretty shitty God. His followers are pretty shitty too if they can justify evil when religion, for those that need it, must be about understanding and a shared humanity.

Sometimes I want to weep.

There's a silence for those dead holidaymakers on Friday. Of course it won't bring them back or stop it happening again I expect, but let's keep it quiet for a minute, maybe a little longer, and let's not forget that the people that keep us quiet are both few and sickly deranged. Most of us, despite our problems, are not like them and our race, creed, colour, or the Gods we worship doesn't change that.