Friday, 18 November 2016

Old Man’s Eyes

It was as if the day,
Cold, wet, streaked with blue and gold,
Had decided that today was time
To tell me I was old.
It came as no surprise to me.
I look through old man’s you see.
And old man’s eyes
Cannot disguise
Life’s gradual greying by degree.
Even the scudding of the clouds,
The blowing of autumnal shrouds,
The hunching down of shoppers in the street,
The reluctant stepping of their feet,
All seemed to say
Today’s the day
To face your mediocrity.
Six decades on
From that first gasp,
With kicking feet and clutching grasp,
The end seemed such a long way off,
Each challenge met with sharp riposte,
No thought was given to the cost,
And I not once thought to end up lost.
Ha! Just goes to show; keep fingers crossed!
Through old man’s eyes I see it now,
The inevitability of outcome.
Change? I couldn’t anyhow,
Besides, what can be done?
Ten, twenty, thirty, more?
Two thirds of my full sum for sure,
You cannot pass back through that door
When all is said and done.
And all is said and done.

Thursday, 17 November 2016


I don’t really like authority and I don’t react well to being told what to do. I expect it comes from a childhood where I was constantly ordered about, told what to do, and punished when I didn’t do as I was commanded. It had an effect on me to say the least and one of those effects was to turn me into the sort of person I hated so much. For years I told people what to do. At times I even believed I was right. Now, after so long trying to get my own way I realise just how pointless that is. 

Making people do as you want achieves nothing. If they aren’t with you then they aren’t with you and no amount of persuasion, threats, or bulling will change that. Bribes might work in the short term, but it still doesn’t work ultimately.

Of course this makes things difficult and generally the way I deal with difficult things is to fight against them. Well, after a lifetime of fighting my corner and failing to get very far I’m pretty tired of it. Even more tiring than losing is the knowledge that I can’t really change anything no matter how hard I try. People and the organisations they belong to know how to deal with people like me. They have processes, procedures, strategies. They know how to tie things up in jargon, red tape, and evidence. They are prepared to ignore the truth, embellish, and even lie to come out of it on top. They know how to tell me what to do – and of course they can always call the police. 

It’s demoralising.

At this point I suppose I should say that even so I will never give up. But that isn’t true. Increasingly I give up, increasingly I don’t even start. Knowing that you are wasting your time and breath is a great moderator in much the same way that a hammer beating a nail into its place moderates the nail’s behaviour and purpose.

Yes, I give up but I won’t be beaten. Keep hammering, I’m a pretty tough nail.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Auden and I...

Auden and I

Sitting in my cosy corner,
Conversing with Auden
And sharing a malt or two.
Black birds flying towards the night.
Yes, Auden, you know who.
The rich red of the evening,
The fleeing of the light,
Making friendship for us pair,
For all his world as if I were really there.
From the amber we spoke tight.
Birds and clocks and time and grief,
And how life gives
Then robs the thief.
Auden and I,
Watching the sky
In my corner
Close to the sea.
We spoke of streets and fogs and loves,
And how once (a long time ago)
We were held safe as a hand in a white kid glove.
And how the night encroaches.
And how the light reproaches.
And how the whisky helps
Auden and I.
And so with the whisky and rhyme,
The crows and ticks of time,
The slippers and light,
The coming of night,
And the smell of kippers for tea.
Auden and me.
Auden and I.
Clink crystal to the sky.
And how my feet are cloven hooves
Dressed inside my six league boots,
Travel broadens every mind,
Life a pageant made of mime,
Not every pavement is smeared with grime,
The clocks are keepers of our time,
And spirit is stronger than barley wine.
The conversation winds and rewinds.
W.H. Auden and I
Making truth of lie,
As the evening gold goes by.
Emptying the bottle together,
And contemplating never.
This man of letters and paper,
Bound in fog and mist,
Wit as sharp as a piercing rapier,
Speaks to me as I gently get pissed.
My good friend Auden and I.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Nobody important...

Farm boys and factory workers,
Nobody important.
Hundreds of thousands,
Pumped up with patriot.
Itchy woolen uniforms,
Ill fitting boots,
Marching with rifles,
To the sound of drum and flute.
Wave goodbye,
Wave goodbye,
Wave goodbye,
The six feet of the trenches,
No place for the brave.
Postmen and shopkeepers,
Nobody important.
Men of laughter and love,
With wives, sons and daughters.
Chocolate from home,
A letter or two,
Waiting for the whistle,
A call to die or do.
Shout goodbye,
Shoot goodbye,
Shout goodbye,
Running through no-man's land,
What was it all about?
Laundresses and milkmaids,
Waiting at home.
Over by Christmas?
Well yes, for some.
Over for ever,
Hopes, plans and dreams.
And all for king and country,
It all seems so obscene.
Remember them,
Remember them,
Remember them,
But remember that remembrance
Won't bring them back ever.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

The rub...

It’s funny the way things pop into dreams. Last night it was Letraset, that wonderful rub down lettering that only a few years ago was so important in my life. I used to spend hours deciding with typeface to use on a piece of design and would pour over the Letraset catalogue looking for just the right font. That catalogue was like a bible and each year the anticipation of the latest Letraset catalogue and the new faces that it would contain was almost like waiting for Christmas.

In my dream I was rubbing down Letraset 10pt Univers Light. At that size and with that weight Letraset was a little hard to handle and getting it straight was a challenge. If it was an old sheet the letters had a tendency to crumble as you rubbed them down with your burnisher and the sheet I was using was not only old but dusty too – a disastrous combination. No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t get it right and of course, as with all of my dreams, I was up against the clock and something extremely vital was relying on my success. I can’t remember if I got it right in the end, but I awoke with my mind full of fond memories of Letraset.

Some of those fonts were fantastic and it was easy to manipulate the rub down lettering, overlaying it on top of each other to make instant design. It wasn’t just lettering either, you could get rub down trees, cars, figures, pointing fingers, stars, borders – Letraset was a graphic designers dream even though I never did get the hang of the spacing guides underneath each individual letter.

I can’t remember the last time I saw a sheet of Letraset let alone used one, and looking back it all seems very strange in this world of computers and practically unlimited fonts. There was a real skill to using it well though and I’m sure I could still do it if I needed to in the real world and not in a dream.

Letraset, another great innovation consigned to the scrap heap… And that’s the rub.