Saturday, 31 December 2016

2016 and all that...

This is it, the last day of 2016 and I can almost hear the cumulative sigh of relief as this awful year passes. What a year eh? We lost so many idols, we came ‘out’ of Europe, a man named after a fart will soon hold the most powerful position on the planet and I still don’t have a flying car.

This has to be the worst year ever. Worse than the years of plague in the middle-ages, worse than the pointless devastation of life in World War One, and far worse than all those innocents killed - almost in my lifetime - in the concentration camps of the Nazis. Bloody hell, we lost David Bowie, George Michael, Prince, Princess Leia and so many others, small acts of terrorism killed hundreds (particularly in Paris), Nigel and Boris hoodwinked a nation, and our Prime Minister adorned her very long legs in leather…

Yes, probably the worst year ever - can you see the toungue in my cheek?

I'm not making light of this year's disappoinments and tradgedies, I know that I've found it a very hard year. But like most years I find myself on the cusp of the new thanking my god that the old one is over and like most years I tell myself that the New Year will be different, better, a year of change, happiness, and peace. Like most years I really know that this may or may not be true and it is just as likely that 2017 will be ten times as bad as 2016. After all it wouldn’t take much. Maybe a fart will drop one and some other fart drop another. Perhaps a new virus will stand up to our antibiotics and wipe out half of the population of the world. Could that meteor hit and… well you get the idea.

So what am I saying? I guess I am saying that life is chance, our world is chance, even chance is chance and that there is nothing we can do about it. If we get on the bus that explodes we won’t know until it happens, if we contract that flu virus that has been expected for so many years the Night Nurse (and let's not forget 'nothing' is stronger) may not cure us, and if Elton departs along a yellow brick road - never to return - that’s just life playing out its hand like a wonky candle in the wind.

In 2017 we will lose idols we love, there will be senseless murderous acts, illness will kill our friends and family (maybe even us), prices will rise or fall, politicians will politic rather than do what is needed, and our worst fears may be realised or not. So, rather than just wish you a Happy New Year in the face of chance, I wish you the strength to continue no matter what with a smile on your face, with determination and with as much happiness as you can grab.

So thanks. I value you my friends.

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Swimming or drowning...

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I’ve been trying to write today but nothing will come which is strange as when I am asleep my mind is so full of thoughts and themes. It’s become harder and harder to write anything in the last twelve months. It’s as if I no longer know what I think and even Trump just seems to be an inevitable joke that is being played on us all. There was a time when my words would have raged with him, but why should I bother. A few million flies can’t be wrong can they?

It’s cumulative isn’t it? These small shocks and defeats that seem to come from nowhere but were there in the shadows of age and experience all along. It’s been a confusing and bitter year with not much accomplished and what few answers I have found have been deep at the bottom of a bottle – many bottles actually. Too much change, too much loss, too much realisation of the inevitability and powerlessness that I feel at times.

I can’t remember the last time I picked up a pen or a brush other than to sweep the floor and I find myself wondering if it really matters. I’m not going to matter in a few years anyway and who will care for my words and scribbles? Oh, I still have the odd flash of insight but it’s so much easier to concentrate on the next drink, the next meal, the next episode on TV and thinking is so very hard: far, far too challenging, so best not to do it.

I pretend that it will all be different next year and that I will hit upon a great idea, build bridges, lose weight, smile more, try to be better, write and paint and think – but will I? Can I? I seem to be ‘enjoying’ myself far too much to be bothered. I’ll have to see and hope, but hope is found in pretty small measure at the moment. 

Maybe it’s the time of year.

There was a time where I saw contentment as apathy and I think I may have been right. In my laziness I have become apathetic to the world, content to just accept whatever will be. What can I do? I’m tired of being the king of lost causes, weary of fighting for nothing. It’s time maybe to take off my Canute crown and let the waves roll over me, get wet and swim or drown.

I have no idea where I would swim to though.

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Christmas Eve...

Another Christmas Eve and what a difference from the last. So many ch-ch-ch-changes. Last year there was always the slight hope of a Bowie tour and a new single Prince to listen to. I would have sworn that my mother in law Joan would be around the tree Christmas morning apologising for the presents she’d bought – and of course there was never any need for her apologies. I was looking ‘forward’ to being a European for some time in the future and a nuclear showdown was not even on the agenda. Ali might not have been punching but it was comforting to know that he was still around. Snape was still mixing his potions, Wogan was still Woganing, Gill still being outrageous, Mrs Merton was still being far too forthright, Manuel was still confused, Cohen was still being deep, Vaughn was still thinking he was Napoleon, Hilda was still singing, Burns was still spinning around, R2D2 was still beeping, Victoria was still tinkling her ivories, Daniels was still liking it (although not a lot), it was still goodnight from the last surviving Ronnie and… Should I go on?

I really did think that, with Christmas Eve so quickly approaching, it could get any worse and then an old friend and colleague left us as well leaving me with yet another hole that will never be really filled. What a bitter blow at the end of a bitter year. But life goes on and being bitter gets me nowhere.

So it’s Christmas Eve and I’m wondering what’s coming next.

Marley’s ghost maybe?

(Afterword - But as it turned out the Status Quo was not maintained)

(Afterward two - and George Michael on Christmas day.)

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Solstice...

Today is the winter solstice, shortest day, longest night and from here on in it all gets better.

I pray it does.

Solstice

I find myself praying in the deep black night.
I don’t know who to,
I don’t know for what,
I find myself praying
What else can I do?
It seems to be all I’ve got.
I find myself praying
And I don’t know why.
But some help (whoever you are)
Would mean an awful lot.
I find myself praying
In the dark alone.
Praying again?
I here myself groan.
I’m praying for not knowing,
For the last of the evening light,
For the storm blowing,
For holding tight to the kite.
For birdsong,
For cats,
For madness,
For coloured paper hats.
For Betty Boop,
For falling snow,
For bowls of homemade soup,
For the snug in a fireside glow,
For looping the loop-de-loop.
For becoming eccentric,
For falling rain,
For circles concentric,
For swirling down the drain.
For a curry with rice,
For a pad of plain paper
For not thinking twice,
For an unexpected caper.
For the smell of the sea,
For a ghost story in the dark,
For a dash of rum in tea,
For having a bit of a lark.
For bad jokes,
For speaking in clich├ęs,
For freeing a pig in a poke,
For final attempts in last ditches.
For being a bit of a bloke.
For trying not to worry,
For what will be, will be,
For never having to hurry,
For finding a long lost key.
For acting daft,
For trying my best,
For holding tight to the raft.
For whatever you suggest
For the best.
For clean bed linen,
For wine,
For robin song at night,
For correct spelling,
For a sign,
For getting it wrong or right.
For the opening of a door.
For a kiss and a paw.
For all of this and more
I find myself praying for.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Campfires...

Some of us go through our lives stumbling across campfires in the woods or on empty beaches and each time we do are attracted to the light. It’s where people meet, bring out guitars and sing, fall in love and form bonds that can never be broken. 

I see them as I drive down country lanes, hearing the laughter as I pass swiftly on pretending that I’m not a moth and that it’s not for me. I guess you might say I’m a party pooper.

I’ve never really felt comfortable sitting around the campfire. There’s something about the light and warmth, the singing and general good humour that doesn’t suit me. I’m the one on the edges, flickering in the shadows. You might know that I’m there but you probably wouldn’t miss me if I wasn’t. It’s not that I don’t want the warmth or to get lost in the brilliant flames; it’s just that I’ve never felt that it was really my place.

On the few occasions I have ventured up to the glowing embers I have found that they soon lose their heat and on those few occasions, getting far too close, I’ve been burnt. Sometimes badly, and getting your fingers burnt is a hard lesson that’s even harder to forget.

I did have a time in my life where my moth almost became a butterfly and the campfire really did seem like ‘the’ place to be. I couldn’t handle it though; so much wood to collect, all those flames to fan, too many people with buckets of water wanting to douse my flames. Better to stand in the shadows and watch. It’s lonely in the shadows though.