Thursday, 6 April 2017

Mother's Day...

Ah, Mother's Day
I could write a poem
But I won't
I shan't
Because if I should
It might become a rant
So instead
I shall drink red
Then tuck myself into bed

Luna in the sunshine...


Just Luna enjoying the sunshine in Wales. 
I wonder what she is thinking?

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Vienna - final thoughts...

I promised myself to only write three blog posts on Vienna. After all, I don't want to bore you although I could write at least a dozen, but three was the promise I made and, like the loves of my life, that is what I shall stick to.

It was only three nights and days but what a different three nights and days they were. Of course, I will leave aside my bloody knees and my snoring. But even with that I left Vienna with a feeling that us British have somehow missed out and all because of the English Channel. So how should I do this? I know, I'll let it just gush...

I hate bloody airports. The walking is a killer, but once away from the planes and on board the two level airport to city centre train (fifteen mins non-stop) the Vienna transportation system was magnificent with bus, rail and the most spotless underground I have ever seen. A three day unlimited travel ticket was just over a tenner. It makes me wonder about the UK, just what have we done? The government claims that it wants public transport used, but it makes no attempt to encourage it. I won't ride that particular horse here, although I did quite enjoy the Lipizzaner stallions at the Spanish riding school.

Cakes, schnitzel, goulash, sausages, cheese, beer and wine for under three quid a bottle from the Spar. Yes, I loved the food and the easy going cafe's on the streets. I loved the little Austrian bar that we used to pop into on the way back to our hotel for a beer and a shot of blackberry schnapps. Just a bar, full of people coming back from work having a drink and smoking. Yes, I was shocked to find that you could still smoke in restaurants and bars. But hey, it's Europe who needs buttoned-up rules when a riot may break out any moment? Of course my 'shocked' is a result of years of conditioning by a government who want to control me - well listen up you Westminster John Bulls... I've been to Vienna!

I was surprised about the security too, surprised but not worried or concerned. At the museums there were no scanners and no bag checks. People wandered around with backpacks and bags that could have contained anything and there were no armed guards, just older men and women who sat watching or answered questions. In the galleries I walked up to within a couple of feet to closely study pictures worth tens of millions. Klimt, Schiele, Munch, Breugel, Raphael, Bosch, Rembrandt self-portraits. I could have easily reach out and touched any of them, or pulled a knife from my bag and slashed them, although of course I didn't.

Art and culture was everywhere and on such a huge scale that it made London look silly. The wealth of the city, its importance in a world long gone, was obvious. Huge spreading squares, massive symmetrically mirrored palaces, an exquisite art deco apartment house above a McDonald's by the Danube, the cleanliness. In the morning and evening at seven the church across the way from our hotel rang the bells to make the citizens aware that it was time to start or end work - just tradition these days. Busy people rushed to and fro, but not too fast and always without pushing. The bike lanes were adhered to and used, the cyclist polite with their bells, strangers came up to you and asked if you needed help finding your way and not wanting anything in return. I didn't feel threatened. It was all very un-British and not at all paranoid. It was European.

When we leave Europe we lose more than a silly trade agreement, when we leave Europe we lose our chance of being part of something much grander than Henry VIII and Winston Churchill, when we leave Europe we can never be Viennese again, not even a little. It's taken me a long time but I think that I almost understand what the 'community' in European Community means.

Thanks Vienna.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Mr Shadow...


I was in a little bar in Austria one evening last week and in walked a Herr wearing a brimmed hat and a long grey overcoat dripping with rain. He ordered a großes bier, a glass of mandelschnapps, and then sat himself down in a shadowy corner to read his copy of Volksstimme. It looked as though he was trying hard to be inconspicuous which is a sure way of getting yourself noticed. He didn't stay long, just half an hour or so, but when he'd left I realised that it wasn't raining outside and that it hadn't rained all day.

Mr Shadow

Let’s talk about Mr Shadow
An inconclusive fellow
Comes out in the sunshine
Flits out in the moonshine
Spends most of his free time
Dodging from sunny climes
The voice of a stage mime
He could be a paradigm
Mr Shadow
He looks a trifle shallow

Yes, let’s speak of Mr Shadow
An insubstantial bedfellow
He’s not quite all there
Doesn't sit easy in a chair
Does he wear underwear?
Best never to stare
Just in case he's not there
He seems made of air
Mr Shadow
Complexion a custard sallow

So now we know Mr Shadow
In temperament somewhat mellow
He'll be one step behind
He's so hard to find
With his air quite refined
Yes, he’s one of a kind
To shyness inclined
So bear that in mind
Mr Shadow
A wisp of pale marshmallow

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Vienna - Breugel...

I'm a man of small obsessions. Some of these are new (like my fixation on single malt whisky) and some of them I've had since my childhood. The earliest of these obsessions is still with me - it's my deep love of, and fascination for, the paintings of Breugel.

I know when this started. It was autumn and I was less that five. As for the how, well in the classroom at my infant school hung a large print of The Hunters in the Snow. It seemed huge and almost alive and I looked at it every day for a year or so as the seasons changed in the playground outside. They were grey days back then and I was fascinated by the painting. It made me feel free and unburdened. 


I'd spend much of my time making up stories about what the hunters were saying and thinking, where they had been, where they had come from, what their dog's names were, what they might be eating for supper - no wonder I didn't learn much. I imagined being one of the skaters on the ice below, the person crossing the bridge with firewood on his back, I wondered why nobody had fixed the inn sign so that it hung true and how warming those hot flames from the fire must have been on such a cold day. I wanted to be the flying bird on its way to the distant mountains and I wondered just what kind of bird it was anyway. It wasn't in my Observer Book of Birds.


I was hooked.


Later when I was about twelve I discovered a book in the library at Lord William's Grammar School. It was large, almost square, thick and glossy, and beautifully printed. Inside were really fine prints of all of Breugel's works from the early wonders of his Bosch inspired dreamscapes to his wonderful representations of peasant life. He was mystical, he was everything I wanted to be and I tried, painting my daubs and wishing I had even a finger's worth of the talent and ability that he had. Of course I never came close.


I read that book most lunchtimes for years, hiding away from reality, keeping myself to myself, trying not to remember the cross country run or the math's lesson I had to go to when my lunchtime session with Breugel was over. I lived in his world for a while and, even in times of war and pestilence, it seemed a good place to be. I have searched for that book in book shops and online for years and still never found it. Sometimes I wonder if it ever existed, but that is just the way my mind works. Everything could be a dream, every memory may be false, even real things may not exist.


I have found myself in those pictures a dozen or so times both spiritually and actually. I have a Dutch peasant face you see and I can find myself represented as a figure in a few of those paintings - The Fight between Carnival and Lent, Children's Games, The Peasant Wedding.


So here I am today, all old and ugly like a Breugel peasant and this is my reason for visiting Vienna. There is a room in the Kunsthistorisches Museum that is wall to wall Breugel. That room is my heaven, my whole life is there. I can't explain how I felt when I walked into that room. It was like coming home to a loving family or meeting up with all the best friends I've ever known in a single room. For a few moments I couldn't speak and I had to sit down. After that I just wandered from picture to picture taking it all in but not really seeing and it wasn't until I calmed myself that I really saw what I had come to see - the peacock feather, the broken jug handle, the egg robber, and me sitting on that barrel.


So there it was, a lifetime's ambition realised, my bucket list done in one single visit.


I owe Breugel a lot. I'm no great artist but it was he who started me on the path I took with art and with which I've managed to make a living - one way or another - for all of my life. I have much to thank him for, the joy he has brought me with his work and how he sent me along a road that I am so pleased that I travelled.


So thanks Pieter, I take my rough woollen peasant cap off to you. Y
ou set me free.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Vienna - let's start at the end...

Back from my trip to Vienna and it's already distilling into those few moments that get stuck in memory and so embellished and polished until they become something that they weren't at the time. Vienna is a place I could happily get lost in. Obviously, all I saw was the surface but I managed to avoid most of the hype and drink beer and schnapps in bars that American tourists and hipsters - both young and old - would probably avoid. I know that I'm more than a little unhinged, but there were moments that I wished the whole place would turn to black and white and after the third beer and fourth blackberry schnapps it almost did.

Play the Harry Lime theme.

Vienna is one of those places that is as much movie than a real geographical location and I soon found that it can be any movie that I wanted it to be - not The Sound of Music though, never The Sound of Music. Mind you, my movies are of the 'Noire' genre and for me Vienna had more than a few movies that were just a glass or two away. I'm not a huge fan of reality. I've never really understood it's attraction. Most of the time it appears to be a series of repeated activities that we don't have the will to break away from. Sometimes though a few people do and these are the ones that lead great lives, but I best leave that for another day and another glass of beer.

But let's roll the cameras. I'm here to make a mind movie to keep me warm the rest of my days and not dwell on my own insignificance in the shadow of greatness.

I was in Vienna and walking the same streets as Chopin, Beethoven and the Strauss 'familie', Freud and Hitler (the would be art student and not the dictator), Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimt, Turks and Hungarians, Emperors and paupers, good men and bad men selling fake antibiotics and watching the world turn on a huge wheel high above the city walls with it's heartbreak and culture and drama and schnitzel and beer and frankfurters and white horses and goulash soup and music and art and madness and frustrated sexuality.

Keep the camera rolling. My movie is showing and the Harry Lime theme plays as I pray for fog, a single gunshot rings out in the deserted square and maybe a German femme fatale - who probably turns out to be a spy - steps from that shadowed alley where I'm sure I can see a gloomy bar.

Zoom in on the entrance to a bar with a red neon sign. It should say Leopold's, but the 'L' doesn't work. It's probably out of neon and the flashing sign is reflected in the rain on the pavement - eopold's, eopold's, eopold's flashing over and over again. A man with a large scar on his left cheek falls through the door of the bar and out onto the cobbles. He's clutching his left side and grimacing. He looks hurt, a stab wound? But then it could be indigestion the goulash can be very hot in some places.

Of course that was just the movie in my mind. It was a bar, not gloomy just smokey from the cigarettes of patrons who wouldn't accept a ban if the authorities insisted with raised machine guns, shouting and much stomping of jackbooted feet. The beer and the goulash were excellent and nobody tried to shoot me. This is Vienna. There's freedom here and the movie just plays on and on.

I came to Vienna in search of something, a few things really. Some I found, some I'm still searching the sewers for. But whilst I may not have become Harry Lime when I was there, I did become a venerably old sixty, not quite alone, not quite as mysterious as I'd like to be and I don't suit a hat. But goodness, how I loved pretending.

Maybe for my seventieth I'll go back and go down the sewers and find the rest of my film, or maybe I'll visit Casablanca instead.

Anyway, it meant something to me - oh, Vienna!

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Wine day...

There are days when I almost fall into the zone without knowing it. I don’t intend or even know that I’m going there, but it’s where I end up. It’s a good place. A place of quiet reflection and raging thoughts where nothing can hurt me. I’m insulated, almost at one with whatever we are meant to be at one with and when that happens… Well, anything can happen. I know why poets and artist take opium or drink absinthe. I know why people climb mountains or wander across deserts. I know why others seek meaning in meditation. I know.

When I’m in the zone I have worth. What does it matter how I get there? If I can’t get there what am I? Just another easy to handle drone conformed and confirmed by a world without imagination or joy, just a target for the derision of men and women in suits thinking of new ways to keep people quiet. Keep them quiet, they might see through us. Give them cheap cake, but save the wine for us.

Well, I'll take the cake and the wine thanks.

We all have a chance of wine you know. Van Gogh cut off his ear, Gauguin fled to the South Seas, Dali steeped himself in a different reality, Picasso simply worked and worked and worked, Ray Bradbury refused to write pure reality and made reality as a result, Edward Lear fled reality and lost and found himself in nonsense, Sati made complexity out of simplicity. We all have a chance. We all have wine if we want it.

As a boy the zone was more easily accessible. All I had to do was pick up a crayon or load a paintbrush with powder paint and water and I was able to slip through the door and feel the buzz. These days, most of time, I have to work to even find the door except on days like today. Today is a day of wine.

It’s a good day. I can already feel it. Happy wine day to me.

Monday, 6 March 2017

Ye olde rumpy-pumpy...

I love words. I love the way words are put together as language. Words are our history and when Big Brother – the PC set – remove words from the dictionary or make them unacceptable I feel they are removing some of our heritage. Words need to be taken in the context of the time that they were used and also how they were used.

So let’s talk about shagging, the old in-out as it is called in A Clockwork Orange. Shagging or fucking, bonking, screwing, rogering, as it’s sometimes called, has a wonderful history in our language. So let’s not hide from our wonderful wordy heritage and instead celebrate these words and not ignore them. Of course, like all words, they need to be taken in context and referenced to the time they were used. But looking at the language of coitus, sexual intercourse or lovemaking, as some call it, it seems that many of the origins of a lot of these terms are lost in the history of their own time; as I'm sure that many of our own 'distasteful' words will be in a few hundred years from now.

Over the last 600 years rumpy-pumpy has been called many things. Some of them funny, some of them naughty and some just plain unfathomable in their obscurity. All language has its place and I find it hard to see any of it as ‘foul language’; although who knows how risqué it was at the time and to the people of that time?

Back in the mid-1300’s (if you were lucky) you might have ‘given someone a green gown’, what a lovely thought. Later in 1500 you might have tried some ‘nug-a-nug’ or had fun playing ‘the pyrdewy’ or ‘couch quail’ and by the end of the 1500’s you may have even been ‘riding below the crupper’ - I particularly like the earthiness of that one.

In the early 1600’s you could ‘board a land carrack’, have taken part in a little ‘fadoodling’, ‘put the devil into hell’, had a bit of ‘primcum-prancum’ (I wonder if that’s where hanky-panky came from), played a little ‘night physic’, taken part in a ‘culbaltizing exercise’, ‘joined paunches’, ‘danced the Paphian jig’, had a round of ‘tray trip of a die’, ‘danced with Barnaby’ or even been ‘shot twixt wind and water’ - which conjures up just a few distressing images for me.

By the mid 1600’s you would be enjoying some ‘rantum-scantum’, ‘blowing off the groundsills,’ playing ‘hey gammer cook’, ‘joining giblets’ (which doesn’t sound like much fun at all), having a round of ‘rumpscuttle and clapperdepoch’, ‘lerricompooping’, and interestingly ‘riding a dragon upon St George’.

By 1700 you would be having a ‘houghmagandy’ or might even ‘pogue the hone’. You could even, rather picturesquely, ‘make feet for children’s stockings’ whilst ‘dancing the kipples’.

In the 1800’s you could ‘have one’s corn ground’ or take ‘horizontal refreshment’ and, according to the very poetic Victorians of 1886, ‘arrive at the end of a sentimental journey’.

By 1910 this sentimental journey had become a little more raunchy as one was ‘getting one’s ashes hauled’, and after that most of the phrases we still use today began to be used to describe ‘placing Percy in the pasture’.

Wonderful, descriptive, magical and whimsical language. How I love it and I wonder what those people of long ago would make of us today with our fear of ‘getting caught’ using incorrect or outlawed words that they commonly used. I wonder if they would be shocked by the way we rewrite classic literature to make it more acceptable, frown when honest opinions are spoken in honest language, can’t use some words that aren’t offensive at all like black, or dark, Paddy, queer, or chink or any word that might be seen as describing any racial, sexual or religious grouping. What are the words that will be crossed off the list of ‘acceptable’ language next and will we still have this wealth of wonderful language in the future?

Well, it’s no use asking me because in this rantum-scantum world I don’t give a flying fadoodle.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Lost in nonsense...

Mr James Justice Poke

Mr James Justice Poke
Did not have a coat
And the weather had turned inclement,
He looked all around
But all that was found
Was a goat with a smell quite unpleasant.
‘What am I to do?’
Exclaimed James Justice Poke,
‘My new shirt will be quite sodden.’
On further exam
He spied a small lamb
To replace the coat, he’d forgotten.
With both goat and lamb high
His attire would keep dry
So he arranged both upon each shoulder.
With immediate effect
Rain was kept from his neck
And it was warmer rather than colder.
As he walked into town
With his bleating new gown
He caused quite a stir with the ladies.
Both the lamb and the goat
Made a very fine coat
And it would certainly last for ages.
Thus James Justin Poke
With this one masterstroke
Was a magnet for womanly passion.
His lamb and goat stew
Was well received too,
There’s nothing like edible fashion.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

A bit of nonsense...


The Tally Wally Went


At the end of the lane by the rhubarb tree
Lived a Tally Wally Went
His house was made of a ripened brie
Constructed like a tent
The poles were made from liquorice sticks
With strings of boiled spaghetti
The house was lit with taper wicks
With a carpet of bread confetti
Now this was a precarious state of affairs
For the Tally Wally Went
As fire did take him unawares
Such a terrible event
His home was turned to toasted cheese
An outcome quite outlandish
He had no shelter from the breeze
But at least he had a sandwich

Friday, 3 March 2017

Grumpy, moi?

I’ve had a diagnoses from my wife and apparently I have a bad case of early onset Grumpy Old Man Syndrome, or GOMS as it is called by the medical profession. Now there’s a lot of evidence to suggest that the condition is caused by a drop in the testosterone levels of men as they get older. That’s as maybe, but I hung up my balls long ago and I’m more of the opinion that men become GOM’s simply because they can, and wear that particular badge of honour with pride. I know I do. Well, I’ve worked long and hard for it.

I seem to alternate between being in my mid-teens – Woooo! Cor! Mine’s a lager and lime with a vodka chaser – to suffering from Grumpy Old Man Syndrome and trust me it is suffering. But mainly for those around me and not for myself. Of course there are many, many triggers that can send me spinning into a bad bout of GOMS and I’m even managing to find new ones every day.

Parking is a big one. Not my parking obviously, but people parking on the road when they have empty driveways. Worse still, and guaranteed to instantly turn me into a total GOM, is people coning off the spaces outside their houses. No, no, no, no, no! Not only is this illegal, but it’s bloody selfish and I invariably move them off the road making me appear to be an even grumpier old man than I actually am and fall out with neighbours in the process.

Fortunately, I don’t support a football team. So that area of grumpiness doesn’t apply to me, but it is one of the top five causes of GOM syndrome as many of my friends on Facebook seem to confirm. Mind you I more than make up for the football with those bloody drivers who seem to think my car is invisible and pull out on me, cut me up, or refuse to give way when the obstruction is on their bloody side. In these circumstances I can rapidly go from a GOM to a GOM with RR (Road Rage) and when that happens even I am amazed at the inventiveness of my shagfuckarsewanking swearing.

I would talk about arrogant Lycra clad male cyclists, but most of you know my stance on that (hang them) and since my daughter left home leaving the lights on isn’t an issue at all – kerching! Of course, the manners of the packs of bloody grammar school boys who block the road in their thousands mornings and afternoons is still good value and obviously the cost of petrol is a constant GOM catalyst. For a lot of men my age losing the TV remote is a GOM issue (as is not knowing which remote does what) but I am lucky enough to have a wife that makes all the TV watching decisions for me and hence I don’t even need to pick it up.

Other things on my GOM list are reality TV shows, animal TV shows, people who say borrow when they mean lend, The Great Cake Bake, rap music, game consuls, not being able to find my socks / trousers / pants / favourite T-shirt / a pencil / a screwdriver, the stupidity of people in power and authority in our country, the stupidity of people in power and authority in other countries (particularly the US), stupid people generally (and there are a lot of those), doctors, pushing in at the bar, the price of beer, silly trendy bars that only sell bottled beers, my mobile phone that always refuses to follow my instructions, the cost of parking, predictive text, poor customer service, dial 1 for anything, wi-fi, James Martin, the weather (this can include rain, wind, snow, sunshine, fog and general cloud), weather forecasters, sweets not tasting like they used to and any number of other really annoying things including that bloody ad with James Corden where the car spins around and around into a parking space. Who gets a parking space when you need one anyway? Apart from that I’m pretty well balanced most of the time.

Just don’t get me started that’s all.

Thursday, 2 March 2017

In truth…

The older I get the more realistic and confused I become. Some might call me jaded, others without faith or just plain cynical. I’m not sure at all, but I do spend a lot of time thinking and trying to work out what I believe, trying to work out what there is to believe in. 

Today I have mainly been thinking about truth. Now I’ve always believed that truth is important, honesty – particularly about ourselves by ourselves – even more so. Then along comes yet another horrible moment of realisation and suddenly, yet again, my beliefs are in question.

There are people who believe what Trump says. No seriously, there are people who believe what he says just as there are people who believe what the BBC say. There are millions of people who believe what the Pope says, what Jesus said, people who believed in what Hitler and JFK said. There are people who believe what Teresa May says, Mother Theresa said, people who hang on every word of wisdom that Mohamed or Mahatma Ghandi ever uttered. There are probably people who believe what David Icke says, maybe even people who believe what I say.

The older I get the more confused about the truth I become. What is it? Is truth simply the repetition of the same thing over and over until people believe? ‘We will make America great again’, ‘I was abducted by aliens’, ‘Brexit, means Brexit’, ‘Jesus was born of a virgin’, ‘Global warming is a myth’, ‘Elvis is alive and living on a private island in the South Seas’. Maybe just saying something makes it true, perhaps all that is called for is for someone to believe.

I’m sure that there are a lot of people who believe in the Big Bang and evolution. But does that mean that those who believe in creation are believing nonsense? I believe it is nonsense, but does my belief make it any the less true for those who believe something else?

Of course, if there is a book you can read that claims to be truth it really helps. Personally I can’t see a real difference between the Bible or the Koran and Alice in Wonderland. Who is to say which of these versions of the world aren’t the real one. Books are written by people and the 'truth' of British history in our history books is very different to the truth in the text books of all those countries we invaded and then bled dry. As Churchill said: "History will be kind to me for I intend to write it."

Sometimes I go to another world. I read fiction and, whilst I am reading it, what happens in that world becomes real inside my mind. It’s truth in other words. No matter that sometimes people come back to life as vampires or saviours or that the universe is sometimes populated by lizard people. For a few hours I suspend my usual beliefs and it is as real and true as anything I see on the television, as real as the parting of the Red Sea by Moses, as real as the CIA killing Kennedy and at least as real as my own thoughts on reality.

So given all of this I have to ask is truth simply belief and if that is the case does truth actually exist? Is truth just a matter of picking the most acceptable variation of reality that you feel comfortable with? Is truth just a moveable feast and an inconvenience if it doesn’t fit your beliefs. Is the truth really out there or is truth just another lie waiting to be found out?

And finally if there is no truth are there no lies? Are they one and the same thing driven by individual perspective?

There, I told you that I was confused, and that’s the truth. 

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Lent...

So here we all are with yet another forty days and forty nights of Lent to get through. Let’s break out the hair shirts and scold ourselves for the next six weeks or so. After all, it’s good for the soul, although how self-denial and guilt can be so positive leaves me wondering who in their right minds would believe this nonsense. Does six weeks without chocolate make you live longer? Does six weeks without coffee make you feel better about yourself? How about six weeks without wine, beer and sprits? Are you really for real?

Mind you it’s an interesting conversation opener: ‘What did you give up for lent?” My answer: ‘You. Now fuck off and leave me alone you self-righteous whimpering tosser of a tosser.’ Yes, that’s a double tosser, but then it is Lent – the season of the tosser.

Talking of toss and tossers; so Jesus was tempted. Just what with exactly? Did he forgo water for forty days and forty nights? No, not water. Apparently the devil tempted Jesus with hedonism, egoism and materialism. All pretty pointless in a desert, although water might have been a different matter, or beer or wine. ‘Fancy a beer Jesus?’ ‘Go on then devil, just a quick one. I’m a bit thirsty what with all this sun and all.’

Anyway, so far over the last few months I’ve given up Europe, given up any possibility of a reduction in nuclear arms, have started to give up the NHS and any chance of the state caring about me in my old age. Jesus, surely that’s a-bloody-nough? How many God-fearing Americans would give up their guns for Lent? How many would give up using their car?
It’s going to last a lot longer than forty days and forty nights so a few squares of chocolate, a bacon sandwich and a couple of malts of an evening isn’t really going to sully my soul too much is it?

I thought about giving up procrastination for Lent, but I’ve decided to put that off for the time being. I thought about swearing, but fuck that. I gave up smoking years ago and I don’t eat McDonalds, so they’re both out. I gave some serious thought to road rage, but then I remembered the old ladies and cyclists. I don’t take sugar or eat chocolate and if you think I’m giving up wine…

 Yes, this Lent thing really isn’t at all easy unless you are Jesus and have the devil whispering in your ear. That must have been a great motivator for the Son of God. After all, if the devil turned up to tempt me then I think I’d decline his kind offer as I’m not at all sure that he can be completely trusted.

I’ll tell you what I’ll give up for Lent; I’ll give up Lent, that’s what I’ll give up. Lent and all the sanctimonious bullshit that goes with it.

Lent. It really isn’t going to change anything. 

Caption...


Uncle Frank couldn’t fool us. 
We’d all seen the huge turds floating in his toilet.

Luna and snow...



Luna wasn't quite sure about the snow this morning. I think the bubbles tickled her nose...


Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Smilers...

I'm not sure if Facebook is the place to place my poetry. If I don't put it there though where does it go? There aren't exactly thousands of publishers queuing for the rights of my poetry flow. Does anybody even read poetry anymore? Does anybody read my poetry? I don't know. What I do know is that the words and ideas need to be somewhere other than inside my head. If I don’t get them out I think that my head is likely to explode.

Smilers

You're seen the permanent smilers,
the clowns,
the jokers,
the happy hopers,
the ever cheerful,
never tearful,

the joke sharers,
so quick to giggle,
the big grin wearers,
that ever smiling woman,
that hearty guffaw of a bloke.

Take a look beyond their happy,
are they trapped inside their own joke?
Is that sadness beating their hearts?
A flick of fear in the eye?
They are the ones to worry about.
These ones that never cry

Aside: The painting of the clown is one I painted a few years ago. Today I discovered that it's been borrowed by an American playwright - Tony Yajko - who resides in New York to illustrate his avant-garde play Bloody Strange.

You can read 'Bloody Strange' here.

Caption...


Auntie Peggy wondered if Santa Claus could actually bloody read. 
She was sure that her Christmas list had clearly stated dildo.

Monday, 27 February 2017

Caption...


Uncle Paul used to be in the navy. On wet days he would get out his 
dressing up box so that we could all play his version of pirates.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Caption...


Going around to visit Uncle Neville could be quite unsettling. 
He didn’t have any curtains and there were always 
test tubes lying around everywhere.

I want a coffee…

I like my coffee to taste like coffee. I don’t want it flavoured with anything. I don’t want raspberry coffee or vanilla coffee or maple syrup coffee or peppermint coffee. I don’t want it sprinkled with chocolate dust, gold dust, cinnamon dust, or malt dust. I don’t want flavoured sugar, cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, sea salt, coconut oil or butter. I don’t a want a pear juice, apple juice or cranberry juice coffee. I don’t even want milk or sugar. I do like a little rum, brandy or bourbon on a cold day, but generally I just take my coffee as it comes. Just coffee. I don’t want it frothed, I don’t want a heart swirled on the top or a cute template dusted Teddy Bear. In fact, I don’t want a picture of anything on top of it and no, I don’t want a bloody Cappuccino. Neither do I want an Affogato, a Bicerin, a Breve, a Café Bombon, a Frappuccino or even a Yuenyang. I want a coffee, a black coffee, call it a bloody Americano if you must, but just give me a coffee. Listen I don’t care about your expensive coffee making machine, I don’t care that it cost ten thousand pounds. I'm not interested that it can make coffee twenty different ways and makes noises that sound like a bad case of the flatulence. I don’t even care that it was imported from Italy and designed by a man that used to design Ferraris. I just want a coffee in a cup. Not in three chemical beakers deconstructed into its parts, not in a jam-jar or a ramekin or a champagne glass or a hand-turned wooden beaker. I just want a cup of coffee in a cup or even a mug if you don’t have any cups. I don’t want it iced, or filtered through rose petals, I don’t want it with an ice cream float or a flake or even the teensiest little bit tepid. I want it hot and strong and black and steaming. I don’t care that you trained for five years and making plain coffee is beneath you. I don’t care that you like to be called a Barista and not a waiter or waitress. I just want a coffee and preferably not one where the beans have been eaten, digested and excreted by a Palm Civit - and no I'm not impressed that it’s come all the way from Sumatra. I don’t care if it’s from Italy or France or Japan or Ethiopia or even bloody Vietnam. Listen coffee is a drink. Not an experience, not an art form, not a mission, and certainly not a performance. It’s a drink. I just want a coffee and preferably one that costs less than a fiver. 

Don't worry. I'll go home and make my own.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Halfway to china...


Halfway to china

Anyway, let's drift away
together.
Where should we go?
Scotland?
Tunbridge Wells? 
The Orinoco?
Set up home in the country?
On a radioactive beach?
Or how about a council house?
A few square feet of peace.

Under the sky in a tent,
inside a rainwater vent,
anywhere,
somewhere.
They’d never guess
Where we went.

So let's drift away
together.
It can be anywhere you choose.
It doesn't need to be in a boat.
We don’t have much leak to lose.
Escape in an old carpet.
Hide in a bottle of plonk.
Go anywhere and not come back.
Like a couple of mismatched mugs,
Chipped,
but not broken.
Just a pair of Toby jugs.

Anyway, let's drift away
together. 

Caption...


Mildred clearly didn’t understand how taking measurement 
really worked. Even her friends suspected that fart speeds were 
measured in knots and not in feet and inches.

Friday, 24 February 2017

Old leaves...

As Madonna once sang: ‘Life is a mystery’, and she was right and perhaps one of the biggest mysteries of all is what those blokes with blowers are actually achieving by blowing leaves about from one gutter to another. I passed one today moving his blowing machine from side to side and making the leaves move about busily but not disappear which would have been a far better solution. Maybe a flame thrower would have been more effective.

Of course, back in the old days, so fondly remembered by anyone over… let’s call it fifty, a chap in council overalls with a push-cart, a broom and a shovel would have collected the leaves and them burnt them in the nearest available council owned space. Private citizens would have spent the weekends sweeping up their own leaves and then burning them in piles in their gardens. Of course this, in this world of smoke free zones, is no longer acceptable behaviour so instead we have hordes of paid by the hour ‘gardeners’ pretending to sort things out but really just moving the leaves to next door’s drive or gutter.

Of course this is an excellent business model as they can then get paid all over again by blowing the leaves somewhere else and charging again, and so on, and so on. It’s kind of a leafy perpetual motion machine or at the very least a way of printing their own money. But I miss the romance of the smell of those piles of burning autumn leaves and the smoke hanging in the air.

Suddenly it struck me that the autumn leaves – because surely this is what they were – should have been long gone as it’s very nearly spring. Had this chap with the blower imported the leaves so that he could continue making money out of old rope? (Well old leaves if not old rope). And then it struck me further: where did the old leaves go anyway? Nobody bothers to sweep them up anymore, preferring instead to employ young men with blowers to idle away their time achieving nothing by blowing them about for months.

Just where do all those old leaves go?

Yes, life really is a mystery.

Caption...


The invitation to grandmother’s funeral 
had been subject to a typographical error. 
It should have read ‘black hat required’.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Invisible scars...

She had tattooed her arm
to stop the cutting,
perhaps by making it beautiful
she might find some peace.
Razor blades are not ink.
Scars a desperate art.
The cutting, the only way
to make her forget, not think.
She liked the sleeve.
A bird, black hearts, two fish,
an almost quote from Lao Tzu:
‘The journey of a thousand miles
begins with a single wish’.
Not a single step.
That was so hard to take.
It sat there speaking wisely,
traced red on chicken skin bicep.
Too many forced steps,
her life a trap,
a scared lemon squeezed,
no time left for any of that,
not going there again.
That is what her adornment was for,
a covering of her past.
She picked up her bag,
shrugged off the door,
she was shedding him at last.
Shredding him at last.
At the station she caught the train,
South, then west for hours.
A little travel for years of pain
that was now her past.
And as she sat she considered
if her thighs and breasts and arse
would be peonies, runes, or stars,
symbols to bring her healing
and hide her invisible scars.