Sunday, March 04, 2007

With Apologies

Blame a friend called Maggie. She gave a challenge - "To be or not to be - Global Warming". I think she meant write about whether it was happening or not, but with a title like that, what's a girl to do?
My profound apologies to the Bard and all who love him. I really am very, very sorry.


To heed or not to heed; that is the question.
Whether it is foolish in a man to trust the threats and
Sound bites of uncertain future
Or close ears against a sea of warnings
And by ignoring, cause it.
Our cars, our planes, no more? And by a ban to say
We end the pleasure of a thousand long haul flights
That man is heir to?
‘Tis a consummation devoutly to be spurned!
But stay! The Earth could end, no chance to thrive;
Ay, there’s the rub, for in our selfish wish what
Nightmares come as we keep jetting off to pastures
New must give us pause.
It’s negligence that makes calamity of future life.
Who will bear the whips and scorns of unknown
Generation’s wrongs, the unborn’s contumely?
Their hate of ruined lands, action’s delay,
The insolence of pride that spurned
The patient merit of conservation taken,
And a quietus made of global damage?
Who will guilt accept?
But why the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered facts about which proof
No thinking man can know, puzzles the will.
So better let us do the things we wish
Than stop for others we know not of,
And conscience need not make cowards of us all.
Let enterprises of great pith and moment
Be cast awry by hedonistic pleasure,
And we can lose the thought of action.

But hark you now, the future weeps,
And by those sad orisons
Be all our sins remembered.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007


I've not been here for a while, busy with this and that and not much time for writing, so nothing to add to the blog. However, at a meeting of ScribesRus, the writing group I belong to, the talk got round to inventions, and we were all asked to write a piece on what we wished we had invented. I thought of the usual suspects, you know the sort of thing, the wheel, the telephone, the internal cumbustion engine, but the more I thought about it the more I realised that, apart from the wheel, the world would be a better place without most of those things, especially the last one. No, it's the little things that really make life better so here's what I came up with -


Oh I wish I’d invented the match
I’d have surely avoided the catch
Of the sulphurous poisons we saw
By their effect on the match girls’ jaw

Oh, I wish I’d invented the pin
With its safety clasp all moulded in
Which saves loss of blood and some pain
And words which are crass and profane

Oh, I wish I’d invented the Biro
(Old Laszlo was surely a hero)
What a difference would have been made -
When writing we’d now use a ‘Slade’.*

Oh, I wish I’d invented the clip
Which holds documents in a firm grip
And saves them from slipping and sliding
And prevents your nice ‘Jekyll’ from ‘Hyde-ing’

Oh, I wish I’d invented some things
I could bask in the glory it brings,
The kudos, the money, the fame,
And people remembering my name.



Wednesday, February 07, 2007

It was ever thus

It's coming round to that time of year again when hearts and flowers are all the rage. Call me an old cynic but......


“Come, lie with me and be my love”,
That’s what the poet said,
And what a clever line is that
To get me into bed.
But it won’t work you know,
The answer is still “No.”

“How do I love thee?”, yet more lines
That don’t belong to you.
I wish you’d get it in your mind
That other’s words won’t do.
And it won’t work you know,
The answer is still “No.”

“My love is like a red, red rose”
Oh really - get a life,
Those words belong to Robert Burns,
From Galloway, in Fife
And they don’t work you know,
The answer is still “No”.

I really don’t know how it is
That you can be so thick,
But still you’re using other’s words
And they won’t do the trick.
They do not work you know
The answer is still “No”.

Try telling me you think I’m great
And you’ll be mine alone.
To be with me for all our lives
You’ll leave unturned no stone.
And it might work you know,
Till then the answer’s “No.”


Monday, January 22, 2007


I'm one of those poor benighted people who can't sleep at night. Come 2.30 in the afternoon I could sleep the clock round, by 8 o'clock in the evening I can hardly keep my eyes open, but by the time I go to bed I'm wide awake, can't get comfortable and my mind's whirling around with all sorts of unconnected thoughts jumping out at me. The following shows what I mean.


I’m lying here and cannot sleep
I’m so fed up with counting sheep
I’ll use the time to make a rhyme
For Monday's blog - but nothing deep.

I don’t envy the Eskimo
Who has a hundred words for snow
I bear no grudge - I call it sludge
And wish the bloody stuff would go!

Now into black despair I’ve sunk,
My inspiration’s done a bunk.
What is that noise? Oh, next door’s boys
Returning from the pub dead drunk.

Bet that they’ve been on the scrumpy.
Now the pillow’s hard and lumpy!
I’m feeling hot - Oh, now I’m not.
It’s no wonder I get grumpy.

The kitchen fairy came today
And took the washing up away,
It wasn’t you - you never do.
Thank you Fairy is what I say.

The duvet’s fallen on the floor!
I cannot stand this any more.
It’s time I think to get a drink.
Look at the clock! It’s half past … zzzsnore

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Sunday, January 14, 2007


While we're on the subject of uncles here's another lot not to be proud of. The piece was inspired by a poem which extolled the uncles, but I decided - what about the truth behind the facade? Anyone here you recognise? I must admit there's a dash of truth in some of this.


Boring old farts, my Uncles. Well, strictly speaking they are my Great Uncles, brothers to both my Grandmothers. It’s by reason of their great age that they are reverenced by the family However, that doesn’t alter the fact that they are tedious in the extreme, holding court at family occasions, reminiscing about the old days and their time in the workshop. Talking endlessly about camshafts and spindles. How they could mill a sprocket to ‘within a thou’ by eye alone. Experts all of them, still retaining a whiff of oil about them, oil engrained in their minds as well as their skin. Telling of serving their time before passing on the knowledge in their turn, competing with each other to recount the little tricks learned, knacks to make the job easier, faster, cheaper. Each in his own eyes more skilful, more artful, than the others. More heroic. Kings of the workshop. Basking in the perceived glow of admiration their words induce. What they don’t realise is that the awe struck look in the eyes of their audience is the glaze of boredom.
However, they never toss the coin and talk of their other selves. Oh, but that would make interesting listening.
We don’t hear about Great Aunts Doris and May, who both committed suicide rather than face the misery of life with Uncle Jack’s cruel tongue and heavy fists.
At least Uncle Tom’s wife only ran off with the insurance man when she’d had enough of drunken rape every Saturday night. Much maligned, that woman, leaving such a respected man on his own. She’s gone down in family history as flighty, but I do hope she found happiness with her new man.
Uncle George, on the other hand, was flighty. He led his poor wife a merry dance. Nothing in a skirt was safe from his attention - God knows how many by-blows he fathered, there could be dozens of family offshoots out there, but we’re never told about them, are we? Mind you, he’s probably forgotten about half of them himself. Never one to face up to responsibility, Great Uncle George.
Great Uncle Alec’s claim to fame is shooting himself in the foot in Italy, during the war. He got a quick trip home, a slight limp, and a safe billet until hostilities ended. Strange he never boasts about his ‘war wound’, isn’t it?
There are no wartime stories from Uncle Harry either. He appears to have joined none of the Forces but served his country on the home front. Did rather well for himself by all accounts. He still favours the trilby and pencil moustache he wore at the time and still ‘knows a man’ from whom he can get those little extras that make life bearable, cheap black market tobacco and booze from abroad. Oh, he’s a good old fellow is Uncle Harry.
Uncle Alf never married and a veil has been drawn over his past life. There are rumours and whispers but no one knows for sure what he got up to on his frequent visits to London. We’re left to draw our own conclusions, but all we know is he stopped his trips after staying away for over a year. Very different when he came back, tougher somehow, but sharp when questioned and would never talk about it.
Then there is poor old Uncle Jim. No dead wives, no unknown babies, no spivvery, nothing. Just a blameless life with Aunty Sheila and their two children, working stolidly at his job until retirement, never getting into trouble or causing any, yet only ever being referred to with the suffix ‘Poor Old’. No hidden stories about him, he is just - boring! Poor old Uncle Jim.
Well, those are my Great Uncles, and I can only thank God that I’m descended from the distaff side of the families.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Uncle Bernie

Weddings are wonderful occasions when all the family can get together and share in the joy of the happy couple. Unfortunately there is always someone.......
I bet you've got someone like this in your family!

So Joanne and Phillip have done it at last, and in style too. Three bridesmaids, one of whom was my Emma, and Phillip’s four year old nephew as a page boy. They all looked marvellous, and the kids behaved so well. Almost brought tears to my eyes. I looked over at Mum and she really was in tears. Still, as the mother of the bride she was entitled to be I suppose. I saw Phillip’s mother, Hazel, having a little sniffle as well. Both Dads stood proud as peacocks, and Phillip looked fit to bust with happiness.
I like Phillip, and his family too. Joanne struck lucky there with her mother-in-law, she’s a lovely lady. Shame about her brother though - awful man. He hasn’t stopped showing off since he got here. I half expected him to carry on all through the service but, thank God, he managed to restrain himself - just.
None of our side has met him before, but Phillip had warned us.
“My Uncle Bernie’s a bit of pain, I’m afraid,” he told us. “We don’t have all that much to do with him, actually, but as Mum’s only brother, we can’t not invite him. Luckily he lives in Scotland, so we won’t have to put up with him after the wedding,”
Bit of a pain? Bloody understatement that was! God, he’s awful. Bouncing around here, there and everywhere. Has to be the centre of attention, thrusting himself into other peoples’ conversations, and then taking it over. He always manages to talk about himself. Full of it. Tells unfunny jokes and laughs uproariously at them. If you don’t laugh with him he keeps urging you on, repeating the tag line until in the end you give in in self defence.
He’d been bad enough before the wedding, but when it came to the photographs he was infuriating. I could tell poor Hazel was embarrassed by his antics, she kept trying to calm him down, but he paid no attention. He took over from the photographer, arranging and re-arranging the group till the poor man got quite shirty with him, then of course we saw the other side of Uncle Bernie. Went off in a huff, and I saw him being quite nasty to little Ben, the page boy. Then he noticed me watching and on went the big toothy grin, and he tried to pick Ben up, but he was having none of it. Good for him.
Uncle Bernie was none too pleased during the meal and the speeches either. As groom’s uncle he had nothing to do, but it didn’t stop him trying to muscle in, heckling the speakers and making so called ‘funny’ remarks. However, Johnny, the best man, had had a few by then, and told him in no uncertain terms to shut up. We all joined in, clapping and shouting “Hear, hear.” You should have seen Bernie’s face!
When the rest of the guests arrived for the evening they were very confused. Of course none of them had met Bernie before, and one or two thought they’d come to the wrong reception. There he was, meeting and greeting, as if it was his function.
“Hello, how nice to see you, thank you for coming,” - quite the genial host. Poor Dad had to keep re-assuring people that they had come to the right place.
When the dancing started, he at least allowed Joanne and Phillip to lead it off, but thereafter, true to form, he has taken it over. I must admit he dances very well, but he seems to forget that other people might want to use the dance floor. He had the cheek to tell the band to play the sort of music he wanted, then cleared every one off so he could go into a tap-dance routine, would you believe.
He’s quite an old roue too. Won’t leave the girls alone, especially if they are young, tall and busty. Old enough to be the grandfather of some of them, for God’s sake. But he’s not fussy, he’s gone round all the women in turn, more or less demanding they dance with him. No one wants to, of course, but he won’t take ‘no’ for an answer.
Oh God,! Look, he’s making a bee-line for me now. Excuse me; I’m off to the loo!
Bloody man, roll on tomorrow when he goes back to Scotland!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

An afternoon at sea

Those of you who sail will recognise this and those who don't may get some idea of what can happen in a very short space of time.

Azure sky, the wind a zephyr, riffling my hair with gentle caress. Warm sweet smell of the slumbering sea, whiff of oil and the tang of hot varnish. Roughness of salt on sun scorched skin. Playful patting of waves on hull, gently rocking my sleep inspiring cradle. Seagulls patrolling around me, wheeling and swooping as they clamour for food.
Clouds gathering, darkening, lowering. Glooming towards my peaceful dream. Petulant wind now smacking sharply. The sea, rising in a bad mood, rocks the cradle with impatient hand. Rigging awakes with nervous twitching, planks groan as they feel the peevish touch of the swelling tide. And where are the gulls? The gulls have left me, their going a warning I do not heed.
Blackening skies eclipse the sun, venomous wind now whips with vicious force, twisting, ripping, snatching the peace from the afternoon. Loose sails crack in protest, desperately trying to flee the vengeance of the wind.. The deck is now a bucking bronco, trying to hurl me into the maelstrom. Rain drives into my skin like white hot needles as I slide and slither, trying to bring order in to wet, cold hell. The world is howling, banging, bumping as I try to see through rain blinded eyes. My hair is whipped like a wet cat-o-nine tails as it lashes my face with stinging thwacks. The force of the storm is stealing my breath. I’m drowning. drowning, in the open air, gasping, clasping at rails with cold-palsied hands, losing my hold and my balance as the boat tries to writhe from under me. Sharp pain as I strike my head on a thwart. Tasting blood as it mixes with the rain on my face and drains into my gaping mouth. Salt tears now add their flavour and I haven’t the strength, oh, I haven’t the strength, to continue the fight. I lie where I fall, teeth chattering, body quaking with cold and terror. Where will it end? Is this the end? This is the end. No need to rise, no need to continue the battle, all is hopeless, my boat and I are doomed. I feel for a rope and cling to it desperately. Like a captain of old I will stay with my craft, it will be my shroud. I close my eyes and give myself to the blackness waiting to engulf me.
The mewing of the gulls waken me, and I rouse to gentleness, my face feels stiff and I lift my hand and feel the encrusted mixture of salt and blood. I open my eyes and above me I see azure sky. I feel the wind caressing my hair, smell the sea and the tang of oil. Shakily I rise and sit on the thwart, feeling the sun warming my skin.
As I get my bearings and head for harbour, I thank God.
It was only a squall..