Come in, it's lovely to see you. Pull up a cushion and stay as long as you like.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

The Girl On The Bench

She was still there!

Ben had looked out of his bedroom window half a dozen times over the last hour or so. He first noticed her when he came home from school, sitting on the bench at the park opposite his house, as he got off the bus. He didn’t know what had drawn his attention to her at first, what had made her stand out from all the other children. All he knew was that she just seemed somehow different.
She wasn’t dressed in the school uniform they were all wearing, for a start. There was something about how she sat, she seemed sad. Her clothes were worn and they didn’t match, not the stuff that he and his mates wore, emblazoned with slogans and logos. Not only did her clothes not match they didn’t seem to fit and looked, well, a bit dirty he thought.

And the more he looked the more curious he became: who was she, where did she come from, why was she just sitting there, so still, so silent? There was no iPod plugged into her ears, she wasn’t constantly texting on her mobile phone or, like his sister Lucy who at this very moment had the latest Jacqueline Wilson practically glued to her face. How very different she seemed from his sister, and her noisy, nosey friends who teased him and hid his stuff. She looked so fragile and so alone.
He told his mum, who looked for a while. ‘She doesn’t seem as if she’s from around here. You have homework to do young man; we’ll keep an eye out for her’.

Later, after dinner he went up to his room. Dinner tonight had been his second favourite; fish fingers, beans, mashed potatoes and gravy. ‘Gravy with fish fingers, whatever is the matter with you?’ his mum always said, but she always made it and always kissed his head when she put the meal on the table for him, and gave him that lovely big smile of hers. He always had five fish fingers. ‘Why five?’ his mum had said the first time he had asked for this. ‘Because it makes a whole hand. Get it, five fingers on a hand?’ Even his sister laughed at that one, and from then on he always had a whole hand of fish fingers, with gravy.
His favourite meal of all time, ever, was Christmas dinner and in three weeks and five days that’s what he would be having. Even while eating his second favourite meal he had been imagining Turkey, roast potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce and lovely thick onion gravy. God, he couldn’t wait.
In his room, full from his meal, and whilst trying to decide whether to play alone on his x-box or ring Danny, his best friend, he looked out the window again.

She was still there!

It was getting dark now and he only saw her as the bench was lit by the streetlight. She must be cold he thought, and hungry. Why wasn’t she at home? He felt worried.
‘We must do something’ said his mum, ‘This isn’t right. I’ll go and talk to her’. But the girl wouldn’t speak, just got upset. So Ben’s mum called the police.
A police car arrived in ten minutes. Two policewomen got out, and another woman who Ben could tell, just by looking at her, was the girls mum. ‘Oh Sarah, we have been looking for you all afternoon, I’ve been so worried’. Then she hugged her and started to cry. Ben’s mum started to cry too, and when the two policewomen began to dab at their eyes Ben said loudly ‘I thought this was supposed to be a happy time!’ Then he had to turn away as he felt tears welling up inside him too.

Later that evening the two policewomen called round to thank Ben and his mum. Sarah and her mum were from the women’s refuge near the town and Sarah had run off after an argument. That night Ben lay in his bed, surrounded by all his lovely games and books and his television set (He was so hoping for a DVD player for Christmas so he could watch his favourite films like his friends did). His mum had spent time explaining what a woman’s refuge was and Ben was feeling sad for Sarah and her mum, and also angry at their dad. He remembered his own dad, and how much he missed him since the accident. He would never have hurt Ben, or Lucy, or his mum and would have been furious and upset for Sarah as well.

Three weeks and five days took forever to pass, but pass they did and Ben woke, as usual, to a huge stocking on his bed filled with small wrapped presents, some fruit and a few sweets. A while later he made his way downstairs, exited and hopeful with just one thing on his young mind.

The decorations, the tree, the coloured lights, he couldn’t take it all in, not yet, not until he knew. Would he get it, where was it? There under the tree, a large present, it had to be, he rushed to it, grabbed it, his name was on it, oh god this was it; ‘Just you wait a minute young man, stop and breath, savour the moment’. ‘You say that every year mum’ Ben said, with a huge smile on his face.
‘Merry Christmas’ shouted Lucy as she burst into the room, smiling also and with chocolate round her mouth. ‘Wow, let’s count our presents Ben’. They both had twenty. Twenty! The most they had ever had. Ben looked at the pile of presents for his mum, there were seven. He felt sad and a little guilty; she always spoilt them at Christmas and went without herself. His mum looked at them both; she knew what they were thinking. ‘I wish dad was here too, and miss him as well, but he wouldn’t want us to be sad on Christmas day, would he? So come on let’s open these presents. Last one to finish washes up after dinner’. ‘That’s not fair’ Ben and Lucy both cried out, ‘we’ve got more than you!’ ‘Better get opening then’.
In far too short a time they were all three laughing and surrounded by wrapping paper, opened boxes and hurriedly torn off labels. Ben was so pleased with his DVD player and couldn’t wait to set it up in his room. ‘Go on’ said his mum, ‘I’ll make us all a cup of tea’.

Up in his room, after trying the lead the other way around, and swearing quietly so no one heard him, he was ready to watch a DVD. Just at that moment he heard a car pull up somewhere so looked out his window, left and right then across the street. Some people were walking past the bench, the bench where they had found the girl; Sarah. He almost shouted her name as he remembered her. Suddenly it all came back to him and he wondered what today was like for her, how many presents had she got, was she missing her dad like he was? He was just starting to cry as his mum came in with the tea.

A while later Ben, his sister and his mum, knocked at the door of the women’s refuge asking for Sarah and her mum. After a very long wait they were finally allowed in to see them. Sarah looked surprised as Ben handed her a present. He had re-wrapped one of his DVD’s. She smiled as she opened it; it was Happy Feet, an animated film about dancing penguins. They all hoped it would make Sarah and her mum laugh like they had when they saw it at the cinema. Sarah looked at her mum and went quiet. ‘We don’t have a DVD player’, her mum explained.
Ben suddenly felt very awkward, his good idea crashing around him. Then he remembered in his pocket was a Ten pound note that was in a card from his Granddad, who had written in it ‘I want you to do something with this money to make you happy, don’t save it’. In a flash he knew what that was and held out the note to an astonished Sarah. Everyone went very quiet. ‘Please take it’ he said. Sarah’s mum looked at her ‘You can buy that bag you saw in the shop and have some money left for chocolates’.
Sarah hugged him and kissed his cheek as the tears ran down hers, Ben started to cry again and soon they were all in tears, hugging and kissing him and each other. Ben felt very happy and somehow a little bigger inside. Then he remembered something his Dad had said to him one day. ‘Whatever happens in life Ben, remember there is always, always something you can do’.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Five facts about Polar Bears

Due to the fast approaching snow I wondered whether the following might come in handy.

Fact 1.   Polar bears are big. VERY big.....
Adult male bears weigh 352-680kg (that’s 780-1500lbs in old money) and are between 2.4-3mlong (7.9-9.8feet). Adult females are roughly half the size. This is contrary to some western human couples seen at the supermarket checkout where the female can be up to twice the size of the male and have a voracious appetite and a very bad temper when crossed.
To give some perspective, I am 14 stone and a bit which is roughly 196lbs or 89.4kg  and I am 6’ tall, about 2m. So I am, at best, less than half the size of the smallest female, a quarter the size of the smallest male and, get this, less than a seventh the size of the larger males.  So I shan’t be going out and picking a fight with one just yet and I would advise you not to, either.

Fact 2.   Polar bears are white.....
There is a clue here in the name, polar bear. They live in the Arctic region, which is the cold bit at the top of the earth; the word Arctic comes from the Greek Arktikos meaning ‘near the bear, arctic, Northern’ and that comes from the word Arktos, meaning bear. The name refers to the northern celestial constellation Ursa Major ‘The Great Bear’, not to be confused with John Major who was something else entirely, according to Edwina Curry!
 So the polar Bear is white to afford it camouflage as it hunts for seals and things in the snow and ice. It blends in and it looks nice. Some humans, who are also white, spend a lot of time and money trying to look brown but end up orange. They don’t blend in, and this does not look nice.

Fact 3.   Polar bears are not, I repeat NOT, cuddly.....
You would be very hard pushed to get your arms round one, even if you could get close enough. Their breath would probably smell of blubber and they would be cold and wet. The mothers nurse their cubs until they are about two and a half years, then they chase them away to fend for themselves.
They scavenge and will eat anything and if they are hungry they can kill and eat humans and even other polar bears. Some male bears will kill and eat bear cubs. But when they are full they just chill out, a bit like humans, although there have been no reported incidents of polar bears slouching on the sofa with a beer watching dancing on ice.

Fact 4.   The picture of a polar bear on a mint is a fake....
Fox’s glacier mints have used a polar bear, called Peppy, in their advertising, since 1922. As we know (see fact 1) polar bears are very big. Fox’s glacier mints are very small; they have to be to fit into one’s mouth. Do the maths, it just wouldn’t work. The Coca-Cola advert of 1993 is even more confusing as it shows Polar bears watching penguins dancing. Polar bears inhabit the Arctic and penguins the Antarctic. A distance apart of some 12000 miles or 20000km!
In the 1980’s Cresta used a singing polar bear in sunglasses to advertise its soft drink with the phrase ‘its frothy man’. They had to withdraw the drink from the market due to its high sugar and acid content. This would not have bothered a real polar bear.

Fact 5.   Male polar bears have a baculum....
That's not a degree in Norse Mythology but a penis bone. The baculum is kept in the abdomen and when the male polar bear wants to mate a set of muscles push it into the penis and, hey presto. No messing, job done. There is no going out for a romantic candlelit seal and a glass of wine first.
Male humans do not have a baculum, and it's a question of blood flow and hydraulics rather than bone and muscles. Depending on age and health and how scared he is of the female there may be a delay until the required level of elevation is required. The female human may need to show patience and tenderness whilst this process takes place. Bending over the frozen food counter in Iceland saying 'Quick Donald do me like a polar bear before the security guard gets here' may not be the most conducive environment. Recent advances in medicine have resulted in the availability of a magic pill that can assist male humans. Male polar bears need no assistance.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

For Rumi

When I am alone my life is meaningless
Yet when I am with someone my life is meaningless also.
Truly, I am done for, wherever I turn.

I am indebted to you, my friend, not for our friendship
For there is no remuneration due there
No payment that could cover what has been given.
What then is this debt?
A puzzle indeed, no?

Why would I trouble you with answers?
I am troubled enough myself.
All I have are questions
and the fierce longing I take into the night.

Don't deny me - Stay.
Keep close to me - I may wander off at any moment.

Where is my compass - where will I go?
The way is lost to me
Behind a door I cannot open
Inside a room that has no walls
Down a road I cannot see.

My eyes are of no use to me here
What I see makes no sense
My legs take me where I do not want to go
My arms hold on to nothing
What is behind me is in front also.
I go in circles.

This ship has no sails
And there is no wind to blow them, anyway.
No rum to drink
No water to float on, either.
I am lost!

No one comes
No one goes

I am an island - or not
Build me a bridge.

I know what you are thinking, I think it also.
At least I would if I were clever enough.

Me - the great contradiction - the puzzle.
I am in pieces before you.
Mend me.

Sunday, 13 November 2011


Today is Remembrance Sunday and I am remembering my mum.

Annie Maria King

Born 31 December 1921 at Wood Green, London
Died 25 August 1979 at Myland Hospital, Colchester

She was one of the youngest of 12 children, her parents owned a bakers shop in London.

As Private Annie Maria Ransom W216466 she served with the Auxiliary Territorial Service as a wireless operator from 28.08.42 - 17.05.46.

In 1958 she met and married John Arthur King, fifteen years her junior, a teddy boy and disapproved of by her family. She was 39 when I was born and 41 when my sister was born.

We lost her in 1979 to cancer, secondary to the initial breast cancer from 1974. She was far too young as were my sister and I, me being 18 just short of my 19th birthday, and my sister only just turned 17. But the greatest sadness of all is that she never saw any of her five grandchildren, my own two and my sister's three. She would have loved them all and they her. Mind you I don't know how they would have responded to hand knitted Fair Isle jumpers but they would have loved her lemon meringue pie.

What I remember and miss most is her laughter and her positive and courageous response to anything that came her way. Her kindness and consideration towards others even when it was sadly lacking towards her. For someone who genuinely had something to complain about, she never did. Just got on with her life without making a fuss and going out of her way to do what she could to help others. And there are plenty of people apart from her biased son who will testify to that and to the goodness of her character.

There is not a day that goes by when I am not thinking of her and missing her. And thanks to the internet I can share her with you. In May of 1998 I wrote this and gladly share it too.


If I could have her back
for a day (just 24 hours),
I would choose a spring day
When the air was fresh and bright
and cool and sweet fragrant

I would not burden her with my heavy heart
but tease her until she laughed (like I used to)
Then I would kiss her goodbye and say thank-you
And tell her I loved her

as I should have done an eternity ago

Thursday, 3 November 2011

I Think Therefore I Don't

I can't help but wonder where thinking has really got us. The human race I mean. The one thing we can do that seperates, and supposedley elevates us from the rest of the species. Not that I have thought this through myself of course, just sort of thinking out loud.
Looking through the 'news' anytime over the last few months, or even years, you can't help but think what the hell are we doing, what direction are we headed in?
I don't personally buy into the whole doom and gloom thing quite so completely, but even so, things are definately not going very well are they?
People throughout history, mystics, scientists, philosophers, eminant this and that's have devoted their lives to thought and thinking about life, and produced some beautiful and profound work as a result, no denying that. But where has it got us as a whole?
In a hole.
I'm not against thought of course, or philosophy or science etc, on occasions I even think about things myself (hard to believe I know, but stay with me) and yet, well, I'm still as confused and have just as many unanswered questions as ever. And I'm not the only one, am I?
Where has thinking really got us?
The population of the world has just reached seven billion.  Change is coming so fast we can't keep up. One half of the world has so much food it has to throw it away yet the other half is starving. Huge advances in medicine have improved and even saved countless lives yet still there is sickness, new illnesses, new cancers. Technology means we spend less and less time in the compay of others. There is no money for anything yet still we fight wars abroad and ignore the issues at home. Rather spend millions on cruise missiles than on hospitals, but no money to treat wounded soldiers when they come back. A tooth of John Lennon's is up for auction soon and expected to make £10,000. And on it goes. This may sound like some kind of socialist rant, but it aint M'Lord.
The world stock market is in turmoil, countless suffering. Yet didn't we create the stock market in the first place? It didn't evolve from nature did it?  Didn't some people think it was a good idea? And maybe it was once. But it's not any more. And yet we let the system, that we created in the first place, rule us.
The anti capitalist protests in London have seen the resignation of three senior clerics from St Pauls and the church in turmoil again, yet not one banker's name has even been mentioned, let alone brought to task.
What are the protestors thinking?
Here's another one. Some Professors (thinkers) from Cardiff University have just completed a report to present to a London conference that finds half of workers in Britain have been ill-treated. You don't say? Tell us something we didn't know? And what about those who are ill treated in relationships or the family? Yet more pointless thinking and researching. And still nothing changes.
Maybe, and this is just a suggestion, I haven't thought too much about it, but maybe it's about time we stopped thinking about things and just started talking to each other and actually doing something. Or is that too simple?

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Dr Who Here I come

Heard on the radio today Florence Welch, from Florence and the Machine, being interviewed and saying that she wanted a part in Dr Who. She didn’t want to take the female assistant role (kind of her) but would like to play a monster.
Well, while we are on the subject and in case anyone with any clout is reading this (well you never know!) I wouldn’t mind a part in Dr Who either. I would happily take the lead role and play the Doctor himself (aim high I say) or a character in an episode like one of the numerous celebs we see popping up here there and everywhere (how do the new wave of actors get parts nowadays?).
I would also like a part in a Bond movie, either 007 himself, M, Q or any part that has either a letter or a number.  A villain. Or the villain’s henchman.  Or the pilot of a helicopter flying Bond over a drop- off zone having to do a really difficult manoeuvre (always a bugger to spell that one). Any part basically.
And I would like to play either Jack Lemmon or Tony Curtis’s role in the remake of Some Like It Hot so I can legitimately dress as a woman, rather than having to sneak around in the flat with the curtains drawn in this matching blue two piece cotton blouse and knee length skirt (note to self edit this bit out before posting). I’m not sure who I would like to play Marilyn Monroe’s role, a tough one that, big shoes to fill. Someone unknown though, I don’t want to be overshadowed.
I would also like to do spoken word books like Stephen Fry does, and voiceovers for commercials, especially for hair care products so that while I was raking in the cash I could have a wry smile over the irony of having no hair myself.
And I want to present one of those documentary series where I get to travel and am filmed walking about a lot and eating and drinking things and talking to slightly eccentric and odd looking folk with opinions on just about everything. And where I get to stand on hills or the ramparts of castles looking into the middle distance or out at the horizon, with my hand on my forehead to shield my eyes from the sun. Or do something exciting and dangerous with a boat that normally would get me arrested (I said boat not goat, just in case the animal rights lobby are reading and don’t have their glasses on).
If the person with any clout is still reading I don’t have a portfolio but will happily attend for a screen test, at a location of your choice. I don’t mind being tested along with Florence Welch and would happily have her as my assistant if I get the part of the Doctor. Even though she said she didn’t want it we all know she would take it.
Right, just edit the wearing the dress line before I click the ‘post blog’ button. Oh shi

Thursday, 13 October 2011

We're Too Old For This

Heard snippets on the radio the other day (was driving so didn't catch all the details) about a 'report' published by someone who had noticed how many commuters on the train were reading children's books and 'wondered why?'.
Of course they couldn't just accept it, other individuals reading choices, has to be some rational explanation and of course it soon came. Wait for it; 'people are so stressed by the working environment and the daily commute and the pressures of modern life that reading children's books is a way of escaping from this'.
Ah right I see. It couldn't have been that adults actually enjoy reading children's books just for the pleasure of it then.
So what about the mass who read romantic or violent crime fiction? That's not 'escaping' then, that's ok, no questions need asking or surveys doing or explanations given. It's just when adults choose to read children's books it promotes comment, questioning and criticism because, and lets be honest here, this is what it really is, a judgement being passed under the guise of a survey. The real statement being made here is that children's books are only for children and adults should only read adult books.
We need to 'grow up'.
This book snobbery has always angered me, ever since I watched Linda Smith on Room 101 wanting to 'put in the bin' adults who read Harry Potter. And by way of explanation she went on to say that it was ok for adults to read Harry Potter to their children but to want to read it themselves that's what annoyed her (It's always Harry Potter isn't it, not Wind In The Willows or The Hobbit. I smell a whiff of plain old jealousy at others success here). So not adults who read violent crime or horror, a lot of which is directed at women and children, I thought she could at least have played the feminist card, but no, just adults who chose to read childrens books, this seems to annoy more than anything else.
Going online to try and find (and failing) information on this report I came across numerous feeds and discussions on this very subject, all from the same starting point, all from, I assume, adults so grown up and intellectual and far too clever to lower themselves to read a children's book.
And all responded to in much the same way as this: 'Can I get away with reading children's books seriously? I don't care; I read them because I want to, and those who want to look down their snooty noses at me are poor sad people who are missing a lot of pleasure.'
I've never heard it said 'Why do adults choose to write childrens books, they must be hanging on to their childhoods, unable to function in a grown up world' etc. It seems it's just adults who choose to read them.
I can fully understand if, for example, you went to see your GP and he had started wearing round glasses and had a lightening scar tattooed on his forehead, and after the examination he said 'I know a spell that will cure this' or 'I need a second opinion I am just going to give Dumbledore a quick ring', then Huston, as they say, we have a problem. This person needs to broaden their reading a bit, for sure.
In my humble opinion a good story is a good story whoever it is aimed at (why should children get all the fun?) and if you want to read it then read it. Why limit yourself. And if your own life is so dull and your imagination so lacking that all you can do is criticise and judge others for what they read (for goodness sake aren't there better things to do) maybe you need to read a bit more widely yourself. These are people who even when they were children themselves they were so busy wanting to be grown up they never allowed themselves to read children's books, never played out in the street or messed about in the school playground and now secretly wished they had.
Try Ursula le Guins Earthsea trilogy, Cornelia Funkes Inkheart trilogy, Philip Pullmans His Dark Materials trilogy, Tolkeins Hobbit, the Roald Dahl books, the Montmorency books by Eleanor Updale, the hilarious Georgia Nicolson books by Louise Rennison, all excellent books in their own right, forget the target audience.
And dare I say it, yes I wholeheartedly do, the Harry Potter books. Or Treasure island, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Are these only for children?
And I challenge you to read the truly excellent Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo and not be moved.
Instead of it being a point of criticism or ridicule it could just mean that you are a healthy grown up with a good imagination, able to choose your own reading matter.
And, just a suggestion here, to those people who have all this time and money and energy to research these 'reports', might I suggest a few hours of voluntary work instead, doing something really worthwhile?

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Ouch! That Hurt

Watched an episode of Two And A Half Men the other day, (please don't ask what episode of what season), the long running American sitcom just as 'famous' for the off screen antics of it's star, Charlie Sheen.  But this episode featured Charlie in the days before rehab, show suspension, sacking, public slanging, court cases etc when Charlie was 'ok' and all was well with the world.
This was before Charlie (can I call him Charlie or is it too familiar of me?) rejected 1 million dollars an episode as 'too low' and eventually settled (phew, thank goodness, we were getting worried) for 1.7 million dollars.
Yes, you did read that right. 1.7 MILLION DOLLARS AN EPISODE.
Anyway, in this episode, Charlie's, (yes, the character he plays is called Charlie as well, described as 'a hedonistic bachelor, alcoholic, jingle/childrens song writer') (strange this but I met up with an old friend the other day who is having alcohol problems and I couldn't find anything funny about it at all) brother Alan, ('who is conscientious but continually stricken with bad judgment') has just moved in with his girlfriend Lyndsey.
To exemplify his (Alan's) 'bad judgement' he has also been seeing Melissa, ('Alan's receptionist who briefly dated Charlie before starting an intermittent relationship with Alan').
Still with me?
So Charlie persuades Alan to end with Melissa and stay with Lyndsey. Alan texts, (yes texts), Melissa telling her it is over. Alan leaves the house to go to Lyndsey's.
Cue knock at door which Charlie opens. It is jilted Melissa. Oh, how embarrassing, much laughter. Melissa wants to know where Alan is. Charlie won't tell her. Melissa is angry. Lot's of laughter still. Angry jilted Melissa at the door, 'innocent' embarrassed Charlie other side of door. Ha ha ha.
So Melissa knees Charlie 'in the nuts'. Hoots of laughter now.
Oh man I'm crying now, ha ha ha ha ha ha.
Charlie is doubled up, on the floor, in pain, being sick in the bin. 'She kneed me in the nuts'. Hilarious, oh how funny, lots and lots of laughter. Charlie tells her where Alan is (well you would, wouldn't you?). Melissa leaves to go and 'do the same to Alan'. Scene ends.
I want you, if you will, after the laughter has died down, to just humour me for a minute here and allow me to present this scenario to you in a slightly altered fashion (you're ahead of me already, I can tell).
I want you to imagine a hit comedy show called, shall we say, Two And A Half Women. In the particular scene of this imaginary (but very funny) hit show about a hedonistic, alcoholic woman and her hapless sister, the sister has just moved in with her boyfriend but is still seeing another man (I know that women of course don't cheat, or are ever economical with the truth, it's only men who do this, but stay with me a bit longer). Sister persuades other sister to see sense and dump the 'bit on the side' which she does, by text. Then goes to see boyfriend she has moved in with.
Cue knock at door. Sister answers door. It's jilted by text, and of course angry, 'bit on the side' ex boyfriend of her sister. Ok got it? Angry wronged man at door, 'innocent' sister of the 'text jilter' on other side of door. Ha ha ha?
Ok, on we go. Jilted angry man want's to know where the sister who jilted him is. Sister at door won't tell him. Gosh how funny and embarrasing, still lots of laughter from the audience?
So, jilted man knees her in the, what shall we call it seeing as she has no nuts? The crotch? Ok, jilted angry man knees the sister of the woman who jilted him in the crotch. Ha ha ha ha ha ?
Imagine her writhing on the floor, doubled up, being sick in the bin.
Then angry jilted man, after getting the information he wants, leaves to 'do the same' to sister who jilted him.Oh, ha ha ha ha ha gosh how funny, hoots of laughter from the audience?
I doubt it.
Cue massive media outcry. Cue, well I think we all know the next bit of this particular story.
So, still funny the kneeing the man in the nuts? Still ok to portray violence towards men in this way, just for the laugh?
Or just me being arsey, having no sense of humour?
I'll leave it to you to decide.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Red or Black is not so Black and White

So the one million pound winner of Red Or Black (which is, as far as I can make out, a television game show hosted by Ant and Dec and owned by Simon Cowell's production company Syco) has a criminal conviction and has spent time in prison for it.
It seems that when he applied to appear on the show he declared this and said it was for aggrevated burglary and ABH and that he attacked a man. He spent five years in prison.
Apparently this was ok, he was allowed to compete and he won. End of story? No. It turns out he assaulted a woman, his ex girlfried at her current boyfriends house. I don't know the full facts.
And of course now it has become known he assaulted a woman there was a move to get the prize money back but ITV have said their hands are tied and they have to pay up. Simon Cowell (Syco) is 'furious' and wanted £250,000 of the prize money to go to his (the contestants) female victim.
So it's ok for him to assault a man and commit aggrevated burglary but not to assault a woman? Hmmm I smell something here.
And he admitted his conviction, even though he lied about the sex of the person he assaulted. And he served five years in prison. Isn't it the job of the courts to convict and sentence and punish?
Would Simon Cowell have been just as furious and wanted the same reparation made if it was 'only' the male victim as originally thought? And what about some money to go to a charity for the victims of crime like burglary?
'ITV have insisted more rigourous checks will be made on future applicants and said had they known the full facts of this case they may have come to a different conclusion about letting him on the show'.
Oh, only 'may'  have, not definately have?
I'm not condoning assaulting a woman but I am appalled by the double standards here. This has got nothing to do with rights or wrongs but concern for television ratings.
And we get this when convicted criminals win the lottery as well. Should we have CRB checks when we pop to the local shop and buy a lottery ticket, or enter a raffle?
If we are going to condemn and write off people who commit assault (and burglary) could we at least be fair about it and condemn them whoever they assault (or burgle), not just give preference to one of the sexes? And what about women who assault men, or other women, is that ok as well? Could we at least have some continuity in our double standards?
In my opinion it's wrong to assault another human being whatever their sex or age or colour or religious persuasion or job or status in society etc. And isn't burglary just as vile, an indirect form of assault, just as traumatising to the person or people who's property is broken into.
It seems to me that the outrage here is misplaced. Never mind the fact that a television game show has allowed a criminal to win (and who can honestly blame anyone for wanting win a million pounds). What about the fact that in the current economic climate, when people are losing jobs and incomes are falling and prices are rising, when people in their twenties have never worked and maybe never will work, we have a very wealthy individual (whom I have nothing against personally and certainly not his wealth) who can produce a game show, along with a television company, that is geared, and let's be honest here, to making him and them and the presenters even more wealthy (when is enough money enough) on the pretext of making one person wealthy too. And then, to top it off, vilify that person when they do win.
How about setting up a company or a foundation that will employ people and give them and others hope and opportunities, or access to an education (like Sean Connery and J K Rowling and others have done).
Wealthy people without a social conscience, aided and abbetted by the television obsessed and game show addicted public.
This is the real crime. This is what makes me furious.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Here's One I Prepared Earlier

I came across this browsing through my stuff.  It's from a poetry workshop I attended a few years ago. It was just sitting there, forgotten and forlorn, amongst my notes and I thought I can't have this and decided to share it with you.
It's also September and I have not blogged for a while so it's the proverbial two birds with one stone thing innit like.
There is no title. The workshop was on the theme of dreams which might make a bit of sense of the nonsense, or it might not.
Oh well, places to go, people to see etc.....

I started falling backwards,
as I had nothing else to do.
I tried to stop but was higher than I thought.

Landing underground, and not knowing where I was,
The bike came in handy.
But the square wheels made it hard to ride.

I turned to face myself, behind,
and stared at me for a while.

I knew I must know the way back,
as I had come from there in the first place.
But everyway I turned, kept coming back to where I was now, to me.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

The Greater Danger

The greater danger
for most of us
is not that our aim is
too high
and we miss it,
but that it is
too low
and we reach it.

Michelangelo Buonarroti 1495 - 1564

Saturday, 30 July 2011

It's The Little Things

I almost didn't write this, almost dismissed it. Focussing too much on what I think might sound good or make me sound interesting or whatever that thing we do to diminish our light is called, to keep ourselves stuck. But writing my morning pages first thing I realised that this IS important, to me, and that is enough.
Returning from a walk last week, approaching the flat, I noticed the wing mirror of my car had been damaged, it was just hanging by the wires, dangling sadly. And on the road the remnants of the other wing mirror, bits of plastic. 'Oh gosh' I thought to myself (if you believe that you will believe anything). I have a feeling I actually said the very rude word out loud, but anyway. On the windscreen is a note, and a name, and a phone number. So I rung it, as you would.
Spoke to a lovely man, very apologetic, explained what had happened, and I could completely understand, it is a narrow road, these things happen, no malice involved, and offered to pay. So I drove it to the garage, got a quote, rung him back. The next day a cheque arrived in the post and now its fixed; wouldn't notice the difference.
And that's how it very often is, decent behaviour from a decent man.
Yet to read the papers or watch the news what a very different world is presented to us. Fiddling expenses, corruption, recession, famine, mass murder and on and on. And here we are, going about our daily lives, nothing we can do about any of it, powerless, shut away in front of our telly's or on our computers and lose sight of some very fundemental things.
When I thanked this man and said how much I appreciated him leaving his details he said that is how he would want someone to behave if the same happened to him. Thinking of others before himself. Do unto other's etc.
This may seem a small thing but it's not. It's a decent thing, an honourable thing. It helps to restore trust in other's, we are not all fiddlers and shirkers. And it is an example of how we should behave, and can behave.
We can all give examples, and usually very loudly, of the 'other' behaviour, how we have been wronged, cheated, lied to, and not even notice when we are 'righted', when we are behaved decently towards, when we are honoured and treated kindly. So I am shouting this loudly, telling everyone, praising this behaviour, valuing it, holding it up.
It's the small things, done quietly, that mean the most. If only we would let them.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Punts and Stunts

There was a young lady called Sandy
Who for women could get rather randy
One day on a punt
In a drink fuelled stunt
She showed her bare bottom to Mandy

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

In The Woods

I was walking in the woods recently, or should I say I was escaping in the woods, as I like to go there to get away from my day to day life, to get as far away from the crowded mundane town that I inhabit for far too much of it (my life that is). Anyway, I was in the woods for whatever reason or reasons, meaning that I was there however I came to be there. The why of my being there was not important.  My presence there was an inescapable fact.
I love the woods.
I love the way that when you enter the woods there is an overpowering feeling of being somewhere very different to where you were before. You know, without having to give it too much of your conscious awareness, that you are most definitely ‘in the woods’.
I love being ‘in the woods’.
In the woods you have the sense, not necessarily of going back in time, but of being ‘out of time’ or somewhere that has not been so dramatically changed by time as, say, the local High street may have done. What I mean is, that, say we use the High street theme as illustration, my local high street has changed dramatically (and many, not just myself would argue, for the worst) in the thirty odd years or so since my childhood, whereas the woods have not changed for hundreds of years, maybe even thousands? (I’m not quite so sure about the thousands comment but I put it anyway because it sounds really good and may be true as well).
I love the atmosphere in the woods.
I love the fact that someone just like me, maybe hundreds of years ago, could have been walking in these woods for whatever reason or reasons, maybe it was just on the way to where they were going or maybe they were there for their own pleasurable escape or adventure. Anyway the point I’m making is that the woods would have been the same woods as they are now all these hundreds of years later. The woods have always been the woods. Do you see what I am saying?
I love the unchanging nature of the woods.
And as I walk I wonder about that person. I wonder what he looked like, what clothes he was wearing and what work he did. Did he have a wife, or a lover, or both. Did he have children? Maybe he had a guilty secret or a burden and he walked in these woods to forget. I wonder how often he came here. One thing I do know is that his heart would have opened and he would have felt strangely at home here, just as I do.
I love how the woods makes me feel connected to the past.
He touched me on the shoulder once, and then spoke to me. I knew it was him straight away. I knew by what he said. “I am aware of you thinking about me, and when you walk here I am always close by”. I turned to see him but he was gone.
In the woods I am never alone.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Love, Links, Natalie Goldberg and James Wright

Whilst reading Thunder and Lightning, Cracking Open The Writer's Craft by Natalie Goldberg, she lists a poem that has inspired her and uses it to illustrate a point she is making. I love her for this. Not only do you get her tips and inspiration and advice about writing you get poems and prose and quotes, links to the wider world of literature, Zen, her life and influences.  Places to cross over and sample these delights in more depth.
So of course I had to order, from my local library, Above The River; the complete poems of James Wright, 1927 - 1980. Included in this collection is the poem I was refering to, A Blessing, from his 1963 book The Branch Will Not Break.
God it's good.
I picked up the book about five hours ago and performed my usual ritual of reading the back page to see what others had to say about the author and see if there is a photograph. I like to visualise the writer. Then I have a flick through, open it at random, see what catches my eye.

Here are some of the poem titles. Magnificence. Entering the Kingdom of the Moray Eel. Dawn near an Old Battlefield, in a Time of Peace. Having Lost My Sons, I Confront the Wreckage of the Moon: Christmas 1960.
Already I am hooked and want to read more then this. Depressed by a Book of Bad Poetry, I Walk toward an Unused Pasture and Invite the Insects to Join Me.
What a thunderbolt of a title. I almost fainted. And then reading through the book a poem ends half way down a page and then the title of the next poem.
 In Memory of the Horse David, Who Ate One of My Poems.
And guess what, the rest of the page is blank then another poem begins on the next page.
So the horse ate his poem and he leaves the page blank, because the poem is lost, eaten by a horse.Ha ha ha, excellent, truly. I almost cannot believe it and it reminds me of Spike Milligan, who was also a tender and moving poet.
I love James Wright, for this and for his poetry and prose. What a beautiful book to spend some time with, filled with beautiful words beautifully used.

Saturday, 2 July 2011


Sometimes, it has to be like this,
for a while anyway.
The light has to go out,
all sunshine makes a desert.

We lose things, or they fall down the side of the chair,
just a little further than the arm can stretch.

The hole that these things leave can be filled by something else
or by nothing at all.

It’s only when the light comes back on,
and we move the chair,
we see things are a little different now
or, in the stretching, we found something new...

Tuesday, 14 June 2011


This morning I woke early after an anxious night. Redundancy is approaching and I've been scaring myself with my thoughts about finding work, money, etc and paralysing myself with indecision and doubts. I have started reading  The Mindful Manifesto  and reconnectiing with the practice of mindfulness, trying to be aware of my thoughts and how they effect my body and emotions. So I sat for a while with my anxiety and allowed some space to observe the inner workings.
Quite out of the blue I remembered this....
I was 8 or 9 and we used to live in a flat above a shop that my mum and dad ran. A small lorry pulled up outside the shop and the men got out and came into the flat and started taking our furniture and putting it into the back of the lorry (I had no idea then what bailiffs were or what they did).
I remembered lying on my bed frightened and my dad coming and lying beside me and trying to reassure me. I also remembered being next to the lorry (the timing and sequence of these events is lost to me, as is so much of my childhood) and as the men were putting the side flap of the lorry up a metal pin that held it in place fell on the floor. I picked it up and handed it to the man, as any child would do, and I remember my mum saying to me 'what did you do that for?'. The question being, of course, an accusation 'what was I doing helping those nasty men'.
More scary thoughts driving to work, and when I got there I was performing some checks on the mobile library I drive when it occured to me how boxed in I was with my thoughts, how stuck. At the same moment I happened to look up and became aware of the sky.
It was beautiful. Blue. Vast. A vapour trail from a plane had etched a line across it. My spirit seemed to reach out to it and open up to it. I had the thought that there is so much more going on than what we are thinking or feeling. So much life out there to be lived. So much more than just me and my thoughts.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Hair Today

A footballer in the news this week for having a hair transplant (yawn), makes a change I suppose from the recent revelations of 'playing with someone else's ball'. Seems that the general concensus is well done him for going public. Exactly how he could keep it to himself is beyond me though.

I started losing my hair in my twenties. It seemed to bother a lot of other people but never me, suppose I was used to my Dad's baldness and had anxieties of my own, far removed from the amount of hair on my head. And I am surrounded by lovely bald friends. If I could wish for anything about me to be different, being bald wouldn't even enter my head (can you see what I did there?) as something I needed to change.

I thought the idea of hair transplants and wig wearing was that you didn't want others to know you were bald in the first place. And if you know you are bald, well, you know don't you, nothing can change it. Personally I just don't get the point of the cover up, and then the fear of the embarassment of being caught out.
Baldness is fine by me, and plenty of others, so what's really going on?

Interesting isn't it that, monks and nuns, renouncing the world and their egos, shave their heads, and on the other extreme a certain ninety year old who is married to our Queen has a fully stocked barbers room in their london pad for his own personal use.

And the cost! £30,000 is a lot of money, whether you have it or not. It's more than the average student debt (currently) and a bloody good yearly wage that most of us never earn.
I thought we were in a recession, massive cutbacks, no money for public services, etc. Recently a Lowry painting sold for £555,000. I wonder if Lowry himself ever made that much money in his own lifetime? I love his work, the point I am making is that there is money, always, just what people decide to spend it on varies. To claim otherwise is a lie.

What a difference to my life either of the above amounts would make, right now, if anyone out there has some to spare.

I think I will stick with being bald and concentrate on the inner me, continue the work of growing and trying to become a better person, a more human being. Hell, that's hard enough as it is, and fraught with all kinds of traps and cul de sacs and mistakes and resistance and self deception to last a lifetime. A bald lifetime at that.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Nothing to be Said

I have nothing to say.
I might have in an hour or so, or this afternoon, or tomorrow maybe. But right now in this moment, nothing. Nought. Nil. Zero. And the realisation of this has been liberating. I have nothing to say, thank goodness. I choose to say nothing, to honour my silence. The pressure is off. I don’t have to pretend I have an opinion on something for the sake of conversation, or because it’s what I think someone wants to hear, to get me something.
Of course I do have opinions (if you take the ‘pi’ out of opinions you have onions!), I’m not completely vacuous or uninterested in life. Just right now I have nothing to say about them, or about anything. No words of wisdom to offer or apologies to make.
So many of us have so much to say so much of the time and, let’s be honest here, most of what we say, most of what is said, most of the time, is drivel. Rubbish. Said for saying’s sake. When we get together we have to talk, we have to say something, and when the silence comes well, we say even more drivel and nonsense.
And an awful lot of what is said is hostile, nasty, gossip and lies, verbal violence. Just look at the press, or read some of the online comments made. Or listen to the whisperings on the bus or at work.
How often have you cringed when, at a party or during a conversation someone utters the line ‘I have something I need to say....’ often accompanied by a loud throat clearing, or a cough, or standing up. Cue a sudden need to go to the loo or throw oneself off the proverbial balcony.
Remember the fear inducing words from parent or teacher ‘and just what have you got to say for yourself’; or the prodding of another ‘say something’; or the angry demand ‘Oh for god’s sake SAY something’.
Maybe some things are best unsaid. Too much is sometimes said when perhaps some silence, or reflection, or just a few carefully thought out words will do?
I’ve just remembered a saying of the Buddha, something along the lines of, ‘Every person is born with an axe in their mouths with which they cut down the fruits of their karma when they speak ill’!
Have no fear from this blog, oh no. Not today. Feel free to bathe in my silence, my quietness. Today there is nothing to be said.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Osama Bin Laden is dead

Sickened and saddened by the media response, footage of a bloodstained bed, hysterical celebrating, yet more accusations and arguments, endless information on terrorism, I have been searching, almost desperately, for a considered human response to the killing of Osama Bin Laden.

I came across this.........


Please read it and share it. Please think about it. Please......

Sunday, 1 May 2011

My Unlived Life

Nothing has a stronger influence psychologically on their environment and especially on their children than the unlived life of the parent....Carl Jung

The above quote lept out at me the other day and has been at the front of my mind since. Strong isn't it, especially as it came under the heading of his (Carl Jungs) thoughts on failure. I'm not suggesting that I am, or feel I am, a failure, but a large part of my life, indeed my inner makeup, has been resisitance to following my path, even a lack of really understanding what my path is. This has involved trying lots of things and giving them up. Coupled with the old trying to please thing. And staying with things that just aren't working for far too long.
Trying to find my own way in life has been extremely difficult for me at times, and caused no end of illness and anxiety to me personally, and caused me to be a burden on, and suffering to, those close to me. And my biggest fear has been that this will in some way effect my children, hold them back in life and cause them to be overly concerned about me. To in some way feel unable to follow their own paths and live their own lives.
And along comes Carl Jung, before I was born, and gives his validity to my fears.

Then I open a book I was browsing in the library and this caught my eye....

Sooner murder an infant in its cradle than nurse unacted desires...William Blake

I read somewhere once that, when we are at the end of our lives, its the things we haven't done, those things we really wanted to do and didn't, that cause the most pain, the biggest sense of loss and regret. And what I think William Blake was trying to get at here almost a century before Carl Jung, was that when we don't follow our path, our desires, we might as well never have lived, might as well have been murdered in our cradles.

And in some ways I do sort of feel that about my life, when it comes to what is my true purpose in being here, or even at the day to day level. That constant, nagging feeling of something is missing, that longing for, well, for my truth, my own truth, in my own words, and my own life lived through my own actions.

And life is now presenting me with another opportunity, another chance to take stock and forge my own way. I have siezed the offer of voluntary redundancy at work, and been accepted.
I read once that, when a friend of Carl Jungs came to him and said 'Great news. I have been promoted at work' he replied along the lines of  'I'm sorry to hear that, but if all of your friends gather round we may just be able to help you through this'! And then, when another friend came to him and said 'I have been made redundant at work, I have no job, what am I going to do' Carl replied 'that's great news, now you have the opportunity to try something new'....

So here's to something new. Here's to the truth in each and everyone of us. Here's to us finding, and living, our own unlived lives....

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Where Does the Time Go?

Another Easter weekend, spent by many sitting in cars on the way to or from somewhere, clogging up the roads and increasing their stress levels. Whilst some may see it as a religious festival, an important part of their faith, for the vast majority of us, myself included, it's a bank holiday, the chance of a few days off work.
This year though it has a completely different significance for me, it is my daughters 25th birthday. There has been a birthday lunch and a party on the day itself (Friday) and a barbeque yesterday. All arranged and booked by her and enjoyed by us all.
It makes me very happy to see her surrounded by family and friends, enjoying herself, being spoilt and loved. This being my 50th year her being 25 is significant for me as I was that age when she was born, and of course she is now half my age for the only time in both our lives.
How different my life was at that age. I was married and she was our second child, my son now having reached the dizzying age of 26! I had a mortgage, had lived in several houses and been to four primary schools. In contrast she still lives in the same house with her mum and brother that she has always lived in and went to the local village primary school and then the local secondary school and has known many of her friends for her whole lifetime. A far more beneficial and settled start to life.
And she is unmarried and childless with no mortgage. She is even going travelling this year.
I am incredibly proud of her, for the way she has come through a few things, for her energy and enthuisiasm for life, for her sense of fun, for the friends she has and the work she does with children. And of course for the friend she has become to me and the way she keeps in contact and the interest she takes in my life and that of her other friends and family.
How very different life was 25 years ago, no personal computers, mobile phones, internet shopping, online dating, Harry Potter.....
Where has all that time gone? As long as there is as much and more ahead of us I mind not one bit. I just rejoice in her life, and my life, and my sons life and her mothers life. And in every precious and joyous moment of it.....

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Sunday Walking....

I decided this morning, as it was such a lovely morning, to forego my usual trip to the coffee shop, lovely though that is, and take a long walk. So, armed with a small shoulder bag containing a notepad and pen (just in case) and an apple, and leaving the mobile phone in the flat (a challenge in itself) I set off.
With the flat, calm, mirror like sea on my left, just beyond the saltmarsh, and the fields on my right, I walked for a while, receiving many hello's and some intimate attention from a rather large, muddy, and extremely excited hound of some kind.
I turned right and headed off into the woods, leaving the sea and the walkers behind me. Very soon it was just me, and trees, bluebells, a small lake. The air was so fresh and clear, there was a calmness, a stillness. I knew I had made the right decision.
I became aware of the sounds around me. Of my boots crunching, of bees buzzing, of birds calling, the sensation of the breeze on me. I felt my heart open. Something deep within me resonated with all of this. I felt alive, joyfully and consciously alive.
It was so good to be walking, such a normal thing but so wonderful. Many people can't walk or have difficulty walking or just won't walk. I walked for them, and for me. It occured to me that walking in nature like this has inspired poets and truth seekers, lovers of all ages, and still does. It is how I imagine heaven, not some metaphysical idea that is the property of the religions, but existing right here, right now. And here I was walking in it. Then I had this thought, from where it came I have no idea, but come it did.
I thought that, when I die, as die I will, and of course I hope it will be in the far distant future, but whenever it comes I want it to be on a day like this, the freshness of a spring day, and I want to be hearing the sounds I was hearing while I walked, and feeling the joy I was feeling as I walked. And I want my ashes scattered in a place like this, on a day like this.
Then I will truly have lived, and died, in this heaven on Earth, on this planet called Earth. And I will be returning to the earth, from where I came, from where we all have come. And I will be truly, and completely, going home.

Saturday, 16 April 2011


This is my first ever blog, just me saying hello, finding my way around, getting the hang of things, filling those what shall I do now moments, looking in, reaching out, making my way through the trees to find a clearing, a place to sit.....