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Thursday, 30 July 2015

BIG GOD


Big God steps back into the fray,
No longer Chairman,
Back as Chief Operating Officer,
Too much slipping away,
Too many mistakes,
Too many plodders and pricks,
Rebels, chancers and mavericks,
Humanity plc in need of a steady hand,
The seven deadly sins
Deadlier than ever,
Mankind, womankind, childkind
Overdue for tough love,
An overhaul of sense and sanity,
Blitzkrieg,
A kick up the arse, a jolt…..

Big God goes to the cutlery drawer
For a lightning bolt.
 

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

MONARCHS IN RHYME BY LINDA MOCKETT


Monarchs In Rhyme - Cover

Monarchs In Rhyme
A Lighthearted and Irreverent History of English Monarchs from William 1 to Edward VII
by Linda Mockett

Here's the link to Amazon: www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B008RLGRYW


Sometimes it's great when historical is hysterical.  There is room for stuffy, academic storytelling about the past but there is also a need for a more lighthearted look back and Monarchs In Rhyme fits the bill.

It's a collection that canters through the Normans, Plantagenets, Tudors, Stuarts, Hanoverians and Saxe-Coburg-Gothas.  As Linda M says, "this is a book that rhymes, that offends, casually but even-handedly, that plays fast and loose with the rules of grammar and that skates lightly upon the surface of history."

Here's an example:

HENRY VIII
Intended for the Church, his bro's demise

took Henry - pampered youngster - by surprise.

He learnt to take succession in his stride

and also (to save cash) his brother's bride.
For twenty years his reign was trouble-free
until the D.I.V.O.R.C.E.                          
   (Renowned for writing 'Greensleeves', there are few
    who know, in darker times, he wrote this too.)
Amassing wives, dislodging the devout
and lopping off the heads of those who'd doubt
were selfish acts in true tyrannic style,
yet he was lauded by the rank-and-file.
Despite the mayhem - all to get a son -
three offspring and the Tudor line was done.

And another:

GEORGE II

Did naught but love his wife, yet hate his son
a practice that his father had begun.
(His son died playing cricket, by the bye,
a quintessential English way to die.)
In battle he impressed the populace
engaging in the fray at sixty plus.                   
   (He also made the Young Pretender run
    and Stuarts quit until, well, kingdom come.)
Their favour faltered when, to their dismay,
he carelessly mislaid eleven days.
His heart failed under strain and so it’s true
he met his end while sitting on the loo.

Linda Mockett has completed an epic task of condensing the history, quirks and foibles of English monarchs into compact rhymes.  It doesn't all work but most of it does. She has grasped the lives of this motley crew of rulers and takes the mickey without fear or favour.  There are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments and more than the occasional groan at a pun.  It would be great to hear this work performed because I think more of the comedy would come through.

I enjoyed it very much.  Hats (crowns?) off to Linda for a great antidote to stuffy history books.  It has equal appeal to peasants and the pampered.

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Monday, 27 July 2015

GOD'S GIFT


"Congratulations," said God,
Here is your present. 
Treat it with care,
It's uses are wide,
Detailed instructions
Are tucked inside."

"Thank you," we said
And pulled at the string,
Clawed at the wrapping
Like kittens at play,
Found the instructions
And threw them away.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

THOSE MOMENTS (I COME FROM A TIME WHEN ALL FIRE ENGINES WERE CALLED DENNIS)


I come from a time when all fire engines were called Dennis
And yoghurt was a special guest star on supermarket shelves,
An era when opinions arrived in a trickle and then drained away,
When you needed Vaseline for your jaw as it banged on the floor
While you watched Neil Armstrong walk on the moon – the moon!

I come from a time of The Lone Ranger and William Tell, and the excitement
Of a burning map of Nevada, a dan-da-da-da theme tune and four cowboys
Riding in from distant mountains and pines, from the edges of my imagination,
A time of simple ambitions like Mose Harper’s in search of a rockin’ chair,
When women in strait-jacket aprons would scrub and polish front doorsteps.

I come from a time when most people got on with earning a living and living
A life that they hoped would be decent, trouble-free, blessed by God and quiet,
A time when neighbours knew each other and community glue was gossip,
Black and white, when coal was delivered in sacks and milk arrived in bottles,
When kettles hardly stopped boiling and pots of stew simmered all day long.

I go back that far into nostalgia, to Doris Day’s whatever will be, will be
And what did we think the future would be? Simple? Complicated? Strange?
We harrumph that they were better times, better than now, a better era,
The good old days sandpapered of all their rough edges and smoothed down,
So that we can caress memories and hug them for comfort at those moments.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

BEASTLY WEATHER


I heard this literal comment:
"It's raining cats and dogs."
My face went white, it was a fright, 
a shock, I was agog.

What if it rained giraffes,
orangutans and mice,
rhinos, horses, cows and sheep,
t'would not be very nice.

What if the forecast said:
"Watch out 'cos there will be
grizzly bears in blizzards
and drifts of chimpanzees."

I realised the nonsense
of this silly fantasy,
so I lowered my umbrella
and a hippo fell on me.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

THE LITTLE YELLOW TRAIN & PERPIGNAN


A holiday memory from a few years ago.......


In these tough times when pressures are all around us and genuine delights seem to be few and far between, my wife and I discovered, as part of our summer holiday to Perpignan, the wonderful, cheery joy of the Little Yellow Train, a proper locomotive with several carriages, painted brightly and ready to go on its slow climb through fabulous scenery up into the Pyrenees.  Unlike many modern trains, this little gem has the ability to make everyone who sees it for the first time, smile broadly and believe that, in spite the world’s traumas, there are reasons to be cheerful.


For nearly 100 years, Le Train Jaune has gained fame as one of the treasures of the Languedoc-Roussillon region. We hopped aboard at Villefranche, after paying about 40 euros for two return tickets  to Font-Romeu, about halfway along the track towards journey’s end,  Latour de Carol.  The outward haul is mostly uphill and, therefore, slow but all the better for that as passengers have time to absorb the beautiful landscape and breathtaking views of mountains, farmland, churches, hamlets and viaducts. 

As we moved, we could see how being on this charming train was a happy experience in itself but, occasionally, we witnessed how others reacted to it as it passed them.  A farmer paused his digging and gave us an enthusiastic wave and further on a group of walkers called out greetings. Car drivers, waiting patiently at level crossings, saluted as we glided past - an antidote to aggression and bad manners, we thought.

After an hour’s pause at our stop for a cup of coffee, we caught the next yellow train for the return journey, this time downhill and much faster.  Yes, it was the same scenery but from a different perspective, benefitting from changing light conditions and the wind in our hair.  Pure delight.


We ate some great food and drank some great wine in and around Perpignan and we remember the Thursday night in the town for its fantastic music, street theatre, acrobats, rock music, jazz, flamenco and salsa.  Artists and performers provided free entertainment for local people, visitors and diners in this Thursday evening summer ritual.  The streets and squares were alive with fun, colourful costumes, sounds and rhythms, providing an atmosphere for everyone to enjoy.

But, assessing all the wonders of this trip, the Little Yellow Train is the prominent memory because of its simplicity and I maintain that the sight of it makes me think that it is the only locomotive, since Thomas the Tank Engine, to make people feel truly happy and that, in the end, all can be well in the world, if only we choose the right track.

Monday, 20 July 2015

ONLY THREE DAYS COUNT


In this life
of ups
and downs,
of joy
and sorrow,
only three days count -
yesterday,
today
and tomorrow.