On Rocky Ground #canada #holiday #2013

My godfather was Canadian. In truth, he was born a Brit, but that’s not as romantic. He went to school with my dad and emigrated to Canada in his thirties, set up an airline that flew from Fort Nelson to various points north, initially hunting parties but increasingly oil based ferrying. I must have met him, obviously but I have no real memories of him until he and his family had a holiday with us in the 1970s. My abiding memory then is of his Canadian accent and the fact he had struggled with gas, which I assumed was something relating to an inability to fart (not a problem in my family) but turned out to be due to the lack of petrol stations near where we lived in the middle of nowhere. I also recall his being incapable with laughter when we talked about where we lived as the middle of nowhere; he put me right on that.

Either side of that somewhat bizarre encounter, he regularly supplied me with gifts that stirred some interest – longing might be too big a word – to visit. Maybe that was the genesis of the holiday that eventually came together over a few weeks in the summer of 2013.

One thing I learnt when the children became senior teens was that my two weren’t the sort to miss out on foreign travel even with their parents. At this point they were 20 and 23 and in full time education still, so had the time; couple that with a lack of money and a trip to Canada ticked several boxes. The fact that, this time I’d been determined that this would be a holiday for just the Textiliste and me meant nothing to them. Any more than the itinerary I’d been designing. Oh no, that all had to change.

Hey, I’m a flexible chap and they have great ideas. But I did put my foot down on one aspect and I’m glad I did. Were they glad? You’ll have to wait and see.

Tuesday August 6th, 2013 and I’m nervous. Let me quote from my journal to give you a flavour of my state of mind.

‘Sunny, at Heathrow T3 on way to Canada. So what is the day to be, a day for nerve ends jangling and jingling until it’s over, only it’s not over is it? It just keeps coming. How do we survive; how do we cope? Not sure what the attraction to travel is right now – when the day comprises anxiety and tiredness. There’s nothing relaxing bout this, there’s none of the ‘broadening the mind ‘ ‘exposed to new cultures’. Just a gnawing feeling in the congealed porridge of my stomach. will we get to T3 on time, have I booked the flight, have I used the correct names, will security throw up some unforeseen bottle or sharp implement, will the flight be called on time, or will I miss the call. The sense of relief when I sink into my seat and belt myself in … And yes, it’s then that the same mind games re-energise and near overwhelm – I’m going to be hurtling into space at 300 mph in an improbably large aircraft that, by all that’s rational shouldn’t leave the ground let alone reach 30,000 feet and fly to Canada. And that’s the start, the beginning of the stress. We land, we fill in immigration forms wondering if we need a visa; will the car hire be expecting us; will the car be big enough, will it have a map. will I remember to drive on the right, will I get completely lost in the airport, will I miss the turning, will I leave the freeway at the right place, will I get lost in the new city, will the hotel be expecting us, will we… I’m exhausted and that’s before the expectations of the family intrude – what shall we do, where shall we go, what shall we eat, how much time do we have…? Yep, holidays are a great way to relieve stress and recharge the batteries….’

Naturally, none of this came to pass; everything went smoothly…

Until we were about thirty minutes out of Calgary airport on the freeway on our way to our first stop in Banff, when we hit a nail and fishtailed to the hard shoulder with a blow out. ‘Oh well, said the Textiliste, ‘never mind. Are you going to change it or shall we see if we can call out a breakdown service?’

Oh she knows me so well. Prod my ego, just a little and…

‘I’ll do it. You’d better hop out.’ So there we were, on the edge of a freeway, with our mud coloured 4×4 about as useful as an ashtray on a motorbike, me getting oily and maintaining my sangfroid despite my body clock ticking over towards two am, with the others chatting and planning (or was it plotting?). Yes, welcome to Canada, home of the randomly dispersed ironwork. Never has air travel seemed so attractive.

We made it to our hotel and checked in. It was the wee hours in the UK yet we went to find some food; even my journal suggests we were discombobulated by this…

getting downtown to find some food proved something of a challenge too far. We ate but I doubt any of us will remember the details – I think ‘Rosa’ was in the title and our waiter was new at his job and Jenni had a mozzarella thing called bocococincio or something…’

Banff

Next time, we visit Lake Louise as well as sort out a fresh spare tyre and then Morraine Lake and the Ten Peaks…. real Canada they tell us. I wonder of we’ll catch a glimpse of bears…?

Posted in holidays, miscellany | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

The Insipid Traveller #holidays #travel

I’ve written about many holidays and travel and walking trips I’ve undertaken as an adult, to give a flavour of the places I’ve visited, what I’ve seen, how they’ve struck me and what I think about them.

If I’m to give a complete picture, I think I need to wind the clock back to the 1960s and my family summer holidays as I now remember them. It is fair to say that some of the memories might be honey tinged, some darkly horrific and most intense since I was viewing these momentous events through the prism of a pre-teens eyes; and moreover, a preteen with an older, smugger, brighter, stronger and generally all round more everything brother, somewhere a few paces ahead and, understandably desperate to remove this persistent shadow as one might something canine and faecal if it attached itself to your foot. He was my superhero; I was his bad smell.

The family holidays were set in stone; my mother’s mother, my Gran, lived on the north Kent coast at Herne Bay, a holiday resort with the second longest pier in England. If you look at the above photo, you’ll see me posing for the camera, the Archaeologist discovering new life forms and the pier as a backdrop. That pier was probably the perfect metaphor for Herne Bay – a not quite resort, second best. Pebbly beach, cold north sea water and the pier. Even the sea food that, today makes its neighbour Whitstable something of a magnet was denied Herne Bay. Discerning holiday-makers headed further east to Margate, of sandy beaches, lidos and Dreamland. We went (and stayed) in Herne Bay.

I loved it.

To get there, we drove, though to be fair that’s because the pre car days are a little hazy, due to my youth. I have one memory of watching my brother being hoisted up onto the footplate of the train we were catching to Herne Bay. A steam train so it must have been 1960 or before and me a four year old. I remember it because I was denied it. I had to watch him having fun. If there was a recurrent emotion that I can recall to this day it is jealousy. He was fifteen months older than me and my parents were scrupulous in rubbing that difference into everything we did; bedtimes, pocket money, choice of which side to sit when we had a car… No, of course I don’t bear the scars. I read somewhere recently that we parents can never make mistakes. Once we do our children will remind us of them throughout their lives. Now I’m a parent I understand. Back then I just seethed.

Holidays were formulaic things. Dad had a fortnight’s leave during the school holidays and these will filled, based in Herne Bay. We drove to my gran’s, the longest most exciting experience, car-wise at that time. It went something like this…

  1. We came home from school (if it was the first week of the said holidays) or back from wherever we were making mischief to find the car packed and mum shutting the house down. We were encouraged to gather together whatever would keep us entertained on the two hour drive to my Gran’s – sometimes that might involve a game I could play with my brother, but mostly he would be reading something ridiculously advanced for a seven year old – Dickens, Conan-Doyle, HG Wells – while I would dig out a Beano, or Dandy or Beezer, or Eagle or some other comic.
  2. At shortly before 6 we would drive the mile to Whyteleafe station – we lived in rural leafy north Surrey – to meet my father off the train from Victoria. We would be bouncing with excitement which set off the dog – our family pet was a huge Boxer called Punch and the choice of sides occupied by my brother and me was crucial as Punch tended to lean against the left side of the car – it was a form of estate called a Hillman Huskey – and drool throughout the whole journey. Mostly on me.
  3. Dad would settle in the passenger seat – Mum did most of the driving as Dad had only recently passed his test while Mum had been driving since the War. He would kiss Mum, turn to us and methodically take off his tie. That was it. Cheers all around. Yay! Let the holidays begin!!
  4. There were very few motorways back then. Our route took us along the A25, the precursor to the M25 for those who know south of London. The total journey was almost exactly 70 miles and with the best will in the world, doing it in 2 hours was an achievement.
  5. At some point we did a small section of motorway, the M2 that ended needs Leeds Castle – I’ve always wondered why it was called that given Leeds is some 300 miles to the north – and we boys would be on the alert, staring at the hillside to the left. This was to spot a cross carved into the chalk; as soon as we saw that we knew we’d be stopping for our ‘break’ and it was our job to let mum and dad know we were there. The layby gave us the chance to have a male bonding pee against a tree while Mum dragged the reluctant dog to see if he’d perform. Usually he was more interested in pursuing some rodent.
  6. Back in the car the journey slowed as we headed for Canterbury which we’d circle and then make for Herne Bay. There’s a famous poem in the Ingoldsby Legends called the Smuggler’s Leap about Smuggler Bill and Exciseman Gill that dad knew. It incorporates the towns and villages between Herne Bay (and the next door hamlet of Reculver) and Canterbury and we’d look out for each as we passed. He’d happily recite as we hastened through the darkening evening.
  7. Sometimes I guess I slept because suddenly we’d be pulling up in front of Gran’s wonderful terraced house – 4 St George’s Terrace, with a direct line to the sea, the pier, and often obvious to all and sundry, even in July, the North Pole. It could be a sharp old wind.
  8. We’d tumble out to be enveloped in Gran’s warming hugs. She was a small, tough, white-haired wonder who had energy to burn. We loved her though she was hard on her sons and her son in law. Beyond us the one person who could do no wrong was mum. Quite right too.
  9. By now we were well beyond our customary bed times but the ritual continued with fish and chips. I never really liked the fish but I loved the chips, the energy, the banter though I understood little of it. Back the early 1960s my middle uncle had emigrated to Australia not to reappear until the 1970s and my younger uncle, Les was in the merchant navy. Sometimes, though, he’d be at home on leave and Gran would hustle Mum, Dad and Les out to go to some pub while she happily babysat.

This was repeated year on year throughout the 1960s; the routine was a perfect start to the holiday, which was also to follow a routine, as we will see. Nothing could go wrong. Of course…

Next time: the sea and the front and the beach. What to do when you’re six, allowed to wander here and there and you have an inveterately curious brother with whom to poke at the world? You followed him, of course along with the dog, who mostly did his own thing but was usually there when called. Did we get into trouble? Not really. Much.

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Plus ca change… #historyrepeats

If you’re interested in seeing how what’s happening around us today is but an echo of the past then I recommend you read this by my brother, the Archaeologist. Fascinating.

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Musings From The Kitchen #prompt #shortfiction

Diana Peach at Myths Of The Mirror has prompted us to write about our muse. But what if…

It had been a heck of a day. So many interruptions, but finally I’d settled down to write. That’s when the door bell went.

Mumbling ‘not another bloody parcel,’ I opened the door.

Two men, vaguely familiar in so far as the ski slope nose on one and the beetled brows on the other seemed to chime with some memory, stood, hands lightly clasped in front like mourners at a funeral.

‘Hello? Can I…?’

‘…‘Elp? I should think so, wouldn’t you Johnson?’

‘Hindeed, Johnston I would think so.’

‘Very much.’

Not sure where this was going I thought I’d wait. They could have been brothers, similar builds, and round faces. Or it might have been the matching dark suits, white shirts and sober ties. There was something rather creepy about…’

‘’E don’t know, do he, Johnson?’

‘Looks that way, Johnston.’

‘If he looked that way, Johnson…’

‘He wouldn’t need them glasses…’

It was like listening to a 1970s radio programme. ‘My dad used to tell a joke like that. Walk this way…’

‘We know all about your dad. He’s very familiar to us.’

‘Very.’

‘One might say intimately.’

This was getting to be a little more than creepy. ‘I’m not sure who you are but…’

‘’E doesn’t recognise us.’

‘Sad.’

‘Very.’

‘Look, this is beyond…’

‘A joke. Ho yes. No humour in this, is there.’ The man, the first one to speak, Mr Nose, tugged his lapels. ‘I’m Johnston.’

‘And I’m Johnson.’

‘With a ‘t’.’

‘He’s always had that ‘t’. ‘Elps ‘im to stand out.’

‘Like the Thompson T…’

‘…wins. Yes, hindeed, very Tintin. That’s your default setting, isn’t it? Your security blanket.’

‘How do you know so much about me?’

‘Ho, it’s our job. Isn’t it Johnston?’

‘Indubitably, Johnson. Our job.’

‘Your job?’

‘Representatives.’

‘Right… who…?’

‘…do we represent? Well that depends. Doesn’t it Johnston?’

‘Naturally, Johnson. You’d expect it to. Depend that is.’

They’d gone back to their mourners-for-hire pose. I tried to see behind them, half-expecting to spot a hearse. Okay, I thought, if you want to be Delphic, I can play along. ‘Twenty questions, is it?’

‘Ho, he thinks it’s a game, Johnston.’

‘Well, he would, wouldn’t he, Johnston. He’d not see it from their perspective. Not hempathetic, is he?’

‘They never are, Johnston.’

‘So I’ve ‘eard. See,’ he sort of leant forward, which may have meant to be intimidating but was a little too camp to carry the necessary menace, ‘them what we represent, they are worried about how they’re meant to live, see?’

‘No, not really. What do I have to…’

‘…do? You need to make it right. Don’t ‘e…’

‘No, I was going to say what do I have to do with these people you represent.’ I shouldn’t have enjoyed my small victory, but they did look slightly dumbfounded they’d not second-guessed what I was going to say. They did rally though.

‘You’re responsible for them!’ They looked genuinely affronted that I might not realise.

‘Me? How do you work that out? I have a wife, two kids, umpteen pets, a mother in law I’d prefer…’ I stopped. Both of them had gone pale. It looked for a moment like they were about to experience coincidental strokes. ‘Do you want to come in and sit? Have a glass of water?’

They looked ridiculously grateful. ‘If that ain’t too much trouble. That would be mighty fine, wouldn’t it, Johnston?’

‘Mighty, Johnson.’

I led them into the kitchen. My laptop sat by my seat, a cooling coffee next to it.  It took me a moment to realise they had both stopped by the door; they were goggling at the computer.

‘Is that…?’

‘…where you…’

There was a long pause before they said together in something between a gasp and a whisper, ‘…write?’

‘Yes, it is actually. It’s getting a bit battered. I might have to trade it in and…’

They’d begun some sort of synchronised head shaking thing. Both sat with a thump.

The silence lingered while I sorted out glasses of water and some cake. Maybe they needed a sugar boost. When I sat, they both stared at me. It felt like they could see inside my mind. I shivered slightly. ‘So…’

They nodded, looking hopeful.

‘You represent some people who say I’m responsible for them?’

‘For their living.’

‘For their livings? I have a gardener but I don’t employ…’

That head choreography again.

‘Not livings, living. They live when you let them.’

‘Me?’

As one they leant forward. ‘In there.’ For the first time they didn’t coordinate. One, Johnston I think pointed at the laptop while the other, Johnson I suppose, pointed at my head. It didn’t take them long to realise and so began a strange dance where they swapped the direction of their pointing. It would have gone on all night if I’d not held my hands up and asked them to stop.

 A light, still faint and probably not going to last long was glimmering in the back of my head. ‘These clients of yours. Are they characters?’

One shake. ‘Not exactly.’

‘Who are you?’

As one they slipped their right hands inside their jackets. I’ve seen too many bad thrillers not to pull back slightly but they each extracted business cards and laid them in front of me. ‘The Muse Men.’

‘Right. I see.’ I didn’t of course.

The first one – who knows who – took a breath. ‘Your muse are upset that you seem to be ignoring them.’

‘You’ve been…’

‘…. dithering…’

‘And they can help…’

‘…if you let them.’

‘… and of course, your characters…’

‘… can’t live if you don’t write them a life…’

‘Do you know what character limbo is like?’

‘Rejection. One minute you’re sharing your innermosts with them…’

‘…part of the golden circle…’

‘…sharing ideas…’

… providing you with gold dust dialogue…’

‘…unique plot twists…’

‘…bad sex scenes…’

There was a pause. Did they really know about them? I thought that was a protected file?

‘… and the next…’

…pff!’

‘…they’re relegated to a line in Dropbox. Saved.’

‘Forgotten.’

‘Hang on, that’s a bit harsh… they’re never forgotten.’

‘How do they know? You don’t open them, edit them, give them that attention they need to thrive. And they’re not in there are they?’

This time they both pointed at my head.

‘My muse sent you?’

‘They were worried about some of your characters. Some have been built up, have been part of the furniture for a long time and then…’

‘It’s cruel.’

‘Hang on. Are you really representatives or are you my muse?’

They smiled. For the first time. ‘Oh we aren’t fit to blot the ink of your muse. Let’s just say, it’s in everyone’s interest that you realise what your responsibilities are. You need to be more considerate.’

I took in these two strange serious men, sure they were more than they were prepared to admit. Finally I patted my thighs and stood. ‘Gentlemen, it’s good of you to turn up and while I’d love to say I can help, I really must insist that my right to an artist’s freedom of expression has to take precedence over any loyalty I might feel towards my characters. I will try and give each and every one some attention but I can’t make any promises.’

I tried a smile.

They didn’t.

Both sighed deeply. Both looked sombre. As I watched, feeling more and more anxious, they each helped the other off with their jackets. Underneath they wore matching red braces. Slowly and methodically they rolled up their sleeves.

‘What are you doing?’

From somewhere a toolbag appeared, out of which they each extracted a large spanner. ‘If you’d step aside.’

They eyed my laptop. ‘What are you doing?’

‘Providing a little incentive.’

‘What…?’

Before I could react, they pushed me aside. They were very strong. And they reached through the screen and into the documents folder. I barely had time to squeal before they stood back to let me see what they’d done. Every single work in progress had a little lock symbol next to it.

I gawped at them. ‘What have you done?’ I could hardly breathe.

Johnston, or maybe Johnson picked up his jacket, brushed away some imaginary lint and sniffed. ‘It’s writer’s block. It will disappear as soon as you begin a new story with your characters in it. If you need guidance…’ he pointed at the business cards. There was a number in it. ‘It’s a mutual support group. They’ll understand.’

‘But I’ve thousands of characters. I can’t possibly….’

‘Of course you can. It’s the one thing your not short of.’

‘What’s that?’

‘Imagination.’

Posted in fiction, writing | Tagged , , , , | 35 Comments

The Christmas Letter #amusedpoetry #chelowens

Chelsea runs her A Mused poetry contest here. This weeks it is the Christmas letter, in poetry form… okay, what about this?

Anus Horribilis – my bum year

Well 2020’s been one hell of a year

Though as you see it deserves one cheer.

In January our eldest lad

Decided to become a dad.

His wife however wasn’t happy

And strangled him with a unwashed nappy.

While we were dealing with that little trauma

Debbie our girl had her own drama.

She thought she’d do home repairs

But impaled herself on the stairs.

We entered March rather nervy

When we heard Aunt Joan had viral scurvy.

If that wasn’t bad enough,

Uncle Martin choked on snuff.

In April Grandpa called a meeting

To say ‘I’m gay’ though any joy was fleeting

As Grandma Susan showed her ire

By setting the old boy on fire.

May and June, they were grim

When cousin Mervin dissolved his twin

And my dear papa fared far worse

When too much beer caused his spleen to burst.

The months from July to September

Weren’t the sort you’d want to remember:

I broke a leg, Jane had conniptions

While Tiny Tom ate the kittens.

October promised to be better

We were given an Irish Setter

But sadly I must report

The bloody dog saw me in court:

Apparently I’m responsible

When he ripped out the postman’s tonsils.

I was bailed through November

Which brings us to December

Christmas looms;

We’re fighting the gloom.

I know many dear souls have passed away

And it will be quiet come Christmas Day.

But let’s try, shall we, to take the positives.

At least I’m not feeding my bloody relatives…

Posted in miscellany, poems, poetry | Tagged , , , | 15 Comments

The Relief Of Waterloo #poetry #worldtoiletday

As a small homage to those wonderful people the world over who provide us all with toilet facilities and in praise of World Toilet Day I give you my rewrite of After The Listeners, Walter de la Mare

Is there anybody there, said the traveller
To open up this loo?
It’s surely wrong that one must pay,
For our numbers one and two.

It’s not a function of the state
To limit where I go.
My body ain’t so politic
But it has some rights, you know.

If I’m caught, then my relief
Should be free at the point of use.
Just because the Exchequer’s bare,
To charge is no excuse.

It is a basic human right
This need to pee and poo;
The people’s stall and porcelain
Are for the many not the few.

Bladders come in big and small,
And bowels are many sized.
Open up the bloody lav,
Before I go cross-eyed.

If you enjoyed this you will find many more similarly inspired by great poets in my recent publication

The Sincerest Form Of Poetry

(Click the title to find your way to the buy links)

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Be Careful What You Wish For #flashfiction #flashfriday #humour

Be Careful What You Wish For

Terrance stopped, breathless.

‘You’re not going to wet yourself, are you?”

Of course Susan grinned, disarming any passive aggressive overtones.

He’d ignore her. ‘It’s unique.’

‘When were termites unique?’

‘These mounds…’

‘Yeah, yeah.’ She walked past, leaving him to follow. ‘What’s first? Break one open and see what the little critters are doing?’

It was his consuming obsession, understanding termites; she was delighted to see his desire and panic compete for space on his forehead. ‘Joking,’ she added and stroked the mound.

BANG!

When the smoke cleared they were no longer alone. A large pink termite floated above them. ‘Hi! I’m your genie du jour. What’s the wish going to be today?’

‘Wish?’

Susan grasped the absurdity first. ‘We want to see inside.’

‘You sure? Okay!’

Another, bang, more smoke and they were looking at a rough hewn corridor. Coming towards them were two termites, only these were the same size as Terrance and Susan.

The first termite, oddly speaking English, said, ‘What do we have here?’

The second replied, ‘Lunch?’

And one of Terrance’s questions was answered. Termites laugh.

Based on this week’s prompt from flash!friday

Posted in creative writing, flash fiction, humour, miscellany | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

The Slow Demise Of The Serially Slow #reprise #writephoto

Willow started it so blame her! Seriously though I have benefitted muchly from Sue Vincent’s many #writephoto prompts and while she is cogitating on how to replace the small dog’s ball, I thought I’d repost this one from 2018 as a thank you. If you enjoy it then go and say thanks over at Sue’s and tell me; I might stick up some more…

Sue Vincent’s #writephoto prompt this week is

‘Surely not? Is that you, Gladys?’

The voice echoed down the valley, like a tsunami of gravel being tumble-dried.

‘It is, isn’t it?’

The reply, a high pitched whine, much like a chainsaw sculpting granite, bounced off the sides of the canyon. ‘Gregory? I haven’t seen you since that grind-a-thon up in Stavanger.’

Gregory’s response was thunderous, a rumble so deep it registered on the Richter scale and caused a couple of minor rock falls. ‘Those were the days, Gladys. You are looking very sparkly.  How’s it going?’

The sigh, like an underground cave collapsing filled the air. ‘It’s been hard, I can’t deny it. This climate change has been murder on my crevasses. They’re as wide as a bullock’s buttocks these days.’ 

‘Yes. Look at my Seracs. Stumpy little things. I’ve been,’ the voice dropped twenty seven octaves and, apart from Gladys, could only be heard thirteen thousand miles away by a surprised pod of deep-diving hump-backed whales, ‘melting.’

‘Goodness, it’s happening everywhere. You had mountaineers crawling all over you, back in the day. I heard Gerald has all but disappeared.’

‘Gerald? Noooo. Surely not. His moraine was a thing of beauty.’

‘Now he’s just a couple of grubby ice piles and a giga-tonne of silt.’

‘Still you’ve made it here. That’s something, at least.’

‘It’s been a grind, I don’t mind saying. I wonder why we keep on going.’

‘Oh come on, it’s not that bad, surely.’

‘It’s not the career it once was Gerald. No one wants glaciers these days. It’s all artificial snow machines and snow globes. Once upon a time we were the landscape architects to the gods. Now we’re lucky if we see out a ski season. I’ve been receding quicker than the Donald’s hairline.’ 

‘You know how it will end, don’t you?’

‘We vanish?’

‘Oh worse than that. At least if we vanish we avoid being humiliated. No, Giuseppe over in the Rockies said it the other day. It we keep melting and the sea rises much more, we’ll end up as icebergs.’

‘Oh good grief, surely not.’

‘Mark my words, Gladys. If this keeps on we’ll end our days as floaters.’

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The Garden Thing – Halfway To That Bloody Beatles Song… #garden #november #2020

Autumn and its less than welcome cousin, so far as the gardener in me goes, winter are coming to stay and the signs are all there.

It does allow for jobs to be undertaken, of course, which is a plus. One is the upcoming arrival of a new shed. It’s been a while since the old one fell to bits and we’ve been making do with stuffing things in corners and filling up the summer house and the garage. But bullets have been bitten and by the time I next post from Dulwich Parkside, we will at least have the shed kit even if it hasn’t been erected.

Sooo, preparatory to that moment, I’ve cleaned out the compost and working area, as well as removing some redundant privet bushes from behind the summer house to create the space and reorganise everything. It also meant one of the huge pleasures of this time of year, but more of that later.

That pleasure is the fire. As you’ll see in the images from behind the summerhouse, we have installed the woodstore – one of those serendipity moments when it fitted perfectly – and filled it with the many off cuts that build up. Now, London is a smoke free zone – has been since the Clean Air Act of 1958 – and burning smoke generating fuel is banned. Bonfires are similarly regulated.

So, I break the law. Once a year I have a bonfire – more like an inferno actually but in a few hours we render a load of material ash which goes back on the garden. Also, at Christmas we have one fire in the grate indoors. That’s it. Bring the leg-irons, constable; it’s a fair cop, but at least it reduces the recycling.

We also have the occasional fire in an old grate, cooking up marshmallows or similar. My legal career is done. Comprehensively.

Meanwhile there was a fair bit of colour still but if frosts come the dahlias and geraniums will suffer so they have been lifted to be protected until next year.

The dahlias….

And after lifting and placing in the garage…

We leave out the calendulas and fuchsias though.

And remarkably we have either a very late or very early foxglove which is in for a shock.

Here’s some more colour and a few gratuitous images of the lawn…

There’s a bit of landscaping…

And, of course, Dog (the chair is in the summerhouse) …

And the weird title to this post? On 30th November I’m 64. ‘When I’m 64’ seemed like terminal old age when sung by Clive Dunn in cardy and rocking chair, back in the 60s. Now it’s a bloody insult. 64 is nor more than middle youth these days, whatever statisticians tell me. Mind you, interesting factoid, actuaries say that the average life expectancy of a male in the UK at birth is 79, whereas if that male lives to be 65, that goes up to 84. I’ll take that, thank you…

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Forbidden Love #poems #poetry #theowlandthepussy-cay

Here’s another top 100 English poems reinterpreted, this time the beautiful The Owl And The Pussy-Cat by Edward Lear

The Owl and the Pussy-Cat went to sea

To escape the prying attention

Of an intrusive media, and several far seedier

And others too many to mention.

‘Ours is a beautiful love,’ sighed Owl

‘It’d be wrong for it to remain hidden.’

Said Pussy, ‘Oh you beautiful fowl’

‘May those fools with their rules be forgiven

Forgiven,

May those fools with their rules be forgiven.’

*

They sailed far away, intent to make hay

Out of reach, on a beach, by the sea.

But they were pursued, as they still made the news

And they knew they would never be free.

They invited a crew to do an interview

About love between two different species.

But those men in their suits, didn’t give any hoots

Turning the truth into a pile of faeces.

Faeces

A steaming pile of faeces.

*

For their love they fought, and ended in court

Fighting for the next generation.

They won the debate, but it was their sad fate

Despite their emancipation,

That they grew far apart; Pussy made a fresh start

With a mole who was an old contrarian,

While dear old Owl has thrown in the towel

And reverted to being a librarian,

A librarian,

He’s now just another librarian.

Posted in miscellany, poems, poetry | Tagged , , , | 14 Comments