Message in a Bottle…

Thank you dear friends for all the fun
The coffee and cakes and the welcome sun
The good times and all the merry laughter
And everything good that followed after

The long discussions and the chatter
Of all those things that really matter
For your support when troubles loomed
And comfort when one just felt doomed

For free advice when it was needed
Especially so when it was heeded
The outings, parties and the lunches
The local gossip and dubious hunches

All of this we hungrily devoured
For months and years for many an hour
But while absorbed in these happy tasks
There’s a simple question I have to ask…

Why does my wine group always insist –
(Or is there something I have missed,
Despite the literary themes and hooks)
…On spending time to talk about books?

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HAIKU

 

Autumn’s decadence

Season’s shadow dancing days

Apples litter gardens

 

Hedgehogs curl away

While insects worm in windfalls

In rustling corners

 

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Shipwreck

She battled through enormous seas
Storms nearly brought her to her knees
But she sailed on to our delight
And every time she won the fight

But the weather turned, the skies were black
The lightning flared and thunder wracked
And now she’s out there all alone
In the roiling waves and heaving foam

On dangerous rocks she’s run aground
And the breaking up of the timbers sound
Through heartless winds and ferocious skies
Like a wounded beast’s last battered cries

Helplessly we stand and watch
As she falls apart on the relentless rocks
That ship that brought such joy and pleasure
The cruelest loss of a peerless treasure

We who saw her struggle to survive
Are truly honoured now to be alive
And thankful for the memories we retain
Of precious times we shall not see again…

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Tail wags dog…

A young woman had knelt to talk to a homeless man outside the Job Centre. She’d bought him a bottle of juice, a sandwich and a ring-pull can of dog food for his ‘best friend’ who lay curled up on a rug next to him. They were discussing the problem of trying to get a job when you have ‘no fixed abode,’ and no internet access, let alone money for bus fares or decent clothes for an interview… should you ever get one.

Suddenly the crowd of passing shoppers scattered as a rogue cyclist mounted the pavement to cut past the heavy traffic. As they leapt to safety, buggies, old ladies and shopping trolleys were swept aside as the Lycra-clad rampager sped towards the little group on the ground. The quick-witted young woman pulled the man away from the speeding machine, but the ageing dog was directly in it’s path and with a pitiful yelp, he collapsed under the front wheel.

A small crowd gathered and the atmosphere was getting heated, with cries of ‘Shame on you,’ and ‘You bastard, look what you’ve done!’ Things were getting tense and the crowd began to look ugly – in England you certainly don’t harm a dog, even if he’s a rough sleeper. Tempers were rising and one man grabbed at the bike and started lambasting the cyclist who, white-faced and ashamed backed against the wall. Trembling and tearful, he knelt down to the recumbent pooch and gently felt for a pulse. Everyone fell silent as a muffled whimper came from the limp form and the old dog raised his grey muzzle and opened his eyes.

“Oh Christ, thank God,” gasped his owner – “He’s all I’ve got.”
“Look, if you’ll let me, I’ll check him over. I’m a vet and I can see what’s needed, won’t cost you a penny. What d’you say?” offered the remorseful cyclist. Murmurs of approval greeted this and the homeless man was glad to accept it. So after carefully checking the dog for injuries the cyclist phoned his practice for an animal ambulance, which soon appeared.  The young woman urged them to take the homeless man to the surgery too so he could be near his dog which would be a comfort to both of them.

“Will you let me know how they are please?” she asked, turning to the cyclist as the crowd cheered the ambulance off. Somewhat recovered himself, he smiled as they exchanged phone numbers and he retrieved his slightly bent bike, “Yes, of course, I think the dog, at least will be OK.”

A day or so later she got a call from him to say the dog had a few small cuts and bruises but no broken bones or internal injuries, and that his owner had turned out to be extremely good with animals. They’d even had him helping out in their kennels where he was also doing very well. Who knows, maybe there’s a proper job there for him …

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Right to Roam – Mass trespass of Kinder Scout

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The mass trespass of Kinder Scout, also called the Kinder mass trespass, was an act of wilful trespass by ramblers. It was undertaken at Kinder Scout, in the Peak District of Derbyshire, England, on 24 April 1932, to highlight the fact that walkers in England and Wales were denied access to areas of open country. Political and conservation activist Benny Rothman of the Young Communist League of Manchester was one of the leaders of the mass trespass.

Events in 1932

The 1932 trespass was a coordinated protest involving three groups of walkers who approached Kinder Scout from different directions at the same time. The main group estimated at 400 began at Bowden Bridge quarry near Hayfield. It proceeded via William Clough to the plateau of Kinder Scout, where there were violent scuffles with gamekeepers. The ramblers were able to reach their destination and meet with another group at Ashop Head. On the return, five ramblers were arrested, with another detained earlier. Trespass was not a criminal offence in any part of Britain at the time, but some would receive jail sentences of two to six months for offences relating to violence against the keepers. [See note [1]

Political effects

According to the Hayfield Kinder Trespass Group website, this act of civil disobedience was one of the most successful in British history. It arguably led to the passage of the National Parks legislation in 1949. The Pennine Way and other long-distance footpaths were established. Walkers’ rights to travel through common land and open country were protected by the CROW Act of 2000. Though controversial when it occurred, it has been interpreted as the embodiment of “working class struggle for the right to roam versus the rights of the wealthy to have exclusive use of moorlands for grouseshooting.”

The Kinder Mass Trespass was one of a number of protests at the time seeking greater access to the moorlands of the northern Peak District. What set it apart from the others was it marked a new and more radical approach to the problem which was not universally popular with rambling groups. The harshness of the sentences imposed on the leaders of the protest was headline news in local and national newspapers, resulting in the issue gaining public attention and sympathy. The subsequent access rally staged in Winnats Pass attracted 10,000 people to attend in support of greater access to the adjacent moorland.
An unintended consequence of the mass trespass was greater interest being paid to ramblers’ behaviour and potential ways to regulate it. This resulted in a ‘Code of Courtesy for the Countryside’ being produced, which was a forerunner of the modern Countryside Code.

Each year a combination of wardens and rangers from both The National Trust and the Peak District National Park Authority hold a walking event to mark the anniversary of the trespass.
A commemorative plaque marks the start of the trespass at Bowden Bridge quarry near Hayfield, now a popular area for ramblers. It was unveiled in April 1982 by Benny Rothman (then aged 70) during a rally to mark the 50th anniversary.

Notes
[1] “Also they were never charged with the offence of trespass. The charges of unlawful assembly were changed to the more serious charge of riotous assembly. Mr Justice MacKinnon at Chester Assizes in 1933 stated that the Act of Parliament which made it an offence to trespass after being warned not to do so had been repealed, making ‘trespassers will be prosecuted’ signs unenforceable.”

Sources
Rothman, Benny. (1982) 1932 Kinder Trespass: Personal View of the Kinder Scout Mass Trespass. Willow Publishing. ISBN 0-9506043-7-

Wikimedia Commons

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Petrichor

Stale summer meadows
under white heat-blasted skies
thunder lurks the night

Bright daggers slice the darkness
drops fall like pennies
pavements run with instant floods

Smells of new-wet earth
raise pungent long gone memory
from dust-blocked days

 

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Memories…

Kelly’d just finished putting Edna’s shopping away and took her a cup of tea. She’d thought the old lady was asleep by the fire which had burned right down to almost nothing. So she picked up a shovel full of coal from the scuttle and as she tipped it slowly onto the embers Edna woke up, shouting, “Mum, mum, the coal man’s here, the coal man’s here!”
Surprised, Kelly turned to see her old eyes shining and a broad smile on her pale crumpled face.
“Edna, it’s only me, the Carer.”
“No, no. It’s the coal man, and the horse will want his carrot. I must run out and give him his carrot”
Kelly sat down and gently took Edna’s hand and reminded her the coal was delivered on a big lorry from Corrals and they’d already been this autumn.

“Oh I know dear – but I just smelt that coal dust and I went straight back to my childhood. He’d come with his horse and cart and a half cut-open sack over his head and back so he could carry in the heavy bags over his shoulder. Mum would stand watch at the door and count them in. She wasn’t going to let him sell her short, not my mum! Of course I’d be out like a shot to give the horse his carrots while he waited at the kerb. That horse was so big; I must’ve been about four then and he towered above me, but I really loved him, he was so gentle and his big lips were so soft on my hands as I fed him. Oh I really loved that horse… He was glossy red-brown like a conker with a long black mane and tail – and his feet! His feet were huge and covered with long white fluffy hair, like frilly tassels. He was a Shire horse of course you see. Had to be big and strong to pull that heavy cart with all those sacks of coal. Yes, and the lovely warm smell of his glossy coat as I stroked him. I wouldn’t wash my hands afterwards so I could smell him for the rest of the day. That coal dust just reminded me of the coal man’s visit and how I loved that grand old horse to feed and fuss.

Kelly smiled, “You’re right Edna, it’s amazing what memories can be sparked off by a smell.

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The Wannabee…

 

Uncle Dave came round for Sunday lunch and he was quite early so Dad was out the back as usual. My Dad likes the garden and he’s out there a lot. Mum always says she has a real job getting him to come indoors when meals are ready.

“He’s always busy in that garden of his,” she says “in and out of that greenhouse like a bee’s bum!”

“So I see,” said Uncle Dave spotting Dad carrying little flower pots and trays inside.

P’raps she means ‘buzzy’ I thought. It’s funny though, he does have a stripey black and yellow sweater. Mum knitted it for him herself one Christmas, so he wears it a lot, especially in the garden. He says the sleeves are a bit too short and the stripes a bit wonky so he told me not to say anything to mum, but he doesn’t want to ‘wear it out’ anywhere.I said mum wouldn’t like it if he wore it out anyway. She’s always telling me not to scrape the toes of my shoes or they’ll wear out before I’ve grown out of them and she can’t keep buying new shoes.

That’s weird too ‘cos it sounds like I was planted in them – like Dad’s beans in little pots, and they had to wait for me to grow out of them. Maybe that’s what Dad does in the greenhouse – I must have a look one day and see if there’s any shoes full of soil in there; maybe I’ll get a little brother! Anyway, mum tapped on the window and when she caught dad’s eye she did like ‘pretend eating’ in the air and he put down his spade, wiped his hands and made his way indoors. He was wearing his stripey sweater too and as he stood in the open back door taking off his ‘wellies’, mum said,

“Here’s my busy bee at last. Come on, lunch is nearly ready.”

” What did you get done today?” asked Uncle Dave

“I’ve planted two rows of beans and a wild flower patch for the gardener’s friends. Oh, and potted up some new corms; they should be up in a few weeks,” he smiled, looking at me. “Something to look forward to eh?”

‘ Ooooh I hope so,’ thought me, wondering what it’d be like to have a little brother.

“You’d better wash your hands quick then or it’ll be teatime soon if we don’t get started” said Mum pushing him gently towards the sink.

Uncle Dave smiled at Dad in his sweater and said…”and is there honey still for tea?”

I wannabee a bee like my Dad when grow up.

 

 

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Lost Soles

A city tattooed with torrid tags
shoes left by bins in torn shopping bags
Gutters full of litter spill their load
edging each and every road

Rough sleepers flip-flopping in the morning
Life-dulled eyes with no hope spawning
shake night’s chill blanket as they stand and scratch
under phone-wired trainers on a dealer’s patch

By a canvas bag neatly sits a pair
of polished old brogues left out to air
and in this positively thoughtful way
they await the start of their owner’s day

A gaunt faced woman’s lonely stumble
on barefoot pavements drab and humble
Clutches her slippers to her chest in pain
oblivious to the drench of early rain

Smart stilettos bear witness at the kerbside
of Dawn’s after-club-tumble-into-a-cab-slide
When she wakes much later will she recall
that rowdy night and her final foot fall

 

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The Vegetarian Option…

It was late. It’d been a very busy day and Carol Coney, PR to the company secretary had run like a Rocket to get to the Function room and organise the seating plan, and everything else too. Now it was all over and she leant against a coat-stand in the lobby to catch her breath and looked back at the day.

” Soya there, you look Beet,” remarked the sales rep. “What’s up? ”

“Phew, I Yam,” she replied “I’m fed up with this Caper I can tell you. The big wigs from Broccoli Head office showed up early this morning and were waiting for the exchange group from Brussels to arrive. When they finally Turnip I had to take them to the Savoy to liaise with Charlotte, Maris and Desiree; Had the French Bean on time I could’ve used both the courtesy cars for the journey. As it was I had to send a Runner in the other car to collect the Swede at the airport. The flowers and presentation items all had to go in the same car with the visitors. It was a bit of a Squash I can tell you.”

“Nightmare!”

“You’re not kidding, and then they couldn’t find him at first but Fennely tracked him down in the bar trying to Sea Kale of the traditional British sort. Seems the Current modern lager beers are not to his taste.”

“I can agree with him there…”

“Then at the reception dinner my ‘head of team’, for some reason insisted on saying Grace – apparently in deference to the Romanesco and Spinach contingent. He stumbled over ‘Lettuce pray for Peas on earth and then proceeded to Sprout on so long, the soup began to congeal and go Khol; Rhabi eventually shut him up somehow and things looked as if they were going alright. Olive in accounts commented ‘He’s a little Gem,’ I reckon he deserves a Celery raise.”

” Sounds like fun, any more ?”

“Well, not much until Arti choked on the Iceberg which he didn’t see coming – apparently he’s allergic and hadn’t warned anyone. On top of that the boss’s wife wore her best Bonnet and a sable wrap, presumably in case she felt Chilli, but Gerry who’d spent half the time reading the Peppers didn’t notice when he spilled sauce on it. That didn’t go down very well I can tell you. That’s Shallot I thought to myself, no Plum job for you matey!”

“Sounds like a riot, what else happened?” persisted the Rep, now somewhat amused.

“Well, both the big wigs went to town on the ‘glad-handing’ – Pumpkin every arm in sight. Nobody looked very comfortable at the end of it though. I thought, what’s the Marrow with them that was totally OTT. Gourd help us if that’s going to rescue the deal…

“Better start looking for a new job you mean…?”

“Who knows, but Mung other things I haven’t eaten all day I’m starving, nothing left for me to eat but a few stale crisps!”

“The usual Vegetarian Option you mean?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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