Hands-on

Reach out to others
young and old
Offer friendship
from the cold
Connecting skin
with a human touch
a precious move
that means so much

That muscles sense
a warm response
and strengthens feelings
right at once
confirms the need
I do confess
that such a move
will bring success

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…When angry, paint Bamboo

Years had gone by – decades, and still no real change. The bamboo grew dense and high, rattled by the breeze and furious in the gales which often struck it. Unexpectedly, there’d be periods of calm when only an occasional rustle would disturb the air. These were peaceful times when all seemed well with the world. The steady soil pushed up new growth. Ideas and projects swelled and flowered into fullness. The future promised progress and all was deceptively calm; however, a step away from the path and one could lose one’s footing. What seemed safe and solid would suddenly show itself to be slippery and hazardous. A menacing darkness exhibited deep, unnerving shadows exploding from a black centre and stealing one’s breath away.Dark tensions wildly swirling and crazed questions demanding impossible answers. There were no answers to these, no easy response. All was lost, wasted. Success destroyed by a storm of suspicion and ignorance and a signal to hit out. Emotional turmoil tore violently into the precious root, leaving it a twisted, distorted shrivelled thing with scant chance of survival. Then, as suddenly as it had come, the storm blew over, but a trail of damage was left behind; and there it was again, the sense that nothing had really happened. All would continue as before. The wild wind had dropped and the storm had blown itself out. Only those left behind to pick up the wreckage and wonder what it had all been about. All the effort and care, blown to pieces in a few moments…

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When happy, paint the Iris…

 

The days grow longer with pale shafts of light lifting the grey mood. The morning skies are rinsed with early promise and heralded by sparrow-chattered trees. Snowdrops modestly bow their heads to the welcome dawn and the chilled birds begin their songs again. Spears of Daffodils pierce the blank soil presaging a host of gold and catkin topped Birches are headline news. Delighted Blackbirds bound on worm cast encrusted lawns as Starlings squabble for their share. Bulbs, like the old friends you’ve not seen for months, cluster together bringing smiles and cheer to the winter gloom. The dormant garden wakes and in the tousled beds the mauve flags proclaim the tentative arrival of an optimistic spring with lively warmth and fun-lit days ahead… A hopeful time of year.

 

‘Iris’ Illustration copyright Kim Lane

 

 

 

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AFTERMATH

Mum’s done the cooking, all single-handed
while for the umpteenth time, ‘The Eagle has Landed’
The dinner is stuffed into over-filled tums
as we’ve nibbled the crisps and mince pies with crumbs

After the meal, we collapse in a heap
Gran and Grandad have fallen asleep
At the sight of presents eyes light up with hope
But uncle has wandered off at a lope
to find a fresh glass to fill up with beer
to ready himself for all the good cheer

The TV’s ablaze with the ‘Christmas Carol’
He’s sure he was told there was a big barrel
The parcels are hastily ripped from their wrapping
While cameras and phones are excitedly snapping
Then we watch all the movies, including Toy Story
for the grown-ups later, something ghostly or gory

Outside a ‘White Christmas’ refused to appear
and the fog has crept in, but we hope it’ll clear
We drive home tomorrow to our own cosy beds
but for now it’s just time to rest weary heads

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Two Letters…

…Landed on the mat today – An ‘Amazing Offer’ of a free trial to facilitate my online purchasing. Apparently I’ll love the improvements they’ve made, and I won’t believe what changes have happened since my last membership. My last membership? Oh yes, I remember now I pressed the wrong button and subsequently un-clicked it as an option. So here’s the splendid ‘Offer’ complete with a glossy plastic card emblazoned with their logo and my name awaiting my eager attention.

Apparently the benefits include instant access to millions of items, stuff to have, stuff to give, stuff to share and even stuff to stuff. Then there’s videos, movies, TV shows and sports, all with fast, one day delivery. As a member I can demand access to over two million songs, hundreds of playlists, albums and stations. Some of the ‘Best Deals’ are also available a whole 30 minutes before non-members! Even a selection of e-books and editor’s packs in advance of official release dates. What joy, what wonders are laid before me. Merry festive stuff for and friends and family, hearth and home.
With all these extra benefits, I can watch movies and TV shows ‘on demand,’ when it suits me; ‘on-the-go’ on my own device or even share three different programmes amongst the family in the comfort of my own home. This is great news and all at no extra cost, convenient and hassle-free.

I set aside the letter as I hear the staccato beat of freezing rain on the Velux window, and looking to the garden, I see the bird-feeders swinging crazily in the wind. Yes, it’s true, I can shop easily and comfortably from home – just let someone else brave the weather to deliver my purchases, (at least they have a job I can console myself.) Then the icy rain battered even harder and I was somewhat comforted that I had filled the bird-feeders. My concern intensified as I watched them struggle in the freezing blasts. How do these poor creatures survive out there in all weathers with little shelter and food so hard to find.

My mind then turned to the other envelope in my hand. Of course I already know from the logo what it’s about. It’s Christmas time and I’m a little late with a contribution, but the question remains. How do these poor creatures survive? These who have no tablets to order their gadgets, shopping, groceries – or even bird food. No warm beds from which to watch movies or videos, or to follow sports. No headphones for musical downloads and certainly no i-phones.
Out there in all weathers with only the shelter of a shop doorway and a damp sleeping bag on concrete is certainly no place like home.
These are the many folks we see so often on the streets, but who are equally often ignored
‘The homeless’
It’s winter, it’s foul weather, it’s Christmas time. A warm bed, clean clothes, hot food and a welcoming Christmas lunch with friendly company can be gifted easily online:
www.crisis.org.uk
in Brighton too
The Clock Tower Sanctuary

Home


Helps homeless young people in Brighton and Hove get their lives back on track.

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Know Ideas – for Festive wish-lists

Audio and art sets, and Alexa from Amazon
Bluetooth and Build-a-bear and much stuff to choose from
Cameras and candles and candy-floss makers
Darth Vader costumes and cool cocktail shakers
Earings and earphones and designer earbuds
Fit bits and face-cream and exfoliating marsh mud
Gadgets and games and glamorous goodies
Headphones and handsets and colourful hoodies
i-phones and i-pads for the internet initiate
Jackets by Jaeger for you to appreciate
Keyboards and Kindles, Kimonos or Kites
LEGO or Lava Lamp with colourful light
Monopoly, Mobiles or Metal Detectors
Negligees and necklaces are in other sectors
Offers and specials and fur overcoats
At one end of the store and rather remote
Play-stations, perfumes and other such quackery
Quiz books and literary novels by Thackeray
Rain-wear and racquets for tennis or squash
Skateboards and sportswear that’s easy to wash
TV’s and Telescopes, Tablets and throws
Unicorns in underwear – anything goes…
Wi-fi and widgets, watches and wine
Xylophone lessons just for Xmas time
Young people these days just yearn for some Yen
so yuletide equivalent is alright with them
A Z-Box for Geeks compliments the play-station
and for desperate shoppers – a Zen meditation

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‘You can’t beat Rock and Roll’

“I’ve told him a hundred times now, he can’t expect me to stay home all the time just looking after him. It’s been seven years now since mum died and I’m not getting any younger. I know at first he really needed me around, and after Joe and Phil were married and gone – well someone had to look after him. Who else but me of course!”
“Yer, well you know what they used to say Eileen? said Sue, ‘A son is a son ’til he gets him a wife, but a daughter’s a daughter ALL of her life.’ Do you want mousse on that by the way?”
“Oh I know, but I’d kinda promised mum before she went that I’d do what I could to help, but now I feel I’m just stuck.”
“Yes, love, you should’ve left years ago…You should get out more. I think he’s utterly selfish.”
“I’m beginning to think you’re right, he’s got more and more possessive now. You wouldn’t believe the way he took up when I started at the Le Roc classes. My one night out and he begrudged me that …and when I told him I’d met a nice fella there – well, you’d think the sky was falling!”
“Well there you are, he’s only ever thinking about himself. Never mind if you meet ‘Mr Right’ and want to start a family of your own…”
“Oh god, I know. If I don’t get away soon, it’ll be too late, I’m 34 next birthday…”
“Well I’d say it’s now or never then. You really don’t owe him anything anymore – even if he is your dad. He’s just all take and no give… Do you want some hairspray on it too?”
Eileen smiled and checked her new cut admiringly, “No, it looks fine. I’m ready to do battle now! Thanks Sue, I’ll let you know how we get on…tonight’s the night!”

Bill was standing at the open front door looking at his watch when she got home. “What is it NOW!” he demanded.
“Look dad, I told you this morning I wasn’t going to be in tonight…”
“What about my dinner then?”
“I’ve left you a casserole, you just have to put it in the microwave on medium for five minutes to heat through…”
“I can’t do the damned cooking, that’s your job…”
“C’mon dad, it’s perfectly alright, just follow the note I’ve left, but I have to go, it’s the semi-finals night.”
“Semi-finals! What bloody semi-finals?”
“I told you loads of times – it’s the semi-finals of the Le Roc annual competition and we’re up against the Great Yarmouth team…”
“Bloody Le wa’dyer call it doesn’t come before my dinner…”
“Well it does now dad, cause I’m going! Jeff’s calling for me at 6.30 and that’s that, and if you don’t like it, that’s tough…”
“Don’t you talk to me like that, me own bloody daughter. You should show a bit of respect…”
“Dad. stop it. I’ve done everything for you since mum died. Looked after the house, cooked your meals, kept you company. All I ask is a little time for me…”
“An’ who’s this bloody Jeff person anyway, why’s he giving you a lift ?”
“Jeff, as I’ve told you before is my dance partner, and we’ve every chance of getting in the finals.”
“Partner is he? What’s his family like, is he trustworthy?”
“Dad, don’t be so daft, he’s a decent fella and I like him, a lot…”
“Well you’d better be home by 10 o’clock then!”
” Oh dad, don’t be so silly – I’m nearly 34!”

At the hairdresser’s later that week, Sue’s customer Debbie was a mutual friend of Eileen’s and the gossip turned to the dance competition…
“Hey, did you know Jeff and Eileen got into the finals despite her miserable old dad trying to put a damper on everything?” announced Sue.

“Yes she told me, she’s so chuffed – and they make a great couple don’t they?” said Debbie.
“I’m really pleased for her too, but Bill’s such an old bigot and he makes Eileen’s life a right misery. She’s been a saint looking after him all these years, but I think it’s about time she put her foot down.”
“Too right Sue, she should have a bit of a life of her own, she deserves it.”
“She told me about the ding dong she had with him when he tried to stop her going to the Le Roc competition… Well I told my mum and she let on that Bill and Rose were quite a ‘thing’ at the Starlight School of Ballroom Dancing way back when. They were the envy of the town, won all the prizes and awards. That’s where they met in the first place of course.”
“Really, who’d of thought it…” said Debbie, “and him such an old stick in the mud.”
“Yeah, seems Bill’s mum was dead against it, mainly ’cause she was terrified Bill would get married and leave her on her own. She was divorced you see and was really jealous of any romantic attachments on Bill’s horizon.”
“So it looks like history repeating itself then?” remarked Debbie smiling.
“You know what Debs, I’m gonna tell her – time’s up for the old bugger I reckon…”

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Autumn HAIKU

Early dark afternoons

Wet leaves cling to winter shoes

High clouds catch late sun

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Sicily Summer – The Burrower abroad

Winding old Italian streets
on bruised and battered, sandaled feet
Narrow crumbling ancient walls
echoing street vendors calls.
Scorching sun and folks in hats,
shabby steps and narrow cats
Cauliflower clouds in blazing skies
of rich Madonna blue
and sunlit artist’s light
paints every lovely view.
Crazed ‘mosquito’ Vespas chase
tourists with surprising haste,
from dusty stones and littered walkways
to wide Piazza shaded doorways.
While nightime in the bright Marina’s gleam
chrome encrusted boats reflect the harbour’s sheen
The foreshore glistens with balmy light
sleek yachts inhabit and dazzle the night.
Leaf patterned paths breeze in late summer’s last events
fragrant with October’s early autumn scents.

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LIT-FEST

Books and words, scenes overheard, crowded spaces and eager faces; The chattering classes clinking glasses, full of intent at each event, to get a good seat to see the ‘Names.’ So in cafes and nooks surrounded by books they decide where is best to get a close look at the noted writers who came.
In the splendid hall where the authors were speaking, a hundred punters noisily gather, clutching their programmes and jostling the seating. Sponsors were mentioned to get ones attention it seems that without them the whole thing can’t function. The compere proceeds and discussions begun some serious, some erudite and some are just fun. The speakers take turns in an orderly way, though audience questions are quite stilted I’d say.
There’s Politics and Science, and Linguistic Appliance. There’s novels of history, mystery and fiction and factual biographies chock full of friction; there’s tragedy, travel, and several ‘ologies, humour and satire – I make no apologies. There’s memoirs and thrillers or poetry tomes to add to your growing collection at home.
So hyped up now with ‘Festival Fever,’ the queues just build at the signing tables. Here writers who never thought they were able, work through stacks of their latest hard-backs and dedicate books to dozens of fans; faced with such droves of culture chasers the beleaguered authors can hardly relax, (if that had ever been part of their plans.) For ‘Sales and Profit’ is the name of the game if you’re on the path to Literary fame.

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