Thursday, July 28, 2005

Three Poems


In the morning
After her shower
In the cramped bathroom
Of her tiny hotel room
She decides to wear her green top
Baggy khaki cut-offs
White trainers
And white socks

Later, on the island,
In the shadow of the twin towers
Of Notre Dam,
In the shadows of a thousand pigeons
And a million cameras,
As the bells clank and clang,
She gathers dutifully around
Her English guide in the square
Who explains –

When travelling on the Metro
Allow two minutes per station
And five to ten minutes
If you have to change lines

This information
Will prove invaluable
Later on


I idly watch the bicycle policemen
In their black and blue crash helmets
As they stop and chat to the
Singing double bassist
Whose stage is the Quai Aux Fleurs

On the Steps of Sacré Coeur

Before the poem even starts
I see my father’s shadow
Cast on the brightly-lit stone steps
But that soon fades
And words begin to shape my thoughts
Not images

To think, you were here
On these same steps
Overlooking Paris
Nearly forty years ago

And we could have told the French kids
Strumming a guitar
And singing California Dreaming
That you sang that song
When it was new
As you sat on the same steps
Breathing the clouds of dope
Rising from the city
Engulfing the future
In peace and love

And kids in baseball caps
Toss fireworks
The tourists take snapshots
Of the church
For their screensavers
And we gradually wind down the hill
Along the cobbled roads
Past weary street artists
Past Lapin Agile
Back to our hotel

And I think about how far we’ve come
And how we’ve come
No distance at all

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Rejoice in the Details

The heartland of France
Outside the morning’s wavering
The birds are confused
By the clouds
But aren't showing it

Tiny black creatures pepper us
And itch like Billy Oh.
We saunter through breakfast
Loose preparations
For our expedition
To trace the source of the Indre

Crunch of toast
Brush of crumpet
Click of pot
Will you take your butter with you?
No, it will melt
Can’t go to a restaurant
And take your own butter

The weight of carpet on floor
The conversation stumbles for a while
Read the instructions
Why not?
We’ve plenty of time
Rejoice in the details

A fly lands
On my short-sleeved tee shirt

A discussion.

How subtle are the differences
Between the saturates and the palm oil
And the fatty acid equation

The fly rises

Like a mini-helicopter
On jet fuel

The car is patiently waiting

Friday, July 15, 2005

Foot Notes

It’s been an interesting week.
I’ve been cleaning out the big walk-in cupboard at the top of the stairs. A couple of months ago the ceiling collapsed. Dust and bits of plaster everywhere. It was where we shoved everything that didn’t have a home anywhere else. Drum cases, suitcases full of old clothes, all our old games and boxes of I don’t know what. Alan, a builder friend of ours, is coming to fix it next week so it has to be done. The house is full of piles of dusty things. Meanwhile we’re having a party tomorrow so the piles of things are being stored in our bedroom, which is getting quite difficult to enter.

As I write this we should be at the supermarket buying the food and drink. We’ve around 80 people coming. But a couple of things happened to slow us down.
First, Jill sprained her foot. Just went over on it in the garden on Tuesday night. We went to the casualty department of the hospital in Hastings where a nurse assessed us – Yes, she said, you’ll need to see the doctor and have it X-rayed. It seemed a fair assessment. There were four other injured parties in there. It shouldn’t be too long, the nurse said, we’re fairly quiet.
After about an hour the pain was getting too much for Jill to bear so I hailed a nurse and he gave Jill some painkillers, which helped. After about another hour and a half we finally got to see the doctor. You’ll need that X-rayed, he said. So we went back into the waiting room and waited. Only twenty minutes this time. After the X-ray we had to go and wait in the waiting room again.
An hour later we saw the doctor. It’s not broken, he said, just put it in a Tubular Bandage (great album BTW), take painkillers and we’ll give you some crutches. The swelling and bruising should go down in a couple of days.
To be fair – we only had to wait another half an hour for the bandage and the crutches.
We were there four and a half hours. Ridiculous. On the way out we passed someone who had come in with a badly scratched arm. He’d set up a little tent outside and was brewing up a cup of tea on a small camp fire. He was expecting to be seen around September!
Then, last night, at around 9.30, we had a power cut. We often get them – being out in the country and all. So we lit lots of candles and waited. Jill was giving a radio interview on the phone at 11 so she assembled her notes and lots of candles, found a phone that didn’t need electricity, got her foot comfy on a stool and waited. No power and so she did the interview by candlelight.
Woke up this morning. Still no power. We’re all electric here in the country. So - what do you miss most when the electricity goes down? A cup of coffee. I was about to fire up the barbecue when the power finally returned. Desperate or what?
All back to normal now, though. And the computer’s working again too. (That broke yesterday – turns out to be the monitor so I’ve borrowed the monitor from Jill’s office.)
Hey ho. A week in the life. No poems on this blog. I’ll sort something out for the next one. Can’t think what to write about…

Friday, July 08, 2005

The Tale of Edward and Lizzie

Well, while the country regains its breath after the bombings, life goes on. The G8 summit seems to be going well, with a lot of aid promised, cancelling of third world debt happening, and leaders moving on Fair Trade and London has been awarded the 2012 Olympics – what a week, eh? And Gerrard is staying with Liverpool FC! Right now I’m listening to the BBC3 recordings of the Live8 concerts, which I’m recording for Jill who’s in Nottingham tonight. Coldplay on right now on the TV in the room next door to Jill’s office where I’m writing this. I think Canada looked like it had the best concert, the crowd having a ball and some great bands. Just caught Deep Purple yesterday. Did I ever tell you I used to be in a Deep Purple Tribute Band?
Meanwhile – I’m not sure if the Radioblog is working. Maybe I need to rethink the whole thing. Nearly the first anniversary of my blog. Some blog-acquaintances gone now, new ones will no doubt take their place. It’s a funny old thing – the blog - as if life.

The Tale of Edward and Lizzie

Edward moved with casual ease
Ideas tumbled with the breeze
Lizzie sat with tied constraint
Words pulled tight enough to faint

Edward called the clouds to tango
Melodies danced round his hands
Lizzie painted with precision
Dotted Ts and polished sand

It was obvious to the world
Watching from another place -
Lizzie struggling with a thimble
Ed demolishing a case -

That the pair were most unlikely
Lovers. They'd not travel far.
The world would watch their love unravel
Like a disintegrating star

But Lizzie gave Edward direction
Focus - and a place to start.
Ed gave Lizzie fire and passion
Opened doors within her heart.

Now Edward studies microcosms
Know the secrets deep within
Lizzie lies beneath the stars
And kisses Edward on the chin

From Searching For Blue Sea Glass (the book) available from
Rabbit Press

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Half Rhymes

Like the picture you show Miss Card
Who says, That isn’t too bad

Or the present you give Aunt Flower
Who says, That isn’t my colour

Or when your best friend is playing catch
And she says, If you like, you can watch

Or the day that you thought wouldn’t come
And you walk to school on your own

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Monday, July 04, 2005

Old Flatfish

A piano sat in the corner
I must have transported it
The hundred odd miles from the South
To the Midlands
But, no, that bundle of images
Is not there any more
Probably being recycled as we speak
It may turn up

And why am I writing this?
A memory sparked by a melody?
Is that why I’m writing this?
For warm glows and the sad regrets?
I’m not sure.

I was staying above a shop.
What did it sell?
Decorating stuff, paint, wallpaper.
I think.
What can I remember?
One wall was banana yellow.
The bed was a mattress on the floor.
My guitar, of course.
My stereo – as we called record players then.
And the piano in the corner.

I wrote a song
With descending notes.
Lower and lower.
Down to depths hidden.
I liked the words
But never knew what they meant.
Never imagined I’d be turning them over in my head
In the next millennium, more than thirty years
In the future

Listen to the death of old flatfish
My oh my
He has a long way to float
Listen to the death of old flatfish
My oh my
Old flatfish flies by boat