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squiddlydee's (squiddlydee on UKA) UKArchive
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Gayman the Signwriter (posted on: 12-10-12)
Again - tricky on genre here. Human nature, flawed utopia and a bloke with an unusual name.

Gayman was born in a small village in the temperate, wooded belt of earth far south of the big cities and away from the heavy industry, wealth and envy. It was an independent, self-sufficient place and rarely troubled by dispute. Everybody who lived there felt that their community was a fine one and consequently they all took great pride in it. Each person in the village, it seemed, had the same hope and that was to ensure that their village epitomised how a population can live in harmony and without the very fierce strictures necessary in the big cities, where cooperation and community were seldom apparent and a system of law and harsh punishment was required to keep a restive people in check. To this end, the people of the village had produced legislation which, they felt, would allow the inhabitants to co-exist without the anxiety created by a paralysing tangle of laws and regulations. They would be governed by an elected committee of twelve and, they believed, as child grew to man the legislation they had designed would become as natural a part of life as the weather. Gayman was small; born of small parents and with a dislocated hip which left him with a wheeling, uneven gait and an inability to run very quickly. He could not therefore take part as he would have liked in the games and the sports popular with the others. Nor did he possess a very vivid imagination and he could devise no clever stories to startle or charm his classmates. But the pride which everybody felt for the village was evident in him too and, whatever singular characteristics he might have that distinguished him from the others and however much they might tease him, he knew they were all united in this; they were all part of the same village and were all filled with the same indomitable pride. In truth, Gayman's pride went further. He was not only proud of his village for its independent and unusual place in the world but he felt a fierce pride in his own unusual name. None other shared it and despite the occasional teasing which is inevitable from a particular type of nervous looking but well-nourished boy, he felt his was a fine moniker and any nasty comments were surely borne of envy. He lived in the middle of the village on a two acre plot of unkempt, scrubby dirt interspersed with patches of struggling grass. There was a house of wooden clad set up near the road, with a weedy path leading from the door to a gate between two posts, which marked the middle of a weary picket fence. There were three sheds behind the house, each a little tired but still full of tools, paints and rusty hammers. His father, Matthew, was a house painter and so expert was he, and therefore so busy, that either for fatigue or lack of inclination, he never applied his brushes to his own home. The cladding showed grey where the white paint had peeled away. Gayman's mother had gone. Once Gayman had been drawn from her, she had fled for the city. She had realised neither Matthew nor any other man in the village could afford her the luxuries she believed a pretty girl deserved and having a child did not improve her chances. So she left as soon as the blood was dry and Gayman, as a small child, was kept on the kitchen floor by his paternal grandmother or, sometimes, on the paint spattered dust sheets in stranger's homes, as his father rolled his glistening rollers. His young life was punctuated with visits to the austerity of the doctor's office with its sweet, still and aseptic air but he otherwise filled his days playing with old paint brushes and watching his father work. He never had a very strong urge to pursue a career in schoolboy sports, not least because of the alarming instability in his hip, but because he had become used to an existence free from his peer's expectations and their pitiless hectoring. He did not feel the allure of books either; there were none on the shelves at home and he was not drawn to experience other worlds when his own seemed to be perfectly acceptable. He had no faith, so no sermon reached his ears. Stargazing and hunting for lost gold seemed certain to disappoint him and politics the very crucible of cruel men, unfair partition and war. So as he grew, he felt most content in the sheds behind his house, finding in them the growing store of materials discarded by his father. Of the laws in the village, one concerned itself with the ownership of business. One of the committee, a portly man who took a good deal of time to answer any question put to him to give the impression that his response was very well thought out, had been employed in the field of commercial and corporate law before retiring to the village. His greatest annoyance had been in the arguments resulting from the fact that two competing businesses had, by accident or by design, similar names. Piggy-backing on the success of another business to make a fast return was common in the moral destitution of the city and to get to a fair conclusion in these cases was excruciating and slow. More importantly to the committee member, he never felt anything substantial was achieved by reaching a fair conclusion so he proposed a rule to be adopted by the village, and it was (because it was easier to go along with him than not), that no two individuals of the same name may have the same trade. So Simon the Carpenter would never be confused with Simon the Weaver or Christopher the Carpenter. This meant that Simon the Carpenter could conduct his business with the happy knowledge that no other Simon the Carpenter would be giving him a bad name with sub-standard work, nor could they take advantage of his good name and take his business away from him. This allowed the economy of the village to develop without accusations of the kind so despised by the committee member; each trader or business was successful on merit and although competition existed, it was said to be a healthy kind of competition; prices were kept keen and excellence of workmanship the focus of anyone in a particular line of business. Certainly the committee member who had proposed the law was pleased never to be troubled by arguments based on copying or passing off, so, for him the result was a success. The trade of each was made known in a simple but transparent way. Each artisan, tradesman or professional would take a board, painted green, of sixty by ninety centimetres and write (or have written upon it) his name and occupation in clear gold lettering. This sign would be attached to a post and erected in a position at his place of work where it could be seen clearly by any and all members of the village. This made the settling of disputes so simple that no disputes arose, although those with common names sometimes grumbled that they had been dealt an unfair hand. Andrew, for example, a sardonic and bright rhetorician who had recently become old enough to join the working population, had one day erected a sign proclaiming his career to be that of a Giraffe Trainer. His gesture alluded to the fact that there were few trades available to him because of what he considered to be the committee's absurd law and his relatively common name which amused the younger people in the village but infuriated the committee. Soon, the sign mysteriously disappeared and Andrew moved away to the city where he became an orthopaedic surgeon in an army hospital. The small village had signs in most gardens and in front of all the shops and businesses. Accordingly, in his own garden, Gayman's father had put up his sign which read 'Matthew the Housepainter'. For Gayman, this was a great benefit to him. When he was twelve years of age, he knew of no other person who also possessed his very unusual name. The same was true when he was fifteen. So he rejoiced in the knowledge that when it came to it, he could choose a career in any field he might decide upon without limitation. Timothy, a classmate of Gayman's, was not so lucky for there was a Doctor, a Surveyor and a Pharmacist all by the same name so his choices were reduced. Christopher Junior had more serious troubles; his father, Christopher Senior, was a fine sculptor from a family known for its longevity and his son was not only passionate about but extremely talented in the art. But that was their problem. Gayman knew he would not ever be faced with such a concern and so he ambled his way through school feeling no particular need to consider the distant landscape of his adulthood with any urgency. After all, he could decide when he was good and ready with no fear of being trumped to a fulfilling and profitable trade. This gave Gayman even greater pride in his curious name and although he was never fully satisfied as to its provenance, he still felt a soft burst of pride whenever he heard someone address him. In the summer between his penultimate and his final years at school, Gayman did not attend work placement meetings or career advice lectures, he just made tracks and paths between the sheds on the two acre plot of his home. He carefully cut out and collected coupons which he sent away for a new coat and he troubled squirrels with pine cones and sticks. When it rained, he went into a shed and he piled up paint pots to form elaborate pyramids. When he found a pot with paint still sloshing in it, he took up a brush and painted his own name in large letters across the interior walls of the shed. He had become adept at different styles of script including the modest grandeur of roman capitals, clever shadow writing and a preference, the sleek feminine curves of italics. As a word, the letters offered much to challenge even an experienced scribe with its many curves, its imposing and statuesque 'G', its elegant , swooping mermaid's tail 'y' to its neatly tailed off 'n'. His father fed him from the microwave or from foil covered containers baked in the oven, but Matthew was otherwise absent. Even when he was there, except for a gasping, thick sounding cough, he made virtually no sound. This suited Gayman well; his life to that point had not been significantly improved by interaction and he was happy enough with his own opinions. He had been aware of trucks and heavy equipment arriving in the village from time to time. There was a pressing need, he had gathered from standing close enough to fellow villagers in the small shop to hear, for more land to build on. The romance of a small bucolic village, it was said, had proven too much of a draw for the city people to resist. Also the deprivation which goes with a crowded city meant people were attracted to a gentle place like Gayman's village. So they arrived and each new inhabitant was introduced to the strange laws of the village by the committee. So ardent was their desire to leave the city, they accepted the peculiar rules with that patronising half-smile of one forged in the heat of the city who now would bestow city guile and cutting wit upon the tepid waters of a small village. The committee members were delighted; building taxes levied on the newcomers yielded an abundant income and the committee were hard pressed to conceive of what to do with the new wealth. A splendid fountain was planned and a welfare fund created, to ensure no villager went in need. Signs, of course, were erected in the gardens of the new homes and along the avenues carved through the fields. 'Astrid the Fund Manager' appeared. 'Padraig the Magazine Editor' set up too. New people, the committee said, would bring new money, development, opportunity and prosperity to the village. But they would stay firm to The Legislation and all the rules would be rigorously observed by everybody. This all seemed to be very good news indeed to Gayman and he imagined himself to be an important part in the evolution of his beloved village, and all seemed to be well. That was until he spoke to Frederick the Postman. He had sent his coupons several weeks before and as the weather was beginning to cool, he had enquired after his coat. Frederick was quite certain in his response; the large packet had been delivered perhaps a fortnight before. Gayman was strenuous in his claim that he had not received it and despite his firm belief that he had done his job exactly as he should have, Frederick agreed to check his records. All this gave Gayman an unpleasant sense of foreboding and he was to find himself becoming more disturbed as he imagined the possible reasons for this disaster. Frederick returned two days later to find Gayman impatiently waiting on the doorstep. He demanded to know what had happened to his coat and as Frederick explained, Gayman's very worst fears were confirmed. The coat had been delivered as stated but to an address at the extreme opposite end of the village. ''But it is my coat!'' thought Gayman and he remembered that the leaves were already beginning to whirl down from the trees and it would soon become cold. Winter without his new coat might well kill him and he found it difficult enough to keep the bullies from attacking him without now having to wear his threadbare corduroy jacket for yet another year. This bothered him greatly but what Frederick said next struck an even greater panic in Gayman's stomach; the postman expressed his surprise that not only should there be someone else in the village who shared the same first name 'Gayman' but who was also of such a similar age. Gayman was first dumbfounded and then appalled. The most profound feelings occurred to Gayman. An awful realisation had caused a turmoil within him that would not abate. His coat was stolen and the uniqueness of his name was gone. And both of these offences had been committed by the same person, on the other side of the village. He had made a complaint to the post office about his coat and they suggested he simply go to the address to which it had been delivered and ask for its return. This was even worse than he could imagine; he would never go there and beg for his coat back. He would never throw himself on this devil's mercy. The perplexity he felt caused him to exist for the weeks until the beginning of the new school year in a muddle of anxious distraction. His mind whirred him awake at night and buzzed him at dawn to remind him of his predicament and to pose ever more alarming questions. Would this new Gayman be in his class? Would he actually be wearing his coat? Should he risk a thrashing and claim it? Would this new Gayman be strong, clever and have a calm facility for joking with the other boys? This would only serve to throw into greater relief his own shortcomings and further ensure his isolation; he preferred to be alone but to be excluded offended his sense of pride so he had cultivated two or three allies in the social fringes of the school. Would even they abandon him? But Gayman the Interloper was not in his class. He was not even in the same school. The expansion of the village had meant a new school was built and Gayman guessed his name-rival may be taught over there. The relief he felt was so intense he was sure he could feel it as an actual balm, cooling him from the inside out. And restored, he arrived for classes as he always had, with little enthusiasm and no curiosity. His last year was to be as unremarkable as the rest and Geraldine the Undermaster passed him out with a similar disinterest as that with which Gayman received the news. He was a mediocre student who excited neither conflict nor plaudit. His outstanding achievement had been obliterating almost every margin in every book he touched with the repeated writing of his own name in thick, black, ball point pen. Geraldine had never seen anything like it but ushered him towards an uncertain future with a genuine hope that good fortune would greet him. So released but not free, Gayman returned home to ponder upon his future. He walked the familiar paths around the two acre plot and considered his options. Painter? No; his father's failing health, the reason for his own relative confinement, was surely the result of decades on inhaling dust and fumes. He stayed to care for his father but was secretly pleased to have an excuse not to explore more intimidating notions such as going to the city or trying for university. He was not inclined to write, to build and a career in medicine would expose him to too many strangers. The law seemed interesting but he knew no latin and engineering would apparently require more time studying. Nevertheless, he was in no hurry; his father's sickness pension kept them well enough and he felt sure the answer would present itself some time as he kept the paths in the garden free from growth. In spring the following year, nothing much had changed. The winter had been unusually mild and repairs to the house and sheds were not onerous. The growth of the village had meant larger supermarkets arrived with their year-round apples and Gayman, one day, sat on the step by the front door, peeling his apple and feeling the warmth from the strengthening sun. He was distracted by someone's approach and looked up. Visitors were rare except for busy, clean smelling nurses and occasional checks on the spinning counters that mark off expended electricity or the gallons of water used for washing the globs of blood down the drain. But this was a stranger. He half stood, carefully placing his apple and the knife on the step. He made as complete an assessment as he could in the few steps the stranger had taken to reach the gate. He was a similar age to him, not very tall but taller, neat, symmetrical and his shoes seemed to reflect the blue sky, they were so polished. The stranger placed his hand on the gate post and smiled as Gayman slowly approached him. 'Hi', he had said and went on to explain that he was looking for someone by the name of Gayman. Gayman, usually so proud of admitting his own name, felt the stirring of a strange anxiety but, trying to emulate this strangers confidence, confessed he was the person in question with a smile he had hoped would suggest mutuality. 'Well', the stranger said 'I am honoured to meet my own namesake; we are, I think, the only two people in the world who share this name'. Gayman felt the surge of anxiety from eighteen months before anew and could feel the redness already expanding on his collar bones. The stranger went on to chuckle at the unlikely scenario in which they found themselves and what odds they might have achieved had they placed a bet against this happening. They would be millionaires, he had laughed. But for Gayman there was a more distressing reason for his namesake's visit. Being of similar age, Gayman the Interloper had also recently finished his education and was now ready to begin a career. He liked the village very much and, anyway, his parents had impatiently agreed that their son could stay at home until he was in a financial position to move into a place of his own. This seemed like the most economically sensible idea to Gayman the Interloper so he was happy with the decision. Like any other newcomer in the village, he had been made to understand the rules governing the workers of the village and had been advised that he was not the only Gayman of working age in the village by a committee member. Gayman, having been born in the village and having never left, even for a day visit, would have (like any other villager in the same position) first call on a trade or profession. This rule was never formally written into the legislation but was accepted by the committee and carefully communicated to any new arrivals. After all, they could not allow a situation to arise where a lifelong member of the village was disadvantaged by a newcomer; it struck them as unfair and also they feared a rebellion if development of the village meant disaster for the individual. Gayman the Interloper said his father had been a distiller for many years and that he would like to continue in that field. 'So this is it', Gayman thought. He had listened as the other spoke but inside was a tumult. He chewed his nails and ground the toe of his boot into the dirt. He held his breath and bit down hard on the tiny bits he had ripped from his fingers. He felt a little dizziness as if the ground moved. A few seconds passed after the Interloper had finished and Gayman did what he felt he must. 'Come with me', he said. The two walked along one of the narrow paths towards the back of the house. Gayman silently led the way and he imagined being a distiller; the smells, the waiting and the clinking of bottles; an impression he had gathered from a television programme about cider manufacture. He had tried cider the next time he was in a position to but found the flavour was too sour for him and whisky burned his throat. He supposed he would need to have a knowledge for what was a good batch and what was a bad batch and he would have to learn the techniques, but for now all he needed to do was stake his claim. As he approached the largest of the sheds, he glanced between the scruffy yews towards the open window of his father's bedroom and saw the oxygen pump ascend and descend; he heard the tinny voices of the television set. He led the stranger up the two concrete steps at one of the short ends of the shed into the gloom and smell of curing paint. There were many pots piled in approximate pyramids according to shade and brushes roughly grouped by size. There was a large work bench standing in the middle of the wooden floor. It benefited from what light entered through the dirty windows on the three walls not occupied by the door. It was at this bench that Gayman now stood. He had in front of him a piece of discarded wooden board and he cut it to a size of sixty by ninety centimetres with a hand saw. He quickly prised the top from a pot of green paint with a screw driver and found a small, flat paintbrush which he knew would have both excellent paint pick-up but a steady, even release. Not that this mattered today. He painted the board under the watchful eye of his guest who found the experience entirely intriguing and rather than interrupt his host, Gayman the Interloper observed with interest as this strange new acquaintance so diligently worked. When Gayman had completed the coat of green paint, he went to a corner of the shed which had smaller pots of brightly coloured paints and he moodily pulled out a pot of a glossy gold. He also gathered a steel ruler and a small, sharp pencil. He tapped the green paint and said 'nearly finished'; it was too quiet as he waited and he tapped again. He measured and drew lines with the pencil quickly. He drew the letters in the style of an engraver; he felt the formality was appropriate for a worker's sign and he enjoyed the clarity and definition the lettering offered. When he seemed happy with this lettering and brushed away the dust with his hand, he picked up a small chisel paintbrush and inspected it for debris. Then the gold pot was prised open and Gayman began the careful work of painting in the letters. The visitor was amazed at the precision and dexterity Gayman exhibited in this and watched ever more closely. Soon he saw what the sign was to say; 'Gayman the Distiller' in fine and clear lettering. He wondered at the unexpected generosity of his odd new friend. What a successful trip if he were to be clear to pursue his career as a distiller, make a friend and walk away with this magnificent sign. Gayman picked up the sign, tapped it again to check it was dry and placed it back on the bench. He found a heavy hammer and some nails and placed them also on the bench. He shuffled in the corner on the floor at the back of the shed and returned with piece of wood about the width and depth of the bench leg and a little over a metre long. He nailed the sign with two of the nails to the piece of wood. He pick it up, walked as briskly as his hip would allow him back along the path towards the road and stopped before opening the gate. Here, he turned and with as much strength as he had, furiously thrust the sign into the ground. The new villager was astonished. It seemed to him that his host had decided to become a distiller as well, and having the advantage of birthright, this Gayman the Original had the upper hand. Either his choice of career was a coincidence or the hostility he'd sensed was real and some antipathy existed between them, but he could think of no reason why that would be. He looked around hoping that the stones on the ground might give him an insight but none came. He said simply 'OK' and walked away. Gayman was exhilarated, incensed and bitterly saddened all at once. He had confronted this confident, calm stranger and defeated him but he was a devil for stealing his coat and never even having the character to return it or even apologise. And he was sad; his hope that this new Gayman might just fade away had been destroyed. But he vowed never to let this alien better him and would block any future attempt by him to gain a trade. Gayman the Interloper came once to make the enquiry, so perhaps he'd come again. Gayman the Original would certainly know what to do if he did return. And, of course, he returned. Not a week later, with the same air of simple self-assurance, the same levity and friendly smile, he was standing with his hand resting on top of the gatepost, on the pathway. He called out a friendly 'hello Gayman' as Gayman the Original approached, seething. He had heard in the greeting an inexplicable sarcasm, he was sure, and opprobrium swelled in his chest. 'May I call you something else? Gayman is my name and it confuses me to know you by the same', Gayman said, fearful that this unknown person might react combatively and he tensed in preparation. 'Mr Walters will do, if it makes things easier', he said. This was said in a way that suggested amusement and caused Gayman to suspect he was being mocked, even worse than being attacked, in his view. 'What do you want here, Mr Walters?' asked Gayman. 'As you have demonstrated by putting up that sign, you are to be a distiller (an excellent career choice, incidentally) and so I've been thinking of an alternative career for myself. As it turns out, I have a facility with numbers and a training position has come up at Ward and Partners Accountancy Firm. They have invited me to take up the trainee role', explained Mr Walters. 'I wonder if this might be acceptable', he said. Gayman beckoned to his visitor and walked to the same shed as before. He was shaking; what he was about to do could no longer be dismissed as a coincidence in their choice of trade but was a clear act of hostility. But he stayed firm; he had endured years of being bullied and pushed to the margins of existence and would not allow this foreigner to come to his own house and do the same. He took up a piece of board, cut it and prepared it as before and in the same meticulous way, had produced a sign of the most excellent precision. It read 'Gayman the Accountant'. Gayman Walters had observed the whole process closely and at times, even felt amused. He had walked around the shed, had picked up and read paint pots and had leaned over Gayman's shoulder, who shrugged angrily, to look more closely. The sign, eventually, was complete. They walked to the original post and Gayman pulled the board from it. He took the new sign and using two nails, attached it in the place of the previous one. 'I have decided', said Gayman 'to be an accountant'. 'Well perhaps I might, after all, be a distiller as you have chosen this new path', responded Mr Walters. Gayman immediately picked up the first sign and explained that whatever trade Mr Walters settled upon out of the two, that sign would be the one to be visible to the committee. So neither of these trades were open to him and he would need to think again. Gayman the Intruder felt aggrieved but also a little amused; this strange villager was determined indeed to get in his way and, having to concede to the rules of the village, Mr Walters was at a disadvantage. He was back, a week later and Gayman huffed with impatience when his reverie was once again interrupted by this nuisance. 'A barrister?' Asked Mr Walters. With the same resolve and skill, Gayman produced another sign. He had even bought more supplies. The committee, hoping to avoid a repeat of the embarrassment caused by Andrew the Giraffe Trainer's protest and flush with tax revenue, had created a fund for mitigating the inconvenience of same-named villagers pursuing the same career. Gayman had applied immediately upon discovering he was not alone in nomenclature and had been awarded, at least to Gayman, a surprisingly generous compensation. The committee members were amazed by how quickly the villager had found a career after the money had been handed over and then confused by how rapidly it had changed. But no complaint was received and the cost to them was insignificant so they let it go. Gayman had bought an electric sander, more paint and several more brushes, each of which Mr Walters studied closely as Gayman worked. The sign he created now was more expertly finished than any before or any other in the village; a barrister would be proud to plant this in the grounds of his offices. And all the while, the village grew and people arrived; land was bought and sold; fields became building sites; taxi drivers, dustbin men, portrait painters, dog walkers, computer engineers and car mechanics all began to make a living in the area. Gayman worried relentlessly about Mr Walters, that devil with his infernal smirk. He had not yet experienced even a cross word but still felt that he was involved in a battle with the newcomer. It galled him that the evidence available to him and others did not speak of conflict but of respectful negotiation. The Johnny Come Lately had been coming to the gate for almost a year and had devised jobs and trades that Gayman felt were more or less ridiculous and in every case, he had made a sign and pretended it was suddenly his own choice of career. He had signs piled high reading 'Gayman the Zookeeper', 'Gayman the Xylophonist' and plenty of others and each was painted while his rival poked his nose over his shoulder and watched every stroke of the brush. He had finished a new sign, Kite-maker, and had planted it in the ground and watched the now familiar shape of Mr Walters receding along the road with a light step and his jacket hanging from a single finger over his shoulder. Then two things happened which changed the world. Gayman the Alien stopped visiting. He had not seen him for weeks and presumed he had given up his search for a trade. It gave Gayman no joy as it was around this time that he noticed the absence of a familiar sound. As he had walked from the shed to the wire door at the back of the house, he realised the pumping of his father's respirator had stopped; the power cable had been tugged from the wall. He had died, the nurse said later, and there was nobody that could have survived the disease that had ruined his lungs and the pain, finally, would have been unendurable. She was very sorry and made the necessary arrangements to have Matthew the Housepainter interred. The next few years passes in a kind of a muddle. Although he had never enjoyed company, he had never been completely alone as he now felt. His father had left him a small inheritance which supported him but would not last. He had no trade to distract him and the house seemed to be collapsing around him, needing constant patching up. He did what he could but his home seemed to be ever more wretched in comparison to the angular, shiny new buildings being erected all over the town. An elaborate fountain was built and people played music in the streets for spare change. Heavily laden trains arrived at the sparkling new station and left empty. Department stores interrupted the view across the fields. Gayman kept himself away from the development, content to read the offers made for what was now his land. He had no idea what he would do with the money if he sold the place or where he would go, so he survived simply on what a housepainter could leave his only son. Although he could quite reasonably claim any of dozens of trades (he had the sign to prove each one), he had never worked and had never trained in a trade. Much of his time he spent occupied in reading the local news letter that came through the door; he'd recently read of the sudden death of the sculptor Christopher whose son, helping him raise a marble finial with pulleys and ropes to the top tier of a four tier fountain, had inexplicably let the rope get free and the finial had dropped, hitting Christopher Senior with such a heavy crunch on the head that he instantly lay dead. Such things were a shame but, in the event, the trade of sculptor was maintained within the village as Christopher Junior had stepped into his father's place, so Gayman was happy that at least something had been salvaged from the sad occurrence. He kept the news letters in a pile. He did and re-did a jigsaw puzzle depicting Saint Homobonus holding a bag of money and who had a suspicious look on his face. He carefully studied the pages of exercise the physiotherapist had given him but was afraid of the effort and pain they suggested. He had wasted a great deal of effort in banishing the stranger and now was left with a home in disrepair. That year, a hard winter had been forecast and he felt a menacing breeze blowing through the gaps of the kitchen window and worried for his pipes, the walls and the roof. He continued to collect coupons and kept them in envelopes next to his telephone directory, which he once had wished was ordered by first, not last, name. The passing seasons and the ruin that seemed to happen so imperceptibly worried him. Even the paths in the garden were becoming overgrown and difficult to follow. He never rejoiced. He received a birthday card from the city once, with no message. There was much he did not understand. The arrival of letters generally alarmed him. He had no friends and calls on his meagre financial resources caused him much anxiety. Surprises were never, in his experience, enjoyable. Hope was his first involuntary reaction but so often had he been disappointed, that he suppressed that and replaced it with dread. And today, he felt dread as he watched from the kitchen table as Frederick the Postman brought the packet to his door. Frederick was effusive in his apology. For years the packet, which had been returned, had lain in the post room store and had not been delivered to the proper addressee. It had, the explanation went, been so long undelivered that nobody accepted in might be their responsibility until a new manager for the post office had come from the city and had swept it and other forgotten stock into the light. So here it was, complete with a note written on the front of the packet from a Mrs Evelyn Walters. It was his jacket. That other Gayman had never, it seemed, even been aware of the coat. He put it on; it was a good fit. He looked in the telephone book for the address of Gayman Walters. He had a dreadful regret that he had wronged this amiable stranger and he wanted to say he was sorry; he had been the undeserving victim of much unfairness in his life, after all. He had ruined the new Gayman, he was sure, and for nothing. So he went to find him and put himself at the Foreigner's mercy. He walked in the chill of the morning with a new purpose and felt more awake than he had for a long time. The relief he felt at letting go the need for vengeance made him lighter by half. He did not enjoy the prospect of delivering an apology; it was not a function he had ever had to perform without being coerced or forced to but he was going to deliver his apology. In one sense, though, he would also be on familiar ground for he was certain to be considered a fool. He became more acutely aware of the expansion of the town as he walked his peculiar, slow walk. Many cars passed him and houses loomed over the street. Gates and walls defied him to enter, trees were marshalled in straight lines and the gutters were clear and clean. But the old village principles still existed in some ways the signs required by the committee were still necessary although largely derided by the newer breed of ex-city dwellers, and there were many of them along his path. Every kind of trade and job he could imagine was signified from acrobat, masseuse, soldier and tax official. There were many signs for jobs in banks and securities traders and estate agents. Each, he was pleased to see, were expertly painted and precisely executed. There must be many thousands of new people in this town, he estimated, perhaps tens of thousands. His village had been completely subsumed into the massive, irrepressible advance of suburbia, even this far from the city. He came, eventually, to a large set of wrought iron gates which were tall and quite secure. It was the address he'd sought but not what he had expected to find. This person was clearly of means and of a simple elegant taste. He pressed his face against the gates and looked in to see a large, spacious house and a driveway cutting through the middle of a handsome lawn, lined with beeches. Should he really apologise to the person who lives here? Perhaps there was a button somewhere to attract attention from inside. He stepped back and looked at the large concrete pillars holding up the gates to see if some sort of intercom were there. He did not see one before his eye alighted on what struck him as the most extraordinary sight he might ever have seen. In immaculate lustrous gold lettering on a board of committee-green and painted perfectly in a handsome engraver's style, with a towering 'G', a modest but elegant 'y', an outstanding 'S' and in a meticulous, evenly executed hand were the words 'Gayman the Signwriter'.
Archived comments for Gayman the Signwriter
BATEMAN on 12-10-2012
Gayman the Signwriter
A very good but very long story, i can imagine poor gaymans face when the postman explained that there were to people in the village with the same names.
Enjoyable read though xxxxx

Author's Reply:
Many thanks and sorry for delay in reply - people sometimes have no idea that I would rather be on UKA than working. Yes - a long story. Yep. Breaking it up seemed to ruin the rhythm of it. Glad you enjoyed.

expat on 14-10-2012
Gayman the Signwriter
Hi, Squiddles,
You're not going to get too many reads or comments from a submission this long. I think your best bet would be to post it in three or four sections. 7000 words is hard work on a screen and 'roadside' impressions are going to get swallowed up.
Too much solid narrative for me; perhaps you could introduce more dialogue and let the characters speak for themselves.
Good spelling, sentence construction and grammar in the parts I read.
Best wishes,
Steve


Author's Reply:
Thanks Steve. I get it being too long - I wouldn't have read it but I always hope other people are less lazy than me. Concentration is a gift which I do not to possess but I rather hope everyone else is luckier. Perhaps you're right though - 7000 words is quite a few.

Andrea on 14-10-2012
Gayman the Signwriter
Agree with Ex, Squiddle. Also advise left-side justification only. Read well to me, too, but awfully long for reading in one sitting. 1500-2000 words is about most peoples max 🙂

Author's Reply:
but I can't write a whole story in that many! When I was at school, my essays used to be very concise indeed but as I grow older and my brain crystalises into a brittle, amorphous lump of bloodless, calicified gristle, I prefer to be more drawn out. As for justifying my writing - never!


Where Is My Cab? (posted on: 21-09-12)
Escapism

Lofty ceilings in the large dining room and the excellent ventilation permitted no lingering odour of the superb cuisine to confuse the diner's pallet. It was not until a plate was set under one's nose that the chef's mastery would be revealed. Of course anyone could look at the other plates and see, get the saliva glands going, but the smells produced the strongest response. Not that this would be any surprise to Roddy; he had been at this very table many times before. The refectory style of the tables and the chairs, the whirl of so many familiar faces and the expert navigation of the sommeliers, valuable stock whisked aloft in the throng, gave Roddy the impression of being back at Balliol when students were treated like gentlemen. In these apparently straitened times, the affection so many had for grasping at ever more distant or imagined tradition kept this place, this refuge, turning over a lucrative and persistent trade. It was a tussle, the lunch time rush. Reservations were made weeks in advance but still the hopeful handful arrived without one and the ensuing scrum was polite but chaotic. Roddy knew the ropes. The mechanics of getting hundreds of people fed in a short time were complex and he preferred to absorb the hubbub from his favourite spot and to ensure it, he came early, sometimes half way through the morning. Success in the financial markets had afforded Roddy a certain latitude in the hours he spent at his desk. And anyway, he had worked hard, sacrificed a good deal and had come out of the pressure cooker in the city with good taste, a sound reputation and an enviable bank account; he deserved a little luxury. It takes (he contentedly reminded himself) timing, acuity, judgement, industry and perhaps a sprinkle of fortune to make it through the maze with anything but regret. He had found the balance, had found a seam, had coaxed the most expedient friendships from suspicious clients and had kept himself at the front of the swell in the complex futures market. In his wake and by following his lead, colleagues had made fortunes and the markets had moved; he felt with a familiar pride that he could influence the condition of the stock markets across continents. To be a protg of his was to be guaranteed millions. The money was not counted anymore but was considered for its influence. He has such wealth that he could enjoy his greatest pleasures without concern; it was simply a mechanism for him to indulge his greatest joys, one of which was to be seated at this perfect table, in this perfect place at this perfect time. He smiled his generous smile at the young men who glanced in his direction, feeling their competitive urge and their subtle envy. Three decades in the city marked him as a veteran, a sage elder and that he was still popping up on the financial news was evidence that he was still active and able. But this city doesn't like a braggart, he remembers, and he gently pulls the sleeves of his jacket to cover the platinum tiger head cufflinks, the ones with the diamonds for eyes. The noise and the air rush upwards as the scramble takes hold. The notion that a vortex is developing occurs to him; the accelerating swirl seems inevitably to become self-fuelling and it sucks the expanding hubris and excitement from the throats of the crowd coming through the door, amplifying the noise. The expectation of excellence, the sense of entitlement satisfied, the this-is-how-far-I've-come attitude from this dense body of city professionals creates an energy Roddy thrives upon, for it is he at the upper point of the vortex; he is both the seed that creates it and the source of its energy. So many arrive and look towards him. Some nod a greeting, some smile, some frown at his constancy, daggers drawn. In a way he feels a duty to be there in that seat. If he is not there then the markets may suffer, the economy could fail, the world could end. He brushes a speck off the sleeve of his jacket. A Cad and The Dandy tailored suit he liked the name of the firm and the suits were adequate; also, they have an outlet in New York and, on his frequent trips there, he could rely on them to provide a familiar level of service. He lazily turns his attention to the menu, knowing what he would see but wondering if there were any surprises. The chef is a Michelin starred genius and the specialities sparkle with originality. The monkfish with black olive compote and chilli with blood orange sauce was a precocious departure from the usual tomato sauces this strange, ugly fish attracts. This chef's intemperate confidence has brought him many plaudits (and some hissing) and he was a firm favourite of Roddy, who recognised much of himself in his avant-garde approach. They, Roddy and the chef, shared a facility to create something of simple and individual perfection not by luck or as the result of a Eureka! moment but by the distillation of a lifetime of dedicated focus. Every good choice, every lesson learned, every failure acknowledged and every success recognised over decades culminates in this, today, arriving at this summit. He begins to salivate a little. Some simply sauted chunky potatoes perhaps, with that Vaillons Chablis, the '99, the one he had had his eye on for while. Seasonal vegetables accompany every dish so that was a given. Perhaps he would have dessert today but usually a small digestive would suffice. Choices. He looked down at his hands and splays out his fingers, palms down. For a short time, he touches his thumbs together and tries to create a perfect symmetry but found he cannot. He tries again but even by the miniscule shifting of each finger, it never seems right, exact. Hands are strange things and he noted that the warm tone of his summer tan was diminishing. His hands convey, he believes, a good mix of strength, finesse and sympathy. They were certainly clean and well manicured; he had no trouble presenting them or showing them off. His order is taken and swept away with just a waved finger and a mumble from Roddy. Corks are smoothly removed, labels shown, cutlery rings out and chairs scrape the ground. Two young women arrive with two young men, each perhaps of twenty eight or so, gleaming to be in the place, trying to appear relaxed. One of the girls, pretty in an unaffected way, gestures towards Roddy and the other smiles behind her hand as she regards Roddy for a moment. He had met so many of these young people that he lost track but perhaps he had amused them with some anecdote sometime. He could not recall this girl specifically so looked back down at his hands, allowing a playful smile to spread on his face. He hopes she would notice. His determination to succeed had been a barrier to love. Money helped but only for brief moments, quick flings. Only the poor, stupid and ugly experience true, immaculate love; if a soul is not encumbered by wealth, wit or beauty, there is only the soul to love. Roddy, though, is rich, intelligent and handsome so what he might mistake for love might actually be lust, perversion or greed; he prefers to keep himself out of all that so he does not expose himself to the temptation any more. He still enjoys a bit of attention though; he even returned their gaze at times, sometimes much longer than even he felt he should but they seemed mesmerised. It was the hold he had; the power he enjoyed, he concluded. He amuses himself with these moments of introspection and feels himself smirking at his self-indulgence. Someone calls his name. It crashes into his consciousness and he looks over at the table, perhaps forty feet from him (by the lavatory) to see that bloated, red-faced buffoon Bobby something-or-other waving and mouthing something incomprehensible. He ignores Bobby. He looks about for the pretty girl with the coquettish style but she had been subsumed into the main body of the dining room. Oh well, he still felt happy to be here with all this enthusiasm and hope around him. He nodded respectfully at the two men who had sat at the other end of his trestle table. They nervously nodded in reply and looked down at their plates (where did they come from?) and then they glance back. He releases them from their anguish by looking away. It is busy now. Another place is taken on his table by a lady of an age he would guess to be around the mid-forties. She looked directly at him and her warm expression makes her seem kindly. A visitor to the city; he had become used to the hard look of the ultra-competitive front office boys and this woman, who has a look of a charity worker or an experienced trauma nurse, was not at home here. He returned her open look with a subtle nod and he noticed her look at this hands which remained on the table in front of him. Funny he had just been so immersed in assessing his own hands and now she had notices them too; it makes him chuckle. He looks up again and was surprised to see this lady already eating. It did not injure him that she ate but that he still waited was a surprise. That sucking feeling in his belly seemed immediately to become more pronounced and it distracted him. He senses an irritation growing in him and he tries to suppress it. The success he had made of his life had been achieved by remaining calm in difficult situations and anger, after all, caused a sharp drop in IQ. Expressions of rage were unpleasant anyway and he preferred to keep his balanced and rational face on in town. ''Is this where you live?'' Two young boys pop up in front of him. Children of a banker caught on the hop he imagines and now they have escaped and are running loose in the restaurant. They had leapt onto the bench opposite him and were observing him with the callous grinning curiosity only children can carry off. Roddy growls at them. Children are suckers for a growl and his fun, avuncular way with them made him popular and, anyway, it amuses him. These two let the cruel grins slide from their faces and they stare briefly, appearing suddenly fearful. They bound hurriedly off the bench and run back into the throng. It was strange, they had seemed alarmed. Perhaps his growl was more scary than he remembered. He recalled the matronly lady and sought her out to share the thought but she had gone. She had finished and he still sat hungry. He saw many people eating but the table in front of him remained occupied by only his own hands. He lifted his right arm and gestured towards the waiter with a curt wave of his hand. Eventually the waiter saw him and he responded with a shrug of confusion, looking left and right as if he could not possibly be the person Roddy was meaning to attract. This guy is an idiot; Roddy would bring it up with the maitre d'. Then the waiter turned his back and walked away, looking once over his shoulder and mouthing something angrily at Roddy. Roddy was appalled. He became sullen. They must have lost his order somewhere and while he waited, others had arrived, ordered, eaten, enjoyed and left. He found it depressing that not only the staff but the other diners had failed to notice the discrepancy. Surely someone must be aware of his situation? It made him feel antipathy towards those immediately around him; even a little angry. His mother, when he was a boy, would always speculate that if he was moody, he was probably hungry and he had grown to believe that this is the case; hunger made him angry. It would be better for everyone if he ate soon. He found himself tutting angrily at people near to him. Already it seemed the restaurant was beginning to empty. Fewer people produced less heat and the air was certainly cooling. Also, the din of voices was receding and it occurred to Roddy that he had been forgotten entirely, abandoned. He was furious and despite his wish to remain calm, he lifted his right hand and pounded it on the table top with all of his might. The pain it caused was instant and stunning. It caused him to call out in pain. He was suddenly in a whirl of anger, pain and embarrassment; the remaining diners were suddenly alarmed and they hastened their departure, abandoning their desserts and coffee. His outburst produced no response from the waiters at all. The two young boys were ushered, a hand on each back, from the room. He thought he recognised sympathy in the faces of a few but also suspected some may have been afraid. His hand caused him a great deal of pain and he felt unbalanced by it. Then everyone was gone, except the chortling Bobby. He seems to find the whole thing hysterical and whooped with glee. The extraordinary pain in his hand, the emptiness he felt in his belly and the rapidly cooling air were already too much to bear and it was then he felt the drops of water fall onto his head. He looked upwards. Clouds were tumbling, hastened by a cool breeze and the rain began to fall harder. The restaurant, the supporting pillars and the high ceiling were gone. He sat, he realised as his reverie was wiped out by his misery, at a table marked by knife cuts and graffiti in the gardens between the school and this hospital. The bandages on his right hand showed blood had soaked through, caused by his striking the table in his earlier fury. A diabetic infection had so badly ruined his index finger and thumb that they had been amputated four days before. The operation also ended his taxi driving career. All that remained, now that the dream was displaced by this hard reality, was his hunger, his pain, his blank view into an empty future and Bobby jabbering and hooting under the tree (by the public toilet).
Archived comments for Where Is My Cab?
Weefatfella on 21-09-2012
Taxi Drivers Listen and Build Universes
Very insightful and enlightened piece. perhaps if I may be so bold. the title could be changed I felt it gave the denouement away. Although maybe just to me. I have been a taxi driver for nearly forty years and the embellishments that drivers make to their lives never mind their fares is sometimes embarrassing. They seem to think that the punter doesn't talk to any other drivers. That aside I may have the wrong take altogether. I must say the language gave the piece life and credibility. A very enjoyable read frighteningly so. I could be doing with a slice of your inventiveness and may I grovel, vocabulary.
Stephen Hawking and cronies may have it all wrong never mind string theory. Just listen at the taxi rank. Thank you for sharing and I apologise for rambling on.
Weefatfella.

Author's Reply:
Thank you for your comments. I changed the title to give it context but against my own mind - it really should be to the reader to decide. It must be with constant fascination to hear all the rubbish people come out with in a taxi, I envy you as much as I don't.

Texasgreg on 22-09-2012
Taxi Drivers Listen and Build Universes
Aye! An imagination resulting in a feast for the mind, lol.

I too liked it much,

Greg 🙂

Author's Reply:
Thanks Greg - daydreaming is an excellent pursuit in my day and one I recommend. It's kind of you to comment and I hope all is well in Texasgreg land.

CVaughan on 24-09-2012
Taxi Drivers Listen and Build Universes

I thought super descriptive passages read beautifully in the rise before the fall. Your suave achiever reminded me a bit of Gatsby in his confident assurance of pre-eminence,
how others were regarding him. A shame when revealed as not an actuality. Good reading however for me, enjoyed.

Author's Reply:


The Donkey (pt 2) (posted on: 03-09-12)
Couldn't decide if this is humour or not. The conclusion anyway.

Archie went back to the valley with a renewed vigour and filled with excitement. With his wife, he packed up the mill and although he would miss the cold, damp stones and the gentle rush of the river over his wooden flume, he was very pleased with how things had turned out. He said his goodbyes and the little family slowly made its way to the open meadows above the reservoir's limits. They made the flowers and the breeze of the meadow in good time and as they approached the farm, the old lady was again in front of the farmhouse where she swept the few flagstones with a broom. She would stop now and again and pick up a stone which she angrily flung at the donkey, but the donkey paid her no attention at all and just swished its tail around as if each stone were a fly. Seemingly satisfied with her job of sweeping, she looked up and saw Archie and his family as they advanced on the farmhouse. She smiled and waved; at last she could leave this tiresome farm and at the same time keep her promise to her dead husband, who had dropped off the roof after trying to fix a leak in a lightning storm. After the niceties and some bitter tea, the old lady explained that spring wheat had been sown by a neighbouring labourer and that there should be enough in the store sheds to keep them going. All Archie had to do was try to keep the birds away and hope the rain was sufficient over the summer months. Then she prepared to go to her new home, an annex that her son had built on the side of his house, near the market. She reiterated the deal to Archie and he confirmed he understood his responsibilities but she gave him directions to her son's house, in the event he needed to speak with her. His confidence brimmed; there would be no need for her to worry, he said. And then she left on foot, aiming one last vicious kick at the donkey as she passed into the broad afternoon. ''She really hates that donkey!'' laughed Archie's wife as she looked around the kitchen. Her name was Portia which was a very exotic name for this area. ''Well, you can't love everything, I suppose, and it is only an ugly old mule,'' said Archie is response. He dragged a crate of belongings across the threshold and laughed with his wife. Portia would take on the house and look after it. Archie would tend to the fields, harvest what they grew and take it to market to sell it. It was a good plan, they agreed, as it seemed they would each to playing to their own strengths while still working together. And in his researches, Archie discovered that three fields would provide him with more than enough return to support his family, so they would most certainly make a profit if they took care. So, they could save up and perhaps buy their own farm one day. Whatever the future held, Archie and Portia felt optimism for their new life. After they had unpacked a few things and had moved some furniture to their own taste, Archie sat at the small table outside and breathed in the air. It was a warm evening and he was feeling tired from his exertions during the day. As he sat, he began to feel a swirling lightness approach and he let himself drift on a warm current towards sleep. He dreamt of kestrels hovering on the gentle currents, high above the crops, looking for mice amongst the wheat and of wild flowers shooshing in the breeze. But the pleasing dream became suddenly convulsed with large stones falling from the sky, smashing down on the fields and making the ground shake and dust fly up. Archie woke up feeling irritated by the intervention. He noticed that the pounding sound continued and he looked towards the source of the noise; the donkey. It was rearing and stamping and pulling on its rope. It was heehawing in a high pitched screech and slobbering on the rope and pulling and pulling; trying to get to more flowers as it had gobbled up all those within the range of the rope. Archie went over and untied the rope and allowed the impatient animal to move to a fresh supply of plants. He tied the rope to a small tree that grew a few metres from the house and the donkey kicked out at him, he felt sure. Its head down, the donkey had fixed his stupid eye on Archie as he walked away and it set about devouring all of the juicy flower heads it could reach. Apart from that, he first days of their farming career went well; there were bright little shoots appearing in each of the fields and the weather was benign. Archie's daughter, Rose, sat on a little red blanket on the grass, pointing and giggling at sheep and cows as they wandered past. Portia was busy tying bows around curtains, scrubbing the floors and putting her favourite plates on the dresser in the kitchen. Archie walked to the market and asked about setting a stall to sell his wheat and was pleased to make quick progress; he would have his stall in September and so long as he could keep his stock well enough and he planted his winter wheat before the cold weather, he should have a constant supply to take to market. The wheat straw he would be left with would be more than enough to keep the donkey fed and perhaps there would even be some he could sell. Although he was no mathematician, Archie was satisfied that two fields alone would generate enough income to keep him and his family in food, fuel and other supplies and the third field would be their profit. This provided Archie with ample reason to feel that he had made the right decision and that his family's future would be secured so, with a joyful energy, he ran around the fields chasing away sparrows and doves. One morning, as the wheat grew stronger and the longest day had passed, Archie decided to get his cart and the donkey ready for his trips to market. The donkey had chewed the heads off most of the flowers around anyway and it would need some hay or straw. He untied the donkey from its post and pulled it towards the small wooden cart, which he had pulled himself round from the back of the storage shed. As a mode of transport, the idea of a donkey and cart appealed to Archie; virtually no cost and very easy to steer over the paths to the market which was six or seven kilometres away. But the donkey resisted. After spending the Dog Days chewing up all the juicy flowers heads and wandering about on the end of its long rope in the warm breeze, the donkey (in Archie's eye, at least) looked ready for some work. Archie had never seen the donkey do anything except eat, sleep and stand over the water trough, apparently transfixed by its own reflection; it was time to put the beast to some use. But the donkey saw the harness and its ears lay back on its head, its tail swished violently from side to side and it clacked its big brown teeth together. It would not approach the cart at all, despite Archie pulling on the rope with all of his strength. Perhaps the donkey was unwell or injured. He looked at it and its stupid, whirling eyes looked gummy. He washed them very gently with warm water and some cotton balls he had taken from his wife's bag of baby things. Then he looked at the donkey's hooves, one by one. He dug out the stones and the mud with a metal pick and made certain the hooves were not split or bleeding, although he had no idea of how this might come to pass as the donkey never did anything more strenuous than plod from one soft patch of flowers to another. Rose and Portia watched as Archie sought to bring the donkey round and giggled when it became apparent that this donkey was not responding. Still Archie had to huff and puff to harness the donkey and it was finally with the hefty bribe of an armful of flowers that the donkey approached and, while it was distracted by the treat, Archie got the harness on. But once the bribe was consumed and after much petting, preening and soft words from Archie, still no movement from the donkey; it just stood and would not move at all. It heehawed impatiently and clopped its newly cleaned hooves but would not move. You get more with honey than you do with vinegar, Archie remembered and despite the temptation to take a lash to the uncompromising animal, he bundled up some more flowers and walked ahead and placed them in the middle of the track. After eyeballing the second bribe and testing the burden it now had harnessed to it, the donkey slowly edged forward. Progress was slow and the donkey's annoyance was obvious but the chewy, tasty blossoms were too much to resist. After half an hour, the flowers were gobbled up, the cart had moved perhaps eighty metres and the donkey stood stock still on the track, malevolently glaring at Archie. Clearly it would not go on without more honey, so again Archie bundled up flowers and placed them further on down the track. The donkey took its own time, stopping at a puddle for a drink and lingering over its reflection for a while before accepting the bribe. Clouds rolled over the horizon as Portia and Rose pointed and giggled. It was late in the evening when Archie returned, soaked through. He had walked the entire way to the market and back again and his hands were raw from pulling up plants and flowers. The donkey had refused the hay it was offered and had sat down and slept under a bush for a full hour as the storm passed over. It had heehawed angrily at everyone Archie spoke to and they muttered about what a nasty donkey it was. The shrill blasts of hee! hee! were accompanied by it straining its neck, squeezing its eyes shut, jumping and kicking its hind hooves at the chickens and dogs in the market. It had seen the florist's stall and before Archie could stop it, the menace had descended on the roses and carnations and had made a mess of the whole display. It cost Archie a pretty penny to pay for the damage. It made no sense that this beast would be so badly behaved. Was a donkey not a beast of burden? Did it not understand its role in the scheme of things? By September, the grass has stopped growing and the flowers had all died back for winter. The crop of wheat was mature and ripening in the late summer sun. Rose was crawling by the embers glowing in the grate under the watchful eye of Portia and Archie was staring out of the window at the straining, stomping donkey. He had long realised it would be no good to him or the farm but he knew he had a contract with the old lady. He had to make sure this heehawing, greedy, buck toothed creature was looked after but he was now firmly of the mind that it needed a good, hard kick. Archie had been to the market many times to get supplies and often he had bought straw to feed the donkey as he was yet to make a harvest. But the donkey would have none of it and would stamp and hee! all night, keeping the three of them awake. He began to concentrate, as people will in the dead of night, on the noise and hubbub being created outside and he wracked his brain how he could keep the horrible thing quiet. Then he remembered what the old lady had said about feeding the donkey radishes in winter and this, he realised, might be his only hope. The next day was market day so Archie rose early and went, on foot, to buy radishes. After the fateful trip earlier in the summer, he'd realised there was nothing to be gained from trying to get the donkey to pull the cart, so he took the two shafts in his own hands and pulled it along himself. It was a sorry state of affairs, he realised, that the fat, lazy donkey stayed pressed against the warm house while he pulled the cart to the market to buy radishes for it. He still had most of the money he had from the purchase of his mill and he now relied on this to feed the donkey, but radishes were expensive and he hoped that the fields would produce enough profit to cover this unexpected and unwelcome expense. He got back in the cooling, blustery evening and dropped the radishes on the ground for the donkey. It ate them carefully, ensuring not to eat anything but the crunchy red radish as it seemed to dislike the leaves attached to them. For its own cause the donkey was a meticulous and industrious worker; Archie almost admired the precision with which it could separate the stems from the radishes, even with those garish swollen lips, the slobbering tongue and the uneven, gnashing teeth. But as soon as it had finished, the donkey came out with its hee! hee! again and again. It was pulling on the rope to try to get to the other radishes it had spied on the cart. Archie was adamant; these radishes would be rationed. But at midnight, as Portia gently cradled crying, grouchy Rose, Archie was outside trying to pull the source of their discomfort far from the house so they would not hear its hee! hee! any longer, but it would not budge. He was becoming furious. He could hear the baby, normally a deep, peaceful sleeper, screaming from fatigue. He was sure he heard, as he caught his breath between attempts to coax the donkey, that Portia was quietly sobbing too. ****** When the wheat was ready, Archie nearly broke his back bringing it in. Portia helped when she could and Rose watched them. Archie had done his maths again and had discovered that the amount of money he would make from the two fields he had for his family's expenses would be sufficient, but the produce from the third field would have to be sold for the cost of radishes. And even then, it would not cover the whole amount; he would have to draw on his savings. He could see that if he stayed here with his family, he would end up poorer than ever and after many nights lying awake, gripped around the ribs by his worry, he accepted he had no option but to give up on the farm. He was astonished. His hard work and his careful planning were not enough, he realised. He had prepared as much as he could but this donkey, the malingering stupid donkey, had done for them all. Had he not so naively assumed that all donkeys were the same; had he thought that this donkey was going to be the horrible, sucking parasite that it was, he may never have agreed to the old lady's plan. He sold the wheat for what he could get at the market; he even bought more radishes but while he was there, he knocked on the door of the old lady's son. ''We can't stay at the farm; that donkey has ruined us'', he said, sadly, when the old lady came to the door. ''That stupid donkey ruins everything'', she said. ''You could have told me'', he replied. ''You could have asked; I would not have lied'', she said Archie, Portia and Rose left the farm that winter with their things tied down on their cart and decided to take their chances back in valley. At least, thought Archie with much regret and a little joy, he and his family would never see that donkey again.
Archived comments for The Donkey (pt 2)
Texasgreg on 03-09-2012
The Donkey (pt 2)
You from Texas? Hehe, sounds like local lore to me...
Aye! Before methods employed in modern agriculture, an average wheat field generated enough to feed three families for a year and the task was daunting. If you haven't seen the documentary Food, Inc. I strongly encourage it. It'll piss ya off, scare ya and make ya wonder how we'll ever get outta this mess.

Oh! Sorry, I have a way of getting off track.

Nice story!
Photobucket.
Greg


Author's Reply:
Many thanks Greg - 'fraid I cannot admit to being texan; Australia born but now in the French Alps (so almost the same). Have heard much about Food, Inc - should pull my finger out and watch it.

Nomenklatura on 05-09-2012
The Donkey (pt 2)
Donkey as metaphor for the banks! Splendid tale telling.

Author's Reply:
Thank you. I enjoy the word 'splendid' whenever it is applied to me or something I've done, which is rare. Actually, this might be the first time. Still, it's a start.

roger303 on 05-09-2012
The Donkey (pt 2)
I love this but it depressed me.

The onset wasn't prompted by your brilliant metaphor or the fact that society insists on heading down the drain, generally.

It's because I can't write anything as accomplished as this!
Thanks!

More please.





Author's Reply:
high praise - thank you. Stories arrive in the night, I find. If I don't wake up, they go on to someone else. Just sleep badly. Job done.

Weefatfella on 16-09-2012
The Donkey (pt 2)
Great tale of profit and loss. maybe I was right the moral is clear, in a new business check everything. Loved the story and well told. Thank you for posting I look forward to more of the same.

Author's Reply:


The Donkey (posted on: 06-08-12)
This is the first half of a story about economically driven migration, corruption, naivety and a stupid donkey.

The plans for the reservoir had already been agreed, the designs drawn up and the appropriate donations made before Archie even heard of the proposition. He appealed against it but was rebuffed. The consequences to him would be ruinous and his complaints were met by the councillors with sorrow-filled eyes, the worry positively etched upon their shiny brows but also with deaf ears; there was simply nothing that could be done. As Archie enumerated his worries, they scratched their pencils on their notepads with much vigour but their minds were elsewhere, perhaps imagining what to do with the lucre which seemed to accompany developments of this kind. The back room discussions which ensured this disastrous project could go forward would also ensure the future prosperity of the senior council members with only the small regret of having to submerge thousands of hectares of the district. It was all, they said, in the common interest and would bring together a fractured society to create wealth, employment and it would reinvigorate a district mired, apparently, in a commercial malaise. Archie's water mill would be obtained by the water company under a hastily prepared forced-purchase arrangement for a price well below its actual value. Of course he could decline, they generously pointed out, but if he did not agree to their purchase price his property would be worth much less when it was twenty metres under water, which Archie conceded was most likely true. He complained that his loss would be the water company's gain and the council explained that although his sentiment was understandable, he should consider not only his own position, but the benefits the reservoir would bring to everyone in the district. Those benefits were explained in such arcane, elaborate but excited terms that he left feeling as though he had been mugged of his logic and with the nagging impression that he was too simple to understand such a clever and long-term vision. Time passed and his will was diminished completely. He felt impotent in the face of the rose scented council lady who was assigned to deflect his bothersome bellyaching, the insuperable water company and, most importantly, the millions of litres of merciless water that would soon engulf his home and the mill. Finally though, practical necessity imposed itself and to avoid submersion and the risk of drowning, he accepted the pittance from the water company and prepared to take his wife and their little baby from the house he had lived in, boy and man, and leave the deep, narrow valley before it filled up. Archie thought he should take the money he had received for his mill and find a new mill, somewhere upstream of the reservoir, to rent or maybe even to buy, if the sum he had received would stretch to it. The corn, after all, still had to be milled. He kissed his little girl on the forehead and promised his wife that he would return soon with a solution to their problem. He left with some sadness in his heart; the mill had provided him with a modest but secure living although he discovered that the prospect of a new life sparked in him the beginnings of hopeful excitement. Perhaps change was to be embraced. The future held many possibilities and as, in his mind, he wandered over the new landscapes they might encounter he sensed that there was indeed much to be hopeful about. Feeling encouraged, he headed upstream along the path next to the river until he passed the signs, nailed to trees, which showed the uppermost extent of where the reservoir waters would reach. Beyond that, he knew, the river would still flow and mills would still run as they did lower down in the valley. Deep in thought and imagining his future, he did not need to walk far to find a handsome overshot water mill attached to a solid looking building with deep oak beams and well tended flume. He approached the door of the building and knocked. He could hear as the latch was released and when the door opened, he saw in front of him a man of about fifty years, with maize husks stuck in his beard and with a hurried look about him. ''Yes?'' He asked. ''I'm from lower down the river and my mill will be flooded by the reservoir; I have come to know if you want to rent your mill, or even to sell it'', said Archie. ''You're the tenth'' he said. ''There are plenty of you lot looking for a new place. Some are farmers or horse trainers or anything. How much have you got?'' He had waved Archie into a store room and the man sat on a wooden chair in the manner, Archie thought, of someone very pleased with himself despite wearing shoes that were so much worn at the heel. Archie was a little surprised by this man's directness, imagining instead a fellow mill-keeper who would be interested in discussing techniques, seasons and rustic commerce. But no. Archie told the man how much his pay off had been and the man winced as though in pain and he then he whistled quietly through his teeth. He told Archie that most of the people who had visited him had much more, having been forewarned of the calamitous reservoir and having been able to put aside money for the event. Archie had not been warned and had no such chance to prepare and therefore had a smaller amount. This mill, said the man, had almost doubled in price since the reservoir idea was put forward and now that the flooding was imminent, there was a certain desperation in the offers being made to him. Lucky for this miller, thought Archie, but now that the demand for the mill had increased by so much, the price had gone up as well. Certainly, this man with bits of corn on his face was mindful that he could make a killing and was evidently prepared to wait it out until he could maximise his return. What money Archie had was not enough. He did not even attempt to negotiate as he estimated he had about half the amount he needed. The untidy miller, wealthy in theory, bade him farewell and waved him off up the path. To Archie, It was an unsettling notion that he was not alone in his need to find new employ and accommodation, especially as his money seemed now to be much less valuable than he had thought. Archie continued upstream and came across three other mills but the story was always the same. Each was in discussion with others displaced by the reservoir and the sudden demand had driven the prices up and, as Archie found out, the sudden availability of a large workforce had driven pay rates down so he could not even get work at a decent wage. To make matters worse, he even found that the further upstream he walked, the more pitiful the flow of the river until it was scarcely more than a trickle; certainly not enough to drive a water mill at any rate. In this dark frame of mind he had walked mindlessly on until he had come to the broad, open meadows at the top of the valley. He realised that he was no further in finding a place to bring his family and now he was out of his familiar environment and his options were exhausted. Archie sat dejectedly on the ground in the warm, spring afternoon. He became aware in time of the wild flowers that surrounded him and began to hear the buzzing of the bees and wasps. He could see them hopping from one flower to the next, searching for nectar and pollen. They were tireless and went on without paying the smallest heed to him at all and he enjoyed watching them vie for the best little blossoms. This reverie had caused his mood to improve and he felt strangely encouraged. He stood up in the meadow and breathed in the fragrant air. He was so used to living within the walls of the valley that this open, uninterrupted landscape was exhilarating to him and the warm, gentle breeze caused the abundant flowers to lean and play all around him. He was aware of the sharp points of scattered stones hidden under the flowers and he considered the lack of natural defences against storms that inevitably roll across the plains but for now, he preferred to enjoy the gentians, poppies and buttercups without worrying about those things. In fact, he felt intoxicated in the meadow and after he had sat a while, a warmth travelling through him, he felt a new optimism raise within him so he stood, shook himself back into clarity and he buzzed on to find whatever would sustain him and his family. He walked on for an hour, past roaming cows and goats, and he saw three people approaching him. A man was struggling to keep a barrow, one that was spilling over the sides and tied down with sack cloth, moving over the rutted path. He had a woman and a child with him. As they got closer, Archie saw the struggle in the man's face and they proceeded in silence, the woman and the boy some way behind the man and there was a sad expression on each face. He asked where they were going. ''We're going back to the valley. Once we knew about the bloody reservoir, we came here to start again but we didn't know what we were doing, so now we have to go back,'' said the man. He looked relieved to have the opportunity to rest but the woman looked irritated and stared over the meadow, not seeing the bright flowers. ''What happened?'' asked Archie in a grave and hopefully sympathetic tone. ''We thought we could try cropping the pastures. I was a woodsman in the valley but all the good trees were cleared,'' the recollection seemed to sadden him, ''and we had a chance at some land up here so we came almost a year ago.'' ''The land is no good?'' asked Archie, surprised not only by the idea that the land would be poor but by the amount of notice this man had had. ''It wasn't that; we didn't know how to run it. I'm not a farmer like I said so even though the soil is fine, it needs fertilizing and turning and all that. We sowed the seeds late and the ground hadn't been turned over. We didn't know.'' Said the man and he glanced at her as the woman huffed impatiently. They chatted about the valley and mutual friends for a while. Archie discovered that the man was the nephew of a senior counsellor and it was from him that the news of the reservoir had come, well before it was public. Sometimes, it occurred to Archie, inside knowledge is not a benefit. Eventually, they said their goodbyes and the continued on their way. Despite the sad story, Archie was not discouraged but conversely felt that his meeting those poor people had given him an appetite for farming. He could see the soil was rich enough and fertiliser would be abundant from the roaming herds of animals. What little he knew about growing crops would be enough, at least, to get them started. The rest he could find out by asking those who knew. There was a building further along the path he was following. He decided to go there and ask for news of opportunities in this district. As he got nearer, he saw an elderly woman in front of the building holding a rope, the other end of which was lassoed around the neck of a brown donkey with a white nose. The woman, her black hat and shawl all askew, was pulling with both hands and all of her meagre weight at the beast, mouthing furiously and aiming a frustrated kick at it from time to time. Despite her efforts, the donkey ignored her and it just went on munching flowers, twitching its ears and smacking its stained tail around to disperse the horseflies. ''Hello'', he said as he got closer. She regarded him much as though he were responsible for the donkey's behaviour. ''Do you live here?'' He asked the woman. ''Why, you want my house and my fields? Because you're welcome to them if you do'', she responded grouchily. She yanked on the rope but the donkey was impervious. ''Actually, I am looking for a farm to rent''. He said and she regarded him more closely, from boots to cap, as if assessing him for a job or to see if he had enough meat on him for a good meal. ''So, what do you want?'' She asked, ''this place needs looking after and I'm damned if I can do it''. Archie explained what was happening in the valley and although she was huffing and puffing with the donkey, she heard what Archie had to say. It transpired that her husband had died a year previously in a fall from the roof and had left her with the house, three fields and a donkey to care for. He had also left plenty of money which he had kept rolled up in one of the potato barrels in the shed and lastly he had left her with a request; that the farm, the fields and the donkey should all go, in good order, to their only grandson when he was eighteen, in three years time. ''I'm an old woman,'' she huffed, ''and these fields are too much for me and the house is too big and this stupid donkey will be the death of me''. ''Maybe you could rent it to me and my wife?'' said Archie who, seeing an opportunity, wanted to exploit it. ''I don't need any more money. I probably have too much, but my husband was a decent enough man; I should fulfil his dying wish, I suppose'', she replied without enthusiasm. Promises made to the living but kept for the dead are the hardest promises. ''So maybe we can do each other a favour; if I let you have the farm, the house and this wretched donkey for three years, I'll ask for no rent and all you have to do in return is keep it all in good condition for the child; how about that?'' ''Well, it sounds like a good deal to me'', smiled Archie. About time he had some luck. ''But I am not a farmer and don't really have a clue what I'm doing; will you help me?'' And she agreed to help him as much as she could. So she tied the rope attached to the donkey around a post and they sat at a small table on a dusty patch by the door of the house. He spent two hours asking questions about fertiliser, market days, weather, the district and many other things besides. He looked around the four rooms of the neat wooden house, sniffed the soil and imagined the profit he could make every year with these three fields. Every answer he heard seems to produce more questions in his mind and he went on and on until finally he was satisfied he had everything he was likely to get from this woman. The donkey just kept on munching whatever it could reach and waved its stinking tail about. A beast of burden would be a help ploughing and carrying, he thought, and he thanked his lucky star again. ''What does it eat?'' he asked her, pointing at the donkey. ''Flowers and grass in summer and radishes in the winter'', she said. He could think of nothing else to ask on the matter; donkeys aren't complicated, after all. So he gladly accepted her terms and, to celebrate, they clinked a little glass of clear, home-made spirit she had stored under the kitchen sink.
Archived comments for The Donkey
Weefatfella on 16-09-2012
The Donkey
Absolutely riveting, I'm desperate to see what's next. you know, it might be just me I'm not the brightest but it reads very easily and although I haven't come across it, it reads Like a story for maybe not too young children, say 11 to 14. Maybe that's my mental age I'm loving it. to the next step.

Author's Reply:


Summer Rain (posted on: 16-10-09)
Another triolet

Thank heavens for the summer rain It holds down all the dust Disguises grief and veils pain Thank heavens for the summer rain. Atop the church, the weather vane Was still while diggers fussed Thank heaven for the summer rain It holds down all the dust
Archived comments for Summer Rain
e-griff on 16-10-2009
Summer Rain
welcome back, Squiddly!!! Good to see you again. What a nice triolet!
Myself, I hate them. 🙂



Author's Reply:
Thank you - nice to see you again too. Triolet - write two line, get three lines free! Lovely.

sunken on 17-10-2009
Summer Rain
Hello Squiddly. Where have you been? You know how I worry. You didn't even fill in the relative forms regarding leave. Still, at least you are safe and well and have returned with a strong piece. We must now put this behind us and move on. A bit like what Tina Turner did when she dumped that Ike bloke who kept twatting her. What a shit. Well done, fella. Hello?

s
u
n
k
e
n

gran, it's mr. shipman at the door - he's got your medicine

Author's Reply:
Have been on the brink of a discovery which has been very distracting. But then it turned out that someone had already discovered it. Bit of a waste of time. Never mind. Thanks for the coment.

Albermund on 19-10-2009
Summer Rain
Reads beautifully. Moving stuff. Albert 🙂

Author's Reply:
Many thanks Albert. Have a good Monday.


Moving In (posted on: 01-08-08)
...

To leave behind familiar habitats To enter caves where unknown monsters hide Where hissing snakes might wait and vampire bats May lurk, but take these perils in your stride To hold your nerve, keep such a gentle air Maintain a clear, determined, forward course And face each unexpected challenge square With quiet certainty, with tender force Takes courage, vision, hope, command of heart. And as your goal cannot be reached alone I came along; I joined you at the start And look at us, how close we've surely grown - Not looking in; observing each with doubt But confident, in love, and looking out.
Archived comments for Moving In
Macjoyce on 01-08-2008
Moving In
*FANFARE!*

Squiddlywiddlaroonypoo-ington writes a Shakespearean sonnet! Welcome to a wider world, my friend. Now then... Hmmm... To be honest, I actually wouldn't change anything here. It's well-paced and leaves the conclusion to the final couplet, the way a Willish sonnet oughter. It's not the best poem you've written, but it's a good sonnet.

Actually, for the sake of clarity, the only thing I'd change would be some punctuation:

To leave behind familiar habitats,
To enter caves where unknown monsters hide
Where hissing snakes could wait and vampire bats
Might lurk, but take these perils in your stride;
To hold your nerve, keep such a gentle air,
Maintain a clear, determined, forward course
And face each unexpected challenge square
With quiet certainty, with tender force,
Takes courage, vision, hope, command of heart.
And as your goal cannot be reached alone,
I joined you too. I joined you from the start.
And look at us, how close we’ve surely grown,
Not looking in, observing each with doubt,
But confident in love, and looking out.




Author's Reply:
Thanks mate - having never written a sonnet, I felt it was about time to have a go. Not my favourite form but one an aspiring poet must at least attempt in the journey towards poetical supremacy, I suppose. After all, one cannot say one is a world class fud-bowler without doing a bicycle wheel overhead goal kick so, by the same token, a poet must as part of his apprenticeship have a crack at a sonnet.

I'll have another peek at the punctuation.

e-griff on 01-08-2008
Moving In
ahh ... an 'If' by any other name .... 🙂

sound and round and luvvy - unusual for you.

one quibble for me. you had an obvious difficulty with 'each' in 'observing each with doubt' where I think you mean 'each other' - but it doesn't work.

can't think of anything on the spur of the moment, but needs fixin' IMO.

best JohnG


Author's Reply:
the form drove me towards the luvvy stuff - just considering the structure left me disposed towards it; I really had no choice, despite trying to make the whole thing about a stubborn, wobbly tooth (see next submission). Yes - 'each' was a bugger; I borrowed a bit of prosodic license for that. Actually, I nicked it and I'm not giving it back. And 'If' indeed - once I started, I couldn't be drawn away from that notion despite that unsettling sense that I was just rehashing (and not particularly well) an already well explored idea. Working on 'each'.

Macjoyce on 01-08-2008
Moving In
The only obvious solution would be to drop the 'Not looking in'.

"Observing one another with some doubt" or summat.



Author's Reply:
Good idea. I'm having a look. How was the UKA evening?

e-griff on 01-08-2008
Moving In
yeh, but you'd lose the Not looking in .... ..... and looking out counterbalance.

It's hard to get those and the two other counteractive statements in as well in two lines.

Author's Reply:
It is hard. Thanks for the thoughts.

Jolen on 01-08-2008
Moving In
Congrats on the nib, and I enjoyed the read. These aren't as easy as one would think and this one was done quite well and interesting to boot!

blessings,
Jolen

Author's Reply:
Many thanks. Not sure it deserved to be nibbed, I must say, but I'll take it all the same.

teifii on 02-08-2008
Moving In
I take my hat off to you, having just tried for the first time to write a sonnet -- and more or less failed. I agree with Griff on punctuation but otherwise found it impressive.

As to the end
Observing each the other with love and doubt,
And never looking in, but looking out.

Please excuse the fiddling. I got tempted.
Daff

Author's Reply:
Thank you for your kind comment. It is a little tricky, this sonnet malarkey, and takes someone like me a long time to even get close. And thanks for the suggestion - although it seems to introduce doubt where I had hoped none would exist (in the first of the two lines) but fits well with the scheme. I'll have a butcher's. And please do fiddle, it's an honour that my mediocre scribblings are even deemed worth the time.

e-griff on 02-08-2008
Moving In
I never said owt about punctuation......

Not looking in; observing each with doubt
But confident, in love, and looking out.

Observing each the other with love and doubt,
And never looking in, but looking out.

my go:

Not looking in, and each with their own doubt
But confident, in love, and looking out.

smallest change I can find ....




Author's Reply:
In looking at your suggested couplet (and that of Teifii) I got the feeling that the subjects sense of doubt is affirmed, not negated. If, for instance (and I don't mean this to replace what is already in the poem but just to get the meaning across) 'Not looking in, nor either with any doubt', it allows that the introspection alluded to and the doubt are separate but related ideas as opposed to being immutably joined. It seems to me that two people can look out but still be doubtful of their own 'relationship'; indeed, it takes greater security in a bond between two people to do that than to look in, watching one another... Is this making sense?

Again, thanks for your thoughts.

Macjoyce on 02-08-2008
Moving In
Not looking in, but each with our own doubt,
We're confident in love, and looking out.


Author's Reply:
the conflict remains... I'm doing one about wobbly teeth - it'll be more fun.

Ionicus on 05-08-2008
Moving In
No quibbles from me, Squiddydee. A very well constructed sonnet, skilfully crafted. Well done.

Author's Reply:
most kind Mr Ionicus. Thanks for the comment.

jay12 on 25-09-2008
Moving In
A lovely poem. It says in earlier comments you got nibbed, but where did it go?

Jay.

Author's Reply:
Thanks Jay - good point re nib - I have no idea where it went. Perhaps there was a change of heart...


Bus Trip Home (posted on: 21-04-08)
...

Bus trip home from school on Thursday Glossy, dark and rain outside Smearing swear words on the steamy windows where the worlds collide Jostling, humid, dog-eared pages Pencils, muddy boots and books Girls sing 'oh, she's just outrageous' Burn the boys with icy looks Clap on shoulder, see ya smelly Shoot him with their finger guns Warm front rooms (hot tea and telly) Gobble up the lucky ones Bus stops come and go. The voices Dissipate. He stays on top Thinks 'of all her nutty choices Why live by the furthest stop?' He's alone. The plastic bottle Drunk and empty, dances 'round. Hang on when the burst of throttle Throws him with a panic sound Up the hill and corner-tipping Then the brakes, the wheezing door Puddle splish and drizzle gripping Chills him to his dismal core. Cold, cocooned in bus-stop gloom, he Looks towards that sombre place. Peering from his mother's room, he Sees her weakly smiling face Vodka slops, she lurches, crumbling Scrapes away an errant tear. Now he's home with splintered, mumbling Wretched, ruined Mother-dear
Archived comments for Bus Trip Home
e-griff on 21-04-2008
Bus Trip Home
rhyme and rhythm fine in this one, in fact this rhythm is very appropriate for the subject and fits well. I think the scene was set well, small details - the mood carried to the reader well, and then the telling ending. an excellent poem overall, IMO.

the verses are set syllabically in 8/7/8/7 in (generally) Iambic tetrameter. Looking at it accentually, you have four beats (strong stresses) per line.

In the last verse, however, lines 2 effectively has only three beats (wine/fag/other) and in line 4 there is an unstressed syllable missing between 'This' and 'mother'. Just to illustrate what I'm saying (not necessarily a suggestion for adoption)- these changes below would square the rhythm - see if you can hear the difference:

And a glass in one hand, slopping
Wine; a fag held in the other.
Wonders ‘has she done the shopping,
She who used to be my mother?’

'other' and 'mother' have very soft feminine endings, so although you may now count 8 syllables, in fact the '-er' isn't
counted (it almost disappears when you say it). Note that in every other verse you have used masculine (hard/stressed)endings for lines 2 and 4 - this is what creates the 7 rather than 8 syllable count in an iambic tetrameter as the trailing unstressed part of the iamb is omitted.

If in doubt, just think how many beats per line, that's the essence of it. 'Baa-baa black sheep' is all over the place syllabically, but sounds fine because the beats (accentual) are right. ... end of ramble. best JohnG



Author's Reply:
Thanks for the close look - as ever much appreciated Mr Griff. I had, in a deliberate-ish way, hoped to convey of emotional dropping away in the last verse - to mirror the change in his mood from being on the bus with his mates to being standing outside his home in the rain. The foreshortening of the line blunts the rhythm; takes the song away from it. It also puts the stress on the 'used-to' part of the last line; the key to the kicker. That's what I meant anyway.

e-griff on 21-04-2008
Bus Trip Home
on the basis that you fix the last verse (and as I've indicated, but not stated as such, changed other and mother somehow), I hope you wil accept this rare 'Griffpick' 🙂

Photobucket

Author's Reply:
I'm honoured. I'm wrestling, too, with that last verse. I very nearly convinced myself it works as it is. OK - I made a revision to the last verse. Would be interested in your thoughts if I may so bold as to ask.

Albermund on 24-04-2008
Bus Trip Home
Well, at least he lived by the bus stop! Very nice poem mostly, squidds. You really got me on board with this guy. Particularly liked verse/stanza.3 and esp gobble. Not sure about "Throws him with a panic sound" but what buggered this completely though was the ending. Rhythm completely up spout left me floundering. Also I think you really have to enter the room to see wine & fags. Still, despite my girns, very promising. cheers Albert 🙂

Author's Reply:
buggered it completely?

Under the weight of mounting pressure, I'll amend. Painful as your arrows are, Mr Albermund, I'll recover, get up and try again.

And he most certainly does not need to enter the room - the window between them; the threshold before him are important - he remains outside emotionally and physically. Where, after all, is is colder and more unpleasant?

Macjoyce on 27-04-2008
Bus Trip Home
My fave verse is also the third, with its finger guns in particular.

Yeah, you really ought to sort out the final verse, it's metrically all over the place. Also, I don't see the merit of ending lines on 'gloom, he' and 'room, he', when you can just end them on 'gloom' and 'room', which would make more sense.



Author's Reply:
alright already.

So I've amended it - the last verse. And the 'he' at the end of each of those lines keeps the count in check, don't you think?

Perhaps clerihews are the way forward.

Tim Henman,
Is more a racket- than a pen-man,
But if he doesn't improve his lob,
He'll be writing off for a job.

Macjoyce on 28-04-2008
Bus Trip Home
'Tim' for your next post then?...

OK, the last verse is a lot better now, though the punctuation's still a bit of a mind-fuck. But not being one for pedantry, I can't be arsed to talk about that.

I think you need to understand syllables better - it's not all about a simple matter of counting. I don't know what Griff's been saying to you (I tried to read his comment but it looked so technical and snooze-inducing that I couldn't), but it doesn't matter shit if there is one more or one less syllable in a line. The important thing is that there are four stressed syllables per line. Lines ought to end the way they do for good reasons, and in a rhyming poem, rhyme counts as one of those reasons. If you were rhyming 'room, he' with 'gloomy', then it'd be OK to end a line on 'he'. But as you're just rhyming 'room' with 'gloom', there's no justification for it. It just looks shit.

Like I say, don't worry about how many syllables there are in a line. As long as it scans and there is a consistent pattern of stressed syllables, it'll be fine. When poetry becomes merely a matter of counting syllables, it stops being poetry and becomes mathematics.



Author's Reply:
I like mathematics.

Jeez - that last verse is causing a brouhaha and no mistake. It needs a rethink; I agree. On the 'he' issue, point taken. I was getting hung up on the slab counter. I appreciate it's not only about counting but I have this thing about using (or abusing) the consistency of the metre for effect.

Right - the last verse is for it. Here I come.

e-griff on 28-04-2008
Bus Trip Home
I think Mac said some of things I did about accentual rhythm. He is right in that you don't use analysis to judge whether a poem is good or bad, you use your ear. But when your ear say 'Oi! summat's wrong ear' ( 🙂 ) you use analysis to see what the problem could be, and then to suggest a remedy.

Syllables do matter, sadly. If you were Greek, Roman or modern day Spanish (I am told), you could count syllables and be spot on. (Dylan's 'do not go gentle...' is entirely syllabic). In english, you have to cobble together the essential anglo saxon base of accentual verse, and explain it with various modified 'rules' for accentual-syllabic which mainly duck and weave, trying to account for the fact that english has variable-length syllables and therefore cannot be simply quantified.

Anyway *yawns* - cut to the chase. I complained about your last verse (as did others) because it didn't read right, full stop. You have produced a driving poem with a characteristic rhythm. How does the last verse serve it?

And a glass in one hand, slopping
Wine; her fag pinched in the other
Wonders ‘has she done the shopping?
Her; this used-to-be-my-mother’

Hmmm - bit bitty ... How about (as a stab)

Wine glass in her right hand slopping
Left hand holds her fag in it
Wonders ‘has she done the shopping?
She's my mother. Bloody shit!'

this, IMO. while in content maybe not correct, hits the rhythm and mood of the rest of the poem. Bang!

so this is a 'kill your darlings' moment - forget the attempt to slow or pause the poem, let it rip to the end like a tide, and end with a bang.

best JohnG

Author's Reply:
Got it. I've been reading some anglo-saxon poetry recently and went for the hemistich consonantal rhyme in a line. Bet you didn't see that. Anyhow - point taken on the last verse. I'm going to have another go.

How one must suffer for the poetry.

Macjoyce on 30-04-2008
Bus Trip Home
"Hemistich consonantal rhyme"? Eh? Where? Do you mean the lines beginning 'wine' and 'her'? As these lines are broken up very early indeed, I don't think that just 'wine' and 'her' constitute hemistichs. Or maybe I've missed something.

Anyway, I don't want to blab on too much about this poem, but I do like it (the poem, and the blabbing) so I might as well continue.

"I have this thing about using (or abusing) the consistency of the metre for effect."

Eh? Do you mean you are deliberately sticking 'he' on the ends of lines for effect? If so, then I don't think it works.

If you mean you are conforming to or messing up the syllable-count for effect, then that works even less, because no bugger (apart from a pedant like Griff) is going to notice or care about the number of syllables in the line.

Mathematics may be all well and sexy, but it doesn't mix with poetry...


Author's Reply:
It was the 'windows where the worlds collide' line.


The 'he' on the end of those two lines lends pace, I feel. Hurries things up a little. Anyway, I'm too damn busy trying to fix the last verse to worry about that.



e-griff on 30-04-2008
Bus Trip Home
ah, and you were doing so well lately, Mr Mac.
sense and politeness, eh? Of course you can have your own opinion. Others can have them too, yes?

I don't mind the 'he's' at all, Squid if that's what you want to say. It has an effect.




Author's Reply:

Macjoyce on 30-04-2008
Bus Trip Home
I'm not being impolite, Griff, but you ARE a pedant. That's not such an insult, is it? Flaunt your pedantry. It goes towards making you the amusing character you are.

There is no good reason or proper artistic justification for sticking those 'he's on the end of those lines. That's not a damning verdict on the entire poem, it's just me noticing an artistic mistake. Why single that one verse out for odd endings? Why not do it in other verses as well? There's no reason for it. Can you, Griff, explain the 'effect' it gives? Because I can't see one.

I admire Squid's poetry a lot, in fact I'm the only person to fave-author him and give him consistent and extensive encouragement. But if he does something that doesn't make sense, he should be told so, not misled and advised to keep doing it.

Griff, you are of course entitled to your opinion about this 'he' business. But your opinion is wrong...



Author's Reply:
It's true - Macjoyce has taken a keen interest in my amateur scribblings and I appreciate it. I'm working on the last verse though, so leave me alone, goddammit.

e-griff on 01-05-2008
Bus Trip Home
I like things to be 'correct' if they are meant to be, but I also accept things that are 'incorrect' quite happily if they work. The word 'pedant' means someone who is overkeen on 'correctness', to the detriment of the content, and in that sense it is pejorative, therefore impolite. If I were indeed a pedant, I might be saying 'no, those 'he's are wrong!' but I happen to accept them as creating a nice little effect in the reading and approve of them. That's my opinion. Your OPINION is that you disagree - that's fine - but it's your opinion.

Squiddly will make up his own mind. I went on a bit about the metre to convince/explain to get that last verse fixed, which I think we all agreed was 'wrong' 🙂 . That was not 'pedantic', I feel, just good sound analysis. The aim of course is for the author to improve their work by considering comments and judging them, understanding, not blindly following what others say, which I'm pleased to see he has done.

Author's Reply:
I thought a pedant was someone with feet. Shows how wrong you can be. Anyway, I'm working on that last bloody verse.

eddiesolo on 02-05-2008
Bus Trip Home
I really like this-last verse correct or not-doesn't matter one jot-the feel of the poem is clear and deep. The tension of the bus ride and descriptions are spot on-this took me way back to my school days on the bus.

Great stuff and a fave and a 10 from me. So down to earth and real and to be honest I thought a top write, well done.

Si:-)



Author's Reply:
I am humbled. Thank you for the vote. Now; back to that pesky last verse.

Macjoyce on 15-05-2008
Bus Trip Home
OK! At last, last verse is vastly improved.

I also think the oxymoronic "Burn the boys with icy looks" is really clever.

I still don't like them poxy 'he's though.



Author's Reply:
Thank you Mr MacJ. I'm going back to 'Stalking' now. I consider poetry to be very much like pulling a fishing net through a letter box - it all seems to go swimmingly until you get close to the end, and then it becomes virtually impossible so then you have to go outside, pull out the whole bloody thing and start again. Work doesn't help much either as it gets in the way.

e-griff on 15-05-2008
Bus Trip Home
Since you asked ....The rhythm in the last verse is indeed now 'right' for the whole poem and you've managed to include a good end line which is effectively just four stressed syllables (ie it is not iambic) but that works well in this context as a termination to the driving rhythm - you screech us to a halt successfully.

You've been suffering a lot with this - I am not completely sure why it's been so difficult for you. But it is worth it - this IS a good poem, worth getting right IMO

so ...

My only slight qualm with the last verse are the words used - splintered is not immediately appropriate, and it is puzzling until you read the rest. This introduces an uncertainty (at least for me) just where you don't need it (in your finale) 🙂

Now he’s home with splintered, mumbling
Wretched, ruined Mother-dear

as an example only:

Now he’s home with her, his mumbling,
Wretched, ruined Mother-dear
- has (at least) a continuity of meaning with no surprises, the 'his' making sure the reader reads the following adjectives as belonging to a word they haven't got to yet - a clear signal. And it leaves your final punch line clear and free.

*
the other thing I've just noticed (I don't know if you've changed it) is the third line:

Cold, cocooned in bus-stop gloom, he
Looks towards that sombre place.
Peering from his mother’s room, he
Sees her weakly smiling face
- I completely misread the subject of 'peering' - as 'he' , very much encouraged by following it with 'his mother's room, he sees ...' - I agree many will read it as you intend, but this time I read it 'HE IS peering from his mother's room AND he sees ...' do you see what I mean? I'm there thinking 'surely he's in the bus stop?'

please don't let me drive you over the edge .... 🙂

Cold, cocooned in bus-stop gloom, he
Looks towards that sombre place.
The window of his mother’s room
Reveals her weakly smiling face

would do it, but then, I guess you'll either disagree or write a change yourself - so this is just a prompt ... am I picky? yes of course 🙂

Author's Reply:
OK - point taken on the subject of that bus-stop verse. I'll have another look at it. And I like splintered - it feels that the image that creates is correct to what I was trying to convey - as if broken by some sudden destructive force. Splintered just sounds ruinous. It's a good word.

As ever, I appreciate the attention you give and thank you for it.

Macjoyce on 15-05-2008
Bus Trip Home
By Jove, I hadn't even noticed that. Too busy being annoyed by the 'he's, no doubt.

Griff's right, the syntax of that line makes no sense, as obviously he can't be peering from his mother's room. Griff's rewrite makes more sense, apart of course from the fact that "gloom, he" doesn't rhyme with "room".

How about:

Cold, cocooned in bus-stop gloom, he
Looks towards that sombre place.
The window of his mother’s room re-
Veals her weakly smiling face.

?




But I jest.


Author's Reply:
Actually, I quite like that.


e-griff on 15-05-2008
Bus Trip Home
'gloom, he' and 'room' rhyme fine for me (gloom/room are the key sounds). perhaps we could call the 'he' 'prejambement' ?

Author's Reply:
ooh.... now THAT is contentious stuff. Prejambment indeed. That would throw the whole thing into chaos, surely. Chaos, I tell you.

e-griff on 15-05-2008
Bus Trip Home
sorry, I meant to add that the 'he' is needed for the 8 syllables line (Unless squiddly wants to change it for summat else), to maintain the strict 8/7/8/7 structure. My proposed third line does have the eight syllables of course, but no 'he'.

Author's Reply:
That's what I was after - the pursuit of rhythmical continuity. Oh scansion! The devilish bane of my weary days! The burning thorns that whip my meagre soul by sleepless night! Etc.

I'm having a look at it.




Macjoyce on 15-05-2008
Bus Trip Home
No. Let's just call the 'he' 'the start of the next bloody line, for Christ's sake'.


Would, Griff, you rhyme 'left' with 'hefty'?


Actually, you probably would...



Author's Reply:
A self-harming butcher called Lefty
Lost his dog and being bereft, he
Did himself harm
Chopped off his right arm
With a cleaver chop some said was hefty


You asked for that.

Macjoyce on 15-05-2008
Bus Trip Home
"sorry, I meant to add that the 'he' is needed for the 8 syllables line...to maintain the strict 8/7/8/7 structure."


You see, this is what I mean when I talk about pedantry. Who the fuck says there has to be a "strict 8/7/8/7 structure"? What purpose does it serve?

Poetry is about language, not numbers.

If you can't end a line on a feminine rhyme, then come clean and end it on a masculine one. Don't try and 'get away with it' by sticking an extra little syllable on the end. It's pointless and it doesn't work.




Author's Reply:
But a poor, struggling poet like me need structure. The best call centre sales people have to work to a script, you know; they are bound by rules and stuff until they can truly shine. Apparently.

e-griff on 15-05-2008
Bus Trip Home
For Mac (among others)

It IS the structure it is. No one has said it HAD to be anything, certainly not me. 🙂 Squiddly chose it.

Surely you can hear the rhythm? It's a driving rhythm, dependent on the alternating masculine/feminine ending couplets. Suggesting a faltering of this in the very last verse would undermine the finale. Squiddly has done a great job (rhythically) with the new last verse, especially the (acceptable to the ear) shift in the last line.

Don't get hung up on the 'he' , eh? I reckon even if you put it on the next line, people would read it rhythmically as intended. That's life.

Analysis is only a tool, it doesn't lead, it follows. You use it to discover why something sounds 'off' and cure it. No good poet writes to metric rules, they write by ear.

Rhythmic poetry IS numbers. Most music is numbers. That's natural, nature is numbers. Numbers describe rhythm, patterns. Poetry is patterns (even when they don't rhyme, the metre is patterned), music is patterns.

That's life. That's natural. Numbers/patterns/life, eh? Fractals.

Best. G

Author's Reply:
Griff - you make a good point. MacJ is right in saying (at least, my reading suggests this) one should not slavishly observe rigid structure if it will cost the poem. Why visit form upon something is it detracts from its value? It's that kind of bovine acceptance of rules that leads to dull, listless poetry. No point in that and I get that. That having been said, my feeling is that poetry requires structure to make it poetry and not just prose split into different lines. How closely one chooses to observe the rules is a matter of taste/ability/effort/interest/botheredness - I happen to be a bit of a rhythm-nik and as such prefer continuity in form or to use diversion from it for deliberate effect. I'm trying, believe me, to get over it as it can be a bit of a bugger. I have the odd dress-down-Friday like everyone else ('Proposition', one of my bits, is an example), but for now, I enjoy the concentration required to make something work within a clear structure.



Macjoyce on 15-05-2008
Bus Trip Home
"It IS the structure it is. No one has said it HAD to be anything, certainly not me. 🙂 Squiddly chose it."

With respect to Squiddly, and I respect him and like his work a lot, he is a new poet who is learning the tricks of the trade. He is sticking rigidly to this numerical pattern because he thinks he has to, when he doesn't. For some reason you, Griff, are encouraging him to take this wrong-headed, clinical, numerical, approach. You DID say the poem has to be in that particular structure. You said "the 'he' is needed for the 8 syllables line...to maintain the strict 8/7/8/7 structure." You're saying it's 'needed', it's necessary, that the strict structure ought to be 'maintained'.


"Surely you can hear the rhythm? It's a driving rhythm, dependent on the alternating masculine/feminine ending couplets. Suggesting a faltering of this in the very last verse would undermine the finale."

Of course I can hear the rhythm, and of course it would be better if the feminine/masculine rhyme rotation continued all the way through. But the truth is, the 'room, he'/'gloom, he' rhyme is where it falters anyway. Neither are proper feminine rhymes. There are natural pauses before the 'he's, there are not only spaces but also commas between the words, so 'gloom' and 'room' don't even feel or sound like feminine rhymes. They sound like the masculine rhymes they are. So, if Squiddly can't think of proper feminine rhymes for this verse (penultimate verse you mean, not the very last one), then he should admit it and use masculine rhymes instead. Otherwise it just looks shoddy. There is obviously a pause after a comma, so that is the obvious moment where the line should be broken.

"I reckon even if you put it on the next line, people would read it rhythmically as intended."

It's not so much a question of how the line is read, as a question of how the line is written. You don't put 'he' at the end of a line without a clear and important artistic reason, and Squiddly doesn't have one.


"No good poet writes to metric rules, they write by ear."

Well, why then do you insist that he maintains a strict 8/7/8/7 structure? And why contradict yourself straight away by saying "Rhythmic poetry IS numbers"?

Poets can either write by ear or follow structural/numerical rules all the time. Which should they do? You seem to be suggesting they should do both at the same time.



Author's Reply:
Love the word 'shoddy'. This isn't about me any more, is it. And I was loving the attention so much.


e-griff on 15-05-2008
Bus Trip Home
you do the first (ear), the rest (numbers) follows as a consequence ... that's what I mean. I think I said that though.

read what I said again ...

I think squiddly can make up his own mind, I'm happy for him to do that ... and I don't think he's the kind of person who can be browbeaten or persuaded against his will, so I am very open with him.

But I've said me bit, and rejoindered too much. Will leave you to it now. 🙂

Author's Reply:
I appreciate the openness. What it says to me is that you find value and potential in what I have written and your close examination of it is testament to some quality or other in it. And for that, my friend, you have my sincerest thanks.

Macjoyce on 15-05-2008
Bus Trip Home
I'm not browbeating him. I'm just trying to give him some good advice as an alternative to the bad advice you are giving him.


Author's Reply:
For what it's worth, I don't feel particularly browbeaten. And, as for Griff, Mr Mac, thanks for the attention; I'm honoured.

Andrea on 15-05-2008
Bus Trip Home
Poor ol' Sqiddles - bet he's having a job keeping up 🙂

Author's Reply:
Neither of them know it but I deliberately write poems over which they'll disagree. Sit back and watch; splendid stuff. The next poem is entitled - 'Mac's Right Most of the Time But Sometimes Griff Is Too' - it's a sure-fire winner.


Clerihew - Heather Mills (posted on: 10-03-08)
..

Heather Mills Fills Her boot With Macca's loot
Archived comments for Clerihew - Heather Mills
e-griff on 10-03-2008
Clerihew - Heather Mills
Isn't this almost a Cleriku (as was)?

Author's Reply:
It certainly could be. I think.

Macjoyce on 10-03-2008
Clerihew - Heather Mills
No, not even nearly a cleriku. It's actually too short to be one. And there's no mention of the seasons or weather.

I like your volte-face from absurdly long lines to absurdly short ones.

Macca


Author's Reply:
I prefer shorter poems. I'm going to write an epic of 9 words for Friday. Or maybe not. The weather's been a bit too weird to write poetry.

Thanks for having a look.

barenib on 10-03-2008
Clerihew - Heather Mills
Very amusing - and you can sing it to the tune of the chorus of 'Yellow Submarine' (a Beatles song for those who don't know) should you so wish...

Author's Reply:
Indeed. Errr... Well spotted. Now I can't make that tune go out of my head.

delph_ambi on 10-03-2008
Clerihew - Heather Mills
Now I'm singing Yellow Submarine too. Grrr...

Great cleriwotsit.

Author's Reply:
In my brain where words are formed, sticks a famous song from long ago. And the metre of that song is stuck forever and will not go.

I can't think of another way to speak, another way to think, another way to write.
Everything that is born inside my head is carried on a tune by Paul (or maybe John)

etc

Macjoyce on 10-03-2008
Clerihew - Heather Mills
Blimey, yeah, that does work!

Heather Mills fills her boot with Macca's loot,
her boot with Macca's loot,
her boot with Macca's loot...


It's always a great tune to sing different lyrics to. Newcastle United fans sing a derogatory song about ex-Sunderland manager Peter Reid to it:

Peter Reid's got a fuckin' monkey's heed,
a fuckin' monkey's heed,
a fuckin' monkey's heed.

Which is funny because it's true.



Author's Reply:
Peter Reid, I'm guessing, has something to do with fudbowl?

I've written a poem about the things the people in my office eat and their hobbies:

They all eat lots of mellow margerine,
With juicy tangerine
And play the tambourine

They're a funny old lot.




jay12 on 25-09-2008
Clerihew - Heather Mills
Short enough to keep my attention span! 10/10 for that. I like 'fills her boot' - cus we all know that the other one is painted on with Hammerite.

Jay.

Author's Reply:


The Queen (posted on: 29-02-08)
And another

Queen Elizabeth II Beckoned To the corgis, who, exhibiting not a bit of regal shyness Arrived en masse, jumped up and knocked the Queen on her backside, which did not amuse HRH
Archived comments for The Queen
Macjoyce on 29-02-2008
The Queen
This confused me for a moment, before I got it, so well done.

I think we are both, but especially you, stretching the perameters of the clerihew with our, but especially your, absurdly long lines. All good. I like to think we are experimenters, making a silly form even sillier.

A clerihew is supposed to really be a very short biography rather than a made-up story about someone, but what the hell.



Author's Reply:
Experimenters indeed. I considered doing a clerihew for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but for the life of me couldn't find the rhyme for Ahmadinejad... Perhaps 'amoured dinner had'. Doesn't make a lot of sense though (not that we should allow our creative pioneering to be constrained by such strictures).

Onward!

Sunken on 01-03-2008
The Queen
Hello Mr. Squiddly. Did you know that that the square root of the queen is a Kinder Surprise egg? It's true. I saw it yesterday on tomorrow's world.

s
u
n
k
e
n

she raised the stakes with nothing more than a wink

Author's Reply:

Elohim on 03-03-2008
The Queen
Great little poem! Only just discovered this upbeat Squiddly style. I'll be keeping an eye on you.

Author's Reply:

Squiddlydee on 06-03-2008
The Queen
Thank you. Very much. Now I have to try to be upbeat all the time. Hell fire.

Author's Reply:

red-dragon on 13-03-2008
The Queen
Love it! A clever clerihew is a thing of joy! Ann

Author's Reply:
Thank you Ann. I'm thinking of doing one for Fyodor Dostoyevski. I'm struggling.

e-griff on 13-03-2008
The Queen
I think you should spell out 'Her Royal Highness' - for some it would pose a glitch, I reckon.

Author's Reply:
It's supposed to be a glitch. As in 'II' and 'beckoned'. Like when people make 'Hampshire' rhyme with 'pants' to be all clever. I was being all clever.


Britney (posted on: 25-02-08)
Another one

Britney Spears Wasn't able to allay her psychiatrist's fears Or convince them that there's simply nothing wrong and it ain't even really a crime To run around her kids screaming 'hit me, baby, one more time'
Archived comments for Britney
Macjoyce on 25-02-2008
Britney
Um... it's not a crime, is it?



Author's Reply:

Sunken on 27-02-2008
Britney
Apparently she's been seen wearing a bra this week? I find it hard to believe myself and no mistake. As a celebration I am typing this comment in a pink lacy number that I nicked off next door's washing line. I could get use to it (-;

s
u
n
k
e
n

he self calms

Author's Reply:


Nigel (posted on: 25-02-08)
Reprise

Nigel Lawson Was a big fat bloke who probably ate chips with curry sauce on And surprisingly, despite his chubby and exchequered past, this fella Fathered the sexy Epicurean, Nigella
Archived comments for Nigel
Macjoyce on 25-02-2008
Nigel
I'm sure I've read this before. And as I'm sure I've said before:

A superb clerihew, Squid. I like the pun on chubby/chequer/exchequer/chequered past. Very clever. I'm going to select it as a fave story. Oh, yes, I can.


Author's Reply:
Many thanks Mac - the clerihew is a fine form, no question.


Ionicus on 25-02-2008
Nigel
I too have seen this before. Wasn't it in the Forum?
It is just as good on second reading.

Author's Reply:
I did it as a response to Mac's clerihew last week in the comments bit. After several days of extreme pressure, I submitted it as an entry in its own right. I say 'several days', but I mean 'two seconds'. And when I say 'extreme pressure', I really mean 'gentle persuasion'.

littleditty on 25-02-2008
Nigel
tis great! If you and Mac did a whole run of celebs i reckon you'd be richer than your wildest dreams cos theey're very marketable, these little forms, the clerihew <-------think people would like saying "Have you read Squiddlydee's new clerihew?" You're on to a winner! xxldx

Author's Reply:
Not a bad idea - although I'm not sure I'll be giving up the job yet. What do you say Mac? Shall we assail the world with our clerihews? Thanks for the thought littleditty ; )

Macjoyce on 26-02-2008
Nigel
I've got another clerihew planned for Friday. I might write some more in the future. Then we can drown UKA in clerihews. Best thing for it, I reckon.



Author's Reply:
Good plan. I'll do one for Friday as well. Now, to find a subject...

Sunken on 26-02-2008
Nigel
Is he really Nigella's dad? I better do some googling. Nice one Squiddly.

s
u
n
k
e
n

tomorrow the hills

Author's Reply:

gwirionedd on 21-06-2015
Nigel
I'd completely forgotten about this. So funny.


Author's Reply:


Walking the Plank (posted on: 04-02-08)
...

In a breeze worried meadow, one warm bitter morning Through carnivorous grasses, sharpened by sun Rush tear spattered glasses and dirt streaky fingers Counting each sorrowful step, one by one There advances a boy, whose frown and frustration Are crumpled up tight like the book in his hand His progress is only slowed by persistently Digging the toe of his shoe in the sand Awaiting the child, by the stool in the kitchen Where hen pecks and straw dust raise spiralling motes The tutor is standing, though crooked, to watch him Her age-brittle fingers ply age-brittle notes 'Too stupid to learn and too heavy a burden' They said of the boy, and a sentence was passed 'If he wants to stay schooling he'd better get smart Get smart and by God, he'd best do it fast' As summer drew over her thick sultry blanket The schoolyard lay quiet, the bees buzzed anew The teacher, whose calling was everyday with her Decided 'one more'; what else could she do? So reluctantly, mother's insistence still stinging He stamped from the rubble of home, storming rage And made for the dry witch's hut in the field Tumbling down, dusty, destroyed by old age And he hunched as she coaxed and guided and led; He glared through the pane to the river's far bank Watching the others build boats, raise the ensign, Sensing perhaps it was he on the plank So, resolved he became, to finish these lessons To listen to teacher as well as he could And soon, no more tears, just the edge of a smile And a soft burst of pride when she said, simply,' good'.
Archived comments for Walking the Plank
e-griff on 04-02-2008
Walking the Plank
I LOVED the rhythm of this poem, and it seemed familiar. I remebered I wrote one similar some time ago about water ( Japanese Garden). I can't remember where i got the rhythm from, but it is a very driving rhythm which you can slow, stop or acellerate with the right words. Here's a verse from mine:

Water seduced and divided by islands,
Channels which roil next to those that pour slow.
Funnels and gullies explored by the water,
Each an exemplar of life’s random flow.

Overall this poem was a complete, understandable and charming poem with a great deal to recommend it - C'mon you nibbers!

These were the few things I noticed on my journey through it:

- the similarity of glasses and grasses distracts, IMO, as if you had used the same word in close proximity.

- 'persistently digging' - the grammar is awry here - I didn't see that phrase following the first part of the line as the subject is 'his progress' and it isn't his progress that is 'digging'.

- why the 'though' with crooked? it doesn't really modify 'stood'
eg: as in 'the words were welcoming, though the tone was sad'

- I didn't understand 'one more' - one more what? did you mean 'once more'

- Alone in the poem, I felt the rhythm was wrongly emphasised in the line beginning 'Tumbling down, dusty ...' introducing a dramatic hesitation and then a rush which was not appropriate in the middle of the description of the hut. (but could well be effective elsewhere)

I'd lose the 'And' before 'he'.

' resolved he became ...' - I didn't understand this backward talk - it's like that bloke in Star Wars .. Yoda?

and I'd rather see 'simply said'

er, that's all. This really is a very appealing poem for me 🙂

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Author's Reply:
I rather thought glasses and grasses had a pleasing echo. Actually, that's a bit of a fib - I originally used the term 'hay-spikes' or something and it was silly and made up so i replaced it. I need to look at that 'persistently' line again. In my brain, it works - he is slowed 'by persistently digging his toe...'. Doesn't that work? The 'though' bit is to imply that it's a effort to stand. She ain't as young as she was. The 'one more' is alluding to the student - ie 'one more student' for her to help. The 'Tumbling down...' line is supposed to be dense - he's angry and his eye turns (remember, he's grumpy, to the hut and the woman. That said, the stresses are off a little to point taken. Yep - 'And' goes - that line needs a little attention now I look at it again. Yoda speak keeps the rhythms jollying along but I get your point. And the last word, I hope, stands clear after the pause. Thanks, Griff, for your considered look at this - glad you enjoyed it.



delph_ambi on 04-02-2008
Walking the Plank
You need to edit out that full stop at the end of stanza one, which mucks up the grammar. That aside, it's a good poem - old-fashioned, but pleasing.

Author's Reply:
Done. Cheers !

littleditty on 04-02-2008
Walking the Plank
Enjoyed! reminded me, shuffling along... - lovely rhyming story poem - the persistently line niggled me too, cant think of a suggestion, sorry - just enjoyed the tale - thanks for the read :o) xxldx

Author's Reply:

Sunken on 05-02-2008
Walking the Plank
Another tip top sub. Long may your squiggles be of a poetic nature.

s
u
n
k
e
n


Author's Reply:

DyslexicBoy on 15-02-2008
Walking the Plank
Squiddlydee you are fantastic!! You inspire me to be a better person!! God bless you!!

Author's Reply:


Lights (posted on: 25-01-08)
...

One must ask, when a moth takes to flight Why on earth would it do this at night? He's afraid of the dark So he's drawn to the spark And the flames, which cause wings to ignite
Archived comments for Lights
Bradene on 25-01-2008
Lights
Very Milliganesque I think. nice one. Val

Author's Reply:
Thanks Val : )

teifii on 25-01-2008
Lights
Tis odd indeed, come to think of it. Nicely posed question.
Daff

Author's Reply:
Moths are stoopid - thanks Daff

Macjoyce on 25-01-2008
Lights
Nice limerick, Squiddlyriddlyroonie.

Though, and at risk of repeating myself, you've confused 'it' with 'he'. Which one are you going to plump with?

Moth-sexing is always important. A female moth is a myth.


Author's Reply:
I didn't want to say 'she', coz then all the girls would get upset. And 'it' is just rude. So it's a he.

I've never sexed a moth; my girlfriend would be furious.

Romany on 25-01-2008
Lights
'Tis something of a conundrum, isn't it? Perhaps the light is prettier at night? Poor old moth (can't stand them fluttering though!)

Romany (p.s. forgot to mention I like this!)

Author's Reply:
Thanks Romany - I just think they're not very bright (the moths, that is).

Sunken on 27-01-2008
Lights
Hello Mr. Squiddly. Not many people know this, but I was raised by a moth. Did you know that they're made from dust? I blame the general decline of cleaning products during the Mr. Sheen riots of 1978. The government kept it quiet, but I know what went on. I use Pledge now. Nice poem. Sorry 'bout the comment.

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origami loft insulation inc.

Author's Reply:
Are you sure it's just Pledge you're using? 😉

Thanks for having a look. Incidentally, I have a table made of dust.

Sooz on 02-02-2008
Lights
Not the brightest of creatures are they? Moths not lightbulbs, lightbulbs are just plain obstropelous and when you have fifty seven of them in one room (light bulbs , not moths) they always seem to pick the worst possible moment to blow. I suggest next time you have a moth you keep it up all day and deprive it of sleep, then it will sleep for you at night.

Author's Reply:


Tree, Au Lait (posted on: 21-01-08)
...

'Don't talk to girls with painted lips' My mother said to me one day, 'Especially those with slinky hips. Don't talk to girls with painted lips; She'll eat your fish and pinch your chips And when they're gone, she'll slink away Don't talk to girls with painted lips.' My mother said to me one day.
Archived comments for Tree, Au Lait
e-griff on 21-01-2008
Tree, Au Lait
How nice! So often people write older forms with some kind of historical tone, or with exaggerated respect. This is totally modern, and funny and reads well. Enjoyed it.

Why is everyone writing Tree-Olay's all of a sudden?

Author's Reply:
I like them because the first line appears three times. Frankly, if the first line appeared eight times, I'd prefer it, but you can't have everything.

red-dragon on 21-01-2008
Tree, Au Lait
Crisp 'tree au lait' and I thought your title quite inspired, though you somewhat branched out in the body of the poem!! Ann

Author's Reply:
Thank you, Ann. Perhaps it should have been Trio Lay, although that would suggest something completely different again...

Macjoyce on 21-01-2008
Tree, Au Lait
Impressive and quirky triolet, Squid, though I was expecting something about a milky tree.

The only thing I'd change would be the third line, which is metrically short. How about "Especially those with slinky hips"? It'd sound clearer then too, because at the moment it sounds a bit like it's your mother with the slinky hips.

Also, a few more full-stops and speech-marks wouldn't go amiss...

All the best,

Macky-wackington



Author's Reply:
Thanks for the read - I make 'especially' 4 beats but I suppose it depends on the reader. And as for some speech marks and stuff, I think you're right; it might make the sense clearer.

e-griff on 21-01-2008
Tree, Au Lait
but looks to me like the intention was to pronounce especially as four syllables: e - spe - shull - ee (with two stresses) , as I read it, which makes the metre fine.

Mac's works if you say e-spesh-ly (I think)

I agree with him about the 'those' though.

You could try: 'Specially those with ... if you don't mind careless speech. 🙂


Author's Reply:
I agree on the 'those' point too. That line needs a re-write I think. I'll have a think. Thanks for the re-visit.

delph_ambi on 21-01-2008
Tree, Au Lait
Great fun. Super use of the form.

Author's Reply:
And thank you delph - kind words.

teifii on 21-01-2008
Tree, Au Lait
Very neat,
I do prefer the 'especially those' version but it does actually work either way.
Daff

Author's Reply:
Perhaps "'Specially those..." better suits the tone presented by the fish and chips thing. I'm coming 'round to this way of thinking. Cheers Daff

e-griff on 21-01-2008
Tree, Au Lait
I checked and it is four syllables - but actually, having mulled it over and declaimed them a few times, I reckon a reader would tend naturally to shorten 'especially' in Mac's line to three, so that does work as well, I agree - and as it's got 'those' in it - I'd go for that.

Author's Reply:
I agree....

Macjoyce on 21-01-2008
Tree, Au Lait
Blimey, Griff agrees with me for once.

You don't need to shorten 'especially' to 'specially'. It doesn't matter about the number of syllables in the line altogether, what matters is there must be four strong syllables, and the last syllable of 'especially' is not strong. It needs another one, like 'those', which would make the sentence work grammatically as well. At present it does sound more like it's the Mum with the slinky hips.


Author's Reply:
Mum should certainly not have slinky hips. No. Thanks for the read.

e-griff on 21-01-2008
Tree, Au Lait
As I told you long ago, I look for 'truth' not ego!

What's right is right (to me), whoever proposes it. (Me, thee, anybody)

Author's Reply:
Thing is, when you read 'specially,, do you read it as 'spesh-ly' or 'spesh-eh-ly'? Oh this conundrum!

Sunken on 21-01-2008
Tree, Au Lait
Nice one squiddly. It's cheeky and fresh, just how I like em (-;

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half past onion

Author's Reply:
Cheeky and fresh like a fresh apple. A cheeky one. Thanks sunken.

Macjoyce on 22-01-2008
Tree, Au Lait
Hang on, I've noticed something else now:

"She’ll eat your fish and pinch your chips
And when they’re gone, she’ll slink away"

You're mixing up 'she' and 'they'. As the poem is about more than one girl, I think it should be 'they'.



Author's Reply:
She is an example of the many. Certainly one would not allow a group of painted ladies to eat one's chips; that would be silly and more than a little reckless. Hopefully e-griff will back me up with his next comment.

e-griff on 22-01-2008
Tree, Au Lait
hee- hee this is fun! 🙂

First - I think you should restore the 'E' I decided I was wrong about that and said so ( but not clearly enough I guess). Because it's iambic, and spesh or pesh is stressed, it needs an unstressed start anyway, as whether it is Es or s really don't make a difference. The presence of 'those' prompts the shortening and demotes the stress on lly (as Mac pointed out)

Two -- girls/she/they -- he is right!!! hah ha! In a way. You could argue that the generic 'girls' become a particular girl for the purposes of the example. But that's for you to argue ...

Ah, me!
Poetry ...



Author's Reply:
I see the future.

Yes - I s'pose you're right but it's leaving a lot to chance to hope that the reader mispronounces the words to fit the structure. Or are you?? Oh my life.


e-griff on 22-01-2008
Tree, Au Lait
No, they are not 'mispronouncing'! Nor is the stress forced in any way - quite the opposite. Although especially has four syllables in isolation, as Mac pointed out the last syllable is weakly stressed. In the context of your original that stood up okay, beacause the reader has been prompted by the tetrameter and is swinging along nicely to the rhythm - it works. When you introduce 'those', the reader instinctively (not artificially) 'demotes' that last syllable and lets 'those' (a strong monsyllabic word) take over its job. Perfectly legitimate. The stresses in words aren't fixed in isolation, the pattern often shifts as you put them together or switch them around, they affect each other in the context of the metre. 'Especially those with slinky hips' reads as a good tetrameter. Try saying your original line and remember how the word 'especially' is said, then try saying it the same way in the new line - your brain won't let you do it! It fits it in a new way against 'those', with the end softened. What a wonderful thing your brain is! sorry rambling now..



Author's Reply:
I see now from where you're coming. Your argument that the reader instinctively demotes the accent is accepted (I have been repeating it in my head for two days now) and I appreciate your attention. There was an argument that 'especially' is actually pentasyllabic. Honestly, some people...

Macjoyce on 23-01-2008
Tree, Au Lait
"I agree with e-griff."

- PAUL MACJOYCE, 23/1/08

Hang on to this rarest of quotes, Squiddlington. You probably won't hear it again.

Especially is better, I think. Also some punctuation wouldn't go amiss. I'm on the verge of fave-storying this one, hence my continued interest.

I see what you mean about 'they' now - I thought it referred to the girls but I can see now it refers to the fish and chips, so 'she' is ok.



Author's Reply:
Yes - I found myself agreeing too... Let's try not to make a habit of it Mr Macjoyce - we could already have created a monster. I've gone with the 'Especially' and bunged in a few punctuation thingamebobs. And thank you, indeed, for you verge of faveness; an honour.

Macjoyce on 23-01-2008
Tree, Au Lait
You need a full stop at the end.

But fave story anyway.



Author's Reply:
Done - cheers!

e-griff on 23-01-2008
Tree, Au Lait
God, I hate the punctuation. It's just not needed - it makes perfect sense without. Now it looks messy. 🙂

Just pray that delph doesn't spot it - she'll crucify you!

Author's Reply:
😉

Macjoyce on 24-01-2008
Tree, Au Lait
Don't listen to him. The punctuation could be a little bit tidier, but to do without it at all is the sign of an uncivilised society.



Author's Reply:
It could also be a lot more messy, if I try. Cheers ;;?''"!!

Sooz on 24-01-2008
Tree, Au Lait
This has a great swing to it, like jazz that isn't grating. But if you're trying to annoy, it's one of those things that sticks in the head and you find yourself muttering one line over and over all day. It's usually songs with me but a 'good' poem can do it too. I Like this, and couldn't critiscise it even if I wanted to (which I don't) because I don't understand the rules and all that stuff about girls and boys just baffles me.

I like your poem very much.

Author's Reply:
Thank you Sooz. They baffle me too, for what it's worth. I'll make my next poem about a moth; they're easier to understand.


Men In Suits (posted on: 14-12-07)
...

An accidental disposition To be much charmed by men in suits Especially if wearing them With matching belt and matching boots Is not, it seems, a rare condition In subjects of the fairer sex Who, when exposed, go quite insane They rouge their cheeks and show their necks But those who suffer this affliction Will find, when frost has etched the pane A kindred hoard of devotees Will muscle in on their domain But lest they fret, the competition Is little (and has other flaws) They seek one man and one alone A chap whose name is Santa Claus
Archived comments for Men In Suits
e-griff on 14-12-2007
Men In Suits
Cute! - and funny. Nice little one for christmas.

Author's Reply:
Thanks Mr e-griff. Enjoy the feastive season.

Sunken on 14-12-2007
Men In Suits
Hello Mr. Squiddly. A neat icklul piece and no mistake. May Santa bring you all that you desire and more.

Rate: And eXtra large sack (not that kind!)

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he knew that when she said 'love' she meant anything but

Author's Reply:
Most kind - and I hope that you too may enjoy a fruitful holiday.

teifii on 15-12-2007
Men In Suits
Funny and lovely rhythm. Nice one.
Daff

Author's Reply:
Thank you and happy Christmas for next week.

Albermund on 16-12-2007
Men In Suits
LOvely cute bit of fun , Squiddles, but difficult for me to get head round the rhythm of this piece. cheers, Albert

Author's Reply:
Yes - perhaps it takes a second look (nothing wrong with that, I say). Thanks for the comment.


It Could Be Verse (posted on: 03-12-07)
...

Is it just me Who (although, admittedly, I have received only a perfunctory Introduction to the schemes, scansions, Structures and styles Of verse) Feels That to write a simple sentence which is Occasionally, And apparently arbitrarily, interrupted by its author With depressions of the 'return' button on a Keyboard Is not really Poetry? I do hope Not.
Archived comments for It Could Be Verse
Bootylicious on 03-12-2007
It Could Be Verse
Hi Squiddly

Interesting idea. Haven't thought about it really. Always write my poetry in a notebook before transferring to the laptop interestingly enough.

I will have to try it straight onto the machine and see if I have these feelings too.

Very thought provoking

Booty

Author's Reply:
Thanks for your comment - notebooks rule.

e-griff on 03-12-2007
It Could Be Verse
What a fabulous poem! You really have a talent for this. I especially liked the anachronic resonance and the proto-allusional references you explore so well.

Hours of toil must have gone into this gem, this shining beacon of the poet's art!

To see a master at work ... well, it's truly humbling.

very best, appreciated - JohnG 🙂

Author's Reply:
Thanks John - you've rather neatly made my point.

Best, Sqiddly

Macjoyce on 03-12-2007
It Could Be Verse
Is it just me
Who doesn't have a bastard
Clue
What e-griff is
Talking about?

Unfortunately, Squid, there are plenty of people who seem to disagree with you. Sigh.

Mac


Author's Reply:
It does seem to have ruffled a few feathers. That's good, right? What is this site for if not to be an open forum for people to express themselves? It would be a shame if by adding to this site all one sought was the agreement fellow members.

littleditty on 03-12-2007
It Could Be Verse
arbitrarily, apparently, not -liked so much your poem! xxldx

Author's Reply:
Thank you for your comment, Squiddlydee

teifii on 03-12-2007
It Could Be Verse
Couldn't agree more.
Daff

Author's Reply:
thanks teifii - good of you to read the entry

Romany on 03-12-2007
It Could Be Verse
This could open up the whole prose/poetry debate again...

Romany.

Author's Reply:
It could indeed... Thanks for having a look,
Squidllydee

Sunken on 03-12-2007
It Could Be Verse
Couldn't agree more young Squiddly of Dee. A good point well made.

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is it just me, or is life better with the lights off? she asked whilst examining roadkill

Author's Reply:
Thank you Sunken. I like the use of the term 'young'. Always welcome.

Rupe on 04-12-2007
It Could Be Verse
Ha! I think most people are in agreement with you - except, curiously, when it comes to their own work...

Rupe

Author's Reply:


Unavoidable (posted on: 27-07-07)
.....

My friend Got run over By a cab in London; It's said one can't avoid death or Taxis
Archived comments for Unavoidable
e-griff on 27-07-2007
Unavoidable
Hah! Nice wee joke! 🙂

Author's Reply:
Thanks Griff - brevity is the key when making bad jokes, I feel.

Romany on 27-07-2007
Unavoidable
Lol! Witty,

Romany.

Author's Reply:
Thank you for reading my work

Sunken on 29-07-2007
Unavoidable
Lol, nice one Squiddly.

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an invitation to the fall

Author's Reply:
Thanks to you too!

discopants on 29-07-2007
Unavoidable
Couldn't help but laugh. Nice one.

Author's Reply:
Merci, merci!

Albermund on 29-07-2007
Unavoidable
Sorry, Squids, but that was a joke of a poem.

Yours

sinceriously

Albert

😉

Author's Reply:
I detect ambiguity in this post so either a) thanks! or b) *raspberry*

e-griff on 30-07-2007
Unavoidable
My friend
Got run over
By a cab in Dallas;
It's said one can’t avoid death or
Texas



Author's Reply:
My mate
Got killed by Orts
With axes made for death;
It's said one can't avoid Death Ort
Axes

This could go on....

delph_ambi on 31-07-2007
Unavoidable
hahaha! super poem, and a couple of brilliant follow-ups.

Author's Reply:

Jen_Christabel on 08-11-2007
Unavoidable
Cracked me up - great fun!
Jennifer

Author's Reply:
Why thank you Jennifer. It's a slog to get all the way through it, I appreciate that, but I hope worth it.


Too Many Kooks (posted on: 20-07-07)
Celebrity Chefs...

Every year famous chefs gather for a dinner To vote for who's the best and celebrate the winner All will gulp and gobble lots; no-one leaves here thinner Vino flows quite freely too coaxing forth the sinner ''OI! You git! You foul-mouthed prat! You wanna have a fight?'' Gordon Ramsey yelled across at Marco Pierre White ''Not in here you noisy oaf! And stop this swearing shite!'' Said the lady on the door, Clarissa Dixon-Wright Poor Keithy Floyd, pissed up again, had another fall He was tripped up by that git, Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall Ainsley, he kept grinning, oh! he must have had a ball Until he copped a round house from old Heston Blumenthal Nigella left with Jamie, both in quite a hurry Madhur Jaffray hung about, finished off her curry Anthony double-u T shovelled out his slurry Rick Stein cried 'Pudding's crap! I'm going for a Flurry' 'Zis is not what I expect!' whinged silly Raymond Blanc 'Shut yer maff' yelled Delia 'and where's the bloody plonk?' John Torode said 'overcooked' so Burdon punched his conk And Mitch Tonks said 'it's singular!'; now he's called Mitch Tonk So they drop their coffee cups and flick away the froth Spill their beer and throw their wine upon the table cloth Even though they're old enough to know David Lee Roth - Once again, too many cooks have spoilt the bloody broth
Archived comments for Too Many Kooks
littleditty on 20-07-2007
Too Many Kooks
They truly deserve this poem of yours! Nice one Squiddle xxldx

Author's Reply:
Thank you ld - glad you like it (more glad you think the cooks deserve it)

delph_ambi on 20-07-2007
Too Many Kooks
Haha! Loved the Delia line especially.

Author's Reply:
I couldn't get her infamous "Let's be 'aving you!" to fit...

e-griff on 20-07-2007
Too Many Kooks
Kooky indeed! 🙂 G

Author's Reply:
Thanks for having a look griff - what's the next challenge? Poem about TV archealogists?

Romany on 20-07-2007
Too Many Kooks
Witty! Why is it that most cooks are foul-mouthed. And I never realised there were so many of them either!

Romany.

Author's Reply:
There are more of them than that - they're all over the shop. I found one under my sofa last night. And two of them were rooting about in my bins.

Kat on 21-07-2007
Too Many Kooks
Haha... enjoyed this lots!

Kat :o)

Author's Reply:
Thank you kat!

Sunken on 22-07-2007
Too Many Kooks
Why are so many chefs so bad tempered? I wish I had punchline, but I don't. Well done Squiddly. I'm just explaining as I comment (if you can call them comments) that I'm no longer doing the rate thang. Nothing personal, this is a great little poem and no mistake.

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cats or dogs? you decide

Author's Reply:
Most kind sunken - and no worries on the rate thing - it is honour enough that you have taken the time not only to read but also to comment on my daft scribblings.

I think chefs are bad tempered because they're, well, chefs. How many eggs can you fry before it loses it's novelty? Not many I'm guessing.


Truth (posted on: 06-07-07)
.....

What was that swift and fleeting spark That struck across the ochre skies? That tremor on the gentle slopes The landscapes soft before my eyes? What drives the subtle changes there? What blows across? What restless breeze? What influential eddy flows And sets the waves amongst the trees? And there, the indecisive birch Or knotty oaks stand rigid, strong? And bountiful the chestnuts thrive Or willow bearing sadness long? Deep too, the rivers running through Reflecting brightness of the sun - Some march through valleys, dark as time While swift bright streams rush, sparkle fun And beasts? What beasts are hidden too? Are they the bears and wolves of night? Or nomad vixens testing streams? Uncertain fledgling taking fright? What flames, what enigmatic flares Burn bright and disappear as fast? What momentary mysteries In memory will ever last? The sight before me, though, is near And not a distant scene or view The landscape soft of which I write Is what I see when I see you
Archived comments for Truth
Sunken on 07-07-2007
Truth
Hello young Squiddley. I'm surprised you haven't had a comment yet on this. It reads very smoothly, like a fine wine. Nice ending too. Well done Squiddley one.

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he rests un-assured

Author's Reply:
Most kind of you to read it and thanks for the wine analogy (much of the creative energy for this poem was derived from, well, mediocre wine).

discopants on 07-07-2007
Truth
I thought this worked pretty well. It has a satisfying ending and has a good flow to it; the only line I wasn't so happy with was 'While swift bright streams rush...' It felt like there were too many 'long' syllables together and they disrupted the rhythm momentarily.

dp

Author's Reply:
Thank you. With the '...swift bright streams...' line, I was trying to make it more dense to contrast with the previous, more languid line. Perhaps it clogs a wee bit - your close consideration is most certainly appreciated.

Romany on 08-07-2007
Truth
I thought the rhythm overall was lovely - for me it read smoothly with a lovely lilt and pace to it. I enjoyed this,

Romany.

Author's Reply:
I am humbled... Thank you.


Sank Hens (posted on: 13-04-07)
Four Shorties

The web A perfect way To meet like-minded folk And to join together to spread Terror Water Drops on our heads From leaden skies above Makes us wonder what we're doing Outside Rabbit Soft, twitchy nose Hops happily about Not aware that it's soon to be Dinner Barley Nobody knows Anything about it Except that without it there'll be No beer
Archived comments for Sank Hens
Sunken on 13-04-2007
Sank Hens
Lol. Squiddly, these are class. My fave is the rabbit one. It's good to see that you are keeping the easter spirit alive (-; Nice one Squiddly.

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no tag week

Author's Reply:
It's important to keep the Easter faith as long as possible... Thanks for reading these and your encouragement.

delph_ambi on 14-04-2007
Sank Hens
These are brilliant. Faves are numbers one and four. Definitely deserves a ten for the title alone. 🙂

Author's Reply:
Hi delph - thank you; I'm glad you enjoyed the title - don't want to make it too obvious what I'm up to - need to be a little enigmatic....

Ionicus on 17-04-2007
Sank Hens
Classics, all four. Nice work.

Author's Reply:
Thanks Ionicus - bit of fun really. Cheers for having a read.

Romany on 17-04-2007
Sank Hens
Love the barley one!

Romany.

Author's Reply:
The benefits of barley should be taught in schools. I'll write to Mr Brown

jay12 on 04-07-2007
Sank Hens
God bless Barley!!!! Nice little poems.

Jay.

Author's Reply:
Barley is my favourite flower.

Macjoyce on 08-07-2007
Sank Hens
Yeah, these are really good. Especially like the rabbit one.

Actually...

Yeah, sod it. Hot story for me.

I was expecting a poem about hens that had drowned, and was about to correct your grammar and say "SUNK hens, damn you!!!" when I realised the title was either completely irrelevant, or the form is called a sank hen. Is the latter correct? I can tell it's a syllable-counter, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 2.

Otherwise, the title baffles me, reminding me only of a crap joke about a daft old Frenchwoman who has three cats, and because she's quite unimaginative, she calls the first one un, the second, who is bigger, un-deux, and the third one, who is really colossal, un-deux-trois. She takes them out skating on a frozen lake, so actually maybe she's not that unimaginative, just a bit strange. The third cat is so monumentally huge and stuffed on croissants and snails, that he breaks the ice and drowns, and the woman cries,

"Mon Dieu!

Un-deux-trois cat sank!"











Ok, I understand if you never want to speak to me again.



Author's Reply:
Hi - I prefer your version to the one I heard on the tube train the other day. I won't bore you with it but hell, it was bad.

'Sank Hens' is just my new and improved anti-gallic spelling of 'cinquaines', the structure employed. I wrote a triolet and I felt that by announcing the structure in the preamble, I was only inviting criticism whereas by only hinting at the structure, those kind enough to read them would do so without any expectations.

Thank you for the comments (and the joke, I think).

Macjoyce on 09-07-2007
Sank Hens
Oh, I see. Cinquaines.

I try to avoid pronouncing things Frenchly too. I pronounce triolet to rhyme with violet. In fact, I've even written a poem about New Labour called 'Violet Triolet'. Maybe I'll post it one day, if I can be arsed.


Author's Reply:


Ode To Spring (posted on: 30-03-07)
.

They 'sing', they say, the birds in Spring Returned from overseas I disagree, they squawk and screech, Spread avian disease They swoop around and nip at me Their guano everywhere I'll buy a shotgun by and by And blast them all, I swear!
Archived comments for Ode To Spring
Romany on 30-03-2007
Ode To Spring
Oh dear, not exactly full of the joys then? Very witty!

Romany.

Author's Reply:
I love birds usually - roasted with some spuds. They have no manners otherwise - thanks for the comment!

delph_ambi on 30-03-2007
Ode To Spring
Lovely grouchy poem. Enjoyed this one. A refreshing change from the usual spring fare.

Author's Reply:
Thank you - it's important to keep Spring in perspective I feel...

Sunken on 30-03-2007
Ode To Spring
Lol. I love this Squiddly. I am forever being woken up by one particular bird (of the feathered variety). Every year it comes back and ruins my sleep! I swear it's the same one. Bastard thing! Ahem, I feel your pain.

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Author's Reply:
There's a poem by Ogden Nash that makes me laugh:

The song of carnaries
Never varies

Which I think sums up the little flying monsters who wake me up every morning. At least come up with a new tune!

orangedream on 31-03-2007
Ode To Spring
And if another pigeon dares to 'sxxt' on my kitchen window, I shall be joining you with my shotgun!! Only joking, love the little darlings, actually and this fun-poem.

:-)Tina

Author's Reply:
Thank you Tina - and I will certainly be targeting pigeons this year. Sky-rats. Horrible devils.

Macjoyce on 24-01-2008
Ode To Spring
A very funny short ballad. Cool stuff.


Author's Reply:


Look Who's Stalking (posted on: 16-03-07)
..

A mobile phone is the requisite tool For the irrepressible talker, For the far-away gossip, the amorous fool Or, of course, my insomniac stalker Her nocturnal confessions, her needs and desires Were whispered in bursts of invective She said she had surgical bone cutting pliers Which she felt were by far most effective For snipping through tendons or snapping off fingers Or pulling the skin from her prey Oh terrible fear! The menace still lingers. How I feared what this monster might say! She threatened me nightly with evisceration She'd tear me to ribbons, she'd shrieked Or with petrol she'd cause a vast conflagration And she'd bask in the havoc she'd wreaked But over the years the calls kept on coming And gladly I remained quite unscathed Most trouble I had was the sound of the plumbing Which clanked each time that I bathed At night as I sat and impatiently waited For the heartening bleep of my phone I realised, despite the threats unabated That without her I'd be quite alone And clever old me, I recorded her number So I'll never have to be lonely For now I can call her; wake her from her slumber To tell her she's my one and only All I have to do next is find out where she works Where she lives, where she likes to go walking For creeping about can indeed have its perks And for her, yes just her, I'll go stalking
Archived comments for Look Who's Stalking
Sunken on 16-03-2007
Look Whos Stalking
Hello young Squiddly. A strong piece and no mistake. I once advertised for a stalker. The only response I got was from someone trying to sell me insurance. Especially liked -

For snipping through tendons or snapping off fingers
Or pulling the skin from her quarry
Oh terrible fear! How the menace still lingers
How to pick up the phone made me sorry

Well done young Dee of the Squiddly persuasion.

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it might need new batteries

Author's Reply:
I like the fact you used the word 'young' twice in your comments.

Thank you!

delph_ambi on 16-03-2007
Look Whos Stalking
Entertaining writing, despite the dark subtext of loneliness and abuse.

Author's Reply:
thank you for reading so carefully

Zoya on 18-03-2007
Look Whos Stalking
Nice example of tormented turning the tormentor...lol!
Well done, dear Squid!
Love, Zoya

Author's Reply:

discopants on 20-03-2007
Look Whos Stalking
An entertaining write with darker undertones bubbling away. Nice one.

Author's Reply:

Macjoyce on 24-01-2008
Look Whos Stalking
I hope you don't think I'm stalking you Mister Squid, but I've just realised how much I like your work. This is a wonderful piece, though I think you could tidy up the metre. You've almost got the hang of anapaestic metre, which is quite hard but also, in my view, the most rewarding, with a lovely beat to it. Let's have a butcher's...

A portable phone's an indispensable tool

Maybe something like "A portable phone's an essential wee tool"? Something to keep the right sequence of syllables.

For the irrepressible talker,
For the far-away gossip, the admiring fool

'Amorous' or something, instead of 'admiring'?


Or, of course, my insomniac stalker
Her late night confessions and nocturnal desires

One syllable too long. Also, 'late night' and 'nocturnal' mean the same thing, so you could drop one of them. How about "Her nocturnal confessions, BLANK and desires"? Something else monosyllabic.


Were whispered in bursts of invective
She said she had surgical bone cutting pliers
Which she felt were by far most effective

Drop the 'which', I reckon.

For snipping through tendons or snapping off fingers
Or pulling the skin from her quarry
Oh terrible fear! How the menace still lingers
How to pick up the phone made me sorry

OK. Full-stop after 'lingers'. Drop the following 'how'.


She threatened me nightly with evisceration

Hmm. Tricky one, you need another syllable. Some adjective before 'evisceration', maybe.

She’d tear me to ribbons, she’d boasted
Or with petrol she’d cause a vast conflagration

How about 'immense' instead of 'vast'?

‘Til I was well and properly roasted

Not 'well and properly'. Something that goes da-DUM-da-da.


But then over the years the calls kept on coming

Maybe drop 'then' and use another word instead of 'years' that has two syllables.


And my person remained quite unscathed

Perhaps, "And I remained largely unscathed"?

Most trouble I had was the sound of the plumbing

Stick a 'the' at the beginning, possibly.

Which made clanking sounds each time that I bathed

"Which clanked every time that I bathed"?

At night as I sat and impatiently waited
For the heartening bleep of my phone

"For heartening bleeps from my phone"?


I realised, despite the threats unabated

Hmm. I don't like the old-fashioned 'threats unabated'. You mean 'unabated threats'...

That her calls kept me from being alone

"Stopped me being alone"?


And clever old me, for I recorded her number

Drop the 'for'.

So I’ll never have to be lonely
For now I can call her; wake her from her slumber
To tell her that she’s my one and only

Drop the 'that'.


All I have to do next is find out where she works
Where she lives and likes to go walking

"Where she lives, where she likes to go walking".


For she’s not the only one who hides, creeps and lurks

Not sure what to do about this one. It's clumsy and I have no immediate solution.

And for her, yes just her, I’ll go stalking

Great!

Fave read.



Author's Reply:
Thanks for the effort. I've read and re-read your comments and amended where it works - some of the changes would have thrown lines out of whack so in some cases, I've just left them as they are. There are still one or two clanky bits so I'll come back to it some time. That said, I appreciate all the thought you put in.

Macjoyce on 11-03-2008
Look Whos Stalking
Better, but I still think certain lines are too long and clumsy, eg:

A portable phone's an indispensable tool

'Til I was par-boiled, par-grilled or just roasted

Which made clanking sounds each time that I bathed

That her calls kept me from being alone

For she’s not the only one who hides, creeps and lurks



Do you not think? Up to you. I'd like to nominate this one for the anthology, but it's just certain lines like that which stop me. I think it's a really great poem, and with just a minor amount of tweaking, it could be nigh-on perfect.

This poem, whether intentionally or not, is in ballad form. That is appropriate because it's an anti-love-poem. A ballad must have four strong syllables in the first and third lines of each verse, and three strong syllables in the second and fourth. The line about being parboiled is an entire foot too long, but that can be easily remedied.

You have the makings of a great wordsmith, Squid. With just a bit more ambition and hard work, you could do some serious poetic damage.



Author's Reply:
Thanks again for your input Mac - only 5 lines to mend? Even I can do that. I'll have a look.

As a relative beginner in this game, the paucity of my technical knowledge rather defines me, which I accept in the same way that I accepted nearly drowning when I was learning to sail. I didn't like it much, bit it's part of the learning process.

And thanks for the encouragement. It helps that there is some critical, constructive comment out there.


Macjoyce on 12-03-2008
Look Whos Stalking
Getting there. Definitely getting there. But, ok, if I’m to be totally honest and thorough, and bring everything out of you within reason, then…


“Or with petrol she’d cause a vast conflagration
And she'd bask in the havoc she'd wreaked”

Suggestion: “an immense conflagration/And bask…”


“And gladly I remained quite unscathed”

Suggestion: “stayed quite unscathed”


“Which clanked each time that I bathed”

Suggestion: “every time that I bathed”


“I realised, despite the threats unabated
That without her I'd be quite alone”

Suggestion: “in spite of the threats she’d… (something else rhyming with ‘ated’. “Threats unabated”, putting the adjective after the noun, is horrible, it’s faux-middle-English/Shakespearean speak, and totally unnatural. I used to do it, and every new poet does, until they grow out of it.)/Without her…”


What do you reckon?


Author's Reply:

e-griff on 12-03-2008
Look Whos Stalking
I always recommend to folks not to take one voice as gospel (even if it's moi). So to balance the equation, and with due deference to mr Mac (with whom you will find I probably agree in places), here's my wee take on't. I've read the current version, and not read the comments in detail.

I liked the overall idea. Curiously, the execution is much less confident than other pieces of yours I've seen, which surprised me.

the hard thing here is trying not to write MY poem, but keeping to yours and giving suggestions for you to improve it your way - forgive me if i stray now and then.

i don't like 'requisite' - it's not a common word and it sounds pretentious.

Too many for's in the first verse - I'd say::

For the irrepressible talker, (here the metre tends to force an artificial pronunciation of 'irrepressible' a five syllable word is often hard to place in a metric scheme. Although I can see one way how this works, what you've got to watch for is ambiguity - that some folks will read it differently to you. If it can be read differently and that doesn't fit, you have a problem (ie you can't explain to the reader how they should read it - they'll do what they want).

The far-away gossip, an amorous fool
Or, of course, my insomniac stalker

'by far' usually would be followed by 'the most effective' - it's not used in the way you have here - it refers to 'the best' of course you can't fit the 'the' in, so needs changing.

'pulling off skin' might be nicer and avoid too many 'the's

How i feared what this monster might say - is a line which sounds like bababababa, just not that interesting for me. how about some kind of question? What would this ...... say?

'evisceration' - another 5-syllable word which doesn't quite fit (unless you made an internal rhyme earlier to set it up)

then - far too many she'd s! make the second just 'she' cut the fourth, (you don't need it and the metre will heal itself)

I stayed quite unscathed (remains don't work)

You have to have a 'the' in front of most trouble. You can't just lapse into casual speech when the rest is not. (won't hurt metre)

which clanked each time that i bathed - how do you fit that to the rhythm? - has to be 'every' not each, otherwise you have to say clank-ed!

For the - is a bit of a tongue trip - heartening bleep ...

realised, despite ... this doesn't work speech wise - try saying it out loud - you have two s'es and d's close and mingled

The last verse worked well, but 'indeed' is a weak filler word.

if this helps, so be it. If not, same.

best, johnG







Author's Reply:
Thanks for the look. I need to have another go at the poem from scratch I think.

Oh prosody, prosody, where can you be?
Took off his trousers and climbed up a tree.
He won't come back down 'til he's hungry or cold
But even then, prolly won't do as he's told.

The poetical ocean is at low tide.

Macjoyce on 20-05-2008
Look Whos Stalking
If you finish tidying up this poem by Friday, and it works, I'll nominate it for the anthology. I can't say fairer...



Author's Reply:
Have just seen this message. It's Thursday. Better get to work, I suppose.

Macjoyce on 24-05-2008
Look Whos Stalking
Oh well, never mind. There's always next year.



Author's Reply:
Yes - indeed. I'm working towards next year. Maybe a clerihew about Ken Livingstone.


Uncivil War (posted on: 09-03-07)
So I had a go at a triolet

In haste we left our lives behind And charged into uncivil war At leisure, we'll look back to find In haste we left our lives behind And change we'll bring though ill-defined But life will be unlike before In haste we left our lives behind And charged into uncivil war
Archived comments for Uncivil War
Zoya on 09-03-2007
Uncivil War
A perfect triolet; Relevant to the times as well! I also like the humorous tone you have maintained, which is characteristic of triolet.
I particularly like the first line:
'I haste we left our lives behind'
Yes, do leave our lives behind- or at least a chunk of our lives- when we are forced to move suddenly...
I am reminded of how my mother, a young teenager then, use to narrate about their flight from home during the post partition riots after India's Independence- she used the very same words: ' we left our lives in that home full of happiness along with our belongings...' The trauma is irreparable!
(((Hugs for the thought provoking write!)))
Love, Zoya

Author's Reply:
Thank you Zoya - gald you enjoyed it.

delph_ambi on 09-03-2007
Uncivil War
The form is fine - it scans and rhymes perfectly - but I'm not convinced by line three. Maybe I'm being thick, but I can't work out what it means. Maybe you can work on a more transparent line to replace it. Also, the join from "...but ill defined" to "But life will be..." is an unfortunate repetition of 'but'.

This form is SO hard to get precisely right... someone always comes along and takes issue with a word or two, and it can be extremely hard to alter it without re-writing the entire poem.

Author's Reply:
Line three is meant to echo the concept that whatever you do in haste, you may repent at leisure. Not a new idea, sure enough, but in rushing to war an apposite one I hope. I take your comment on about the repetition of 'but' - thank you for pointing it out. Now to figure out what to do about it.....

Thank you for taking the time to comment.

Macjoyce on 09-03-2007
Uncivil War
Good triolet.

Though your syntax is unnatural and clangs on "change we'll bring". No-one talks like that nowadays. It's "we'll bring change". The metre for that is a bit clumsier, but it's better than having Middle English word order.

Don't like "leisurely" either. Adverbs are always a bit dodgy. And I think you should emphasise the looking back in retrospect, regretfully, something like:

"We'll look, in leisure, back to find"

You may disagree.

All the best,
Mac


Author's Reply:
I like you suggestion for the "We'll look..." line. Much better (tho now e-griff has gone and suggested something else; what's a bloke to do?).

Middle english clanger... It's a question of give up the metre or not... Hmmm...

Thanks for the comments - much appreciated.

e-griff on 09-03-2007
Uncivil War
working on the last suggestion, I first thought how about just turning it around a wee bit:

'In leisure, we'll look back to find' ?

problem with that is you have the 'In haste' lines, so how about...:-)

'At leisure, we'll look back to find.'

which also hints at 'at our leisure'

Author's Reply:
Yes - this works too; oh the quandary.

Can we have a phone in on this one? £2 a call?


Sunken on 10-03-2007
Uncivil War
Hello Squiddly. Not seen you around club uka for a while. We have had the toilets refurbished since your last visit and you can now enjoy the luxury of soft bum wipes. Good to see you back. I don't know the in's and out of triolets. I was never very technical. I blame this on a blancmange incident in the early nineties. I like your poem tho. By the way, if this comment pisses you off in any way, please feel free to pm me and I will happily shut up with no hard feelings on my part. Thanks.

s
u
n
k
e
n

they took the box from the trunk and headed for the lake

Author's Reply:
Hi Sunken - it always pisses me off when people say they like my poetry. Please stop. I prefer being publicly flayed for anything I write. If there is a pillory somewhere nearby, I should be on it and then you can throw rocks at me and call me names.

Actually, after some considertation, I've changed my mind - it doesn't piss me off at all. Thank you for liking. And beware the blancmange!

Bradene on 11-03-2007
Uncivil War
Nice to see so many people trying all these poetic forms I just love them. Yours is very god Val x

Author's Reply:
Hello Val - god indeed? High praise!

Bradene on 11-03-2007
Uncivil War
oops I meant Good of course(-; Val

Author's Reply:


Untitled (posted on: 19-02-07)
Sort of about reincarnation...

A grey, resigned and quiet man was there Patient seated and lost of will perhaps His hands the focus of his downcast stare His ear alert for sounds of time's elapse. There, where he sat, the others were before Until their exit, soundless through the door At last he rose and through into the gloom He passed anon and so I keenly sought To glance within, to see into the room A clue at least of what's inside, I thought Alas no light beyond the threshold shone Nor sound revealed where those before had gone The next upon the bench then took his place And all along the wall caused to advance Thus one by one we kept this languid pace To see behind that portal there, perchance. Ahead of me were seven souls, or eight Behind were countless, silent in their wait. Yet long it seemed before I pressed my hand Against the worn and darkened timber door What leap my heart gave when a hushed command Bade 'enter now and hurry, I implore'. So fretful, thrilling, quick I made my way Into that sombre place, without delay Before me, as my sight fought to adjust A warehouse vast, so deep and high and broad Its crowded shelves ran distant through the dust Ten thousand wide and up and up they soared And each was filled with, (here did I exclaim!) Untitled books and volumes with no name 'A madness here', I thought it to myself Each book unmarked, the same from first to last None odd, not one unique on any shelf In awe I stood, abject, entranced, aghast 'Til in the midst of solitude and fear The voice called 'No, there is no madness here' The one that spoke stayed still in shadows deep In hooded cloak, the colours shade and dark He seemed an aged guardian or keep, Curator of this cavern cold and stark 'Initiate, approach and listen well I'll speak not twice these laws I have to tell.' ''Each book you see describes an earthly life The vital path; a mortal's full account Some teem with peace and some are fraught with strife Some joys depict while others, grief recount. However made the lives these books relate You, soul, will feel of each its solemn weight'' ''At every visit here you will pick out Of all the volumes left, a single one, Then live the life described within throughout In human form, from birth 'til it is done. And at the end, in death, the soul's set free To join the line out there and wait for me'' ''In life you'll know not me nor of this place You'll know no thing of any former fate Though oft 'tis said, some souls retain a trace The wise can read the stories they relate Ancient souls look through wise, insightful eyes Even an infant's youth is no disguise'' ''So ready you for life's first episode Select a tome and get you on your way Then bear you well, life's sometimes awkward load And know in life that hope springs everyday.'' The speaker thusly ceased his brief address Rose weightlessly and made his swift egress Upon his flight, I hastened to comply So seized a book from all those gathered there A rasp of hinges sudden from nearby The way was lit; a bright and lustrous glare And drawn I was towards the startling glow Towards the light, and life, I was to go So quick, enthralled, in eagerness I passed Into the bright, propitious corridor But there encountered someone standing fast The grey and humble soul I'd seen before He snatched my sleeve and spoke into my ear ''Before you cross, a warning you must hear'' ''You've taken from what seems a boundless store No end you think to visits you can pay But of one fact I wish you to be sure They're not replaced, the ones you take away Depleted thus, you'll find before you know You've gone through more than there are left to go'' ''And at the turn, each life, each year, each day Each moment too, seems quickened in its pace Until you're here, distressed and in dismay For your final visit into this place So from the first, exult, delight, rejoice Live to the full each time you make your choice'' So now, young soul, go through into the light Commence upon the wondrous road ahead Savour each sound, each scent, each touch, each sight And mark you well these words that I've just said For as you start with your first book my friend I finish with my last. This is my end.''
Archived comments for Untitled
Romany on 27-02-2007
Untitled
This is good in that it has, imo, a nice rhythm to it and I like the old-fashioned style in which it is written. Some of the sentences seem a little clumsy or overfull, if that makes any sense? e.g.:
And at the turn, each life, each year, each day
So from the first, exult, delight, rejoice
And these sentences confused me:
However made the lives these books relate
You, soul, will feel of each its solemn weight”
Could maybe be made a little shorter as it took a lot of verses to tell your tale, but that's a personal thing I suppose.


That said, I enjoyed it! Reminded me of a cross between Terry Pratchett's 'Death' - his house, and Harry Potter - the books writing out the lives (I am sure that was HP wasn't it?)
Nice enigmatic ending too. Hope this gets more attention,

Romany.


Author's Reply:
Thank you Romany for your attention. I appreciate what you say about the length of the poem but believe me, it could have been longer. The "However made...." lines is meant to convey that regardless of the book's content, our man would experience (pick up) every single one; perhaps it didn't come across. Have no knowledge of Harry Potter tho - or Terry Pratchett for that matter, so can't comment. But thanks for reading it (and I'm glad you liked the ending!) - I know there are some clanky lines in there so you thoughts are much appreciated.


International Language (posted on: 01-12-06)
Treatise on the internationality of speech impediments.

It'th difficult for thothe with lithpth To order packth of thalted crithpth The French have got it worthe, by heck If they conthume thauthithons thec
Archived comments for International Language
Rupe on 01-12-2006
International Language
Thuperb!

Author's Reply:

Romany on 01-12-2006
International Language
Brilliant, but I have to admit you have got me stumped - what on earth are 'thauthithons thec?'

Romany.

Author's Reply:
In France there is a sausage type affair called saussison sec (mean, approximately, dry sausage). I was toying with thauthage flavoured crithpth with thoy thauth but it made my tongue hurt too much.

Romany on 01-12-2006
International Language
Lol! Thanks for the explanation.

Romany,

Author's Reply:

Macjoyce on 30-10-2007
International Language
I am dithguthted. Thith poem ith dithableditht.


Author's Reply:


Proposition (posted on: 20-11-06)
Proposition

It wasn't the look, although it did consume Or the way she kept her bright hair a little casually It wasn't the promise Or the suggestion of something more It can't have been the fear I felt when I imagined she wasn't there Or the sapphires that were mine just that little extra Or the sudden touch Of her warm hand that sometimes went to my hand Or wrist, sometimes to check the time She didn't want it to be late, to drift away too soon It can't have been the sudden flash in a cool look Or the smile given away for free, the small envy The back of her soft neck when she spoke to a child Her trust Her gentle way Her taste Her sometimes insistence That told most about her I believe it was the way she asked that question that day It's what I remember She started by breathing more slowly And then taking my hand in both of hers and saying Eyes on mine, shallower breaths, eyes, maybe glistening a little ''There is only one day I can do this And it doesn't come very often So I have to do it now while you're here And we are together And because I don't think you will ask me even though I know you love me As I love you And now it's time to move away From what we've had and towards What we can have together And it's a leap year and this is the start And my life is with you, by you and I hope my life is you And I am yours And I love you and today of all days I can ask you Will you marry me?'' And I breathed shocked struck overwhelmed and said That I never imagined this would happen and even if it did I just assumed That it would be perfect and she looked at me Grief maybe, like shame, disappointment Spread and she said ''What's wrong?'' And I said that she should never end a sentence Especially such a long one With a proposition And she paused and looked Thought me cruel but forgave as quick And then her eyes smiled And she kissed me And then through mist I said ''I will'', how could I not? And that is what I think of when I miss her Through the mist of every day Since she had to drift away Too soon alone and Forever.
Archived comments for Proposition
Kat on 20-11-2006
Proposition
I found this very moving and poignant, Squiddly - I'll be back to read a few more times.

Kat :o)

Author's Reply:
Thank you very much for your kind words!

Romany on 20-11-2006
Proposition
Beautifully done.

Romany.

Author's Reply:
Very kind of you to take the time to read it...

Sunken on 21-11-2006
Proposition
This is very beautifully done, but I won't admit it 'cause I'm an horrible hairy munky who doesn't do feelings. Luckily, we have some of those girl specimens on uka and they can communicate all that kinda stuff. Thanks (-;

s
u
n
k
e
n

believes toilet paper to be the currency of the future

Author's Reply:
Cheers sunken - thanks you for almost commenting. I agree - let's leave the slushy stuff to the girls ; )

flossieBee on 21-11-2006
Proposition
very moving on the spoken and unspoken moments
fB

Author's Reply:
Thanks - it was meant to be a joke; a play on words but it ran away with me... Funny how that happens.

e-griff on 21-11-2006
Proposition
This was unusual, involving and interesting. the structure was unpredictable, and that worked.

One little problem for me - I just couldn't make any sense of this one line: Or the sapphires that were mine just that little extra


Author's Reply:
I wondered if that made sense... I was trying to get across the idea that when she looked in 'my' eyes, she held the look for that tiny bit longer, the way people sometimes do, when they are in caught up in eachother and everything else disappears. Thanks for your input Mr e-griff; much valued.

Ionicus on 22-11-2006
Proposition
I was going to make the same comment as e-griff regarding that line: a bit too enigmatic. Otherwise a fine and original composition.

Author's Reply:

wfgray on 30-11-2006
Proposition
I reckon a few old codgers like me found that this poem reminded them of their days and years away from their sweet hearts during the wars. Nicely done and very much down to earth. Will

Author's Reply:


CSI: Weybridge (posted on: 17-11-06)
A little look at the world of high crime in Weybridge.

A Thursday evening, July; approx 7:30 Constable Fortescue-Brackenhurst-Smythe stood in the deep grass at the perimeter of the cricket ground and frowned as he regarded the body lying on its side at his feet. The whites were immaculate and on the dead man's hands, the heavily padded Gray Nicolls gloves were still. They were Gladius, the best. The breeze tugged gently at a greying curl and he looked towards the practice nets; he considered how such a rotten end could come to a man in the guarded and quiet affluence of Weybridge. After all, it wasn't Surbiton. ''Somewhere out there,'' he said as if to no one, ''is a cricket team without a wicket keeper.''. His trainee special constable, Beckham Alloicious-Barnacle, nodded ruefully as he teased his hair into a sharper wedge, ''And only two days to find a replacement, innit.'' Harrow had taught him well, although evidently it had not been entirely successful in insulating him from the harmful impact of popular culture, which found purchase even in the most privileged and sheltered mind, it seemed. So the language of the city and the disenfranchised revolutionary reaches into even the gated, manicured gardens of Surrey. ''It's a damn shame,'' said Fortescue-Brackenhurst-Smythe, ''and a bloody nuisance. Let's have a look''. Beckham was a bright enough chap, thought the older man, but none too enthusiastic. He was one of a growing body of expensively schooled young adults who apparently rejected academia to pursue the unlikely dream of becoming either a successful rapper or more commonly, a d.j. It turned out, however, that neither of these paths had been concomitant with his family's desires and firm discussions had been had. So, as a salve to his father's misgivings with regard to career development, a compromise had been sought; Beckham had proposed that he become a special constable. This had a dual purpose for Beckham as it would also allow him to adopt what he hoped would be an intriguing but attractive ambiguity amongst his would-be rapper friends and especially the girls amongst them. So, it was agreed. But in Beckham's mind, the agreement did not extend to him actually applying himself with anything like the level of commitment considered even to be the minimum (a fact of which the constable was dismally aware) and his desultory efforts were seldom more than useless. Beckham nudged the body with his foot, ''Sir, shall we roll him onto his back and ting, innit?'' Beckham asked while forming his fingers into the gang sign of 50 Cent. Fingering the collar of his double twill 'Country Casual' from Turnbull and Asser, the constable realised with a flash of anger that his neighbour's wife had forgotten his silver collar stiffeners again. That's the last time he takes the expensive Pinot to dinner, he concluded. ''I'll do that, old chap, you check the dustbin for evidence.'' Beckham eyed the small green waste paper bin ominously. He knew his gloves could be ruined and annoyed, he muttered; ''Why must I always get rubbish duty, innit? It totally vex me up.'' He moodily kicks his Nike Air Maxes through the evening grass towards the bin. The Constable knelt and, pressing on the shoulder of the dead wicket keeper, rolled him onto his back. He caught the odour of stale champagne. He admired, and then straightened, the gold iridium Oakley's as the grass leant in the breeze around him. ''You won't be needing those any more, old boy,'' he observed to himself. He checked the dead man's pockets; empty except for a forgotten cash point balance slip. He glanced at the balance: 749,278.00 overdrawn. Nothing unusual in that, he thought, as he placed the slip in his Tumi T-Tech man-bag. He glanced unconsciously towards the practice nets again, rubbing mournfully his shoulder. Beckham walked, with some difficulty, back towards the Constable. ''Why don't you pull your bloody trousers up, Beckham? You look ridiculous'' snapped the constable as Beckham struggled to keep his baggy jeans half way down his thighs. ''And what did you find?'' ''Two empty bottles of Veuve Cliquot, '' then he grimaced, ''non-vintage too And this bit of chocolate.'' He held a half bar of Green and Black's chocolate in his hand that had been broken roughly while still in the packet. ''Me tink it fresh,'' said Beckham sniffing at the torn paper. ''That looks like 50% of the bar,'' observed the Constable as he took the broken chocolate and placed it in his man-bag with the bank slip. ''Any ideas?'' The perplexed expression on Beckham's face suggested that he was dreadfully confused and the likelihood of a reply rapidly vanished, so he stepped away to think. Fortescue-Brackenhurst-Smythe walked over to the bin, certain that Beckham must have missed something. He looked into the bin but it was empty except for the champagne bottles. Then, as he was scratching his nose distractedly, he became aware that his foot was getting damp through his espadrilles. Looking down, he realised he was standing in a damp patch of earth, but as it had not been raining, he was curious. He bent and pressed his fingers into the grass and brought them to his nose, suddenly aware that is might have been Rufus, the King Charles Spaniel who was the official club mascot, marking his territory. He sniffed delicately and found it to be champagne, and almost certainly marked by the metallic tang of a non-vintage. He pressed his foot into the soil; he estimated that an entire bottle had been spilt. He rejoined Beckham who inexplicably had placed his peaked cap on backwards and, with arms crossed, fixed the constable with an expression that was probably intended to be one of menace. ''Have you seen the stumps sir?'' Asked Beckham. The constable followed his eyes to the body. From the dead man's chest were three cricket stumps, the blood drying where they had punctured the merino wool jumper. The constable removed his gloves and, careless of the expensive manicure, began gnawing at his nails. ''Sir? Do you think the stumps might have done for the chap, innit?'' Asked Beckham, feeling confident he was on to something. ''Yes, I do. But who would kill someone with cricket stumps? It really isn't on,'' complained the constable, his Ferragamo tie brilliant sapphire shards in the evening sun. Beckham stared hard at the dead man, humming Slim Shady to himself. ''Sir, have you noticed the stumps? They're the wrong way round innit!'' he suddenly said. ''How the devil?.'' asked the constable as he looked more closely. ''Someone must have hammered these in; there is no way he did this himself!'' and his face creased with the knowledge that uncivilised behaviour was afoot. ''Somewhere out there,'' he said through clenched jaws while staring irrelevantly at the horizon, ''someone knows how this man died.'' Then, after a pause pregnant with concentrated thought, he stated ''This, Beckham, is likely murder most foul''. ''I say! But sir,'' replied Beckham, ''the sharp ends of the stumps are still sharp, innit! No-one hammered nuffink!''. It was true. Not only were the spiked ends still sharp, but also they were deeply coloured by the rich Weybridge earth into which they had been so often driven. The Constable, perplexed, considered the possibilities. His forehead, worked into heavy furrows, reflected the warm summer light as the perspiration gathered in the creases. He needed a glass of Pinot. He rubbed his shoulder again. Beckham was losing interest, muttering several times while shaping his hands into a pistol ''gonna pop a cap in yo ass'', as the constable's eyes played over the scene. As Beckham executed a clumsy barrel roll, finger-barrel pointed at a nearby tree screaming ''THROW DOWN THE WEAPON MO FO!'', the constable noticed the lines upon the moist grass, between the dead man and the cricket pitch. ''Stop it, Beckham. Stop being a prat. Come here for a moment.'' Something had occurred to the constable and he needed Beckham's help. Beckham fired his remaining imaginary rounds at his imaginary foe and replaced the imaginary magazine in his hands-as-gun before replacing it in his imaginary under arm holster. '''Sup?'' he asked. ''What do you supposed those two lines are in the grass?'' he asked the trainee special constable. It came to him. The constable realised that the two lines marked the path of the dead man's heels as he was dragged to his rough hiding place. He looked from the dead man to the crease and back to the dead man. And back again. And then back. Fingering his Yard-O-Lead fountain pen, he pictured a scene. ''The wicket keeper was dragged here from the crease. So He didn't die here! He died,'' pointing now towards the middle of the ground, ''over there!''. The two men looked at each and turned towards the cricket pitch. Careful not to disturb the marks in the grass, they walked towards the pitch, the older man with purpose; the younger man unsure. Arriving, they looked at the holes in the ground, left by the stumps. Spots of blood marked the soil. Small clumps of dirt had been lifted as the holes had been voided, scattering soil around the ground. ''That is cold man,'' cried Beckham, ''who done that?''. ''That's what we have to find out,'' came the reply after a pregnant pause. About to return to the body, the constable noticed two depressions in the dirt, behind the wicket, deeper than ever he had seen. Directly behind where the stumps should have been, the two rounded indentations were about two feet apart. ''Beckham, stop arsing about and tell me what you think these are,'' grumbled the impatient constable as Beckham's third attempt at spinning on his head left him in a dishevelled heap on the wicket. Beckham gathered himself, pushed his trousers down so the Calvin Klein underwear he wore were clearly visible and, as best he could, walked towards the crease. ''It might be where his feets was at, innit,'' he tried. The constable put his feet in the depressions and lowered himself on his haunches, again rubbing his painful right shoulder. It was the wicket-keeping stance he had so often adopted and he knew it felt good. His shoulder ached and his eyes dropped. Damn physio was a quack he thought bitterly, and whatever his wife said, bridge is not a sport to replace cricket. ''You're right; but why so deep? These are at least 185% deeper than you'd expect.'' The constable knew wicket keeping. Beckham had no idea. He was tapping a message into his phone when both men were distracted by a boisterous outburst of mirth from the clubhouse. Another evening for the cricketers and their friends while the wicket keeper lay dead only yards from the door. Set among the beeches, the oaks and the silver birch was the clubhouse. The structure looked temporary and ramshackle but had been girded to add security over the years; the curling paint incongruous against the toughened steel window bars. As a venue, it was often exploited for impromptu but popular parties, particularly as the restrictive clauses of the licensing laws evaporated at the door. ''Let's go in,'' he said to the young trainee, aware that he hadn't been in the clubhouse for a decade, since the fateful game against Cobham. Still he remembered the four digit entry code, the numbers etched into his memory, and he punched them in quickly. He watched, satisfied, as the iron gates smoothly drifted open and the security lights blazed down at the two of them. There was a pause. The constable knew the routine; next the security team would identify the visitor and a vote would be taken as to whether he could make ingress. After a few tense moments, the clubhouse door clicked open, the group within growing quiet. The smell of Chanel mixed uncomfortably with cigar smoke making the constable gag but he made his way towards the trophy case, knowing that most eyes are drawn to that corner, out of pride, envy or ambition. ''Pinot Cabernet spritzer Bryan?'' called the barman nervously; there was history here. ''No, this is official business,'' came the constable's swift reply, ''someone has died and somebody in here knows who did it. Or actually did it themselves.'' ''Or both,'' interjected Beckham. The constable looked around the room to measure the reaction to his announcement. Some moved in their seats; some pulled hard on their cigars; some drew mouthfuls of spritzer, but most remained still. The constable acknowledged his wife who reclined into the arms of the vicar and he waved at Mrs Mornington-Crescent, who had picked his keys a few evenings previously. ''Who's dead?'' asked a voice through a cloud of cigarillo smoke. The constable knew it to be the team captain. ''That's what we want to know, innit,'' said Beckham, squinting out from under his 49'ers cap. ''Someone is missing for Saturday's game, aren't they?'' asked the constable. He knew the team had to confirm by Thursday to ensure the sandwiches were done on time. And that there was enough Pimm's for both teams. ''Yes,'' came a voice, ''the wicket keeper.'' A brief murmur spread through the room. The constable knew that a replacement must already have been found. If the club were good at anything, it was getting a team out and this means a wicket keeper had already been found to replace the dead man. ''So who's taken his place?'' he asked. Someone hiccupped. Chairs ground upon the rough wood. ''I have,'' came the reply. A tall young man stood up in what can only have been a second hand blazer and shoes which were noticeably down at heel, even from the front. The replacement was Frederick Weatherspoon-Flapdoodle, a long time club member considered inappropriate for the first team, not for lacking in skill but for his family's reduced means. His father had been the same before him; struggling with social position and never having the bank balance to make it onto the team. This would have been his big break. The constable observed him through the eddying blanket of smoke. ''Frederick, as number two wicket-keeper you trained, did you not,'' the constable assumed an unnatural legal tone in his delivery, ''with the now deceased wicket keeper every Thursday afternoon of the season?''. ''Normally, yes. But I didn't today; I was at work,'' said Frederick. At the mention of the term 'work', most of the club members, the team and their partners gasped and recoiled in horror but soon most recovered, intrigued by the confusing story unfolding before them. ''I would like you all to come outside with me. I'd like you to see something,'' called the constable. ''100% of you should follow me.'' Some stumbled, weary perhaps of the grape or the grain, perhaps fatigued from lengthy periods awake but all followed the constable and his young apprentice out into the evening air. They were led to the wicket in the middle of the ground and all stood around the two officials, who now took their positions up upon the crease. ''Geoff,'' called the constable, ''tell me what you think this is,'' as he pointed to the two foot holes behind the crease. Geoff had been the head grounds-man for 38 years and he knew his cricket pitch. Geoff looked from many angles, licked his fingers and tasted the earth and measured all distances with his gnarled thumb. After several minutes, Geoff cleared his throat and prepared to speak. ''I have only seen this once before,'' he announced, quietly at first but growing in confidence as he warmed, ''and it was when old Simeon Crutchington-Fallsworthy played keeper. Poor devil. None of the covers had a good throw, so when a ball got hit out to them, they never could throw it all the way to him.'' Some snorted derision, but Geoff continued. ''So he was forever having to bound up to catch onto the ball, always dropping short. He dug the holes with his toes forever jumping up! Forever he had to keeping jumping! Every time he would have to.'' ''Alright Geoff, we get the point,'' interrupted the constable, ''were these foot holes here before today?'' ''No; they're new this evening, they weren't here this morning,'' replied Geoff, sulking now that he had been cut off. Fortescue-Brackenhurst-Smyth rubbed his chin and walked towards Beckham, speaking quietly into his ear. Both nodded and the younger man smiled conspiratorially. The older man then knelt beside the grounds keeper and regarded the upset earth. Shaking his head, as if in thoughtful disappointment, he said nothing. All waited in silence, caught in the moment. Nothing happened. The constable looked at Beckham and nodded; Beckham looked perplexed in reply. The trainer nodded more vigorously, now his eyes plaintive and impatient. The trainee reeled, hands spread in sudden alarmed query. The constable shook his head in dismay and he clenched his jaw, looking harder now at the boy, summoning the memory. Suddenly a spark of understanding appeared to illuminate his mind and he gave the constable a thumbs-up, remembering his role as the drama continued to play out. The constable sighed heavily and shook his head as finally his plan was put into action. Beckham then began spinning around and fell down onto the ground in what appeared to be a dead faint. Two of the women swooned with the shock. The rest gathered around Beckham, some to watch, some to offer succour and jostled each other. Shortly, though, he appeared slowly to regain consciousness. ''I n.. need sugar'' he muttered weakly, ''I is a diabetician, innit!'' Although this bemused almost everyone present, the constable described the situation immediately. ''He's diabetic! He must have sugar! Does anyone have any sugar? Anything?'' he pleaded. Some of the ladies opened their Prada clutch bags but had only small dispensers of Slenda; these were waved away by the constable. ''I have some chocolate!'' called Frederick and he threw the half bar of Green and Blacks towards the constable. As he picked it up, he looked closely at the torn paper of the packaging. The gathered group looked down at Beckham who sprang onto his feet as though nothing had happened and he began to bow in the manner of one of the great actors. Inspired by the captive audience, Beckham began to moonwalk across the wicket until the constable caught him with a back-hander to his left ear. ''And here,'' the constable said, ''is the other 50%''. The constable took the other half of the chocolate bar from his man-bag and showed it to the gathered group. He held both pieces in front of him and placed the two together, clearly demonstrating that the two were originally one. The group gasped, although none of them really understood the significance of the revelation. ''Frederick, when you were training today, you shared your chocolate with Bryan did you not?'' Once again adopting an affected television policeman formality. Unable to think of a plausible reason to explain the chocolate situation, Frederick's eyes dropped. He nodded slowly as the club members around him, confirming that his earlier statement was a lie. Shame spread on his face. ''But you said you weren't here for practice today, so how, '' asked Beckham ''could you have given him the chocolate innit?''. What the constable felt to be obvious he now realised he had further to clarify. ''Because,'' all eyes were on the constable as he announced ''he WAS he at practice today!'' The gathered citizens of Weybridge gasped again. The idea that one of the cricket club member had told a fib was too much for some and they tutted quite audibly. ''Frederick, were you the last person to see Bryan alive?'' asked the constable. ''Yes but it wasn't my fault!'' cried the second string wicket keeper. ''Bryan was complaining about debt! When we finished practice and were walking back to the club house, he just said that he couldn't take any more! He turned and ran onto the pitch and jumped onto the wicket! There was nothing I could do!''. His plaintive expression touched even the most cynical of the ladies hearts and, without actually touching him; two of them feigned patting his shoulder to comfort him. ''But that isn't really true, is it Frederick?'' the policeman glared at Frederick. He looked quickly around him, at the faces now focussed upon him. ''But it is true!'' he yelped, the distress clearly audible in his voice. ''You say he committed suicide because he was in debt, yet his bank balance was only 749,278.00 overdrawn, a healthy balance indeed and nothing to cause any worry. I have the balance slip here in my man-bag should anyone wish to see it. Also, these toe-holes left by Bryan's feet are the result of his pushing hard out of his stance, as Geoff has explained.'' The constable was warming to his theme. ''So Bryan was having to jump forward to catch the ball, probably because you were deliberately throwing them shallow, isn't that right Frederick?'' ''Some were short, it's true,'' Frederick stammered, ''but it was a mistake! He fell onto the stumps! It wasn't my fault!'' ''But what of your refreshments during practice? Did you not deliberately have Bryan drink an entire bottle of champagne to dull his senses?'' pressed the constable. ''We both had a bottle! It was normal practice at, errr, practice!'' ''But only one of you drank his champagne; the other bottle was spilt into the grass by the bin. The champagne scent can still be detected on the dead body so it wasn't Bryan, so it must have been you who spilt the bottle. You fed him champagne to throw him off balance, didn't you?'' ''No! It's not true!'' ''You have been trying for years to get into the team but you knew it would be years until Bryan is due to leave so you realised there is only one way in. To murder Bryan,'' said the constable. ''No!'' ''So you came to practice today with champagne, chocolate and a lethal plan. You began throwing balls to Bryan, but far too short knowing that he would try his best to catch them. He did very well, I'm sure, until your break when you plied him with non-vintage champagne. Non-vintage, poor man. You poured yours into the grass to ensure that you stayed alert but Bryan was wobbling as you retook the field for more practice. Still you threw the ball ever shorter and Bryan, making a fatal error and misjudging his dive forward, he landed on the wicket. It killed him instantly.'' The men and women listened in awe; Beckham had replaced his earphones and was playing air drums. The constable continued, ''but you didn't know that Bryan only eats Guylian chocolate and put the Green and Black's into the bin. Also, his pocket contained the balance slip, which disproves your theory regarding the debt argument. But you tried hard to cover your tracks. You knew that as soon as the body was found, the light of suspicion would turn on you, which is why you dragged him to the edge of the pitch. But that was your mistake. Trying to buy time will get you time, but not the kind you wanted, is it young chap?'' By now, the group had gathered closely around him both to hear what he had to say and to stop any attempt by Frederick to escape. Beckham had removed his earphones and was using them to bind together Frederick's legs. ''I couldn't wait! It wasn't fair! All I wanted was to play wicket keeper!'' He dropped to his knees under the watchful eye of Beckham who had taken his imaginary pistol and was pointing it at Frederick. Sirens could be heard approaching as the ladies began planning dinner parties to tell of this evening. The sun dropped over the clubhouse and the evening cooled. The constable, tired now, turned and considered when to write his reports as he was clapped on the shoulder by the team captain, Chalfont St Giles, who with a warm smile asked ''how's the shoulder mate? We will be needing someone for Saturday, you know.'' He considered the chance to play again but declined. ''I'm too busy catching murderers to catch cricket balls these days, Chalfont, but thank you.'' He made his way into the gathering darkness.
Archived comments for CSI: Weybridge
Whale on 26-08-2008
CSI: Weybridge
This could be a very good story if you did not try to impress the reader so much with your writing skills. You use too many words and - unfortunately - not in the best of places. At the very beginning, you add a long paragraph describing the young constable, Beckham, just when the reader is interested in the body and the murder. You keep going until half way down we learn he was killed by the wickets. Don't you think that would be the first thing the policemen would notice? You have a good sense of humour but you lay it on with a trowel. Remember, the most important thing is the story. A short story must thrust forward in a straight line to it's conclusion. No extraneous information, no extraneous characters, no extraneous dialogue, and not a single extraneous word. Try to avoid the Passive Tense like the plague. If you take the trouble to go over this with a surgeon's scalpel and edit out everything that slows the story down, you will have a good, saleable piece.

Author's Reply:
Thank you for your thoughts - I'll confess that the piece above was enthusiastically written as a pastiche of that great CSI genre and perhaps I lost the sense of 'short story' in the process. I was having fun and enjoyed tangling with the writing without, perhaps, thinking of the poor souls who would end up reading it. Someone recently gave me a book of how to write short stories so I'm gonna read it and have another go. Good point on the passive tense thing; they can sneak in there without even noticing. I'm not sure I like this particular story enough to edit it. Maybe one day.

Thanks again for the honest assessment.



Fish Tale (posted on: 10-11-06)
Short poem

''Hi De Hi'' They say to me As I walk by Towards the sea ''Swim can you?'' They ask of me ''Of course I do - A fish I be!'' ''Fishy tale!'' They laugh at me ''So you ate whale And kelp for tea?'' ''Yes I did! And what is more I'd whelks and squid And cockles, four!'' ''But the sea So big and blue It might just be Too big for you'' ''Not for me!'' And off I run Towards the sea To have some fun Shiny shells And tumbling sea And fishy smells And here comes me! ''Not so fast!'' They call to me But I am past Them one, two, three! Running down The sandy beach I look around The sea's in reach! One last leap And jump up high Into the deep Blue sea jump I! Splash! And ''Oh!'' I'd not been told ! That it is oh So very cold! Out I dash Back onto land Out in a flash Onto the sand ''Little fish! That jumps so high Perhaps you wish That you can fly!'' ''Fly I might!'' I dance and sing A swift or kite Bird on the wing ''Neither bird Nor fish you be 'Girl' is the word For what we see!'' Little twirl I fly away I'll be a girl Another day!
Archived comments for Fish Tale
Romany on 17-07-2007
Fish Tale
I think this is a lovely poem fo rchildren. I can just see the bright illustrations to go with it, and the repetitive quality of some parts would work beautifully. I think it would qualify almost as a 'nonsense' poem, but I mean it kindly!

Romany.

Author's Reply:
It's meant to be visual - and kids enjoy being precocious and independent so should identify with the little girl - it would work well with pics but I can't draw for toffee... It is nonsense, no doubt. Bit of fun really. Thanks for having a look.

Macjoyce on 19-05-2008
Fish Tale
Good stuff, Mr Squid. It's a shame there's no squid in this poem, actually. But what the hell, it doesn't really need squid, or anything else be-tentacled, for that matter. Like it, like it. Especially "And here comes me".



Author's Reply:


Seasons (posted on: 03-11-06)
Seasons

Kicking through the gilded drifts Flame and russet, ochre hues Autumn's spiced and scented gifts Crunch crisply damp 'neath children's shoes Winter's seeds, she quickly sows Swift the spread of darkness' veil Cool the breeze and colder grows 'Til icy fingers mark her trail Now with youthful urgency Buds spring dense and hedge rows dress Thrust their ardent verdancy The starlings dive in playfulness And then summer's warm recline Gentle breeze, hop-hazy hum Grape grows plump on tangled vine Four seasons passed, yet here they come!
Archived comments for Seasons
Romany on 03-11-2006
Seasons
This is just lovely! A feel of 'old-fashioned' poetry to it, if that makes sense? A lovely pace and lilt to it too. A cheering, mellow poem. Enjoyed, thank you,

Romany.

Author's Reply:
Thank you! It does make sense, the old-fashioned thing. I was being nostalgic when I wrote it... Weird.

SugarMama34 on 03-11-2006
Seasons
Hiya! what a lovely winter poem that is full of great imagery. I loved the way you wrote this from the prospective of Winter herself. A fasinating poem full of charm and a hint of magic to it too, for me personally.

Cheers From Sugar. x

Author's Reply:
Well I am very pleased you found something in it that you liked. And thank you for the rating!

Sunken on 04-11-2006
Seasons
Ya know, these rustling leaves make life hell for a professional bugler. It's like nature's very own alarm system. It's useless in the rain though... I'm rambling aren't I? Well done on the nib young squiggly, much deserved.

s
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he thinks beans are a delicacy

Author's Reply:
Thank you (and good luck with the career).

Kat on 04-11-2006
Seasons
It's not easy to bring a fresh slant to the seasons but you have done that with aplomb. The last stanza was my favourite - great work!

Kat :o)

Author's Reply:
Thanks for for your kind words... S

Zoya on 05-11-2006
Seasons
' Season of mist and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun,
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that around the thatch-eves run'
John Keats

I don't know why but your poem reminded me of these opening lines of Keats 'To Autumn'?

May be because it is so good?

Welcome to UKA!

Love, Zoya

Author's Reply:
Plagiarise, plagiarise
Never let another's work
Evade your eyes... (Tom Lehrer)

Actually, I'd never seen the Keats effort before and of course modesty demands that I deny any similarity. But thank you all the same.

e-griff on 05-11-2006
Seasons
I came here having caught Zoya's quote - surely it's 'close-busomed' (or busom'd)?

Anyway, having got here, what a nice wee poem!!! It's a little (some would say) corny and predictable (so many have done it), but for its genre, this is really well done, and throwing aside critical technicalities, enjoyable to read.
The images were excellent, and even I have only one suggestion for the last line. maybe:
Four seasons passed. Again they come!
🙂

Author's Reply:
thanks e-griff; I agree - it is a touch corn-ball but in a pleasing way, I hope. And thank you for the suggestion on the last line - I'd toyed with that but felt the full stop upset the rhythm. Maybe I'm wrong (it's happened before). Thanks again

e-griff on 05-11-2006
Seasons
sorry Zoya - looks like I misremembered the poem - which I did for GCE Eng Lit ... er, in 1960 when I was 14!!!
why did I do that?

Blimey! *worried* I can still quote Stoke's law and deduce the gas pressure equations from scratch ... Blimey! and the periodic table H He Li Be B C N O F Ne Na Mg Al Si P S Cl Ar (when I first memorised it, there was no 'r' on Argon. Blimey)
*wanders of vaguely in all directions* sorry for rambling squiddly .....

Author's Reply:

Macjoyce on 24-01-2008
Seasons
Really, really nice poem, Squid. I'm fast becoming an admirer of your work. And yes, it does ring bells towards Keats's "To Autumn". Let's have a look at how we can maybe improve it though...

"Kicking through the gilded drifts
Flame and russet, ochre hues
Autumn’s spiced and scented gifts
Crunch crisply damp ‘neath children’s shoes"

Brilliant. Maybe just commas at the end of lines 1 and 2, and full-stop at the end of 4.

"Winter’s seeds, she quickly sows
Swift the spread of darkness’ veil
Cool the breeze and colder grows
‘Til icy fingers mark her trail"

Hmmm. Not sure about the first line. It's the old-fashioned syntax I don't like. "Winter quickly sows her seeds" would be a lot better, but then you'd need a new rhyme ('recedes' is a nice one). Up to you.

"Now with youthful urgency
Buds spring dense and hedge rows dress
Thrust their ardent verdancy
The starlings dive in playfulness"

Amazing! Possibly the best verse. The only thing I don't really get is the "hedge rows dress". It's rather weak. What do you think?

"And then summer’s warm recline
Gentle breeze, hop-hazy hum
Grape grows plump on tangled vine
Four seasons passed, yet here they come!"

Again, excellent. Some nice alliteration. Nothing to change here except maybe commas to end the first two and full-stop to end the third.

Mac


Author's Reply:


My Pen (posted on: 27-10-06)
My Pen

My fountain pen is beautiful and cost a pretty penny A better pen to look at? Well, there isn't really any But you don't know the problems that accompany such beauty And I am here to tell you, for I feel it is my duty To look at sure, it's fine enough, but that's not what was meant When Faber Castell went to work and built this instrument I'm sure they felt its role to be something with which to write And this it should do all the time, bright morn 'til darkened night And now, my friends, I tell you all about the monstrous issue That leaves my desk all inky mess and past the help of tissue For once the writer has ceased to write, alas the ink still leaks And I haven't had an ink-free cuff for now what seems like weeks
Archived comments for My Pen
Sunken on 27-10-2006
My Pen
Hello Squiddly. Sorry to hear about your pen problems. At least you got a good little poem from it. Stick to typing, it's far simpler. No, scrub that... try a pencil. Thanks.

s
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receives sky via a tin lid

Author's Reply:
Thanks for the note and reading of my woes... The pencil idea is a good one - I'll try it. Cheers.

reckless on 28-10-2006
My Pen
I've known several children like that, couldn't write without leaving an indecipherable mess!

Author's Reply:
I know several colleagues that that...

narcissa on 29-10-2006
My Pen
This made me chuckle! Impeccable metre and rhyme - very well done!


Author's Reply:
Thank you for your kind words - very much appreciated ; )


The Craven (posted on: 08-09-06)
This poem is written in the style of The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe, although its subject is somewhat different.

Once upon an evening beery, pint in hand and getting cheery Over many a brew and listening to the tunes across the floor As we chatted, nearly shouting, there she was all gorgeous, pouting As of some chick on the look out, look out for a paramour "Where's her boyfriend at?" I questioned "coming through the outside door?" Was it him that I just saw? Often, now, my mates remind me how they stood that night behind me And they watched as I aligned me with the bird in red Dior "Not a chance!" they mocked me brightly so I mentioned, quite politely, "Chicks are helpless in my presence and they end up wanting more" "Similar to sexy Bond girls once they'd bedded Roger Moore" "Watch me as I take the floor" Then she glanced in my direction with, I thought, a clear affection For the brand new French Connection pastel tee-shirt that I wore I responded broadly smiling, in my head, a line compiling That would simply strike her sweet-spot, sweeter than a candy store "Alright luv, you seem familiar, have I seen you here before?" This she will not dare ignore Patiently she stood there waiting, evidently contemplating This cool dude she'd soon be dating as he weaved his path unsure. As I into tables blundered, let my mind go wild and wondered If she'd have a hyphen in her email, or an underscore? "Hello love, your glass seems empty, p'raps another drink or four?" Only then, she knew the score. Shocked she was with admiration, at my direct navigation To her bar-side situation and my self-assured rapport So she simply stared unblinking and I offered, without thinking "You look tasty in that outfit. Is it from the discount store?" "No, of course not" she responded. We weren't strangers anymore! Time to make this tigress roar. Never fearful of conversing, I then launched (without rehearsing) Into repartee traversing subjects from the toppest drawer Diverse insights and compelling thoughts and stories I'd be telling, As comfortable with Pluto's rings as I am with Yom Kippur She just kept on looking at me then out to the open door There's the bloke I'd seen before! But he didn't stop at stalking! He just headed over, walking Quickly now as I was talking to the chick like Cindy Craw Ford who seemed now rather prickly, turning to this guy too quickly For my taste it must be mentioned - wrecking our esprit-de-corps Had she hoped that this upturn would not present to me a flaw? Fishy, this was, to be sure I'd read tales of babes perverted, who with strangers often flirted Until in your drinks they'd squirted funny stuff that makes you snore. But too late! They're caught red-handed! Soon they'll be in cells remanded When I call the cops and invoke all due process of the law. I would stop their wicked plans and their imprisonment ensure! Now they really are done for! But to their guilt who would attest? For I had not yet acquiesced Which means the cops could never test for the dope and drugs galore And neither he nor she would sing about their plans to do this thing Thus it fell to me to trap these two, both guilty to the core. So I grabbed the bird quite roughly and the guy, who loudly swore! Just before he punched my jaw. Then, while slowly I recovered, all around me people hovered Saying that they'd not discovered anyone as dumb before "Chatting up the Landlord's daughter!" "Grabbing on the coat he'd bought 'er!" "She at sixteen! With a boyfriend from the local army corps!" "Ain't you got a clue?!" they laughed while I lay there upon the floor "Used to mate, but not no more."
Archived comments for The Craven
Andrea on 25-10-2006
The Craven
I thought this was great - dunno why it hasn't received more comments and attention.

Well done on the nib!

Author's Reply:
Many thanks for the positive comment - when it initially appeared, there were more comments but then they strangely disappeared...