Archive for November, 2008

Peace in our time

Sunday, November 30th, 2008

The log on the fire crackles occasionally. It is relaxing to watch the flames dance around the edge. There is quite a deep glow in the fire and the warmth is perfect for the size of room.

It’s not very nice out. Sitting in front of the fire is the only place to be. John is fast asleep on the sofa, wrapped up in the throw. He only managed half a game of football this morning and now it is clear that he has gone down with something. Likely be off school tomorrow.

I think I can hear the owl again in the trees above the back garden, though what it is doing out on a night like this only it knows. I suppose we all have to eat. There are plenty of mice out in the allotment. I like having the owl out there. We have also occasionally seen bats fly around in the garden at twilight time. Only in the summer though.

Tom is out at youth club. Hannah is I think in bed. She has had a hard day doing retail therapy at Meadowhall. Nightmare. Joe I can hear whistling somewhere in the house. That’s a result! He is being relatively quiet. And finally Anne is ironing in the kitchen without the radio on.

All in all, we are at peace. Must be getting closer to Christmas. I can almost hear the angels starting to line up, practising.  Getting their harps in tune. Loosening up with a couple of Bing Crosby numbers.

This morning I cut some holly and ivy for the Westgate School Christmas Market Cafe. This afternoon I finished raking the leaves from the back garden. At least it’s as finished as it’s ever going to be. There are still lots of leaves on the ground but you can see a fair bit of grass.

The front lawn hasn’t been done yet. I’m not actually particularly bothered about the front. I think I only cut the front lawn about three times this year. It has a lot of moss in it. The more the merrier as far as I am concerned. It looks like grass from a distance and doesn’t need cutting. 

As I write Tom has just come back. Time to batten down the hatches and carry John up to bed. I am happy that I have a nice warm house. It isn’t a good time to be homeless.

Co-operative Funeralcare

Saturday, November 29th, 2008

Just watching the bowls on the telly before the Wales v Australia rugby match and note that the tournament is sponsored by Cooperative Funeralcare. Brilliantly blatant.

It’s basically telling its Saga membership viewers that they think there is a good probability that they are about to pop their corks quite soon and they’d like their cash thank you very much.

Do I book that holiday in Eastbourne or keep the cash for the funeral instead? Pass the gin Dora!

In Our House There is No Retreat (from the noise)

Saturday, November 29th, 2008

In our house the drums aren’t distant. They are in the living room. They appeared there one Friday night when I came home from work, along with the trumpet. The guitar was already there. A very loud combination.

In our house the study has the TV in it. I put it there so that I could control the kids’ watching habits. My desk is no longer in the study. It’s in Tom’s room. His need was greater than mine. In its place is the piano, next to the TV which I can no longer control without causing an uprising.

In our house the sewing machine is on the table in the conservatory. I am allowed to use the table though not at the same time as Hannah when she is on the machine.

In our house Tom’s room is out of bounds. It isn’t somewhere you would want to dwell anyway. Joe’s room requires some negotiation to get to the bed, what with game controllers scattered on the floor. The PCs seem to be permanently on in 3 kids bedrooms.

In our house we have a revamped shower room. It used to be my domain but since being done up everyone prefers it to the bathroom. I now have to avoid about 8 different bottles of shampoo and shower gel, not to mention the toothbrushes and disposable razors.

In our house the Archers is on in the kitchen every night making it a no go area. I am allowed in as long as I don’t talk but the mental anguish caused by having to listen to the soap precludes me from doing so. The radio is also on every Saturday and Sunday morning when we listen to Tom on Siren FM. We wouldn’t ordinarily listen to the music but we have to to hear Tom.

In our house when I go upstairs to bed and turn the radio on it sometimes blasts my ears out. It only needs to be on quietly but sometimes it gets turned up during the day so that it can be heard in other rooms or whilst the hairdryer is on.

You would think that when everyone is out and the house is quiet and I am alone it would be blissful. It isn’t. The silence is too much of a contrast with the normal state of affairs. I do like a quiet pint though in the Morning Star. The “quiet” and the “pint” are perfect combinations. In fact, as I think of it, the house has grown silent…

The football match

Sunday, November 23rd, 2008

It was a cold Sunday morning with snow on the ground. Not icy though so there was no problem with the game going ahead. The journey to Caythorpe took longer than I had expected. This was partly because of the treacherous driving conditions but also partly because I had forgotten how far it was.


On the way we passed a white van in a ditch with an AA van in attendance. Also a short distance further on a grey people carrier on its side on the verge. On Tom’s radio programme he announced that Lincolnshire Constabulary had reported 12 weather related crashes. We drove everywhere at a top speed of 40 miles an hour.


We made it in plenty of time and John, who normally starts on the bench, went on after a couple of minutes and got pretty much a full game. Running around on the pitch was the best place to be that day. It’s great to watch him in action. He is a fine strong lad. I have to make a conscious effort to not comment from the touchline, other than the occasional encouragement.


We won eleven one.

A brisk round of golf in late November

Sunday, November 23rd, 2008

The cheeks certainly had a glow to them as we strode round the golf course. At 2 or 3 degrees it wasn’t frozen and you were ok if the sun was out or you had your back to the wind.


Spotting the ball was a somewhat hit and miss affair when playing into the low winter sun (pun intended).


There was a certain urgency about the round which was played as a fourball-betterball. Mick and Gary versus me and Danny. There was a competition on so the tee was closed at ten am. Also because of the nights closing in everyone who normally plays in the afternoon turned up to play at nine in the morning. This of course meant that there was a huge queue on the tee with the prospect of us not getting away before the ten o’clock deadline.


We nipped over to the seventh and cut in ahead of a three ball which is why we rushed round – to keep ahead of them so as not to get in their way. It’s a good discipline actually. There’s no point in taking too long over a game of golf in the winter.


As it turned out the weather was glorious, even though there was snow forecast. The conversation was convivial and the game close. Danny and I went one up with one to play and we managed to scramble a half on the eighteenth which gave us the match. 


Golf is often described as a long walk spoiled. Well let me tell you people don’t go out on long walks these days and a walk round the pleasant surroundings of Lincoln Golf Club is a delight.


Sunday, November 16th, 2008

He was buried on Thursday. The weather wasn’t very good, it being November, but there was a good turnout apparently. They were all there, except the Americans, who couldn’t make the trip. They had had plans, now cast aside clearly, to go to America.


He hadn’t been on the scene long although she had known him all her life. At a time when things had been difficult he had arrived as a knight in shining armour. He had renewed her happiness and offered her hope. But now he was gone.


I only met him the once, at the 50th wedding anniversary bash. He was a little overshadowed by the noise of the family, the rabble, but he had played his part. That night I wasn’t driving so I had a few beers and I didn’t get much chance to speak with him. I don’t think he was sat close to me.


He fitted in to the stereotype of his generation, as did many of the partygoers that night. The black and white slides evoked memories of my childhood although they weren’t of my side of the family. Quite austere memories really, not of my own childhood but of what I imagined my parents’ to be.


The war had not finished all that long ago and it was only a few years since the end of rationing. Now the funeral made it feel as if those days were back. Black and white again.


So now she will have to start all over again, if she can. It’s a tough old game but it’s amazing how resilient we are. It’s a constant battle though and she will need her family’s help.


As I write I look up and stare into the fire…

The Apple Tree

Sunday, November 16th, 2008


The apple tree buds, the start of spring,

The first sign of hope,

The flowers arrive and with them

Birdsong, absent for some months now.

Fresh new smells in the garden and the cleaned up patio

Point to lunch outside for the first time.


The flowers turn to green berries,

Unnoticed at first but getting a little bigger each day,

As the summer progresses.

We still sit outside for food, when the weather allows.

Though more often we complain about it,

But the apple tree likes the rain.


Holidays come and we abandon the tree to

Work its magic, and the apples grow fat.

Expectantly we await the first windfalls

That suggest harvest time has arrived.


Back to school and a bumper crop.

Up the ladder to pick the finest,

Bags filled full and heavy.

In the kitchen, flour, sugar and blackberries

Make a heavenly combination.


Outside the apple tree is now forgotten,

Its job done, leaves gone,

Just the odd fruit left, out of reach,

Bending slender bough and bobbing wildly

As the winter winds wreak havoc on the garden.


The apples, stored in the shed

Won’t last the winter…



For Ann Cookson


Leave The Garden Alone!

Saturday, November 15th, 2008

These leaves are not alone

They are dangerous to leave,

The grass will die

And we’ll all know why,

Because I left it till later.

Too late? Err…

Rakers of the world unite

We need your help, before tonight:-)

Turn over that old leaf

Blow wind blow

Get them out of my gutters and off the grass

Later…they are mostly gone now, though there are still a few heaps to shift. No room left on the compost heap though.

Miserable Sundays

Sunday, November 9th, 2008

It’s one of those horrible wet, miserable days in November where nobody in their right mind is out and about. The fire in the living room is cosy enough but I want to get up and out and do something!

It brings to mind those classic Sunday afternoons from my childhood where all there was to do was watch the black and white film on BBC2 or play Monopoly. Tea was a welcome interval in the boredom. Songs of Praise would come and go and then there was usually something good on the radio. Hello Cheeky springs to mind.

In those days we actually used to look forward to specific slots on the radio such as the early Sunday night comedy. Times have changed and with them the electricity bills have gone up. Hannah is doing her music homework whilst watching something on the internet. Joe is playing with Adobe Flash. John is playing football manager whilst watching an early round FA Cup Tie between Havant and Brentford and gawd only knows what Tom is up to. I only know it won’t be homework.

The only regular slot for us on the radio these days is the Archers, at which point the kitchen empties of all but Anne. We also listen when Tom has his Wake Up To The Weekend show on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

It’s twenty five to four and will be dark soon. I like the early dark nights, especially when the fire is going.

Sundays aren’t really boring anymore. In any case boredom is a state of mind that you can easily overcome if you chose to. John and I just had a bit of a duet session, he on sax and me on guitar. I don’t think it would have won any prizes but that’s ok. I’ve also got the printer working. I don’t think it was broken in the first place but I got it to work so that is good. I’ve printed out some invites for our Christmas Party so I’ll pop out in the rain and deliver some in a bit.

What would they have done in the stone age on a Sunday afternoon. There was even less to do then than in the sixties of my childhood. Of course they probably wouldn’t have realised it was a Sunday which makes the thought all that more interesting. You can imagine them sitting in front of the fire in the cave wondering why that specific day was so boring. No deer to hunt, too wet to go fishing. It’s probably on days like that that they had the idea to paint the cave walls. It was something to do.

Of course the food was probably boring as well. You can imagine the kids complaining. “Not mince again!” I assume they had mince in those days! They wouldn’t have had Monopoly as it wouldn’t have been invented yet. So it was probably charades, the cut down version with no movies or books or TV programmes.

It would be an interesting experiment to cut people off from contact with the rest of humanity without clocks or calendars, just to see if they could tell which day was a Sunday by virtue of it being more boring than the others. They could turn it into a reality TV program, although it would probably be a bit boring to watch!

Right I’m off out.

Winter 1983

Saturday, November 8th, 2008

It was a dark day in November or early December 1983. I remember it was a Sunday and I was down to my last pound. Some of it went on potatoes, baked beans and cardboard flavoured burgers from the local SPAR. The remaining fifty pence went in the electricity meter to cook the food. Then I sat on the settee in my sleeping bag in front of the TV until the meter ran out.

Next morning I stayed in bed under the blankets and sleeping bag, nose sticking out blowing frosty breath. No heating, no money to switch it on.

It felt dramatic but it wasn’t really. I hadn’t made any effort to find a job but it wouldn’t be a problem when I came to it. I had a big sense of freedom. No ties. I could do anything I liked when I liked, as long as it didn’t take money.

In the run up to Christmas I came under increasing pressure from my parents to get a job. I suspect that that dark Sunday made up my mind. Reluctantly, I relented, and got myself employment with Marconi in Lincoln starting in January. I never considered it would ever be a problem. It’s all about attitude.

I hired a van and moved all my worldly goods to Lincoln. Driving away I was leaving a phase of my life behind.

It’s strange to think that it is now 2008 and 25 years since I left. Since then I have pretty much always had a mortgage and have never repeated the feeling of freedom. Deep down I am not a responsible individual, I’m only a big kid, so not having that freedom doesn’t feel right.

They are all in there watching the TV!

Friday, November 7th, 2008

What do you do when yours is a lone voice in the wilderness?  When the rest of the family is in the other room watching the TV. When the kitchen seems a lonely place!

It’s a bit of an oasis, the kitchen. The desert is the hall and the room with the TV. I hesitate to call it the TV room. That would be surrender.  A cop out.  An acceptance that we have in the house an altar dedicated to mammon!

The noise of the fridge seems a lot more real than the distant sound of artificial applause on the TV.  In it everything is cool, unlike on the TV.

The house is noisy. I never hear the traffic on the road outside. Anne does but I don’t, and it is nothing to do with advancing age. Out the back I see the effect of the wind, blowing the leaves off the trees, and the noise of the rain falling on the conservatory roof. Loud but acceptable.

Not as intrusive as the TV.

With each additional child the noise levels in the house doubles. Now at 4 kids the noise has reached a certain high level of intensity.

The noise has died down. They must be watching a documentary! They are all in there watching the tv!


Wednesday, November 5th, 2008





moo, moo


From an idea by Benjammin

The Model Of A Human Life

Sunday, November 2nd, 2008

The ultimate work of art, a model reproduction of an entire life. You can rewind or fast forward to any stage from birth to death. You can see what is going on in the mind and experience all the phases of this person’s life.

It’s a very long term project!

The Graveyard Of The Chelsea Tractor

Sunday, November 2nd, 2008

Rusting metal mingles with rubber, glass and orange plastic.
Decay, a by-product of self-destructing self-worship.
The smell of oil and dirt, torn leather and plastic,
Badges of affectation, discarded on urban wastelands
And picked over by the poor.
Born of pretension,
A contempt-venting urban behemoth and
Wreaker of environmental carnage.
Gas guzzling yank tank,
Now an out of favour status symbol,
Dying in ignominious obscurity
Driven out of existence…

The Chelsea Tractor,RIP, 2008.