For Clare at 40

March 1st, 2009

What do you get a woman
When she turns forty?
She already has it all,
Good looks,
Lively personality,
Rich and caring husband,
Dutiful children,
Great friends,
A VW camper van,
Exciting tastes,
Stylish wardrobe,
Intelligent conversation,
Great sex drive (apparently),
A mansion near the cathedral.

You get her a poem:

There was a young lady called Clare
Who drove me one day to despair
For try as I might
A poem to write
But damn it the muse wasn’t there

Four Oh

The numbers game,
A milestone we celebrate,
Marching on,
Steadily ticking,
One more goes by,
There’s no going back,
Drip, drip, drip
A watershed
Life changing?
It all begins here!
Live for the moment!
Do it now,
Before bits start falling off.

Four Oh.

Life is short

February 27th, 2009

“Sometimes you just got to eat desert first.”

Jeff Pulver, 28/1/09 though it may well not be original.

The men in the pub

February 27th, 2009

I was stood at the bar of the Morning Star, not chatting to the barman. It’s one of the great things about popping into a local pub for a swift one. Sometimes you chat with the barman, sometimes with whoever else is standing there and sometimes you don’t.

I am very comfortable with just being there sipping a beer, saying nothing, watching, listening and quietly taking it all in. Saturday afternoons are especially good, before the ”early doors” rush. It isn’t very good for the pub trade I’m sure to not have many punters but as a form of relaxation it is nice to just stand there not talking.

This wasn’t a Saturday afternoon. It must have been a Wednesday because other than the weekend I really only get there before picking up from Cubs and then for a very swift one. I was at the bar in my usual place, near the door, when in walked some men.

There were six of them, aged in their thirties, forties and fifties. Three were British and three seemed to be Eastern European. The locals were clearly entertaining the visitors. One of them asked for a tab at the bar.

The hosts began recommending specific beers. The visitors didn’t understand the concept of a bitter or an ale and certainly did not recognize much of what was on offer. The conversation seemed fairly stunted as the vocabulary of the guests sounded limited. They wandered off into a corner of the pub to conduct the business of their evening. I thought it was likely to be a strange sort of night out due to the problem of communication.

I finished my pint and left to go to and pick up the kids. I hope their business went well.

The tree skeletons

February 24th, 2009

The tree skeletons
Stand out in the fields
As I pass by,
Their stark, nakedness
Presenting no embarrassment
As might such frankness of expression.

In a time of want and austerity.
The countryside around is barren
But the coat of death
Has not yet turned to decay,
The deep freeze a desperate grasp on what was
But may no more be.

I heard a robin singing

February 22nd, 2009

The snows had finally melted the day before. We had enjoyed the abnormally wintery winter while it lasted but I think everyone was pleased to see the temperature rise and the roads get back to normal.

When I got out of the car that morning I heard a robin singing. Looking up I could see him on a branch at the top of a bare tree, caroling at the top of his voice. He too was clearly glad the freezing weather had gone.

It was still too early for spring but the sound of the robin filled me with spring-like sensations. The crocuses were out, the rich yellow of their petals the first display of new life in the new year. Other bulbs were now also starting to push through and I was sure it would not be long before daffodils again filled the roadside verges.

I could smell, in my imagination, the freshness of the new season in the back garden and hear the loud cacophony of birdsong, joyful in its celebration from within the newly clothed hedgerows. There was energy there, as if the electricity had been switched on again after a long winter spent in the dark. I raised my face to the sun and soaked it in.

All that though was still to come as the robin sang out its hymn. Still, it raised my spirits and I walked through the front door of the office that day with a spring in my step.

The Bag

February 22nd, 2009

Save the planet you bastard,
Said her eyes,
As I asked for a bag
At the checkout.
She was right of course,
Though I did need
To carry the food home,
So I took one and left.

The Sorrel Horse In Barham

February 20th, 2009

The train to Norwich stops at Ipswich,
Which is where I mean to go,
Once alighted catch a taxi,
Sorrel Horse in Barham ho.

Liverpool Street is very busy,
With commuters homeward bound,
None are destined though for Barham,
Sorrel Horse, so sweet the sound.

No bitter pill awaits in Barham,
Bitter beer that makes me smile,
Draught pulled pints of pure enjoyment,
Satisfaction Sorrel-style.

There’s a meal to match the finest
Mother ever could prepare
Freshly cooked and plenty of it
Sorrel Horse it draws me there

When the sun sets over Barham,
There’s a place that’s free from sin
Warm your back, the fire beckons,
Oh Sorrel Horse, most welcome inn.

The couple on the train

February 18th, 2009

I sat on the train last night headed out of Liverpool Street Station bound for Ipswich. I had a reservation but there were no tickets indicating that particular seats were reserved so I chose a better seat at a table in order to use my laptop. As I watched people arrive there seemed to be no logic as to where they chose to sit. I could hear grumbles from people who were not positioned where they had booked.

The carriage became fairly full. A couple arrived at the last minute to occupy the two window seats at my table. I exchanged pleasantries with her, he nodding now and then in tacit agreement.

I would have said they were both around thirty years old. She was slim, fair haired and “well presented”. He had dark short hair and looked just like a normal bloke. She had brought with her some snacks for the journey, a couple of bananas and some cake bar type biscuits. They had not had enough time to buy coffee at the station.

Then they got down to an extremely frustrating conversation. She leant forward towards him and started to speak in very hushed tones. Although I was sat next to her I couldn’t really hear other than to catch the very occasional snippet.

They were clearly planning something major, discussing mortgage options, private schooling and what they should do when. I caught a glimpse of the word “custody” on a piece of paper that she was using to make notes. There seemed also to be a plan to go somewhere the next morning.

When the buffet trolley came through the compartment she asked for a gin and tonic. Unfortunately they had tonic but no gin. She settled for a white decaff. Extremes I thought!

I felt I was sharing the eve of a major moment in the lives of these two people but was left with very little real understanding of the plot.

Before the train got to Ipswich they discussed going out to “The Fox” for a drink later that night. It seemed to be a safe place for them. No bumping in to anyone accidentally. I got off at Ipswich and they continued the journey, the next and final stop being Norwich.

A small cameo in a huge tapestry.

Fat woman in hotel restaurant

February 17th, 2009

There was heavy breathing
In the lift
Going down
For breakfast.
She was texting
And it seemed to me
The effort was
Making her breathless.
It came as a surprise
To see her on cereals
But then she appeared
In the line
For the full English buffet,
Urging her
Equally sizeable
Male companion
To take more
And then I saw her go
For a second helping,
A large one.
I walked to my meeting.

The quiet coach!

February 17th, 2009

The quiet coach,
The crunch of crisp packets,
The rustling of newspapers
And the murmur of conversations
Would almost drown out the noise of
Any mobile phone!

The crash of the glass!

February 12th, 2009

The crash of the glass
Came as a sudden shock
Though looking back
I can see it in slow motion
As the coat swept across the table
And knocked it to the floor.

The connection with the hard tiles
Set off an explosion
Also available in slow mo replay
With shards scattering
In a wide arc around him
Under the other tables.

The immediate shattering silence
Turned into a pause of anticipation,
He deciding in his mind on an approach,
Every eye in the café upon him,
Including the staff behind the counter,
Themselves assessing the moment.

The decision arrived and apologies forthcame,
Answers calming the room,
Encouraging familiarity
And heartfelt sympathy
From the other diners,
Short-lived in their quiet discomfort.

The plateau reached, of mutual satisfaction,
He put on the coat,
Paid for his drink and left.
The girl swept up
Restoring harmonious order.
New diners arrived, oblivious.

The Pyrex Challenge

February 10th, 2009

Revealed in a moment of passion,
The bowl of secrets, for her
A life-changing perfection,
In pyrex, the brightest reflection
Of a woman’s ambition,
Waterproof, a watershed in life’s expectation
‘though lacking in clear explanation
Of the reason for this deep devotion.
The gauntlet laid, in anticipation
Of a suitably poetic reaction.

A tale of two churches

February 9th, 2009

The Sunday homage,

Split between God and mammon.

The body of Christ and

The bread counter at the supermarket

The bell calls the faithful to prayer

Whilst the tannoy announces reductions at the deli

Money changes hands as

The collection plate circulates

And the clubcard accrues points

St Peter in Eastgate Church and Tesco

They both want your soul.

The woman on the train

February 9th, 2009

The woman on the train
Would have been quite attractive
But for the disturbance
That kept the smile from her lips.

Her phone call bore no fruit,
“It” hadn’t arrived yet and
She arranged to call back
On the way home from work.

She was in her mid-30s I supposed,
Sitting there in contemplative silence,
Her long dark hair contrasting
With the creamy wool of her coat.

On the table in front was
A pair of red leather gloves
With a velvet scarf that
Matched her crimson lipstick.

When we got to Peterborough
She pulled on the gloves
And, moving down the carriage,
Left the train.

I noticed she wore black boots
As I watched her walking
Off along the platform
The rain beating heavily against the window.

The train pulled away
And I sat there wondering
What her problem might be,
Then I moved on.

WIND

February 8th, 2009

Howling, raging, battering,

The wind still blew on,

Fierce, gusty and strong,

The wind still blew on,

Calm, quiet and peaceful,

The wind had stopped blowing,

Raging and howling,

So all was quiet and sunny.