Thursday, 3 October 2019

National Poetry day 2019 - An Ode to AA Milne

As a child, I was bought up on AA Milne, and Winnie the Pooh. I considered Christopher Robin a personal friend, and my Dad even made a little animated film based on Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace (when Christopher Robin got to see the Queen).

Anyway, I have written a poem in honour of Winnie the Pooh and AA Milne for National Poetry Day. I hope you enjoy it.

A.A. Milne has some explaining to do.
Where is the Hundred Acre Wood, where is Pooh?
I have been looking for Eeyore,
I’m concerned about his mental health.
And as for Tigger, well, he’s something else.

I sometimes see Owl but he’s no help.
As for Kanga and Roo, I think they belong in a zoo.
I worry that Pooh may have diabetes, type2
Honey is healing, but a diet of just that
Leads to sticky paws, stuck in jars, oh Pooh.

Poor Piglet, so small and sad.
Where are your Mum and Dad? Perhaps he’s adopted.
But by whom?  Fingers crossed it’s not Pooh.
Mind you, that explains why he has to eat haycorns.
And has no trousers at all.

Speaking of pants and bottom-half clothes
Are all bears bottoms bare, it must be awfully cold?
            Kanga in her apron and nothing on Roo
            As for Tigger, well he is quite nude!
            Poor Piglet, don’t over-think it, your scarf will do.

So, A.A Milne what are we to do?
When I was small, I didn’t care about
Half-naked bears and animals that belong in a zoo.
Or dysfunctional donkeys, and diabetic Pooh.
I played in the Hundred Acre Wood with Christopher Robin,
Thank you.

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Tuesday, 24 September 2019

My Loft

The rain woke me up today. Having a bedroom in the loft means this happens more than you would think. In houses, without lofts, you have a buffer. Your roof space, which is full of all the stuff you should really throw away, but you don’t want to, is a cushion absorbing all the noise. In a loft, the roof is directly above your head. You hear the magpies and pigeons, hop, hop, hopping above you as they go about their daily business and you hear the rain. I wouldn’t change it. I hear everything above me but nothing that goes on below, I am in a bubble.
This is my loft.

            As I lie in bed with the window open, I can hear the aeroplanes taking off in the distance, the low whirr and hum. Once a day the big two-story Emirates plane takes off. If you watch it, it seems to move so slowly, in my head, I am shouting, ‘Come on, come on!’ Worried that at any moment it will just fall from the sky. Plop. Belly flopping onto the ground in an ungraceful lump. It never does.

            At night the police helicopters fly over, the Facebook group for the local area gets into a panic, ‘What’s happening?’

‘I saw a white van, with someone foreign-looking inside’.

‘It must be for them, they looked well dodgy’.

‘There were a group of lads down by the shops, I don’t know what they were up to.’

The helicopter flies away to the other side of the city and the pings from Facebook ease up.

            Another helicopter flies out of the airport, whoosh, whoosh, whoosh. Loud blades defying gravity, displacing air, this one is a Royal Airforce helicopter, taking a wounded soldier to the specialist hospital, where they help amputees. As the helicopter flies over I wonder, how bad is it? How much pain are they in? ‘I hope they have given them all the good drugs. Another victim from a war that no one talks about anymore, a war against zealots, a war with no country and no end in sight.
            I have lived in my house for a long time and there have only been two times the planes stopped flying. The first time was in 2001 after 9/11. It was eerie, silent, adding to the complete horror of what had happened. It felt like the world had stopped turning.

           The second time was in 2010 when that volcano in Iceland was erupting for ages and a cloud of dust made it impossible for the planes to fly. There were no flights to anywhere for six days. What was odd, though, was when that happened, the air cleared by us, it seemed brighter, cleaner. Frightening if that was more than a feeling, frightening if our air is that polluted by the planes. I think it is. But I’m not a scientist, I’m just talking about my loft.

The aeroplanes don’t wake me up like the rain, I’ve grown used to them, they are part of the rhythm of my home, there but not there.

            From the window of my loft, I see tree’s, if I look down, I can see back gardens, mostly they are just patios and fences. There are hardly any hedges or trees, nowhere for the hedgehogs or the foxes, or the bees and the butterflies. My garden is an oasis in a sea of cement and stone.

            In the summer when the windows are open you hear all sorts of things, music from barbeques, dog’s woof, woof, woofing. There’s been a lot of woofing lately. Too much woofing. I think about sad dogs who want to go for a walk but instead are put out into a stone garden that gives them no room to run and play. I think I live near lots of sad suburban dogs, with busy owners, who didn’t realise or take the time to learn, how much effort and time a dog needs to be given. It’s like buying a toddler to come and live with you, and like a toddler, you need to keep an eye on it; entertain it, feed it, give it plenty of fresh air and fun and teach it the rules, so it knows what the boundaries are. Woof, woof, woof.

            The smell of barbeques will waft into the loft, with snippets of conversation from below, when the wind carries it, ‘Oh yes, I’ll have some ketchup on that’

‘Oooh this kebab is gorgeous Janet; you’ve outdone yourself.’

It’s only a matter of time before the smells make me leave the loft to go and find something to eat.

Sometimes I get the whiff of a cigarette, less now than ten years ago when the loft was first built, but occasionally. I quite like it. As an ex-smoker, it’s a little gratuitous sniff of something I miss but will never do again. Nice.

When I get woken by the rain, I don’t hate it. It reminds me of rainy days camping when you would be stuck in a stuffy warm tent and the drumming of rain would be a constant beat to whatever you were occupying yourself with. It’s comforting. Whilst it’s wet outside it’s warm and dry in. I am safe and cosy in my loft.

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Tuesday, 20 August 2019

Creative Slumps. How do you get out of them?

So, here I am again, having not blogged or written anything, for over a month. Rubbish.

My big plan to write a thousand words a day has petered off into the sunset of dreams and is never going to happen...

I find it really hard to write anything with other people in the house and as my eldest has been off FOREVER (since finishing her GCSE's sometime in June). Then my youngest joined her, and then my husband had three weeks off as well.

This was obviously lovely and we did lots of family things, including a trip to Scotland, the Lake District and Wales.  We also taught the kids some card games whilst on holiday, including Twenty-Five (which if you have any kind of Irish ancestry you will be aware of) and Texas Hold'em. Yup, that is excellent parenting right there; teach your kids poker AND how to bet on poker. Awesome. 

We also played Hive, which is a weird game for two players a bit like chess, without the need for a board and with bug counters. It's quite quick, so the winner stays on. I would definitely recommend it as a travel game.

Hive - Beware it brings out your competitive nature

My children aren't even that demanding, they are 12 (going on 18), and 16 and quite capable of feeding and watering themselves during the day. As long as I make an evening meal they are fairly content.

Once again I digress, this isn't about holidays or my kids, it's about me, me, ME!

OK, tantrum over.

So how do you gather some alone time and curl yourself up in it, because, boy oh boy, in the summer holidays it is a massive challenge?

For me alone time comes in the form of an early night and a read of my book. I try to get at least half an hour most nights. That helps. And I lied a bit about not writing, I keep a diary, not every day but when I can, so I do try to do that, so I suppose I have written something. Not my creative masterpiece admittedly, but something.

And then there is that. My Creative Masterpiece. I wrote my final EMA for my first year of my OU Masters course and thought it was OK as an opening to a novel, I'd done my research, backed myself up in my commentary and was happy. Then I get the result, and I pass, which is good but didn't do as well as I hoped. The critique is less than you get for all the shorter TMA's and less constructive, which seems a bit odd. Leaving me feeling deflated, and knocks my confidence.

My plan was to continue with this story into the second year of my course, but now I don't know. It's quite personal and so the critique felt personal. Maybe I should do something completely different.

I was hoping over the summer I would come up with a genius idea, in all my alone time. Or be inspired by beautiful/Scotland/Wales/Lake District...but nothing has come to mind. I appear to be in a creative slump.

Beautiful Glencoe, sadly not helping me get out of my slump
I am heading towards the second year of my master's mid slump and I quite concerned. I wrote a nice little poem about a daisy the other day, but that's not going to cut it...

So my question to all of you out there in the world is -  How do you climb out of a slump? Is it just nose to the grindstone, and write anything and hope inspiration will follow, or do you go somewhere, listen to something, watch something, talk to someone, because I have to do something.

Any advice gladly accepted.

And to finish, a nice little poem about a daisy.

Happy clockface,
Wiggling in the sun's embrace.

Mirror image, bright
Yellow shine.

Perfect circle, perfect smile,
White and palest pink dials.

Uniform symetry, clever nature

Joy, oh joy. 

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