Various Musings

Mmmm...Well two weeks ago I had Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction. This was my first experience of surgery and though a fairly routine operation, I was not looking forward to it-a full anaesthetic being required and me not being keen on such things for a variety of reasons, such as being much less tolerant of pain than normal folk!
One consequence is that I have six weeks to recover and have spent my first week stumbling round on crutches.

Something bad did happen in hospital and I want to write about it in the blog but I'm going to just sit a bit longer with it before I go fully into print. It is around nurse-vampyres chattering like gaggles of fruit bats and spearing we poor patients on the dripping, poisonous trivia of their meaningless gabble. God was I ever glad to get out of there!

My Book of Poetry-The Book of Three Rings which I have now been working on for seven years is nearly finished and I'm on the final draft. PARDON ME! WHAT'S THAT YOU SAID? IS IT ANY GOOD? GODDAMN YOU TO THE SEVENTH CIRCLE OF HELL YOU HAIR SCUTTLING BUG!! AHEM! OF COURSE IT'S GOOD!

Many of the poems featured in this blog are drawn from this collection. I'm really looking forward now to getting into a new project and already have some ideas. The Book of Three Rings is the story of a relationship cycle triaded into three rings-Despair/Spirit and Healing and finally Transformation. It sounds heavy as unrelenting debt and it is in parts but... I'm pleased to have honoured it with so much sweat and tears. The final story is that out of tragedy we can be moulded for greatness or smallness and it is the capacity to rise above the anger of broken-heartedness and to find forgiveness that allows us to grow, heal and move on...Obvious really!
I expect to be finished by end August and it just so happens I'm signed off work until then because of my knee!

In the next few days I'll publish some more poems from the collection, say a bit about how I write and organise my projects and show how poems transform and change under the re-write, with particular note to meter and form. (It may not sound interesting dude but in fact the meter and the form are the priming mechanisms for the poetic hit!)

Success to your work!


Freya Hoffmeister-Conqueror of New Zealand South Island!

Now this, my friends, is what heroes are made of. Freya is the first woman to solo kayak around New Zealand South Island-an incredible feat of skill and endurance. Congratulations and honour to you Freya.


Song of the Siren-A Poem!

Song of the Siren

Let me sing you a siren song,
a song that flows from the heart of me.
From the lush valleys
crazed with wild poppies
to the edge of the silvered sea.

Let me be the voice of the wind,
the soul-song of the mystery.
Let me be well carved
as from ebony
to the grain of infinity.

I saw a thousand serpents snaking.
I saw herds of great beasts grazing.
I saw hordes of armies feasting.
In the land of the lotus-eaters.

The dark ship-shapes made landfall there
in the harbour of the harpies.
The land where brave souls
are sold for gold,
the land of all that scares me.

Let me sing you a sea shanty,
a song of a ship on a wine dark sea.
A ship in full sail,
on course for true North.
Seeks Ygsdrassill the wisdom tree.

Are these the harbingers of doom?
The cold of the night; the dark of the dream?

Phosphorescence of burning stars
then the dark of the hunter’s moon.
Trust flows from the dark.
Trust is dammed too soon.
Trust in the rose that’s lost its bloom.

I felt the white sail billowing
like a white stallion whinnying.
A cold fear lingering;
in the land of the lotus-eaters.

I saw ten thousand women weeping
while away the men were creeping.
I heard the fiddle; saw the burning.
In the land of the lotus-eaters.



It was many moons ago in the wrong half of the seventies and I was working as a programmer in the Department of Health and Social Security in Blackpool. We programmed in Cobol and I still get shivers when I think of those little binary digits. The department was made up of about twenty programmers and three systems analysts under the leadership of Geoff, a tall, thoughtful, lean man in his early fifties. Apart from having a strategically placed desk where I could glimpse the knickers of the sixth-form girls at the secondary school next door playing netball, the job had little to recommend it. The printers spewed out vast rolls of graphed paper which were checked endlessly. The computers were vast boxes with spinning tapes occupying football pitch-sized halls.
I decided, after several months, this was beyond a joke and determined to hitchhike around Europe with my guitar for a couple of years in the time-honoured manner of troubadours and poets over the centuries. This was, needless to say, viewed as a poor career option by my already-old geeky colleagues .
But you could have knocked me down with a wet fish when, upon hearing of my plans, our somewhat distant leader Geoff invited me out to a restaurant as he wished to put a serious proposal to me. I can’t remember what we ate, Chinese I think it was but I was intrigued and just a little suspicious that his designs might be of a sexual nature.
We bantered a bit and then Geoff leaned forward with a serious expression and said ‘ you know Tony, my wife and I have never had children, though we dearly wanted them.’
I nodded while hovering up some Chop Suey. That’s a shame’ I empathised.
‘Yes but what I really wanted Tony was a son. I wonder if you could be that son?’
I stopped eating and stared awkwardly at Geoff and then the table. There was a pathetic kind of pleading in his voice that made me resist my first impulse which was to laugh. It was if he had just told me he had fallen in love with me. In fact he had. He wanted to be my daddy…and frankly that position had been openly available for some time and was now one that I considered a tad redundant.
‘Er…Er…’ I took a deep swig of beer.
‘Well I don’t know what to say Geoff…I mean..’I trailed off.
‘You see’ he continued as if I’d said nothing and he appeared to be growing in excitement, his eyes began to twinkle.
‘Computers are the future Tony. Oh I know it’s hard to believe now but they will get smaller and smaller till one day they’ll be the size of a wristwatch with holographic projections, perhaps even beyond that. But you see, when they get the size of a television say, then people will buy them for their houses, and very soon there will be a computer in every home in the country. People will talk to each other with them, they’ll play games on them, put photos on them, write letters on them. There will even be small computers for carrying in a briefcase. In 20 years time it would be as strange not to have a computer as…well…a car!’
His voice had taken on a quivering quality as if he were truly aroused by the vision he had just painted.
‘And I intend to be there’ he continued…’All these computers will need programmes, will need software, they’ll need operating systems…Just happens to be my speciality, and I want you to be part of it. I want you to come into the business with me. I want you to take it over when I’ve…when I er…mmmm’ He trailed off, lost in a sea of primogeniturial complications and just looked at me expectantly.
In hindsight it is strange to admit that Geoff’s predictions seemed less mind-blowing and truly prescient than they did twenty years later when everything came to pass just as he said it would.
‘But I’m going hitch-hiking in Europe.’ I said somewhat lamely. Geoff’s eyes clouded with disappointment and possibly a hint of disbelief. He had offered me the riches of Croesus and I was going hitch-hiking? It made little sense.
I did go hitch-hiking round Europe and must have sung ‘Strawberry Fields’ a thousand times. I got back several months later and got a job in the Cleansing Department as a road-sweeper. One of my ‘roads’ was the one outside the Computer Department and my ex-colleagues would view my fallen status with a strange mix of compassion and outright glee.
Me? I thought-alright you bastards, you may be laughing now but I could’ve been Bill Gates! The richest man in the world!


John Gray is not God!

True but he has written a great book. I strongly advise you to read, study, ponder, and digest.

Oh the lives of the Idle Rich!

I want this boat. So what if I don't know how to sail? So what if sailing upon the deep I shall be superficial and shallow? I want it...NOW!!! NOW I SAY!!!

Black-eyed Blair

Tony Blair, the infamous war criminal, who is anything but in hiding, received a medal yesterday presented by his mate-the now quite dotty Lord Mandeltoon of LaLa Land. Blair sported a black eye. Perhaps received from an angry Iraqi mother? The medal was rumoured to be for services to India while PM but others say it is for the 200 thousandth Iraqi child death milestone recently passes in a drone attack. Very well done Tony. Congratulations on your...er...medal.

The Obama Fly-swatting Incident

The Iraqi and Afghan Metaphors are too obvious to be even interesting!


Unrolling Maps of 'The Real' at the feet of the Sleepwalkers

I was talking to a man about ‘truth’. He was a senior manager in a local government department. Incredibly straight, sensible, ambitious, a real eye for detail. A born bureaucrat. Always in a suit. Yet without a sense of humour or personal warmth, a real cold fish. A man with a great gaping hole in his belly. A man of our times. A management man. A meetings man.
It was early on in our working relationship and I was referring to the contents of a letter that had been sent out by another manager to a member of the public which contained information about me that was inaccurate. That I considered to be inaccurately critical of me. I had instituted a grievance against the author of this letter seeking the letter to be withdrawn and was discussing this in my supervision session.
‘So what do you want to get out of this?’ He asked me. I was puzzled by the question.
‘I don’t want to get anything out of it. I just want to be clear about what is true and what isn’t.’
He looked at me closely. I remember vividly his somewhat dull eyes scanning me for some clue as to what I meant. Finding none his expression changed to one of pity. I realised with a shock that this man whom I considered morally undeveloped actually pitied me.
‘Truth’ he explained ‘is relative, it depends on your perspective.’ I was confused.
‘But the letter was inaccurate and false. The things it said happened did not, in fact, happen, and the interpretations put upon those things that did not happen are necessarily false. Surely that makes it untrue?’
He shook his head sadly and stared at me as if I were a particularly dense child .
‘You have a lot to learn.’
I thought ‘this man lives in the World as if he is immortal. Yet one day the cold hand of his death will be upon him and nothing will be relative and even if it were it will not matter. All that will matter in that moment is what he has done with his life. One day he will understand this. One day you will understand it too and me and all of us. That question-WHAT HAVE YOU MADE WITH THE RAW MATERIAL OF YOUR LIFE? will be demanded. For now this poor fool has created a moral code that demands nothing of him and can legitimise any failure to live the moral life. These moral relativists have created a bland landscape for the soul. Anything is equal to anything else. As we concluded our discussion he called me a crusader, meaning, I presume, that I am carried away by my own outrage, that my emotions get out of proportion. Yet a part of me responds to this and senses the truth of it.
There is the story of the Comanche, the tribe of horse warriors pushed down from the great plains to the harsh deserts of South West America by the inexorable spread of the white people. The tribe would elect a chief whose role was to lead the men in time of war. In the heat of battle the war chief must go to the centre of the battlefield and thrust a spear into the ground. A cord is attached from the spear to the war chiefs ankle. There he must stay until the battle is won or he is dead. What a profound action that is when we meditate upon it.
It is a metaphor upon which I based my life. Be clear. Be honest. Stand up for something!
So I say YES to life! There is a position. If you tell a lie then you are wrong. It is simple. All that is required is courage. Courage mon Coeur! That shall be my motto and were I ever foolish enough to possess a coat of arms, that is what shall be written upon it, probably against a background of a hand making the two fingered gesture.
Boldness is required for such an active philosophy and wisdom comes in knowing when to bend with the wind. Humility too is needed in order to accept our mistakes as gifts. These are the tools of life. We are not here to be managed. We are not in this World to respond to market fluctuations. We are not given this life to accumulate more and more THINGS!
We are here to obey the rushing torrent of our Heart. We are here to listen to the song of our blood merging with the cosmic pulse of the Universe! Ah! There I go again getting carried away!
But then why not?
Of course there is risk. Where there is belief, commitment and faith to inform the lived life, there is always the risk of dogma, rigidity and prejudice towards the different. But Christ! Life is surely meant to be a great adventure and the dead hand of the corporate is upon us. I say-TO HELL WITH THEM!
I was relaying the story of the War Chief and the spear one night to a friend in a pub. He smiled at the story and said:
“Bloody hell, sometimes I’d want to pick up that spear and get the hell out of there!’ We both laughed and then the truth of what he had just said came crashing into my consciousness. Sometimes you have to pick the spear up and get the hell out of there. It offers flexibility and the ability to flow. It offers the possibility of forgiveness. Where there is the choice to stand firm there is always the option to run like hell. There must be. It is life.
I would have found it easy to die for something, it’s living for something that takes such effort. The alienation of men in Western society I feel is in no small part due to the absence of a war in our lifetimes. It is all so beautifully simple in a time of war-we are over here, they are over there..C’mon boys let’s kill the bastards! Deriving meaning in a time of peace and living a life of honour is not easy. Enemies are no longer identifiable. It is easier to demonise the opposition than to see ourselves in their monstrosities. Do you think the Serbs in Kosovo were aliens? What we watched on our TV sets with horrified fascination was the obverse side of compassionate masculinity. It is only when we own and take responsibility for the seeds of our own being in the actions of the ‘enemy’ that we become real. Only when we understand that the torturer breathes the same stardust as ourselves do we understand. The simple tenets of faith become too self evidently phony otherwise.
And yet...and yet there are examples of noble men to be found everywhere. Indeed I find myself at times surrounded by them. We all struggle with our masculinity in a world which would castrate us. Castrated men are easy to control. They work themselves to death willingly and fight when directed. They do as they are told. They are relieved of the madness of passion and ecstasy. But the warrior poets, the intellectual explorers surfing the edges of the current paradigms, the questing mystics-they are really dangerous assassins of the 'taken-for-granted'. They unroll maps of the real at the feet of the sleepwalkers.

From 'Letter to a Father Unknown'