Sunday, 3 May 2009

here again

here again,
the wrong end of the day
the world suddenly slides
into an over-night bag
soundproofed against
the perils of darkness
seeking the soothing
rejuvenation of sleep
and the faint edge
of night life
creeping in
and over
and up
seizing and warping the very bones
of comforts laid in store
premature hopes
untimely liaisons
smashing dreams into a thousand pieces
will she
won’t she
can I
can’t I
jigsawing the realities
into a socially acceptable peace

Tuesday, 17 March 2009



“How did I get into this mess?”

I banged a fist on the steering wheel, perhaps in some vain hope that an answer would jump out at me, but apart from a slight tinge of fear that I might set off the airbag, no thoughts came to mind. I had been having a quiet drink in the Bull, relaxing by the fireside after a stressful day in the office and now .... where the hell was I? Well I was driving down a dark country lane in the pouring rain and heading for trouble without a doubt.

Billie had texted me with some crazy story imploring me to “get your ass over here double quick” and I had rung her back to find out what was going on. She was practically incoherent because she was so hyper and probably a little pissed but after calming her down a little she had given me directions and pleaded with me to go and help her.

We went back a long way and we were good friends, the best of friends. Lately though she had been a friend in need just a little too much. It seemed like she was always in some scrape and needed bailing out, with me being the ‘chosen one’. There was no way I could let her down though. Fact was, as she knew, I could always be depended on and I would always help her out, if I was available.

I saw the lights of a house in the distance and from Billie’s directions that seemed to be the place she had described. I called her again on the mobile but her phone just rang to voicemail. I didn’t bother with a message, I’d be there soon enough. As I reached the place I saw it was a farmhouse with a large yard at the front which was lit up as I drove in.

I grabbed a torch out of the glove compartment as the yard floodlight had gone out and the place now seemed in darkness apart from an eerie flickering upstairs. I locked the car, even though the nearest people were about five miles away, and the car’s answering beeps scared the shit out of me. The quiet blackness of the countryside settled on my shoulders and I pulled my collar up as the rain darted at my neck.

The silence was deafening and it was with trepidation that I picked my way to what appeared to be the front door. My eyes were darting around trying to cope with the weird shapes that loomed up and I decided there and then that I was going to have words with Billie after I got her out of this mess, whatever it was. I stood at the door and knocked. The sound reverberated around the valley and would, I was sure, wake the dead and their uncles and their grannies and bring them all rushing at me like a scene from Night of the Living Dead. Nothing to be worried about, I told myself unconvincingly.

I called out, “Billie .... Billie ... it’s me Frank.” I tried the door and as it opened with a ghostly creak I realised my heart rate was going up. “Billie, are you there?”

I shone my torch around and hovered in the doorway. Why the hell was I here? What was I thinking off? All she had to do was snap her fingers and she knew I’d be there, I must be mad! I heard a screech from above. Like a chair moving on bare floorboards. My mind was working overtime. Why wasn’t she answering? I moved forward flashing the torch to look for a light switch, which I found and clicked on. Nothing! I called out again and finally I heard Billie’s voice, “Up here Frank, I’m in the bedroom.” She sounded distressed, as if she was crying almost. I moved quickly to the stairs and tried the switches there. No power.

“I’m coming Billie, are you ok?” There was no reply, just a shuffling and a gasp. I had a bad feeling about this. I took the stairs in twos and saw a light under one of the doors and I kept calling, “Billie, Billie ...” I took a deep breath and put my shoulder to the door. I turned the handle slowly, not knowing what to expect as the door opened. The landing was lit up and as I squinted for second, getting used to the light, I saw Billie, sat on a bed sobbing with a faraway look in her eyes.

I was so relieved. For a moment I had been really spooked, but there she was. My face broke into a smile and I quickly moved towards her, “ Another fine mess. What on earth have you been up to this time?”

Something was troubling her ... and me. She didn’t look glad to see me at all and she wasn’t talking. As I reached her she glanced over my shoulder and suddenly I heard a voice. A man’s voice. A voice I had only heard in nightmares for the last seven years, “Hello Frank.”

I felt the old anger creeping back as I turned. There he was. The man who’d devastated Billie’s life, and mine all those years ago. My mind went back to the night I had grappled him away from her bruised and battered body. Her beautiful life almost extinguished by his hands throttling her tender neck. A seven year sentence hadn’t seemed long enough!

The subsequent restraining order against him obviously wasn’t working. It meant nothing to this sadistic brute because here he was, as large as life and looking every inch the madman.

I looked with disgust and fury at this monster. “ I thought you were ...”

He interrupted me sharply with a maniacal cackle.


Wednesday, 18 February 2009

On The Inheritance

Tuesday night Wednesday morning and I have just finished the first challenge from The Liverpool Nanowrimo group that meets once a month. The challenge was to write a short story or extract to about 1,000 words, in the style of Mills and Boon.

It may not seem like a challenge but I have found it extremely demanding to the point of pulling my hair out, throwing tantrums and generally making life hell for those near to me who have tried to venture advice or comment. The fact is that I just do not get it. I can not make my brain work comfortably at the task in hand and have thought at times that it is a bit like pogo-ing using hands or trying to write upside down whilst blindfolded and handcuffed, behind the back.

My extract is here to read and having posted it I felt a little better about reading others entries which are;

Well I did feel better but now ... well I cant comment until Thursday, after our monthly meet. So till then..

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Extract from The Inheritance Chapter 3

Extract from The Inheritance Chapter 3

Mathew Broadbent was a determined and confident man, some would say arrogant. Most people when asked their opinion about him would venture that he was a typical alpha male. If he ever found himself in a group he would naturally raise himself to the fore taking on all comers and affirming his place in the pecking order as top dog or at least “up there”. It had come as a complete and utter surprise then, to him and others that he was now in the position of being a follower.

He sat away from the main group in an effort to distance himself from the responsibility of making decisions and he was unusually quiet, only really speaking when spoken to, averting his eyes to avoid the possibility of confrontation. It looked like the last thing he wanted or could cope with at the moment was questions or challenges of any sort. He already had a bellyful of questions which seemed to be wriggling and reaching into every corner of his body and boring into his mind like a diamond drill on PCP.

He looked like he had no answers.

For probably the first time in his 32 years on the planet earth he was filled with apprehension which engulfed him like a cloud of poison gas. His mind was in freefall and he had lost all sense of control.

Caroline walked amongst the people with a reassuring word for some and a soothing touch for others. A frail looking woman turned to look at her as she passed.
“Oh thank you my dear, I’ll be alright. We’ll be alright , won’t we?”

All eyes seemed to be on Caroline and it was as if her unassuming and caring attitude was wrapping them with a warm blanket. Some drew strength from her poise.

When she saw Mathew her heart skipped a beat even though he was a complete stranger to her. She had briefly caught sight of his downcast face and was moved by his dazzling blue eyes and chiselled features. His hunched shoulders may have disguised his intensity to some but Caroline was deeply moved by the firm contours of his broad chest and slim waist.

She moved to his side, knelt slightly and gently touched his arm. He tilted his face to hers and at once she took in the deep hurt which seemed to etch his features.

“I thought you might like some food and a drink perhaps,” she managed to say with an encouraging smile. “After all we all need to keep our spirits up.”

His countenance was forlorn but he looked disparagingly at Caroline and spat out some harsh words as she handed him a mug of strong tea and a small bar of chocolate.

“Ha.. food. A lot of good that’ll do! I .. I .. just can’t work it out. How the hell did you people let this happen? It all seems so surreal,” he said haltingly but with a certain venom. His eyes darted over her face in an arrogant manner as if in search of some answers.

An elderly couple sat nearby and the woman spoke up gently but firmly as Caroline moved back slightly from the tirade.

“Now then young man, there’s no need for that. This young lady is only doing her job and a fine job she’s making of it under the circumstances!”

Caroline appeared a little taken aback at the unexpected anger but the lady was now smiling at her and frowning in the direction of the dark angry young man. She smiled, grateful to have an ally but her cheeks were flushed and it was obvious that she had been affected by his remarks.

Despite Mathew’s anger the look on his face seemed to say that his worries had been lifted, at least for a few seconds by his outburst. He looked directly at Caroline and she was transfixed, “Sorry I er ....” he said in a slightly begrudging manner.

“That’s ok. Trying times. I am Caroline,” she said trying to regain some composure. “I’m sure it will all be fine.” She tried to smile reassuringly as she looked into his sadness laden face.

“Mathew ... “ he replied. “Mathew Broadbent. I feel like I have ...” he stopped in mid sentence as the words caught in his throat and he tried to stifle a sob but it didn’t work and there was a slight growling noise quickly followed by a tear which was quickly wiped away. “ .... I’ve never ... I mean nothing like this has ever ... happened. I feel so utterly useless.”

As if embarrassed he cast his eyes downwards and she moved away a little to give him some space. He drank greedily and seemed a little revived.

Caroline’s demeanour became strong as she once more became a pillar on which people could depend. Her grandmother had always said that she had an indomitable spirit. As a member of the cabin crew on transatlantic flights she had always exhibited a calm disposition but this tragedy had been by far the biggest test of her strength.

All around her was the devastation of the forced landing that her flight had been forced to make. All of the passengers and the crew had been evacuated safely and she along with the rest of the cabin crew had been instrumental in making sure everyone was safe.

Mathew had been on the flight to New York having conquered his fear of flying with the intention of meeting with his sister. As a result of a recent substantial inheritance his life had changed beyond recognition and the flight to New York was to be a turning point in his life. Now he sat shivering and desolate with just his thoughts of mortality and a female flight attendant trying to calm his anxieties.

“I was ... going to meet my sister,” he said hesitatingly and with a nervous chuckle. “Haven’t seen her for twenty years. Guess it wasn’t to be.”

Caroline’s brow furrowed slightly, “Oh I am sure you will do it one day. We have all been through the mill but we are safe now.” Her reassuring tone was not matched by the butterflies in her stomach and it was only when she saw the couple smiling at her that she noticed that she had moved towards Mathew a little. She quickly straightened up and withdrew slightly.

Mathew went on,
“Oh no I don’t think I could face flying again,” he said with a faraway look in his eye. He turned to look enquiringly at Caroline, “ I meant to say .. thank you .. for .. you know, your actions and help. It’s just that I feel empty. We could have all died!”

For a few seconds the world seemed to pass by as the elderly couple looked on fondly at the way Mathew and Caroline looked at each other. Caroline seemed transfixed by some quality that she saw in Mathew’s face and equally Mathew appeared to grow in stature compared to the distraught figure from just a few moments ago.
The spell was broken by a call from a loudspeaker as the emergency services began the job of marshalling the passengers inside to warmer conditions.

“Well we best get inside,” said Caroline. “Perhaps we’ll talk later Mathew? she leaned over and touched his shoulder without thinking and withdrew quickly.

Mathew smiled briefly, “Yes maybe we will.” his gaze lingered slightly and the elderly couple smiled at each other.

“Ah now that’s better. It’s so nice to see a couple in love.” the woman said in a loud whisper.

Caroline blushed and Mathew coughed self consciously but they both recognised that it had not just been the plane that had tumbled from the sky. In some way they were both tumbling and their lives would never be the same again.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Robert is blacked out: Stand up against "Guilt Upon Accusation" for New Zealand

Friday, 13 February 2009

Windows on Life 2

Windows on Life

I remember gazing through the windows of the house where I was born as life passed by. It wasn’t ’passing me by’ ; the front door of our home opened on to a front step which was on the footpath. There was a token front “garden” which measured about 10 feet by 2 feet and it had a wall which had been built with railings but they had long gone as part of the war effort. As with most metals about the country they had been reclaimed and, as I was always told, they had been turned into ships and airplanes to defend our shores against the evil hordes of Nazis who would otherwise invade us. Three or four is possibly the youngest age I remember at which I poked my nose above the window sill and seeing out in to the wide and foreboding, exciting but somehow detached world. The kitchen window at the back of the house looked down a hill towards the River Mersey and it was a great view over one of the local parks and accompanied by the sounds of the river and a bustling port.

The home I was born into was a terraced 2 up 2 down with no bathroom and an outside toilet in a working class area in The Wirral. Wasn’t everything working class then? It certainly seemed that way for some time. I can’t recall exactly when I became aware of the class system but there is one recollection I have of a Royal visit to Camel Laird Shipyard in Birkenhead by Queen Elizabeth and The Duke of Edinburgh. Along with thousands upon thousands of other people we lined the dingy streets and I was hand in hand with my Mum, probably as high as her knees, so maybe 4 or 5 years of age.

Being in the middle of bustling crowds was not unusual then as the world seemed to consist of thronging crowds going here and there, whether it was shopping or going to work on a bus or by train or by ferry. There was the relative safety and security of home where I could look out of the window and straight onto the footpath and then there was the other world which I always seemed to view through some kind of window. It would be many years before I became aware of the expression ‘in the world but not of it’.

I recall clearly that in some way I was an observer of the world and that it was something that was happening not as a separate entity to me but as part of me. There was a detached feeling whilst at the same time I was a part of it, a little like my left foot which is a part of me but is prone to dance by itself on occasions. It so obviously belongs to me and I do not have feelings of dissociation more a feeling of detachment.

Throughout my years I have always found that the windows on life change frequently perhaps depending to a large extent on the material possessions that ebb and flow as a natural consequence of being in a complex environment with so many contributing factors. Account may also be taken of the emotional turmoil and troubles and highs and lows which will, despite feelings in the depths of despair or in the heights of passion, will always change over time.

I am sure that somewhere there is a psychiatrist with an opinion to offer on this matter which would involve very complex analysis but I am content with my take on the world and the view I have though the windows on life.

Undoubtedly the windows which I look through are a part of me are of my creation and the life beyond is the one I imagineer into existence.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Time and tide

and suddenly it was five pm and am due at Twestival in under an hour. Skates on. Perhaps they will be better than sequins or jeans. Tonight promises to be a fabulosi ding dang donger and there is all kinds lined up including as has probably been mentioned many times, Stephen Fry's worn socks and great bands and lots of hilarity.

Ifeel rain in the air so might be getting there wet. Lots of shopping has been done by lots of people but I shall just go to the heap of clothes on the spare bed( which I am sleeping in at the moment) and put on the third fifth and eighth things I come across.

Drove to The Leaf as it was late. Never been there before and it is a bit in the sticks , well, out of town a little. Jamaica Inn is there which serves all day at 3.95 and CUC. The Leaf is a great place serving good food and a wide range of teas and drinks.

It was a great night with 3 bands and in particular the Six Toys who had a great sound. Lots of things were auctioned including 2 pair of Stephen Fry's socks an Oscar Wilde novel signed by Stephen a couple of framed photos and some cameras.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Bills and Moon

So I think I have finally got to grips with writing a "Bill and Moons" romance story. At our Nano group it was decided that we would have a challenge of writing a romance in the Mills style. I must admit it has been one of the hardest writing tasks I have attempted.

It has caused lots of angst and at times I have felt the way a fish might feel if the water turned to jello impregnated with razor blades. Do fish feel? Is it true they only have a memory that lasts a few seconds? Was that where the idea for spotless mind came?

After some extremely patient advice from a friend (btw I apologise unreservedly for turning into a werewolf on PCP) the penny, I think, has finally dropped and now I can go over my 1,000 words or so with a keen Bills and Moon eye and hopefully get it reasonably right.

A lot of things are coming together atm and I am enjoying the exploration of the creative side of life, well most of the time. Am gradually getting the web site together for Space To Breathe. Nice to see it taking shape.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Dark Mountain

Dark Mountain

As I approached the dark mountain the air became heavier, colder and more oppressive. The growing shadow spread its bitter fingers around my heart and then I realised that it was the shadow of my soul.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Random Photos

Four Miles at Paschendale

In The Great war to end all wars on 31st July 1917 an offensive was commenced. It was the third battle of Ypres or the battle of Passchendale. It was a failure from the beginning.

Haig had said that he would not continue beyond the first day if things went wrong but it continued for three months. The British gained four miles.

An enquiry blamed the catastrophic failures on 'the junior officers and N.C.O.s and men'.

Four Miles at Paschendale

going down, going down
drowning in the quagmire
the smell of fear falling with the rain

half a million lives stretched and destroyed
in four miles of disputed land
reaching down through the years

lifeless bodies screaming
draped from the wire
friend and foe united in death

pressed by pretentious aims
it remains
a heart rending indictment

crying into the wind
of arrogant persistence
and suicidal attrition



There was no way they were getting me there! The damn cheek of it! After all I was part of the family, what did they think they were doing? As far as I was concerned I had never put a foot wrong and this was how they were rewarding me. I tell you it made my blood boil.
Well when I say I had never done anything wrong .... there had been a few minor upsets. But nothing major, nothing life threatening. Mm there had been the odd ... misunderstanding ... For example that time they had been to the Cash and Carry and they had brought a huge joint of beef home, but they had also bought a turkey and a big joint of pork and some scrawny looking bird, a goose I think it was. Anyway I didn’t know they were saving it all for some special occasion, bah humbug, Christmas. I could never get into that.
It all seemed a bit pointless really. They used to go out and spend fortunes on all kinds of rubbish for people they hardly ever saw from one end of the year to the next. They’d have all these parties where people would bring a bottle, normally the cheapest plonk they could find or a few cans of insipid beer and then they’d guzzle all the good stuff that Nesta and Harry had bought and fall about laughing and making fools of themselves.
I always got a little angry at those events and I must admit I was not exactly good company to be around. Nesta usually had a word with me before these events and I would kind of agree that it would be best if I stayed in the bedroom and kept my nose out of things. Oh yes there was one time recently that I admit I had made a bit of a fool of myself. It wasn’t my fault entirely though. One of the guys who came had shared a few beers with me and to be honest me and alcohol didn’t really mix.
I had conked out for a while in the bedroom and I woke up hours later to the noise of a couple coming in to the room. I had one eye open and my head was wrecked, I was lying low and was as quiet as a mouse. Next thing I know this guy, who I had taken a dislike to years before, seemed to be attacking this lovely looking woman with long blonde hair. Well it only took a second for my head to clear. I just kept seeing him in that stupid clown outfit that I had first met him in, I hate clowns they are so spooky, and I kind of leaped on him and wrestled him to the ground.
Perhaps I should have thought a bit more but when I saw his hands all over that beautiful blonde and heard the little whimpers she was making I just kind of snapped and wanted to save her.
Harry and Nesta had made it clear to me that biting one of their guests was inexcusable and they had promptly booked me in for dog obedience lessons.
Me disobedient? The damn nerve.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009



poverty and deprivation
essential ingredients of any nation
with riches for the few no matter what they do
maintained with the soothing power
of batons and bread and an evil glower
for the masses there’s pretexts of protection
used to cajole as a means of oppression
and escalating laws ensnaring the free
a ruling class unwilling to be
subversion of the masses is where it’s at
not afraid of their power but theyre getting fat
free thought may have gone
but their grip is not forever
theyre afraid of reform and not so clever
theyre blinkered to the truth of evolution
stand by the dawn of revolution

revolution wordle

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inviolate wordle

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imprisoned yet free
like the waves bordered by a forgiving land
unison of thought and action
comparisons of benefaction
a straightened tie
the badge of a love
surpassing all futility

Space to Breathe

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Get Ready

Get Ready

So …….

you have a hunger for fame;

you want to be successful;

you have a passion for stardom;

you believe you should be recognised as ‘special’;

Or maybe you fall into that category of people who think of themselves as “realists”;

I know my limitations;

I’m too old, too young, too fat, too thin, too ugly, too …. ;

It’s too late, too early, not the right time, its not fashionable….;

If only I was …10 years younger, 10 years older, 40 pounds lighter…;

Whatever the phrase that is used the thought behind it is generally,

“If only!”

It is a simple fact that it is an easy get out and can be combined with a multitude of other words or phrases which result in “great excuses”.

If only ……

……… I had a year off
……… I had more money

……… I had more resources
……… I had a decent computer

..……. I had some decent equipment

………. someone else hadn’t stolen my idea

If you really want to make it in any field If onlys have to be discarded and replaced with “In spite of!” Read Rudyard Kiplings’ poem “If “

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;

Whatever you goal , your wish, your hope try repeating,

“I will succeed IN SPITE OF …. being 72, having no money, the weather turning cloudy, the timing being wrong.”

Do you get the picture?

Whatever comes your way you must deal with it as it arrives….. and never lose sight of what your goal is. Remember if you plan a journey you normally know in advance where your start point is and what your destination is.

Let’s begin and take an in-depth look at your road to success, to the achievement of your goals!

For some people the road to success may, if only for a short time, become a road to hell and as we all know that road is paved with good intentions. Though why good intentions should lead to hell and exactly what size and shape paving slabs they make I am at a loss to imagine.

I have conducted an intense survey on this topic with many people who have a reliable background in road building or the laying of assorted paths. As a result I can state that of the sample interviewed (over 33 people) some 18.1818% recurring have actually been supplied with good intentions, the shapes and sizes varying dramatically and having no direct correlation to any known facts. On further examination these good intentions were available from many suppliers, wholesalers and manufacturers, but a good sample proved hard to track down.

It seems to me that if these slabs are so illusive it could pay one to guard them ferociously and to only lay them sparingly and to the best effect. Furthermore perhaps a GPS system should be used to avoid the merest hint of being led in the direction of hell, wherever that may be.

For many people the road to success can be traced back to childhood. Perhaps it all started for you as a small child standing in front of a mirror or an appreciative family audience, strutting your stuff to the sounds of the latest song, impersonating your hero or heroine, imitating their actions and mannerisms. Or maybe your inspiration came from a different starting place, a movie star or a TV personality, even a real life exemplar. Whatever or whoever your source of inspiration, it is more than likely that the focus of your admiration would have had many supporters, some of whom would be affected in the same way, others who would simply enjoy the moment and pass on to other destinies.

However, something inside of you clicked and you made a decision, whether conscious or not, to take on board the lessons learnt and to expound on them, introducing your own idiosyncrasies in an effort to reach your own zenith.

The foregoing explanations may seem a little starchy. After all, whilst all these things were going on your true feelings would not be as analytical. They would possibly take more of the form of;

“Wow! He’s incredible! They’re out of this world. So original. So cool. So ace. So …..”

Well I’m sure you get the picture. These feelings can materialise as a sudden intuitive leap of understanding, goose bumps on the arms, the hairs on the back of your neck standing up, a light in your brain clicking on abruptly. On the other hand they may take time to develop. They may creep up on you like a thief in the night. However the feelings dawn, the end result is like a hunger for hot curries (if you really, really enjoy them) or a thirst for a cold beer on a hot day. Your tastes may be for fried eggs or cool lemonade, but there’s no getting away from the glorious feeling of satisfaction that comes from indulging your desires.

With some of us, our desires can be sated vicariously. For others these desires create a need to emulate the performances. This is the point at which we start our journey.

Let’s imagine that we are in a supermarket. After parking our car in the enormous car park… normally quite a good place but, however did we cope before their advent? There would have to have been a shop on every corner so that we could simply walk to buy our groceries. Ha ha what a crazy idea ……. Ah so that’s why it’s called a car park, it’s where people can park their cars. It’s not that there are swings and slides and merry go rounds for the use of cars only. One has to be so careful with language sometimes, especially English.

So we enter the store through those giant revolving doors, hoping they won’t stop when we’re in there. If we time it right we exit the doors and enter a world of delights. If we events are mistimed we simply go round again and get a second chance to enter the emporium of delights.

Mushy Peas or Tapioca Pudding?

On entering we are greeted by what in essence is an enormous open space full of shelves containing every delight available. Somewhere at the back of my mind I can hear the engines of a jumbo jet starting up. Maybe there’s one parked in aisle 39 just waiting for a gap in the checkout queues before it can roll out to take off and disappear into the blue skies heading for Hamburg or Paris or Melbourne.

At a push I am sure that these supermarkets are missing out on a potential market here. Deliveries of our global intake would be made so much easier and just imagine the benefits of being able to fly from your local supermarket to your holiday destination. Last minute shopping would be great and on your return you could pickup a pizza for tea. Is it possible that most of the technology is already in place? One can normally find in excess of 20 or 30 fully computerised checkouts (or are they checkins?) in these gargantuan hangars. Although the internal workings may be suitable and the ‘out of town’ location may be right the lack of runways could cause a slight problem. Perhaps they are just waiting for the advent of VTOL passenger jets to fulfil their potential?

The aroma of freshly baked bread wafts to our nostrils, perhaps a melange of fragrances from the fresh herbs. Other senses are bombarded, with multi coloured displays of special offers, seemingly never ending rows of produce from all over the world, in tins and cartons, boxes and packets our senses are assailed by enticing packaging with logos, phrases and words designed to motivate us to reach out and pluck at least one if not two of the not to be missed products, (BOGOFS perhaps the simplest promotion ever invented).

Let’s turn our attention to one section of goodies, the tinned produce. Tins or cans are a marvellous invention. They enable us to take wonderful fresh produce and process it in a factory and then preserve a portion inside the tin with a use by date of months if not years after it has been cultivated. These tins can then be packaged up into cases, (of 24 normally) and shipped (or planed) to all parts of the world. It can be fun to read the labels and find out the origin of the goods. East Indies, USA, China, Australia even sometimes The UK. We have the whole world represented on the shelves of stores from Southend to Solihull.

Now if you stop and think for just a moment about the labels on the tins it may dawn upon you that they are quite an important element of the tinned produce. The labels serve several purposes.

1. They are designed to enhance the appeal.
2. They provide information about ingredients.
3. They give details of daily consumption values.
4. And perhaps most importantly they identify what the contents are.

As far as I can see there are two types of label. One is intrinsic to the tin, where the tins are actually printed and second is a printed label which is secured to the tin, normally by glue.

Whichever method is used it ensures that the product inside, whether it be baked beans or pacific salmon, is not liable to have an identity crisis. Just imagine if these tins were not labelled. The world would be in pandemonium. We could have gungo peas screaming in anguish next to pilchards which would think they were crabs. Juicy prunes would not know how good they were for regularity and custard would be at a loss to understand their purpose in life.

11 June 12.37am

When one thinks a little on the potential problems we quickly see the pitfalls. What happens if a label falls off a tin of mushy peas? Now that’s an amazing transformation, mushy peas. How do they do that? Do they pour the peas into a big vat full of bare footed people who march around squashing the perfect pea shaped peas into a squelchy mass? Maybe they have some technical method, like errr .. cooking, which breaks down the pea shapedness. Whatever they do they sure taste good with chips which are perfectly cooked in beef dripping and salt and vinegar. Yum Yum. But it has to be real malt vinegar not the acetic acid which burns holes in your nostrils, and real fine salt, not that imitation Lo-Salt salt that tastes like sawdust sprinkled on your food or the ground salt that gets stuck in your teeth.

Anyway, is a tin which has the label peeled off like a tree that falls in the forest when nobody is there? Do the consequences only come to light when a human being interfaces with the tin?

Let’s follow the contents of a tin, say, baked beans, back to their origin and examine the journey on which they go in order to reach the shelves of our major superstores/hyperstores/ megastores? where next? And from there get transported to our homes, heated up and poured over some nice, thick, crusty, buttered toast.

The common baked beans, as we know them, in tomato sauce, are actually haricot beans also known as Boston Beans or Navy Beans, a variety of Phaseolus vulgaris which surprisingly enough is not a vegetable but a seed or fruit.

The haricot bean is a variety of kidney bean, rich in iron, magnesium and zinc originating in Central and South America and they were probably brought to Europe in the 16th century. The name haricot derives from the French stew or haricot. They are useful in casseroles, purees and salads but are delicious as baked bean in tomato sauce.

One day a farmer labours in the fields, planting, and some months later there are some nice plump juicy bean pods which are taken and transformed through the miracle of science and art, courtesy of a great company like H J Heinz into a delicious feast in a rich tomatoey sauce. The sauce is sweetened with brown sugar, perhaps flavoured with onions and the final product is canned and labelled and then sent to all corners of the earth.

Now all through this process the humble bean has never had any crisis of personality. It has always known from its inception that it was a bean. However when it left the tender care of the farmer and was sold to the baked bean company it went through a transformation indeed one might say a catharsis. Life up till then had been simple. The wonders of genetics ensured that the beans’ identity was safe and secure. After processing and canning it became necessary to label the tin to ensure that everybody who came into contact with the tin could correctly identify the contents.

On arrival at the store the tins will be displayed in the best way possible to ensure a speedy sale. Unfortunately for some baked beans their journey from field to table will be interrupted. Indeed it may come to a sudden halt as a result of their fine suit of clothes becoming detached thereby losing what has become an important part of their identity.

When I was younger there would always be a special display of unlabelled tins, normally in a big basket or a trolley with a big sign declaring “Assorted Tinned Goods Only 10p”. There would be tins of all shapes and sizes and I spent many a happy time rummaging through the tins, shaking them next to my ear hoping to gain a clue as to their contents. Finally after selecting some bargain tins I would quickly go home, looking forward to a surprise repast,…. Yes. Sad, very sad. But unless you have opened an unlabelled tin thinking you will find pilchards in tomato sauce and actually found some beautiful Atlantic salmon, you just haven’t lived!

Part 5

Of course it sometimes went the other way and thinking I had discovered a tin of prime stewed steak I would open the tin to find sago pudding, bluuur, yuk. Life can be so hard sometimes.

The point of all these ramblings is to offer some important words of wisdom. Whatever you are it will pay you to identify and label your skill or talent. Discover what you are or what you have and like the humble bean, declare to the world,

I am baked beans ….. in tomato sauce! (or preferably what you are)

Inferring that you are tapioca pudding and turning out to be mushy peas might cause a few problems. Always remember that the world is full of people and that some people will adore mushy peas others will hate them. Some will love tapioca pudding others will throw up at the mere mention of the frog spawn like food. Whatever you are don’t be undressed, make sure you have the right label.

On a cultural note it may be of some significance that beans have performed an important role in such classical areas as Matt Goening’s The Simpsons and Stephen King’s The Dark Tower.

Their role is highlighted in these well known lyrics as performed by Bart Simpson and Zolton The Raven in The Gunslinger by Stephen King;

Beans, beans, the musical fruit.
The more you eat, the more you toot.
The more you toot, the better you feel.
So let's eat beans for every meal!


Beans, beans, they're good for your heart.
The more you eat, the more you fart.
The more you fart, the better you feel.
So let's eat beans for every meal!


Beans, beans, the magical fruit.
The more you eat, the more you toot.
The more you toot, the better you feel.
So lift your leg, and let them squeal!



Many people examining my life would not, indeed could not, see the truth. All they saw in my life was my subservience to my mistress and my complete adoration for her. Some would call me a slave to her affections, although, in my own humble opinion being a slave was a loving, caring, symbiotic relationship. True enough the thought of slavery may seem prehistoric and outdated to some even degrading in some aspects but my understanding of the slave / mistress relationship is somewhat different.

Let me sum it up for you in this way; The role of a mistress is to control and care for every aspect of her slave’s life in order to bring her, that is the mistress, the most joy and happiness possible. The role of the slave is to obey the wishes and commands of the mistress to ensure her happiness. When these roles are taken on the fact is that both parties are doing what they want to do and the result is happiness. In the position of control it is imperative that the mistress sets out the rules of her household clearly and ensures that her slave strictly adheres to them. It is also imperative that the slave understands the rules and complies with them. These two factors maintain the equilibrium of the relationship and both parties know where they stand.

Where necessary the mistress has the duty, indeed the obligation of reprimanding or punishing her slave to ensure the smooth running of her home. The reader must note that a relationship between mistress and slave or indeed master and slave is one that is not entered into lightly and is always considered to be for life. This contrasts sharply with a lot of relationships nowadays which are so easily discarded on a mere whim or on the shallowest of grounds. Perhaps one ‘partner’ envisages a problem or foresees some doom or other or they become scared that “it will not last” when in fact with a little hard work and application the relationship would bloom.

Too many people throw relationships away instead of committing themselves to the hard work necessary to keep it going. Lets face it anything worthwhile needs to be taken care of through thick or thin and that is what the mistress / slave relationship is about.

The first matters to be determined, as in any good relationship are the rules, which can vary dramatically from one relationship to another. It is not good enough to simply search for the right slave or mistress! One could wait for a thousand years for that event. No! one must decide on a suitable slave or mistress who most nearly reaches the standards required and then set about perfecting the relationship.

With the best will in the world every slave and mistress has their faults but these are the very things, which must be taken a hold of. They should be nurtured and tended to until the faults all but disappear and the relationship and the individuals become as perfect as they can be, for themselves and their mistress or slave.

I hope this clears up some misnomers in the areas of domination and slavery which may be outside of your areas of knowledge. In my humble opinion I would rather have a loving passionate mistress with a few faults that can be worked out than a boring unattractive mistress with no ‘wow’ factor who has no zest for life.

At the crux of this relationship is the recognition that there is always a ‘top’, the more dominant and a ‘bottom’, the more subservient partner. In a lot of relationships the top is always in charge and the bottom is always subservient, but in my humble opinion the best relationships are always a mixture. That is to say that the top is sometimes the one who ‘takes the orders’ and the bottom sometimes takes command.

As with any relationship there is a great deal of hard work to be gone through until everything runs smoothly. Off course there has to be that first magnetic attraction, you know the kind of feeling that turns your tummy over and makes you toes tingle and sets your heart pitter pattering. Without that initial animal attraction the relationship could be too hard to handle but if that wow factor is there I can promise you that it’s going to be a relationship worth working at so hey don’t even think about it if you find what I call a keeper! Just get your head down work hard and make it happen.

Now where was I …… oh yes I was telling you about my mistress . She is just wonderful. Sometimes I must admit that I am a little afraid of her and perhaps afraid of the power that she has over me. After all she is a very strong individual who knows her own mind and I for one do not want to cross her. Having said that, behind her mask of iron is an adorable soft cuddly little human being who has fears just like you and me. The fact that she is normally totally in control of her life and those around her is neither here nor there. She has moments when she needs to melt and it’s then that she takes me in her arms and cuddles me closely and whispers in my ear and cries softly to me like a little baby and it’s my turn to be in control and be pampered. It’s then that she needs all the love and attention that she can get after all it’s tough being a top all the time. Always remember that every rock needs firm ground to stand on.

My name is Arthur and my mistress is called Marie Elaine. We are Swiss French and this little story is about our first holiday together abroad in England. When my mistress had first told me that we were going abroad my heart was beating ten to the dozen. I was more than a little afraid after all it would be the first time that I would be leaving my familiar surroundings and my friends and I must admit that I was not looking forward to it a great deal.

One of the worst aspects to me was the language barrier. Normally I didn’t have a problem socially because I mixed with my own kind and anyway I spent most of my time at home waiting for my mistress and attending to her needs as best as I could when she was home. Going abroad however was going to be a huge challenge for me. Nevertheless what my mistress wanted my mistress received. She is a terrific organiser and she took control and made all the arrangements.

I just fussed around her as she talked on the phone with the travel agent and hoteliers and other people to ensure a perfect vacation. She was very precise in her needs, some would say finicky, but I love her for all that she is down to her last little wrinkle. Nothing but nothing could take away my love for her. I have to admit that sometimes I just do not like what she does or says or the way she says it ….but …. She is my mistress and I know that we always get around our little faults. Sometimes I am a little defiant and get a bit arrogant as she can be as well but we both know where we stand. She loves me and I love her , such a good reassuring feeling to know that we will be together for the rest of our lives no matter what.

Anyway when my mistress had finished making the travel arrangements she called me to her side, which is where I love to be. Sometimes it’s not possible but at those times I know she is thinking of me and I am most definitely thinking of her. Whether I am lazing around with friends or even doing a bit of rodent extermination, which in the big old house we live in takes up quite a bit of time, I always feel that my place is with her if at all possible.

I sat attentively as she told me all about the adventure we were going to have over in England and she stroked my fur as I purred appreciatively. Sometimes being a cat is a hard life but someone has to do it.



she came from a world
of trust and acquiescence
where shame faded
into the distant night
where old coats doubled as blankets
and strange words were uttered
in hushed secret whispers

the habitual patterns of

shared experiences
dimmed into normality
“least said soonest mended”
yet the end didn’t come
and the burgeoning inadequacies
strove for release

screaming deeply inside her

against the spellbinding words
“our little secret”
“just you and me”
horror mixed with respect
served to forestall any cry for help
creating guilt and dread
which would play in her mind

seal of a kiss

A kiss between lovers is so erotic and such a huge statement. It feels like the culmination of the extraordinary feelings and at the same time it is a series of beginnings and an end in itself.

seal of a kiss

our brief snatched glances
reveal the sweet hint
of expectation
shades of heat emanate
unspoken words
and our kiss seals
the silence of infinity
pulsing between us



we creep and crawl
around the edges of humanity
reality blurring in a
pretense of progress
you are
I am
incipient creatures
bound in this existence
seperated by patriotism
medals of nationalistic jingoism
choking altruism
inspiring love of self
declaring self realisation
without the knowledge that
I am you
you are me
a univers ality

birth of disbelief

birth of disbelief

and in the horror of
a crime against humanity
in the ashes of
multinational slaughter
the pains of labour
cry out from
the support, training and funding
the birth of disbelief
screams with the ghosts of the victims
untold millions
killed in
El Salvador
Dominican Republic

the terrorists and their supporters declared war
on the United States, and war is what they got
(George W Bush, 2004 State of the Nation Address)



is consciousness alive
did the dreams survive
has the oppresser confined
the oppressed minds?
simple conversations forbidden
but the eyes and ears of the world
were wakened by your slogan
“black is beautiful”
your protest role rose up at Soweto
where 700 school children were crushed
by heavily-armed police
and you became
a target!
your death
in the hands of the establishment
the brutality of the apartheid regime.
and your voice rang true

Steve Biko Born 18/12/46 Murdered 12/09/77
"It is better to die for an idea that will live, than to live for an idea that will die."

Weeping Woman

On one occasion at The Tate in Liverpool I enjoyed the Picasso Exhibition and in particular I was moved to write about the Weeping Woman (

Weeping Woman

I saw a past today
conjured up
from an angry vision
a pain filled
human face
jumping out
from a canvass
the jagged face
weeping corrosive tears
peeling back the very skin
to hard white bone
fabric of society exposed
knife-like kerchief
strangling the cries
of uncontrollable angst
it rips through the viewer

strident yellow
illuminates the backdrop
and a crown of orange
lends normality
to what was
an insane world
and the tears
cascade into her flesh

I saw the present today
and the weeping
cries on
the protests

I wept
as I saw a future

symbols of freedom

symbols of freedom

meat loaf, pot roast
inner city crimes
jingle bells, trick or treating
signs of the times
christmas day, mother's day,
valentines and easter,
father's day, halloween
9/11, flight 77.
Rwandan genocide of 94
thousand that is
and the latest figures,
from a respected ORB.
1.2 it seems to be
million that is
killed since the invasion of 2003

scarface sacrifice


self indulgent fallacies
draped with the
military sashes
of lost lives

polls of opportunity
built on the loyalty
of true and honest people
and their wasted lives


chessboard dreams
laid waste under
neanderthal notions
a reality of reason

a smouldering sacrifice
of minds and bodies
riding on a rebellion
of trembling stars

on a tube ride to hampstead

on a tube ride to hampstead

as I enter the domed enclave
and escape the recycled sea
I become one with a crowd
who are waiting to be …
transported to their destiny

the languid snake passes
through the doors of change
identifying their being
asserting their right …
oblivious to their plight

swiping the card with certainty
never doubting the system
I am transformed by entering the station
from standing in a crowd
I am enclosed by
the arms of freedom



snow flakes drifting, lazily, from the skies above
the gentle smile of unspoken love.
daylight drifting, strongly, from east to west
the forceful darkness coming to rest.

firelight, glinting, around the room
shedding its light on potential doom.
crackling logs and hissing coal
warming us through to our very soul.

ice on the glass
forming down to the frame
the chill of the draught
adding to pain.

blackness, despair, pain , misery
joy and happiness, tragedy.
these are the paths of the life that we know
imprints of events , the seeds that we sow.

and yet the light shines on and on
never ending , brighter than the sun.
and one day, soon, all will be revealed
the tears are gone and all are healed.

take strength

take strength from the love we send
our thoughts, our words and our hearts
echo and resound
with compassion and strength
for we are with you and yours
in this pressing time
you walk not alone

overlooked jewels

overlooked jewels

the car breaks down.
wrong place, wrong time
but then it always is
have to catch a bus
stand waiting, next to a rundown pub
cold black railings
fencing off the world
guarding its secrets
am ominous vision of childhood
and men idling at the bars
the sickly smell of hops drifting
from the bars as the peripatetic
patrons spill in and out
the unkempt gardens
are littered with
fag packets and used johnnys
broken bottles and corporate cans
vying in the filthy space
with intertwined bluebells
and marigolds
inevitably losing their identity
as the wild flowers march on
day by day
an old lady hobbles to the bus stop
and I smile and say hello
“Just admiring the beauty of nature”
she looks at me hesitatingly
glancing at the swathes of rubbish
and then a smile lights her face
as she turns
“Oh bluebells, happy childhood memories”
the bus arrives and the doors sweep open
but for a second we are both lost in overlooked jewels

here I stand

here I stand ..
naked, humble and afraid
aware of my mortality
where once I knew
life was forever
now I see
the inevitability of never

and yet ...
with my soul opened afresh
I see the glory of humankind
aswell as the futility
of wanton greed
the false measure
of petty need

here I am
no axe to grind
at peace within my mind
I now understand that
giving love is free
yet only received
if one can but see

missing inspiration

missing inspiration

miss you man
though we never met
in this misused world
you still touched my world
no one’s ever said it
like you can and do
the whole world’s feelin blue

without you

plunge the depths
drowning in it’s sorrow
it’s a misused world
diving suits abandoned
as the air grows sparse
whole things just a farce
without you