That first glance, a shy smile, and flushed cheeks when he smiled back. A flicker of a flame stirred somewhere deep inside, slowly spreading, until it felt like I was floating. He walked over, and stuttered a shy hello. That almost inarticulate greeting fanned that fluttering flicker into a steady flame. He liked me. A few months passed, and that little flame sometimes flickered, unsure in the cross winds of first love. And sometimes it burned steady, embers that felt deep rooted in my soul that would never go out. Did he feel the same? Perhaps. I never asked. I never asked how strong and how deep the flame went with him. I should have asked. My flame? It spluttered. It wasn’t as strong as I thought. The little flame no longer fluttered at the sound of his voice, or burned as steady when he held my hand, and it went out. But the memory of that flame lingered.
Years passed, we both grew apart, and grew up, and went our separate ways. Many years later we met again. And the memory of that little flame burned warmly. So warmly it might have rekindled that old flame. Did he still carry his flame? Did it ever go out? Did he live with the warm memory too? Or something else. I didn’t know. I didn’t ask. I should have asked. No. Better that I walk away. My flame is a shadow. A memory. It can’t be rekindled. To think so would only cause heartache, for both of us.
Do you carry a flame? Does someone still carry a flame for you?
This poem was inspired by a discussion I had with a student in University and someone who started their career in an apprenticeship.
Good Morning Can I have credit to buy a new phone, And perhaps a mortgage for a new home! Good day valued customer. We need to check your credit ratings. Do you have an overdraft? My bank account is 5,000 in credit And I’ve 50,000 saved due to my merit Do you have a job? I have a full time career And earn 31k per year Do you have any debts? My bills are paid when they arrive And I’ve been debt free since I was 25 I’m sorry you are not eligible for credit What? But I’ve never been bankrupt and I pay my bills on time!
Hello I need a new phone And also a mortgage for a new home. Good day valued customer. We need to check your credit ratings. Do you have an overdraft? Yes, it’s £1500 and I’ve used it a bit But I never go over, except once I admit Maybe twice. That’s fine. Do you have a job? Yes, no. Um. I’m a student you know. I’ve a part-time job but they might let me go. No problems. Do you have any debts? I have £5000 on credit cards to pay And a student loan of £25k Congratulations valued customer, you are eligible for credit What? Really! I forgot to mention I’ve missed a few loan payments, but I had a good reason. That’s fine, just send us a letter with an explanation. Equifax, Experian and TransUnion too Have a full history and credit report for you They say you’re good for it and are a safe bet Your score is above average, despite your debts Because of your worthiness we can double the money And you can use the extra to go somewhere sunny As a responsible lender we will assess your finances Great news! You will be debt free when you are 106!
Last weekend I didn’t post on my blog as usual because something unexpected happened. I found myself the temporary foster mother of Lola.
Who is Lola?
Lola is a 2 year old bulldog. Yes bulldog. Never the less it was like looking after a troubled and scared child.
How did I end up looking after this adorable bag of wrinkles? My youngest sisters husband, Frank, bought Lola two weeks ago but my sister couldn’t pick her up straight away. Lolas previous owner couldn’t keep Lola any longer. My oldest sister who lives next door to me said she would keep Lola until they came to collect. It seemed a simple solution but one that didn’t work out as planned.
The Problem With Lola
So what’s wrong with Lola? Why did her owner want rid of her after 2 years? As far as I can tell there is nothing wrong with Lola apart from being a little overweight and a little needy. After a week staying with me she had lost weight, her breathing had improved, she enjoyed going for walks, she settled down, stopped following me everywhere, and looked very happy. She’s good with children and friendly with other animals. She certainly wasn’t a biter or an aggresive dog as I feared. There were a few issues but nothing that couldn’t be fixed. I suspect the problem with Lola was her previous owners.
The reason her previous owner had decided to sell Lola didn’t add up, and she didn’t seem particularly upset at giving Lola away. Her distress at getting rid of a family pet seemed very artificial. After the initial shock of moving home Lola settled down very quickly. With lots of love and support her stress and depression was certainly alot better by the end of a week and her real character was starting to show. What became apparent was her nervousness around men and I suspect she had been hit for being too bothersome. Bulldogs come with alot of health problems and although Lola doesn’t seem to have anything major wrong with her I don’t think her previous owner attended to Lolas health needs. She was overweight, had eczema, and cherry eye, all simple issues which could have been prevented by a healthy diet and early treatment. She also has what looks like a cigerette burn on her back. Whatever her past life I was very suprised at how she settled so happily into our home considering how different the surroundings are from what she was used to.
So how did I end up being responsible for Lola? Well I wasn’t supposed to be her foster mother. My older sister and niece were meant to look after her.
My oldest sister has dogs. They live outside and have done since they were puppies. They are outdoor working dogs. They come in sometimes during the day or in extreme weather but stay in a restricted area and know their boundaries.
Lola has known no boundaries inside a house. She has lived inside all her life. She is not a outdoor working dog. Last week temperatures dropped to -6°. My mother decided it was not possible for Lola to sleep outside in the outbuildings and offered to have her crate in our home during the night and my oldest sister could look after Lola during the day. I had two hours to doggy proof our home before Lola arrived.
The Problem with Bulldogs
Bulldogs are no longer working dogs, they have been bred as show dogs for so many generations they don’t know how to be anything else. They are companion dogs and they need human company. My oldest sister, my youngest sister, and their husbands didn’t really understand this and I have no experience of dogs. After spending her first night in her crate in my home I handed her over to her ‘daytime foster family’. As it was quite sunny and the temperature was just above freezing they put her outside in a grassy enclosure thinking she would enjoy the fresh air and frolic about as the other dogs did. I passed by a couple of hours later and Lola was sat quietly staring about her, waiting for someone to come and bring her inside. She was not whining or barking but tears were rolling down her face. She couldn’t understand why she had been left alone and was overjoyed when she saw me. It was then I realised we had made a huge mistake and Lola was not like other dogs we had known. I took her back inside with me and that is how I ended up being her fulltime foster mother.
Looking After Lola
The next few days left me a nervous wreck as I quickly had to become a bulldog expert. I read alot online about what could go wrong with a bulldog and spent several nights lying awake wondering if Lola would still be alive in the morning. Three days seemed like threes weeks before my youngest sister arrived to take Lola home with her. It didn’t take much to persuade my sister to stay for a couple of weeks until Lola got use to her. Hopefully it would be less stressfull when she moved.
Bonding with Lola
For the next two weeks all our time and energy was devoted to helping Lola bond with her new mother, my sister, and improving her health and well being. It seemed I did too good of a job to begin with as she would still follow me around when stressed. And even though I tried not to get attached to Lola I failed miserably. Lola is just too endearing and I will never understand how her previous owner gave her up.
It appeared that Lola had not been out and about much during the past year or so. Maybe because of Covid-19. Her paws were very sore even though she enjoyed walking but they adjusted quickly. She loved looking at the horses and sheep and ducks. Everything seemed new to her. And even though bulldogs don’t like water she jumped straight into the little stream in the village! And thoroughly enjoyed herself.
Letting Lola Go
I have thoroughly enjoyed spending time with Lola. I wanted to keep her but it wouldn’t be fair because eventually lockdown will end and I will have to go back to work. My job takes me away from home for long hours at irregular times and it wouldn’t be fair on a dog that isn’t as needy as Lola.
Too many dogs have been bought during lockdown with no thought of what will happen when life returns to normal and I fear many dogs will be abandoned or worse. It is evident that the dog boom is not slowing down either as proved by the over inflated price of puppies
Lola went to her new home on Friday and left behind a very sad and depressed foster mother. I admit in the beginning I did not want the responsibility of caring for her but over the few days she was with me I fell for her completely. My sister is sending me daily updates about Lola but I still miss her terribly. I will not say this to my sister as I don’t want her or her husband to shirk their responsibilities but I would have Lola back tomorrow and make radical changes to my life to keep her. I thought writing this post might help but if anything it’s only made me notice her absence more. My sister has promised to bring her when she visits again and I hope Lola hasn’t forgotten me. I know I will never forget her.
Warning: people of a sensitive nature might find this post disturbing, distressing and sometimes a bit icky. It gave me the creeps writing it!
From vats of acid to trunks left at Kings Cross Station, all murderers have the same dilemma. Where do I hide the body? Well here are some inventive and unusal ways for corpse disposal. But be warned, you will be caught eventually.
1. When you bury the body, cover it with endangered plants so it’s illegal to dig it up.
2. Bury the body under the patio but add alot of lime to the cement mix. After a while dig the patio back up, remove the skeleton and replace the patio. Use the skeleton as an anatomical model.
3. Leave the body in the corridor of a busy A&E during a major incident like an earthquake or train crash.
4. Alkaline hydrolysis, this process involves submerging the bodies in an alkaline solution to speed up the body’s decomposition process. It takes three to four hours to complete, and the resultant murky brown liquid can then be disposed of down a sewer.
5. And finally a classic one, feed the remains of the murder victim to your prize herd of wild boar.
January 27th is Internatonal Holocaust Memorial Day. It is the day that Auschwitz concentration camp was liberated by the Red Army in 1945. Last week we commemorated the victims of the Holocaust, the genocide of European Jews, Gypsies, and Roma by Nazi Germany between 1941 and 1945.
First they came for the Gypsies
First they came for the Gypsies And I did not speak out Because I was not a Gypsy
Than they came for the Communists And I did not speak out Because I was not a Communist
Then they came for the Socialists And I did not speak out Because I was not a Socialist
Then they came for the trade unionists And I did not speak out Because I was not a trade unionist
Then they came for the Jews And I did not speak out Because I was not a Jew
Then they came for me And there was no one left To speak out for me
I’ve added the first verse to this poem. It is a sad fact that many do not know that the first people the Nazis rounded up were German Gypsy and Romany people.
Crack-down or Criminalise
The Government has made a proposal to criminalise unauthorised campsites. At the moment it is a civil offence to park a caravan or pitch a tent in an area which isn’t authorised as a campsite, meaning the offender is issued with an eviction notice and possibly a fine. If the law is changed from a civil offence to a criminal offence then the offender can have their caravan and vehicles confiscated and face 3 months in prison. Effectively the government is criminalising Gypsies, Romany and Traveller peoples as well as homeless people and recreational campers. Though I suspect it will be used predominately against Gypsies, Romany and Travellers.
The police and many charity groups are against this new law as it does not solve the problem of too few campsites or homelessness. Waiting lists for a pitch on a council run site are overwhelmed, and planning applications by private individuals are often refused. The Government is dramatically failing to identify enough land for Gypsy and Traveller families to live on and the Home Secretary is working to create laws to imprison, fine and remove the homes of families living on roadside camps for the “crime” of having nowhere else to go.
Inspired by these events and my own memories of travelling I wrote this poem.. It may not be as powerful or as well written as ‘They came for the Jews’, but it was written from the heart and brought back fond memories for those who read it and have lived it.
Same van, same vardo Home and home, each Midsummer Every summer, every road Same tan, same puv Same parni edge Same highways hedge
A gentle breeze, a warm breeze Stirs the washing, stirs the memories Hung by gentle hands, haunting gentle souls Gentle folkie, gentle life A hard and gentle life A proud and gentle people
A radio plays, a juckel barks Chavvis play, birds sing Play all summers day, sing all summers night Innocent play, melodious song The play has ended The song is silenced
Sutti under stars, guided by stars Bright brilliant stars, match a fiery spirit A clear night, a warm night Dik akai, a camp fire A warm welcome Some rokker
But where are the old tans? The old puv? The old parni side? Long gone
Buried under brick and mortar No van, no vardo No gri, no puv No stars, no home No warm welcome No place to stop
I’ve been isolating for the past week because my dad has tested positive for covid-19. He has no symptoms, and the rest of my household are fine. So there is no one to look after, no business coming in, and I’m running out of things to do. For the first time since this all started last year my mental health has been seriously effected.
I’ve been angry, stressed and depressed during the past few days. This emotions are no strangers to me and I usually take them in my stride and work through it. But for the past week all I’ve wanted to do is scream at the world, or shut myself away.
For the past few days I’ve been reading through some of my old scribbles. It hasn’t stopped my overwhelming emotions but it is making things bareable. I came across two poems I’d written. I’m thinking of writing more along a seasonal theme until I have a series. Let me know what you think in the comments.
End of Winter
A watery sun, sleepy and wakeful Coolly warms the bare fertile field. The ancient oak beckons with broken fingers To twittering birds drifting in the breeze. Grubs stir to life Decaying leaves nurture Verdant green peeks through crusty covers Birds trill for the longest dawn And feast after the long fast It is the death of Death The end of sleep
Soft light caresses my eyelids I stir, a deep sigh Warmth kisses my cheek I stretch, open my eyes Music lifts my soul Singing, a robin, a sparrow? I rise, pull back the curtain Sunlight floods the room
Misty dew caresses the green Life stirs, deep under the earth Warmth kisses the trees Bark stretches, buds open Bird music, blossom singing Sap is rising, winters curtain is lifted Life floods the gardenThe alarm, mechanical tinkling No need, I’m awake
What do JK Rowlings The Ickabog, Disneys Mulan, and self control have in common. The answer is absolutely nothing except that I’ve read one, watched one, and lacked one last week.
JK Rowlings The Ickabog is a story she wrote in fits and starts between the Harry Potter books. During the covid-19 pandemic last year she published it online for free and asked children to illustrate it. The book has been beautiful illustrated by the young winners of the competition.
I really enjoyed this book. It’s advertised as a childrens book but its just as enjoyable for adults who like fairytales too. The style of the story reminded me of Hans Christian Anderson and Brothers Grimm at their best. Its rich in detail, fires the imagination, explores moral behaviour, and is a reflection of the values of the day. 5/5
I found the illustrations by the children very enlightened. They are from all over the world and show how a good book can speak to everyone regardless of who or where they are. I was particularly intrigued by the illustrations of Lady Eslanda. I’ve seen many online discussions between writers about how to describe a characters appearance, particularly if they are not white. Rowling only describes Lady Eslanda as being ‘as dark and beautiful as Fred was fair and handsome’. I imagined her to have dark hair and dark eyes. A girl from India drew her as a dark Indian woman. A girl from Sofia picture her with green eyes, brown hair and brown skin. And a girl from the UK imagined her as I did, dark hair and dark eyes. All three depictions were equally beautiful. 5/5
Disneys live action Mulan recieved some really bad reviews and I think that was unjust. It was good, it probably could have been better, it also could have been worse. (The live action of Aladdin was awful). There were some good action scenes and the changes to the story were interesting. It is different from the animated version but I enjoyed it just as much. 4/5
After reading various online articles about the psychology of will power and numerous health, fitness and diet magazines I have discovered I have no self control when it comes to food.
For me, 2020 started out as a promising year. I didn’t realise that a little virus on the otherside of the planet would turn things completely upside down. Events this year have been a blessing as well as a curse, and occasionally an eye opener.
Lockdown has made me grateful for my family, many people have had to face this alone. I spent the first lockdown with only my mother for company, luckily we get on well together.
Moving home in June onto the back of my sisters place was stressful but at least we’re all together with the exception of my youngest sister who lives in Scotland. I miss her dearly.
The BLM movement has shown me that tackling racism is only a worthy issue if your race is popular. The same hypocrites who publicly supported Black Lives Matter were also publicly racist and encouraged violence against Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller communities.
Arguing with people on social media is a pointless waste of time and energy. Time and energy that can be spent talking with your family and friends.
Catching covid-19 and being unable to care for my mum, who also caught covid-19, made me realise how much I will miss her if anything happens. Touch wood she survived. I know many who have lost loved ones this year.
Britsh people are rebels, they don’t like following rules and they won’t follow them if they think they can get away with it.
I don’t need to go on holiday abroad to take a break.
If I can only visit one takeaway coffee shop I prefer Starbucks to Costa.
I miss watching horseracing live on the course, it’s not the same on TV.
I still have no time to write even though I’m not working.
I prefer sherry to port
I’m not ready for a dog.
Has this year made you examine aspects of your life? Have you made or are you planning any radical changes due to events this year?