'The time has come,' the Blogger said, 'To talk of many things: Of shoes — and ships — and sealing-wax — Of cabbages — and kings — And why the sea is boiling hot — And whether pigs have wings.' 'But wait a bit,' the Reader cried, 'Before you start your post, Consider customer fatigue Where some give up the ghost Whenever folk go rambling on With length their only boast.' 'Let's talk instead,' the Blogger said, 'Of what you really need: The benefit of minds like mine Is very fine indeed — Now if you're ready, Reader dear, You can begin to feed.' 'But not on you!' the Reader cried, Turning a little blue. 'To wade through half-baked tripe would be A dismal thing to do!' 'It's tit for tat,' the Blogger said, 'If I unfollow you!' 'Please yourself,' the Reader shrugged, 'It's all the same to me.' But deep inside, well, something cried: A blogger's heart, you see, While over in the Blogger dwelt A reader's sympathy. 'It seems a shame,' the Blogger said, 'To play this spiteful game, When mutual support so far Has been our climbing frame.' The Reader, oh, said nothing but Was thinking just the same! with apologies to Lewis Carroll
After an enjoyable school-reunion lunch the other day, I was making my way back to the mainline station on a London Underground train. It suddenly struck me there was plenty of time before the mainline train was due to depart and, on a whim, I got off the tube-train near a large park where I used to play as a young child.
I hadn’t been back in 60 years and the wild, overgrown place I remembered was no more. Streams we used to dam were culverted or piped underground, rough meadows had become manicured sports pitches, sheep or cattle paths turned into tarmacked walkways and the wonderful trees we loved to climb – yes, you guessed it – all long gone!
Back home and continuing my rummage through old papers, I unearthed a draft poem that seems to fit my faint feeling of hollow disappointment. I present it here unedited. The form involves repeating end-of-line words in every verse and adding an envoi – perhaps someone reading will know if this has a name.
When you were younger every tree
Was yours to climb right to the top
Where all alone you’d view the world
As if she was a brand-new place –
Her secrets open to your sight
With nothing there for you to fear
But as you climbed so grew your fear
That you began to hate the tree
You really couldn’t bear the sight
That lay below so watched the top
As if there was no other place
You’d rather be in all the world
You told yourself the whole wide world
Was greater far than any fear
For up above there was a place
A gift to all who climbed the tree
And dared to reach the very top
Which opened up its secret sight
It made you gasp that sudden sight
So deep and far into the world
A bird’s-eye vision from the top
For now you’d flown beyond your fear
As if you had become the tree
And found you somehow owned the place
You never since have left that place
Nor lost one detail of the sight
If foresters have felled the tree
It still lives on within your world
And death for you is not a fear
While you are still there at the top
So still – still at the very top –
That time runs backwards to the place
Where there was not a gust of fear
So far and wide and deep your sight
For you had there become the world
And all because you climbed a tree
Your new world more than just a place
Where each new sight gives rise to fear
When down you came from the tall tree top
Dave Kingsbury (2013)
Image: The Crichton Street Gallery
Another find from my folders, this sonnet – thanks to young people around the world – isn’t yet history!
Once upon a time we wandered wild
And free to choose from nature’s mighty store –
But all too soon, alas, we were beguiled
By dreams of staying put and having more.
As seedbanks swelled, our heads began to fill
With visions of a life spent free of toil –
The clink of gold and silver in the till,
The clash of bronze and iron, the glug of oil.
We built ourselves a glass and concrete prison
And spread consumer culture round the world –
With economic growth our only mission,
The planet warmed and giant oceans boiled.
Our story ends where history began –
A choice to make, if make it still we can.
Image: Financial Times
Remember this friendly voice?
Sometimes you sit down to blog but your words and photos get stuck – prompts give them a push
That’s right, the late lamented WordPress Daily Prompt – gentle nudge of encouragement or brutal kick up the backside, depending on how far down the road of utter uselessness we were.
At the moment I’m an unlucky thirteen days up a clueless cul-de-sac and shaking my silent satnav in blind fury … although just now I remembered a useful link and, er, hit it.
Wanna know the useful link? Anyone who’s never short of subjects to write about can look away now. For the rest, here is a pretty handy webpage:
I got river, which I’ve made into an acrostic poem.
r olling ever down to wider seas i carry weight of memory with ease v olumes still unwritten seek their end in e stuaries where water stories blend in r ain clouds moving back to feed our source
Well, it’s a start … here’s hoping it’s set the ball rolling again!
R eached the
E nd of
R oad with nowhere to look but
O ver my
S houlder at all those
P oems I wrote under the influence –
E very day a new word, prompting me to draw heady notions from the
C ellar of my mind and pour
I nto leaky
V essels just like this one. And around about now I’d usually think about
Ah well, onwards and upwards! There’s always the dictionary, opened at random. Close your eyes, stick a finger on the page … presidency. Er … perhaps resist easy salvoes in Donald’s extremely nervous company, yeah?
Hmm, not bad, though I say so myself as shouldn’t. Random has always been my preference over Predictable. I love starting sentences with no idea how I’m going to finish them … said the new prisoner to her uneasy jailer. What I’d really like is to come up with something absolutely original that would make everyone else kick themselves for never having thought it. In other words something so blindingly obvious, it would be hiding in plain sight.
A pipe dream, of course, because how could so many billions of people miss such an evident truth?
Surely the only way that could happen would be if they weren’t talking to each other properly … if they were subject to leaders (or leaders of opinion) who told them what to believe and who to associate with … if they were working all the hours available just to make ends meet … if their brief acquaintance with leisure pursuits was dominated by an overwhelming desire to escape … if their circle of friends and thereby access to different viewpoints was – for a whole variety of reasons that were largely beyond their immediate control – narrowing … if their default response to other points of view was not to debate them but to demonise them … if – but hang it all, why am I wasting time wondering about all these hypotheticals when the plain reality is that there’s nothing new under the sun, you can’t teach your grandma to suck eggs and everything you buy does exactly what it says on the tin?
Why worry? Be happy. And yet …
To wrestle with my disquiet about things, I used to keep a journal. And then another. When the word-count exceeded The Encyclopaedia Britannica, I called it a day. Now I just write on a single sheet of A4 whenever I feel like it – chance observations, stuff I copy down, things I overhear – the usual sort of thing, only nowadays I try to make connections because I know that when I come to the end of the second side I have to flip back over and write a title which encapsulates the whole kit and caboodle.
One of the greatest double acts ever to grace the variety stage, incidentally. Like most comic pairings, their humour derived from an uneven relationship. Although the same gender, age, ethnic origin and profession, they were drastically different in terms of personality and behaviour. Where Kit – the straight man, feed, dead wood, or stooge – was reasonable and serious, Caboodle – the funny man, banana man or comic – was amusing, less pretentious, silly and relentlessly zany.
These stage personae were, of course, entirely fictitious. In private life Kit was the life and soul of the party and would do anything for you, while Caboodle was a poisonous killjoy whose only pleasures were malicious gossip and petty humiliation. Their greatness, for those who style themselves connoisseurs of the comic arts, lies in a transcendence of mere humour in favour of a kind of existential embarrassment. Kit and Caboodle were never afraid to die onstage and often did.
Coming Soon: Plan B
Image: Marketing Solutions
Stimulus: WordPress Daily Prompt Retrospective
know the feeling doncha slumping in your chair like a dumpling when breezes in the chimneybreast begin to whisper of somewhere anywhere doncha when you have no wish to turn on your television radio computer phone as the world they bring is not your own & now you are suddenly nowhere everywhere hearing on the wind in the flue a world that draws you cooing doves & cries of children & cars swishing by doncha wish to open the jailhouse door walk free with no particular place to go but out & away know the feeling doncha from way back when those grumpy grownups growled get lost & doncha come back before dusk haha never the same road twice when you & your best friends walked & walked until you reached those unknown hedges houses highways hidden byways to a world you had never been tree trunks never climbed faces never seen streams you had never dammed streetnames you never heard haha whole estates of footballers poets scientists explorers & doncha recall how full it felt to return at dusk with treasure trove a strip cartoon of images drawn from a Brilliant day when you'd wandered in a novelty wonderland fresh pastures glimpsed but once though present still & steady yet for future days as souvenirs of days gone by & still to be that boy or girl you were & still to see whatever's new & still to walk free with no particular place to go doncha still go out & away
Z eitgeist Monitors stationed
O n the third planet report a disturbing displacement
O f natural realities by seductive virtual facsimiles.
An acrostic poem suggested by the WordPress Daily Prompt Zoo and in response to an uneasy feeling that we may be lost in a collective trance of our own devising. At first I thought it was just me but The Who also appear to have noticed something strange …