Sunday, 28 November 2010


You have poisoned me, irrecoverably, irreconcilably, irredeemably. I will never be the same, not now, not ever. How could I be? What is it about you that could be so cruel? How could you? I am glad you have gone. I really am. I am better off without you. You don’t believe me, do you? You don’t believe me because you thought that you had a hold on me that could keep me snared for ever. Isn’t that the case?
Well you are wrong. And I will tell your why. It’s because I have an antidote to your poison. What a blessing it was that you gave me the flick. You opened my eyes. You washed out my ears. You straightened me out. You did all that without realising that you did me a favour. I am amazed how quickly I got you out of my system. You were purged. You were expunged. You were obliterated. It is you that went down the drain. It is you that has gone. Goodbye!
And what about me, you ask? Well I feel clean, refreshed, born again, renewed, better, brighter, and most important looking at the future. No, no, not looking to the future, but looking at the future. There she is. She is looking at me now. She is smiling. No, not smiling, she is laughing because she is so pleased to see me. I can see it in her eyes. I can see it the way she is walking toward me. I can feel it the way she is reaching out for me, touching my hands, hugging me tight. I am so glad you have got you out of my life as I have some real living to do.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

What a difference a day makes

I should hate them really but I don’t. I am lying of course, I do hate them. She belonged to me. Now I am hurt. I never expected to be hurt so much by her choosing him. How long were we together? It seemed like forever. The truth is she became part of me. I don’t want to go into all that stuff about, touch, looks, scent, unseen things, unsaid words, the romance, the togetherness, everything. She was my life. I even thought we knew what each other was thinking. How daft was I to believe that? Clearly then I wasn’t hers. How did I lose her? I Just don’t know, and to him too. Was he better than me? Clearly she thought so. Where to from here? Can I win her back? No, no you stupid fool. It’s over. I just can’t understand that it was but yesterday when we laughed so much at the Karaoke night at the pub. She was so brave. She got up and sang "Memories". She looked so beautiful in that tight fitting dress. She had urged me to sing with her. I just wasn’t game. So she did it all by herself and what a reception she got, or was it just the dress that had them cheering? Whatever it was it is all over now. "Memories", perhaps that was her goodbye message there. What a difference a day makes.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Too busy for bright ideas

There was an urban legend many years ago that my father told us enraptured boys that ‘they’ had discovered how to make an everlasting match. However the match companies in Sweden or wherever the cartels where in those days that controlled the match industries had bought the patent and promptly hidden it! Urban legends are a great source of wonder and amusement but that isn’t what I wanted to talk about.

In those dark days during the Second World War when matches were essential for all household tasks there was another industry that my father was involved in. No! Make that two. He was in a reserved occupation and was not called up for the forces as he helped to maintain the electrical power system in London. There was a minor drawback to being relieved military duties and that was compulsory fire watching. London was being bombed and much of the early bombing was terror bombing by dropping incendiary bombs that would explode and set light to the building they landed on. Clearly the power station and sub-stations that provided electricity needed to be protected so a proportion of staff sat on the roof all night fire watching with buckets of sand and water to dowse the bombs before they did much damage. I thought this was a far better job than his normal one of maintaining the batteries and other equipment in the sub station that provided power to the consumers in London.

As the war progressed normal bombing eased up and the V1 and V2 terror weapons took over to scare the population witless. By the population I mean the adults as for kids the war was exciting and my brother and I would be so pleased when Dad finally came home after being a day or two away in the midst of the bombing with chunks of shrapnel from burst bomb fragments as presents for us.

When the nights were long and the bombers quiet someone had the bright idea to manufacturer cigarette lighters at work. So a minor industry was set up with hand made lighters coming off the production line. These were ideal presents in a cash strapped country where even the most mundane items were just not procurable. One day our alarm clock at home died and there was a panic to get a replacement because of the need for my father to start off for work well before dawn. A permit had to be obtained from the local authority or the prime minister or someone like that, to purchase such an extravagance. Finally a clock became available and we found that it was made in Canada! No doubt all the British clock factories were producing clocks for bombs as gifts to the enemy and none could be spared for the local populace.

Nowadays I often wish I had kept some of those souvenirs from the war, the bits of shrapnel, the “Sweet Caporal” cigarette packs with silhouettes of Allied planes on the back, or even one copy of the “Daily Mirror” from those days printed on just one sheet of newsprint but with the cartoons inside with scantily clad “Jane” helping to win the war for the allies. However back then I didn’t have any such bright ideas.

Monday, 1 November 2010

My intense hatred of camping

Shortly after we had moved house after the war my brother and I were encouraged to join the Boys Brigade. Curiously this youth activity preceded Baden Powell’s Scouts and was perhaps his inspiration. The Boys Brigade did all the usual useful activities in learning to tie knots, signalling to each other with flags by the semaphore system, cooking over a campfire and most important being in a band that played discordant music to the dismay of local residents when we marched around the streets on a Sunday morning. Both my brother and I played the side drums or snare drums because that involved little but keeping in time with the bass drum and not dropping our sticks when marching!

Our group met once a week in a Congregational Church hall and unlike the later Scouts were encouraged to attend the occasional services there when the congregation saw fit to recognise our existence.

The highlight of the year for the group was of course to go camping. Now this filled me with no great pleasure as for some time my brother had wanted a tent to camp out in the back garden and he got his wish. An Army surplus two man tent was acquired and unlike tents of today had no bottom, you were expected to provide your own waterproof ground sheet; the tent flaps were tied up with cords rather than zips and the dimensions generally were minimum and probably designed for hobbits.

My brother quickly arranged a sleep out and I was encouraged to accompany him. The ground was hard even on our lawn in the back garden. I was cold and miserable and my brother seemed to have no intention of going to sleep being satisfied to flick the torch we had on and off in my face. The snacks we took in with us were soon eaten and after a sleepless night I welcomed the predawn light to slink back into the house and return to my own bed for an hour or two.

My camping experience didn’t end there as a camping weekend was organised by the Boys Brigade properly supervised by the Captain and other minor officers who clearly knew what they were doing. I went along this time because my brother couldn’t make it and I thought there might be a good side to camping after all. We trekked a few miles out of town and camped in a clearing in a wood at a site prearranged with a local farmer. It started quite well with the pitching of tents, the campfire and the meal of sausages with everybody singing and laughing. It went downhill very quickly after that. It started to rain. By the time we retreated to the tents we were already soaked and in that humid atmosphere boys being boys we transferred that wet to everything in the tent as well. Sleep came no easier for me this time even though James Wilkins my tent mate was in the arms of Morpheus while I was still crawling into my damp pyjamas.

Once again I was up before dawn and in the drizzle outside helped to make an ineffectual camp fire with other sleepy heads. My whole being felt as though it had been smoked like a kipper. The fun and games planned for the day were not curtailed on account of the continuing rain. I did everything by rote or perhaps it was by order along with my other flagging friends. That evening’s meal was less jolly; everyone was tired, dirty, wet and miserable and we had yet another day to endure. This was supposed to be a fun prequel to a whole week away later that summer with lots of other troupes of happy Boys Brigade campers. I never went.

When the Lioness and I first got married the subject of holidays often had the words camping and caravan come up but never ever was I persuaded to let that interfere with my intention to only to go on holiday in accommodation which was infinitely better than that experienced at home.