Monday, December 30, 2013

Last train to Alton

         UK police constables c1956 from the TV series Dixon of Dock Green

 

It was a Saturday night in 1956 and I trotted along the lonely streets of the town. The pubs had  long shut and all those years ago the traffic was light to non existent. I was heading for the train station just about a mile away. The last train left at 5 minutes past midnight. My destination was home nine miles away. Well ten miles if you count the run from my girlfriends house to the station.

Every Saturday night was the same, those lingering kisses and the last fond embrace had to be measured to the last second. I hadn’t missed a train yet but as we tended to stick to each other like glue a longer wait until the first train in the morning was always a possibility and being Sunday that would be a very long wait indeed.

I was going downhill now down Downing Street past the mens clothing store, past the fish shop and just as I passed the grocers two figures stepped out of the shadows.

“Just a minute lad” said one. 

Just my luck, I could skirt the drunks and the tramps in doorways but to run into two policemen on a dull night shift, I was just what they needed to help pass their boring night away.

“Where are you off to in such a hurry?” said one. While the other sized me up with his torch.

I could barely talk as I was out of breath. I mumbled something about trying to catch the last train to Alton. However that was the problem. They weren’t interested in my plans but only what I had been doing.

“But where have you just run from?” the first one asked implying foul deeds I was escaping from.

So I had to relate where I had been, who with and why and the utter importance of me catching the last train that left in but a few minutes.

He came closer and shone his torch in my face. My panting breath had no taint of alcohol perhaps only the sweet scent of my girlfriend so my innocence was convincing.

“OK my lad off you go and don’t leave it so late next time.”

I resumed my run to the station. The level crossing gates were starting to close and as I scampered over the footbridge I knew that I would make it after all.

On recounting my adventure to my girlfriend later she reluctantly made me leave a few minutes earlier in future. Less than a year later we were married so my worries were over and we stayed together all night…every night!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Summer Heat



 

It was summer and I woke early

as if in answer to some call of the wild

The sky was tinted golden

and it reflected in your hair as you slept

still softly breathing synchronized

with the steady tick of the clock                  

I gently kissed your shoulder

thinking not of the blasting heat

of the coming day but

of the heat of your love for me

there was the softest murmur

as with the tips my fingers

I traced the map of your body

you opened your eyes

and smiling, you shook your head

denying me the chance

of possessing you once more

the sun delighted by your movement

silhouetted and burst through

the waving strands of your hair

and landed a warm beam on my face

or was it a kiss from you?

you, your warmth and that of the sun

were all an integral part of our lives

we were a tonic to the other

a tincture of heaven now

before the hard times ahead.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Little Pleasures



Cold crisp my delight

Refresh on a summer’s day

with Sauvignon Blanc

 

Exquisite music

Allegri’s Miserere

Utter perfection

 

Magnificent words

You saying that you love me

I’m in heaven now

Mahuika's Tales No 18 Hotupuku the lizard

                                    Tuatara

Now that Hekeheke had returned from Black Sands, Mahuika asked if she would like to tell the children a story next time. Hekeheke nodded and added “I have a surprise for them.” I found something on my journey back here. I can tell a story about it.”
So the next day when the children sought out Mahuika she said “Hekeheke has something to tell you. So Hekeheke got them all to sit down and said “I have an old story about Rotorua where I was born.” 

A long time ago travelers going between Rotorua and Taupo started to disappear. There is a huge lake at Taupo and most of the villagers there had relatives at Rotorua. The journey usually took at least three days so news travelled slowly. Unknown to everyone, a taniwha (monster) named Hotu-puku preyed upon those travelers. The relatives of the missing people from Taupo thinking that they had been set upon by neighboring war parties went to investigate their disappearance.
When their group reached the place where Hotupuku lived, the taniwha smelled human flesh and emerged from his den. Not expecting a huge dragon to be behind the missing people, the group fled because they were entirely unprepared to fight him. Hotupuku killed and ate a few of them but most managed to escape back to their homes.
News of the dragon reached Rotorua, and a man named Pitaka then organized a dragon-hunting party. This party of men from the village called Ngati Tama set out to fight Hotupuku. They plaited a rope and made an enormous noose. They traveled back to the plains to Hotupuku's den, where Pitaka who was the bravest and fastest of the party went forward to entice the dragon out of its den.
As soon as Hotupuku smelled human flesh, he came out from his den. Seeing many people about, he thundered towards the Pitaki acting as a decoy who ran through the noose, leading the taniwha right into it. Once Hotupuku was inside the noose, the others in the party pulled it tight around him. Hotupuku thrashed about erratically but he could do nothing to escape from the noose. Soon he lay dead and from all the wounds they gave him with their spears. The party saw that he looked just like a tuatara, a lizard, but he was the size of a whale.
They made sure that this was the same dragon that had been preying on the travelers by cutting him open. Inside  they found the remains of some of his victims so they buried them with respect. After this, they roasted and ate some flesh from Hotu-puku for themselves and then they returned home to their village of Ohinemutu.

Hekeheke then opened the basket she had brought with her and carefully took out a little tuatara.
“I found this little one when I was walking in the woods from Black Sands last evening” she said smiling. “He is not like other lizards but hunts at night like Hotupuku in the story, so try imagine one big enough to eat people. Look at the spines on his back and his sharp claws. This is why I thought I would tell you this story from my country at Rotorua. Tomorrow I will take him back where I found him; he probably wants to go home to his friends.”
One little girl said “Will he grow big enough to eat me?”
Hekeheke shook her head smiling “No, there are only little ones like this one left…I think.”
Mahuika laughed at this and then said “Children, do not put your fingers in his mouth, otherwise we may have to cut him open and pull you out of his stomach if he swallows you.”
All the children laughed but made sure their fingers did not touch him...even the boys.

Missed an episode? Click on 'Mahuika' below to get all the stories

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Avoiding Split Decisions



Listen to me now

Attend to the words I say

Echoes may be false

 

Sure, follow your dreams

But life is a spider’s web

You are but a fly

 

Shuttle to and fro

Pulverize your enemy

Somehow stay intact

 

Clear every hurdle

There’s no level playing field

Use any means you can

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Last Kiss


My first piece with Sunday Scribblings was on October 3rd 2009 and only my third ever post as a blogger. I had found a home and my first piece was called “The First Kiss.”

This is my 204th offering to this prompt site and I am reluctant and sad to let go.

So perhaps it is fitting to write a piece which echoes this sentiment.

 

The Last Kiss

I received a phone message many years ago not long after I became married that my grandmother; my father’s mother had died.

So driving the few miles up to her home where she had lived all my life I paid my last respects. She still lay in the bed she used in the ground floor living room and her daughters were there waiting for the undertaker.

We had when I was much younger lived three doors down the street. When, at five I started school, World War 2 had started and thinking that I had learned enough on the first day I refused to go on the second. So in order to get my older brother to school on time I was dumped on “Granny” for the day. I think she was quite pleased as I know now being a granddad myself many times over, forming a bond with a little one is a privilege as well as a treat. It makes you feel younger and important again even though lots of explaining is necessary; little fingers touch the creases in your face and their games are often played with rules you had quite forgotten.

So that was what I remembered as I was taken to her bed by my aunts. My own long lost childhood came back yet I was then unaware of having children or grandchildren of my own. I looked at her peaceful face and automatically bent over to kiss her goodbye. I said goodbye to a part of me and it was one more step in making me a complete person. I turned and saw that both aunts were wiping away their tears.

I have returned to that street a number of times. It draws me back like a sirens call to the land where the building blocks that made me were put together.

 

A sweet kiss to Sunday Scribblings

 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Going Home



                                           Waterloo Bridge by Monet

 

Sandy was going home for Christmas or that is what she told her friends.

She did think about it but the nearer Christmas came the more she remembered, and the more she knew that she would never go back.

Home was hell, she couldn’t look at her father anymore and her mother was weak and should have left him years ago.

When she had left her brothers said they wanted to go with her; it was just as well they hadn’t as she hadn’t made much of her life either.

As she walked over the bridge leading to the station she paused and threw her overnight bag into the river.

Passers by looked at her in amazement, she smiled at them and said “It’s OK I’ll go and fetch it” as she jumped in the icy water.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Mahuika's Tales No 17 Maui and the big fish


                                      Volcano erupting in New Zealand 


Mahuika was both pleased and sad. Hekeheke had gone to Black Sands by herself and she dearly wanted to know how she was getting on. The children came as usual for a story but Mahuika found it strange that Hekeheke wasn’t there as well. Hekeheke was the daughter she had never had. She wanted her to tell her about the romance with Maui and whether she could trust him to be a good husband and provider. When they had gathered the boys as usual wanted a story about Maui the ancient hero that they loved to hear about so she told them one of their favorites.

Soon after Maui had acquired the jawbone of his grandmother he fashioned some fish hooks out of the bone. He often went fishing with his brothers but this time he let them fish in their own way but this day they were out of luck. After some hours the brothers had hardly caught enough for one person to eat let alone all of their families. They turned to Maui and called out “Why do you not help as well Maui?”
Maui shrugged but bent down and picked up a line and fastened one of his new bone hooks on. Then he surprised them all by striking himself on the nose causing it to bleed. He staunched the bleeding with some flax fronds and threaded these onto his hook then threw it in the water. He played out his line and sat waiting, giving it a gentle tug now and then. Thinking that a fish was now on the hook he tugged hard and felt the resistance. So he gradually pulled in the line which took enormous effort and violently rocked their canoe. Maui wouldn’t give up but fought and played with his catch for hours until they could all see that he had snared a giant fish called Hahau-whenu. The fish was so big that it was like another land, there were fires burning and strange creatures walking on its back.  As Maui's brothers started to bring it alongside it began to struggle. All the rest of the day the brothers tried to land the fish which thrashed back and forth altering its shape and became folded and wrinkly. It was so large that a new land was created where it was caught. It became a huge new island to the north of their own land. The land that was created from this fish is now known as Te Ika-a-Maui, or the fish of Maui, and it is covered in mountains and valleys.  The belly of the giant fish as it transformed into land grumbled and rumbled and formed volcanoes. These mountains are the Taupo and Tongariro mountains which still grumble today telling us that it is not happy it is not still living in the ocean. 

Mahuika then said "We are living on that land today. We must respect it for it will still tell us by grumbling that Maui should not have caught it." She looked at the open mouths of the children as they realized that they were living on the back of the sea monster and smiled. So she added, “That was a very long time ago but we should always respect our country and look after it.”
After the children had all gone home Mahuika was still sad so she went for a walk along the beach to be alone with the ocean and the sky and the sea birds flying overhead. She talked to the wind blown tussock grass, she whispered to the scuttling crabs and breathed in the freshness of the breeze which planted even more salty tears on her face. Having walked far enough she turn and slowly returned to the village. By this time the wind had changed and blew straight in her face as the clouds gathered. There in the distance she could see a figure running towards her; it was Hekeheke. When she arrived Hekeheke turned around to see if there was anyone else on the beach first then came right up the Mahuika and hugged her. “I have so much to tell you,” she said.
Mahuika guessed at once that Hekeheke had decided to marry Maui and said. “Should you not tell your mother first?”
“Yes, yes. But I want to tell you the good bits that I cannot tell her,” she laughed.
Mahuika then realized that Hekeheke did not regard her as a mother figure at all but as her closest friend so she cried with happiness. So they returned to the village holding hands just like teenage girls as they told each other their secrets.

The Cleaning Lady



Bert Daly sat on his bed in the retirement home. Everyone said how sensible it was to take that step so that he wouldn’t have to worry about home maintenance, manage the large garden and to be sure to have support close to hand.

Bert thought differently, he had been reluctant almost combative about the move which to him represented yet another nail in the coffin as he said to his daughter Penny. She had merely shaken her head when she visited him on the day he moved in and stared out of the window looking at the garden and the one or two oldies that moved sluggishly down the pathways with their walkers.

She had thought of letting her Dad stay with her but when she mentioned it to Jim her husband his faced turned an ashen grey and she too remembered how argumentative and interfering her dad was in everything they did. No, he would be happier here…she hoped.

Now Bert on his own moved listlessly from bedroom to bathroom to living room and kitchen, “Thirteen seconds” he muttered “and the grand tour is completed.” He sat in his favorite chair and picked up the newspaper for the umpteenth time that day and complained, “There must be something else I haven’t read.”

Just as he was thinking of screwing the paper up and throwing in the bin the doorbell rang followed by a polite knock on the door. Bert got up and shuffled to the door and opened it. There in front of him was a smiling Indian girl who said “Hello Mister Daly, I am your cleaning lady. We will come to your place each fortnight to do the cleaning. We will come every other Thursday.”

Bert just stared at her so she lowered her eyes. She then said “My name is Deepal. You do not have to go out when we come.” She paused then said with a little smile “We will clean around you.”

Bert was still looking at her, he thought that she was beautiful and her eyes were so kind and discreet. He opened his mouth to speak but nothing came out so he just nodded.

“I will see you on Thursday this week” she added.

“Thank you Deepal. I will see you then.”

Deepal turned and left. Bert slowly closed the door. It may not be so bad living here after all he thought, there is light on the horizon.

Deepal - Hindi girl's name meaning light

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas Morn



A long time ago

Little lives expected little

Dad was out of work

 

It was Christmas morn

Patsy and Billy awoke

Then they searched around

 

Hanging by the bed

Were two old bulging darned socks

One for each of them

 

With a cry of glee

They pounced upon their treasures

Emptied on the bed

 

Each had an apple

A handful of sultanas

And an old comic

 

A long time ago

There were two happy children

To be so lucky

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Night on the beach



I’ve no feet of clay

Just sand between my toes

What simple pleasures

 

Others have all gone

The moon is my companion

And a pair of gulls

 

I can relax now

Far from the lies of the world

Away from my cares

 

I rest on the shore

Night's cover eases my old mind

Worries are all fixed

 

Asleep on the beach

Woken by a mermaids breath         

Angels singing songs

 

Dare I snatch a kiss?

No! they will just box my ears

And laughing swim away

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The dish



Maud Clements was dying in the nursing home surrounded by her meager possessions; they were a grubby torn bible, a faded photo of her late husband and four small china dishes that had accompanied her to her last home.

She had told her carers that they were special as they reminded her of Jack her husband.

Her family came after they had been told she had gone and saw what little of her life remained; they shook their heads and told the manager, “Just get rid of it all, it’s just rubbish”.

The manager nodded politely and instructed the cleaner to dispose of everything as the family wanted nothing.

Amanda Perry the cleaner, collected the old pieces of Maud’s life and set off for the trash bins ready to dump the lot.

As Amanda dropped the grubby, torn and broken items in the bin her eyes glimpsed at one un-chipped dish of a seaside bay; on the back Maud has stuck a label which read, “Where Jack proposed to me” so she slipped it into her pocket.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Could do better

                                  Self portrait by Roger de la Fresnaye


When I was a teenager at school I was a mediocre student thinking more of playing sport, laughing with the other boys and eying the girls. Instructed by the teachers I would do the minimum to get by and my reports would often have the phrase “Could do better”.  All that changed when a temporary Art teacher came for a couple of terms. My free flowing mind soon received her approval and she would single me out to talk about my future and my attending her class was the highlight of the week. She even said once that I should devote my whole life to art and asked if I would dare to go to live with her and her husband and concentrate solely on the creative side of life. She told me they lived in a converted barn with a huge studio. To this day I have no idea whether that suggestion of hers was serious as I never submitted to the temptation as my parents were dubious to say the least. However the seed was sown and instead of criticism I had received praise. Instead of feeling negative about myself I became positive and this has made my whole life worthwhile.

Mahuika's Tales No 16 Hekeheke goes fishing




                                     Muriranga's jawbone


Mahuika and Hekeheke continued to tell stories to the children at Black Sands and they were greeted everywhere they went by the children pointing them out to their parents. One day as they were returning from another visit to the hot springs where they had both bathed in the steaming pools with Horowai and her family, a young man came up to them and nodded politely to Mahuika and asked if Hekeheke would like to go fishing with him later when the tide came in. Hekeheke’s heart skipped a beat as she glanced at him. She noticed he had a serious and worried look in his face and knew at once he was frightened she would say no.

“Do you have a canoe?” She asked.

 He shook his head but answered “I thought we could fish off the rocks”.

She nodded in approval, lowered her eyes so she did not stare at him.

Mahuika then spoke, “What is your name?”

The boy bit his lip and murmured “My parents called me Maui”.

Hekeheke squealed with delight, covered her mouth with embarrassment then said “Mo taku he! I am so sorry, but we have heard so many tales about you.”

Maui blushed too as Hekeheke laughing apologised. “Of course I will come fishing” she said finally looking shamefaced.

Later in the afternoon Maui called for Hekeheke and with a basket under her arm with some fruit to eat they walked down to the beach together.

“My name is not much better than yours” Hekeheke started to say. “So I promise I won’t disappear from sight.”

Maui nodded, “My parents called me Maui as I was the smallest and weakest of their babies. Luckily they didn’t throw me in the ocean.”

“You do not look weak now.” She said as she clambered after him on the rocks.

“All things pass, except the names we are given” He smiled back at her. “Shall I tell you a secret?”

Hekeheke nodded as they settled down and started baiting their lines.

“I saw you when you came the very first day. You didn’t see me. So I asked the god Tangaroa to make you want to live here and not just to visit for a few days.”

Hekeheke nodded. “I feel more at home here. I was born at Rotorua so I love the hot springs. I have been there almost every day.”

“I know.” Maui said simply. “I could not take my eyes off you.” He handed her a line to fish with and then pointing to a deep pool not far off. “There should be fish to catch in that pool ”.

“I thought you were trying to catch me”.

“Am I using the right bait?”

Hekeheke threw her line in and ignored his remark concentrating on observing the pool and taking out some fruit from the basket to offer him.

Finally she said “Do not be in such a hurry Maui. Today we are here to catch fish. Tomorrow who knows what we will catch.”

“All I know is that you are going to be harder to catch than I expected” he replied.

They stayed on the rocks for a couple of hours. They had caught three fish but they both knew that is not what they came for. He had his eyes on her all the time and wanted to reach out to touch her. She noticed how strong his arms were and his long fingers.

As they clambered over the rocks to return to the village a few children who had been spying on them shouted out. “Hekeheke, will you tell us a story?”

“Do you want me to tell a story about Maui? She asked laughing.

The children all cheered and laughed at the joke. Meanwhile Maui sighed to himself and thought that catching Hekeheke would be even more difficult than slowing down the sun. He really wanted her.

Maui just looked longingly at her as they walked back to the village. Hekeheke then told the children a story:

When Maui first returned home to his parents he noticed some people carry some food out of the village. So he asked them who the food was for. “It is for your ancestress Muriranga-whenua” they said.

“Where is her resting place?” he asked.

“Up there on the mountain” they replied.

“I will carry it up there myself” he told them. So each day Maui took the food offerings to the shrine of his dead ancestor and placed them outside the cave on one side.

Muriranga-whenua’s spirit suspected something strange was happening so the next day when she sniffed the air trying to sense if a stranger was approaching her spirit tummy rumbled ready to devour any intruder. She sniffed to north and to the east, then to the south and finally she sniffed to the west and the scent of a man came plainly to her.

“Who is this?” she cried out, “I can smell a member of my family. Luckily you are in the west else I would have eaten you. Is it Maui that has come and why have you tricked me?”

Maui came forward and pointing to the scattered bones in the cave said. “I ask for your jaw bone. I have been told that from it great enchantments can be made by he who possesses it.”

Muriranga-whenua’s spirit cackled with laughter. “Oh, it is yours Maui, I was keeping it for you.”

So Maui returned home with the jawbone.

All the children were satisfied that they had heard another story and ran off. Maui who was carrying the fishing rods then spoke. “I would like that jawbone, Hekeheke.”

Hekeheke turned to him and smiled “You may have it already. Just use it with care.”

For the first time Maui moved close to her and placed his cheek against hers for just a second, but not a word was spoken. Hekeheke knew she should have protested but could not after such a tender gesture.
 

Maui - Boys name from the mystic and rash Maori superhero 
Hekeheke - Girls name meaning to disappear

Monday, December 9, 2013

Soft Whispers



I gently kiss your pretty nose

And run my fingers through your hair

Your sigh repeated not only once

As  I whisper soft words that I care

 

You touch my face with your hands

And tenderly look me in the eyes

I hold you close and promise all

As a tears confirm our future ties

 

I breathe your scent that I know so well

Your embrace confirms our love

As murmurs of our passion stir

Fond blessings from above

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Prison ship to nowhere



                          

                               Venus

Shall I reveal from under my cloak

What we shall become as we take

This wild ride to our destruction?

Contrary Venus meekly sits in wait

As this Earth so smug and proud

Is in pursuit of twin-ship with Mars

Stupid man so wise counts cash

His beloved paramour swirls her skirt

With cruel unconcern and they care not

To look through the future’s lens

Whilst hoarding useless trinkets

And goods to sell whilst building

Unwittingly a prison ship to nowhere

 

Image from www.planetsforkids.org 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

A short guide to phobias



 


Dentophobia or fear of dentists

Men all seem to have this curse

So we’re glad there’s a cute dental nurse

 

Acrophobia or fear of heights 

It scares me when on buildings tall 

Lest I waver then I fall


Frigophibia or fear of the cold

My girlfriend’s fear allows me to be close

To kiss her pretty nose and toes


Gymnophobia or fear of being naked

Showing all puts most to shame

As we’re not all built the same


Gynophobia or fear of women

Luckily I am not so afflicted

The reverse in fact, I’m addicted

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Mere man remembering flowers



                               Forget me not (image on Wikipedia)

 

Being a man I have always had trouble remembering the names of flowers. 

I think Antirrhinum is the one that is a dragon who opens him mouth when you squeeze his nose. 

And isn’t Primrose the one that is low to the ground but doesn’t prickle like a rose? 

Nasturtium it is that grows everywhere like a weed but can be used in a salad for a feed?

I know that Salvia is the one that up grows up straight and tall and brings the bees to the garden for all. 

One unnamed plant cried out to God one day, “Forget me not, O Lord” and that is its name we will forever say.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Brief Encouter



Her briefs so skimpy

With body bare to the sun

“Cover up, I insist”

 

For a brief moment

She exposed her cute body

I insist, "No more!”


T’was just a brief kiss

“I insist you take me home”

Her desire exposed

 

Photo from Victoria's Secret on line catalogue