Twenty Twenty Vision




One of the features of the Cotswold Writers Circle is that we have an envelope in which all sorts of random subjects are placed by members from time to time. Each week one of us draws out one of the subjects and we all spend the next twenty minutes writing on that theme.


It is a remarkably good way of avoiding Writers Block! – we have to produce  something on an unexpected subject at no notice as a matter of course so we become used to it.


There are two other interesting features of this practice. The first is that we almost always produce as many different interpretations of the subject as there are members present - some in verse, some in prose, some comic, some serious. The second feature is that none of the results, which are always read out immediately after the twenty minutes are up, are bad, and some are remarkably good.


We have been doing this, week after week, for the best part of twenty years, and so many of us have largish collections of prose and poetic responses to a huge variety of topics. I cannot put the work of others online, but I will put up twenty of my own. I split my responses about fifty-fifty prose and poetry, but have chosen twenty of my poetic efforts to illustrate my response to twenty different subjects in twenty minutes over the years.


 I wrote this in 20 minutes at the time of the 250th anniversary of the creation of Mrs Malaprop. It was election time! I thought I would add this for consideration as a truly radical contribution to the Labour Party's leadership campaign. It should be taken as seriopusly as it deserves.


           Partly Political Massage


We common folk must make a stand

For now and for prosperity

And raise our patromymic hand

With detrimental brevity.


Emote the power of your tongue!

Use matadors and sympathies!

Sound the loud encomium,

Blow flukes and beat the tympathies!


Raise rich men’s castles to the ground

And obfuscate their palaces!

With word and deed we’ll thus confound

Their convalescent phalluses!


We’ll exculpate these phagocytes!

Come, join our resurrection –

And vote for hard-line socialites

In the General Erection.


  1.      Procrastination


I really don’t know how to start

I have no theme in mind,

Perhaps I’ll leave it just this once

Or say I have resigned.


But now the time ticks on and on

Relentlessly persistent

And still my mind insists on being

Thematically resistant.


However, I am sure that if

I spend more time in thought

I’ll catch up very quickly then

And finish when I ought.


The very word’s a waste of time,

Its meaning hard to guess –

Procrastination? – Difficult:

But Procreation? – Yes!


Now there’s a theme to tinker with

The very sound inspires,

There’s loads that I could write on that -

That subject never tires.


But concentrate. That’s not the theme.

Time whizzes by, tick tock,

And all my colleagues pointedly

Are looking at the clock


So. Somehow I must focus on

Some verse that’s terse and witty:

But nothing comes, not zilch, not nowt

Which is a bleeding pity.


So here I sit with empty mind

From which all thought’s departed.

There’s nothing for it. Paper? Pen?

I’d better just get started. 



My earliest Memories 

Our earliest memories are probably false,

The subject of later recalling

Of Summers of blue skies and wall to wall sun

And Winters of huge snowflakes falling


Of Christmas Day parties without any tears

And sledging without getting cold;

Of picnics in Sunshine without any wasps

And watching a sunset unfold.


There may be some truth in these halcyon dreams;

Retrospectively doubts start to seize yer;

Things were probably very much worse than we thought –

I’m a lot better off with amnesia. 



               3. It Happened So Suddenly


It happened so suddenly as I was trying

To fix things, on one Sunday morning,

To screw our new plate rack secure to the wall

When disaster occurred without warning


I was drilling a screw-hole, the way that you do,

When I felt an unusual resistance,

So I soldiered right on and pressed a bit more

With my thoughtlessly fabled persistence.


Then all of a sudden the drill drove on in

And when I withdrew it, a jet

Of hot water struck me amidrif, and then

The rest of me got very wet.


I grabbed up a dishcloth to stifle the flow

And stood there, now somewhat provoked;

If I stayed there it stopped. If I didn’t the whole

Of the kitchen floor ended up soaked.


The solution was clear. I called for my wife,

And got her to stand in my stead

While I turned all the taps on and drained off the tank,

Rang the plumber, and then went to bed.


                                4.  Mm! 


This was written just after severe Government cuts were announced.


I’ve decided to cut by twenty per cent

The number of vowels we can choose,

And the streamlined result that I’ve had to invent

Is entirely lacking in ‘Us’


And so I can drink down my tot of good rm

Enjoying its calming effect on my tm

Or stand by the fire when warming my bm.

I can add on my fingers when doing a sm

(Or use a machine if I’m practising dmb)

And, if I forget all the words, I can hm

Which I even can manage while chewing some gm.

Bt the bestest of all things, and that’s really ym

Is to eat apple pie that was made by my Mm.



                          5. Pet Hates.


I hate the noise that people make

From open-windowed cars

Either in the countryside

Or packed suburban bars


I hate to go into a house

Where always the TV

Is blaring out and people talk

While watching it, not me.


I hate celebrity façade

Where fame and fortune rest

On phoney photos in ‘Hello’

Of silicone-filled breasts.


I also hate those ill-trained dogs

Which jump up, scratch and yap

Whose owners think they’re ‘rather cute’

When they throw up in your lap.


I specially hate our leaders who

Have arguments so thin

They skate round all the actual facts

And spin and spin, and spin.  


In fact, there’s quite a lot I hate

But fear, for my health,

To point these hates out to the world –

So I’ll keep them to myself


                       6. Sunshine



The sun was in a summer mood

And shone with great aplomb,

But though it shone both hard and hot

It did not shine for long.


It shone just long enough to turn

The bottled milk all sour

And kill the blue lobelia off

And desiccate its flower.


It shone on every red-haired babe

Whose skins turned scarlet hues

And drove the older lads inside

To liberate the booze.


It turned the lawns an umber brown

While cracks were opened wide;

In lily ponds the level fell

And trapped the frogs inside.


It tempted out the barbecues

With balmy summer eves

And all the girls wore skimpy tops,

Low cut, and without sleeves. 


But when the sun had had enough

It hid, as is its norm –

And welcomed the School Holidays

AND the Test Match with a storm.



         7. The Ridgeway


The Ridgeway is strictly for tough guys-

No idiots, faint-hearts or clowns

Should venture to conquer its roughness,

The craggiest trek on the Downs.


You can tramp, if you like, in your trainers

The length of the mild Pilgrims Way –

Twenty miles or more can be covered

With ease in a trouble-free day.


And the journey from Brighton to Worthing

On top of the Chalk southern hills

Could be managed in bare feet or sandals

With scarcely a couple of spills.


And only a wimp would consider

That the Cotswold Way offered a threat;

Everyone that I know has attacked it

And no-one has chickened out yet.


But: if it’s a challenge you’re seeking

And you’re fed up with snooker or bridge

Then set out one day for a ramble

And tackle the Way of the Ridge.


You Know How It Is.


I went to the shops with a hit list

Which my wife had produced in a tizz

Because I was late up that morning.

But I lost it. You know how it is.


I tried to remember the items-

Should the water be still or have fizz?

So I bought quite a number of both sorts

To be safe – well, you know how it is.


I remembered the sugar and sherry

And the steak and the cream and cassis,

But left off the marge and the flour

And potatoes – you know how it is.


I also forgot the detergent

And her favourite lipstick called ‘Kiss’-

And the bin-liners, cling film and bread rolls

And the salad. You know how it is.


I returned home in rather a fluster

To be greeted with, ‘Just what is this?

You can’t do a single thing prop’ly’

Then she socked me. You know how it is.


      9. The Edge of Insanity

This was written after assessing some uniformly awful entries to a poetry competition.


The writing of poetry once was considered

A sublime and significant art

When a thought or a sentiment, feeling or mood

Could be captured, in whole or in part.


The Greeks would use poems to back up a point

Believing that poems were true

And that poets had thought long and hard about life

Before deigning to offer a view.


In subsequent cultures the process devolved

And gradually, softened by time,

A poem was judged by its grace of expression,

Its metre, its scansion and rhyme.


The modern day trend sets all this by the board-

There’s no form; jot down any banality,

Throw in some obscenities, lose any sense,

And then fall off the edge of insanity.



Rubbish comes in lots of forms

From Plastic bags to tins,

So let’s collect it up in heaps

Or throw it into bins.


The kindly Council sends round carts

And sets us all to rights

So they can dump the rubbish

Into lovely landfill sites.


These rapidly fill up, and then

They cover them with rubble,

And methane gas is given off

In one great gaseous bubble


The earth is poisoned; all around

The cows and sheep and horses

Can’t eat the grass or breathe the air,

Or drink from water courses.


Of course, we could use other means

But do we? Do we hell,

So let us dump it all at sea

And kill the fish as well.


A throw-away society

Is with us, here, today.

If this goes on, perhaps we’ll throw

Society away.




Get up and Go


The first years of life are exciting and fun

And you get up at five and then go

To jump on your parents, or wake up your Gran

Or go and get soaked in the snow.


The teenager loses this frantic approach

But hangs around kicking a ball,

Or with earphones heavily clamped to his head

Would prefer not to get up at all.


The middle life years are not in your control

For demands of career will take hold,

Not to mention commitment to family life

And you have to get up when you’re told.


Retirement brings a relief from this strain,

But the joy doesn’t last us for long

For you find, when to try to give something a go

That your get up and go has just gone.




Money makes the world go round

We’ve heard it all before,

But if we didn’t have the stuff

We’d still survive, I’m sure.


In former times Neanderthal

They certainly had none –

And lived on what they had to have

(But didn’t have much fun).


The Greeks and Romans all had coin

 All looted from the Med.

With gold and silver rounded discs

Stamped with an emperor’s head.


And so the western world progressed

With coins and cheques and notes

And million dollar takeovers

With buy-outs, stocks and floats.


The strange thing is, these paper notes-

Correct me if I’m wrong –

Or coins, or cheques, aren’t even worth

The stuff they’re printed on.


Therefore in this world of ours

It’s quite surprising that

We spend a deal of care and time

Acquiring useless tat.


So let’s all throw the stuff away –

That would be fantastic.

There now. We can all relax.

Excuse me, pass the plastic.




The pace of life we lead in modern times

Tends not to add to gentleness in life

But subjects us to news of dreadful crimes

And terrorists, and internecine strife

And social ills, and hardship in the ranks

Of the deprived and poor, and broken homes

Where some are forced to get their food from banks

While public officers ignore their moans.

Those men who have affairs in their control

Can claim to run bureaucracy that cares

If many folk are always on the dole

While others live it up on stocks and shares.

Which goes to show that powers supervisory

Are quite impervious to causing misery.








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Latest comments

17.10 | 12:35

It seems really great and informative stuff to me which I will share with my dad after my Hope he will like this

06.12 | 09:35

One of your very best Tony! Hope you are both well. Christmas wishes now and to come with news when we get organised.xx

24.11 | 13:00

Great to see that all is going well. Best wishes. Jonathan

04.07 | 14:06

Hey, my next door neighbour's a poet..
...and I didn't know it!

Well done Tony, I shall peruse with interest.

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