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!
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.
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
still my mind insists on being
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 –
But Procreation? – Yes!
Now there’s a theme to tinker with
The very sound inspires,
loads that I could write on that -
That subject never tires.
But concentrate. That’s not the theme.
Time whizzes by, tick tock,
all my colleagues pointedly
Are looking at the clock
So. Somehow I must focus on
Some verse that’s terse and witty:
comes, not zilch, not nowt
Which is a bleeding pity.
So here I sit with empty mind
From which all thought’s departed.
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
And Winters of huge snowflakes falling
Of Christmas Day parties without any tears
And sledging without getting cold;
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,
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
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.
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
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)
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.
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
and fortune rest
On phoney photos in ‘Hello’
Of silicone-filled breasts.
I also hate those ill-trained dogs
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
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
kill the blue lobelia off
And desiccate its flower.
It shone on every red-haired babe
Whose skins turned scarlet hues
the older lads inside
To liberate the booze.
It turned the lawns an umber brown
While cracks were opened wide;
In lily ponds the
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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,
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
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
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
still survive, I’m sure.
In former times Neanderthal
They certainly had none –
And lived on what they had to have
didn’t have much fun).
The Greeks and Romans all had coin
All looted from the Med.
With gold and silver rounded discs
with an emperor’s head.
And so the western world progressed
With coins and cheques and notes
And million dollar takeovers
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.
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
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.