Wednesday, 28 July 2010

What Friendship means to me.

A little poem dedicated to friendship.


When I was young, the sun that shone was the one I see today
As I ran around and rode my bike in innocent child's play
But now I see with older eyes, the world that surrounds me
Where once I saw smiles in my innocence, I now see woe and dismay 

When I was young, the houses were the same as the ones today
And people young, fat, thin or old lived in them the same way
But now I see with eyes that have known hurt and pain and sorrow
Where once I saw family and love, I now see lonely tomorrows  

When I was young, I never thought that friends would be hard to find
All kids were friends it seemed back then, thought it would last for all time
But now I watch with tired eyes, those souls whose paths I cross
Where once friends came and went, if you left I would mourn my loss.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

The Moons caress

Some more from the archive! A little poem I wrote about 4 years ago.

The Moons Caress.

The moon gently holds me in its ethereal caress,
It whispers to my heart, of another embrace,
When the fetters of harsh reality fall from my eyes,
And the hard light of day becomes the soft mist of dreams.

This yearning for the time when I can touch your soul,
The gossamer strands of our beings entwine,
My naked heart stands before you like an open book,
No secrets hid, all to be seen is love writ large

Alas time maintains its relentless drive onwards,
Carries away this brief realm of dreams,
Setting moon, takes with it your soul, despite my striving,
Alone I greet the cold dawn, the tale of my heart remains unread

Sunday, 25 July 2010

The perils of the wrong number.

I found this going through some of my old stuff, and it gave me a giggle recollecting the incident, so, with no more waffle from me, here is my post, The perils of the Wrong Number! Happy dialling!

 The Perils of the Wrong Number.

I'm a bad typist, despite over 20 years of pounding on keyboards; I use the delete key more often than any other it seems. This fumble fingeredness isn't just manifested at the computer keyboard, it follows me to phone keypads, ATM keypads and fax machines.

Now, mate that ability to get things wrong with the fact that fate likes to play games with me, as anyone who knows me well will have worked out for themselves, and a simple wrong number for me can lead to all sorts of strange things happening.

Take for example something that happened a few weeks ago. A friend who I had not seen in years had come around when I happened to be out, scribbled his number on the back of a envelope and shoved it through my letter box, telling me he was a night owl and to phone him when I got back, no matter how late.

Having spent the day being my mothers private chauffeur, I neglected to see this tatty scrap when I got home, got on with sorting out the cats, having a bite to eat and relaxed, and eventually found it when I was checking all was locked up before going to bed.

Seeing it was 2am, and knowing my ability to get things wrong, I thought I would be clever and send a text message first! Thinking myself clever, I sent the following txt;

"Hello! Thought I would send a txt first in case you are asleep, I don't want to wake you. If you are up, please text me back and I will phone you."

Got a text back 5 minutes later which read;

"Call me."

Right, I thought, all is well, although something was giving me the distinct feeling that this was going far too well for me, and I should be careful. So, I instructed my mobile to dial the number I had earlier entered in my contacts and heard a friendly "ring, ring" in my ear. After the fourth ring, it was picked up, and I heard... silence.

"Hello?" I said, sort of feebly, by now, my sense that all was not right was screaming at me.

"Hello!" said a cheery voice from the other end.

Stunned, I almost dropped the phone. I had been expecting the gruff voice of my old friend; instead, there was a very cheerful sounding young lady!

"Erm... You aren't ***** are you?"  I asked, which was a pretty stupid question as modern medicine can do much, but it can't change voices to that extent.

"No, I'm not." said the voice, "But, seeing as you woke me up with your text, you can keep me entertained now until I am ready to go back to sleep."

"Erm...." I mumbled into the phone.

So, the next hour was spent discussing the weather in true British style, although we did digress into politics, science, work, economics and history. Then she said she was ready to go back to sleep, thanked me for the chat, said goodbye, and put the phone down.

I have to admit, as far as wrong numbers go, it could have been a lot worse!

I have also been the victim of a wrong number, or rather, a over zealous phone company re-using a number far too quickly.

When I got my new mobile, I would often get calls for "John" with an order for fish and chips and a juicy sausage. It seems John runs a mobile fish and chip van in Northern Ireland, and had neglected to take his old number, my new number, off his van. Some of his customers were very persistent, so in the end I would give up and tell them that that the order would be ready in 20 minutes, and they got a 50% discount for being such lovely regulars. I feel for John...

So, do any of you have tales of wrong phone numbers?

Valentines Day

Don't worry, I know it is nowhere near Valentines day, but as I promised at the start of this blog, I am putting up some of my old blogs, and today I decided to put up a short story I wrote a long time ago. I was called by a family member to help with a competition they were running. I was expecting to be asked to judge, but seemed there were very few entrants, so would I please help out and write a story straight away! Oh, and it had to include Valentine in the title, have a box figure in the plot and be horror, and be a certain length. Nothing like making it easy to help make the numbers up! I was also told I would not be winning even if it was the best story! Thanks for nothing! Anyway, without further ado, here is Valentines day. 

NB. This is written for adults, and contains adult themes and language. Please be aware of this if you choose to read further. 

Valentines day

The late autumn afternoon, was as usual, dark and dismal. A light drizzle half heartedly fell, illuminated by the pale yellow street lamps. A dirty red bus pulled up outside and sat rocking slowly at the kerb, discharging a steady stream of cleaners and early evening drinkers, a second shift, to people the arteries of the city.

Valentine liked to look out of the tiny window by the side of her desk, it took her away from the tedium of the dead end job she commuted into the city for daily.

Idly,she wondered if it was maybe time to change. As a rule, she preferred not to stay too long in any single place, she preferred not to make friends, after all it only served to complicate matters.

As she tidied away the last of the paperwork she had been allotted, she allowed herself to think of the hunger than gnawed away at her insides. She felt tired and drained of her usual energy, her skin had a pallid grey sheen instead of her usual rosy complexion. She glanced at the un-eaten sandwich in the shiny cellophane packing and her empty stomach churned and roiled at the site of the now flaccid and wilted lettuce mingling with the occasional flacid prawn. Quickly, she dropped the sandwich into the bin, she knew she needed to eat soon, but not now, she could wait a little longer.

The bright cheery glow of the monitor faded to black as she jabbed at the switch, and collecting her coat and bag, she made her way out into the wet and drizzly street, to join the throngs she had observing moments before. The queue at the bus stop seemed to stretch forever down the litter strewn pavement, fading in and out of view in the pools of light cast by the mock Victorian lamp posts.

With a resigned sigh, she hefted her bag higher onto her shoulder and faced into the gentle drizzle deciding it would be quicker to simply walk home. It really wasn't that far, not now that she knew all the short cuts, by foot it was as quick as by bus most days. She passed the lighted shop windows, this road could have been in any of the places she had lived in, the same brands, the same architecture, the same street furniture. She didn't pause to look in at the elaborate displays of shoes or dresses, she had seen the same before a hundred times, maybe a thousand, it no longer held any attraction for her.

As she walked, she felt the hunger pangs growing, reminding her constantly that she needed to attend to it. She looked skywards at a flickering lamp, the dampness of the drizzle giving her a lover's caress as it gently touched her face. The steady click, click, click of her heels changed tone as she walked into the narrow alley next to the fast food restaurant, teenagers in colourful street fashions talking loudly and gesturing with hands full of greasy burgers and fries crowded the pavement on the corner. The smell of the food hit her and her, and her stomach tried to rebel and retch, but the emptiness ensured there was nothing but a rising taste of bile. Soon she told herself, just a little longer now.

The yellow glow of the street lights faded behind her, now the only illumination was that coming out of the upper storeys of the buildings that rose up along both sides of the alley she made her way down, a concrete gorge, sounds of couples arguing, children playing loud children's games and countless televisions showing the same soaps filtered down, to mingle with the clicking of her shoes.

A grimy rat darted out from under a tattered and soggy fast food carton and peered at her with its small eyes, whiskers quivering as its pink nose sniffed the air. She could see the ribs below its matted fur and she could almost believe they both shared the same deep pervading hunger.

The sound of a kicked stone rolling into a empty beer can caused her to come back to the present. She turned and just caught a movement in the pools of shadow that clung to the sides of the alley. She waited but nothing else stirred, so she resumed her walk down the alley, increasing her pace in her nervousness. Up ahead she could see the darkness grow as the flats on each side were replaced by warehouses, no windows to cast even a soft safe light to keep her company.

She walked forward and the darkness closed in around her like a velvet cloak. In the silence, she heard the sound of soft footfalls behind her. Her heart thudded in her chest, but she resolutely faced the way she was going and carried on homewards. The footsteps came closer and she resolved to see who was following her, but before she could do more than begin to turn, she felt a cold hand clamp over her mouth and saw a glint of metal flash towards to her throat.

"Pretty girl like you shouldn't be coming this way, it aint safe" said a mocking voice from behind her. "You keep quiet and be a good little girl and we might even let you go" said another. The pressure behind her made her begin to walk again, and she saw herself being led deeper into the dark shadows, the dirty hand still clamped over her mouth and the knife still pushing against the pale skin of her neck.

In the gloom, she could just make out the darker shape of an open door in the wall they were approaching. In the dark, her feet caught at the sill of the door and she almost stumbled. She felt the hands release her and instead give her a final push forward, in the dark something caught at her foot and she fell. The second man was momentarily framed by the door, then he entered, pulling the door shut after him, closing it with a solid thunk. She could see nothing in the total pitch blackness, so she lay silent and unmoving on the hard floor where she had fallen, the cold seeping into her where it touched the bare skin of her legs.

She could hear soft sounds of movement around her, one of the men stumbled in the dark and cursed. She could make out the faint sound of hands brushing across a rough surface as if searching for something. Harsh white light suddenly flooded the room as the hand found a switch and flicked it on. For the first time she could see the men who had dragged her in here. They looked much younger than she had expected, dressed in the latest street fashion, gold glinting at their necks, fingers and wrists. They looked her up and down, a their leering lust filled eyes that sent cold shivers down her spine. "Please, don't hurt me" she begged in a soft voice, "Take it, just, don't hurt me". She gestured with her hand to her bag, which had come off her shoulder and had fallen to the floor, the contents spilling out in a lazy arc.

The taller man with the knife glanced at the items that littered the floor, and nudged them with a foot. "You know what we want, Cmon, you know you enjoy it." The second man came and knelt by her side, running a hand up her leg, past her knee and continued on up under her skirt to her thigh, his other hand fondled her breasts. She shuddered and held herself still as his groping fingers worked ever upwards. She felt his hot breath on her neck, the sour smell of stale beer mingled with that of a cheap heavy, aftershave. She felt his rough fingers pull aside the sliver of fabric and thrust themselves inside her, she bit back a scream.

"Please" she whimpered, "Not like this" Hot, salty, tears coursed down her face. The man roughly pushed her down to the floor, the spilled contents of her bag breaking and shattering under her, jabs of pain as sharp edges pierced her skin through the thin jacket.

The tall man stood watching with a smirk as his accomplice roughly pulled up her skirt and began to unfasten his belt. He slowly ran a finger up and down the blade of the knife, his eyes roving over her now semi naked body, feasting on her. She held her breath as she saw the second man move himself over her, his erect manhood glinting in the harsh light. She closed her eyes, and despite trying to keep still, her hands frantically moved over the floor with a mind of their won, striving to find something, anything that could help her. Just as she felt his weight begin to press down on her, the fingers of her left hand closed on a familiar shape. The small intricately carved wooden cube fitted neatly into her palm, suddenly hope filled her and she slowly raised her hand as if to embrace him and touched it to the back of his head.

Immediately the weight on her vanished and she opened her eyes to see the man who had been prone on her an instant before hanging above her, suspended in mid air. A stream of blue light was being drawn from his wide open, shocked eyes into the cube. A scream of terror and agony issued from his throat. Almost as quickly as it had begun, the blue light flickered out and the man hung limp in the air, the body began to shimmer, as if seen through a heat haze. The man with the knife stood transfixed, staring at the body hanging there, the knife now dangled, forgotten in loose fingers at his side. The shimmering gave way to smoke, then flames poured out in an inferno and within seconds all that remained was a slow drift of fine ash, and a small splash of gold on the floor.

She stood slowly from the crouch she had pulled herself into in the far corner. Leaning on the wall, she tugged her torn and dirty skirt back down covering her modesty. The look of fear in her eyes had been replaced by an steely and determined coldness. She looked at the tall man who stood transfixed, looking at small pile of ash that until a short while before had been his  partner in crime.

Valentine extended her will and beckoned him to her with it. As if her will was being obeyed by an invisible giant, the man was dragged across the floor, and dropped at her feet. He looked up at her, into those cold hard eyes. She smiled at him, a cold smile that chilled him to the core of his soul. Slowly, she bent down and gently kissed his cheek, her soft lips tenderly brushing against his rough skin, un-noticed by him, her other hand rose and pressed the cube to his head.

Valentine closed the door behind her and walked slowly down the dark alley. Despite the darkness and the drizzle, she felt elated. The hunger was gone, she felt sated. Her formerly palid skin had its customary rosy blush and she no longer looked tired and gaunt. She carefully opened the lid of the small wooden cube to look again at the slowly pulsing tiny blue pearl that sat within. She smiled, the hunger in her had been fed and was now merely a memory, she had been spared the ordeal of the hunt, and the soul that still pulsed in the catcher would save her the need for a few months. Today had been a good day, but then it always was, when it was Valentines Day.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Dear Prime Minister

Dear Prime Minister,

You don't know me, but then, in a country of over 60 million people I guess you can be forgiven not knowing each person, but I am sure that your advisor's and civil servants have neatly carved up the entire population into neat little demographics for you. So who am I?

Am I among the growing army of divorced men who are fighting an uphill battle in the courts to see and be part of our children's lives? Fighting against the adversarial system that pits one parent against another, that costs tax payers a fortune in legal aid, that some solicitors use as a way to guarantee an income stream? A system that fails not only the parents, but most importantly the children? A system that is under resourced in the courts and CAFCASS which causes cases to drag on for years, meaning that children end up loosing touch with the absent parent and all the harm that causes?

Am I a father watching his children being let down by an education system that is forever being tinkered with by politicians and bureaucrats in Whitehall so that schools find it better to push children down to ensure that the schools pass rates remain artificially high, rather than develop each child to their full potential? Do I sit and worry how they will afford to go through higher education and if its worth it, considering the huge amount of debt they will be left with?A father who has a disabled son who is being failed by schooling which assumes that disabled children need only survive not thrive, so he is now 3 years behind able bodies children when he is every bit as smart?

Am I a car owner who is left with ever increasing bills from fuel and road tax, simply because I have no choice but to have a car in order to take my children to school and do the basics in my life such as shopping? The roads I drive on are falling apart from decades of under investment, proper policing has been handed over to dumb speed cameras which catch people who on the whole are law abiding, they have tax, they have insurance, they have an MOT, and they have given their proper details for the penalty notice to drop through their letterboxes, while the ones who flout the law simply carry on regardless and put everyone at risk, and I wonder, how is that right?

Am I the son who worries about his elderly mother who is struggling to cope on her own because the council has no resources to provide home help for her? Am I the one who worries each time his mother goes for a shower because she might fall in the bathroom that social services say is dangerous for her to use, but the council say there is a 2 year waiting list for the modifications needed to fix it?

Am I just another voter who sees politics has become a career choice, and feels that all politicians regardless of their parties are just in it for the power, the money, the prestige. Am I one of the majority who simply wants to be represented?Am I the one who has no party to support because no party supports me?

Am I the one who hears of another death of a soldier and wonders why they were ever there in the first place? Wonders why our boys and girls are fighting a war on the other side of the world, a war that is un-winnable and was never winnable, a war that has made us less secure in this country, and a war that has cost us money that would have been better spent on education and health and pensions as well as costing us  irreplaceable lives and leaving mothers and children mourning their dead?

Am I one of the long term sick who is a "burden" to the state? Did the state consider me a burden when at the age of 17 I started work, and continued in work until I became ill 20 years later through no fault of my own, when I paid taxes and saved for my home, and started a business and created employment? Was I a burden when I was able to help in my community and provide training to young school leavers? Was I wrong to believe that if I paid into the system, that if I should ever fall into dire straits, that the system would be there to look after me? Am I a burden because my body is not physically capable of even sitting or standing for longer than a few minutes because of a mistake that the NHS made? Am I a burden because the painkillers I have to take to stop me screaming in agony make me drowsy and sick? Am I a burden because I also have agoraphobia and depression and simply getting through each day for me is a major accomplishment? Am I the one you said should be made to go out to work, and if not should have my benefits removed? Am I the one who survives on benefits only because my family help me out with buying food and paying bills, but is having to see those meagre benefits reduced even further? Am I the one who receives less in benefits in a week than you will spend on lunch today, but am told I am unhealthy because I can't afford to buy fresh fruit and vegetables to eat?

Am I the one who is a scrounger because I am disabled? Will the DWP outsourced ATOS medicals that are so flawed and skewed suddenly make my spine and back healthy and give me feeling in my feet again, heal my agoraphobia and cure my depression? Will jumping through the DWP medical hoops make my friend who is blind from birth suddenly see? Will driving the mentally ill to suicide achieve the required savings to the welfare budget or simply leave mothers shedding tears at the graveside of a life cut short? 

Am I the friend who listens to a suicidal person at 3am telling me that their life is not worth living because they feel that society thinks that they are not worth supporting or helping? When they tell me that people throw bricks at their door, shout abuse outside their windows simply because they are ill with a disease that has such a cultural stigma attached to it that in the 21st century this still happens, is that the best of being British? Am I the one who fears that one day my friend will succeed and their life will have been just another entry in the suicide statistics?

Am I the one who is told that unless they take a job, they will have their benefits removed, though there are no jobs to be had? Am I wondering how out of touch with reality politicians must be to not have noticed this, politicians who know as much about being jobless as a fish knows how it is to be out of the water?Am I the one who is told by the national tabloids that living on benefits means I have huge televisions and live a life of luxury, or am I the one who has a 10 year old telly, a sofa that was given to me second hand, and that despite not drinking or smoking, I can rarely afford to buy fruit for my children let alone a present for their birthday, Am I the only one who is struggling to make ends meet on benefits that you want to reduce even further? I have nothing, what can I cut out of my life?

Am I the one who sits and wonders why the sick, the disabled, the jobless, the homeless, the low paid, the children, the pensioners, why I am having to make cuts in the meagre amounts we have to live on, for a recession we had no part in causing, a false boom beforehand that we never benefited from, and a future that seemingly has no place for us? Why are the bankers and the speculators and the hedge-funds and the brokers, and all those who brought our great country to its knees now not being made to pay for the mistakes they made?

Am I the one, or am I all of them? Mr Prime Minister, demographics might give you lovely statistical information about the generality of the people in this country, but people are more than statistics, and until you put a face to the categories, you will never be able to begin to understand the lives that we lead. Mr Prime Minister, to appreciate the value of your people, the plight of your people, you need to walk in their shoes. I would not want to inflict the pain of my spinal injuries on anyone, nor the paralysis or agoraphobia or depression or the side effects of the drugs I have to take, but come and spend a week with me, or even a day, live on my benefits and see through my eyes, then perhaps you will see another side of this country, and perhaps see me for the person I am, an ordinary Brit, not as a statistic, a burden on this country.


Friday, 16 July 2010

When one is company, and two means anxiety.

This is a blog I originally wrote a few years ago, before my back surgery when I was solely dealing with mental health issues of depression and anxiety. I have resisted the temptation to edit it, and is reproduced exactly as it was first posted. 

A return to blogging.

It has been awhile since I was last writing something for a blog, I think two years have gone past, and the strange thing is, that it has both gone in a flash, and dragged on too. That might sound crazy, but days when I am in a lot of pain from my Cauda Equina seem to drag on interminably, but the days with less pain seem to just fly by. Days when I am down last for decades, but days when I am happy, though they are few, they seem to go by in a blink of an eye.

It is hard for me to sit and write, physically the pain is too much even after just a few minutes of sitting up, and also the many drugs I take ruin my memory and concentration, that is when they are not making me drowsy. That has been a hard thing to loose, writing was a great help in letting me express myself and feel that I had some part of society. When you are agoraphobic, then that curtails just how active a part you can play in society, going out and interacting with people physically is something that we take for granted until the time that suddenly, you are no longer able to do it. Then you realise just how critical it is in getting most things done. We might have become a high tech society, but face to face dealings are still a major part of how we conduct our lives. Lets not forget that even our hobbies and leasure depend on that social interaction, cut that off, and it can be more debilitating than physical disabilities.

I guess on this new blog, the first thing I will do is to upload all my old blogs, so they are in one place, and then when pain and meds allow, I will try and keep it updated.