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Tuesday, 30 September 2014


I know - you were thinking exactly the same thing – a poem is definitely the solution...

Government conferences don’t seem to work. International agreements are ignored. Whaling and deforestation and dumping and chemical contamination and melting ice-caps and car pollution seem to be madder than ever –
So what we need is a 22 minute audio-poem/story to sort it all out. And I just happen to have one here.

Casey and the Surfmen is an environmentally themed piece which only took TEN YEARS to bring to fruition (for heaven’s sake) and I am selling the audio download for £1.

Really if you think of it in poetry terms £1 is a fortune. Poets are supposed to be penniless and romantic and die in attics of TB so a decade’s sweat and tears for a quid is actually a bounty of riches.
Trust that I will spend wisely.

Casey and the Surfmen is a “spoken word treat”; “an exciting, beautiful, ominous story which celebrates the united actions of ordinary people, inspired by magic, mystery and the truth remembered from childhood”.

 “Enchanting, lyrical and highly topical! Certain to engage and delight children and adults alike”. Pam Gresty (ex-head teacher, Yorkshire)
Casey & the Surfmen sifts through the sands of time and finds the child in us all” Oonah Joslin Poet / Editor Northumberland

Regular readers of this blog will know that I am a Luddite, as afeard of technology as rabbits are scared of foxes and Tories are scared of UKIP. (see blog- 53 - I suffer from PANTS). Do not fall off your chair then when it is revealed to you that there is a website for this new venture. And no – obviously I did not do the website. Thank you Chrissie. Also Thanks to ex-punk Gary for doing the recording/editing and background music.
Click on the ink and do check it out - 

And do please purchase a download. Ten year’s work and three downloads and I can afford a coffee!

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Blog 102. I really know how to have a good time.

Call me a total party animal – a social butterfly – a hedonistic thrill seeker. This week, in the post-referendum greyness, I feel it’s my duty to let the rest of you in on my ultimate wild-time-having secret.

To be sure this may be an acquired taste but trust me, once you've tried it, all your recreational drugs, booze binges and wild nights of passion with strangers (ehh, the GERMS) will seem as naught.

Maybe you spend hours reading up on recipes to impress your friends for a Saturday night culinary extravaganza or you are one of those people who is planning the next holiday before the baggage is off the carousel. I don’t know. But I do know I am about to blow your mind. I am going to show you the three steps to heaven the zinging excitement kick to end them all.

A trip to the municipal tip.

I know what you are thinking. The woman has gone bonkers; she’s unhinged after the disappointment of last Thursday/Friday. She really believed that there was a chance for more egalitarian government. Albeit that she has not a nationalist bone in her body – she actually thought the establishment was going to get a shake up, that at least for Scotland there would be some hope for those who understand that not everything is about profit. She’s such a naive twit she thought the people who really wanted change could stand up to an alliance of the comfortably off, the cowards who were taken in by all the bogey-men-under-the-bed stuff and the cynics from the main parties who realised that a Yes vote would be disastrous for them personally. Really. Does brown girl not realise the establishment is called The Establishment for a reason? (I hear you sigh.) So now she’s lost it.

Well – you are wrong.

Having spent my first few months in Scotland stressed by mind numbing hassle with my energy provider and their subsidiaries who needed to do some stuff to make the place usable and did it horribly badly – I only recently got to the point where the flat actually looked like a home. Therefore, the trip to the tip took on Xanadu type significance.

For days I have been looking longingly at the rotting junk ripped out of the kitchen and stacked kind of neatly by the bike shed. My partner and I who take our weekend on a Monday decided that this would be our Monday treat. We debated which of the available municipal tips to attend and decided on the one by the shore near Portobello. We charted a route that would take us the scenic way and we debated, in detail, which coffee shop we would visit for a bun, should our trip be successful.

It was all more wonderful than I could possibly have imagined. There was almost no one else there as we edged to a halt next to the huge skips with their labels and side walkways to make chucking easier for the uninitiated. As it turned out, the three different skips we needed were actually adjacent to each other – wood, hard plastic and metal. Clearly it was one of those zeitgeist, Zen, feng shui, karma thingy situations.
One thing we had not discussed before hand was who would empty the vehicle and who would do the chucking. Now I didn't want to steal all the fun but I really REALLY wanted to do the chucking. As it turned out my guy seemed remarkably sanguine when I bagsied the chucking job. There was a little argy-bargee about the tarpaulin which we won’t go into because it nearly spoiled things. Suffice to say that little hiccup was overcome.

Then it was time to chuck. I was magnificent. At one point I nearly hurled a bit of moldy chip-board too far and it was in danger of flying over to the skip earmarked for metal. I shudder to think what could have occurred if this had indeed happened. Thanks to a corner clipping the edge of the skip it flipped and fell with a satisfying thwump into the correct skip. Then I went crazy, hurling and chucking and throwing – even some overhead moves and quite a lot of skimming and flinging. Probably if there had been a lot of people there I’d have felt inhibited but there weren't and I didn't.

Honestly – I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Next time you are stuck for exuberant entertainment – forget gaming or gambling or drugs and alcohol or bungee jumping or skiing or late night clubs. Take a hop ‘n a skip - go let rip – I mean man just flip – get hip - zip down on a tip trip.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Blog 101 Yes.

In the afterglow of my Oscar experience last week I am taking some time out (knackered after a double delayed train journey yesterday), de-toxing (stuffing pastries), reflecting on the beauties of life (worrying about work), thanking god for the blessing of children (really hoping for a break at half term) and congratulating myself on cheap, hide the lumps & bumps, ironic decor (my partner used the pages of a Delia Smith cook book from the charity shop to cover a very rough wall in my kitchen).

All I have left to say is YES!

Not ‘yes yes yes oooh yes’ as in Harry met Sally. Nor the Yeeeeeesssss with extra syllables and a snake at the end that I get when I ask my teenager if she has remembered her packed lunch today.

It’s not the absent yes – which with hindsight should have been a no - I often say to myself when I am trying to think of three different things at once and that same daughter is insisting on an answer to a vitally important, urgent query that can’t wait two seconds.

It’s not the yes that still sometimes slips out instead of no when a pal in a secure, well paid job asks if I will come and perform at their social event, interjecting with a smile and without embarrassment “there’s no fee” And I don’t ask them if they work for free because I know they will instantly take umbrage (why don’t I?)

It will not be the exasperated yes given to a question repeated so many times that even if that question were ‘would you eat lion dung’ I would say yes just so as not to hear the question again.

It’s not the mumbled yes in response to a concerned ‘have you been ill’ when I realise I look so knackered, wiped out and un-put-together that the only explanation is a bout of plague.

It’s not the ‘Oui merci’ I once gave to a French mother while trying not to vomit after she asked if I enjoyed the bouillabaisse she'd just served. To me it looked like grey/green turds floating in a warm open sewer and didn't taste much better.

There is a very convincing YES that I’ve practised for when one of my fashion obsessed women friends (I know only two) demands to know if I like (for like read ‘am impressed by’) their latest designer dress / handbag / shoes. I worked out long ago that 'liking' is irrelevant, as is ‘suiting’. It could look like something you wouldn't have saved for the dressing up box but if it’s got a certain label, is expensive and someone on the telly has one you are supposed to desire it. Yes gets you out of the spot quickly.

No – this week it’s a yes vote for the Scottish referendum. You’ll only need to ask why a non-nationalist craves the opportunity to escape the rule of Eton and the spinelessness of the so-called opposition and the callousness of a government that only has an ear for the rich and powerful if you have never before read this blog.

Click below for a comedy performance poetry treat.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Blog 100 My Parents Never Had Sex

Firstly I would like to say ‘thank you’ to my parents for producing me. I know that people who grew up in post-war Britain didn’t really do it. My parents were young adults in the late 1950s and so – as my mother explained to me - they just got into bed together, woke up with their PJs on the wrong way round and then had babies.
Yes – I think it is appropriate – don’t you – to do a Gwyneth Paltrow, Oscar type speech for my hundredth blog?

I’ll continue...

Thanks to mum and dad for whatever courageous act of selflessness brought me here, which as my sister pointed out when we were young - must have been x3 because there are three of us

Secondly I would like to express my appreciation for all the powerful, rich and famous for regularly being so ridiculous that any of us drawn to satire are spoilt for choice of material. It has to be said and has been said before – though I do not hesitate to say it again – some have gone so far as to become their own satire (there I said it). I nominate,
Sarah Palin
Reality T.V. ‘stars’ all
Tony Blair
Boris Johnson
Harry Redknapp
And everyone else who you just KNOW is in that list.

Thanks to my friends; those few but special [very special in some cases...] people who listen to my witterings, managing to keep the looks of boredom and / or bewilderment at bay with practised ease.

Thanks to my daughters who, for my own good, occasionally  sigh and groan and say “oh for heavens’ sake mother get a grip” and either stomp off to the bedroom – (no. 3), go silent from tedium (no.2) or subtly change the subject (no.1) whenever I talk about writing.

Thanks to the woman next door for regularly letting her large, noisy dog shit in my garden. This helps to keep me in touch with the real world and not float off into a fantasy paradise where one only has to deal with one’s own crap.

Thanks to Melissa for setting up this blog for me which I only broke about 3 times in the early stages.
N.B. Throughout all this please envisage me blubbing attractively. You know the sort of thing – nice round tears but no wrinkles or snot or distorted face and no messing of the make-up – even though I don’t usually wear make-up unless performing but imagine it anyway... Perhaps there may be a pretty gulp to show how feminine I am or high pitched whimper to show how affected I am by the occasion.

Thanks to the local co-op for stocking artisan bread which often fortifies me while I stare at a blank screen with a blank head. (Sniff)

Thanks to my partner for that look of sympathy (or is it stupefaction?) he is able to wear when I am moaning about my IT inadequacies, or tiredness. And for always saying ‘this tastes lovely’ whatever I put out for tea. And never ever ever saying ‘oh... pasta again!’

Thanks to my daughter’s new bunnies for being extra cute and giving her a reason to get off the @+*^&% computer. (Brave smile)

Thanks to all the folk I left behind in the N.E in May for pretending to be sorry to see me go and not throwing a HUGE party when my back was turned - you didn’t did you? (Nervous titter)

Thanks to my a---hole maths teacher at school for telling me in front of the whole class that I would NEVER EVER EVER pass my maths o-level – which spurred me on to pass when he was no longer my teacher and also to pass my law finals accounting exam. You are just the kind of teacher the education system needs. (Huge whimsical sigh, maybe briefly raised eyes and an almost imperceptible shake of the head but short of smug)

Thanks to my uncles for being proper uncles when I was a child. The sort who swung you round by your hands and feet and made bonfires and told terrible jokes.

Thanks to Roald Dahl for writing Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (though I have to say WOT was The Great Glass Elevator about - I mean what were you ON?)

Thanks to Dr Seuss for Green Eggs and Ham. (Big tears and perhaps I step away from the mic momentarily to recover myself with admirable dignity)

Thanks to Cervantes for Don Quixote, Shakespeare for Lawrence Olivier’s version of Richard III (the one with all the shadows) and to Tolstoy for proving that books the size of a small cupboard don’t have to be tortuous (Proust I hope you are listening).

(Big brave smile and possibly a wave – audience cheering madly – maybe some of them crying too, affected by my affectedness-ness. I get kissed and hugged by lots of thin beautiful people with perfect teeth and no one notices that I am wearing turquoise sweat trousers and a baggy man’s shirt with my breakfast on it because I am typing hunched on a beanbag!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Click below for x2 comedy performance treats.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Blog 99 My Donald Rumsfeld Moment.

It’s weird when you know nothing about something and then find out you knew even less than you thought you didn't know...

This is a sentence I found myself typing in an e-mail to a dear friend of mine who won’t worry too much about whether I am making sense. It was in relation to a process I was attempting to execute in the field of IT – my least favourite field; a field that for me is full of immovable boulders, stony places, hidden snakes, arid patches, weeds and things that bite and jump out at you when you are already ankle-deep in cow pats.

And I found myself with a new grudging respect for the (then) US Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld – he of the famous 2002 (evidence for weapons of mass destruction) quote -
There are known knowns. These are the things we know we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say there are things we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns (i.e.) There are things we don’t know we don’t know.

I suspect this is what I meant to say - but who knows?

It occurred to me in my revelation of the ever widening expanse of my own ignorance, that there are so many different kinds of things we don’t know we don’t know.
Some things are utterly crazy. Take parenting for example. None of us really know anything about it until we know something and realise we knew nowt. And people (in my humble experience) who think they have it licked usually have less of a clue than those of us who accept our limitations. But it’s madder still. Parenting is something you learn WHEN you have children. And if you are like me – by the time you think you almost have a handle on the basics – your kids are nearly grown up!!! WHAT IS THE POINT OF THAT?

To be fair there is sometimes stuff you know and don’t know how you know but you just do. Like we – most of us – knew it was stupid and wrong to invade Iraq – even without benefit of all the information that should have been available. We knew in our gut – we knew in our water – we knew in our very essence (and yes at some point I will try to get through more than three blogs in a row without mentioning the worst foreign policy disaster of modern times).

There are things we ought to know because they are so utterly obvious but we choose not to. This is why money programmes on Radio 4 are still in the happy position of being able to churn out identikit stories of people giving all their money to complete strangers or buying plots of land in a faraway galaxy with their life savings. But this is a different kind of ignorance. This is actually willful blindness. In many cases it is greed that leads to this sort of not-seeing. Because we all actually know that if something seems too good to be true - it is.

I believe there was a time in recent history when – at least in Europe – there was a class of gentlemen who might have been able to get a grip on a significant proportion of the recorded knowledge of the age and really feel they had it tied up. It was a fleeting moment when the educated and privileged classes had collated recorded knowledge from many civilisations and had the leisure time to absorb that knowledge. However – from the time of the Industrial Revolution (that gave many of these wealthy people their comfortable leisure) the ‘discoveries’ we made and the additions we piled on to our stock of recorded data increased in speed, momentum, depth, height, breadth to such a degree that even the most learned gentleman would have to accept that what he was being faced with was a vastness no one could ever encompass with one brain. In effect knowledge got away from us. And this has been the case since Adam bit the apple or atoms went pop.

On a day to day basis – all we can really hope for is to wonder at the things we don’t know.

Anyone who tells you the opposite is proving him or herself a fool.

This week’s recommended blog from the archives

78 Free Schools? Come to my Free Hospital.