Pets and their owners

They say that pets look like their owners… This is called “my cat’s a sexy motherf*cker”

Your dachshund may be a darling
And your terrier drive a truck
You may think your pet’s amazing…
But mine’s as sexy as f*ck

So your gerbil’s got some game
And your schnauzer isn’t a schmuck
Your pets each have their qualities…
Mine’s as sexy as f*ck

You may really dig your degu
Think your Pekinese is full of pluck
I couldn’t be any happier for you…
But mine’s as sexy as f*ck

Your ferret may bring you good fortune
And your black cat carry good luck
I’ve won the bloody lottery, mate…
‘cause mine’s as sexy as F*CK!

catwoman-1741484_1280

My cat, this afternoon

 

Advertisements

Nottingham Poetry Festival – some takeaways

Nottingham Poetry Festival closed on Sunday, after a total of 70 acts graced different stages, libraries, markets and other locations across the county, entertaining, engaging and inspiring a huge variety of crowds that perhaps wouldn’t normally go to a poetry event. I had a flipping fantastic time… as is the tradition with these things, here are my  (non food-based) takeaways for the fledgling poet, from the Festival :

1 The whole bloody lot
I bloody love Nottingham. Big thanks to Tommy Farmyard and Henry Normal and all the other organisers, performers, and poetry fans of all stripes, for making this what it is.

2 Poems…duh!
As in actual content, from a workshop run by the effervescent Leanne Moden, who seemed to be on 24/7 poeting duty! (Added bonus – spending time with lovely fellow poets who inspire me, such as cosmicpoetry – I was a fan of her blog before I met her – check it out!)

3 Gimme the mic!
I really want to perform more… I loved the Comedy Extravaganza hosted by Willis the Poet, and spoke to him immediately afterwards (boring types can call it networking) about joining his comedy circus. I’ve also applied to perform at some other festivals… wish me luck!

4 Be more open…
Seeing how Hollie McNish (and Cleo Asabre-Holt – what a rising star!) shared themselves, no barriers, taking risks… Inspiring

5 Range
The sheer range of poetic styles, and what can be done with performance poetry…if there were four of me, I’d have gone to four different events on Weds, for example, and had a blast at each. If you haven’t seen the clip of Stephen Thomas performing his synth-pop set closer yet, do (here)! He has raised the bar for all who follow.

6 Camaraderie
I have always been acutely aware of being the outsider… Hey, that’s why we start writing poetry, right? But going to events, meeting people, chatting, being friendly, making friends… Sure, there are some pre-formed friendship groups, but I’m relatively new to this… And if shy old me can go solo to numerous events and KNOW that there will be someone friendly I’ve at least spoken to before, then you can too! (Plus, Henry Normal speaks to literally everyone… He personally greets everyone on arrival, helping to set a tone of everyone being made to feel welcome – truly inclusive…)

7 Confidence boost
I performed at three events – the Crosswords Sue Ryder evening (I’ve posted a couple of videos of me performing that night, here and here); at one of the library hours; and at the NPS Poetry Slam. Poetry crowds are so warm, supportive and generous – you get the feeling that everyone really wants you to succeed. For someone who lacks confidence in public speaking, this is an amazing lift. And to top it off, I finished third in my first ever poetry slam!

8 Keep at it
Roger McGough closed the festival with an hilarious, engaging set… But what impressed me most was the sheer number of – incredible – new poems he shared. For someone with a fifty-plus year back catalogue of amazing work, Roger could easily have just played the “greatest hits”. He didn’t, and clearly still has the passion for poetry. A true inspiration.

So…see you next year?

hollie mcnish - al in crowd

Me, enjoying Hollie McNish’s raw, compelling, hilarious, poetry

Grampy

A poem about my Grandfather – “Grampy” – written for and performed at the Nottingham Poetry Festival, at the Crosswords Sue Ryder open mic night. I’ve attached the recording below on YouTube, with another poem from last night too. I’d love it if you checked it out 😀

Grampy died when I was young.
Young enough to remember,
but not old enough to know him.

He was a baker by trade, always
bringing oven-warm buns,
the three minute walk back to
his front door.

He’d served in North Africa
in the Second World War.
This utterly fascinated me,
the reality of war.
The notion of “service”. The grit.
But we never spoke of it.

The closest we came was him buying me
“Commando” magazine from the newsagents,
next to the bakers. Those pocket booklets of
heroism, jingoism. Derring do. Reality
safely sanitised into periodic pieces
where the good guys always win.

I never really cared for them –
I preferred when he
bought me “Buster” comics –
but I never told him that.
He thought I’d like them,
so he bought them for me.
Maybe he wanted to say more.
I wanted him to say more.
But he never did.

The cancer
ate through him
In those final days.
A Brylcreem skeleton.
A shadow of sallow skin,
sunk in his favourite chair.
Unable to manage even that
short walk to the newsagents,
now knocked through into the
bakery, selling undertaxed coffee.

No more Commando magazines.
No more unspoken words.

Me, Me, Me

I attended a poetry workshop on Saturday, as part of the Nottingham Poetry Festival. I’m barely home this week for going to various poetry gigs (sadly not performing, but am hoping that will come), and consider myself blessed to live in such a poetry-hungry city!

At this workshop, I wrote a number of poems that will eventually see the light of day on this blog. This was written for the opening exercise, to write a tanka to introduce ourselves. I wrote two… the second explains why!

Really a rhymer
Who then got hooked on haiku.
In recovery.
I’ve been clean for a year.
Damn! I’m back on the wagon!

I love a challenge.
Stupidly competitive.
Fitting these words in
Gives me great satisfaction,
When the syllables all fit

🙂

 

pencil-1486278_1920

Careers Advice for the Chosen One

In my head at least, this is a lost Monty Python sketch… you may prefer it had remained lost!

INT, DAY, CAREER GUIDANCE COUNSELLOR’S OFFICE. STUDENT LOITERING IN DOORWAY

COUNSELLOR:
Come in! Please! Come, take a seat. Tell me, what can I do for you?

STUDENT: (entering)
Well, it kinda says on the door… I was after some career guidance.

C:
Of course! Wonderful that young people are so proactive these days. What sort of career or careers have taken your interest?

S:
Only the one career.

C:
Very decisive of you. And that one is?

S:
Chosen one.

C:
Chosen one?

S:
Yes, that’s right, chosen one.

C:
(pauses) You are looking at a career as…the chosen one?

S:
It’s a calling. I’ve been called.

C:
(hesitant) You’ve been called… Have there been any signs? Any miracles? Any unexplained phenomena?

S:
An electronic gate. It opened automatically for me.

C:
Lots of gates do that.

S:
This one didn’t have a sensor. It just opened. For me.

C:
There could be lots of perfectly reasonable, rational explanations for that gate opening. Malfunction, for example. A short circuit. Some electrical disturbance.

S:
I find your lack of faith disturbing.

C:
Well, it really isn’t much to go on now, is it? Have there been any other incidents?

S:
I stopped a bus.

C:
You stopped a bus?

S:
Is there an echo in here? Yes. I stopped a bus. It was coming towards me in the road, and I put my hand out in front of it, onto the windscreen, and stopped it.

C:
Were you at a pedestrian crossing?

S:
Yes…

C:
Is it possible, in any way, that this bus was, perhaps, stopping anyway to allow pedestrians, such as yourself, to cross the aforementioned road?

S:
(snorts) It’s possible.

C:
Ok… anything else? Two pieces of evidence you see, if such they are, is hardly conclusive. Even sainthood needs three miracles these days.

S:
No, just the two.

C:
Well, as your careers guidance counsellor (gestures to the sign on the door), let me counsel you then to go out into the world, do good deeds, a bit of helping the meek, making sure you recycle, save the planet… generally live a good life. You could start by volunteering at a charity shop?

S:
A charity shop! I come in here telling you that I’m the child of a supreme creator, and you want me to volunteer in some dingy charity shop? (getting increasingly irate) “Here, Jesus, come down off that mount and stop sermonising, Mrs Jones wants her Dan Brown boxset bagged up”… “Never mind that restituting the meek malarkey, how much are the Princess Diana tea plates?” For the last time, stop healing the blind and the lame, there’s a queue of irate pensioners at the till and they’re getting hangry!” (storms out)

C:
(to camera) That’s the problem with kids today. Want it all on a plate… Next!

 

Pigeon Pageantry

This is a 300-word FF on the theme of “Royalty”, for the Bloggers Bash competition… My second entry – this one’s less likely to get me a knighthood! Hope you enjoy!

“Alright, Trev?”

“Not so bad. Yourself, Dave?” The first pigeon shrugged his barely discernible shoulders.

“Can’t complain. Found half a box of KFC last week. Seemed a bit of a coup in the circumstances.”

“Haha, ‘coup/coo’… good one,” he laughed, in that way that pigeons do.

“ ‘ere, Trev, have you seen Sal lately?”

“Yeah, I see ‘er now and again. How come?”

“Have you seen that ‘er with that bracelet? Big rattley thing, wears it ‘round her neck.”

“Can’t say I’d noticed… hang on, wasn’t that her mum’s?”

“Yeah that’s it. Her mum’s shuffled off to join the choir invisible…”

“That’s a shame. Well, I say a shame. Never really liked ‘er. All those airs and graces. La-de-das and all that. Thought she was better than us, just ‘cause her dad left her a big nest. She never had to scrabble around in the mud for a worm like the likes of us, did she, Dave?”

“No, she did not… ‘ere remember, that daft little tip of the wing she used to do to her “adoring crowds”. Give me strength!”

“Haha, it’s a wonder that any of the other pigeons fall for it!”

“Yeah, but you know what we’re like. Suckers for a bit of pigeon-pomp and pageantry.”

“Too true, my friend, too true…. What were you saying about Sal?”

“Well, just that with that bracelet she seems to think she’s lady of the manor now. As if it makes a bit of difference who her parents were!”

“Never even knew my Dad. Never ‘eld me back.”

“You’re made of hardier stuff, Trev. The world needs more pigeons like you.”

“Aw, cheers mate… don’t suppose you’ve …got any of that KFC left, have you?”

“It’s been a few days…”

“I don’t mind if you don’t”

They fly off, together.

 

bird-1922561_1920

Annus Miraculis

This is a 300-word FF on the theme of “Royalty”, for the Bloggers Bash competition… Hope you enjoy!

What does one get, for the mother who has everything? (Literally, everything.) Charles went through the same dilemma every year, and every year fell short. Not that she said anything, of course. A lifetime of not speaking out had …consequences, but he knew better.

He pulled his coat tight to his face against the December chill, readjusted his cap, and continued his search through Knightsbridge. He grimaced as he passed Harrod’s, but the next store along was somewhere he hadn’t noticed before. As he stood in the neon glare on the crowded pavement, the answer came to him. “I’ve got it!” In any other city, this exclamation would have attracted glances, but not here, not now. He rushed into the store, his grin broad enough to reach both of those ears.

After their traditional Christmas family lunch, it was time for the presents. Charles eagerly urged mother to open his first. Impassively, she opened the large box. She stared at him. “Thank you… what is it?”

“Let me plug it in.”

With palpable indifference, mother waited as Charles fiddled with the leads.

“Choose one,” he urged.

She stared down at the electronic karaoke screen. She scrolled past “Who Let The Dogs Out”, “Who Wants to Live Forever” (it just felt cruel), and “One”.

Charles’ enthusiasm was waning by the second. Not again…

“Hm,” she thought, then paused for the briefest moment before launching into an enthusiastic “Dancing Queen”.

Philip spat his tea clean across the living room, much to Harry’s amusement.

All sat open-mouthed as she sang with a HUGE smile on her face. Charles nearly cried with joy.

Song after song she belted out, until after “one ain’t nothing but a hound dog”, she dropped the microphone and walked off. “thangyouverymuch…Old Liz has left the building!”

 

bear-2656876_1920

The Knock

A 650-word piece of flash fiction. Just because 🙂

There was a gentle knock at the door. Confused, I paused the TV, wrapped my dressing gown to conceal my Batman pyjamas, and trudged to the door.

There was no one there.

*cough*

I looked down.

“Hi, didn’t want to startle you,” said a suggestively purple snail on my doorstep.

“You’re a snail,” I said, never one to miss an opportunity to state the obvious.

“Not really, but the confusion is understandable. Mind if I come in?”

I shrugged an agreement, and the not-snail insinuated itself through the open door and into my house. There was something very unusual about the way it moved. Not at all snail-like.

“How did you knock on the door?” I asked, dealing with the weightiest questions first.

“I’m slightly psychic,” it replied, an air of pride unmistakeable.

“You’re a slightly psychic snail?…” I closed the door behind it. Did it control me to do that?…

“Not a snail.”

“Right. Cup of tea?” Social conventions offer a lifeline out of any situation.

“Err, no thanks. Tea is poisonous to my race. The effects can be …unpredictable. Violently so. Tea is banned under our version of the Geneva Convention. The Tannin Wars were a dark time in our history.” It looked up, saw my reaction. “You weren’t to know.”

“Sorry…. Coffee then?”

“Yeah, that’d be great. I take it black.” With that, it glided (glid?) into the living room, while I went on autopilot into the kitchen to dig out the coffee from the back of the cupboard.

I took a minute to compose myself, while the chrome kettle did its thing. Keep it together, Al. There’s a snail-thing in your living room, that’s popped in for coffee. Totally normal. Just a normal day.

I returned a minute later with two coffees, and some rich tea biscuits. “It’s the best I had,” I explained, by way of apology.

The not-snail did not look pleased, but made no comment. Is anyone ever happy getting offered rich tea biscuits?

“You’re probably wondering why I’m here,” said the snail, psychically moving the coffee from cup to mouth. I tried not to stare.

“Well, yeah…”

“I come from an alien world. You would identify it in the constellation Sirius. Our homeworld is quite unpronounceable in your language.” That pride again.

It continued: “I am here to make first contact. To form an impression of humanity, and build towards a pan-galactic alliance between our peoples.”

I kicked myself at the rich tea offer.

“We are a far more technologically advanced civilisation than yours. We have evolved beyond war, disease, poverty, intergalactic travel, and the distortion of time felt in dentist’s waiting rooms… in fact, we have conquered not only death, but the suggestion of it. Poof, gone.”

It bristled in its shell, waiting for all of this to sink in.

I sensed it was waiting for a reply. “Err… well done?” I glanced at the paused TV. Homes Under the Hammer would be on soon. Wonder how much longer this will take?

It sensed my impatience; slurped down the rest of its coffee. It looked at the biscuits and shook its small head. “Right, well I’d better be off then. I’ve only travelled 137 light years across space, left a glorious home and family that I’ll never see again, only devoted my entire existence and every waking thought to this moment, but I wouldn’t want to keep you.”

I showed it to the door, waved it goodbye, instinctively. It did not speak another word, or look back at me as it glided out of my front gate.

I closed the door and leant against it; exhaled loudly. I re-attached the “no cold callers” sign that had slipped down behind the landline phone. Then, “a-ha!” and rushed back to the kitchen, rummaging around, deep in the bottom cupboard. The emergency Hobnobs!

I shuffled back to the living room, and unpaused the TV.

This day’s taken a turn for the better.

 

 

johan-desaeyere-130394-unsplash

ET, crawl home…

Photo by Johan Desaeyere on Unsplash