Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Litter Pickers

Today, the dog-of-small-brain and I walked our favourite route. He did his usual routine of winding up the guard dogs at the house of the end of the road, which, incidentally, has a sign warning ‘do not enter guard dogs’: surely I‘m not the only one who finds that a disturbing thought? Anyway, we walked on, down the path, and into the field next to the fishing pond.

I was picking my way through soggy grass when I spotted something; an empty sweet-corn tin and a plastic bottle. Grrr, I thought, those pesky townie fishermen tossing their rubbish over the fence, how dare they? So I did what any self-respecting do-gooder would do, and threw the offending items back over the fence. Yes, I could have taken them home and recycled them in my bin, but that would have meant carrying them for the duration of our walk, and in that respect, I am on the same level as whoever dumped them there in the first place.

And while I’ve been sitting here, staring into space and trying to think of a story to write, a man walked past my house, picking up litter. There is an entire army of volunteers who patrol the lanes around here, clearing up everything from bottles to porno magazines (there was one lying by the road on another of our walks for a few weeks, I kid you not.) Hurrah for these volunteers, what a good job they do, I said to one of them once, while we were chewing the fat over what a nice day it was. ‘You should join us,’ he said. So I made an excuse, and scuttled off. I should really. We all should help. But I showed my colours this morning when I threw the fishermen’s rubbish back over the fence. It’s so much easier to leave it to someone else.

Monday, 27 September 2010


The silver trees are swaying, stirring, and shifting, setting their leaves rustling. The sweeping sound surrounds me, along with the noise of ravens cawing, finches fussing, and the stream rushing over rocks and logs cushioned with moss. It is raining. This ancient wood smells damp and earthy, and water droplets drip from every twig. My feet negotiate the jutting tree roots, but I don’t really need to see. I know the way; I see it in my sleep. I slip between the trees, noiseless and stealthy. I leave no mark in the thick beds of moss.

A little further and then I see it, a single yellow rose tucked between the stones by the side of the stream. It makes me smile, this confected bloom in my beautiful wild wood. But he brings me a fresh one every day. Such devotion: I cannot fault his heart.

Sunday, 19 September 2010


“No,” you protest. “You’re missing the point. Listen to what I’m saying.”

My eyebrows vanish into the thicket of my hair, but you don’t notice. You’re too busy re-explaining the trivial point you used to cut into my conversation. I wasn’t talking to you. I’m not interested in what you said. So no, I wasn’t listening properly.

I look, and I see you. I study the flare of anger you’ve used to chastise me, and notice my friends have turned away, embarrassed at what they might be witnessing. I look closer still, and I see you with your wife, and your child. And I know now why they are so shy and meek, barely a word to say.

I look at you and I see right through that genial mask. You let it slip. And if you can’t hide your true self from a stranger, I don’t imagine you even try behind closed doors.

I see you, and I see what you are. Don’t try to speak to me again: I most certainly won’t be listening.

Monday, 13 September 2010

A Beautiful Poem I've Found...

I found this while messing around online pretending to work. And now I know how to paste film clips here, so it's not an afternoon wasted at all!


Look at this sunflower growing in my garden, isn’t it magnificent!

I didn’t plant it. And I didn’t plant any of the smaller, yet taller sunflowers wafting high above the weeds. It was the birds. They’ve scattered the seeds from the ‘wild bird mix’ all across the garden. Maybe it’s their way of saying they don’t like them. I can sympathise.

This one has been growing all summer. It’s obviously immune to slugs, and its stem withstands the wind by being thicker than all of my fingers put together. The bedraggled sweet-peas could have learnt a thing or two here.

“It’ll never flower’” I declared. “It’s too late, stupid thing.” I’m not so much of a ‘glass-half-full’ type, than a ‘glass-empty-because-I-drank-it-all-last-night-hence-the-headache’ person. But flower it did.

In the days leading up to my boy’s birthday, it unfurled its petals, and bared its soul to the sun. I admired it, and sobbed. The boy’s father brought me sunflowers the day after the boy was born, and he used to send sunflowers on the boy’s birthday until he got bored and toddled off into the wide blue yonder in search of a life more exciting.

The boy wondered why I was crying. I told him the story and I said “this year it’s the birds that have brought me sunflowers for your birthday.”

He didn’t flinch. He gave me a look of sympathy, and patted my arm. The boy knows; he knows it only too well: his mother is indeed certifiably insane.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Old Age

She is used to waiting. She fumbles in her shopping bag, and produces her knitting. Other customers smirk, but she is making socks: tri-coloured, patterned socks for soldiers. She knows the pattern off by heart.

“Mrs. Lewis?” They raise their voices when they speak to her. They speak slowly. They speak as though to a small, deaf child.

“Shazney’s going to wash your hair now.”

Shazney appears. She is plump and painted pretty with her ironed hair artfully arranged. She is younger than Mrs Lewis’s great-granddaughter.

The old lady stashes her knitting. She pulls her walking frame into position, but it takes minutes to haul herself upright onto her slippered feet, and minutes more to cross the salon floor. Shazney sighs. No one helps.

She struggles into the raised chair beside the sink.

“Aren’t the girls in here lovely,” she says to another customer sitting nearby. And she heaps praise upon Shazney, who pulls her head over the sink, lathers her hair, and makes no attempt to talk.

“Thank you, dear,” Mrs Lewis says when she is done. She struggles to sit up. She has soap in her eyes, and her lipstick is smudged where Shazney slopped water over her face, but she says nothing. There is no point complaining. She takes a towel, and dries her face, and she sighs as she remembers back to when it wasn’t like this, when she wasn’t hidden behind the veil of old age.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Computer Proved Not Guilty...

I have ranted. I have moaned. I have stomped around the house muttering 'death to computer designers, manufacturers, and programming geeks'. I have yelled at the children. I have been cross with the dog-of-small-brain. I have bemoaned my misfortune to countless relatives and anyone else misguided enough to show sympathy.

But now I am sweetness personified. I am the sun shining in the perfect clear blue sky, the ripe blackberry plump on the plant. The computer has not swallowed my holiday snaps into some dark corner of cyber-hell, it has just stored them in a stupid place, which is, more likely than not, operator error. Ahem.

I have found my pictures quivering like little lambs on a wild, desolate hillside where they'd been lost for over a week. I'm feeling victorious and extremely pleased with myself. Time for a celebratory cup of tea, methinks.

Computer, this time you are not guilty. But never forget; I've got your card marked. One day you really will end up sailing through that window, my friend: one day.
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