Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

It’s MY iPod!

I suppose, what with me being  a serious blogger and all, I should mention something about last weeks budget but in all honesty, I just can’t get worked up about it.  I’m in such relaxed mood that even the really serious issues such as oink-flu and the Susan Boyle phenomenon are failing to reach my mellowed mind.  T’as been another busy weekend of rugby (the last one – season has finished) and I’ve took the day off and so far I’ve been spending my time putting new tracks onto my iPod.

My son has been tampering you see, with my iPod.  He’s been adding lots of tracks to my iPod.  He is currently big into The Killers, Guns N’ Roses and Jimi Hendrix.  And ever since he learned how to use my iPod and has sussed how to sign into my iTunes account, he has been logging on, blissfully oblivious of any wrongdoing, and buying music with my money.  And so now, my iPod is full of music by the aforementioned rock bands and all my music has gone!

I think The Killers are great so they get to stay.  And I have a healthy level of respect for Hendrix and I guess GnR’s to a lesser degree, but I can only tolerate their sounds for so long before my head begins to feel like it’s been taken over by a bunch of . . . erm, noisy rock bands.

So, after an hour of hard labour, my iPod is now inhabited by my music choices and the next time me laddie switches on my iPod, he will find it filled with an eclectic music mix which includes the likes of . . . ooh I think I’ll do a list – with track titles and everything. It could be one of those meme things – An On My iPod meme.  That should be fun.  Better than writing about boring budgets and credit crunches and stuff.

So, here it is . . .

Blondie: Denis – happy times.

Talking Heads: Burning Down the House – fuuunkay.

The Velvet Underground: What Goes On – truly, truly great!  Play it loud and kick back.

The Killers: All These Things That I’ve Done – me and me laddie love doing the pogo to this one.

The Decemberists: Sons and Daughters – I really, really want to see this band live.

Thelma Houston: Don’t Leave Me This Way – you should see me freak out to this one.  My kids stare at me like I’m bonkers.

Donna Summer: I Feel Love – another one to freak out to.  And I do!

Eels: Trouble with Dreams – like it. I Like Birds – like it a lot. Novocaine for the Soul – love it.

Placebo: Pure Morning – an older one but I still love it.

The Rolling StonesSympathy for the Devil – Superb.

WhamWham Rap – I know!!! I’m cringing too.  It’s the only Wham song I’ve ever liked and let me tell you, I don’t just like it – I love it!  Unashamedly. Well come on guys, with poetic lyrics like this who wouldn’t appreciate the genius?  Happy Days!

Madonna: Ray of Light – the only Madonna song I’ve ever liked and let me tell you . . . [see above].

Cat Stevens: several tracks, all wonderful.

REM: several tracks – arguably one of the best bands in the world.

Bob Marley: Mr Brown – so good there are no words.

The Be Good Tanya’s: Human Thing – mellow.  House of the Rising Sun – excellent unique version.  The Littlest Birds – just lovely.

Bad Company: Feel Like Makin’ Love – and it really does. Sexy, sexy voice.

Actually, this is turning into a chore.  I think I’ll round it up with a quick list of the rest.

James, Elbow, Dead Can Dance, Nouvelle Vague, Blink 182, AFI, Enya, Deacon Blue and many, many, many.

Well, although I’d much rather chill and listen to the music, I suppose we should get back to the Budget (sigh) because after all, I am a serious blogger with an activist agenda, even if it only involves sitting on my arse and typing for most of the time.

Are people still talking about the budget?  Probably not.  It’s old news now but in my usual after-the-party style, there are a couple of comments I will get down.

From a green perspective, I can only echo what the Green party has said about lots of missed opportunities.  What with unemployment being a key issue, you just have to wonder about all the potential Green apprenticeships and consequent jobs that could have been created.  The Green party (and little me!!) has been arguing for years that the British workforce lacks the skills needed to meet the demands of evolving technologies so that emissions targets can be met and jobs can be created – lots of jobs.  So why this is being bypassed by Brownie and his Darling is beyond me.

Then there was the dirty mention of clean coal investments.  Some Mop going by the name of Ed Miliband, who originally opposed Kingsnorth from being built, wants to fire up several new coal stations but insists that they will have to be fitted with carbon capture and storage technology. Alistair Darling Mop is supporting this by funding new, coal-related carbon capture schemes.  Well what people might not realise is that CCS is not yet a fully tested technology and is nowhere near developed to safe and reliable standards, so clean coal is not yet achievable and is certainly not the quick and magical fix that they are implying.  So basically, the go ahead has been given for a new generation of coal power with no guarantees that the technology will be available to clean it up.  I’m not against the research into CCS but I don’t like the idea of restarting coal power on the wild assumption that CCS will work or will even be ready before much damage is done.  For those wondering, we don’t have the time to sit and wait and we really should be thinking twice about allowing the government to remain dependent on fossil fuels and pursue these distractive policies at the expense of energy efficiency and renewables progress.

It just occurred to me – there is a connection between the budget and music.  Gordon Brown apparently quoted Shakespeare in defense of his budget  . .  and one of Shakespeare’s characters said . .  if music be the food of love, play on.  Well I see the connection.  You’re just not tuned in.

Ta ta folks.

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We know what he wouldn’t do! (Updated as promised)

It’s no secret that the Christian right have been warping the message of Jesus to justify their compassionately-challenged views of the world for many years.  Well there’s a rumour going round that the BNP is now seeking to exploit the good name of Jesus in order to promote their own ideology.  According to an (unfounded) email, circulated (allegedly) by Nick Griffin with the intention of testing the water, he bangs on about being persecuted and excluded and about the demonisation of social groups (I know!). He also (again allegedly) provides a preview of a European election campaign poster which asks . . . what would Jesus do?  the obvious implication being that Jesus would have opposed those evil forriners too.

Hell, they’ll be telling us next that Gandhi would have supported torture in Guantanamo.

Well anyway, I can’t find any evidence that the email or the campaign poster is genuine (and I’ll update as and when) but since the question has been raised (even if it was only to discredit the BNP which really isn’t necessary because they’re doing just fine on their own), I decided to ponder over said Big Question and  throw about some analytical theological philosophical random thoughts of my own.

Basically, none of us can really speak for a guy who lived over two thousand years ago but given the many teachings pertaining to his good self that are widely available, I reckon it’s pretty safe to say that Jesus would reject the bigotry and the prejudice of the BNP.  I mean you don’t need to look far to find a parable or a quote that challenges almost everything they stand for and I doubt that even Nick Griffin would be arrogant enough or stupid enough to expect us to believe that Jesus would support them.

When it comes to indecency and bad taste, it would be hard to sink any lower than the BNP when they used the London bombings for their propaganda . . . and in terms of huge political gaffe’s, their Polish Spitfire advert remains unbeatable.  But any attempts to spin the words of Jesus into some kind of endorsement of such hateful and totally unworkable policies would be a desperate and humongous step closer towards the land of political obscurity and irrelevance.  Here’s hoping that the rumours are true then.

Whoever you believe Jesus was, whether you believe he was divine, historical or a totally fictional character dreamed up for propaganda purposes, one thing that we can all be sure he wouldn’t do is vote for the BNP.  He’d probably forgive them but he definitely wouldn’t endorse them.

“Would you like to see Britannia rule again my friend?  All you have to do is follow the worms”. Pink Floyd.

Update: Well it seems that they have enrolled Jesus as their poster boy.  The BBC has an article up about it. Very ridiculous indeed.  Dearie me boys and girls of the BNP.  Haven’t you read the oft-quoted Sermon on the Mount – the world-renowned outdoor lesson written and narrated by the man himself – Jesus?  You must know it.  It’s the one that’s all about equal rights and social justice for all and is admired and applied by the worlds best scholars, theologians, philosophers and spiritual leaders alike.  No?  You can’t recall it?  Well what about the parable of the Good Samaritan?  Surely you remember that one.  It’s one of the first things we get taught in primary school RE.   Come on now, everyone knows that one.  Back to RE class methinks for a little recap.

Video Spot

The Good Life:

I spotted this video on the lovely Ecomonkey’s blog and thought I’d share it here.  A short and simple but thoughtful little message about values:


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The Story of Stuff:

You may have already seen this but a little prod now and then can’t hurt.  An informative and enlightening look at the hidden elements of our production and consumption practises.  It highlights the many social, environmental and health impacts involved in the chain:

Being a Refugee

Mysoul has a wonderful and moving way of expressing her thoughts. This powerful and touching poem that she wrote on her blog is one example:

Refugee

Its a long walk to the border
Little tired legs swing
As she rides the strong shoulder
“Daddy, how much farther?”
“Just beyond that Hill” says the Man.

“How many times is that?” the Man wonders
On this long journey to the no man’s land
Fear hides behind these mundane words
“Just a little further”,
“Beyond that tree”,
“Beyond that river”,
“Across that valley”,
“Just another day’s walk”
“Just… just… just”
Knowing full well,
Just beyond the horizon
Is the great Unknown
Yet he walks,
Gathering hope,
Picking up courage,
Building faith within,
Just so,
His daughter may live,
Without the scars of war.
Mysoul

See. The asylum-seeker has a face . . . a human face. And a heart that hurts.

In Britain there are those who believe we should always give asylum to genuine refugees. There are those who believe that refugees are putting a huge strain on our country’s resources and that we have no choice but to reject their applications and deport them. And there are those who believe that they are all disingenous scroungers seeking to exploit our generous welfare.

Mysoul’s poem shows us the human face of the refugee.

Unfortunately, those who make the decisions – the cold and detached officials who see only faceless names on paper, and the current government and it’s opposition party who impose knee-jerking asylum policies that pander to the tabloid hysterics about the country being swamped by refugees, they will never see the human story within.  And it’s to their great shame.

A Thousand Splendid Suns

 . . . by Khaled Hosseini.

Oh lordy!  I think I’m in love with this author.  I am certainly unashamedly awestruck by his writing and humbled by his compassion. 

He has become actively engaged in the plight of the Afghan refugees and at the end of his books he offers us the chance to help or learn more about the crisis of refugees here.

Anyway, A Thousand Splendid Suns.  I’ve just finished it and as you have probably surmised, I loved it.  Khaled (see, we’re on first name terms) writes about the Afghan female plight with gentle but amazing insight and empathy given that he is a man.  It’s a hauntingly sad and tragic story but also very beautiful and lovely.  He illustrates the cruelty and the injustice of war with tenderness and reality and he presents an informed picture, adding a human aspect, of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the cruel depravities of the Taliban regime.  But the beauty of the loyalty and love between two wonderful and courageous women who have endured the harshest of cruelties, is an inspiration.  And the indestructible love story of the gentle Tariq and the lovely passionate Laila overpowers everything and I defy anyone not to cry.  There’s so much more I would like to comment on, mostly about Mariam’s plight and her ultimate heart-breaking self-sacrifice . . . and about Laila’s act of gratitude and remembrance towards her but I don’t want to put any spoilers in.  Whoops! I think I just did. Sorry.

 

The following two lines are taken from a poem by a 17th century Persian poet called Saeb-e-Tabrizi about the city of Kabul and the poem is worth reading in full.  The use of this poem in the book clearly demonstrates the author’s love for his city and its people which were almost ruined and destroyed to the ground by bombs.

One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs,

Or the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls.

All in all, the story will educate and inspire you, it will shock and anger you . . . but it will make your heart soar.  It touched my soul anyway.

BNP Family Fun-Fest

This weekend, the British National Party are holding their annual rally in Derbyshire and it’s being dubbed by anti-BNP groups as a hate-fest.  Groups are forming to protest against the rally which the BNP, with a remarkable show of unlimited imagination, have named the Red, White and Blue (RWB) festival.   Whoopee!  Go Britannia!  They promise a family festival of fun and – get this – diversity and they describe their event as a celebration of White European Culture.  However, the BBC’s Panorama report of previous RWB events challenges this wholesome image by claiming that when the camera’s were taken down so were the masks.  Racist jokes, straight-arm salutes and SS music to name but a few examples of hate.

I detest the BNP and everything it stands for but, sadly enough, they are a legitimate party and for as long as they are doing nothing illegal, they have the right to hold their fascist rally.  Of course the Camp for Climage Change people had the right to hold their rally too but that didn’t stop the police from harrassing them from the offset and trying to smear their campaign.  And it appears that the police are intending to be just as restrictive towards the BNP protesters. 

Sure, the BNP has the right to hold its xenophobic little hate-fest, but the anti-BNP groups have as much right to protest against it, such is our democratic privilege.  This is where that old civil rights issue might rear its rather uncivil head and it remains to be seen as to whether the police will react with any sense of proportion. 

Anyway, here’s my presentation of all the fun things the BNP say you can expect to enjoy at this year’s family BNP fun-fest:

  1. Appearance by Patriotic C&W Artist Traven Tucker.  Will present songs in a cultural educational context, ie, will contain not-very-subliminal messages about patriotism and more crucially, white supremacy.
  2. Folk Song competition.  All songs must be sung in English or any other European language.  The BNP is NOT racist and loves diversity.  However, any song entries in an inferior, non-white language will be disqualified immediately.  Entries must be submitted at the *Traditional* Food Hall by 1pm Saturday.  Traditional food being salt-soaked fish ‘n’ chips, mushy peas, liver ‘n’ onion and that delicious delicacy, black pudding.
  3. Home-brewed traditional beer competition.  Nick Griffin must not be permitted to take part in the judging because a few slurps of the hard stuff might result in him marching up and down the beer tent singing Third Reich military songs.  Sure, that would be good fun and all but some stray, England-bashing reporter might twist it all out of proportion and (gasp!) accuse him of being a neo-Nazi.
  4. Children’s Drawing and Poetry Competition.  To be inspired by the RWB.  The kiddies are given the chance to demonstrate in art form what they’ve learned from their not-at-all-racist parents about those evil muslims, those dreadfulsome Jews and those horrid black crime-lord gangs.
  5. Wide range of stalls selling Excalibur merchandise.  A chance to buy your swastika’s and other beloved Nazi memorabillia here.  Also available will be DVD’s and CD’s produced by the Great White Records label.
  6. Smoking bar.  Brave and rebellious challenge to the illiberal smoking ban.  In this room, you will also be able to purchase unhealthy snacks such as Mars bars, crisps and (gasp!) pork scratchings. And also available will be seafood sold by nubile young serving wenches lassies – because the BNP laughs in the face of political correctness.  Whoopy-doo.

 Oh, and there will be good old traditional Engish Morris Dancing – enough to make you weep.

For my Children ~

One of the most satisfying things about being a mother is having your kids play out freely in the sunshine all day long, where they can have themselves great and wondrous adventures and play magical make-believe games. Mucky and wild outdoor adventures are an endangered pastime, at risk of extinction by the growth of electronic products, multi-choice TV, the internet and parental over-protectionism. So this is my attempt to recapture the purity of kids at play. My middlie put her stamp of approval on it and encouraged me to publish, stating that she still believes in fairies, she made daisy chains with her friend the other day and just this morning she played on the tree swing across the road from our house with her brother. So there!

Days of Endless Funshine

No batteries required. Risk assessments forbidden. Imagination essential.

To the Young Girls

Skipping through the long grass. Linking arms and chattering about nonsense. They reached the little stream lined by birch trees and bramble bushes. They picked berries and waited for the faeries. They spotted two tiny silver wings fluttering among the shadows of the bushes and another two behind the rocks that formed stepping stones across the water. They gasped and made wishes. They held out their upturned hands hoping the enchanted faerie folk would come out to meet them. But the faeries were shy and made quick their leave when they saw the girls become distracted by the bright yellow butterfly that would lead them to the palace. They followed the butterfly up the banking and out into the meadow where they both dropped into the long grass. Ladybirds tickled their limbs as they sat and made endless daisy chains, one for each wrist and a crown each for their heads – Princesses for the day. They remembered the empty matchboxes in their pockets. They took them out and filled them with grass. They popped two ladybirds in each one to take home and keep forever but the little spotty beetles just wouldn’t be trapped and they crawled right out of the air holes that the girls had made previously with pencils. Dandelion clocks were used as microphones when the Princesses became pop idols but the seeds were too light and airy and blew away with all the shaking. The pop idols were young girls again and threw themselves onto the ground. They rolled down the grassy verge and giggled till they couldn’t stop at the vibrating sounds their shouts were making as each part of their body hit the ground. They landed clumsily at the bottom and led panting in the grass, squinting up at the blue sky. They rested, content and care-free – all the time in the world. They were immortal. They told each other their dreams while the birds sang nearby. When they got up, the birds flew away to deliver their dreams to the faeries. They strolled home together in comfortable silence, picking buttercups along the way and doing the butter test on each other. But the chatter was gone. No words were necessary. Best friends forever.

For the Young Boys

The two buddies charged down towards the stream, pockets armed with survival tools and food rations. They fought through the bramble bushes and the nettle jungle with their swords made out of twigs. They fished for newts with their nets and discovered frog spawn between the rocks. They agreed to come back next week to see if it had turned into tadpoles. After carefully lodging the net handles between the rocks and placing the nets into the water so that the captured newts wouldn’t die, they ran off downstream. Stepping stones are not needed for these brave warriors. They kicked water at each other and laughed out loud. They even managed to dodge the jaws of twenty-eight killer crocodiles while fending off the dragons that were attacking from above. They charged into the meadow where they found two huge snorting black stallions waiting for them. They mounted the magnificent steeds and galloped at full speed across the meadow. They had horse-back sword fights with their twigs and took turns at being the baddie. After slaying all the evil horsemen, they rode in silence through the eerie wilderness until they came upon an ancient woodland. The horses grazed while the boys played on an abandoned tree swing and swung themselves into space and back. As they swung up into space, they spotted an alien spacecraft spinning towards them so they ran for cover, loaded all their space-weapons and waited in ambush. The spacecraft crash-landed and a slimy green body crawled out of the port, gasping its last breath before the boys could reach it. Maybe they will dissect it later but for now, it’s time for a game of footie. They retrieved their ball from under the railway bridge and argued over who should be Fernando Torres. Six goals and a penalty shoot-out later, their tummies told them it was time to head off for home. Hot and hungry, beloved football tucked underarm, they whistled and marched all the way home, their only concern being what they were going to have for supper. Buddies for life.

And as a mother, it’s so rewarding to have your kids come in from a hard days play . . . sticky and hot, mucky and tired, sun-kissed faces full of freckles, and scrubbing them in a hot bath full of sweet smelling bubbles until they glow with health. Then, after watching them hungrily gobble up their supper, they climb into clean pyjama’s before curling up on the sofa to read a book that doesn’t finish because they’ve fallen fast asleep half way through.