Immigrant’s Song: a Poetic Blog

Fee

You pick it up like cigarette or a mint,

roll it round in your fingers try the heft of it

try on the accent like a cap feel it slip

don’t you ecky thump me you dumb ass thick git

Fi

I have worn my flat cap, I have seen

the smiles which we provoke,

you in your cap, me in me cap.

Shall I get a duffle coat

to wrap this foreign body in?

Or, if an anorak, shall I be forced

to spot trains, not merely ride in them?

Fo

Dare I eat a gooseberry?

Dare I pronounce it?

Fum

I practice my “ooo” sounds

like some run round ragged rocks.

Say them now: Duke, tulip,

Dewsbury.

Eee

The next person to mention

Trump, Vietnam, The Deer Hunter,

Laredo, will get a clip right up yo’ head

By

Oh, bring me me flat cap,

a bit o’ black pudding!

I shall carry white roses.

I shall drink my beer strong,

my tea weak!

The fish shall lay down

with the chip,

the eh

with the up.

Gum

h

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A List of Things Currently Missing In Action (MIA), Most Likely in Our Bedroom

  1. My specs. (1)
  2. My Sun Specs (2)
  3. A small statue of the Egyptian god Thoth, in his baboon form.
  4. My Kindle (3)
  5. A beautiful orange & gold blouse, the gift of old friends
  6. A semi-see through, black-and-red witchy blouse (I believe it says, “Protected by Witchcraft”) (4)
  7. Earrings. Approx 5 single ones
  8. A way to open one of the drawers under my side of the bed (5)
  9. My small collection of Space Pens (6)
  10. My cash card (7)
  11. My self help book (8)
  12. My 2nd 2020 diary (the Tesco one)
  13. My ability to sleep, in particular, without hurling

(1) Yes I know: if I could find my glasses, maybe I’d have more success finding everything else. V funny.

(2) Do you sense a trend starting?

(3) It’s in a pink case, ffs. How did I manage to lose that??

(4) I’m reasonably certain approx where the two blouses are. I want to find them whilst they still fit.

(5) OK not a thing in the sense of the others, but I sure hope I can find the knowledge soon. I have several pp of diary to find & flame.

(6) Just as likely to have been lost at my last job. They were great for slipping into your pocket to use when needed.

(7) Not stolen: no one else has used it but me.

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A Number of Frozen Balloons

The smile (?) on the face of the snowman

Feeling a bit frozen this weekend – no, not that – due to a heavy snowfall, and life events.

Heavy for round here that is, it isn’t the snow of my Michigan childhood and young adulthood. Yesterday I did something I haven’t done in a very long time: went out by myself and took pictures. Specifically, pictures of the nearby Hyde Park Cemetery, where I’m one of the Friends.

Cross of Sacrifice, with a snow covered poppy wreath on its base.

I suspect this blog is going to be mainly pictures. I was supposed to be writing with an online group today, but for whatever reason they didn’t get in touch. I don’t feel up to the detective novel, though I wrote nearly a thousand words on Thursday, and edited the whole document yesterday. Sometimes I write a blog when I can’t write anything else.

Back to “Frozen”, I’ve never seen it: I don’t have a child, and my mother disapproved of Disney; I think it was the art. My mother was a woman of strong opinions.

I’ve just listened to the song, however. I remember working with a colleague who was a father of three, who said there was something very strange about listening to a three-year-old singing “let it go”. What did they have to let go of? he asked. I don’t know about three-year-olds, but I can remember being an absolutely terrified nine, caught up in a situation which for whatever reason I can’t remember, I couldn’t tell anyone about: not my parents, not my teacher, not even my big sister.

Leaning gravestones at Hyde Park Cemetery

I’ve shared before my interest in cemeteries, and how an acquaintance thought it was odd that I was involved with the Friends, despite not having any family members buried there.

Why 99 Frozen Balloons? Well this was the song that was in my head when I started to write this. Don’t ask me why, I don’t claim to be totally in control of my subconscious mind. I’m not sure if I’d be a better, or worse, writer if I was.

The snowman, and nothing but the snowman … except the wall he was leaning against, of course

Part of the reason I’m feeling frozen is that I am still in a bit of shock over last week’s events at the Capitol, and the subsequent seeming denial of President Trump to take any responsibility for what happened. I wrote a poem about it earlier this week, titled “You’re Special”.

I also witnessed an event last night which I wish I hadn’t, and has left me a a bit shook up ever since. I’m not being coy about it, just think writing about it in any detail at this point would be a mistake.

Stay warm, stay creative, and stay safe.

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Stuck

Julian Least-Weasel the 23rd: art by Tom Brown, from “When Stoats Go Wrong”

Right now, I’m typing & writing away with the members of the London Writers’ Salon.

Except I’m not. The group holds Zoom meetings, and despite having taken part in numerous such meetings, I still struggle with technology.

And writing.

In my last blog, I talked about how I was going to re-submit rejected stories, rather than put them on my blog. Which is why you’re reading this, and not “The Sky Came Down”, a fable about power.

My main focus should -ah, that word again- be my detective novel, “Love in the Time of Covid 19”. Which I need to re-title, as most people read to escape, and apparently aren’t attracted by books which are about – or imply they’re about – the pandemic.

Lockdown, and the lack of a Mon – Fri 9 – 5 job (1), means plenty of time for writing. Except, of late, it doesn’t. Because I’m stuck.

Also known as writers’ block, stuck means I don’t know what happens next. Or is this simply that, once again, I’m bumping against perfectionism? The fear that whatever I write, it will be wrong?

Is it possible to go wrong with a first draft? Particularly if you’re the sort of writer that’s a “pantser” rather than a plotter? In other words, prone to writing by the seat of your pants, rather than according to a plan.

I read a book which was called something like “How to Write a Novel in a Week” . The author did indeed write a novel in a week, and said something along the lines that 2nd drafts, etc., weren’t needed. This may be true for him, but it isn’t for me. My one published novel, “The Wood Cutter’s Son“, took several drafts. So have my other, so far unpublished, novels.

What does this all have to do with Julian Least-Weasel? He’s one of the main characters in “When Stoats Go Wrong!”, the title story in the short Story Collection of the same name. The collection is a sequel of sorts to “Koi Carpe Diem”, and features tales of my alt. Doncaster, with its sentient cats, mythical creatures, and, apparently, weasels and stouts. There’s also an ancient university, the setting for part of “Stoats”.

Boswell “Bozzie” Badger, cosplaying the 4th Doctor. Art by Tom Brown.

The stories are all written. Artist Tom Brown of “Hopeless, Maine” fame has created beautiful art for each story, including a colour picture of Mr Least Weasel. I’ve even paid for it.

So why haven’t I self-published it (yet)?

Good question.

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Cancer, Running, & Me

Lakeside, Doncaster: one of my favourite walking and running spots

I’ve blogged before about running, and cancer, though not at the same time. The former has been a part of my life, on and off – more off than on, of late – since elementary school. Running was about the only physical activity I was any good at. This stayed with me throughout university, where my attempt at karate was pitiful, to say the least. Jogging, and folk dance, went better.

Cancer only came into my life in 2016, when I was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer. It was a shock, and though I went through the treatment process well, it obviously didn’t go as swimmingly as it appeared. As writer friend Nimue Brown put it, cancer “pokes at our mortality issues”.

I’ve run the Race for Life many times, first in Sheffield, and later in Doncaster. This year will be the first time I’ve taken part since my own diagnosis.

Running the Race is part of my unwritten (1) list of New Year’s Resolutions. They are:

  1. Get vaccinated against Covid 19
  2. Run a 5k (Race for Life)
  3. Run a 10k (Percy Pud, a hilly run up and down rural Sheffield (2)
  4. Finish the detective novel
  5. Join the Romantic Novelists’ Assoc. (RNA) New Writers’ Scheme (3)
  6. Submit some of my writing for publication and/or pay
  7. Get a new job
  8. Revive the “Book It!” radio show if possible

Fulfilling 2 & 3 above mean training. I’ve set myself the goal of walking/jogging three days a week, preferably weekdays, so I can slob about at weekends.

Just now, I’m waiting for my husband to come back from food shopping so I can go out for a walk/jog – I’ve done very little running, so far. I’ve recently acquired a pair of “running gloves”, part of my attempt to get more kitted out. Also, it’s cold out there.

If you’d like to encourage me on my quest to get fitter, and less creaky, feel free to do so by turning out at Town Fields, Doncaster, to watch me not finish last (4). Even better, why not join me, wherever you may be, and run yourself? (5) Finally, you can donate to my “Just Giving” page at: https://fundraise.cancerresearchuk.org/page/sheilas-race-for-life-490212

Whatever your resolutions for 2021 may be, I wish you well: in body, and in mind.

Another view of Lakeside

(1) Until now
(2) So called because you receive a Christmas pudding if you finish
(3) I tried, but was too late registering
(4) The last two races I participated in were both 10ks, and I finished last both times. I did finish, however!
(5) I’d love some company

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Trump, Mindfulness, and Unicorns

Unicorn ornament which I made many years ago

Listening to a copy of a recent phone call between President Trump and the Secretary of State for Georgia made me feel 1) sad for the people who had to listen to Trump for the vast majority of the hour-long call, and 2) of Mindfulness. Also 3) unicorns.

I’ll explain the unicorn bit. Honest. But first, hold your unicorns.

Honestly, I think if I had to listen to someone like Trump go on and on about how he hadn’t, couldn’t, wouldn’t have lost the November election to Joe Biden would have had me chucking down the phone, and looking for the nearest doorway. That, or mentally counting the days until the President-elect is sworn in (20 January, so not long now).

Where does Mindfulness come into this? Based on my limited study and application of it, Mindfulness comes in everywhere, and every when. At its most basic, Mindfulness is about living in the present moment. It can be great for replacing the “chattering monkeys” of overthinking.

Regarding the Trump call, I’m thinking of a particular aspect of Mindfulness, acceptance. Acceptance, as I’ve wrote before, doesn’t mean liking an unpleasant thing. It’s about accepting that it exists, that it’s happened. Which Trump, nearly two months on from the event, seems unable/unwilling to do.

I’m not one to talk, really. I have really struggled with accepting that certain things have happened – and that, other than write about them, there’s little to nothing I can do about them.

I am getting better. I recently accepted that membership of a certain group was simply not to be, at least not this year. I’ve also accepted that there is no point regretting certain things about my past. In one case, my regret is chiefly around the pain and worry I caused others. In my heart of hearts, I know that dwelling on and overthinking my regrets would simply drive me down, thus doing no favours to the people I feel I’ve wronged.

Will Trump ever learn to accept the results, and the follow up on those results, of the election? Time alone will tell. His track record is allegedly not very good when it comes to losing, but we’re never too old to change.

As for unicorns, I love them. I have limited my hording instincts so that I have relatively few images of them. I love films which feature them, artwork featuring them, and stories about them, such as James Thurber’s fable, “The Unicorn in the Garden”.

But I accept that they don’t exist, and outside of the above, I’m never going to see one.

Ok, so if you’re past puberty that’s not such a hard one to accept. Others, like forgiving my childhood bully, have been much harder and longer in coming. But I seem to be getting better at dealing with disappointment.

I hope you deal with your own regrets with acceptance, and, yes love.

Bright blessings to us all this new year.

A unicorn, at last: drawing by Tom Brown, from “Koi Carpe Diem”
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Salesman of the Years

Cthulu loved the 70s: art by Tom Brown, colouring by me

“I want to return this year.”

“Why?”

“It’s defective,” she replied.

The salesman picked it up, shook it, checked the plug, then set it down on the showroom floor.

“Why, what’s wrong with it?” he asked.

“What’s wrong with it? What’s right with it? The pandemic; Brexit; policemen killing black men; mental health problems due to enforced isolation, flooding …”

“Okay, okay, let’s see what we have on the lot.”

The woman followed the salesman outdoors to an asphalt field which was spotted with rain. He picked up a box. It was gold; tied with a big red bow, and stained with mud, and what looked like blood.

“That?” the customer all but shouted. “You’re offering me that? What is it?”

“A fascinating year: world changing, as a matter of fact.”

“Which year is it?”

“1918.”

“What!” She really was shouting this time. “1918? Are you insane? Another, even worse pandemic – the Spanish Flu killed millions, for fuck’s sake!”

“Yes, but that was just the end of 1918 – “

“ – whilst the rest of the year was devoted to a World War!” the customer cut in angrily.

“Okay, okay.” The Salesman walked the customer to another part of the lot. “What about this one? If you trade in this year against it, I can let you have it for peanuts.”

“What is it?” she said suspiciously.

“A year full of celebrations, people dancing in the street, parties which – “

“ – I meant, what year is it?”

“1945.”

“What IS it with you and war?” she asked.

“Help add pepper to a year, don’t ya know.”

“No thanks.”

“Be that way,” the Salesman muttered to himself. “How about this one? “ he asked, picking up another box. “1976.”

“Drought,” she said.

“2010?”

“That was the year I got divorced.”

“1980?”

“That was the year I was born.”

“And what’s wrong with that? A true new beginning.”

“My parents split up.”

The salesman stood quietly for a moment. “Tell you what. Let’s walk back to the showroom. I think I have just what you need.”

“What is it?”

“You’ll see,” he said.

Inside the showroom, the salesman held out a box which, like the others, was gold with a red ribbon. Unlike the others, there wasn’t a spot on it.

The customer looked at the tag. “2021?”

“You’re welcome,” the salesman said.

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