Saturday, 24 May 2008

A message from Monty

Monty has asked me to pass on his apologies for the fact that he will be unable to post on his blog until next weekend. There are two reasons for this: firstly, his paw is bandaged up and secondly, we're off on our camping trip. No doubt he'll have plenty to say when we return.....

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Monty's Blog

Creatively, Monty is in full flow at the moment and so he is responding to Sarah's prompts instead of me. Please do comment because he gets despondent if he doesn't get any feedback and there's nothing worse than a grumpy dog moping around the house. Thank you.

Saturday, 17 May 2008

How to tame a wild tongue

The origins of the wild tongue are unknown although there have been accounts of its existence as far back as Roman times.

The possessor of a wild tongue is in perilous danger as there is no knowing just when it might strike. It can most commonly be observed in action in new and strange situations where the full force of its destructive capability is able to catch its prey unawares. This may well be evidence that it functions most effectively when suject to anxiety and is possibly fuelled by the surging of adrenalin but curiously, the wild tongue appears to be unaware of its effects upon its surroundings.

To catch a wild tongue, you must engage it in conversation but be warned: you must be prepared for attack. Mostly, the wild tongue will attack unprovoked and there have been less reported strikes where the victim had initiated the conversation. This could suggest that the wild tongue is disarmed by the initiation process or worryingly, that victims just aren't coming forward because of unwarranted feelings of guilt; this is unfortunate as it distorts the offical figures for reported attacks and it also means that these people aren't receiving the help they need.

Experts have observed that the wild tongue is uncomfortable in a group and the 'fight or flight' principle applies, with the most common choice being the former. The resulting aggressive behaviour is detrimental to group dynamics. The wild tongue should either be ignored or contained by consensus or by a recognised figure of authority. It is not unheard of for the wild tongue to be trained to sit quietly when requested. Full socialisation can be achieved over a long period under professional supervision.

Friday, 16 May 2008

The Exam

Please turn your exam paper over now. Please turn your exam paper over now. Please turn your exam paper over now. Perhaps you’re not hearing right.
Please turn your exam paper over now and empty the contents of your mind onto the paper. Whilst you’re at it, do it neatly so I can read it. Who am I? You’ll never know. All you need to know about me is that I have very exactly standards and if you don’t impress me, your life won’t be worth living. In fact, if you make a mess of it, you may as well give up. Alternatively, you could go through the humiliation of doing it all again next year.
Please turn your exam paper over now but do it at the same time as everyone else in the room. Don’t do it before or they’ll think you’re cheating. Don’t do it after everyone else because they’ll think you’re stupid.
Please turn your exam paper over now is uttered quietly, firmly, with a wry smile, a curl of encouragement in the lips or maybe a sneer from the teacher who predicted your failure.
Please turn your exam paper over now and no amount of wholegrains and fruit juice will save you; your mother’s voice wishing you luck diminishes to a tiny figure in your head, squeaking, shrinking, until she is mouthing silence and then she is just a dot.
Please turn your exam paper now and the silence is thick and pencils fall like heavy logs onto the wooden desk tops. Your nose starts to tickle as the pollen blows in through the open doors and the tissue on the top right corner of the desk sounds more like the page of a broadsheet as you crumple it in your sweaty fist.
Good luck.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

The number thirteen

On your thirteenth birthday, you inauspiciously enter the ranks of young citizens labelled ‘teenagers’. The consequence of this elevation from childhood to a chaotic void is a metaphorical target stamped on your back enabling the miseries who have already survived the experience to blame you for their misfortunes. The longer that their own teenage years have since passed, the greater the proportion of their misfortunes which can be directly related to those between the ages of thirteen and nineteen aligned with a decreasing measure of inhibition for the delivery of their opinions.
If you are staying in a hotel, there will be no Room Thirteen. If you have just driven for twelve hours, spent four of them crawling two miles past Birmingham, have two screaming children and your car radiator has burst, Room Thirteen will be the room that you thought you’d booked of which the receptionist has no knowledge whatsoever. In fact, she will be so convinced that she is absolved of responsibility that she will return to filing her nails whilst your back slides down the tomb-like desk and crouch on the marble floor, your head is in your hands and you’re crying.
It is bad form to have thirteen guests at the dinner table not least because that’s an awful lot of cooking for anyone.
The man at number thirteen is unlucky to have as a neighbour, being rather obsessed with the welfare of oak trees in your garden. So attached is he, that he takes photos of the men pruning them, of before you moved in and afterwards too. He insists on sharing these photos with you.
The thirteenth day of May was on Monday this week. On Monday, someone, somewhere was run over by a bus. Nothing good was ever going to come of thirteen.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Tender Things

Tender things are cosseted

In stratums of bone

Collected over years

And bound by their home.

Tender things are soft,

Formless and needy,

Peeking their heads

And quickly retreating.

Tender things look cold

And you’ll never touch

The warmth underneath

The shell is too much.

And as tides come and go

Over rocks dead of old

There’s no reason to leave now

With such tenderness to hold.

Maybe one day a ship

Will spew out its load

Of poison and debris

And make them let go.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

It's too late for this

It’s autumn and the thick, scored branches have begun to fade but over the years they have spread, embracing the garden and smaller inhabitants. I used to have to screw up my eyes to appreciate its form blending softly into the backdrop of fencing, overlook its furrows, its gnarled knots but now, the cloudiness of my vision allows me to do so without effort. Look at its trunk. Obviously, I don’t remember it as a young sapling but from what I can remember, it, too, has spread. Its drooping leaves have grown each year in proportion with its trunk, their canopy like a crinoline skirt swishing in the wind, its one flaw being the way the tenuous grasp of the fragile leaves can be exposed by a sudden gust.

At the beginning of springtime, there were sticky buds oozing honeyed mess all over the place, an attempt to scatter seeds and carry on the thread. Then there came the blossoms, conical cream candles waving in the breeze. But now, now their creaminess has faded to fawn; their shape just a memory from before it became hot and then cooled down to how it is now; but the scenario is different. Instead of hope, there is fulfilment and memories. Instead of the fresh scent of the first cut of the lawn, my focus is turned to the barnacle-like conkers beginning to swell. Soon, they will drop off and as they lay on the ground, children will be there on the other side of the fence to collect the spoils eagerly. I don’t mind this part, it’s natural. But I do object to the ones who come armed with weapons to be tossed into the air, bringing down the conkers before they are ready. I can sympathise with that now.