Sunday 30 August 2009

Haiku For Today

The view through my patio doors today is summed up in this Autumn Haiku - short and to the point.

Winds toss brown seed heads
on tall buddleia branches,
butterflies long gone.

Longer poetic offerings will resume once the muse returns - or possibly, after I receive a kickstart from anybody inclined to sort my ignition, which has apparently got damp recently... splutter, splutter, splutter...

P.S. Perhaps I should point out, this last refers to me - not a car! I don't have one of those...

Monday 24 August 2009

Harvest Time Again

Soul Food

Sun warmed tablecloth field
spread with feast of honey-gold corn,
shimmers in a heat wave heat haze,
while parallel lines of barley sugar ridges
twist, then converge at point of sight.

Ploughshares upturn toffee-coloured earth
to merge in sweetness with pale horizon,
providing food for the soul to digest
as eyes devour the bountiful beauty
of the harvest banquet laid before them.

Friday 21 August 2009

Are You Sitting Comfortably? Then I'll Begin...

Bearing in mind I'd been told to report to Queen Alexandra Hospital at 7.30am on 19th August, come with me now back to the 18th; 'Brrring, Brrring' went my telephone...
They were ringing to tell me I'd been moved to the afternoon list, and should report to St Mary's Hospital at 12.30pm.
Alarm bells rang. 'Are you sure it's St Mary's?' said I, confused. 'Yes, quite sure'. The determined voice on the other end of the 'phone assured me that was the right place. Okay.

I ordered a taxi for 11.45am Wednesday morning, and after a relatively wakeful night, was glad to be on the doorstep at last, waiting for the off...
No taxi. 'Phone firm and nudge 'em. Ten minutes late, taxi arrives and by 12 noon we were sitting in a traffic jam, still in Havant...
Luckily, driver knew a few crafty side roads, alleyways and factory backyards (!) and we headed towards Portsmouth. And met another traffic jam. Driver played a blinder for the second time, and took me on a circular tour through side roads until St Mary's eventually looms.

I enter a door marked Same Day Clinic, as I knew I was there for a day procedure.
'Day Surgery upstairs' said the receptionist.
Take lift up to first floor; approach another receptionist. 'Can't find you on the list', says she. Wave hoards of paperwork under her nose. 'Oh, you want Outpatients', was the verdict. Back downstairs, out into steaming noonday heat, limp across large car park to Outpatients. (I'd been a bit enthusiastic on the old exercise bike the day before, and one knee was showing its age.)
Another receptionist. 'Can't find you on the list', was the verdict. By now I was close to screaming, crying or having an apoplectic fit in frustration, as she then said 'You should be at Queen Alexandra's Hospital.


'Just a moment, I'll go and have a word with somebody', interjected a passing bod who had no doubt picked up on my fraught state.
Eventually I got the good/bad news - ' Yes, you are in the right place, but Day Surgery is in the Main Hospital...the other end of this building.'
Limp like a three legged dog through miles of corridors until, eventually, said 'Day Sugery' signpost restores my faith in human nature. . .
Which plummeted soon after, as there was no free cubicle for me to disrobe in. I was ushered into a nurses office with a couple of chairs, filing cabinets, computer and examination couch. Salubrious. They stuck a yellow Post-It label on the doorframe, with my name inscribed, and two plastic labels on my wrist, one with name, and one to signify 'Allergic to sticky-plaster and plastic.' You figure it out.
By some miracle, my blood pressure was an acceptable one thirty over seventy, which only goes to show what a placid person I am in times of stress.

A nurse and an anaesthetist double checked I was who I said I was, and more importantly, who they thought I was, and a lot more boxes were ticked on multi-coloured forms.
Mr Bevan, consultant, came and said hello and made reassuring noises, as consultants do.

Eventually, I was lead out to a cubicle, curtains were drawn and I put on the latest design in gowns - it had a cross-over back, instead of the old, totally open back - what joy. I then spent the next three hours ten minutes in a waiting room with thirteen others (six patients, including me, and the rest their family members) and waited. And waited. I started the day being first on the list, but ended up last - presumably because I didn't need a full anaesthetic, so would be compos mentis and ready to go home faster at the end of the day. At about quarter to five it was at last my turn to walk to the theatre for my one day only appearance, as you might say.

This was a totally fascinating experience. About eight bodies danced a medical ballet around the room, with me at centre stage. I saw yet another inside portion of my anatomy on a screen, complete with offending polyp, which was removed after a local anaesthetic had been injected, and before the hormonal coil was inserted. And that was me done. Off for a half hour or so in the recovery room next, with another medical ballet troupe dancing attendance, until I was finally wheeled to the lift, and down to the ward where I was fed two rounds of buttered toast, and given a jug of water.

Despite warnings about mobile 'phones, once I was the solitary occupant of the waiting room, I'd rung No. 1 Daughter who was sitting out on Southsea seafront, and she'd made her way to the Hospital to pick me up about half six, so I was home about seven. What a day!

All medics did a great job - don't ever knock the NHS -it was the clerical staff that were lacking in finesse, but all's well that ends, well, eh? Hope you all enjoyed the tale...

(P.S. Just realised this will be my 200th post - seems like a good time to tell all!)

Thursday 20 August 2009

Post Op

Well, the 19th came and went, complete with awaited hospital procedure. As I'm am still under the 24 hour, post anaesthetic 'no operating machinery, no signing important documents' etc etc, I shall leave it at that - apart form saying Hi! and Thanks! to everyone who left a comment on the 'Breavin' On The Window-pane' poem I regaled you with the day before.
As Marion St John Webb wrote many, many more in the same vein, I shall leave you with another little gem from the same book:-

Timothy Jupp

I'm glad I'm gooderern Timothy Jupp,
He screams at whatever I do.
An' Timothy's fatter an' biggeren me -
I don't think he aught to, do you? . . .

He's screamin' again - 'cos we each had a sweet,
an' somehow I've swallowed his too.

You can now go and build up your strength before I get to tell you all about the many delights (!) of Wednesday - as only a napple could...

Monday 17 August 2009

In Hiding?

In an idle moment this afternoon, I picked up my copy of 'The Littlest One His Book' and began leafing through the well loved pages...
The poems and illustrations are all old friends of mine, but just as with people, there's always the chance to notice something new, despite the number of years shared together.

I suddenly registered the fact I'd been mentioned by name (sort of) in this tale. See how fast you can spot me?

Breavin' On The Window-Pane

It's cold and grey an' still outside,
And everything is wet with rain.
I'm standing on the cushion seat
And breavin' on the window-pane,
An' drawin' pictures with me 'and.
The window's high against the sky -
I can't see out unless I stand.

I've drawn a house an' chimley-pot;
I've drawn a man an chil'den too,
A napple an' a toasting fork,
An' someone who is jus' like you,
And Gran'ma sittin' in the rain.
The pane's so small I've filled it all,
And 'speks I'll have to breave again.

But Jane has spoilt it now; she says
I want a whippin' - an' I don't.
She's rubbed the window clean, and says
She'll fetch a policeman - but she won't.
And now she's gone downstairs again . . .
I'm breavin' on the window-pane.
I'll draw a nugly one of Jane.

Saturday 15 August 2009

Hear (?) And Now

Saturday Soliloquy

The sound of traffic's motorway madness
forms a ceaseless background noise, a hum,
which grows in volume with the gusting wind.
A siren wails - police or ambulance;
an unrelenting Saturday furore
of life lived in the fast lane. Not for me;
I contemplate the August plenitude
of green and luscious plants' late-summer burst,
exuberant productions running wild
before the dying year curtails their growth.
A nearby building site adds noise of drills,
burring and whirring. A car horn toots.
Perhaps the patio door is best left closed
until a Sunday silence greets the world.

Wednesday 12 August 2009

K1, P1, K2tog

This title has to be read phonetically - so that it sounds like ' kuh wun puh wun kuh too tog'. For the uninitiated, who have never even SEEN a knitting pattern, let alone attempted to read one, I'd like to give an idea of how fascinating they can become, when you view them in this light.

My cousin, Betty, introduced me to the noble art of pattern reading. Otherwise, I may have gone my entire life simply translating the abbreviations as 'knit one, purl one, knit two together'. This, no doubt, is the prosaic interpretation which many knitters may use. But once get into the habit of Betty's idea, and a knitting pattern will forever be seen in a new light.

When the garment being constructed has a lacy pattern produced by a series of holes, the reading becomes more and more interesting. K1, P1, K2tog, Wfwd, Sl1, K1, PSSO, P1, K1, for example. Wfwd = wool forward, Sl1 = slip one, PSSO= pass the slipped stitch over. So the line would read:-
' kuh wun puh wun kuh too tog, wuh fwud, sluh wun kuh wun, puh suh suh och' , as near as I can come up with relevant sounds.

Now you can all scurry away into a darkened room, armed with a knitting pattern, and practise the art for yourselves. Be prepared, however, for a visit from several little men in white coats, possibly bearing a straight jacket.

I dedicate this poem to my niece and sister-in-law, who have recently joined the ranks of knitters. Long may their needles twiddle.

Knitting Up A Storm

Knit one, purl one, knit two tog …
What an idea for my blog -
a knitter's poem! I declare!
I never thought to see one there.

Slip one, pass the slip stitch over…
knitters swoon in fields of clover
as pretty patterns soon ensue
with clever stitches, two by two.

Rib or garter, moss or plain…
a stitch can have a lovely name,
and lead us on to learn another,
till we join them all together.

Thus a garment comes to life…
occasionally with some strife.
Too large? Or just a little small?
Knitters need be on the ball!

Tuesday 11 August 2009

Early Morning Non-Poem Poem.

Four thirty, and I'm wide awake.

Today the bin men come.

Should I put the rubbish out?

Their juggernaut appears at seven.

If I fall back fast asleep
and miss the whole shebang,
I'd have to wait for fourteen days
until they come again.

Monday 10 August 2009

In Pensive Mood

It's not often I decide for sure what I will write about next. I prefer 'following my nose', or my intuition - or do I mean inspiration? This morning is no different. Although childhood games would have been the logical follow on from the previous post, that was not the subject that fought its way to the surface of my mind, once I sat before the screen. Instead, I had to let loose an idea which had been triggered by an email I received a couple of days back, in reply to a comment I'd left on Kathleen's blog.

I had a hovering image in my head of birds migrating, and it wouldn't let me be. The thought of a trigger mechanism which dictated when they would begin, and where these epic journeys would lead, made me think how similar my plight was, as I set my mind free to fly through the realms of inspiration. I never know where it will alight, or what the outcome will be. I have to simply trust the flight will end somewhere, and give a positive result.

You begin to see the similarities? When birds, or butterflies, come to that, brave the elements to fly untold miles across the face of the Earth, what assurance do they have that their efforts will have been worthwhile? None at all. But could they ignore the inner, overwhelming desire to find out? I think not.

This, then, is the result of my latest foray into the land of poetry. It's another of those 'works in progress', I suppose, so bear with me if it's a little rough round the edges. It needed to hatch from its egg today.

Fly Away

Birds collecting for migration;
they'll be off soon to find the sun.
I follow, in imagination,
travelling with them. We are one.

Each body fuelled by inborn urge;
'Up, away, come fly, come fly!'
From the first day they emerge,
this silent voice they can't deny.

It drives them; gives them strength to fight
against the wind's capricious play,
mile after mile in ceaseless flight
they'll valiantly pursue their way.

Could they choose, would they ignore
this inner, overwhelming force;
adapt, and face what lay in store,
as seasons follow their set course?

Sunday 9 August 2009

The Games Children Play

6.30 am on a Sunday morning, and here I am, in front of the computer, wondering 'Now, how to amuse them today?' as the line goes in that wonderful poem by A A Milne. What, you've never read it? Then here goes:-


Christopher Robin had wheezles and sneezles,
they bundled him into his bed;
they gave him what goes with a cold in the nose
and some more for a cold in the head.

They wondered if wheezles could turn into measles,
if sneezles would turn into mumps;
they examined his chest for a rash, and the rest
of his body for swellings and lumps.

They sent for some doctors in sneezles and wheezles
to tell them what aught to be done.
All sorts and conditions of famous physicians
came hurrying round at a run.

They all made a note of the state of his throat,
they asked if he suffered from thirst;
they asked if the wheezles came after the sneezles -
or if the first sneezle came first.

They said, 'If you teasle a sneezle or wheezle,
a measle may easliy grow;
but humour or pleasle the wheezle of sneezle,
the wheezle will certainly go.'

They expounded the reasles for sneezles and wheezles,
the manner of measles was new.
They said, 'If he freezles in draughts and in breezles,
then phtheezles may even ensue. '

Christopher Robin got up in the morning,
the sneezles had vanished away,
and the look in his eye seemed to say to the sky
'Now, how to amuse them today?'

As I wrote the title of the post, I fully intended to waffle on about a few childhood games my Gran and my Mum told me about, once upon a time. But having copied out these verses for the uninitiated amongst you, ( if there are any?), I thought 'Enough is enough!' I shall desist from elaborating upon those until another day, and let you simply revel in the Sneezles - the germ free way...

P. S. Splellchecker has just had a fit - sneezles and wheezles are not for him!

Thursday 6 August 2009

Coronation Day?

I've heard of the crowned heads of Europe... But never in my wildest dreams, did I expect to be amongst their number. However, Blogland never ceases to amaze. What did I find this morning, but that Bernie had plonked a glittering crown on my unsuspecting head. I wondered why I'd found it so difficult to raise my brainbox from the pillow as I opened my eyes this morning...

Bernie, dear Bernie, I can tell you have but lately decided to visit my Blogland castle. Otherwise you could not have failed to hear me maligning the whole awards industry. All those poor pixels being pushed around to create a plethora of IT Oscars, make me weep. I never add to their burden by making them rush to umpteen other Blogbods.

As for the attendant rules and regulations of how many secrets we should reveal about our noble kingdom, or our Royal Selves, well ! Noblesse does most certainly not Oblige on this count.

The Royal Coffers are becoming full to bursting with 22 carat, gold plated awards, and frankly, the insurance premiums are beginning to bother me. No more, kind subjects, no more, prithee.

Monday 3 August 2009

Toilet Humour, Possibly....

In the world of today I'm sitting at the computer. Set your time warp button back to 7th April last year, and you will find I was in front of the same computer then, pondering, while two workmen were endeavouring to bring my bathroom into the twenty first century.

I moved into this house in July 1992. The previous occupants had decorated the bathroom walls with a thick, pseudo wood effect paper, which was probably vinyl of some sort on top of a springy, backing layer about a sixteenth of an inch in thickness. There was no way I could afford to replace it, so to camouflage various holes left there by the removal of their bathroom fittings, I spent an hour or two with the closest matching pattern available in sticky back plastic, trying to match the 'grain' of the pseudo wood as I laboriously patched over the gaps. If I say so myself, the end result was pretty good. Unless you knew where to look, the patches didn't scream 'here I am!' So we lived together harmoniously enough.
With the lump sum payment I got when I retired from the Inland Revenue, I promised myself to get the old bath removed and have a proper shower cabinet instead, together with a modern toilet and basin.

A couple of years ago, I began the search for a reliable firm to carry out the transformation. Thanks to the Internet, I managed to do a lot of research into the ins and outs of available choices of fixtures and fittings, which left me with the task of finding a plumber/ builder to carry out the renovation. Hmm….

I originally tried to arrange interviews with four candidates for the job; the first kept calling me 'darling' and was disqualified out of hand; the second failed to materialise; the third suggested I visit his showroom, but when my son attempted to take us there, we never managed to find it, and the fourth 'phoned back with a quote for the whole job - nothing down on paper- and with a ' nudge, nudge, wink, wink, ' said he'd not charge VAT if I paid cash. As a former Inland Revenue employee, this was an absolute no-no.

So it was back to square one.

Eventually I saw a charming gent from Aqua Bathrooms, got quotes, plans, plus details of fixtures and fittings, and the work began, at last.

It went really well - until the loo had been plumbed in, and they asked me to come and look at the work. AARRGGHH! The wrong loo had been delivered, and instead of the wonderfully streamlined, curvaceous one I'd asked for, there before me sat the most atrociously bulbous, ridged and convoluted monstrosity beyond my wildest dreams - or rather- nightmares. No problem, said the plumber. It could be changed.

Off went another order, and a further week went by to await its delivery.

Then the offending loo was removed, and new one plumbed in. It immediately became obvious, the pan was slightly skewed, as the purpose designed seat only touched the rim on one side, and each time one lowered one's posterior in its direction, there was a disconcerting 'clonk' as the seat settled on to the pan.

Off went another order, and a further week went by to await its delivery.

Then came a call from Aqua - the newly delivered loo was as badly mis-shapen, if not worse, than the other. So we were back to square one.

Off went another order, and a further week went by to await its delivery.

Have you noticed the tedious repetition of this hallowed phrase, folks?

Fortunately, this loo, of a different and highly reputable make, was absolutely fine, a joy to behold as well as comfortable to sit on. But who else, I ask you, would need four loos to find one acceptable?!

I cannot speak highly enough of the firm, Aqua Bathrooms, who contended with all this trauma. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend them to anyone, but I'd warn everyone off choosing a glamorous looking loo made in Portugal. The catalogue picture may be a delight to the eye, but the actual article could turn out to be anything but!

Sunday 2 August 2009

A Saturday Surprise Of The wrong Sort!

Finally, one part of the medical profession has agreed that a blood glucose reading of 7.4 put me on the diabetic scale. The other part, the Hormone Watch, has yet to have their wicked way with me. Anyhow, Friday morning saw me closeted with the nurse, while she explained the do's and dont's, gave me half a tree's worth of booklets and leaflets, and a cunning device for DIY measuring. This had the happy name of FreeStyle Lite. And yes, it did have a capital letter in the middle of a word.

She also provided a prescription for the little strips that work by capillary action to suck my blood(!) and the lancets that make this possible without need to slit my wrists for a sample. Fine. I duly presented Boots Chemist with the slip, and toddled home with the resultant bag of goodies.

I then had great fun reading all the literature, and trying out the new gadgets. Here I need to explain.The tiny needles are encased in a blue plastic holder, which slips into the round hole in the electronic monitor.

When I opened the box of 100 lancets, they were grey - and square. And we all know of the square peg-round hole syndrome.
I failed to convince Boots, when I phoned, that there had been a mistake, and was asked to take everything in on Saturday, for them to inspect.

At this point, Sod's Law came into force. Saturday was grey and wet. No walking in Birkenstock, bare toed comfort, for boots, raincoat and hat were obviously needed. My little black leather ankle boots had hibernated in the shoe cupboard, but on inspection, seemed to be wearable still. Off I trotted, once clad, and eventually the Boots pharmacist agreed the square/round problem, and said they'd have words with the surgery on Monday.

I headed homeward, trundling trusty shopping trolley before me, head down against the elements. By the time I reached the homeward straight, I noticed my two feet were not making the same sound as I walked; the right seemed to squelch. I put this down to my favouring one foot, due to somewhat wonky right knee, and thought no more of it.

Once inside the front door, I took off soggy mac and cap and headed down the passage to sit in a chair so's I could unlace the boots. This is where the surprise came in. Both soles had disintegrated, the right one more than the left, and when I glance back down the passage, there was a trail of crumbled, black, sponge like substance left in my wake... Just as well I'd not had to walk through any puddles. As it was, my right sock had just begun to show signs of sogginess, though the left was unscathed.

I've never had a pair of boots die on me before. It goes to prove the old adage, there's a first time for everything.

P.S. Please note, folks , they were NOT Wellingtons! I don't have Wellington shaped feet. I have Birkenstok shaped feet - wide and square at the toes.

Saturday 1 August 2009

Comments Sometimes Need Special Answers

I've never felt it satisfactory to reply to comments left on napple notes, by leaving a comeback in the same place! Who has time to read a post and comments for the second time, to see whether the Blog Owner has answered a question?

Many of my readers, who have supplied an alternative email address, will know I carry on conversations with them 'behind the scenes'. But occasionally, the urge to 'answer back' to a follower who remains a little incognito, is too strong to ignore.

Yesterday gave a good example. Friko said, and here I quote:-

"Poetry is so very hard to translate; who said "poetry is what gets lost in translation"? I am no poet, don't even consider myself a writer; I have, however, tried to read translations of foreign poetry to members of poetry groups who do not know the original language and it's always fallen flat. Words that can move me to tears leave them cold.
I hate that that should be so, I hate that I can't "make" others see and feel and taste and smell the poets who mean the most to me.
Oh dear, Jinksy, you have hit a nerve."

This so exactly captured the reason why I wrote out the translations as near as possible in the order of the original. And why, after Kathy B! had said:-

"This is so beautiful and the literal translation is wonderful to read.
It's interesting to read something exactly as it was intended to be
read, albeit minus some of the cadence that might have been in the
foreign, original words. Hopefully that made sense."

I emailed her this reply:-

"I could give you the gist of the rhythm of the first verse of Pastel:-

dah di di dah di di dah dah di dah
dah dah di dah di dah di dah dah
dah dah di dah di dah di di dah
dah di dah dah di di dah di dah dah

Hopefully, that makes sense, too!"

I think Friko will understand this, maybe better than anybody.

Moving from French to German for a moment, there's a verse by Goethe which etched itself in my memory, too, in some long ago German lesson. Once I'd got to Art College and discovered the delights of brush lettering, the first two lines are the ones which gave me a phrase to use in a project to practise the new skill. But that's another story. Here's the poem:-

Über allen Gipfeln
Ist Ruh',
In allen Wipfeln
Spürest Du
Kaum einen Hauch;
Die Vögelein schweigen im Walde.
Warte nur! Balde
Ruhest du auch.

I did a literal translation of this too, for somebody else, but it was less than satisfactory, as the difference in syntax between English and German destroyed the 'soul' of the poem. That's why I finally settled for this rendition:-

Peace lies over the mountains.
No movement is discernible
in the tall treetops.
Woodland birds call, then roost.
Wait patiently!
Soon peace will claim you.

And the conclusion from all of today's mitherings? I guess Weaver's prompt to explain what inspired me to write poetry, has highlighted the exact reason. It's not the beauty of any one language, but its inherent lilt and flow that captured my heart from the earliest years, when, with bombs still forming a background to life, a very special Auntie would read me the poems of Marion St John Webb and A A Milne.