‘The Hawks and Sparrows of Mind Distortion’

Predictive Text

 

I wonder how many of my readers use Predictive Text when composing directly onto their computer screen.  Some of you may already have used it, if only to play a ‘Predictive Text’ game to see what amusement can be produced by giving the computer a free run at its own Artificial Intelligence.

When working on my tablet or mobile  phone I use the  Swiftkey Keyboard.  I do from time to time find the predicted words of use, but normally I just ignore the computer’s suggestions and plough on with my own ideas.

I only recently realised that whole phrases were often being suggested and I recently found it an amusing, if potentially mind-shrivelling, exercise to let the computer take control and suggest whole passages to me  – without any of my own input.

At each typing entry SwiftKey presents me with  three options. Based presumably on its ‘artificial intelligence’ take on the countless words I had previously written, and I reproduce below the ‘essay’ it composed on my use solely of the central option, that being, I believe, the computer’s main suggestion for continuation.

I have merged together, in the sequence presented to me, the many phrases suggested for my consideration.  The passage includes no punctuation.

 

Predictive Text 1 (Centre Word) . . .

I have attached my resume for your reference and hope to hear from you soon as I am currently working on the same for you and I will be there for 2pm or just after the interview on the 29th November as I am currently working on the first day of my graduation course at the University of Southampton and I have been working on the project management role at the University of Edinburgh for the last three weeks and I have been working with the hawks and sparrows of mind distortion to work with the team to work with the team to help with the hawks and sparrows of mind distortion to work with the team to work with the team to help with the hawks and sparrows of mind distortion.

( ‘The hawks and sparrows of Mind Distortion’ indeed! . . . or just a bad day at the office perhaps!? )

 

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MY OWN THOUGHTS ON THE SUBJECT . . .

It sort of makes sense
But then again
There is no structure
No refrain

No easy flow
From line to line
No end in view
Merely moonshine

And yet it makes
A kind of sense
However daft
However dense

So when I write
My poetry
Why not indulge
In hyperbole

And let predictive text
Take over
Replace my muse
With robot composure.

 

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‘Play Dead’ – Two Word Tale #13

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‘Play Dead’ – Two Word Tale #13

We laugh as our pets are taught to ‘Play Dead’.  Children too love to do the same, and there are numerous childhood games which involve encouraging the participants to maintain silence or stillness for as long as possible. Such games are often used as a means (a bribe even) of calming excited children down.  The ones I have come across, often involving a musical background, include the classic freeze-game of ‘Statues’ or ‘Play Dead’. . Then there are the closely related ‘Sleepy Lions’ and ‘Dead Donkey’, which similarly require that sudden and prolonged stillness.

This further ‘Two-Word Tale’ of mine tells such a mini-story.

To-day
I said
Let’s play
A game.
‘Play Dead’
Its name,
No fear
Or dread
You just
Play Dead.
So that’s
Its name
– You’ll like
The game.

Lie down
Be still
Don’t frown
Strong will
Stand firm
Stay put
Don’t squirm
Nor ‘Tut’.

I’m judge
Yes me,
Keep watch
To see
Who blinks
Who sighs
Who winks
Who cries

So off
We go.
Don’t move
Lie still
You need
To prove
You’re dead
Not ill.

Yes George,
You twitched.
Your nose
It itched?
Oh well
Too bad
You fell?
Poor lad.

Don’t Boo!
You did.
Yes you,
Not Sid.
You were
The first
Not her,
To sneeze
To stir
To wheeze.

You’re out
You moved,
I shout,
That proved
You can’t
be dead
Don’t moan
I said.

Yes, it’s
A shame,
But all
The same,
You know
I said,
It’s just
A game.

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London

[ Photo Gallery # 88 }

A few of my photographic memories of a stroll through central London and the City on a beautiful warm summer’s day in 2005. 

 

London 2005 (0)

Looking upriver from Waterloo Bridge towards Big Ben, the London Eye and the Houses of Parliament

London 2005 (2)

Looking down-river from Waterloo Bridge towards St.Paul’s Cathedral and the City

London 2005 (3)

View  of St.Paul’s Cathedral across the River Thames from the top of the Tate Modern Gallery

London 2005 (4)

The dome of St.Paul’s Cathedral looking north across the Millennium Footbridge

London 2005 (5)

The dome of St.Paul’s Cathedral looking north across the Millennium Footbridge – 2

London 2005 (6)

View to the east from the Millennium Footbridge towards Tower Bridge

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London 2005 (7)

Street entertainer on the South Embankment of the Thames – Waterloo Bridge in the background

London 2005 (8)

Office block in the City

London 2005 (9)

London Guildhall – exterior

London 2005 (10)

London Guildhall – interior – the excavated remains of the Roman Amphitheatre discovered beneath the foundations of the Guildhall.

London 2005 (11)

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London 2005 (13)

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MIND GAMES

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‘Mind Games’ … WHB – 1956

MIND  GAMES

 

Enigmatic
Covert
Whimsical and wild
Such are the games I play
Whilst mentally beguiled

Hidden within poetry
In discursive verse
My clandestine love affair
Short
intense
And terse

Give to me a reason
Why thus I can’t express
My willingness to capture
My need to seek excess

To open up
Revealing all
Whilst midst the subterfuge
My ego seeks adrenaline
A haven
A refuge

It’s all a nonsense
Words at play
Fending off my fears
Seeking to screen my inner hurt
reality kept at bay

 

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LIPOGRAMS

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‘Alphabet Soup’ … WHB – 2017  ©

LIPOGRAMS

 The English Oxford Living Dictionary defines a LIPOGRAM as ‘A composition from which the writer systematically omits a certain letter or certain letters of the alphabet.’

Its origin is stated to be from the Greek lipogrammatos ‘lacking a letter’ – from lip- (stem of leipein ‘to leave (out)’) + gramma ‘letter’.

Although any letter, or even a group of letters, can be omitted in a Lipogram, the letter E, which occurs five times more often than any other letter in the English language, presents the greatest challenge for lipogram writers.

Many writers have struggled within such constrictions to compose works of both poetry and prose.  The exercise of doing so is certainly taxing, particularly when translating into such a format  from an already extant original.  It is said that the Spanish poet and dramatist, Lope de Vega, in the 16th Century composed five complete novels, which, in turn, excluded each of the 5 vowels a, e, i, o, u.  De Vega in total also wrote more than 1,500 plays!

In a much more modest way, and as an exercise in writing within certain well-defined constrictions, I have composed 5 different versions of the well-known opening verse of  ‘Casabianca’ by Felicia Dorothea Hemans.  Each, in turn, omits one of the five vowels.  At the same time I have tried, with limited success, to retain the same A-B-A-B rhyme scheme.

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 The opening verse of   ‘Casabianca’ by Felicia Dorothea Hemans.

 Original version

 The boy stood on the burning deck,
Whence all but he had fled;
The flame that lit the battle’s wreck,
Shone round him o’er the dead.


 

A omitted

The boy stood on the burning deck,
Whence the rest were newly left;
The fire it lit the fighting’s wreck,
Shone round him o’er the bereft.

E omitted

This lad sat on that burning pall
From which all folk had run
That spark that lit this conflict’s fall
Lit up his night with combat won.

I omitted

The boy stood on the deck ablaze,
Whence all but he had fled;
The flame that sparked the battle’s haze,
Shone round the gruesome dead.

O omitted

The lad strutted the burning deck,
Whence all but he had fled;
The flame that lit the battle’s wreck,
Encircled him beside the dead.

U omitted

The boy stood on the flaming deck,
Whence all beside he had fled;
The flame that lit the battle’s wreck,
Shone over him o’er the dead.

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Readers who care to have a go at this type of exercise, would enjoy reading the section on ‘LIPOGRAMS’ in Gyles Brandreth’s book, ‘WORD PLAY’ (published by Coronet – Hodder & Stoughton) in 2015 (Paperback in 2016).

Amongst numerous other examples, Brandreth quotes  a version of ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb’ by A. Ross Eckler, omitting the letter ‘s’, as follows:

Mary had a little lamb,
With fleece a pale white hue,
And everywhere that Mary went
The lamb kept her in view.

 To academe he went with her,
Illegal and quite rare;
It made the children laugh and play
To view a lamb in there.’


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My Bird Of Paradise

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My Bird Of Paradise

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 When I awoke and drew the blinds
One bright and sunny day
A sight awaited my poor eyes
Which filled me with dismay.

When looking out my bedroom window
I’ve never before found
Something which has so puzzled me
It truly did astound

Exotic birds do not frequent
My garden usually
But yesterday I gazed at one
Amazed – excusably.

Was it a bird of ill omen
Sent to cause me worry
I told myself, “I doubt that much,
At least not here in Surrey.”

Perhaps a Bird of Paradise
Had managed to break free
From its New Guinea jungle home
And come to delight me.

Maybe a Rainbow Lorikeet
Toucan or Golden Pheasant
Peacock or a Red Macaw
Sent here as a present.

I was quite mystified you see
Until this afternoon
The gardener came, looked up and said,
“It’s an escaped balloon.”

I was quite mortified to find
I had not recognised
My own discarded birthday gift.
… I’m so demoralised.

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CRICKET, Swinging The Willow

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‘Cricket – Sweep Shot’ – WHB. 2017

The STROKES & SHOTS of CRICKET

CRICKET is a game which lends itself to hyperbole, and attempts to describe the game on sound radio have enlivened and intrigued for many years.   To this end, cricket aficionados and commentators have developed a highly descriptive language to convey the excitement and finesse which cricketers from all over the world apply to the game.  For example, there are numerous ways in which the shots played by batsmen can be described.  These are, of course, governed by the prevailing conditions of weather and the playing surface as well as by the wiles of the bowler they are facing.

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I can make an anthology
Of cricket terminology,

Particularly the strokes,
And I’m not kidding folks,

Because in this descriptive way
Commentators describe the play:

Will it be a slick flick
Or a fickle tickle?

Do remember that a chance leg glance
Is always better than a dull pull;

Although why not a deep sweep,
Try a hook and tempt a duck?

A slash in a flash
Is  better than a trash bash;

But a loop of a scoop
May get you caught out for nought;

While a cut in a hurry
Will have you out in a flurry.

Try a snide glide,
Or a deep sweep,

Even a rich switch
Must be better than a mere  steer,

While a high five for a cover drive
Easily beats a mock block.

Did you know, a bit of a trick
Is a quickly executed slick snick?

But beware the rash slash,
Or that devastating poke stroke;

And how about  a big slog
… To end my blog?

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DEMOLITION – Man & Boy

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DEMOLITION – Man & Boy

What is my joy in destruction?
Why does it give me a kick?
It grants me a sense of elation;
I once thought I was just downright sick.

As a toddler I remember I wanted,
As soon as a tower I’d built,
Just to knock it all over and giggle
Without any feeling of guilt.

Then when I’d taken up Lego,
I’d just love, after building my farm,
To smash it to bits with my mallet;
Didn’t think I was doing it harm.

And when in a History lesson
I said I’d like to have been
One of those men who wrecked churches and abbeys.
 The teacher near ruptured his spleen.

He sent me to see the headmaster,
Saying I must be beyond the pale;
For taking part in such Dissolution
He considered me right off the scale.

They decided I must be a vandal,
And said I would pay for my sins.
Abbeys and shrines were verboten,
I mustn’t wantonly damage such things.

Well, now I’ve left school and I’m happy,
My job suits me down to the ground.
I work hard with great satisfaction,
And no one will push me around.

For now I’m a demolition expert,
I can continue my hobby with pride;
Destruction now is my trade
As on top of a huge truck I ride.

Mechanical shovels and drills,
Excavators and large JCBs,
Bulldozers, cranes and dump trucks,
All these I can manage with ease.

And now that I’m married with children
I watch Joe build towers with his bricks,
Then demolish them with glee and I know
He’s a chip off the old block of tricks.

CRICKET … LOVELY CRICKET

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‘Watching Cricket’ . . .  Watercolour . . . WHB – 2001

CRICKET … LOVELY CRICKET

With my dog and my lunch and my wife by my side

I’ll go watch the cricket today I decide.

The sun it is shining, a book in my hand,

I’m ready to watch the lads make a stand.

In the trees now the birds, they natter and chatter,

Makes me feel sleepy but what does that matter.

 I see deep square leg take a wonderful catch,

But then fall asleep for the rest of the match.

They missed my support, but I’m quite happy now,

I can go back to sleep ‘cos we won anyhow.

bar-curl1. . .  and talking about Cricket, I am reminded of that great joyful Calypso – all the rage in my youth! (now you know how old I am!)  . . . the  ‘Victory Calypso – Cricket Lovely Cricket’.  You can join me in enjoying it once again below  . . . 

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Mini Saga # 2 … War & Pieces

 

The winning entry in the Daily Telegraph’s 1999 Mini-Saga Competition.


The task set being to compose a story of 50 words exactly – no more!  no less!

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A scanned photograph of the winning entry – as posted in the Daily Telegraph.