My Problem Age  

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WHB – 2017

The PROBLEM of AGE

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Am I at a problem age?

. . . OR

Do I have an old age problem?

. . . OR

Am I just part of an age-old problem? 

 

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Age is a problem, I’ve no doubt,
And one that can’t be solved.
Since time began
We know that Man
Has gradually evolved.

So, given that the speed of change
Is constantly advancing,
Why cannot we
Forever be
Subject to life enhancing?

It’s certainly an age-old problem,
Not just one of old age.
An anagram,
A new life plan,
Waiting to be assuaged.

I’m at a problem age right now
At the age of eighty two.
I’m obdurate,
I agitate,
And no one tells me what to do.

And when I get to One-O-Two
Who knows what I’ll be like?
I might begin
To live in sin,
Or start a hunger strike.

Time will tell, the saying goes,
But I may prove that wrong,
For when, at last,
My die is cast,
I still might jog along.

I might look weird, I will be odd,
I no doubt will be bald.
My old age pension
Won’t get a mention,
My workings might have stalled.

But I could prove you all quite wrong,
While still an ageing codger.
Surprise you all,
A new wife install,
Or introduce a lodger.

If I continue the way I’m going
The problem will be, you see,
Those other folk
Who I’ll provoke
To become old like me.

 

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The SELFIE

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THE SELFIE

 

Self-conscious
images
abound.

We meet them
everywhere
around.

They’re soon
discarded
and replaced

by the next
one from
the database.

Narcissus
being ever
eager,

keen for
yet another
teaser.

Crying for
your strict
attention,

I’m all yours,
full of
invention.

An endless stream
of captured
moments

containing
crazed and daft
components.

Followed up
in quick
succession

by yet
another
indiscretion.

Let’s celebrate,
our life
is dull.

We need to
record it all
– in full

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Spuggy Hood

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‘Spuggy’ … WHB – pen & ink – 2017  ©

 

SPUGGY HOOD

 

Spuggy Hood is in my class,
A stocky, spotty, snotty lass.
We all take care with her about,
A dangerous friend to have. No doubt.

Her hair is tangled, mousy brown,
Her face it wears a constant frown.
As for her dress, well it is awesome,
Brighter than the leaves in autumn,

But this is just because of jam,
Of bits of grease and chunks of ham.
Everything that she has eaten
Seems her cardigan to sweeten.

At lunchtime in the school canteen,
Regardless of the day’s cuisine,
Don’t wish to be dog in a manger,
But, sit near Spuggy, you’re in danger.

Whilst we try to eat our lunches,
She grinds her teeth, she chomps and munches;
Dribbles, snivels, slobbers and slurps,
With many gulps, and grunts, and burps.

She doesn’t seem to care at all,
Big and fat, built like a wall,
Barging her way around the room
Whilst roaring with a sonic boom.

She takes no prisoners, has no friends,
Kindness pays no dividends;
Of her classmates she’s oblivious
Her behaviour really is perfidious

Chews her pencil, sucks her thumb,
Picks her nits, scratches her bum.
Never ever is she good,
She’d show her knickers if she could.

She likes to sit and pick her spots,
Her fingers covered in ink blots.
Blows her nose on toilet paper . . .
 
. . .  I hate, I hate, I hate, I hate ‘er.

 

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Walking With Ducklings

In 2004, one of my daughters lived on a farm overlooking the Exe Valley in Devonshire, England. The ducklings which I write about below had imprinted themselves on her shortly after their incubated birth, and they would regularly follow her as she walked around the farm and on to the farm duckpond.

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WALKING WITH DUCKLINGS

Ducklings,
greet my world,

meet your world,
sometimes mild;
oft times wild –
do your best to love it.
Now let’s go for a walk
… while I talk

No, don’t duck out of my suggestion,
just follow me and I’ll show you life,
you’ll take to it
like a duck to the waters;
pretend you’re my daughters.

For you are Devon ducks,
yes, Drake Country, I know,
but every drake needs a duck,
as they say in these parts;
not your Cockney ducks
they’ve very hard hearts.

Don’t believe them when they say
“out for a duck”;
don’t take it personally;
it means Nothing –
just innocent banter,
small-scale sledging,
they know you’re a fledgling.

No, “out with the ducks”,
now that’s more like it.
So don’t be glum,
think of me as your mum,
and follow me to the pond
there’s a duck house down there,
painted duck-egg blue,
just the home for you.

You’ll like it there
even though
and I do know
when you grow up
you may lose a few eggs
shell shock they call it
all in good cause
because
we humans enjoy them
try not to condemn
it’s just
nous les adorons
ces sont si bon

and when at the pond
just watch out for Jethro
our farm dog you know
he’s a bit of a barker
a real nosey-parker
duck down when you see him
or go for a swim

and, talking of duck down,
better put your coats on
it’s going to get chilly
no, not chilli hot
chilly cold
so be good as gold.
now, will you be told!

Let’s pause for a selfie
no, don’t make that duck-face
pouting doesn’t suit you
the camera will shoot you

If you are good
then later
as your mater
i’ll let you loose
on the web
you’ll learn so much there
but please do beware
best avoid Mr Blumenthal
all duck and waffle
your feathers he’ll ruffle
he’d feed you too well
making you swell
for his ‘Fat Duck’ menu
I’d better not continue
… but remember …
it’s not yet December
I could get 250 pounds for you there.

that’s 500 for the both of you
so don’t annoy me
I’m not your employee

Just follow me
and remember
i’m your funny mummy
just imprint that on your
duck brains
just remember you’re mine
and we’ll get along fine.

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My Mirror

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Self-Portrait Aged 20 – on Black Scraperboard:  WHB

Is this a selfie
I see before me?
Is this reflected
In my story?

Mirror mirror
Please tell me now
I am lovely
Take a bow

Am I vain
Or am I boring
Just look at me
My ego’s soaring

Go to blazes
Tell me why
They say that I’m
Pie in the sky

And when I try
To look my best
I do not doubt
That I am blessed

But all’s a mirage
Tempting fate
Wonky nose
And wobbly gait

To have  a visage
Worth a look
I’d completely empty
My cheque book

Not quite Helen
Who launched those ships
More like my own
Apocalypse

My face my fortune
Some will say
I’d swap for handsome
Any day

Stop pulling faces
They all said
But it’s quite normal
I’m thoroughbred

At least I look
As though I mean it
Unlike some
I don’t demean it

Because I feel
I have no guile
Doesn’t mean
I’m mean and facile

But all is not
Quite what it seems
For what I see
Is in my dreams

And I can tell
Just looking at me
My face is all
That it can be

I know I’m right
As I should be
I really am
The me I see

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Self-Portrait Aged 20 – Negative of Black Scraperboard:  WHB

Wendy Cope – ‘After the Lunch’

(No.57 of my favourite short poems)

Waterloo Bridge

After the Lunch

On Waterloo Bridge, where we said our goodbyes,
the weather conditions bring tears to my eyes.
I wipe them away with a black woolly glove
And try not to notice I’ve fallen in love.

On Waterloo Bridge I am trying to think:
This is nothing. you’re high on the charm and the drink.
But the juke-box inside me is playing a song
That says something different. And when was it wrong?

On Waterloo Bridge with the wind in my hair
I am tempted to skip. You’re a fool. I don’t care.
the head does its best but the heart is the boss-
I admit it before I am halfway across.

Wendy Cope

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Wendy Cope is one of the most acclaimed living comic poets writing in English.  She was raised in Kent, England and has published several volumes of poetry including Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis and Serious Concerns.  Cope possesses a remarkable talent for parody and for using humour to address serious topics.

She has a keen eye for the everyday, mundane aspects of English life, especially the desires, frustrations, hopes, confusions and emotions in intimate relationships.  Dr Rowan Williams, the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury, and a poet himself, has written that: “Wendy Cope is without doubt the wittiest of contemporary English poets, and says a lot of extremely serious things”.

Notes adapted from Wikipedia and other online sources.

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Northumberland – Bamburgh

[ Photo Blog #56 ]

The coast of Northumbria on the North-East of England bordering with Scotland is atmospheric and highly impressive.  It was described by Janet Street Porter on ITV’s ‘Britain’s Best View’ as having ‘a coastline ravaged by nature and steeped in history.  There’s a story round every single corner … you’re not just looking at a view, you’re standing in the footsteps of kings, and all on one of the most dramatic coastlines nature has to offer.’ 

Bamburgh Map

I have visited many times, usually on the way to or from my tours of Scotland.  For me, one of the highlights of a visit to this part of the country is the small town of BAMBURGH. The following photographs I took there in 2003 on one of these visits when I stayed in this historic town for several days.

Bamburgh is a stunningly attractive small town within the Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.   In fact it is even perhaps just a village, with a population of only about  450.  It is dominated by its magnificently imposing Castle, once the seat of the former Kings of Northumbria, that can be seen for miles around.  It would be hard not to be impressed by the sheer size of the Castle and there is so much to tell about its long and amazing history.  On the seaward side of the castle and town there are impressive stretches of pure golden sandy beaches with rolling sand dunes and views across the sea to both the Holy Island of Lindisfarne and to the Farne Islands.   The town also houses a museum dedicated to its great heroine, Grace Darling.

To read the story of Grace Darling and of how her heroism caught the attention of the Victorian public, click on this link . . .   The Story Of Grace Darling

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Bamburgh Castle from the North Sea shore

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Looking eastwards towards the castle from the town

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The defensive landward side walls of Bamburgh Castle in the evening sun

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The seaward walls of Bamburgh Castle from the seashore

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Looking north to the castle across the coastline dunes

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The beach of the North Sea at Bamburgh

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Looking eastwards across the North Sea from the sand dunes

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Driftwood marker on Bamburgh beach

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The Bamburgh Sandman (See my earlier blog of October 29th 2016 at: The SANDMAN   )

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This elaborate cenotaph commemorates the life of the early 19th Century lifeboat heroine, Grace Darling, who is buried nearby.

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Bamburgh rooftops and castle battlements outlined against the rising sun

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The Castle at Sunrise 

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Sunrise over the North Sea from Bamburgh

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Bamburgh Castle . . . Pen and Wash – WHB:  2014   ©

 

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Nearly A Limerick

(No.54 of my short poems)
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A bit of fun to start the week – a Near-Limerick by Gray Joliffe … reproduced from a recent issue of the Daily Mail.   Graham Jolliffe is an illustrator and cartoonist. His work includes ‘Chloe & Co’, and the Wicked Willie character that first appeared in the book, ‘Man’s Best Friend’ in 1984.
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Ruthless Rhymes

Ruthless Rhymes

RUTHLESS RHYMES

In his book ‘Word Play‘ (Pub. Coronet Books, 2015) Gyles Brandreth talks about his love of short pithy rhymes which he calls ‘Potted Poetry’ or ‘Terse Verse’.  He particularly enjoys those which he calls ‘ruthless’ and which make a pungent point in just 4 lines.  One such which he quotes is:

‘I had written to Aunt Maud
Who was on a trip abroad
When I heard she’d died of cramp –
Just too late to save the stamp.’

He goes on to invite his readers to compose their own ‘ruthless rhymes’.  I doubt if the following could be considered as ruthless as his examples, but here are a few which I managed to create . . .

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Winston Hawden Archibald Hughes
Revelled in a life of booze;
One night he downed a bottle of gin,
The landlord rang his next of kin.


I pressed the bell just for a lark,
‘Twas 8 o’clock and after dark.
A lady answered in her nightie,
But sadly she was over ninety.


I longed to kiss her slender neck,
To take a bite not just a peck,
But when I got the chance to do it,
My vampire teeth just weren’t up to it.


Well, tell me now what you would do
If your old man had said to you,
“I no longer want you for a wife” –
I’d stab him with my butter knife.

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NOTES:

The original ‘Ruthless Rhymes’ were composed by Harry Graham and his book ‘RUTHLESS RHYMES FOR HEARTLESS PEOPLE’ was published in 1898.  It contains many short rhymes, all wickedly cruel and completely without morals.

Jocelyn Henry Clive ‘Harry’ Graham (1874–1936) was an English writer. He was a successful journalist who is now best remembered as a writer of verse full of black humour.  At the time of publication of this and several follow-up collections of verse written in a similar vein, Harry Graham was compared to W.S.Gilbert, Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear. It has also been suggested that his verse and prose, all exhibiting a delight in language, was an early influence on P. G. Wodehouse.  More information on Harry Graham can be found on the Ruthless Rhymes website and on Wikipedia

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The Dentist’s Chair

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THE DENTIST’S CHAIR

Reclining in the chair
My head below my knees
Waiting for the needle
Feel I want to sneeze.

TV Screen above me
Fixed onto the ceiling
Scene of pure composure
To nullify my feeling

Dentist leaning over
Says “No worse than a sting,
Just a gentle tug,
You’ll hardly feel a thing.”

I feel the pincers grasp it
That remnant of a tooth
Left over from extraction, 
Botched up in my youth.

And then the tugging starts, 
A rip, a tear, a yank,
I felt a sudden rumble
Like the revving of a tank.

He showed me what he’d dug out
Of my poor infected jaw,
A bloody piece of bone
Covered in spit and gore.

All I wanted then was
To get out of his chair;
Escape his gloating clutches,
No more of this nightmare.

It’s taken nearly two weeks, 
No longer feeling sore.
An abscess on one’s gum
One cannot just ignore.

 

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