Legends of Leicester & Leicestershire – Vol II

Steve Cartwright & Dave Taylor

All songs written and arranged by Steve Cartwright and Dave Taylor.
Steve Cartwright – Lead and harmony vocals, guitar, mandola, bass and percussion.
Dave Taylor – Lead and harmony vocals, guitar, banjo, accordion, piano, keyboards, recorder, percussion and laptop theremin.

Guest musicians – Mark Tabraham, Sarah Brookman, Graham Parker, Camille Parker, Claudine Langille.
Mixed and mastered by Greg Tempest. Greg’s Music Room.

  •     King Lear (Taylor)
  •     Black Aniss’s Lair (Taylor)
  •     Ethelfleda (Cartwright)
  •     Thankyou Mr Hoskins (Taylor)
  •     Dick the Shit (Taylor)
  •     Goosepastures (Taylor)
  •     Multum in Parvo (Cartwright/Scattergood)
  •     Too Much Drinking (Taylor)
  •     Rasselas Morjan (Cartwright/Scattergood)
  •     Ada Lovelace (Cartwright)
  •     The Poacher (Cartwright/Taylor)
  •     James Hawker song (Cartwright)
  •     Buffalo Bill (Cartwright/Scattergood)
  •     Living Next Door to Alice (Taylor)
  •     Rum Weather (Cartwright)
  •     Old Clothes (Taylor)
  •     Squire de Lisle (Cartwright)
  •     Sea of Blue (Taylor)

Breathe Easy

Breathe Easy

Credits:

Greg – Lead guitar, rhythm guitar on Pass the Bottle and Ruby. Harmonies on Gryce, Keys on Paula, Bass on Ruby

Tonia – Vocal on Pass the Bottle. Harmonies

Steve – Guitar, bass, vocals and mandolin

  •     Cold Mountain
  •     Gryce
  •     Kestrel
  •     Barnsley Field
  •     James Hawker
  •     Refugee
  •     Breathe Easy
  •     Pass the Bottle
  •     My Name is Paula
  •     Western Shore
  •     Set My People Free
  •     Ruby

The Peasants Are Revolting

The Peasants Are Revolting
  •     Won’t Fool Me
  •     Poor Men Pay for All
  •     God Save the Hungry
  •     Two Brothers
  •     999NHS
  •     Swallow the Pills
  •     The Big Bang Theory
  •     Ye Greedy Bastards All
  •     John Little John
  •     Whatever’s Left
  •     England’s Green and Pleasant Land
  •     The Government Wall
  •     What You Gonna Do

Vegan’s Revenge

Steve Cartwright

Chapter One

It was nearly dawn. Perhaps the dawn of time even. Who knows, but something very strange was about to happen. As usual around this time on this very wintry morning the Lord and Lady of the Dark Night, Sir George and Lady Doris had been out partying .They’d had a late one and perhaps a bit too much to drink and were looking forward to a good days sleep tucked up all cosy in their duvet. In their bedroom a huge log fire was burning in the hearth and a wonderful
orange glow filled the room. Outside, the snow was falling and ice was painting a filigree of frost upon their window panes. Warming themselves by the fire they slipped out of their party clothes and into their winsiette nighties and bed caps and poured themselves a nice cup of hot chocolate from the steaming kettle that sang upon the hob. George took his false teeth out and stuck them in a jar by the bed and Doris dunked a couple of Digestives into her hot choccy and slurped it from the saucer. Then, after they’d knelt down by the bed to say their prayers and to remember their loved ones and to say thankyou
for all the blessings bestowed upon them, they opened up the curtains and with a mighty yawn, blew a draught of sleep way out across the universe. Very, very gradually all the stars began to yawn too and drifted dreamily off to sleep as one by one they pulled their curtains to, ceased their shining and closed their tired eyes.

Meanwhile old mother sunshine, Edie to her friends, but more properly known as the Goddess of light M.A., and just recently Kegworth citizen of the month, woke up. Invigorated by a wonderful long nights sleep she roused herself from her slumber and made a cuppa tea before she began her first task of her day; donning her old pinney and dipping her favourite brush into the paints upon her palette she began painting in the colours of the seas and skies ,the rivers and the forests, the meadows and the trees. Dawn was breaking and as the first rays of light lit up the land, all the birds and beasts of planet earth blinked sleep from their tired eyes and set about getting up. The cows mooed inside the stall and the sheep baaed and nudged hungry faces into the straw inside the manger. The badger , snug inside his cosy sett ,coaxed flames back into his dozing fire and put the kettle on. Hare crept warily from his lair and sniffed the air for sign of man or dog. Rabbit, who’d got up earlier than most had already had his breakfast and wandered lazily down towards the river. There beneath the waving fronds of the mighty weeping willow he dipped his nose into the water and took a long refreshing drink. All along the river bank in their narrow boats and barges, mankind, snug inside their beds and warmed by their little log burners slept on and dozed and dreamed and yawned away the hours late into the morning.

Chapter Two

Meanwhile, God had got up early too and was nipping down the tow path to his local Co-op to get his paper and have his first fag of the day. He looked a fine sight in his swell new jogging bottoms tied rather deftly at the waist and a very yellow pully with reindeer on, that Edie had knitted him. In his rebel motorcycle jacket and with his long grey hair tucked beneath his bandana and his long grey flowing beard fanning out before him he cut a dashing figure. However as he ambled amiably along, his gaze was suddenly drawn across the river to a huge, shiney obelisk sticking up out of the meadow and humming very unpleasantly. He’d seen Space Odyssey 2001 only last week at Doris and George’s video club and was well aware of the relevance and intention of such a malevolent thing. If you remember, when the first obelisk appeared all the apes suddenly turned all nasty and started to arm themselves with sticks and cudgels and began to beat the you know what out of each other. Then during the next 4,000 years or so things had got so bad that the stick had turned into a nuclear weapon with the capacity to blow up the whole of planet earth. Then another one had turned up on Jupiter or somewhere and mankind looked set to colonize the universe. No God wasn’t having that. He’d have to do something before the humans got up and saw it or no telling what might happen. He’d always had a vision of humans and animals getting on together instead of the awful way it was now. Animals in prison, tortured and living solely to be killed and butchered to feed the greed of the human race. Can’t be right; Hadn’t they heard of soya beans and tofu? Maybe this was his opportunity. If these obelisks literally did have this transformative power then by Jove he’d intervene and make sure things took a new turn. Yeah man Give peas a chance!

So, by Jove, that’s what he did. Diving headlong into the river Soar he struck out for the far bank doing his finest doggy paddle. Scrambling out and stinging his bottom on some stingers he found a patch of dock leaves and stuck them down his britches. He’d read somewhere that was the thing to do for a stinging bottom. Scratting and grimacing, he climbed up the obelisk and hung his bandana and coat on the top of it. Then, borrowing Edie’s paint brush he painted God’s Vegun caffy ‘All Welcum’ in big bold letters down the side and hung a washing line from the obelisk to the willow to act as a conductor to some higher plane as well as to dry out his britches and joggers. There being no fig leaves around he borrowed a pair of curtains from a nearby caravan
to cover up his modesty. He then called up his friends, Mr and Ms. Faery Cake and told them to bring round their lovely old red campervan and some tressle tables and meet him at the boatyard in half an hour. Oh and bring their pinnies and a couple of those blue plastic hair net things you had to wear nowadays. Meantime he nipped back down the Coop and bought up all their soya and tofu and beans and veggie burgers and vegan stuff and bread and buns and cobby things and made sure he got his divvy. The staff there were used to him nipping down for a tin of baccy now and again and knowing his dress sense to be a little unusual batted not an eyelid as druid-like and becurtained he gathered up his purchases from the till. Then he nipped back to his boat to get his barbecue.

Chapter Three

As soon as Mr and Ms. Faery cake arrived they set about putting the tressles out and got the barbecue going so that after a quarter of an hour or so a divine aroma was wafting its way around this rather lovely little corner of the river Soar .God then blasted seven mighty trumps on the horn of the old red camper and within seconds every human and animal in the vicinity had woken up and were drawn magically towards God’s Vegun caffy and the obelisk .As they neared ,neither human nor bird nor beast seemed to be at all afraid of each other as God had somehow turned it into a sort of alternative Tower of Babel and it was broadcasting a common language and sense of oneness to all the species. Their fears and long-time feudal divisions literally dropped away and a sense of togetherness and community began to prevail.

Meanwhile Rabbit who you may remember had already breakfasted and had been drinking at the Soar also heard these mighty blasts from the camper’s horn .He crept stealthily along the bank and warily emerged from beneath the mighty willow to see what was going on. What he saw blew him away. There, right in front of him, was a thing that had not been there yesterday. He rubbed his eyes to make sure he wasn’t seeing things .But no ,sure enough right there and glowing with a celestial glow stood a giant humming obelisk with God’s Vegun caffy, All Welcum written on the side in not very good handwriting it has to be said. Surprisingly It was dressed in a coat and bandana and a pair of britches and joggers were hanging on the attached washing line. Ooh and there was a bright red camper van with the side down and a big sign saying all-day brekkies. All Vegan. Puddings and pies and cakes and buns and jams and well almost everything else you could possibly think of; but all vegan. Everyone welcome Beasts and birds and humans too. Oh and lo and behold at the counter and on the tressle tables a host of all manner of bird and beast and men and women and children were assembled or queuing to be served by a charming little faery man and his charming little faery wife. What was perhaps even more amazing was the fact that Rabbit, suddenly and as of that very moment was able to read the stuff on the side of the van and the menu itself. It soon became apparent too that every one there could understand one another. To Rabbit’s right a cow was mooing away deep in conversation with a human and it was instantly apparent that a deep understanding of each others language was enabling them to communicate. Behind him a sheep was baaing away like nobody’s business and the little squirrel to whom he was talking was all earoles. A donkey was braying at the counter to the little faery people and ordering an all- day vegan brekky with apparent ease and a very large old badger munching away on a vegan faeryburger was giving rides on his back to the human children and taking selfies at the same time. Rabbit, wondering if someone had perhaps added a little something to his own breakfast wandered over to join the throng. And by now what a throng it was. There were now all manner of alternative stalls and tents and marquees and an H.G.V. sporting a host of singers, poets, fiddlers, guitarists, accordion, concertina , pipe, banjo and tambourine players and God ,of course, still dressed in his celestial curtains leading the Conga around the site. Oxfam and the Red Cross each had a stall and a giant bric a brac and jumble sale was taking place right next to this

Chapter Four

Actually heaven it most certainly was; no doubt about it ;But in fact all hell was about to break loose. Lucifer, the lord of misrule and everything horrid and very naughty, had just switched his P.C. on and was confronted by the sight of his very own beautiful, shiney new obelisk sporting a bandana ,coat, God’s britches and socks and lassoed by an ariel broadcasting messages of peace and joy to the world of men and beasties. And it had been vandalised and graffitied with a very badly spelt sign announcing God’s Vegun Caffy all day Vegun Brekfusts down one side in red paint that had run and smeared. Also thousands of people and birds and beasties were now all gathered together in the fields by the river Soar and were noshing away and having a fine old time. His very own tower of Babel being used to spread peace and love around the world? Mankind united in love and joy with each other and the lamb lying down with the lion? He was apoplectic. Leaving Putin and Trump to carry on with the judging of the Miss Rule contest he snapped open his cell-phone and ordered the immediate preparation of Trump’s private jet. He’d soon show them a thing or three!

Arriving at East Midlands a couple of hours later, Lucifer must have thought he’d arrived home back in hell for as his jet flew over the M.1 he could see a tailback about ten miles long and pollution like a cloud engulfing the road way. The main junction to the A453 was gridlocked and the A6 through Kegworth tailing back to Loughborough. All around him at intervals of about 5 mins other much larger passenger planes were either landing or taking off and he knew it could not be that long now before the whole shebang either clogged up completely or literally disappeared in a cloud of smoke. And talking of smoke at Red Hill on the A453 , 8 giant chimneys were puthering dense clouds of it into the atmosphere and a mountain of coal slurry was daily slithering into the monster’s belly .Oh yes and at night 8 huge red eyes could be seen strafing the land like Sauron’s on Mount Doom .Oh Yes this was it he pondered .Hell is happening here alright. That there God and his tower of Babel would be no match for his demonic powers. He’d soon show them a thing or two. Elated he made a phone call through to the local band of hell’s angels and arranged for them to meet him at East Midlands and then escort him to the Kegworth boat yard. He then picked up his Trident , sat back in his seat, put on his safety belt and made ready for landing.

Chapter Five

Landing at runway no. 666 , his private jet taxiing through to Arrivals, he expected a quick excursion through Luggage and Passport control and an equally quick exit through the airport to meet his Hell’s Angels Kegworth escort. Dressed in a sharp-looking Crombie and Homburg he descended the steps from his private jet and headed for the Arrival Suite. His horns hidden under his hat ,his talons discreetly covered beneath yellow calf gloves and his tail tucked down the back of his trouser leg he looked to all intents and purposes like a V.I.P.politician or business leader and as such he anticipated special treatment through customs. But Alas he was to be bitterly disappointed. Having deposited his suit case complete with his trident on the Arrivals carousel he made his way over to passport control where he suddenly found himself at the wrong end of a 500 yard throng of humanity, many of whom had flown in for the Donnington Death Metal Festival and the rest were families with tired kids returning from a host of Mediterranean holiday resorts .A sign above passport control said to expect delays of up to 5 hours.

Apoplectic with rage he began to barge his way through the queue and as he barged, so his true nature began to show itself. With each confrontation his eyes turned a wilder shade of red, his horns began to grow and poke through his Homburg and his tail began to quiver. As such the whole queue became aware of his anti-social behaviour, of his intention to try and jump the queue and more alarmingly of the increasingly demonic nature of his appearance. A huge outcry reverberated through the throng of festival goers and holiday makers and a massive body of resistance began to form. By the time he’d gate-crashed his way down the first aisle he was confronted by a very formidable deputation of the female wing of The Kegworth Rambling society returning from a tour of The outer hebrides. Armed with an array of walking sticks and brollies they blocked his way, tripped him over and began a ferocious attack upon his person. Much much more of his demonic appearance now began to reveal itself as he struggled against this barrage of blows from above but he was no match for the Kegworth lady ramblers. Glimpsing what seemed to be talons and then a hoof or two up went the cry Security Police Help Help.. Within seconds a huge group of police and security forces armed with small arms and Kalashnikovs had him bound and handcuffed and marched him away to the interrogation cells. A huge shout of approval rose from the crowd who booed and harangued him as he was escorted away.

Chapter Six

Minutes later he found himself in a padded cell somewhere in the security section of the airport .Battered and bruised by the onslaught from the ladies rambling society he laid his head down on the table in front of him and tried to calm down so as to reduce the more satanic aspects of his appearance. Unfortunately for him the metamorphosis would not kick in as quickly as he wanted and although a degree of his extreme body hair had reduced a bit, he was still left with talons tail and horns .At this point a delegation from security and customs came in and with looks of extreme distaste began their interrogation.

Lucifer by now was beginning to realize that a more conciliatory approach was required both in terms of reducing the more visible satanic aspects of his nature and also of obtaining a swift release from his captors. Running a whole range of options through his demonic mind it suddenly occurred to him that the Donnington Death metal festival was taking place this weekend .With this in mind he cajoled them into believing that he was the lead singer with Black Sabbath and that his appearance was due to a combination of plastic surgery, lyposuction, botox and years of hair transplants and that if they’d like to check, a delegation of hell’s angels were waiting for him outside the airport. He further indicated that if they checked his mobile they would also find that he had flown in on Trump’s private luxury jet and that if they cared to ring him they would find that the most powerful man on the planet may not be too pleased that his friend and ally had been incarcerated and his property impounded in this way.

Soon two security guards led him out of the cell and took off his handcuffs. Handing him his passport they led him to the customs bay where he retrieved his suitcase and a badly battered Trident. Anger again beginning to throb through his bruised and battered body he was escorted to the departure section of the airport and very unceremoniously dumped on the forecourt . Here he was met by his Hell’s Angels escort who unfortunately had no spare bikes for him to
ride and he was forced to mount an ageing 1957 Honda 50. In a cloud of smoke from the leaking exhaust he disappeared from the airport ranting and raging at the airport security as the massed ranks of the Kegworth Ramblers turned the corner and pelted him and his angels once again with the remains of their egg and cress sandwiches and rained down blows upon them with their canes and brollies .Lucifer was not a happy Bunny…but worse was yet to come.

Outside the airport the road to Kegworth was gridlocked and Lucifer and his motley entourage potentially hoisted on their own petard. Lucifer astride his ailing Honda 50, helmet perched precariously on the tips of his horns and bits of salad and boiled egg slithering slowly down his goggles and helmet did not quite cut the mustard as they say. Similarly pelted and adorned with the remains of the Kegworth Lady ramblers lunch his entourage also looked a sorry bunch. Unable to form an escort for their ailing leader they were forced to ride single file through the traffic thereby enraging the queue with Lucifer’s smoking exhaust and attracting serious ridicule from bystanders and car drivers alike who gazed on in disbelief at their dishevelled appearance. By the time they arrived at the festival gates their trauma was complete and any attempt to overwhelm the assembled ranks of party-goers with a show of demonic force had fizzled out.

Chapter Seven

They were now confronted by Edie the sun God ,magnificently attired in a blindingly yellow onesie that she’d knitted and by Doris and George the Gods of night, both resplendent in deep purple cloaks adorned with solar powered twinkling diamante stars. The effect on the hells angels was similar to the effect daylight has on vampires. Cowering beneath Edith’s celestial glare they handed over the required entry fee and stood neatly in line. Edie reminded them that their bikes must be left outside and since leathers were not allowed at this vegan gathering they were obliged to strip off and each put on one of Edie’s recently knitted yellow pullovers and floral wellies. Lucifer now similarly attired had to wear a floppy hat to cover his horns and they tied a bow to his tail and hung a balloon on it so as not to frighten the children.Meanwhile Edie did a magnificent job of transforming the 666 behind his ear into a rather fetching rendition of the 3 wise monkeys [hear no evil see no evil and speak no evil] and George and Doris brought them out a dish of unusual looking mushrooms and a strangely scented pot of tea which they greedily guzzled down. So, by the time they’d bought their raffle tickets and signed several petitions regarding the ecological state of the planet they were well mellow and wandering happily around the festival mingling with the throng blissfully unaware of why they’d actually come in the first place. Several of them ,still sporting their yellow onesies and floral wellies, were now romping with the Kegworth morris team and having a whale of a time shaking their sticks and bells and waving their hankies. Others were cuddling kittens and puppies and helping the elderly to seats in the café and queuing up to get their teas and coffees. They seemed to have developed a passion for tofu humous and salad and munched happily away as they tapped their feet to the melodies and rhythms of the guitars and fiddles.There were even a couple of them making daisy chains with the kiddies in the crèche.

Chapter Eight

Lucifer too seemed similarly affected and in fact his horns and tail were slowly disappearing as he mingled amiably amongst the crowd. Edith and George and Doris had accompanied him initially, just in case, but even they were beginning to wonder if the obelisk, the mushrooms, the music and the wonderfully friendly atmosphere were in fact beginning to have a benign effect on him too. He seemed to have forgotten his earlier humiliation and had apologized profusely for his earlier behaviour at the airport. In fact two or three of the Kegworth Rambling society now linked arms with him and steered him towards the inner sanctum where God was running a yoga and meditation session.

However Satan was far too dyed in the wool for such a transformation to occur. The sight of God peacefully meditating amongst a crowd of hippies literally blew his mind and broke the spell as memories of his fall from grace and his battle with the light came back to haunt and humiliate him. As anger, hatred, jealousy, spite, fear and all sorts of other naughty things began to well up inside him, the wellies, the onesie, the floppy hat and that rather nice balloon all fell away thereby revealing the horned serpent from the lowest depths of hell raving and frying with anger. God , however, was blissfully unaware of such goings on as were all the other revellers as the obelisk continued to transmit its message of peace and love. The screaming, the ranting and raving, the threats, the hatred, the shame, the guilt and the curses all fell on deaf ears. The devil no longer had any power. He was defeated. Exhausted by his exertions and humiliated by their lack of effect he was led helplessly away by a squad of the Kegworth lady ramblers to their caravan and given a very large pot of the magical brew they’d all had on entering the festival. They left him guzzling a plate of jam sandwiches and a very nice sherry trifle and they signed him up for a series of counselling sessions and a massage. They left him there to consider the error of his ways and waved their walking sticks and a couple of egg sandwiches at him as a reminder of what would happen if he tried to wander off.

Chapter Nine

Meanwhile God emerged from the meditation session and ambled over to the river where a 100 foot platform had been erected for is sky dive. Donning his aero cape and a nifty pair of speedos he slowly climbed the ladder emerged victoriously at the top at the top. Gazing out at the assembled throng he raised his arms and spoke to the multitude saying; Between all living beings there will now be peace and friendship for evermore. Hatred and violence will cease henceforth or even fifth……… and with that he threw down a fire brand into the methane soaked waters of the river Soar and launched himself triumphantly into the flaming inferno beneath. Adopting a three and a half notch triple somersault he shot through the air but unfortunately his triple sideways spin to end the dive lacked some precision and losing control he bellyflopped spectacularly into the flaming brine and sent a large wave hurtling from the banks of the river Soar and onto the assembled throng. It was like a mass baptism that sent the crowd into ecstasies of awe and wonder. A good job too as they were all pretty much distracted as he emerged from the river covered in mud, having doggy paddled to the side unfortunately catching his bottom yet again on those naughty stingers. Wiping off the mud and wrapping his cloak around him he stuffed the dock leaves onto the relevant parts and staggered goodnaturedly towards the crowd.Instantly a huge cheer arose from the assembled throng and to the tune of ‘For he’s a jolly good fellow,’ they raised him aloof upon their shoulders and carried him back to his narrow boat where he slipped out of his wet things, donned his yellow onesie ,stoked up the log fire and drank a deep brew of the Kegworth Lady Ramblers herbal tea. Not a bad days work he thought as Doris and George drew the blinds across the sun, wound the moon into orbit and opened up the curtains on the stars.

The End

Was Saureen a Witch

Chapter One

Was Saureen a Witch

Was Saureen a witch? Well, she did have a broomstick, but she didn’t have a crooked nose, a wart, a hairy chin or missing teeth. And no cat. She did, however, have dogs….sausage dogs. Both with bodies like the ones clowns make with balloons. They were constantly looking over their shoulders as if to make sure their back ends were still in tow and hadn’t got left behind or stuck in a closed door somewhere. Long and wiley; the canine equivalent of H.G.V.s powered by twin rolls Royce V2 engines with neither mileage calibration nor accelerator governance. They were driven by maniacs both fused with a seemingly inexhaustible demonic energy. Yes, Dachhunds. The name sums them up to perfection.

The first was called Chocolate; quite reserved and very sophisticated and well a little bit posh; stuck up you might say. But this was really just a front, for beneath that façade she could wag it with the worst of them. She had a sheen of fur as black as running ink and huge pink inside-out ears that sprang like wings from just behind her skull ballooning as she sped across the land or fled alarmed, retreating into the sanctuary of Saureen’s voluminous skirts.

The other was Stan, perfectly named. The canine equivalent of a plumber’s mate. No fuss or palaver with him. More commoner than aristocrat. A blur of sand flying, he danced a scurry of life, impossibly balanced, thrusting and tumbling his way into almost any situation, bursting with a demonic energy. Amazed and amazing; bewildered and bewildering; delighted and delighting…well you get the picture… thoroughly and utterly captivating. In a word, a star…yes, Stan the dog star. Canis Sausagus no less.

He too succumbed occasionally to the sanctuary of Saureen’s skirts when things got particularly tough or tiredness suddenly collapsed him. And sometimes they would both scurry up Saureen’s generous jumper with much fumbling and rumbling and writhing and slithering and huffing and puffing and panting and ranting thereby giving the impression that Saureen’s body was lousy with rats and ferrets, foxes and badgers, snakes and lizards and all manner of creepy crawly things, til finally when their heads popped out wobbling on either side of Saureen’s chin and a three headed canine monster emerged, it was beyond question that Saureen was indeed a witch, but not just any old witch; she was a witch the like of which had never been seen before. No, not never.

Chapter Two

The Witches Gather

Well, obviously they were all witches and they lived with Saureen’s charming daughter, Katheryn, in Weston Supermare, in a huge castle that had been modified in a whole variety of ways to look like a 4 berth caravan. On winter nights as the wind wailed and howled through the turrets and rafters they would sit wrapped in shawls beside a raging fire in the castle hall and tell tales of ghosts and spirits and wizards and witches of times long gone. They would dine on a delicatessen of herbs and seaweed, nuts and fruits served on silver platters embossed with rubies and emeralds and wash it all down with decanters of honeyed mead and blackberry wine which Saureen made from a secret recipe and stored in the bowels of the castle vaults. Other times they just had a cuppa and a takeaway or a fish and chip supper from the mobile chip van, but couldn’t resist dropping a few magical herbs into the curry sauce and the mushy peas which no doubt explained the chippy’s amazing popularity. Sometimes though, if they were in a hurry and thought nobody was looking, they’d hop on the back of the old broomstick and fly back to the castle so the chips didn’t get cold. However, due to the relatively wobbly nature of the old broomstick it was not uncommon for either Kathryn, Saureen, Chocolate, or even Stan, experiencing a bit of turbulence, to let fall the occasional battered fish tail, a few chips or, worse still, a slime of mushy peas or curry sauce and sometimes it would splatter on nearby unsuspecting pedestrians on their way home. Manna from heaven maybe but a quick shufty towards the sky confirmed their worst fears. Yes, there really were witches in Weston and they were nicking their fish’n’chips.

Chapter Three

Funny Goings On!

And so it came about that considerable malicious gossip began to spread about the toings and froings of our four witches, even though their castle was cleverly disguised as a rather dowdy little caravan and their day-today living resembled that of ordinary folk. And there was sometimes talk of raucous chanting echoing around the caravan walls or that the glare of a huge fire could be seen reflecting in the caravan windows. Occasionally canon fire could be heard flying over Weston beach and there was often a spilling of fairy dust lingering over the campsite. At other times, goblets had been known to fly from the windows and corks festoon the nearby meadow or sometimes Saureen would forget herself and let rip with a particularly deafening cackle. Meanwhile, flowers grew to impossible heights and infused the land with an intensity of colour previously unknown in these parts. The trees, particularly Ygdrasil, the Ash or tree of life that lived within the copse beside the caravan, grew to an enormous height and growled, grumbled or chuckled throughout the day and night rattling its autumnal keys or shimmering with a golden glow the summer long. This magic could be felt all around the caravan and as far as the upper echelons of the site, and only petered out as it neared the landlord’s residence at the top of the hill.

Chapter Four

The War Party

Well, one day, the landlord and park owner, thoroughly miffed by the ever-growing list of complaints about canon fire, flying goblets, cackling and corks and raging fires and the like emanating from plot 4, decided enough was enough and set forth with the squire, the mayor, the major, the vicar, the headmistress, a couple of town councillors and various other dignitaries towards plot 4 intent on putting these scallywags in their place and evicting them forthwith from their dingy little caravan and ridding the site of such ruffians, and nuisances. Bolstered and fortified with a few sherries and mince pies from the Mansion kitchen and strutting together nobly, their little war party set forth, the Squire leading and striding out magnificent in his hunting tweed closely followed by the vicar, hands pressed together in prayer and muttering. Behind him came the mayor, resplendent in his gown and chain of office and the local headmistress in tweed two-piece and sensible shoes and heavy duty stockings. They were all loudly expostulating on the severity of these complaints and how such dreadful goings-on would not be tolerated in their community and how the perpetrators would soon feel the full impact of the law and what not and how they were going to tell them a thing or two and put them firmly in their place.

Well, it so happened that, as this determined little war party set out from the relative cold that was around at this time of the year, it soon became apparent that a more temperate climate seemed to engulf them the nearer they got to the caravan. In fact, by the time they actually arrived at the door the weather seemed to have turned quite considerably and was now very pleasant indeed, so that some of the determination with which they had started out had dissipated somewhat under these rather pleasant and sultry conditions. Now, it no longer seemed quite the day for a confrontation at all, but more one for a nice paddle and an ice-cream and a lie-down on the beach. The strutting and posturing had somehow subsided and been replaced by a much more slovenly approach and in fact wasn’t the major actually rolling his socks down and the vicar loosening his dog collar, oooh, and the tweed twin suit, that very morning specially chosen for such a confrontation as this from the headmistress’ personal armoury, seemed to have developed such an itch as was having to be scratched at in a whole variety of interesting ways and was now looking very sorry for itself indeed. In fact, our headmistress was now looking less like Mrs. Thatcher and more like the bag lady she had been harrassing earlier in the week.

And so it was, that this was how they arrived at the front door of the caravan and the major, nervously looking back over his shoulder at his rather pathetic-looking war party, now sweating and itching and leaning on each other and almost dropping off from the heat, knocked very tentatively and with some trepidation on the door.

Chapter Five

The Magic Unfolds

No sooner had he knocked than the door was immediately opened to them by Kathryn, Saureen’s enchanting young daughter, full of life and vitality, so welcoming and accommodating and so thrilled to see them all.

“Oh, the Squire and the Major and, oh, the Vicar and the Headmistress”, she squealed with delight. “Oh, how wonderful. Do come in please and take a little tea and perhaps a few nibbles. Do sit down and bring your friends. I’ll get my mother. She will be so pleased to see you and honoured that such dignitaries as your fine selves have deigned to pay us a visit.”

And so, as Kathryn disappeared into the bowels of the castle to fetch her mother, our intrepid troupe filed meekly into the caravan and sat themselves down on what certainly appeared to them to be a lowly caravan. Soft furnishings, the like of which you would find in any other caravan, formed the basis of the seating areas and obviously transformed into beds when necessary. Nothing unusual about that. There was a gas fire and the usual M.D.F. furniture and kitchen fittings. The other doors looked normal enough too and obviously led off into two other bedrooms and a bathroom. It was all as was expected of a caravan and very nicely done too, as you might say. No one could see a canon or a raging fire, or corks, or exploding, groaning toads; nothing like that at all and anyway they were all beginning to feel a sort of warmth and generosity glowing inside them such that had there been a canon they might now have said something to the effect of, oh what a nice canon you have there, what a jolly good idea. It looks so medieval and goes so well with the M.D.F. don’t you think Major?

Now while Kathryn and Saureen were still out in the castle entrails, who should now come in, but our dear witchy friends Chocolate and Stan. Oh, how they wooed our guests with their infinite charm and energy. How they played and nudged and fidgeted and licked and nuzzled and scamped and scurried and played so wonderfully that the guests were transported into a realm of ecstasy they had never before experienced. And when Stan grabbed a mouthful of the headmistress’ rolled down stocking and Chocolate followed suit with the major’s gaiters, hysteria broke forth so that when Saureen and her daughter came in they were confronted not with a war party but with a bunch of giggling imbeciles so infatuated by the devilishly wonderful antics of our canine sausages, they hardly noticed.

However, a few admonishing words to Chocolate and Stan from Saureen and the dogs ceased their more boisterous machinations and settled delightfully between the guests and whimpered and nuzzled and poked and prodded and continued to endear themselves to this assembled set of dignitaries.

Saureen, a picture of radiance and tranquillity expressed her delight that such a cortage had deigned to pay them a visit and said how honoured she was to receive them into their humble abode. She and Kathryn bombarded them with trays of nibbles, nuts and fruits and cakes and pies and drinks of such variety and such exquisite taste. A gourmet of nibbles the like of which had rarely been seen before. Entranced, our little war party, now benign and giggling and full of a sort of general warmth towards humanity hitherto unseen in such mortals as these, could not resist the splendour of such victuals and before long the plates and decanters were emptied and a general sort of soporific feeling of complete satisfaction was coursing luxuriously through them all. Needless to say, the very same ingredients that adorned the mushy peas at the chippy had been liberally sprinkled into the nibbles and before long the war party’s surrender was almost complete.

Saureen, now seated amongst our dignitaries, welcomed them again, expressed her delight at such an unexpected visit and, taking Chocolate on her knee, then delivered the inevitable bombshell. “Delighted as we are to see you all, what actually was the purpose of your visit?” she beamed.

The major now on his third glass of honeyed mead and stuffed with exotic pastries could not speak. He was apoplectic. His eyes seemed to be wandering separately in various directions all at the same time and a benign and idiotic grin sat permanently on his face. He was slumped on the sofa and leaning heavily against the headmistress whose stockings were now gathered in coils around her ankles except for the one that Stan had ravaged and tore into shreds. With a huge effort of will he attempted to remember the purpose of the visit but could not and he shifted responsibility onto the mayor and the vicar whose idea he said it must have been in the first place. The vicar, now completely minus his dog collar, sweating profusely and praying for a miracle, attempted to recall the purpose of their visit but was completely unable to. He sought the help of the mayor but he seemed to have got himself slightly entangled in his chain of office and was burrowing away in the folds of his voluminous gown in an attempt to free himself. And so it was, that since none of them, neither the Squire, the mayor, the major, the vicar, the headmistress nor the town councillors could for the life of them remember the original purpose of their visit, Saureen delivered her final coup de gras. Seeing their complete confusion and embarrassment she suggested that perhaps the purpose of their visit, given that so many high-ranking individuals had decided to call, was that plot no.4 caravan had perhaps been selected as caravan of the year and that they were there to deliver the first prize which she understood to be a free ground rent for the whole of the following year. The reaction was immediate and unanimous. Of course, that was it they burst out, almost in unison and nodding enthusiastically at each other now
that the reason for their visit had become clear. Three cheers to you and our sincere congratulations enthused the Squire. We have never before seen such a beautifully maintained caravan and nor have we experienced such magnificent hospitality. The whole war party now linked arms and began a rather slurred but well-intentioned rendition of ‘For she’s a jolly good fellow’ as they got up to leave. Kathryn opened the door and most graciously proffered her invitation for them to call at any time, as too did Saureen, just managing to stifle a cackle as they all crossed the drawbridge, the Squire only just escaping a dipping in the moat as he staggered dangerously out of the castle grounds. Meanwhile, the dogs barked and jumped and scurried and did their dachshund thing and Kathryn and Saureen waved and waved and shouted farewell greetings before shooting off a couple of rounds of fairy dust from the canon as they lowered the portcullis and raised the drawbridge.

The End

The Big Bang

Chapter One

Fallible Deity

God was exhausted. But he would be, wouldn’t he? He’d been labouring 7 days a week on minimum wage and he wasn’t getting any younger. It had worn him out. He needed an early night poor thing but first he was desperate for a fag. He’d been trying to give up just lately. He’d tried vaping but the metal ones wouldn’t light and the plastic ones just kept melting. As for nicotine patches, well they just smouldered and the tablets triggered a painful memory of Moses and that day on Mount Sinai and all that business with the burning bush. Ouch! So in desperation he wound his last few sorry strands of Virginia Creeper into a rollie and settled down on the lavvy for a few drags.

But oh dear. Heavens above. He’d left the gas stove on at mark 7 to brown his Ambrosia. Aaah, the food of the gods. He’d also left the back door open and all of a sudden a terrible wind (he blamed that Trump) blew the flames out as he took a last drag on his fag-end.

And then there it was. The Big Bang – you know the one you’ve all heard about. And the whole of planet earth – the helium, the hydrogen, the oxygen and his rollie, the whole shebang all went up in smok. (Sometimes he left the e’s off things.) Oops! said God. What am I lik? But God was miffed. Seriously miffed and his binge was seared (He was not good with past particles either) for he suddenly noticed that where his cherished chrysanthemum patch had once flourished there was now a big black hole and the prospect of first prize at the Narborough Road Working Man’s Club Annual Flower Show lay in smitheroons God forbid! So he forbad it and it was forbaddened. I told you he was no good with past participants. The tears flowed from his celestial eyes and formed an icy puddle where once had stood his pride and joy. But suddenly out of the depths of his despair, a tiny voice whispered in his left ‘earole. “Anyone would think that it was the end of the world.” “Pardon”, said God. “Did I hear thee correctly? Art thou mad? Not the end of the world? That big bang must have rented my ears asunder. Can thou speaketh up a bit?” (His false teeth were sticking.) “No I cannot”, came the reply, “for I am but a tiny voice”. “Would it help if I wrote things down on a tablet? And God said, “Is it an Apple? I remember what happened last time on my allotment in the Garden of Eden. That there Eve right blew my chances in the chrysanths section. Anyway have you any idea how long it takes to make a univerth” (his false teeth were thtill thticking). He knew however that the tiny voice was right. It wasn’t really the end of the world. He could start again and this time make sure everybody had an equal share. Yeah man vive la revolution!

So, pulling on his soot stained nightie, he grabbed his Teddy and climbed into what remained of his bed. A good night’s sleep should sort it. Next morning he’d get all those helium bubbles moving and remake planet earth but not till after breakfast. So, sticking his false teeth in a jar by the bed and setting his alarm for the beginning of time, he fell asleep, dreaming of rice-pudding, scrambled eggs, winning the lottery, and oooh yes just one more last smok. (there goes that e again). That cheeky devil Lucifer had given up in one week flat by sheer will power and never let him forget it.

Chapter Two

The Wonkey Wardrobe

So the very next morning at the very beginning of time God’s alarm clock broke into his reverie with a quick rendition of ‘He’s Got the Whole World in his Hands.’ God groaned and His hand slammed down on the snooze button and he rolled over. But the tiny voice said “Get up, you lazy God! It’s time to remake planet earth”…And God said, “Can thee speaketh up a bit”. And the tiny voice said, “No, I cannot for as I have already told thee, I am just a tiny voice”. “Oh, all right,” said God, heaving himself up on the side of the bed. “I suppose I’d better get started.” So with a big yawn and a really long stretch he slid into his favourite Noddy slippers and Superman underpants, stuck his false teeth back in, nipped into the loo for a holy widdle and then slowly ambled downstairs for his brekkie.

A quick root through what remained of his freezer revealed a pain au chocolat, to which he quickly added the splattered remains of his Ambrosia and a Cadbury’s Crème Egg (low calorie). After all man cannot live by bread alone. Swigging a cup of builders’ tea he settled himself down with a copy of the Church Times and checked the weather forecast with thoughts of the task in hand and planned his next move. Maybe he’d get an all-day breakfast later at the Coop if it had managed to survive the blast. If not he could always build another one. The notion of cooperation was definitely a priority in his new order of things plus he’d get a bit of divvy. Maybe he could also knock up a polytechnic course or two[obviously free] and sign on for an
English language degree and sort his past participles out at the same time. Ooh and have a gap year as well .Why not he pontificerated.

And so it came to pass that during that week, God remade planet earth and he saw that it was good. Well not bad except for the fact that the Tories and their cronies, the bankers, the bishops, the monarchy, the Lords, the Judiciary and the landed gentry also seemed to have survived the big bang. How did that happen? he thought. That there Lucifer must have had his hoof in this, no doubt catching a sniff of that smouldering ambrosia, he’d tipped them all off that a big bang was imminent and they had all fled to their underground shelter in Brighton (unbeknown to them located beneath the sewage works). Whipping their servants into action and making them carry huge quantities of smoked salmon, caviar, Havana cigars and bottles of chateau Burgundoise 1776 down into the bowels of the earth they muttered and complained to one another saying things like “Crikey, Oh bother and drat it Tally Ho and do be careful with that chandelier Smithers, oh and where did I leave my diamonds Boris and Theresa you poor darling how could you have left behind all your lovely shoes. Don’t fret, I’ll send Smithers back
with the H.G.V. in the morning.”

This was a great disappointment for God for despite having wanted these jokers out of his scheme of things for many a century, The New Testament made mass genocide a bit more difficult and it was now impossible for him to wipe them out just on a whim. An accident like the Big Bang though got him off the hook. He’d long since had to renounce that business of an eye for an eye but part of him still wondered if there shouldn’t perhaps be exceptions; maybe an ear for an eye or better still a brain or what about a conscience. What a great idea he pontiferacated. Food for thought. But now what, he pontiferacated again. While he pontifericated he decided to nip down to Wilkos for some chrysanthemum cuttings and a fork to dig over the allotment. There might still be time to get the entry in for that Flower Show. He’d get some baccy on the way back and maybe over a smok and a cuppa he might find some divine inspiration .Well if he couldn’t who could?

And By Jove he did. For at the till, God met a few of his old muckers (Emily Pankhurst, Boedicea, Ken Livingstone, Nye Bevin, Keir Hardie, Robin Hood, Tony Benn and Harold Wilson) – who’d all been living in a parallel universe and had therefore survived the big bang. Also By some chance coincidence at the Labour party conference in Blackpool the delegates had all agreed to vote for Jeremy Corbyn and the’ very mention of his name had caused the Big Bang to veer madly to the left and miss them altogether. A bit like the angel of death sweeping down on the Egyptians and not visiting the houses marked with a cross of lamb’s blood. Oh dear had he really done that? Oh well ‘ Never mind’ he thought. He’d matured a bit since then when him and his lad J.C. had gone for the other cheek thing. Nevertheless that eye for a conscience idea still did have some appeal. He’d have another think about that. Meanwhile here were all his old allies and He was able to share with them the nature of his problem and so He asked them to form the first cabinet. Unfortunately they only had a Wonky Wardrobe in Wilkos. But God said, “Get it anyway and you can become the keepers of the Wonky Wardrobe and become a force for good throughout the univerth and get rid of these upper clatheth”. [those teeth again.] He’d run that idea of an eye for a conscience thing by them later. Perhaps a B.A.C.S. transfer of a large amount of cash instead of the eye. Yes that was it. He knew J.C. would approve A win- win situation..lots of cash from the super rich and no bloodshed.

Chapter Three

God Remakes the Commandments

Back at home they all settled into the Wonky Wardrobe and God sprung forth his commandments.

First off, He made a New Year’s Resolution to save up for a new cabinet and denitely give up the fags. Or maybe he’d have a word with Tony and old Harold about taking up a pipe. He thought he’d look pretty good with a Meerschaum (it could give him a sort of man about town look ) and it meant he could carry on with his dirty habit. A pipesmoking God with a few human failings could be a good gimmick. He’d run it by the spin doctors next week. Then he made another rice pudding and hoped that it was good and made a mental note not to leave the stove on unattended. And never ever ever again to have anything to do with that fellow Trump.

He then recommended that Jeremy Corbyn should be Prime Minister and wondered about those J.C. initials. Where had he seen them before?

Oh, And nobody should be rich or be a member of the upper clatheth or wear a funny crown (at least on weekdays to start with). Nor [not that Noah] shalt Thou work at all on either Saturday or Sunday he pronouncedeth.

And so, convinced that they had set in motion the basis of a free and fairer society they set off for Skeggie for a bit of a knees-up and to plan their future agenda.

P.S. They all agreed that the B.A.C.S. for a conscience thing was a great idea and enshrined it in their manifesto.

Chapter Four

Jeremy Takes Centre Stage

Well it came to pass that due to the Big Bang missing the Labour Party conference altogether there were now considerably more socialists left than Tories and Jeremy Corbyn became prime minister. For the many not the few. They’d also nailed a poster onto the Sewage farm door inviting the Tory servants to join the trade union movement offering them considerably more than the minimum wage together with greatly enhanced pension rights and security of employment and a bit of divvy at the Co-op. En masse they had all deserted the sewage bunker and left their so-called Lords and masters to it. Thus the socialist ranks were further swollen and the Tory party members were left wallowing underground where they bickered and whined and whimpered and yelped and counted their money and fell into total disarray.(nothing much different there then)

And so Jeremy Corbyn was able to put into place the basic tenets of his socialist vision.

First off, and most importantly, he dismantled the monarchy and proclaimed the U.K. a republic. He sent the Queen and Prince Phillip off to live in a high rise flat in Daggenham – cheers!

Then he renationalized the railways, the Gas and the Electric and dispossessed all the landlords of their tenancies and gave them to the poor. – more cheers!

He then arranged for all future housing to be run at affordable rents by local councils .No longer would there be poverty or homelessness – louder cheers!

The N.H.S. would be invigorated with a substantial cash injection and private health care would be abolished – even louder cheers!

University education would be free – even louderer cheers!

Public schools would be for the public and there would be no more private priviledged schooling – even more louderer cheers!

God’s cash for conscience idea would be immediately put into effect and the rich would be taxed into oblivion – loudererest cheers ever!

Brexit would be immediately reversed and any problems would be resolved (that would save £40 billion just for the divorce bill alone and no doubt countless more when you took into account the millions of hours they’d devoted to not sorting it out!) Cameron, Gove, Johnson and St. Theresa would all be put in the stocks and then splattered with Brussels. And rightly so The Pillocks.

Celebrity T.V. would be a thing of the past and newspapers would be required to publish facts not lies. Murdoch would be deported to North Korea where that sort of propaganda belonged. Hooray hooray……. and Sky Sports would be abolished……….. – just kidding!

Meditation and Yoga would be on schools pre class curriculum and The Beatles ‘All You Need is Love’ would replace the National Anthem. God was ecstatic. He danced like a mad thing round his living room smoking his pip and squeaked with delight as he watched the monarchy and all their obsequious hangers-on gather on the stairs of their new high rise flats whose upper floors had been allocated to them. Unfortunately, as always under their jurisdiction the lifts were out of order and they’d just have to use the stairs. Oh what a shame! Years of abuse and lying and exploitation wiped out before you could say Jeremy Corbyn and a great and wonderful future now lay ahead for the human race. – the louderest cheers wot ave ever been eard ever.

Chapter Five

The Proverbial
‘You Know What Hits the Fan’

Back at the Tory bunker things had gone from bad to worse and morale was at an all-time low. The caviar had run out and so had the plonk. Worst of all Theresa only had 50 pairs of shoes left. They had seen the latest news on their mobile phones and now knew that Jeremy Corbyn (J.C. for short) had taken control of the country and revolutionized it. Their immediate reaction had been to Pass Go, Collect their 200 Britcoins , pick up their Get Out of Jail free cards and then attempt to leave the country like rats deserting a sinking ship. However, just as they were about to concede defeat, Lucifer turned up and whipped them back into shape. In a matter of minutes he was drilling through the bunker roof to try to set up a satellite link with Fox News and arranging for Theresa May to broadcast the following right wing propaganda across the airwaves.

Viz.
J.C. is a communist and should be shot on sight.

Nationalization is a heinous crime and should carry the death penalty. Trade unions would be running the country and everyone would have to wear a flat cap, keep pigeons and go to’ free n easy at Christmas down at t’ working men’s club.

Old people would be forced to work on their allotments and keep coal in their baths.

Taxation would be doubled. Or even trebled or probably fourbled.

Remember that An Englishman’s homes are his castles and that only in the hands of the Ruling class is your future safe.

And Socialism is a dirty word and should be struck from the dictionary.

However as Theresa was getting ready to broadcast, one of the studio make-up artists [miffed by the Tory hypocrisy and recently evicted from one of the afore-mentionned cabinet ministers rented houses] slipped a draft of itching powder into the welter of her designer trouser suit. Just as Lucifer announced “Action! we are now live and on air” she was consumed by a barrage of itching. Unable to resist, she resorted to what can only be described as a tirade of frantic scratching and fumbling, her arms whirling like dervishes around her cavorting body and her finger nails scraping at every intimate itch. Cursing and swearing and tearing off the remains of her designer trouser suit she ran screaming from the studio.

Lucifer, in a devilish attempt at damage limitation, got on the blower to His Highness the right dishonourable Rupert Murdoch A.S.B.O. and commander of the Tory misinformation empire and got him to get the Fox newsline to close down the satellite link immediately. At this point the newscaster did exactly that but attempting to conclude with a degree of continuity, bade everyone an enjoyable evening and announced that that was a broadcast on behalf of the Tory Party. As this unfortunate debacle was unfolding in front of the remainder of the world’s population another much more sinister disaster was approaching. Lucifer’s crude attempts to drill through the bunker wall to establish the satellite link had set up a chain reaction in the sewers above the bunker and the 3 -mile sewage blockage that had been imperceptibly moving through the pipes over the last 4 decades suddenly freed itself and coursed freely into the Tory bunker. May, Gove, Johnson and their obsequious entourage were last seen surfing thirty tonne Fatberg through the bowels of the Tory bunker. A fitting end one might say for such an illustrious gathering.

Game set and match were the conclusions of J.C. and his wonky wardrobe. In fact so encouraged were they by these most fortunate events that they concluded their manifesto as follows;

There will be no more wars.

There will be no individual ownership of land.

Fences will fall.

The Arts will flourish.

Beautiful parks and gardens will enhance the beauty of our cities.[pigeons optional]

There will no longer be a culture driven by profit.

Religions will focus on a common humanity and the pursuit of peace and love.

There will be no leaders or political parties…only a wonkey wardrobe of the most talented individuals working for the many not the few. The advancement of the Spirit will be the new Mantra.

Oh yes and as a consequence Capitalism will eventually die out and become extinct (Surely everyone will now see that by its very nature only the Few could ever benefit from it)

And so J.C. having led the revolution stepped out on to centre stage and took a bow. The applause was ecstatic and lasted for several minutes. And for God the penny suddenly dropped!

J.C………… Nice one Son!


Pinching Salt

a collection of poems by

Steve Cartwright

Cover Painting by Steve Cartwright

Contents

Spitted

Sylvia Plath

Olympe de Gouges

Fear

If I Hear

Trump

Camden Market

Harry’s Fat

Me I Scarpered

Pinching Salt

Ode to a Spode

The Street

Tramp

Spitted

Spitted on an agony of doubt
I delay conclusions I have already sought,
eternally cooking in the fat of guilt and desperately
seeking salvation and its freedoms.
Nearby,
Heaven beckons lovingly.
Its paths confuse;
Seeking The One, I dither and stumble.
A toe in the waters of forgiveness, aye just a glimpse,
cleanses me.
I now await the waves of karmic oblivion to subside
and grant me full emersion.

Sylvia Plath

Scaling Heptonstall
We trundled
Battered by the wind.
Shivering, we rounded the church
And there, behind it, we saw the monastery
Its ruins staggering.
Though denuded of its finery; its roof, its leaded glass,
Its symmetry still glowed a glorious past.
Cloistered, it ran an avenue of corridors
Arched and holy
Surrounded by a rink of graves on which we skated,
scouring them for Sylvia.
Eventually we found her in the overspill among an eternity
of graves where neither monument nor banner marked her loneliness.
Only a lowly headstone and a ridge of pebbles.
A garden was her shroud.
Someone had erased her married name,
The Hughes struck out.
A statement proclaiming her a poet in her own right
And an accusation aimed at the patriarchy whose shadow
dimmed her light.
Now though, Sylvia shines from her grave both as a genius
in her own right and an icon for a more enlightened age.

Olympe de Gouges

Its hard to fathom understand
How France when revolution sprang,
Could so discard and then abuse
The brilliance of Olympe de Gouges,
How could a woman such as she
Then meet her end in the same way
As felons, murderers and thieves
The super rich ,the monarchy
The duke, the duchess, the marquis
Spread-eagled on the guillotine?
For these we know deserved their fate
For crimes against the human race.
In decadence they lived their days
All beings viewed by them as slaves
Who pandered to their every need
Washed them, dressed them, served them food
Plied their make-up to their faces
Flattered all their airs and graces
Fed them brioche, sugared bread
Tucked their children up in bed.
Washed their linen, poured their wine
Served caviar at dinnertime.
Silver spoons and golden ladles
Lay upon their heaving tables
Napkins of the fi nest lace
Lay beneath their dinner plates.
Cut glass decanters, ornate bowls
Laid out before these pampered souls.
And food of every style and mode
From every corner of the globe
Impeccably displayed and served
With gravies, sauces, spices, herbs
And oyster, lobster, goose and quail
Were served to them at every meal.
And chocolate and the finest wines
They guzzled as they came to dine.
And over all of this there ruled
The Marquis and his gang of fools
Strutting out upon their steeds
To check the boundaries on his deeds,
While in her chateau La Marquise
Surrounded by her family
Adorned in rubies silver gold
Festooned in lace and rich chiffon,
Scream and giggle as they gobble
At the heaving dining table
Look out upon the snow and ice
And have their servants load the fi res
While these same servants spend their days
Deprived in every single way.
They work and toil upon his lands
From dawn till dusk they labour on
They live their days in poverty
Spend their lives in drudgery.
They watch their trembling children starve
Or freeze for want of food and warmth.
Used and abused in every way,
Nothing more than common slaves.
But Olympe de Gouges had always screamed
Against these tyrannies that she’d seen
She saw the filthy, stinking rich
And those who bore the brunt of it.
She always was, in her short life
An advocate of human rights.
She knew the changes that must come
Vive La revolution!
But so much more she wanted changed.
Firstly the sorry plight of slaves
And then for women there must be
The same with men, equality.
Nor did she want to see
The sordid madame guillotine
Used so freely to despatch
The monarch and aristocrat.
She felt a better way would be
To hold them under lock and key
Not butcher them in public view
The women and their children too.
So that they too became the same
As those whose lives they sought to take.
But Olympe de Gouges had wealth and power
The Jacobins need rid of her.
The Girondins from whence she came
Had all gone to the guillotine
And as the Terror now began
Olympe de Gouges’ time had come
This new regime did not intend
To implement Enlightenment.
And so with those who used the poor
And put their monies into war
Invested in the slaving trade
Lived out their useless pampered days
Creating lives of misery
And living off their poverty,
Olympe de Gouges, this spirit free
This champion of equality
This champion of human rights
This harbinger of love and light
Then shared the stage with such as these
Embracing Madame Guillotine
And with her too there died that day
Her vision of fraternity
Of liberty and her clarion call
Equality for one and all.

Fear

Fear is a dreadful thing.
It lingers in a myriad of places.
Flares up when some past events recalled
Or leaps out when least expected.
An article, a word misplaced,
A strangers face
A bit of T.V. footage,
Anything can raise it up.
And in an instant, miniscule, it rears its ugly head
Assumes a size immense,
Grows out of all proportion,
Stands looming, stops you dead,
Impairs your thinking.
Makes you falter, fills you with dread.
It heats you up, draws out your sweat
Sends panic wracking every fibre of your body
Flits around inside your head.
Sends thoughts in trilli seconds hurtling into cells.
It feeds upon itself, grows fat
It has no limit to its size
Fear feeds on fear
And like a raging tiger stops you in your tracks
It can’t be fully stopped
But will retreat.
Say how balloons deflate.
Some logic lets it down.
Blows some of it away,
And though it lingers still in fibres in the brain to
flare back up
It can be tamed.
And so it seems this is the way.
We are here we have no choice.
We have to live, engage, live out our days
Keep fear at bay.
Learn ways of thinking that will hold it off
Be positive
Content and light and caring
Develop laughter
Seek out love.
Keep that tiger in the cupboard
Locked away.
Keep sentiments of doubt and darkness
Crushed beneath the boot.
They must not reach the cupboard,
Flick the latch,
Let tiger out,
To catch us out and corner us again
Flit about in our mad head
And heat us up
And stop us in our tracks again.

If I Hear

If I hear anybody else talk about the royal baby
I will personally rearrange their features with a
lavatory brush
Or stick a drain plunger in their Christmas
pudding
Oh yes I will
Oh yes I will
Well I might
Well I could do
It’s a possibility.

Trump

There was a young feller called Trump
Who gave everyone round him the hump
They looked for a noun to describe this sad clown
But they just couldn’t find one they couldn’t.
I’m gonna build a big wall’s what he said
Cos them Mexicans made him see red
Though he ranted and raved at the Mexican wave
He’d got a Mexican wave on his head.
With that overcoat down by his heel
He’s a gunslinger ready to kill
But with his tie hanging just twixt his knees and his nuts
It’s hard not to laugh, ain’t it just?
Put a Stetson on top of his head
He’s a cowboy right through born and bred
Don’t give him no lip or he’ll shoot from the hip
And fill o all you fuckers with lead
When he sticks out that low bottom jaw
And his mouth opens up like a door
You can tell from the crap that comes out of his trap
He ain’t got much of a cerebral core.
Now the world’s being run by two clowns
Now that Johnson and Trump are in town
They won’t heed the warning about global warming
They’ll just sit there and watch us all drown.
So consider this, will you my friends
When your belly’s all swollen with wind.
You scream with relief, when that fart is released
‘Cos a Trump’s better out than kept in!

Camden Market

Among a billion trilbies, top hats, flat caps, handbags,
satchels, briefcases, belts, Buddha’s, silk scarves,
candles, joss sticks, prints and paintings,
The one thing that really stood out for me
Was this bloke,
With his back to the wall,
Sitting amongst the heavy throng,
Legs crossed,
A can of Special Brew and a half empty miniature of
Bells next to him on the ground.
He was dozing off.
He seemed to sum up the sheer pointlessness of it all.
A sea of humanity gorging on Mammon.

Harry’s Fat

Harry’s fat.
Bill’s not.
He’s long and tender
Deliberate and attentive.
A foil to the fat football of Harry’s spewing words.
Non-stop
A fountain of ideas and pain
Seeking absolution.
A brick shithouse
He’ll flatten you with each sentence
A steamroller on the raz
Uncontrolled and flying.
A vessel, he takes on our dithering and spews it out
A tirade of fears rolling down the alley
He surely will not wobble into the gutter.
He doesn’t need those safety guards.
Bull-like he’ll crash head first into the melee.
Pick up the pieces later.
I like him though
A lot.

Me I Scarpered

They were playing a world snooker final on what
appeared to be an old chaise longue.
It was deeply quilted.
Covered with a winceyette sheet stretched over
Real tight.
Nobody seemed to notice
That is
Till the Hurricane missed a sitter from six inches.
The ball jumped out of the pocket and turned into an onion
Then it kicked off.
I left.
Went outside.
There was a priest garbed, cassocked and fish-hatted
His arms folded behind.
Welded into his clerics garb,
He looked like a skittle or a small milk bottle.
Suddenly he began to move
Click clocking towards me down the stairs
As though he’d been wound up.
Me
I scarpered.

Pinching Salt

I like the idea of pinching salt.
Not stealing it.
Pinching it.
Sprinkling it on the supper
Much more satisfying than a mill or some such other dispenser
Though I will admit
The mill’s grinding is a pleasure
But still not as good as a pinch
It’s like posh people slumming it.
Makes you feel like a 3-star Michelin chef when you’re doing it.
People watching probably think.
“Hey I bet he could slice a cucumber into a 1,000 slithers
without even batting an eyelid or chopping a finger off.”
The pie funnel or chimney.
Now that’s another matter altogether.
It’s a heat release or a thing to let out water.
I dunno, but it’s high end working class.
Rabbits and pigeon pie stuff.
Poaching.
Two fingers up to the governor.
I leave it out to show people I’ve got one.
What a poser.
The devilled kidney dish thing
Eh, what a winner that is.
Like a hot water bottle on the table
Or worse a bedpan
But it keeps your nosh hot
And people know you’re loaded if you’ve got one.
I say to the wife
Pass the gravy boat.
I say it loudly.
Then more pianissimo
I call for the salt.
Unfortunately it’s still in the salt cellar
Therefore still not up to scratch.
I remind her
It’s time we pinched instead of grinding.
She looks relieved.

Ode to a Spode

Of my lovely cup
Now only shards remain.
Porcelain knife-like petals, they huddle in the bowl.
Angry and detached they want to stab.
This fine bone china once conveyed my coffee and added
something special to the brew.
A delicate addition but hard to specify.
The handle, now no longer handle, has become a squiggle
or a Van Gogh ear
Or perhaps the letter ‘j’
And it’s exquisite symmetry still conveys the essence of the
bowl that it once shouldered.
Now that it’s great soul has been released
I honour this fine cup with these poor lines.
Though, without a pyre
Reluctantly
I toss it in the bin.

The Street

Connie’s struggling.
She can’t get up.
Bent almost double, she creaks from the single bed.
I want to die
I want to die
She says
Her voice catching.
Thin stalks of legs poke beneath her nightie.
She sits down on the sofa,
The tiny flat cocoons her,
The bed downstairs now.
She’s lived here all her life
Proper cockney
And she’s so very old.
Jaws grinding,
False teeth slipping,
She sips her tea.
Eyes, though, behind the bonkers glasses
Perching on her nose
As bright as stars twinkling
When she is distracted.
Reminiscing,
Thinking about her and Archie doing the jitterbug.
Wouldn’t ‘ave no other bloke
Allers trying it on.
Know what I mean.
I ain’t that sort of gal.
Ain’t having none of that,
But me and Archie
Me and Archie
Then drifting off
A deep and velvety giggle lights up her lovely
ancient face.
Mates come in to clean things up a bit
Strong, hard, loving, lovely women.
“’Ello Connie, how you doin’?
“Want a cuppa?”
“Corse I do, corse I do”
Pulls her robe around her.
Tightens up the belt.
Her feet in socks and slippers.
She’s got so little
Still renting.
Around her tiny flat
The scrapers grow
They’re on the march
It is as if they’re munching up on Hoxton Street
The Shard, a giant rocket
Centre stage
Phallic
And round it
Ent-like
The high-risers seem to march,
Sell for millions.
Huge apartments,
Verandas scouring the city parks and the river.
Giants they gobble
Muscling out the old, the poor
Closing down the old pubs, the old shops
The old trades.
The old ways.
Gentrified,
They gleam with coffee shops and galleries
And with indifference they sprawl.
Her neighbours, poor, tired, bewildered, powerless,
They strut and mutter.
But Connie doesn’t grumble.
It’s the future.
She just wants to die.

Tramp

Frank.
Could have been your favourite uncle.
Probably was somebody’s.
Greying,
Not surprising really.
Late 60s,
Cap clamped firmly on his head.
Long grey hair sticking out,
A woollen overcoat,
Tied at the waist.
Old grey flannels, not that untidy.
Maybe the trainers were the giveaway,
Not really an old folks choice
White Nikies, the sole flapping.
Stuck out like a sore thumb,
But out of necessity!
Fit though,
He legged it over the fence by the bridge,
Behind him under the concrete arch lay his home
Stuffed with duvets
And other things.
Later that day he came back,
Climbed back down,
His stuff was burned.
All gone,
Everything the lot.
The last I saw of him
He’d rolled a ciggy.
Sat smoking it as he looked out at the
wild Iris
Poking out of the Thames Embankment.
It was raining,
Ping-ponging on the river.
Just like a postcard.