Launch of a New Blog

Cover front blog 1

Following on from the posting of my Prose Poem – ‘Life ~ Long’ –  I have started the serialisation of my book that inspired this piece.

It is posted on its own blog pages and will be updated weekly with the next chapter. It’s not a piece of ‘light’ reading and contains some adult themes so be warned if you are of a sensitive nature, the introduction might explain this but, it is a piece that tells an interesting story of parts of my life, and, as is frequently said, ‘truth is often stranger than fiction’.

Click here to take a look

Cover front blog 2

If you enjoy the first chapter, or at least find it interesting, you can ‘Follow’ the blog or get updates via email when each new instalment is available, just click the appropriate button on the right of the blogs screens.

Life~Long : a prose poem

Prose Poetry:
“A literary work which exhibits poetic quality using emotional effect and heightened imagery but is written in prose instead of verse.”

Life Long 2017 front web

Life. Long idyllic days, large loving family whos many generations share the work of a busy home, vibrant gardens and fresh farm fields. Here it’s all home cooking, home making, endless baking of all that’s whole-sum which gives everything a tender toddler needs. But crushed amid the countless comings and goings, with people drifting in and out, everywhere and inside out, amidst it all my constitution builds but introverted isolation blights and I resolve to be marginally unstable, and physically, rather stout.

Being the last of three, cute enough to clamber up on almost any knee, I soon get bored and with little kerfuffle, no one sees when I start to shuffle, on my every broadening bottom across green tiled floor, from hiding under the colossal central table towards the beckoning, always open, wide back door.

Here cats and dogs and even worms are my constant friends and when, eventually, walking out further, caged birds chatter and flutter, until some are eaten by vivid rodents. All this wonder offers up life’s variety in broad stroked pictures. But, confronted with life’s hard knocks, contrasting with my mother’s soft enfoldments, even at this early age I’m left to decide, in life, the relevant do’s and don’ts, the cans and cant’s, where the heaven falls on the hard.

Growth spurts push me to be more able and I help at the now reachable kitchen table and on around the many roomed house, carrying coal for the fires, ironing flat cloths of red check kerchief, and stirring boiled greens. Strength turns to turning spits of soil in wild gardens which is a natural gateway to ventures much further afield.

Out here, exploring the idyllic fields, I find huge semi-tame beasts only interested in their grazing, and as the chattering chaos indoors gets less appealing, I trek to the far and away, every step offering new worlds, complex singularities, each more amazing, each so much more wild and fantastic. Sometimes I’m scared so stiff, I allow it’s wonder to re-mould me, still being made from podgy, primordial, pot bellied plastic.

In this new world, such a cruel world, my tinted inner nature develops despite all the nurture, and I feel my alternate faces turn, perhaps to those things a little too bold, too beastly, I feel rather harshly, I’m getting quite bombastic.


Then suddenly, all mysterious, school days are on me, one saving grace it seems, a big brother’s singular job to look out, just, if he must, for the shy little ‘b’. But with the safe sight of home gone, he quickly, cruelly, lets go of my tiny trembling hand, and walks on at a pace that leaves me blind, I shuffle on cold reluctant feet, scanning all around, all alone, uncertain of just where I should go. Bravely I run on towards his back but towards what? Hopefully there would be others there that might somehow happen to know.

Then I see the other kids, many about my age, running riotously around, they seem to know each other, not that I can really tell but my doubt delights to confuse matters and I find myself really, not all that keen. Then recognition intervenes and there, two I can smile at, but, being oh so painfully shy, I still only manage a limp ‘Hi Ian’ then ‘Hi Jimmy’ as they just pass me, right on by. So I try ‘Hi Helen’ but it’s the same and I’m left fully daunted. Cautiously, I don’t go for ‘Hi Peter’,  the one I really favoured, he I could play with, talk to, but it’s sadly all too clear, even in this one impossibly perfect pal, I’m still sociably, unfeatured.

So, a bell rings and I follow head down into classrooms all strange, on seats that give cold comfort, I diligently do just as we’re told, is this really what school’s like, till we all grow up and all too soon, get so very old? But then with papers and pencils and writing and sums, it all somehow adds up to something that quite possibly, probably, might just be fun. So, perhaps it’s not all bad and I decide to give it a go, just for today, only on trial, I just go with the flow.

Soon then it’s playtime, there’s cold milk and with growing hope I manage to corner that pal Peter, ‘Hello, would you like to share this, it’s just my milk?’ but he just throws a hard spoken ‘No’, thankful my clean, perfectly ironed, red checked hanky is at hand and in here, my disappointment I blow.

Despite such hardships, this little school turns out not all that bad. Days rolling into weeks which soon fast forwarding to unimaginable years, what was all that fuss about, those cold concerns amid fumbled confusions, bound up in my ridiculous child-like fears. But I have yet to recognise that, in whatever educational age, I’m never going to break into school society where, despite such teasing glimpses, I remain at the chagrin rim of social circles and can only lust after such impossible friendships. Perhaps it’s only the curlicues of my mind that curb the sweet views of compatibility, will life allow me the move to lift the impenetrable veil of inclusion, although deeply hidden, I already know, there’s no pleasant or practical resolution.


Away from the contortions of the classroom, having contrived to play out with said pal Peter, it’s oddity sticks in my head and words are stuck in my throat, all the things I wanted to say, like just how much of myself I would give for one roll in his, not so metaphorical, hay.

Silenced by such ignorance, we climb on bales and I stare at long legs locked on sinewy ropes, he calls for chase, I crave the briefest touch from his svelte curvaceous arms which stretch far from a firm, fabulous body. He flies in the face of fear, I simply cry inside, please, what can possibly be the harm, but yet again I hear it only in my head and yet again I know, I have neither the power, nor the charm.

With a flick of his fine long neck, golden silk sways, loops and settles, maybe it just needs a little help from my wanton fingers to be perfect? Could I reach out? I feel I’m not ready, indeed not all that sure that such a touch would be acceptable, even possible, although it’s plainly inscribed on the mystical list, where things you can physically do with other boys is writ, but then, with my lack lustre luck, here, in the now, he is surely bound to resist.
All too soon it’s home time, opportunity for games are over, but cruelly, these imaginary passions run on wildly inside my head where the only outcome of any certainty, is the fumbled miscarriage of physical hope, as I retire to the cold and soon dream-wet, ugliness, of my loveless empty bed.

To cope with constant disappointment, I decide it best to be prim, to be plain, outwardly cute, mommy’s good little boy, only it seems that nobody’s taking note. He, pal Peter who, having neither clear inclination nor clouded clue of what he means to me, what he does to me, indeed, that we’re so different in ways that I can’t speak of, or be part of, the widening wastelands of unrequited feelings consume all tangible life, as I fall, headlong into a hollow emotional darkness and he heads off to his boarding school.


Needing a believable replacement, I indulge myself in the most improbable concepts, they at least allow a degree of contact sport ably assisted by She, mother nature, who brings them fluidly and sweetly to my bedroom or the bathroom or far off landscapes where there’s just too many twisted, contrary, confusing things to see clean life clearly and the folly of my wayward musing sets a unknown precedent for future pleasure.

That egregious Mother also delivers her bundles of hormonal gore, feeding such sprouting and swelling and fuzz gilded things, I know not what could they be called. Older boys I hear laughing about same, what are they calling them, their balls? I hear a snigger about wanking and feeling up girls of whom some it is rumoured, are up for a quick fumble or even an erroneously named blow-job, so it’s claimed, when safely denuded behind a bike rack, or the big woody oak or the putative privacy of the pool house, well, that’s according to Thompson who claims that he’s done it, he’s had it, so mad, wild, fantastic I’m so jealous, that’s what I want, no, not with her, no, I want it hard and with Him.

An Adonis like incarnation, with skin so perfect, cropped hair sharp and simply stunning. In my head thoughts fall over themselves fuelled by my viral imagination, I’m constantly looking for ways to gain full sight of his immaculate perfection, and almost collapse as he’s finally revealed in the showers, naked, we and shimmering, fabulously firm from the heat of the gym where he had just taunted me in only the shortest of sweat clung shorts. Really, nearly, clearly, what could possibly be the harm to have all these feelings, that thankfully nobody can see and I pray others won’t wrongfully expose but decide for my own safety, it’s best to keep all such things internalised, saved up for some rarefied self-abuse with my still small but gaunt stiffness, raised easily to hand by my bounty of feelings.

Always alone, I rub up and down, rose tinted images flash to my mind’s eye and the visualisation of said Adonis looms large and firm. Here I safely touch the dream that is his perfectly gel pricked hair but always too quickly I’m trapped beneath the final explosion with which, even my wayward nature struggles to cope. It’s a force that’s far above anything that mere sexuality should be allowed to feel, and sadly, it’s a force soon spent, and a fast cooling afterglow hardly feeds my particular, if peculiar, vision of an impossible physical love. I’m left chilled in my wet and wayward musing. A shadow falls.


What is the point of my love if I can’t feel this forbidden love, simply, honestly, openly? Will there ever be a time to be fulfilled, free in this wide, wild, world, without the doors of my personal closet firmly closed against humanity. Life has its questions to ask before living can commence but beneath them, cowering, the silence remains black. This then becomes the norm for both school and social circles, and I take it on the chin and face the fact that there may never be other places I can go, to get the type of comfort I so categorically need.

But the memory of earlier delinquent goals never really leaves and I keep my eyes low to take the occasional sneaky peek, at some honey blonde beauty, dressed so sharp with hair trimmed slick and sleek. Only sometimes I’m not so careful and less guarded glances start to get me noticed. Despite trying to play things down, act mockingly meek, they still take my money meant for dinner and at the back of the bus, throw more than the obligatory punch, there, oiled by stinging words spat into my face, made more of a target with bent teeth in an ugly brace. Invisibly I cringe and cry but still go without tasting yet another longed for lunch.

Desperation finally tramples me down, and with rather less covert attentions I turn to face the rude and the rough, raucous anti-angels I know would be the very worst of friends. In this retrograde action, silently calling their bluff, drawn by those base and elemental needs I can’t hide from my hearts desire, knowing the end result will be more beatings to bruise any loving feelings. I close my eyes tight and feel the cold steel in the boot that meets with my wanting arse, and arms absorb poundings that don’t readily show, unlike the raw ripped edges of a once white shirt or another expensive blazer and with oh so many ties cut off a the knot, I’m eventually left alone, but still cold.

Predictably, it’s only my soul that ends up penetrated with the stinking bile of their loveless lust and rancid hurt. The perpetrators just laugh, bullish, it’s only a bit of bullying, I’m not the first, obviously not the last, but what can I do, I can’t suck up or face down, I just stand and stare, with my pink tinged frown.

In the fallout of parental intervention, things are not all that different, albeit illogical, another bruise won’t get me fulfilled, that twisted brutal touch, no, please don’t knock it, somehow it’s just what hopes were made for, a fleeing moment of pain stabbed pleasure with another’s hot hand in my pocket, their groping digits seeking coinage, stolen sweets, or perhaps things put by my devious design, so I can get my dick felt, my balls squeezed, oh what kind of pain could be more intense and yet so deliciously divine. When they’ve long gone into class, I cry from their dexterous rape, but draw breath, and once more with watered eyes blinking, brush off any outward damage, knot yet another spare tie, and gently massage whatever is left bruised, blue or shrinking.

In skin that still smarts only on the outside, I remain only vaguely violated on the inside, yet my mind is no more clear, as once again, nothing positive or phallic has been achieved nor rationalised, but then, why should anything in my world of intimate violence ever be satisfied.

What’s left is kept inside my head, blind untested fantasies, bordering on bearish barbarity, unlocked only to free the forces of nature before limping flaccidly home to roost where I revert to what, for me, has become rudely normal. Cradling my genitals gently, closing hardening eyes, once more, again, I, hide.


Then suddenly I’m all grown up, but still crudely sewn up in things that refuse to become clear, where, despite knowing that boys get hard and glowing to make messy with girls, I see, for me, below the belt anyway, it’s been never been so and I’m no nearer the real deal, for me it’s a queer deal and what’s hidden deep in my core, although no less heartfelt, seems it’s never to be laid bare.

But there must be others like me, not so cruel, not so hateful, but it’s so hard, how do I find them, talk to them, maybe be physical with them, one thing’s stark, I’m never going to get there, not in my own back yard. But in the darkness of a wasted college year, a glimmer of hope shows as a faceless encounter assaults with hot handed advances in the photography darkroom, unseen but no less keen, blinded by a benefit only dreamed of in far off worlds, now, once forced upon my person, this oral exorcism takes me to heights of wonder where beauty bursts burning from a pent-up fortitude before disappearing far far far too quickly. Fearing it never to be repeated, I force the experience from fading into the vast sea of normality and even now I can blush at its recall but bloom in its heat.

So how about now? Will it ever be the case that, in a world where I’m sure be judged, not for my kindness or my shyly observed if outrageous contradiction, all I want to be is at one with other like-minded beasts and tell the rest to go stuff themselves with their made up, infectious, antiquated consternation, only each time, at moments of weakness, all those old contradictions call me loud, and I quietly capitulate to my disparate feelings of guilt.


Yes, I know I’m rather different, strangely special, fundamentally an outstanding example of the social freak. But needing to be included, bowing to idealistic social pressures, I eventually play the game with the girl, force feed my gizzard with a more bland, grainy persona, outwardly, oh so very meek while I drown in meaningless face-painted feelings, and wedding bells ring out and around a misplaced love that still harbours my reality, fortunately undetected.

Drag me away from all this I dream and pray, what for me now as I find myself terrifyingly rejected?

Hidden inside this new dull married guise, I smoothly delude the sweet someone that she and I will be perfect in each others love. Here I breath with her and feel for her, make an alternate form of love to her loosely wrapped in a cold heartless and ultimately anonymous code, where, when she touches me, tries to hold me privately, I shudder, force back fatal fears that set me up to eviscerate my meat and then implode.

In a relatively if predictably sort time, my needs look for other ways to sate their repressed hormonal madness, all those bent, vicarious venal needs which, of course, I easily find. Falling for a simple smile, maybe just a knowing nod, although nothing that Joe Public naturally notices or heeds, with patience I soon find it all. Having paid their rent, I can easily take time with wayward but wispy and willing boys down dark shady streets or in stinking filthy corners, avoiding any unsolicited discovery or alarm. But here, my true needs and excesses are finally blown, and using another’s firm handed playfulness, I feel only mildly concerned for the outcomes as I fall for the smoothness of practiced charm; what could possibly be the problem, who was I ever going to harm?

The fall comes of course but, not being completely without feeling I try  to mould answers for the ones I leave behind so soon, graphically hurting. Yet I continue to play away and payout more and still more to leer at hard hot man and fool with soft cool boys just to prove myself again but yet again, remaining mostly unsatisfied, I am that fully-blown, carnivorous, queer that I always feared I would be.

In this twilit haze, life fades with the inevitable instability of untruths, as sure as the sun sets on every reluctant marriage day and that blinkered bubble is unceremoniously burst by the stabbing pains of my non-conformity. All’s gone in one final hot headed confrontation. Words are sharpened, designed to stab deep with a truth that’s not strictly true, but twisted to maximise my pain, but I’m scared when things look to get physical, and I retreat.

My barbed backlash is so alien, as I hear the words slap across her bleached face, it’s a view that now looks quizzical, but sadly small and simply, lost. It’s a dark and horrible result. I watch bewildered from afar as so many marital gains shatter on the floor and I realise now that in this mess, only everyone loses. Seeing no path for redemption I turn tail and bolt.

Cold, like a mystical ghost, I take one last longing look at my helpless progeny, carelessly sleeping, thankfully sound. My tears flood in stinging waves, drowning out glimmers of sensitivities now fully lost.
Tearing myself from their bubble of innocence, I disappear in a fog of grieving and guilt that leaves me cold like a stone, I know I’ve gone too far, gone somewhere deep underground.

Thoughts of darker worlds flood my minds abyss as I drive, crazed by my unintelligible actions. Although my head hangs low, my nerves are swept high by a pain that forms into a howl of such lamentation, it risks my place on the rolling black road but I think, no matter, death might feed me answers and, as nothing else seems capable of sating this emotional hunger and humiliation, hell might be a blast.


Unable to defend the defenceless, futile justifications leave me lifeless, but alive. Then, on the approach the house of one of those lurid traders in their sex, not knowing what I need, the boy gratefully sees me as this sad debilitated foundling. I let him take me, and warm me, and wrap me in almost every comfort, accompanied as ever by the usual rates of financial inducement. Even here though, behind the mask of youth’s perfection, in this star studded, meat-eating world, I feel the pains of spiritual hunger in the knowledge that its sad, pseudo satisfaction is devoid of anything remotely sentimental. Blinded by his boundless physical beauty, I sink further into the exotic excess which invalidates anything meaningful, but, as so many times before, he feeds me semen till I’m sore, fully satisfied, he is monumental, yet still I cry.

The light of these salty days brings forth only duplicitous faces which blind my senses as they swarm over me, yet I find myself friendless if I was only question it. Why is there still so much lacking? All the things that I craved are right here in both hands, yet real life remains hidden under my personal, ashes and sacking.

Of course the glitter and glamour of this wanton world ultimately starts to fade, only my rose tinted memory is still minded to remind me how this life is so dammed and destructive. By now any penile play is hard to maintain, certainly not long enough for the pleasure once so longed for. No more the joy of hard penetrating hope, thrusting its palpable delectation, comfort which was once guaranteed, pleasures once intensely intimate and assured, slip sadly to just sleeping, in the more literal accord. The money is the key it seems, once unconsidered is now in greater need for responsibilities I can no longer ignore.

I force myself to infrequent trips to a once homely space, filled now with only the emotional pleading of wide-eyed little faces, all too soon left standing bemused and confused at their dull green front door. The backwash of this reality sweeps each rented engagement so far away they are like cartoons scrawled on a Rembrandt, ridiculous and obscure.


When the glitter boys are finally gone, I’m left in my sour solitude where thoughts once more race wild and fight their way through my man-made defences that increasingly fail to secure my sanity, and I watch, helpless, as self-preservation fail and senses fall and unsanitary.

Alone, the only human touch I feel is my own, where I enter a world set to keep me cold, calculating, where reality remains unavailable as I’m hidden in a crusted carapace.

Here I’m left to ponder alternative, strange but potentially exciting excesses. Developed, these soon regularly relieve themselves in me, to a point where the balance of satisfaction sways from a simple beauty, to one allied with their darkly complex alternatives. Bathed in the heat of such depraved ejaculates, the gilding is only fools gold but, how easily it holds and hardens for my new preferred projections.

With added risks and dangers bringing things to the point of lift-off, it’s only at the point of delivery that I find myself physically soft, here, bereft of confidence in such appalling coitus, so often I find I have to zip up and zip off, flaccid in body, and in a brain which was not thinking at all.

Struggling and scared at such a revelation, I look at such brazen beauty from an increasing distance, despite wanting to suck out the very dregs of what might have been, I dig deep and am honest enough, for once, to know that it should never again be seen.

Once calm and relatively rational, I ask myself, what is all this testosterone mellifluence for? Such things I would have considered killing for are now just ghosts. Finally unburdened from the beast with two backs, a meal for one is found much closer to home and has more greys than blacks.


Thankfully, dragged back from the brink by autonomous reactions, I fall again onto things worked out to be safe. Despite involving mostly the inanimate, smooth and stout, they are at least things that don’t complain to me, or empty my wallet, or play on my constantly questioned sense of self-worth, fuelled by the faggots of endlessly nagging doubts of living such a life.

But even here, there is the law of ever diminishing returns, marked by markedly less satisfaction and once more I search for a little more risk in which to drown often double bent, each time pushing boundaries that see me cleaving to almost anything and all too soon, it’s back to the worst of the rent.

Hailing them easily, they realise I’m desperate, despite the pain that I feel in my wallet each time I capitulate to their raw deals, I finally reach the most unpalatable of carnal inversions and force feed my satisfaction as they suck me dry, yet I thrust deeper and harder than I could imagine I was capable. Pain is no boundary until it screams and rips the heart from my helmet as it withdraws blooded from its violation. The world spins, and I finally, fall off its rim.

Having tested the worst I thought I could do, morality moves in some mysterious way and I move back to things better known. Although not as diverse, still tasting slightly sweet, it’s a smaller thrill, but a thrill at least, well maybe a treat. But I know it’s still far from acceptable and I have to find a way to accept only the simplest needs of a soft bodied, hard faced, two faced fool, me, the petulant and sociopathetic sod.

Why on earth can’t I just be normal, why was I so scared, so ineffectual when faced by the witless normality of marriage, unwilling to interact with the intimate intricacies of the female garden. It’s simply the male external inverse and internal, how can something unseen make such fear to rage in my head, unfathomable and infernal.

Hanging mid beat, heart strings taught with horrors sing confused songs into my inner ear, so real, they taint every aspect of a falsified existence filled with bodies beautiful both real and unexpected. Yet forced feelings of moral duties rise, and fanciful fantasies have to be banished in favour of a nearly lost love for my family. I try, really I do but the fever is strong and I fail yet again.


With the free attentions of masculine eyes remaining ripe but unattainable, I turn inexorably to more perverse distractions and things that I can’t talk about even here, you can’t imagine the limits of the when, the what, or the who but eventually, even in their limitless embrace, still satisfaction fails this queer. Proving too much, a decision is made, a chapter sealed, a life bagged and busted. Life is unravelling, uncharted once more.

Once my decision to quit all fools is made, that exquisite entourage fades away and, knowing them, straight back to business. However much my choice might be right, every now and again, memories of their tantalising talent taunts, leaving me cruelly listless. In the hollow left from once hard held hopes, there seems little in any life to fill the space formed by a roundness of young rump or a more rigid rebuff.

But it’s over. Only, when left lonely and alone, scarified images remain inside my scull, and I find I divert my crude attentions t’ward richly patinated pictorial pleasures, unclothed in many degrees of proclivity, my restless desire for endless, painless relief is relentlessly wrought, then stored secretly secure for the many long rainy days ahead. All moral debate can be left for some alternate future at an as yet, un-recordable date.

In this re-closeted excess, fluids flow and fancies grow and a catalogue of immense proportions builds. I could drown in my own juices and no one would know, but it’s mine, here at last I can live in a private heavenly world. It’s black, but it’s blessed.


Then needlessly, one hapless day, truth and the law finally outs me, but what did I honestly expect to come from such sordid and vain weakness? What hope for freedom when I can’t detach myself from sleazy flawless youths who compound my untamable lust with their superficial, now only two dimensional perfection in gloss printed sleekness. The glittering baubles of this hidden life are unceremoniously burst with a fan-fair of blue flashing beacons while the mess left behind lies blooded, bruised, all social outcomes now far from certain.

So it’s the big house for me where, on one hand it should’ve been the end of all reasonable life, somehow, there develops a prickly positivity, but then, for one so contrived as I, how could it be anything less like a calamity? In my upside down world, through the usual convoluted cognitive, I set my mind, to do my time, keep my head down although even here, I can’t resist, to sneak a peek when I can, at the muscled madness of man and the most unlikely crafted criminal beauty. Amid the stifling madness I surprise even myself just how easy it is to live and even find safe comfort in this peculiar penitential process.

The only flies in the steel barred ointment are the twice weekly visitations, having to watch the pain of friends and family, lost loved ones all who weep or simper, while all the time the eyes in the back of my head can only think of the magnificence of the hardened faces of exquisite criminal factions, wrapped in danger, burning beautiful and restless behind vacant eyes. Amongst all those exhilarating cons my fancy is never flaunted, despite still harbouring my wild imagination, hopes of hand jobs or better are far from being fulfilled, perhaps it’s enough just to soak up the fumes of their fervour and then, when locked safely away and often only inside my head, be handily relived by my own imaginative relieving.


All too soon and unexpected I’m out, having only just made my mind right to accept ten more years in this somehow satisfying kind of haven. It’s a shock being back in the real world where I find myself even more alone, abandoned, sanctioned to ignore the most painful of cravings. Is there to be no freedom in this war raged by a faceless fanatical law?

Now on the outside, society’s guardians focus their ire deep into my soul and try to work out what makes me tick, unfortunately I find myself stuck for answers, and alternatively pursue the inner workings of these very masculine minders, view their rounded behinds and imagine their rampant pricks.

Three years was my comeuppance and patiently, each weather worn week I trek to talk to my probationary Tom, his order, to tackle all those things that make Me, into the things that are not maybe, really Me. Skilfully, he manages not to drag down my resolve or set a rise to my hackle but, because he is so good at his job and with his pleasant, even vulnerable visage, he makes the process palatable and, at times even manageable. I express my inner workings which, when spoken out sound as they are, rather fay, and somehow, greasy. But even here, in the comfort of his contentment, I leave out the most dire, the most shocking, because, as never being on the radar of this miserable mess, there’s dirt enough to examine, minutely moralise and outwardly repress.

There are those moments that I find I really want to vocally free-fall and digress to the things that would certainly court trouble, or is it just the same old self­-destructive need to unleash a greater monster, whose gross value would certainly create an uncompromising shock. Pleading internally against the deed, I keep those darkest thoughts locked away with a certainty that they, most certainly, would put me back behind that still enticing, tantalising, solid built, tattooed and toned, prison warder’s satisfying, but uncompromising lock.

With thoughts of such banished, well at least discouraged, I’m given homework, in whose simple routines return thoughts to school days that I so preferred. With this natural prowess, I buckle down to fill in their forms, write out their essays on life and love and loss, with the hope that the real truth might somehow be out there but, realistically, all still remains deferred.

Strangely, this forced indulgence somehow sparks something rather unexpected, perhaps even useful, it’s where the writing is the thing that I come to enjoy despite the content. In it, I still wrangle with that which it is not so easily deflected, but the outpourings come unrelenting, some disguised vaguely in verse with rhyme and even rhythm, although most is endless eulogising via often ponderous prose. Who knew all that stuff was in there, down deep inside me, flowing out now like some linguistic, high pressure hose.

Soon, with the makings of a book under my hand, the best and the worst of my cruel long-lived disgrace displaying all that is far from normality, when down in print on a page in stark black on white, I see just how far I have travelled from any useful part of humanity. But it’s only a process and it does have its benefits, even if the sum of its parts may never see the sanitising light of day.


Now, with that first labour of twisted and confusing love dotted and done, despite my fears, I look to write lighter words that I can at least share with my peers. Trying perhaps too hard, I craft useful tracts, but as so many slip back to the deep and ever dark subject that holds all my shame, sadly, this self indulgence highlights the fundamental flaws and confirms my self abusing fears. But I persist, and pen verses of simplistic mirth to offer readers and listeners an opportunity for support or at least not speak of it rude, only I know, because of my dark reflections when openly expressed, it can only fail and is guaranteed to bring down the mood.

So, what on earth do you do with all this pent up creative fervour that provides, if nothing else, a rather suspicious, personal pleasure which in turn makes me trip off more dull and formulaic tripe that any half educated buffoon could easily piece together. Perhaps harsh critique is now my personal operandi, perhaps it’s time to stake my claim and look people full square in their often un-accusing eye, consider that my stuffs not all that bad so, to the silent critics hail a lofty, if lonely, half-hearted, Fie!


My Life, Long, still has some little way to go, although, I’m never quite strong enough to grasp every obvious option, I console myself that I can comfortably fit into life without meaningless dreams of ridiculous youth, leaving them behind leaves me with everything to gain and certainly less pain. Life Long 2017 back web

Things could be worse I muse, a sensibility still glows in the knowledge that I’m a bent that can never be straightened, and beyond all hope I now curl up and coddle not only my own limped self-worth, there’s now also another’s penal penance cupped in warming hands, meekly, strengthened by the knowledge that what life is left, even if fruitless, at least it will be pleasantly lengthened.



Inside the Walls

This is a piece that should be self-explanatory, for some anyway….

From a quiet without peace
in a box without exits,
sky barred from the inside,
in a world with no light.
Hard bedding, hard seating,
hard walls, floors and ceiling,
hard luck for your freedom
locked safely away.

A pad mate that you had
no choice in selecting,
nice boy or some nut case,
you just hope for some care.
Try making some new friends
take note in the choosing,
you may get a little
more man than you need.

Blue jeans and thin sweat shirt
give no man one quarter,
ill fitting and shapeless,
it’s wear it or freeze.
In cell or out yard side,
time passes but no speed,
your term locked around
you will take its own pace.

With smart shirt and black shoes,
tie clipped at the bull neck,
young warder or old hack
takes pleasure in pain.
Not always the hard kind
but inside your psyche,
they hold all that keeps you
from knowing your name.

With hard times ev’n good times,
the choice is no longer
the one, maybe once
was all yours to command.
Just sit out your sentence,
the loss of your loved ones,
all memories and fancies,
locked safely away.


What ever happened to Parental and Social Responsibility?

This morning, here in the UK, I heard a so called debate on the television about some proposed new scheme for warning the youth of today, including from 4 year olds and up about the dangers and warning signs of sexual abuse. To be funded by the government of course, I acknowledge that it is a very serious subject but it was the straw that just about broke this camel’s back. You might like to make a cup of tea first for this.

I won’t discuss that particular issue in detail as it is still only a proposal and hopefully common-sense will reign and it will be tackled more sensitively given its importance. My thoughts here are on parental and social responsibility in more general terms.

Firstly, to address the Nay Sayers of this world who will no doubt be the first to respond (if anyone does). I fully understand that there are always cases and circumstances where any generalisation that I may appear to address will-not and cannot apply. Although this small but important minority often makes the headlines, the bigger picture is just as important. To get the resources, backup and support that these genuine case deserve, society needs to stand up and take responsibility for themselves so that those precious and always limited recourses can be better directed.

There are so many areas where the principals I discuss can be applied but I will stick with the more obvious, hopefully for it to become evident for the rest.

Case One: The number of Children that are born in a family.
FamlyI have no problem what-so-ever with large families. My mother was one of nine, but, given the high street availability of contraception both general and advanced, why is it that many of these families are reliant on state benefits and all manner of other social aid? The more cynical side of me hears ‘keep having them luv and rack up the benefits’ but in many cases it is so true. The more reasonable side of me thinks that, if you can afford the family you want then have as many as you want! At least in recent years, all be it lip-service to the problem, child benefit is being limited a little; too little too late? I could repeat that phrase many time but will refrain from it if I can.

Case Two: Obesity, especially in children.
ObeseFamilyCartoonHow, in all that is sensible, is it the responsibility of government for the type of food that is shoved into the mouths of ourselves and our children. I say ‘our’ children as I have had two and so am not very far above the situation while standing on this, my little soap box. The type of food, but mostly the volume of food is a growing problem. It is a proven fact that it costs as much at eat a balanced and healthy diet as it does to eat the absurd volumes of processed and nutritionally irrelevant food that so often fills the freezers and cupboards of the western world. I am almost driven to tears when I listen to proposals for a Sugar Tax to deter the sales of sweets and sugar laden baked beans and the like. When ever did a hike in price ever stop people doing or having things, they just go without something sensible or even worse options. Why are we, the public, funding gastric bands for teenagers? Why are school children having to go to a breakfast club? Why are schools being undermined over promoting healthy school dinners? We have all hear of Jamie Oliver’s school dinner campaigns, those parents who were bringing McDonalds (many other fast foods are also available to deride) to the school fence to placate their nutritionally uneducated children’s palettes should surely face criminal proceedings!

Which leads me neatly onto the next case.

Case Three: Self-inflicted medical issues.
DrunkYou can find on late night television almost every night, ‘entertainment’ programmes about our hard presses police, fire and ambulance services tackling the stupidity of drunken irresponsibility and worse on our streets. Disappointingly I am realistic enough to know that you will never get certain layers of society to accept responsibility for themselves, that unfortunately has always been a lost cause. Let me illustrate a point of responsibility; some years ago, I was unfortunate to have a collision on my car, (there are no such things as accidents remember), an unsuspecting road worker stepped backwards in-front of me where there was no time or room to avoid a coming together. The young chap was fortunately unhurt and no damage to the car, not that that mattered. After the embarrassment for the guy when his foreman made him strip almost to his underwear to check for physical damage, there being none we exchanged details and all went on with our day. Two weeks later, I had a letter that was a bill for the ambulance that the foreman had decided he needed to call, just in case. I had no problem with the bill but it illustrates how we seem to be going backwards in our thinking on such things; you won’t get a bill now where I think you still should. Why do sensible members of what is supposed to be a civilised society have to foot the bill for drunk people causing a public nuisance, drug addicts who refuse help to get off their addiction, clinically obese people who refuse to address their diets, people requiring operations but refuse to give up smoking or drinking or many other situations that you can easily identify.

I will reiterate my earlier submission that there will always be genuine cases that are out of an individual’s control and I am fully supportive of those, it is these that should be getting the resources that are, in my opinion, being wasted on those who self-inflict.

Case Four: Being polite.
Thank youIt is easy to push this subject away with the old potato of it being a ‘generational thing’ but how rotten that potato is going to be in the very foreseeable future; if not already. When and where did that basic civilised concept of Respect disappear? I’m not talking about the Emily Bronte type lords and ladies contrived and protracted protocols but it is something of a rarity now to hear a simple Please or Thank You. Personally I press the point whenever I can and will often make a show of an individual if only for my own satisfaction. From such little acorns, civility might grow rather than the slide towards the lowest common denominator, as are so many things and I stand by an old but timeless adage that I was bought up with, “If you have nothing nice to say, then say nothing at all.” How much easier it is not do something rather than actively offend, abuse, swear and disrupt. This ties into the next case; and the last for now anyway.

Case Five: Discipline.
disciplineWhat happened to the concept of being punished and accepting it, for doing something wrong? I have to say for the cynical reader, I have done plenty of things that I shouldn’t have, but you will never have heard me complain about any justifiable punishment. My further comments come from observing five generations in my lifetime; my grandparents, my own parents, me and my siblings and now own children plus their youngsters. What a terrible and escalating downward step change there has been over that time in the attitude towards other people in general. This now so often falls to ‘passing the buck’ where it’s social services fault, the government for not providing facilities, the television stations for showing violent films, video games that make mass murder a thing of fun; everybody but those that it is. Keeping up with the neighbours or school mates for the latest tech often foregoing everyday living basics. Worse of all, mistakenly thinking that so many things in this life are a right, when really they are a privilege; I could write a blog on that one alone (perhaps I will). Just one example, taking children out of school in term time to go on holiday. If you have children in school are you really happy to deny them a block of their education for a few hours of sun? Some will pay the fine as it’s often still cheaper than the inflated prices of holiday weeks but think nothing of the effect on those that they should be responsible for. Fines mean nothing to most whereas two weeks in the sun or two weeks at her Majesty’s pleasure? You might guess which I would advocate,;but still have them pay the fine and upkeep while behind bars if I could get away with it; (another blog brewing there I think).

If you have read this far, congratulations; not many will have I’m sure.

Call me a ‘grumpy old man’ if you wish, I have broad shoulders but even those are crumbling in despair of a society that is going to have to somehow manage itself and the anarchy that is going to overwhelm us as the generations move forward.

Appropriate behaviour – Level 1

This is the first part of a trilogy; it should be read as that. It could be interesting to see what questions the set or its parts may raise.

The tearful individual had walked over to acquire something, but quite what it was he didn’t seem to know. A shoulder to cry on, a sympathetic ear or just an escape from the difficulties that followed him round the recreation area?

The two had known of each other for some time, not really on an even footing but there had always been a classifiable link. Age was the only spoiler, to the outside world that is but such things had never seemed to be a problem for them; how society judged was its own concern. Here in the quiet that had been honestly sought and genuinely found, there was nothing that could be judged inappropriate; not for them anyway.

The younger slid his facing chair closer to gain a little more reassurance, knees touched to cement the transfer. Eyes didn’t need to meet nor words be exchanged as this wasn’t the first time they had been this close. The younger’s feelings now were just some of the many things stirred up by confusing natural developments which were at the same time, exciting; the possibility that his peers were going through the same things hadn’t proved to supply the empathy that he found in the here-and-now.

As if this current need had to be identified he held out a hand, not knowing where to place it or even what he wanted to be done with it, he relied on the experience of age. The slim pale fingers were taken gently but firmly to appreciate the warmth of the others body; their trembling finally stopped. Still no words had been exchanged, only the certainty of protection.

The background banter and noise faded as the rowdy group worked out that there was more fun to be had without someone older being in their field of play.

It was now just the two of them.

Neither moved nor communicated further, not verbally anyway as eventually the older gently lifted the boy’s chin to see if he was ready to talk; as he had done several times in similar situations. A flashing glance from the clear grey-green eyes told the older no but, although the smile of reassurance that was offered went unnoticed, the touching knee changed to a full leg length as the younger slipped easily round onto an adjacent chair. Single hands of each gripped palm to palm and the contact zipped up forearms to elbow and onto uneven shoulders. The smooth movement set a mop of manicured sun-streaked hair falling to one side as a delicate and as yet acne free cheek rested onto the pointed shoulder of the older. Still no words were shared.

Their breathing synchronised sympathetically and the world around them faded that little bit more.

It was difficult to make out who made the next move, perhaps no more one than the other but the response was so immediate as to make it impossible to assign blame; the underlying driving emotion for either party was likely to be very different.

It was actually the older’s hand which had been first to unclasp which allowed it to brush past the short-haired nape of the younger’s fine neck where it griped the developing shoulder to pull the figure tighter into him; the freed younger hand slipped easily into the heat and comfort of the older’s thigh. Each paused to gauge any immediate reaction; again, outwardly, there was none.

They had sat side by side before, trying to work out who was helping whom. Then, conversation had found nothing more than a mutual acceptance of a friendship but with a growing awareness of more than only that. For the younger it would have been sensing and appreciating maturity that his peers were still working out, for the older it was definitely an opportunity to live many moments that had never been realised at that volatile stage in his own life.

The impending escalation would provide adventures for them both, although inevitably in contrasting ways.

Towards the playground

This is a prose poem that is an extract from a much bigger work that I might share over time. I had the pleasure of reading this today in a public performance given by one of the writing groups I am part of; Writers Without Borders. Check them out if you would like to know more about a great group of talented people.

Suddenly all mysterious right out of the blue, school days approach all unknown and new with only one saving grace it seems, a big brothers singular job to look out, Just, if he must, for shy little you only, with the safe sight of home gone he quickly, cruelly, lets go of your tiny trembling hand and walks on at a pace that leaves you blind, while you shuffle reluctant feet, scanning all around, all alone, uncertain of where to go, you run on to where hopefully there should be Others that might somehow happen to know.

Then you see all the other kids, running riotously around, they seem to know each other quite well, not that you can really tell, but doubt delights to confuse you and you’re still not all that keen.

Then recognition intervenes and there, two you smile at but being oh so painfully shy, you still only manage a limp ‘Hi Ian’, and ‘Hi Jimmy’, but they pass you right on by. So you try ‘Hi Helen’ but it’s the same and fully daunted you don’t go for the ‘Hi Peter’, who’s the one that you favoured, it’s sadly all to clear that even by this one impossibly perfect pal, you’re still not really counted.

A bell rings loud and it’s into class rooms all strange with seats that give cold comfort but you diligently do just as you’re told…. is this really what school’s like, till you grow up and get, so very old?

But then with paper and pencils and writing and sums, it all somehow seems to add up to something that actually, quite possibly, could just be fun, so perhaps it’s not all that bad and you decide to give it a go, just for today though, only on trial, you might go with the flow.

Soon then it’s playtime and with cold milk and growing hope you corner your pal Peter, “Hello, would you like to share this?” but with hard spoken “No!” he leaves you all alone again, to just sit and stare into your clean fresh iron hanky and here your disappointment you blow.

Despite many such hardships, this little school turns out not all that bad, days roll into weeks and soon fast forward to unimaginable years, what was all that fuss about, those cold academic concerns, those febrile confusions, bound up in such ridiculous childlike fears. But you have yet to discover that, in whatever educational age, you;’re never going to break into real school society where despite teasing glimpses you remain on the rim of those circles of seemingly impossible friendships .

Perhaps it’s just your mind that blocks such views with perceived incompatibility or can you allow yourself to make that small yet massive move to lift the impenetrable veil of Inclusion…but already you know you’ll suffer the wastelands of Exclusion.


Back to Back

Here in Birmingham, UK, we have a restored set of ‘back to back’ houses. These were tiny houses built in many cities for the less well off although some included shops beneath or in-front of them. These started to be built in 1806 and were built literally back to back with a shared yard, outside plumbing, toilet and washing facilities. Lived in until 1966, they were condemned unfit for living, but were then granted listed status in 1988. They have been open to the public since 2014 and are well worth a visit if you are in the city. This piece is written after a visit to them.

Ghosts of previous high hope, such schemes and dreams
are found now only painted on posters and wan-a-be themes
for we gawkers to re-live, what was obviously hard,
in the now lifeless spaces, down to the stone cobbled yard.
It might be good that they sit high, on the rolling tourist track
sadly it’s the warmth of long lost families that they obviously lack.

In bulls eyed windows stand ranks of sweet and sour confection,
taunting small soldiers, queuing, no longer paying attention
to the teacher or the parent absorbing all this history,
all these little mites really want, is a but of tommy foolery.

But the line soon moves on and the temptations alter
as up steep steps and narrow isles we stumble and falter
here aged nic-nacks are cat nip to a child’s wavering finger tip,
all it would take is one crash to invoke a tiny quivering lip.

All around, gnarled, knotted, knowledgable wood
stands stark and scuffed, longing to tell you if it could
of the diverse times it must certainly have seen
through the decades, no doubt, not so pristine.

Its basic regurgitated décor, designed for the masses
living its life plain and simple, alongside those, the lower classes,
daubs of paint around tiny floral representation,
stains, once part of life recreated now, for our inquisitive delectation.

The tour runs on smoothly if in places a little bit slow
and then the crowd disperses once more and off we all go
to lives much more different to the one that we have just seen
our modern houses all shiny and much easier to clean,
more spacious, warm, luxurious, with almost every mod con,
A world apart from back to back lives, thankfully, long gone.

904_495_billIbagshawMG+B_4304_thumb_460x0 952_952_BirminghamBackToBacks_Exter_thumb_460x0,0 Satellite.gif

Birmingham Back to Back Houses

The Life of (Big) Tommy Toe

A short story following on in the series after the Life of William, enjoy

I came into the world with an unfortunate ‘attachment’ but there didn’t seem to be any way of getting rid of it, which was the conclusion that I had already settled on. This was during the period of swimming around in some gloopy fluid as I prepared myself for my adoring public. While I was waiting I had developed a rather pleasing shape, a shiny smooth complexion that was just as good as any other part of the attachment; later, I would be constantly disappointed that I was never referred to as being as smooth as the pair of peach like globes up there on the ‘attachment’.

When we came into the bright lights, the ‘attachment’, that’s a mouthful, let’s call it ‘Jake’, seemed less enamoured with the situation and soon kicked up one hell of a racket. Meanwhile, I was being poked and peered at, wiped dry and only just managed to miss a rather large metal needle that threatened painful damage but it slipped past me and got another part of ‘Jake’; he didn’t like that either and the noise continued.

Life was pretty cosy for a while, I got wrapped in nice soft material most of the time, the daily swim in soapy water was OK and generally I was left to my own devices; what could be better. There was one ritual that I knew I would get fed up with if it carried on too long, the piggy song. It seemed to please the ‘Jake’ but it did get me worried to begin with when it was inferred that I might be getting sent off to market! How I would be detached didn’t bear thinking about but it seemed that it was only a game; I didn’t find it so funny. Other than that, as I said, life was generally quite comfortable. The ‘Jake’ was getting more and more active and soon spent longer awake than asleep and the noise he made was turning from constant wailing to at least the semblance of communication.

While playing quietly one day I noticed that there seemed to be another just like me. I hadn’t taken much notice  of any of the life sideways to me, the stumpy little things that lived next to me were of no interest, short, inarticulate, not my kind at all, but over the way, that was different. He was as big as me and seemed to do all the things that I was, the only difference I could see between us was that he was a lefty; it was enough to make me feel superior but he still annoyed me.

It was in this silent rivalry that I got the best of him one day as I went on an unexpected journey. The neighbours went with me as they always did but I still pretended they weren’t there. The destination? A large round cavern of a place, soft pink cushions all-round the entrance and so wet inside the liquid fairly dribbled out and down the outside. In we went and it proved to be rather pleasant as we were swished about, squeezed a bit buy a pair of hard but smooth gummy parts that never seemed to hurt us and then, off back down to our own place. It would have been nice to have been dried off after the trip but it was an outing that would be repeated many times and we all seemed to have fun; that is until the day the intruders appeared.

The hard bits that liked to squeeze and tease stated to develop a rather unpleasant edge to them. From the redness that they were developing, a rather nasty but bright white thing appeared and soon another, I didn’t like it neither did the ‘Jake’ by the sound he made as he dropped us rather too sharply home one day. It was the beginning of the end of that game. There were enough other things to be going on with.

It seemed that I was growing up quite fast, happily always ahead of the neighbours, I had developed a nice if rotund profile, my face and hardened agreeably into quite the showy thing; my only bug-bare was the ‘lefty’. He would mimic me endlessly and it was really hard not to get annoyed at it but I did my best. Another milestone fell to me as the attachment, sorry the ‘Jake’ stated to get some degree of independence in movement. I am proud to say that I was the first thing to reach forward and be planted on the ground in his walking phase. You can’t really beat being first in something although that was about the only thing that I achieved. There was the matter of the bruising but that comes later.

Anyway, this independent movement brought with it all sorts of exciting adventures, we climbed mountains, waded through watery seas, played hardball with, well a ball actually and generally learnt how to make the giants run around after us. I knew I was the key to all this gallivanting about although the odd time I didn’t concentrate, the poor ‘Jake’ just couldn’t manage to keep upright and although I felt sorry for the old fruit, it served to remind every one of my importance; I hope.

Things got less glamourous when it was decided that we needed to be wrapped up most of the day. It was OK for the outside trips as you never quite knew if it was going to be cold and being at the end of the ‘Jake’ so to speak, I got the least of the heat. I like to call then the dark days, not only in the lack of light but the neighbours, four smell little things that had turned out to be quite a disappointment to live with. Disturbingly I had dark thoughts about the tiny one on the end, he was odd, almost deformed compared to my magnificence but, I knew I was being cruel and just left him alone. There was always bath time and the still cosy blankets to look forward to. And that was life for quite a while.

Things eventually got more active which developed into rougher play, I was glad of the outer  protection of, what did he call then, Oh yes ‘boots’ for the ‘kick-about’, I winced at every impact but it wasn’t too bad even with the ‘toe-poke’ that seemed to please more than just the ‘Jake’. Those were the days.

As I slowed down, growing my more mature bought on the unpleasant hardening of my once pristine and soft skin, the back of my head felt horrible and I was glad I couldn’t see it. I had also grown a few hairs on my lower parts, but that seemed par for the course from what I could see in the higher distance, there were only one of two and if anything it added to my status as the other didn’t get any.

It seemed I had reached a plateau of usefulness; I was strong enough to keep the ‘Jake’ upright and keen enough to go on all the outings and exploits that he could manage to find. The incident with the other one, old ‘lefty’ was a near miss though.

There was some kind of commotion going on; I could only listen from inside the white canvas of what had been described as the latest in fashion wear; whatever that was. There had been some raised voices and other banging about and then it happened. I tried to screw myself under with the rest of the neighbours and only just missed the collapse of the canvas as it slipped past my face, I stayed as tightly folded as I could but you couldn’t miss the screams of agony from elsewhere. From the bouncing around the ‘Jake’ did on us, I was guessing that the ‘lefty’ and his friends had been less fortunate. It all settle down eventually but later on when we were removed, I could see that the poor old ‘lefty’ had caught the brunt of the issue and now sported an unpleasantly coloured face, purple and black were so not his colours.

It wasn’t the first time and unfortunately, despite being the leader of the fight, I too got caught, this time it was a much larger piece of wood. I heard the ‘Jake’ shout out although it was me that was injured. As he massaged me as best he could to try to minimise the damage, I heard someone call out, ‘you alright dear, do want a hand with the wardrobe?’ We were both not amused and I dared the neighbours or ‘lefty’ to say a word; they didn’t.

Our outerwear changed more radically after this. Added sturdiness, more hot although we were cared for more readily with regular bathing and now powder, the sweet-smelling kind not that horrible medicated rubbish although that had got rid of some nasty fungal stuff that had tried to take hold; we didn’t like that did we neighbours?

Very occasionally we had a real treat, it took me back to the days of the ‘Jake’ and his wet mouthed play only this time it was someone else, not him. The nasty white pegs were still there, all bright and uniform but this time surrounded with rather garish red stuff as they swooped over us but they seemed to be kept in check and the experience was actually quite nice. The ‘Jake’ seemed to like it too and despite the straggly hair that sometimes got us all wrapped up, we put up with it for his sake. The tickling of this rather larger and more motivated tongue certainly got the ‘Jake’ going as much as me. It wasn’t long, perhaps a few months when I spotted what could only be described as a replica of my beautiful young self started to hang around a lot.

In-between the tedium of daytimes working, we were freed from the confines and a got to see each other, it came with an attachment just like I had, only for this one the ‘Jake’ couldn’t make up his mind what to call it. One day it was all ‘baba’ then next time ‘choochy coo’ whatever that was supposed to mean and for rather obvious reasons the poor thing didn’t like it and it soon changed to the ‘Martin’.

For a while I got to say hello to the little fellow, not the ‘Martin but the little version of me, he wasn’t much of a conversationalist and preferred to just plonk himself on top of me and let the ‘Jake’ stomp around, I remembered the sounds the giants made when they were pleased so it was all good in the end.

That didn’t last long though and even when we all went for the ‘kick about’ I was used much less, the more gentle attack on the ball was welcome and the resting in-between even more so. I was ready for a more relaxed life I can tell you. It must be what they called ‘old age’, I didn’t relish the thought although I didn’t really know what it might involve.

One of the really unpleasant things was when I started to grow an unpleasant lump on my one side. It was most painful in the mornings after I had been lying about obviously too long. It wasn’t much better at the end of the day either; this was not going to end well I could tell. Going around now with a permanent leaning to one side, even the attentions of the dreaded clipper man was almost welcomed. He used to just trim me up, polish my face and scrape out any nasty bits that sometime got stuck behind it, but this lump defied even the rough boards that tried to make it smaller, it had worked well on the back of my head but on this grotesque it was not to be; I knew had to just live with it.

The daily coverings started to change for the better. Warmer and softer material rubbed gently against me and my neighbours, even old ‘lefty’ seemed happier, we had decided that it wasn’t worth the effort to compete anymore; secretly I know that he had given up trying to beat me at anything and we just rubbed along, occasionally passing pleasantries as he scratched an itch on my side of the world and I did the same for him; if I had to.

We all enjoyed being toasty warm with the gently flickering of whatever ‘throw another lump on the fire’ was. It was in this very pleasing and relaxed atmosphere that I nodded to old ‘lefty’, curled up with the neighbours and we all fell to sleep.

I didn’t wake up.