The Daily Grind

This piece is a reflection on a group day trip to a small local tourist attraction, Dudley Zoological Gardens and Castle, a historical monument with a zoo laid out in the grounds. Not the biggest or the best, but at least they are trying. 

The early morning routine was almost complete and the animals, already heat weary, were glad of a little peace to pick at the snacks left by the cleaners before settling back into the cool of their concrete bunkers which, although no replacement for native timber and greenery, few now could remember any such thing anyway with clarity.

With one set of annoyance out of the way, the background hub-bub of traffic circling the mound too had quietened from the twice daily rush hour into a gently rumble and crunch that could easily be ignored. For some, a return to fitful sleep recalled dreams of paradise, if now only imbedded in their DNA.

baboon.jpgA gangly limbed Gelada juvenile snatched a handful of fur from his older sibling and scampered off up the steep hill away from retribution. Unfortunately, he went head first into the towering, heavily maned figure of his father calmly looking out over his dry domain. A well-timed scratch to the inside of his leg stopped the youngster doing him any real injury at the collision, but a sideways swipe soon put the bemused infant back into the pecking order.

The alien clunking metal of the chair lift overhead held no interest for either so they failed to notice that not all the travellers on the ancient yellow and rust coloured contraption could bear to look down into the enclosure below. The mixture of a freezing fear of heights and memories from encounters far too close, kept the two domains well apart.

Higher up, and under a degree of tree shade, a single dish-like bejowled face peered around the rusted metal frame of a square doorway, but there was nothing of interest to expend energy on and he shuffled back into the mounded straw of his night bedding. ‘Let them play spot the animal for a few hours more’ was his reasoning, and rolled over comfortably in his orange coat to suck the juice of a breakfast orange before closing hooded eyes, and sleep.

Lemur walkThe levels of chatter had begun to rise and tiny fluorescent jackets scampered hand-in-hand in pairs, only roughly in crocodile lines, hopeful of seeing at least one living thing move behind the wire and glass. Unfortunately, the biggest movement they were treated to, was the twitching of a wild dog’s ear, but even this was hard to spot deep in the camouflaged shade.

More mature conversation held no interest for the residents of the shoddy enclosures either. Knowing full well that they were not going to get any tip-bits of food, was a lesson long learnt and, even with direct access to these upright bipeds as they walked through the wooded enclose, the younger lemurs went about their ritual competition for who could call the loudest without waking the parents but satisfyingly, annoying their larger cousins skulking elsewhere in the trees.

WP_20180703_13_52_36_ProWith heat building, there was no need for a clock to know that the wanderers would soon be sitting down with their bags and bottles which, for those lucky enough to have free reign of the place, was time to get on stage. A silent sweep of eye spotted feathers gave the best show of the day, which he knew of course, although his rather dowdier mate had seen it all before and she bobbed away to look for bits to peck at. The show was overly appreciated; but then he knew it always would be. A commotion nearby was drawing away the audience and even this iridescent shimmer of splendour was not enough to keep them interested.

At the opposite end of the beauty scale, the grey scabby bulk of a bull sealion was duly playing out his role for a smiling couple who had paid handsomely for the privilege of getting covered in fish guts and being within millimetres of a creature who could easily inflict great damage. Once more, he really couldn’t be bothered, so after the three small sprats which were not even an appetiser for someone weighing half a ton, he glided effortlessly away with his females spinning dutifully around him.

This affinity with food was the only thing that the diverse if otherwise unconnected species, had in common, but each new it was something they could use to get what they wanted, if only in the moment, not the greater scheme of things of course; freedom was, regretfully, only a relative concept. This food matter was not quite as brazen as the ‘blood diamonds for weapons’ trade of their native central Africa but, mealworms for a picture opportunity seemed a fair exchange in the Pigmy Marmoset world, or the Red Panda existence, although not even this motivation was enough for over-heated Howler Monkeys or a sweltering Snow Leopard who could only dream of its natural icy domain.

Curiously, the smallest of the captive residents seemed to get the greatest reaction from dudleyzoo-04the alpha predator humans. Contrived to be the most interesting part of a now crumbled stone history, an unrealistic terror at the sight of glass bound mice and rats was guaranteed amongst the large if faded remains of the historical summit.

The sun was dropping yet again on another pointless day and the bored macaws scratched the backs of their heads and, in nodded silent agreement, waddled through the hole in the mock stone wall to huddle together until the next round of uncommunicative faces showed up.

The chairlift, still swinging up and down, remained empty for the rest of the day, the downhill exit being easier for those who could leave, all-be-it via the glitzy gift emporium.

The shaggy coated Baboons were as uninterested as ever, but the children continued to play tag and annoy their father if they could get away with it; the only other youngsters were long gone in their fluorescent jackets back to school.

A quiet settled once more which, curiously but unfortunately for the paying public, heralded the greatest degree of activity throughout the mis-matched mound of wild-life that, rather desperately, had long lost its wild side. Maybe by keeping out of the way, they had the right idea all along?

New …..

New year’s
New ideas
New initiative
New imperative

New lengthening days
New electronic ways
New layers of complexity
New views on the unnecessary

New fake news
New unseen danger
New even more, the murderous stranger

New medical wonders
New political blunders
New personal losses
New harrowing faces

New contracts to consider
New reasons to be bitter
New lies from the bosses
New tightening your belts

But somehow

New longer day light
New unwillingness to fight
New environmental eyes
New children’s smiles

New glimmers of hope
New gadget’s to help us cope
New ways to laugh
New friends down the cafe

New resolutions done
New sunshine to come
New spring days ‘round the corner
New dreams that come true to make your heart warmer

Wishing A Happy New Year to you all !!

© David Rollason January 2018

Observations, post Christmas

Christmas – done

Well, Christmas is done
It might show on your tum
If you’re really unfortunate
Sneak round to your bum

The turkey is curried
Cold sprouts for the birds
There’s a limit to the times
Hot sauce makes it less worse

The tinsel’s less shiny
Baubles fall from the tree, more easily
The Christmas cards are curling
‘Cus the heating’s still turned on full

The once green tree, now brown at the edges,
No, let’s be honest it’s actually dead
and is soon to be dragged round the back of
the greenhouse, or maybe the old garden shed

Unseen and unloved and unfed here
It will languish, all lost and alone
With last years, as each year, you do mean
To try and recycle but again, No

The days are getting that little bit longer
‘Though the sun’s not really very much stronger
hopefully the snow, will stay, well away
But you take it only, day.. by day…. by day

Aunt Maisy wrote you a thank you
For the present you bought with such clarity
But you get the distinct inkling that
It might have been passed on to charity

With the loft now fully restocked
Everything quickly, but cleverly boxed
In pne of them, but you forget which
A voucher for a course of guess what, Botox!

The revenge buying from dear aunty Maisy
But you keep it as it might come in, some day
For a raffle or someone more needy
Or maybe, next year’s last-minute present, emergency.

Then suddenly it’s all done,
Twelfth Night’s knocking at the door
And you happily welcome him In
To help sweep up the needles from the floor
And polish away the dust
Now the mantle is clear
And wonder what will replace
Those echoes of spent festive cheer

But, don’t worry Too much only 354 days (or so) till it ALL happens again,

Yes, This Year!

© David Rollason January 2018

Many more Chapters ready and waiting

Cover front blog 1

If you haven’t been following my other blog, the serialisation of my book “A Fruit Cake Just Exploded” I am up to Chapter Thirty now. It’s not for everyone but there may be something of interest in my observations of a difficult but character forming part of my life. It has a happy ending so what more do you need? Click below to take a look maybe.

A Fruit Cake Just Exploded

Cover front blog 2


Recently I was part of a group of writers asked to share our thoughts at an event to raise awareness of refugees, although I don’t have any direct connection or involvement in such things, one can’t help but feel for their plight, refugees that is and not just economic migrants trying to ride the same road.

Refugee, now on the move,
Refugee, now off the road,
Refugee, now face down, in the water
Refugee, now lying still, lying cold

From the sands of the desert
through the salty lips of the sea
not all faces will make it
everything good, can never be

Looking out into the darkness
praying help is at hand,
craving only a little warmth
from a blanket or a friend

Landed, those who made it
Firm, the hopes that survived
Rough, the reception of strangers
Hard, any new life on this side

Refugee, now sits behind wire mesh
Refugee, now clings onto life
Refugee, now finds scant compassion
Refugee, reflects on all this strife.

Please, just let them be!

There is a short story that was written at the same time on a similar theme, you can read it here, ‘One Boy’s Day Out’

One Boy’s Day

Recently I was part of a group of writers asked to share our thoughts at an event to raise awareness of refugees, although I don’t have any direct connection or involvement in such things, one can’t help but feel for their plight, refugees that is and not just economic migrants trying to ride the same road.

The water, flashing over the collapsing roundness of the rubber boat, was dark in the Mediterranean night. Tiny fingers, grey with cold, had been hanging onto the thin safety rope for what seemed like days and now showed red at the raw edges of wet, wrinkled, skin, ripped away at the joints.

He had stopped blinking against the stinging salt from the crests of the waves, his dark eyes had settled into hard beads, frozen in their stare at the beguiling depths of the black and green water, that sparked hypnotically with the reflection of the stars above.

An indistinct shape bobbed into the boy’s narrow field of vision, but it was hard to focus, in the fight to keep awake. A larger wave boosted the object into the softening outer skin of their sinking ride, but he was unable to make any move to investigate it further. Some others hand swept into the picture, and the sodden piece of wool and straw, pushed its one-eyed face into the grey brown cheek of the boy. He let out a muffled moan, a mixture of fear and discomfort, but it was lost in the general hubbub from the 400 other souls squeezed in a space made for just a quarter of that.

Blinking away the initial fear, if his mouth could have smiled it would have, at the recognition of what might once have been, the familiar comfort of a toy camel. He just leant his chin on it, and continued in the fading hope, of the dream he had been dragged into.

His recognition of the figurine was a timely distraction, from the mop of black hair that weaved and floated with the swell of the water, as it passed by. This singular piece of flotsam that had very recently breathed with life, would soon sink to the depths and be crab food. If the boy had been just eight or nine years older, he might have easily joined the many innocent teenage boys that were quietly but callously smothered and slipped into the vast watery grave, a concept no one wanted to acknowledge it seemed. Young girls were assured safety by the value of their virginity, but boys?

A slim, familiar hand gripped the boys arm as he stared into the dark, but even for his mother’s comfort, he was not going to give up his place to the promised land of peace and plenty, despite it being nothing he could possibly know. If he could have seen a few feet below their barely floating escape, he would have been more inclined to seek out this familiar warmth, as a better place to die. The grey shark fin was an unknown terror in his sort lived world but, could so easily be the method of his departure from it.

The background noise rose noticeably and a piercingly bright light blinded the scene. The boy’s shivering body stiffened at the unfathomable intrusion and he didn’t have the choice of resistance this time as he flew into the air, his free arm trying to hang onto the sodden remains of the now lost toy.

There certainly wasn’t time to see it crushed against the black hull of the rescue boat.

The strange white face that flashed past his bewilderment, offered no smile, but the firmness of the grip, and the crackle of alien, shiny foil around him, was the beginning of a whole new world, one he hadn’t asked for, and certainly couldn’t comprehend.

Not yet anyway

There is a poem that was written at the same time on a similar theme, you can read it here, Refugee’

The Cross

This is a piece I have written, originally for the christian festival of Good Friday.
I hope you enjoy the piece and the recording, even if it is not of your faith.

croos6 Click on the image to listen

The Cross

Rough hewn, now old and battered wood lies blood soaked and splintered,
punctured with holes and stained rotting sinew all foul stinking and sintered.
Thrown to the ground after being dragged stuttering up the final hill…
now a scourged arm is stretched, full length, a soldier’s grip holds it still.

The crowd simmers for the hammer that’s lifted for only the first of the cruel blows,
their cries ring out in cold, misplaced, blood lusted thirst, while the carrion crows…
watch square forged nails, their mangled tips glint, being once more sharpened,
but when that first blow is struck, the mood changes, now more real, more hard, more darkened.

No cry from the victim of this harsh, homicidal, capital, attack,
but his hand clenches, eyes roll and an arch rises along his back.
The nail drives through his fine skin, into bone right and down to the wood,
what worse fate can human lay on human, who honesty ever could…
imagine worse, but then the second arm is pinned and last, the dirt dusted feet….
crossed to receive pain while soldiers ranks sound a tattoo on their shields, a steady, steady beat.

Then it stops….. but still no victim’s word as the cross is hoisted up on high,
the only sound now from a mother, but only then a small and muffled cry…
for her son who had not been given long in this savage, unremitting world,
she could only watch as the pain showed now, through his fingers as they curled.

As if it wasn’t enough to contend with, during this vile humiliation,
one warder, feeling guilty, takes a small sponge soaked in a libation,
obnoxious and crude, the guilt’s compounded as he offers it up with a snigger,
spiced unkindly with molding sourness, in the form of rancid, acrid vinegar.

With the victim’s weight overcoming what little strength he might have left,
comes the first cry, not pain but pleading, it would leave him hanging, bereft,
‘Why forsake me my father’, comes the cold, heart wrenching exhortation,
‘Forgiveness for all men, please’, a last wish for our lives, his final act before total decimation.

Thunder cracks, his crowned head falls, thorn pricked bleeding now stopped,
lightening spears from the heavens and to the ground, the fearful onlookers dropped.
Dressed in her blue, a mother pleads for the shattered body of her boy,
not even with this travesty heaped upon her, could her love for him destroy.

The crowd wails loud, rent their cloths, shed cold tears but while accusations fly,
from the rank steps a lone soldier who claims, from this shameful act, he’s now their converted ally.
With the body borne away, laying empty, that simple, blooded, anonymous wooden cross…
just like our wider world, does not appreciate the consequence of its part in humanities cruel loss?


© David Rollason  2017