Reciting poetry

Some poems cry out to be read aloud while others are just for private consumption. Our poetry anthology has both and I had the pleasure of reading out a couple last night at the Willows folk club in Arundel. This time I read one by our friend Bryan as that was more likely to make people laugh and it did. I get a real kick out of making people laugh. I can see why comedians enjoy their job.

I bought a copy of Pam Ayres’ verses from a charity stall last month and found a new favourite. Although I like “I wish I’d looked after me teeth,” there’s one entitled “Heaps of Stuff” which is so true I feel I want to find somewhere to recite it, just to get a reaction! Mind you, I can’t do that lovely accent so it might not be so successful.

The book is “The Works” selected poems, and the quality varies so I won’t do a review.She said herself her verses were written to be spoken out loud and she sounds great performing them.

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Another sample poem.

Autumn Thoughts

Now, in the Autumn of our years we wait to see what Winter brings

While russet beauty calms our fears, chill Winter hints of sufferings.

We’ve savoured all the joys of youth, forged paths through lifetime’s verdant Spring

The love and laughter constant proof Summer is time for blossoming.

Now Autumn sees us slow – and taste the harvest of our earlier years,

Determined that we should not waste the lessons learned from hopes and fears.

But all the wisdom garnered then cannot protect from Winter’s cold.

There’s no escape the fate of men to live the seasons and grow old.

Conference

As a reader for the talking newspaper in Littlehampton  I attended a South of England Talking News Conference at St Richard’s hospital in Chichester with  about 14 other groups, some from as far afield as Norfolk.

The programme was well balanced with speakers from The British Wireless Fund for the Blind, the Talking News Federation, 4Sight and Chichester Area Talking news.

The march of mobile technology and its use in communicating with blind and partially sighted people to allow them to feel part of the community was at the core of all our discussions. The future is digital.

I just hope we don’t lose our faithful listeners on the way.

Character interview 2.

“Why did you threaten the job centre employee, Mr Sharp?”

“They didn’t have to call the cops. I didn’t hurt anyone!”

“I’m not a policewoman – I’m a Community Support Officer. I’m only here to help you. Do you feel calmer now?”

“Women! I’m surrounded by women. That stupid bitch insulted me.”

“Did she? How did she do that?”

“She told me that if I couldn’t find a driving job I could try being a cleaner ME, a cleaner! That’s women’s work.”

“Maybe she was thinking of cleaning jobs that needed muscle, like managing a team or cleaning vehicles or roads.”

“I’m not a bloody skivvy! I’m 55 years old and I don’t want to be told what to do by a bit of skirt like that.”

“I’m sure she didn’t mean to hurt your feelings, but your shouting frightened her.”

“Sorry, I’m just fed up. I can’t afford to set up my own taxi business or I’d do that. What else is a redundant coach driver to do?”

“Have you asked for a personal interview. or looked on line?”

“Can’t cope with the computer. They ask too many personal questions. If I ask for an interview I’ll only get another bloody woman, won’t I?”

“How about if I find out if there’s a male adviser for you? You won’t make any more threats to staff, will you?”

“Wish I didn’t have to come in here at all.”

“Don’t lose hope, Mr Sharp. Do you have references from your last employer?”

“Somewhere at home. My wife told me to make a CV but I don’t remember all my exams and things. It’s all right for her, she’s got a job. She’s a hairdresser.”

“Is she sympathetic?”

“She was at first but over time she’s stopped talking about it. She thinks I’ll never get another job.”

“Wait here, Mr Sharp. I’ll have a chat with the staff and see if we can’t prove her wrong.I’m sure we can reach a positive outcome.”

“Positive, smositive! Don’t be long. I need a drink!”

( From one of the two main characters in ‘Never Run Away.’)

Interview

“What can I do for you. Mrs Walsh?”

“It’s a bit delicate, doctor. You know my husband’s condition?”

“Yes, but apart from a missing limb he’s quite well, isn’t he?”

“He’s very fit. He’s enjoying working with children. He makes a fine teacher  -but that’s part of the problem?”

“I don’t understand. You are getting on well together, aren’t you?”

” In a way – but he is asking me when we can try for a child of our own.”

“And you don’t want to?”

“It’s not that I don’t like children. If I could be sure our baby would be all right I’d love to start a family.”

“What makes you worry that it wouldn’t be?”

“My father. He isn’t very clever and he has serious hearing loss. If our child was like him I don’t know if I could cope.”

” Mrs Walsh, there’s no reason to believe such things are hereditary and even if they were they are much more manageable that a lot of other inherited problems. Is your father happy?”

” Yes, my mother is a great support and they have a good social life. I just remember how hard it was when I was growing up. Other children teased me about him and it took him a long time to find a job.”

” Have you discussed this with your husband?”

“No. I don’t think he’d understand. He thinks every disability can be overcome with enough willpower – typical soldier- and he wouldn’t like to think I was worrying unnecessarily. He wouldn’t know what to say. I don’t want to admit how I feel. It would upset him.”

“Think of it like this – any child can be born with problems but there is nothing to indicate a child of yours would have any greater chance of a disability than any other child. In fact, with a strong young father like Ryan there’s more likelihood of it being a strapping youngster. We’d keep an eye on you through the pregnancy. There’s absolutely nothing to worry about. Go ahead while you are still under thirty. You are more likely to have a healthy child while you are young.”

“Thank you, doctor. I do feel a bit better,now. I’ll talk to them at the clinic. I know my mother would love a grandchild.”

“If you want me to talk to your husband, I will, but I’m sure when you think it through you will make the right decision.”

( The characters in “Lane’s End” “Unstable Lane” and “The Third Lane.” after the trilogy has ended.)

A Child’s Garden of Verses

Wowee, what a revelation! I can remember being charmed by some of the poems in this book when I was little, especially ” The Land of Counterpane,”and “From a Railway Carriage”is still a classic but I hadn’t realised how dated it is. My copy has very sugary illustrations and I found the constant reference to “nursie” irritating but there is a severe lack of political correctness, partly, I believe, because it was written from a boy’s point of view and partly because, in an effort to include other countries Stevenson could not help but show the attitudes of the time (1920) The poem “Foreign Children” is offensive to modern eyes and there is a mention of the word “negro” which I would argue should be left as it is true to the period and not meant in a derogatory manner.

“The Lamplighter”could start a history lesson. “Windy Nights” could be the inspiration for an English lesson and there would be a lot of mileage in asking why so many poems were full of marching and drums and fighting. When I was young we all played war games, cowboys and indians, lead soldiers. I even used chess pieces as armies. That was then and this is now.

Thanks for making me look again at a book I treasured .