The wrong end of the stick

“Grandad, said the little boy, why do people fight,
Why do people argue, and both think that they’re right?”
“That’s tricky”, said his Grandad. “Sometimes we make a fuss,
Because we simply can’t accept that folks aren’t all like us.
‘Depends on where you’re standing. Your point of view can vary.
Of being narrow-minded, we really should be wary.

Take my stick for instance. I’m pointing it at you.
I’ll show you how it’s easy to have a different view.
I’m going to twist it clockwise, to me that is quite clear.
The handle’s turning clockwise, for me whilst sitting here.
For you, at whom I’m pointing, that’s simply not the case.
The tip turns anti-clockwise when it’s that end that you face.

One stick, in one direction, is turning, but you see,
On which way it is spinning, we simply can’t agree.
If we chose to argue, we’d both be wrong and right.
And if we didn’t compromise, we’d end up in a fight.
So if there is a conflict, my own advice to you
Is, always try to understand the other’s point of view.

Use the stick example to help them understand
That different perspectives can get quite out of hand.
And, in the end, if reason is not enough to crack ‘em,
Just simply say “Oh, what the heck!” and use the stick to whack ‘em!”

Far From the Tree

“Landed”, it says.
Landed safely. Always a relief.

Waiting with welling anticipation, we left an impossibly tidy house.
A proper welcome. Pirate towels, toys, a full fridge,
Soon to be wreckage.

Doors swish and swish and swish again
As we strain to read tags on bags
Trundled by weary travellers.

It’s their flight! At last, at long last.
The doors give a final sigh
And release our grandchildren.
Subdued. Then smiling. Then running, laughing.
Then grimacing and squirming,
Clamped in hugs.
And behind them their parents. Our children.
Laden, responsible. Grown.
Grateful to let go for a while.

Then it’s into the whirlwind week.
Laughter, fun, food, and the inevitable fight,
Releasing the tensions of rose-tinted expectation.
Kids on shoulders. Snuggling in for a bedtime story.
Plasters on knees. Tears dried.
And the exhaustion. Oh, the exhaustion!

Memories of what we were about
For all those years.
What we were for.

And suddenly it’s over, far too soon.
Back to the airport, no longer welcoming.
Hasty, clumsy embraces. Mumbled farewells. Muffled promises.
Brimming eyes avoided, we turn and walk away
A little too quickly.
No more words. One last wave,
Far enough away to put on the brave face.

And they are gone.

We tell ourselves that our children are happy, that they have a good life.
That our grandchildren, far away, do know us and love us.
That time will fly until we see them again.
That’s what we tell ourselves

But our hearts

Still break.



Her Maj and All the People (living for today)

(To the tune of the Dambusters’ March)

In ’52 Elizabeth became our Gracious Queen,
For 60 years as Head of State such changes she has seen,
The war had been quite shattering,
Our chip shop took a battering,
We listened to the radio, and children played with Plasticine,
When she acceded to the throne the world was brown and beige,
Austerity and rationing were symbols of the age
To play outside was still alright, the new TVs were black and white
And learning how to read and write not boring.


No one should ever frown on
Liz when she has her crown on
She has ruled with dignity
She deserves our cheers.
Be gone republican purists
She fetches in the tourists
Thrilled by pomp and circumstance throughout the years

Though she appears on postage stamps she’s never ever licked.
She has some barmy relatives she’d rather not have picked.
Who’ve talked about transgressions in seedy life confessions
And though at times she must have felt
“Those blighters need their backsides kicked”
She never flinched or lost her rag and used her Monarch’s power,
To send a gang of Beefeaters to lock them in the Tower.
Instead she’s simply hung about to keep the silly blighters out
and hope the crown will jump a generation.


Though she has loads of jewelry
She doesn’t like tomfoolery
When her kids went off the rails
She gave them such a look.
She still maintains discretion,
Through each embarrassing session
When minor royals grab the spoils
Or write a book.

Her Uncle was a bounder and her Mum bet on the nags.
And drank and swore a little bit and really liked her fags.
Her sister was quite wayward, and in her young heyday would,
Insist on being naughty with a sporty bloke who liked his Jags.
Though thrust into the limelight by her Dad’s untimely end,
Our Queen has never compromised by following the trend
Of finding someone else to blame for behaviour that’s a cause of shame
Whilst politicians try to frame advisors.


On coins but in nobody’s pocket,
Does her bit and we shouldn’t knock it.
On her diamond jubilee, she’s our crowning jewel.
We don’t need aircraft carriers
Who cares we ditched our Harriers
She’s something that the Yanks ain’t got and that’s so cool.

We’re glad that we’ve still got our Queen, our crow……ning…..jewel.


The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

It was unbearable, watching the boy,
wearily wearing his stripes.
Furtive, frightened, despairing.
Watching him, his friend and his brief ray of hope,
extinguished in an instant by an incomprehensible evil.
It cut so deep.
It left such a mark.
Indelible. Insistently shocking.
Laid bare the obvious and timeless truth.
It’s the Children who really matter.
We owe them their childhood.
We owe them their innocence.
We owe them our protection.
Always.  No questions. No excuses.

Easing Up

Life begins at that magical moment in time,
when you know that you’ve peaked, and the whole pantomime
of pushing and shoving you did to get on
is no longer needed, it’s over, it’s gone.
It’s that moment of freedom, you sense in your soul
That you just can’t be bothered with work’s greasy pole.

You no longer strive for promotion and medals.
Sat up in the saddle, your feet off the pedals,
you start to look over those high thorny hedges
that gave your horizons such myopic edges.
You’re still in the race, but not bothered by winning.
You can take it more slowly than at the beginning.

As others sprint past you they’re paying the price,
and you’re suddenly happy to give them advice.
You’ve nothing to prove and it somehow feels right.
For the first time in years you sleep soundly at night.

Then something remarkable happens to you.
The person you were just begins to shine through……
the mask you adopted to match your work culture.
All of a sudden that virtual vulture
of failure that always perched on your shoulder
is no longer there. You are suddenly bolder.

Unfettered by doubt you can talk common sense,
and you no longer feel you must sit on the fence.
You’re prepared to take risks, make drastic suggestions.
You’re never afraid just to ask those hard questions
that everyone else had been wanting to ask.
They’re grateful to you that you took on the task.

But the best bit by far, is that is that now you’re relaxed,
the family and friends whose patience you taxed
when driven by forces much stronger than you,
can all welcome home the soul they once knew.
At last you’re the person you knew you could be.
You can stand up and shout “  This is me!”…………“ This is ME!”


Light Relief

No need to be afraid of the dark.
Without it, how can you really feel the light?
No need to be afraid of the dark.
Under its velvet cloak, you’re safe from scrutiny, secure in silence.
No need to be afraid of the dark.
In your head, you can float in space, or on a silver sea, or just be in bed.
No need to be afraid of the dark.
Just shelter there, knowing that the light will come.


Brief Encounter

I met her on the internet
In an instant I was smitten
I threw all caution to the wind
Though I had been once-bitten

Her long blonde hair and big blue eyes
Just stole my heart away
I printed off her photograph
To keep it near all day

I feared she was too good for me
So lied about my age
The photo that I posted
Was an actor from the stage

I said I was an architect
Designing mighty bridges
Although I worked for Comet
In the warehouse, moving fridges

We finally arranged to meet
I’d fooled her, to my shame
But sadly didn’t realize
That she had done the same

So when we met, that fateful night
It wasn’t us at all
It wasn’t the start of something big
Just the end of something small

Eight Eighths Blue

I want to fly in a windy sky,
Eight eighths blue, clear as gin.
I want to soar where the eagles cry,
Bright as a button, sharp as a pin.
What chance for me, with feet of lead,
I’m just too low to lift my head,
So I’ll just stay in bed instead
And dream a dream of flying.

But sometimes when I sink a drink
I feel a kind of lightness,
A laughing and a lilting
And a sort of flying kiteness,
And up I shoot towards the stars,
Behind the Moon and once round Mars
Then tumble down to sleep in bars
And dream a dream of flying.

So when I fly in that windy sky,
Eight eighths blue, clear as gin.
When I soar where the eagles cry,
Bright as a button, sharp as a pin,
Be careful not to clip my wings,
And drag me back to earthly things.
For soon enough the morning brings
An end to dreams of flying.



Lonely is a silent room
With no-one there but me.
Lonely is an echo
Where a footfall used to be.
Lonely is a double bed
And a single cup of tea.
Lonely’s not enough of you
And far too much of me.