As this year draws to a close and we all prepare for 2012 I would like to wish all my readers and fellow bloggers joy and prosperity in 2012.
It would be easy to look back on 2011 and remember a number of horrendous natural disasters, the nuclear incident in Japan. Arab Spring, revolutions, riots, state sponsored assassinations, the worldwide depression and failing relationships between the USA and countries like Pakistan and Iran. If this is what you remember then you will be correct in saying 2011 was a terrible year.
Conversely, you may remember events such as the British Royal Weddings, the young Indonesian girl who was reunited with her family 7 years after being swept away by the 2004 Tsunami, the centenarian who ran a marathon. the Social project being rolled out across the world to use plastic bottles and bleached water to provide light in shanty town houses. the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, a number of crucial advances in medicine and for all the kids out there (big and small) the screening of the last of the Harry Potter films. Look at the world this way and it has been a truly great year.
As we move into 2012, I hope that each of us can find more of the positive things to look back on during the year. Many people will be making their New Year’s resolutions, mine will be to take more opportunities to stop and admire (and give thanks for) the view as the year passes. By this I mean I want to take more time to spend with those I love, doing the things I like to do. Hopefully this will include doing more with my Family, Church and the Guernsey Chronic Pain Support Group and Guernsey Poets.
Finally it would be remiss of me to leave 2011 without saying huge THANK YOU to all the family, friends and medical specialists who have helped me to manage my life living with the constant burden of CRPS. I am certain that had it not been for them I would not be here to write this blog.
This is a Poem I wrote after Last Year’s New Year Celebrations.
The nation watches the clock expectantly,
Westminster Quarters sound the full hour.
The nation waits…..
The hammer strikes;
The Great Bell rings out.
Its discordant chime radiates across London
to the far flung corners of the land.
A mighty cheer goes up,
Fireworks race towards the sky
trailing sparkling ribbons of light
before exploding in a myriad of colours.
Amidst the cacophony the remaining chimes pass unheard.
As the dancing reflections on the Thames fade,
strangers clasp hands
voices lift to the strain of Auld Lang Syne
and thoughts reflect the year behind.
I have always enjoyed baking and decorating cakes, and over the years I have become reasonably competent at it.
Each year I make a Christmas cake and a Yule Log and in the past I have spent over 30 hours putting elaborate icing onto a Christmas Cake.
Unfortunately over the last few years I have not been able to sit long enough to create a really elaborate finish. That said this year I did come up with a reasonably good cake, which I took to share at church.
Whilst creating this year’s cakes I had to hide them from our cat’s and dog. I was half way through emptying a cupboard in which I could hide them when I remembered a cake my wife made for my daughter’s Birthday, and a Yule Log I made a few years ago. These two memories gave me the inspiration to write this poem.
The baking tin was triple wrapped,
brown paper, tied with string,
when a lumpy, brown, sticky mix
was poured from height therein.
The oven had been warming up,
when the door was pulled asunder
and the tin was placed atop a shelf
not middle, but just under.
Slowly the sticky mixture baked?
and gradually it did harden,
'till tested ready with a skewer,
from the furnace it was pardoned.
Cooled in tin, and then on rack,
and bathed in cooking brandy,
then wrapped and stored and bathed,
some more was modus operandi.
The rich brown fruit cake was liberated,
and brushed with sticky jam.
Then wrapped in a golden covering
of evenly rolled marzipan.
Next came the icing. Purest white
and smoothly layered all over.
Then left to set and layered again
sheer white like cliffs at Dover.
Now for the deftly placed nozzle
a squeeze, a press and withdraw
colourful piping surrounded the base
then around the top ‘encore’.
Figures were sculptured in marzipan.
The nativity scene oh so neat,
the beautiful cake was finished,
all that was left is to eat.
The cake looked so impressive,
with its nativity scene, so unique,
nobody wanted to cut it,
So it sat on the table all week.
People hungrily admired it,
but no one dared take a slice,
then late last night for his supper,
the dog ate it all in a trice.
I hope that everyone has an enjoyable day with friends and family.
To those serving overseas, who are separated from your loved ones, my thoughts and prayers are with you. The following Poem is not my own, I believe it was written by a US Soldier called Lance Corporal James M. Schmidt, (1986)
I could not say it better;
A SOLDIER’S CHRISTMAS – James M. Schmidt, Lance Corporal (1986)
Twas the night before Christmas,
He lived all alone,
In a one bedroom house made of
Plaster and stone.
I had come down the chimney
With presents to give,
And to see just who
In this home did live.
I looked all about,
A strange sight I did see,
No tinsel, no presents,
Not even a tree.
No stocking by mantle,
Just boots filled with sand,
On the wall hung pictures
Of far distant lands.
With medals and badges,
Awards of all kinds,
A sober thought
Came through my mind.
For this house was different,
It was dark and dreary,
I found the home of a soldier,
Once I could see clearly.
The soldier lay sleeping,
Curled up on the floor
In this one bedroom home.
The face was so gentle,
The room in such disorder,
Not how I pictured
A United States soldier.
Was this the hero
Of whom I’d just read?
Curled up on a poncho,
The floor for a bed?
I realized the families
That I saw this night,
Owed their lives to these soldiers
Who were willing to fight.
Soon round the world,
The children would play,
And grownups would celebrate
A bright Christmas Day.
They all enjoyed freedom
Each month of the year,
Because of the soldiers,
Like the one lying here.
I couldn’t help wonder
How many lay alone,
On a cold Christmas Eve
In a land far from home.
The very thought
Brought a tear to my eye,
I dropped to my knees
And started to cry.
The soldier awakened
And I heard a rough voice,
“Santa don’t cry,
This life is my choice;
I fight for freedom,
I don’t ask for more,
My life is my God,
My Country, my Corps.”
The soldier rolled over
And drifted to sleep,
I couldn’t control it,
I continued to weep.
I kept watch for hours,
So silent and still
And we both shivered
From the cold night’s chill.
I didn’t want to leave
On that cold, dark, night,
This guardian of honour
So willing to fight.
Then the soldier rolled over,
With a voice soft and pure,
Whispered, “Carry on Santa,
It’s Christmas Day, all is secure.”
One look at my watch,
And I knew he was right.
“Merry Christmas, my friend,
And to all a good night.”
Every year I hear people complain about how commercial Christmas is. I listen to them complain about stress, expense, lack of time, who’s cooking what and ….Oh the list is endless.
Up until this year I have just got on with it and enjoyed it as much as I have been able. Usually I have been at home but occasionally I was overseas on operations. Whatever the case I have always tried to enjoy what I see as a season of joy and happiness.
This year though there is something a little different in that this year I became a Christian, and as such feel better qualified to make a comment on the subject. I have done this in the form of a poem, which as a special treat I have turned into a short narrated slide movie. I hope you enjoy it.
Please let me know what you think?
Christmas in perspective
Leaves on the trees are gold and red
When the first advert is cast,
Like ripples in a pool the panic spreads
this year; earlier than last.
We rush to buy the most “in” gift
And find the perfect card
There is no thought of thrift
As we wrap paper by the yard.
As advent starts the rush is on
The final push has started
but stop and think at what has gone
and how this whole thing started.
Born of a virgin, in a stable,
The Christ child came to save us.
Shepherds, Magi and Heavenly host
praised the infant Jesus.
He lived a life of humility
to help his fellow man.
As son of God he gave his life
to forgive the sins of Man.
So stop the rush from shop to shop
Don’t battle through the throng
Don’t spend obscene amounts, just stop
And think where it’s gone wrong.
Remember those less fortunate
They’re starving, scared, alone
pray for them and share with them
you could open up your home.
Make this Christmas a special one
like it’s supposed to be
A time for sharing, a time for joy
And giving thanks for a little boy.
Today I had a meeting in London which unfortunately, I had to attend. Having flown from Guernsey to Gatwick I took the train into central London this meant that I had to stand in the cold drizzle on a station platform for quarter of an hour waiting for a train to arrive.
Three minutes before the train was due an announcement came over the platform speakers telling everyone that there was to be a platform change. With all the escalators bringing people down onto the platform it meant that the only way to change platform was to use the steps. “Whoopee” I hear you say, “big deal”.
Well when tethered to the ground by two walking sticks and having a top speed of a startled tortoise it was going to be a major challenge. Fortunately, being Britain, the train was a couple of minutes late and I managed to change platforms with just enough time to board the train.
Having arrived early for the meeting, I decided to write a poem about a station platform I remember from a dim and distant past. I hope you enjoy it;
The biting cold wind blows the rain in,
not the hard downpour that people sit out
but the incessant drizzle that seeps in.
The tiny irritating droplets that seep through
the most resilient waterproof.
The type of rain that sets in for the day.
Travellers huddle on the platform,
using a closed café as a wind break.
Thick coats, warm gloves, hats, scarves.
are not enough to cheer their grim faces.
With chins tucked low into raised collars
they hide like primeval man in the lee of a stone.
A voice crackles; “The Train approaching….
Heads lift and turn to the right in unison,
Slowly a train rumbles into the station.
Reluctantly passengers move to toe the line
the train stops, doors open to the awkward dance
as passengers tussle to get in or out of the rain.
The ancient pond,
A frog jumps in.
The sound of the water.
Matsuo Bashou (1686)
I have been writing fairly standard poetry for some time and decided to branch out a little and explore the Haiku.
The Haiku is a styalised Japanese poem, the English version of which follows these basic rules;
1. Haiku do not have to rhyme,
2. Haiku have 3 lines,
3. The lines have 5, 7 and 5 syllables, (these aren’t “syllables” in the western language sense)
4. Ideally they should contain a word that conjures up an image of a season.
This evening I wrote my first eight which I hope hope you enjoy.
The hurricane hit hard,
The oak stood firm against all,
Then hit back harder.
Soft mound of dried leaves,
Hedgehogs missing from garden,
Slow heart beat below.
Waves pound rocky shore,
White spume flies high in the sky,
Fish and chips on wall.
* Cobo is one of the biggest beaches in Guernsey, it also has one of the best fish and chip Shops on the Island. There is not much better then sitting on the sea wall on a summer evening and eating fish and chips.
Chrysalis hardens on twig,
Beauty flies aloft.
Cat curls in tight ball,
Purring softly in its sleep,
Claws steeped in dried blood.
Fields of pink petals,
Flutter in the Afghan breeze,
Junkie dies in street.
Waves power shoreward,
Growing taller and taller,
Lone surfer wipes out.
Clear blue sky stares down,
Light bounces from rippling sea,
Red kite intrudes.