Silly Sausages

My autistic ten year old son recently entered the Radio 2 competition for short stories under 500 words written by children. He wrote it at my house and announced afterwards that he had “five good ideas but decided to use only one of them”. That’s my boy.

Silly Sausages

Once there was a skinny but tall butcher called Mr Pork and he sold the best meat in Farsley.

Although it was delicious one day no one came too buy any meat. When he looked out of the window he saw it. A new butchers had opened on the other side of the road and everybody was going too that one instead of his. He decided to go over there. “Hey!” he yelled, “What do you think you’re doing?!”

“I’m selling meat,” said the stranger who had a big grey beard “Hello, I’m Mr Chops.”

“And you’re also stealing my customers,” Mr Pork shouted. Suddenly Mr Pork threw a burger in Mr Chops’ face and dashed back to his shop.

“So that’s how it’s going to be is it!?” he asked angrily, “Well how do you like my sausages!?” Then Mr Chops threw a barrage of sausages at Mr Pork and he did exactly the same. Before you could say mess there was a huge pile of sausages on the road that was so big they had to close it.

“What about my meatballs,” Mr Pork yelled as he threw a tsunami of them at Mr Chops, and he did exactly the same. Before you could say bigger mess there was a massive pile of sausages and meatballs that was so tall they closed the sky.

“Let’s see how you like my salmon,” shouted Mr Chops as he…

Well you can guess what happened next.

Before you could say even bigger mess there was a monumental pile of sausages, meatballs and salmon that was so wide it looked like a mountain made of meat. When they were about to get their chicken a police officer yelled in an angry voice. “Hey, what do you think you’re doing?”

It was then that they had realized what they had done, so they walked over to him and said spontaneously “We’re so sorry, we’ve been such silly sausages.”

That night they had a giant barbecue to celebrate their new friendship. They both cooked all the meat they threw at each other and all the delicious meat you didn’t hear about in this story.

“I have an idea,” suggested Mr Pork “let’s do this every year,” and so they did.

On the other side of the country there were some men called Mr Red and Mr Lester and they were throwing cheddar cheese at each other. I wonder why.

by Stan

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Spill

I have been a little quiet.

After the news that my old colleague from years ago was dying of brain cancer, just over a week ago one of the regulars at the poetry night I go to died. Then last Tuesday the wife of my closest work colleague (we are only a small firm with half a dozen staff) got up, collapsed and died too, out of the blue. Massive brain hemorrhage. I have struggled to feel particularly creative since.

 

As a fallback, here’s another Addonizio poem I really like. You may be getting a few of these 🙂

Spill

You turn away. I remember again
the first time you turned toward me,
knocking over your glass.
We sat at a table, getting drunk.

The first time you turned toward me
I knew this moment would come:
two people getting drunk at a table,
getting it over with. And though

I knew this moment would come
I couldn’t help kissing you,
getting it over with, although
we might have stayed friends, otherwise;

but I couldn’t help kissing you,
starting things up—the hasty undressing, the love
we might have kept as friends, if we were wise.
Now, stupidly, we’ve come to the end.

Starting things up was hasty, love.
Knocking over your glass
I stare stupidly. We’ve come to the end.
You turn away. I remember again.

Poop Poems

 

Since starting my blog, three people I know have spontaneously written poems and sent them to me. That’s nice.

One of them is my best mate, who has now written four poems. Tonight we are braving the Harrogate monthly open mic poetry night with our reputations on the line.

He has asked me for some advice on which one(s) he should read.

The trouble is…by his own admission…most of his poems are poop poems. About poop.

There is the one about dog poop on the pavement. Then there is one about his own bowel movements. And a third one about Sylvia Plath’s misadventures with her favourite butt plug. There is a theme here but hey…write what you know.

I think I have talked him into doing the one that isn’t about poop but we shall see.

“Fuckwit” is not a compliment

One thing that bugs me is when people try and defend themselves by attempting to redefine the English language.

“I think he’s a fuckwit”

Erm that’s a bit harsh, cruel, unkind, judgemental….

“No. For me, fuckwit is a compliment”

No it’s not. Check the dictionary. And don’t be surprised if you call someone a fuckwit and everyone assumes you don’t think much of that person.

“Oh you’re such a pedant”

Actually, no. We don’t know each other that well. I’ve never met that other person. So if you are going to use words around me, I’m going to assume you mean by them what most people assume them to mean, not some other definition that exists solely in your private version of English.

This is the great advantage of reading books. Slowly you accumulate a shared sense of language and its meaning that enables you to communicate effectively, rather than relying on the way words are used by the half a dozen people you drink with down the pub.

There is, of course, a world of difference between the written and the spoken word. The latter comes with all sorts of bonus features like body language and intonation. You can get away with a good deal of imprecision because your words are supplemented by a lot of other information. But if you are going to send me an email or text…then there needs to be some rigour or we may misunderstand each other. Actually, unless we have some pretty solid common ground about what words actually mean, we are going to struggle like hell, and maybe you should stick to talking to my face.

I recently read a discussion of the fact that whilst there has always been the precise language of poetry and written academic debate, which differs greatly from spoken language, there used at least to be a middle ground, a written English that compensated for lack of other cues without being over the top. The kind of English that you might get in a letter from the bank. This is slowly disappearing and people are losing contact with the richness, variety and even meaning of language. I’m not sure it’s as dire as that but I got their point.

People sometimes comment that my written style (as evidenced in this blog or emails) differs markedly from the way I talk. Well of course it bloody does. A verbal conversation is a social interaction and is a different kettle of fish. Here, the words have to do all the work. It becomes useful that there is a difference between angry, furious and irked. The written word has the potential to be far more powerful and intoxicating than a conversation in Tescos. It can also be more intense. “Write from the body” they say. This needs no explanation for me. It is also true that poetry lives and breathes in its nouns and verbs, the concrete and the active. Not in the abstract or in its adjectives. Precise, please.

Comparisons

I remember the day my old physics teacher pointed out of the window, at the neighbouring building.

“How many bricks are in that wall?”

We made guesses. All wildly different. He didn’t have a clue either. Then he pointed at another building.

“OK, look at that wall too. Which wall has the most bricks?”

Straight away we all pointed at the same wall. No doubt at all. He was illustrating that our brains are lousy at absolute measurements. Shown a light bulb, we can’t accurately say how many candela it is, but two bulbs and we can detect the slightest difference. We can’t judge length to millimetre accuracy by eye either, but if one string is a millimetre longer than another, then we know instantly. Even our measurement techniques – like a ruler – amount to comparing things to something else we already know the size of.

I remember reading of a psychology experiment. Would you rather earn £25,000 when everyone else is earning £20,000, or £30,000 when everyone else is earning £35,000? From memory it was a bit better disguised than that, but not much. Most people opted for the £25k.

This is the heart of all judgement. We are evolutionarily hard-wired to be good at it. It’s a useful skill if you’re picking berries or hunting mammoths. The problems start when we apply that judgement in fallacious ways. I’m better than you. You’re better than me. He’s better than him. The grass is always greener.

Worse, this isn’t as good as it used to be. You don’t have the same options and energy you did 20 years ago, so now everything is just shit. Grumpy Old Man syndrome. Two of my internet datees claimed

“It’s important to have something to look forward to…”

Well what’s wrong with now? Comparisons with past or future will bite you on the bum and at some point there won’t be anything to look forward to, will there? And where are the past and future anyway? Show me. Point to them. They exist only in your head. And then there is the trap of comparing things to what you think they should be. Well, they just aren’t, OK? They are what they are. There is no entitlement, really.

People sometimes ask me to explain mindfulness to them (as a concept) and if I had to pick one thing it would be quit comparing. This moment is all you have. Enjoy it. It doesn’t need to be any different.

Detractors argue that this is defeatist. Personally I think there is a basic dilemma between holding out for what is ideal, and accepting what you have. We all do a bit of both, and each have their place for sure, but on balance people do too much of the former and not enough of the latter. And the former is often premised on impossibilities. Disney comes in for some stick on that front but they have been getting better. The shelves at Waterstones are still heaving with over-romanticised chick-lit though. Also, research shows that a more mindful accepting approach increases happiness. As does the practice of waking up every day and just being grateful. A lot of “self-help” techniques don’t really have that kind of evidential backing.

My cat needs therapy

I have a cold.

Yesterday that meant dosing up on drugs and hiding under a duvet on the sofa. Which was great, except that it meant that I was horizontal. And as soon as that happens my cat Rosie goes nuts for me.

Vertical Paul, she can take or leave, but as soon as I lie down she is there in five seconds flat. On my upper chest. Rubbing her head in my face. Trying to groom me. Purring like a power generator. Eventually I’m lucky if she settles into being a furry vibrating collar.

At night it’s the same, and it is hard to sleep with a chin and mouth covered with a warm hairy lump in constant undulation. Patiently I “suggest” that maybe next to me is preferable (I don’t want to hurt her feelings)  but she always tries to get back on. After a few iterations I can generally persuade her that coiled up under an armpit works OK for both of us.

I have never known such a clingy cat (but only if I am lying down). I try telling her she is not a limpet, that she is supposed to be independently feline, but to no avail. I blame it on poor personal boundary issues, and deep-rooted insecurities from kittenhood.