Zen or Phobia

Conservatives are patting themselves on the back. They have a leader they can rally behind and a party that puts UK citizens first. Their slogan “A country that works for everyone” sounds egalitarian, but if you substituted any consumer product for the word ‘country’ it becomes more obviously trite. A toilet that works for everyone is what you would expect a toilet to do as a bare minimum

Mesmerised by such slogans and rhetoric, the country can be steered towards the right. Foreign doctors, students and low paid workers are first in the firing line to get immigration numbers down. Forget about their contribution to society both economic and cultural, just make sure they leave without making a fuss.

None of our leaders are in danger of winning the Nobel Peace Prize. We send our soldiers into battle poorly equipped on drugs that may damage their health and in countries which pose no threat to our national security. In fact the military campaigns that the UK conducts in the Middle East are the cause of terrorist threats in the UK.

Our government’s history in the Middle East is disastrous. Having lied to Jews and Arabs over Palestine, we now watch as Israel disregards international law and continues to build settlements in the occupied territories whilst bulldozing the homes of Palestinians.

Our strategy in  Iraq and Syria has only led to misery for the populations of those countries. Do we help the refugees by offering shelter? No, we encourage them to stay near the war zones and wait for peace so that they can go back to their bombed out homes.

The white caps working to rescue people from bomb sites are in the running for the Nobel Peace Prize. I wish our politicians had some of their humanity that we could be proud of.

Marketing not Blogging

Where is the economic value in blogging? If you approach blogging from that standpoint you will want to maximise your earning potential.

At WordCamp Belfast I learnt how to research the most pressing online questions from which a solutions blog could be built. It makes sense to address current needs if you want to provide a quick fix blog.

Put your expertise online and target your marketing by capturing email addresses.

This is obviously a profitable strategy. So why continue to waffle if there is money to be made?

Send me your email addresses and I will attempt an answer that will keep you coming back for more tantalising titbits.

Tortured words

I read a lot of work emails and am often puzzled by the writing style of those who have English as their first language. It is as if the writer is trying to impress the reader with some weird sentence construction or a choice of words that does not fit the intended meaning.

Pedantry is pointless, and, although the overuse of lowercase characters is irritating, i personally don’t mind too much. But if you swallow the dictionary and spew out meaningless twaddle, do not expect me to be impressed.

Smiley faces…really to a complete stranger? But maybe I complain too much when I can reply without any difficulty and a touch of informality doesn’t hurt anyone. If you need a speedy reply, adding URGENT !!!!! won’t do any good. A lot of employment agencies think that flagging their emails as of High Importance will get them preferential treatment…no.



Man flu

The heroic exploits of an Information Assistant who soldiers on despite his poor medical condition can never be exaggerated. When he looked down to see that he had leaked down his shirt, he barely paused despite the embarrassment.

What a guy! A kindly customer offered him a tissue. She was starting a course in behavioural therapy, so she may have understood his need to carry on regardless of leakages.

Caesar wrote of his campaigns in the third person, I might desist.

MOOC poetry – bereavement

Learning To Mourn by Robert Winner

I’m an inexperienced mourner

I don’t even know how to begin

to cry out like that old man

wailing in the next hospital room—

oi vay, oi vay—his two sounds

beating against the wall.


He makes me squirm

but I get his message better than my own.

How can I free myself like him?

How can I know my place as he does,

know how little I am?

How can I mourn, the cheep of a trapped bird

crying out violent sorrow?


Old man, teach me.

Help me reach the bowels of my cry

and bring it up, coarse, rasping.

Teach me to be disgusting.

Help me to exile myself from all

the populations of eyes and ears.

Teach me to live in that country

where no one else is, where I can

bash to pieces my good breeding,

my priests and pillars

—no illusions, the self wiped out,

unable to see or hear or understand.


Old man—lying in your shit—

you’ve let the angel of death from your mouth.

One minute of your unforgiving protest

is like true song: reckless, fatal singing,

song that is not victorious, not even consoling,

merely a sound you have to make.


Consolation by Wisława Szymborska

They say he read novels to relax,
But only certain kinds:
nothing that ended unhappily.
If anything like that turned up,
enraged, he flung the book into the fire.
True or not,
I’m ready to believe it.
Scanning in his mind so many times and places,
he’d had enough of dying species,
the triumphs of the strong over the weak,
the endless struggles to survive,
all doomed sooner or later.
He’d earned the right to happy endings,
at least in fiction
with its diminutions.
Hence the indispensable
silver lining,
the lovers reunited, the families reconciled,
the doubts dispelled, fidelity rewarded,
fortunes regained, treasures uncovered,
stiff-necked neighbors mending their ways,
good names restored, greed daunted,
old maids married off to worthy parsons,
troublemakers banished to other hemispheres,
forgers of documents tossed down the stairs,
seducers scurrying to the altar,
orphans sheltered, widows comforted,
pride humbled, wounds healed over,
prodigal sons summoned home,
cups of sorrow thrown into the ocean,
hankies drenched with tears of reconciliation,
general merriment and celebration,
and the dog Fido,
gone astray in the first chapter,
turns up barking gladly
in the last.


Such a Night

The after work party was a success. I talked with new people as well as old friends and drank copious amounts of white wine. I might be foolish, but I left the bike at work and got a taxi home. After that my mind draws a blank. I woke up once on the sofa and in a startled reaction asked my wife some urgent meaningless question.

In the morning Cary Grant on the laptop in Mr Lucky eased me into a state of semi-wellbeing.His co-star was a socialite heading a war relief charity. He played a crime boss making his money out of gambling. Obviously they fell in love despite grandpa’s disapproval.


I had slept on my sunglasses, but the frames bent back into shape. I have ordered a second pair of glasses on the 2 for 1 deal. Reading glasses rather than varifocals. I haven’t totally given up on the varifocals which are fine for distance, but they annoy me for reading. All that lifting my head until the words come into focus.

Planned on walking into town to clear the head, but a lift in a taxi was too tempting to refuse. A bit of drizzle is just what I need as |I mooch about the shops. That and more paracetomol….nurse!


I suppose just lifting poems from the MOOC isn’t all that gripping for those loyal readers who want to know the ins and outs of what makes me tick…or is that thick?

Learning about poetry does it for me. Not T.S. Eliot or Plath or anything heavy, but the approachable writing style of Wordsworth, Heaney, R.S. Thomas and the like.

The brevity is what most appeals when time constraints make novels impossible. Twitter isn’t the same thing at all, haikus are too short, but a few verses that capture something of what it is to be human (without clouding the words in classical references) appeals to me.

Novels are my first love, and I will return to them when my mind is more settled and I can immerse myself in the pages of fiction for prolonged periods of idleness.