Modesty and Joy

Simple Joy

 

It was the practical low heeled brown boots

that first caught my eye

my glance cast sideways so not to embarrass

the subject of my attention.

Secretly I studied her slender legs

leading up to the hem of a brown floral dress

and the crocheted cuffs of a sensible beige cardigan.

The modesty of attire surprised me.

Authors on their book launch night

are lavish and elegant

coiffured, polished and primed

but not so this lady.

I liked the understated look,

the quiet confidence of a writer

who had no need of a façade.

Her body of writing shining on its own merit

with no false vanity.

I adored this lady before she spoke a word

Davidson, Rowland, b.1942; Lady Reading a Book by Lamplight

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How do I love you …

As you leave my side after 17 years of working together, I dedicate this blog to you, Phil Tongue of PZ Cussons, and here is why;

How do I love Phil let me count the ways… I could talk about his unending generosity and the work he does for charities, I could talk about his dedication, how he describes himself as a stick of Blackpool rock – cut Phil in half and you’ll see PZ Cussons written through and through, I could talk of his kindness to every living person and creature, of how in helping 2 American ladies over the Giant’s Causeway, he hospitalised himself. I could talk about his love for Northern Soul, his master bakery in the kitchen or the endless cruises around the world … but I’m going to talk more specifically, more personally;

We met in 2001 when I needed help settling into my desk. Phil’s was the friendly face, at once courteous and polite – incredibly helpful and friendly.

Through the years he was my go to IT person, I always knew I’d be met by a smile and instant response, he made my IT issues go away…. Something that would continue for another 17 years.

The Manufacturing Standards Department had their ups and downs, people joining, people leaving, managers coming, managers going. One Friday I heard that a new person would be joining and told that I would be very happy about it. I was intrigued – who would I find sat next to me on Monday?

I was greeted by a smiling face, Phil was beaming back at me … and so it continued for 11 years.

The ups and downs of the department now actually transformed into physical ups and downs… I had just lost 2 and a half stones on Slimmers World, and joined a gym…  Phil arrived and soon lost 7 stones on SW and when we moved over to new offices at Aviator Way he asked me to show him the equipment in the gym…

Shortly after, I fell pregnant and my weight soared – Phil continued to work out and shrink.

When I returned from Mat leave Phil asked me to help him set up Uncle Phil’s bakery…. My weight soared… Phil continued to work out and shrink.

Our little team absorbed every challenge that PZC threw at it – the keepers of data integrity, we created all NPD SKUs, absorbed new brands, created new 3rd Parties, spread our networking wider globally each year. Throughout it all Phil and I formed a dynamic little team – the word “agile” doesn’t even begin to do justice for how we’ve ridden the waves over the years.

I would figure out ways of working, Phil would provide the systems support to back up every move, suggestion and recommendation. If I needed data – Phil knew how to extract it and manipulate it with hocus pocus and black magic.

We were Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson, usually just figuring out “what the hell was going on“,  and at times I think we can admit to being the hecklers Statler and Waldorf from the Muppet Show – you have to be as old as us to understand that, so apologies to the Millennials

At times pressure would build and we had our strains – that beautiful smile and accommodating service that I loved from Phil’s IT days – I now wanted to drag out of him so he would stop saying “yes” to everyone, … I even created a new ID badge that said “Spartacus” to remind him now and again to “just say no”…his agreeable nature was increasing our workload and making me fray at the edges..but then..when I did start to come undone… Phil would be there to say the code word… if I was in a discussion that perhaps was becoming a little heated… Phil would walk over touch my arm and say “ Is it time for a cup of tea?” and I knew immediately I’d become too loud and bolshy and needed to reign it in. And that illustrates our relationship; we’ve grown so close over the years, we can read each other like books.

Speaking of books, when I decided to start writing, Phil was my number one supporter, when I began poetry and had to overcome nerves for an open mic session, he was there saying “knock ‘em dead” .. so it was an absolute pleasure when Phil asked me to help him write his own poetry.  We took on the Napowrimo challenge last year, writing a poem a day for the whole of April… Phil joined in and when I stopped, he continued. He has published a poem a day ever since – without fail, so the odes he emailed out on Mondays to support his baking aren’t the only form of poetry he writes, he has his own blog and Twitter Page– oh yes, us oldies can keep up with you Millennials on some levels.

It’s a huge wrench to say goodbye on a business level to my sidekick and partner. Phil’s taught me that friendship isn’t the big things it’s a million little things and I’d like to thank Phil for every one of them.

Phil is..

The pen to my paper

The key to my board

The sugar to my spice

The butter to my toast

The Yin to my Yang

The Northern of my Soul

The Wallace to My Gromit

The rock to my roll

The guns to my roses

The ink in my tattoo

The Wingardium to my Leviosa

The rhythm to my blues

The peach to my pear

My umbrella on a rainy day

The music to my ears

The smile on my face….

 

For all of which, Phil, I’d like to thank you.

You can find out more about Uncle Phil and read his poetry, on his own blog page here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No, thank-you

It looks like I am such a fibber

or a “half a job,”

someone who can’t keep commitments,

perhaps someone without stamina..

I am of course referring to my promise to publish terrible poetry every day for the month of April, to complete the Napowrimo challenge.

I didn’t fib. Initially, I wanted to take on the challenge, so at the time of publishing that goal, it was true.

It’s also true that I did not do “half a job” but actually did less. I only published two poems. I didn’t keep the commitment, but this doesn’t represent my stamina or character. After consideration, I changed my mind and made a new decision; a new commitment; one that superseded my first intention.

I decided to take April off.

I decided to politely turn down requests for appearances at events, for contributions to written collections, for attendance at groups, meetings, gatherings etc.

I honoured any promises I had previously made for example running the Stockport Writers Session and attending Write Out Loud Poetry night, but I didn’t agree to take on anything new.

I also stopped booking or actively seeking workshops. I gave myself permission to stop, for a whole month.

I actually picked up a book to read for pleasure, not to study technique or research writing styles, but to read for the pure joy in reading.

I feel balanced again. I feel better. I feel my equilibrium has benefitted. I feel my priorities are restored.

I recommend it.  Take May off! Give yourself the gift of saying “no, thank-you” for 31 days and see how healing it is.

I may publish dodgy poetry in future, but for now, and the remaining 6 days of April I won’t.

NoThankYou_575

 

Move on #Napowrimo #2

Move On

Life is too short and so

to save time,

to be efficient,

einstein

 

I wear an Einstein wardrobe;

white blouse,

black jeans,

boots,

yet

 

flamboyant colour

when a kaleidoscope of colour

flounces before me, I envy

the flamboyance,

briefly.

I indulge in the dream of being

free to reside in sparkling rainbows

simply dancing, with no destination

kicking away scrumpled up “to-do” lists

tossed aside with abandon.

 

einsteins wardrobe.jpg

 

The moment passes.

I console myself;

a books beauty is held on the inside.

I move on.

 

 

This poem was strangely influenced by  an article by Julie Marie Wade, Wednesday, March 18, 2015:  article

“Put a Dog in There: Poetry and the Power of Concrete Nouns”

used as a Napowrimo craft resource. In her essay she discusses the power of including nouns.

 

Success; I Did It! Napowrimo 2017 (with a short sprint to the finish line!)

It’s the last day of Napowrimo. It’s the last day of my first year and first attempt of the Napowrimo challenge. I was doing so well throughout April, submitting a poem each day, until the last few days. Life got in the way as it tends to do and I was distracted. However, I’m not a girl to give up so easily, once a gauntlet has been thrown down, so here on my final Napowrimo post, you will find not 1, not 2, not even 3 but 4 poems, which complete the challenge.

Day 27 – on Day 30

The Prompt: Write a poem that explores your sense of taste.

My Response:

Heaven In A Tea Cup

blog9

First the crunch satisfies.

The chocolate drops close my eyes,

as pleasure begins to rise

and swirls around inside me.

A cup of tea to wash down

the jewel in this perfect crown.

No greater pleasure is found

than a cookie and a cup of tea.

Day 28 – on Day 30

The Prompt: Write a poem using Skeltonic verse.

My Response:

Never Give Up

blog5

Napowrimo has almost ended.

During April my mind has bended.

My honour now must be defended,

as I finish these final days.

The last three days, I’ve lagged behind.

I must complete the final deadline.

Whether or not it actually rhymes,

I don’t think anyone actually minds!

Day 29 – on Day 30

The Prompt: Take one of your favorite poems and find a very specific, concrete noun in it. For example, if your favorite poem is this verse of Emily Dickinson’s, you might choose the word “stones” or “spectre.” After you’ve chosen your word, put the original poem away and spend five minutes free-writing associations – other nouns, adjectives, etc. Then use your original word and the results of your free-writing as the building blocks for a new poem.

My Response:

(From To Autumn, by John Keats, the word “mists”)

bee

 

The mist lies above the lawn,

hovering; a spectral form.

Beautiful yet surreal scene,

mystic haze, a ghostly dream.

 

Day 30 – on Day 30

The Prompt: Write a poem about something that happens again and again

My Response:

Sweet Addiction

blog5

Again and again

I give in

to temptation.

All it takes is

a mere suggestion,

of sweet treats.

Destroys all

my good intentions.

I can’t resist 

the taste sensation.

 

That’s it. 30 poems written in 30 days. Would I do it again? Maybe. I need a lie down before I think about answering that. Were the poems any good? Some have potential, some need to be filed under “rubbish” immediately. It’s been a fantastic experience and I have learnt a lot. The main lesson, is that a good poem takes time. A first draft to meet a deadline is fine, but to produce something good needs time to ruminate, cogitate and deliberate. Poetry can’t be rushed.

Now for that lie down. 

The Uncomfortable Middle

Again today has been a busy day. More birthday parties and social gatherings. I actually wrote this poem whilst sat beside a bouncy castle and a fully grown Imperial Stormtrooper! It may not be my finest work, but I’m still completing the Napowrimo challenge.

Day 15 of Napowrimo 

The Prompt:

Write a poem that reflects on the nature of being in the middle of something. The poem could be about being on a journey and stopping for a break, or the gap between something half-done and all-done. Half a loaf is supposedly better than none, but what’s the difference between half of a very large loaf and all of a very small one? Let your mind wander into the middle distance, betwixt the beginning of things and the end. Hopefully, you will find some poetry there!

My response:

The Uncomfortable Middle

Too far from the shore to swim back.

Destination still out of reach.                     

The initial energy that pumped

through your veins has faded away.

b;og7Success and glory is yet unknown.

The middle is where we stretch and grow.

Dig deep and persevere.

Cultivate a belief in your abilities,

your unlimited potential.

Aching limbs, heavy muscles, heavy hearts.

Tired, we must pull ourselves up.

Clarity has left us.

Confused, muddled, blurred.

Search your mind. Search your heart.

blog12

Seek out that elusive vision.

In stillness, listen for the quiet,

muffled voice amongst the turmoil

struggling to be heard. A whisper,

buried deep within, pleads “Try again.”

blog3

Find the glowing ember and fan

the flames with courage. Let desire burn.

Allow hope to shine through. Stand tall.

Be heard.

Try, try, try.