2.32AM

 

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2.32 !!!

Awake!! Need the loo!!!

Blast that last cup of tea!

 

 

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Creep back to bedroom.

Feel my way through the gloom.

Slide into bed silently.

 

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Turn hot pillow over;

cools my neck and my shoulder.

Slip into sleep happily.

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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.

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Move on #Napowrimo #2

Move On

Life is too short and so

to save time,

to be efficient,

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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.

 

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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.

 

The Sycamore Prince

Slender branches silhouette

beneath his golden crown.

Sparks thrown out by the silver sun

ignite his flaming hues.

The autumnal prince towers above

ethereal mists, caught between earth and sky.

In a final flourish, passionate embers

of saffron and copper smoulder.

Only to cool as the light fades

and chill winds blow.

Each yellow fingered leaf, I mourn

as it falls and returns to it’s roots.

I will his warming glow to remain

to comfort my spirits during

November’s nip and winters depths.

Knowing my protests cannot halt

ruthless frosts from calling “time”.

November 2017

Tinned People

I enjoyed writing this one, the concept amuses me.

Napowrimo Challenge Day 26

The Prompt:

Have you ever heard someone wonder what future archaeologists, whether human or from alien civilization, will make of us? Today, I’d like to challenge you to answer that question in poetic form, exploring a particular object or place from the point of view of some far-off, future scientist? 

My Response:

Tinned People

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Little tins of people drive by;   

some are big, some are small, some long.  

At all times of the night and day,  

little tins are moving along.  

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Some are packed and chattery.

Others contain a single one.

Where are you going tinned people?  

Tell me, where did you all come from?

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From left to right, a constant stream  

of shiny black and silver cars.

What do you know? What have you seen?

Do you think there is life on Mars? 

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My questions fall on deaf tinned ears, 

as the tins keep moving on. 

Not a “hello” or “cheerio” 

From a single, solitary one.

 

Nine Fine Lines of Rhyme

It’s Sunday. I’ve been to my local writing group, and perhaps due to the habit of Napowrimo, I wrote poetry there, instead of my usual prose. It must be rubbing off on me.

After group I had a quick shopping trip then returned home to the waiting in-laws, followed by an impromptu visit from my sister-in-law’s family. It’s been a hectic but sociable Sunday. As for Napowrimo… I’m playing catch-up yet again.

Not shying from the challenge, I answered the prompt quite literally. Here is my response to the prompt: Because today is the ninth day of NaPoWriMo, I’d like to challenge you to write a nine-line poem.

Nine Fine Lines Of Rhyme

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Today I write a poem in rhyme.  

Today I’ll try not to post too late. 

The poem must have nine structured lines, 

Not 12, not 10, not a mere 8.   

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I’m happy I’ve written the first four.   

There is the fifth. Here is the sixth.    

I’ve never written in nines before. 

I hope the rhyming doesn’t get mixed,   

although I’m sure it’s easily fixed.

“It’s only me”

Steeped in nostalgia, memories of my childhood, living in the corner shop with my grandma, came flooding back for today’s Napowrimo challenge. 

Day 3 Prompt: Write an elegy – a poem that mourns or honors someone dead or something gone by. And I’d like to ask you to center the elegy on an unusual fact about the person or thing being mourned.

My response: 

“Only me”

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The bell over the shop door

Beckoned grandma to the shop floor              

To serve the customer’s needs          

All manner of groceries        

Mum and I used the shop door          

And to let my grandma know,            

We would so casually shout    

“It’s only me”                          

As we came in and went out

And grandma would do the same      

When she left and when she came    

“It’s only me” her voice sang                                           

As the tinkling shop bell rang              

She was a force of nature

Soul of the working class town          

Dressed daily in a ‘pinny’  

Sat ‘day night she wore a gown             

          

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Layers of ‘tutty’ applied        

Hair liberally sprayed 

Brightest lipstick put on        

Perfume added to the haze

Squeezed painfully into heels             

She’d dance at the social club            

Sunday found her on her knees          

Every inch of the shop she’d scrub

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The Sabbath was a bleach day           

Fumes hung heavy in the air

She sang as she worked until dusk     

Without worry, without cares            

Her ageing knees must have hurt      

The skin on her raw hands burnt                       

Without complaint she scrubbed on 

‘Til ‘a proper job’ was done 

With bags of groceries sold 

A tale or prophecy told                        

Details dutifully shared         

Corner shop views fully aired            

 

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If sick, discuss your symptoms

Compare, contrast prescriptions                      

If someone’s in need of help              

Just ring the corner shop bell              

Knowledge shared, neighbours cared              

Folk looked after each other              

Bedrock of this old mill town              

Grandma; everyone’s mother         

   

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Now passed I still hear her sing          

The now distant shop bell ring           

If I’m sure of just one thing

She ne’er was, never will be 

“Only me”


Jam tart days

Memories of flour-filled, jam smeared baking days with my Grandma came flooding back with today’s Napowrimo prompt;

Today, I’d like you to write a poem inspired by, or in the form of, a recipe! It can be a recipe for something real, like your grandmother’s lemon chiffon cake, or for something imaginary, like a love potion or a spell.

My response:

Jam Tart Days

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Tea towels, pans and wooden spoons 

Baking on sunny afternoons  

Billowing flour clouds fill the air  

Yellow butter smears everywhere 

 

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Every surface sticky with jam 

My happiest days with beloved gran 

Her pantry of love was fully stocked 

Care and kindness overflowed pots 

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Laughter and joy constantly bubbled

Hugs and kisses soothed my troubles 

Those apron days have long since passed 

But grandma’s lessons forever last 

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The empty apron makes my heart ache  

Though she’s with us as we marinate  

As my children learn how to treasure  

Every moment with equal measure 

Procrastination

There are not enough hours in the day.

I’m sure everyone could put up a fair argument to support this theory. Here is mine today;

  1. I failed at the morning pages (writing 3 sheets of A4 as a stream of consciousness at 5.45 am before getting out of bed) – I’m so disappointed in myself for not being able to complete this task for the last two days. This was largely as a result of item number 2 on my list

2. Eyestrain from the day job. As we prepare for the introduction of a new global computer system. Data cleansing has been the intense focus, rendering me useless after 8.30pm

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3. Preparing for a new work structure. I am a new team member with a new boss in a new under-manned function. Initially planned as five people we have three.

 

 

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4. A deluge of visitors from IBM and global Operating Units means restaurant, toilets and car parking facilities are overloaded. The daily trudging commute seems to continue through to a scramble for a parking space onto the queue for breakfast and even extends into the ladies!

 

5. A request from a writing group for attendance tonight for an author’s presentation, I know that despite my body screaming stop, and my families unspoken “don’t go” I will be there and return home at 10pm to collapse on the couch.

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6. A study of Virginia Woolf. I started this book last night even though I knew for all the reasons above, I shouldn’t…. it’s calling my name even now as I type.

 

 

7. Preparing mentally for Napowrimo; Writing a poem a day for each day of April. Again the spirit is willing, the flesh feels weak, but I will do it.

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8. Working on poems for poetry group. I have two underway and feel the pull of them every hour. In practice I’ll probably dedicate an hour to them just before I need to present them (not my favourite tactic).

 

 

9. Reading to Jack. Everything stops to read to my son at bedtime. Of all the items on this list this is my priority and one I love, although I can be found sleeping next to him beyond the stories, before waking to rush downstairs and pretend it never happened.

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10. Teenager stropping. I removed (almost surgically) my 13 teen year old daughter from her laptop, iPhone and iPad as a consequence of her disrespectful tone. She hasn’t spoken to me for 2 days in protest. It’s on my mind, but between points 1 through to 9.

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11. My partner would like to see me awake.

 

 

 

 

12. Need to research Darth Vader cakes and decorations as instructed by the afore-mentioned 4-year-old, nearly 5-year-old son. Bouncy castle ordered, guests invited, cake and balloons need sourcing.

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13. Procrastinating to avoid a huge work task which is frightening me – an IT task which is way outside my comfort zone, hence writing this list!

 

 

 

14. Not getting fired for writing to do lists and whinging.