Flying

Why, oh why, can I not fly

To chase the birds across the sky

Soar on thermals above the land

Pass above the sea and sand

….

Laugh at those in gravity’s maw

Earth-bound terrestrial plodding corps

Whilst I pierce silvered fleeting clouds

Divorced from two dimensional crowds

….

Feel the lift above my wings

Glory exceeding the heights of kings

Eschew the paths mankind must tread

Know freedom of the winds instead

The Industrious Tailor

Once there was a pleasant and industrious (by which I mean hard working) tailor who had a beautiful seamstress (female tailor) wife.  They lived in a small cottage on the edge of a quaint (nice, in an old fashioned way) village by the side of a rippling mountain stream.  Life was very good for the industrious tailor and his beautiful seamstress wife and their eleven contented (happy) children, all of whom were loved dearly. 

One day the industrious tailor needed to go to the neighbouring (nearby) village to conclude (finish) some business, which involved supplying a bride and groom with fine outfits for their forthcoming wedding.  The industrious tailor and his beautiful seamstress wife had worked together for many days, and sometimes well into the evenings under the light of smelly tallow (animal fat) candles, to complete the order.  He loaded the fine outfits onto his a rickety (wobbly) wooden cart then hitched (tied) his faithful old donkey to the rickety wooden cart. Bidding (saying) goodbye to his beautiful seamstress wife and eleven contented children with a kiss and a smile, he set off for the neighbouring village.

Now, the industrious tailor and his beautiful seamstress wife and eleven contented children had always been very jolly, but they were not very worldly (street wise).  They thought everyone was as nice and honest as they were.  This was about to change. 

For, a little way down the road between the two villages, the tailor, sitting on his rickety wooden cart pulled by his faithful old donkey, rounded a bend in the road and passed by the mouth of an ancient (old) cave. As the wheels of the rickety wooden cart clattered (made a noise) on the stones near the mouth of the ancient cave, the industrious tailor and his faithful old donkey heard a mighty growl, which made the hairs on the neck of the industrious tailor and his faithful old donkey stand on edge.

At the mouth of the ancient cave stood a massive (large) mean (not very nice), green, angry ogre.  The ogre was angry because the noise of the cart approaching (getting nearer) had woken him up.  As for being mean, well that is true for all ogres, all of the time.

The ogre now stood in the middle of the road and, feeling hungry after his long sleep, was about to start eating the faithful old donkey.  “Wait!” said the industrious tailor. “If you let us pass safely to go about our business (work), I will bring you something nice to eat from the village when we return.” The ogre thought about this for a while and, taking one last longing (wanting it) look at the faithful old donkey, he said, “Very well, you may pass, but be sure to bring something fresh and tasty so that I don’t have to eat that old stringy (tough to eat) donkey.

At this, the industrious tailor and the faithful old donkey wasted no time in heading (moving) off toward the next village.  Once there, he conducted (carried out) his business with the bride and groom, who were delighted (very pleased) with the quality of their new outfits. He then gave some thought to what he could take back with him to give to the ogre. Passing a butcher’s shop he saw a plump (fat) fresh, dead chicken hanging in the window.  “Ah, that should do nicely”, he thought.  He went in and purchased (bought) the chicken then set off toward home with the chicken on the seat next to him.

Soon enough, the industrious tailor and the faithful old donkey were within sight of the cave and they saw the ogre standing in the middle of the road waiting for them.  The ogre sniffed the air as they approached and roared with delight. “I can smell fresh meat, let me have it quickly”, said the ogre.  The industrious tailor handed over the dead chicken and, in a flash it was gone down the ogre’s throat.

“Is that all you have brought me?” said the ogre, in a rage (angrily).  “That was very tasty but hardly a mouthful. I can see that I am going to have to eat the donkey and then you after all.”  It was at this point that the industrious tailor realised that not everyone was nice and honest as he was.

“Wait”, he shouted. “Let us pass once more and I will return (come back) with plenty of fresh meat for you to eat.  I have eleven contented children who are nice and plump. I can spare you a couple of those.”  Of course, ogres, by nature, are greedy as well as mean. So, this ogre agreed to the deal and let the industrious tailor and the faithful old donkey pass by.  As they went on their way the ogre shouted, “They better taste as nice as the last thing you brought for me.”

Shortly, the industrious tailor and faithful old donkey arrived home and told the beautiful seamstress wife all about what had happened.  At first, she was terribly upset and scolded (told off) the industrious tailor for coming up with such an awful (bad) idea.  “Trust me”, he said, “for I have seen how wicked the ogre is, and I intend (mean to) teach him a lesson.

For the whole of the next week the industrious tailor and his beautiful seamstress wife worked tirelessly to make two very detailed mannequin (life sized model) copies of their two eldest children, out of scraps of cloth.  They stuffed these with straw and brussel sprouts soaked in chicken blood and juice. This made the mannequins smell as good as the real dead chicken given to the ogre previously (before). The industrious tailor then set off toward the ogre’s cave. 

Once again, as he approached the cave the ogre roared with delight. “I can smell fresh meat, let me have it quickly”, he said.  The industrious tailor pushed the two mannequins off the rickety old cart onto the road.  Now, ogres have a reasonable sense of smell, but their eyesight is not good on account (because) of their living in dark, damp caves. The ogre leapt hungrily onto the two mannequins and they were gone into his belly in just a few moments.

Gingerly (carefully) the industrious tailor eased the cart backward and started to head for home.  Before he had turned the bend in the road, he heard a loud groaning and noises a bit like thunder coming from the cave. He stopped the cart just in time to see the ogre running from the cave pulling up his tattered (old and ripped) trousers and shouting, “I’m not staying here a minute longer.  The people here taste awful and give one the most terrible flatulence (wind)”.  With that he was gone in a puff of smoke, never to be seen or heard of again.

Bird Trivia

Robins and blackbirds like people

Hawks prefer to perch on a steeple

Crows can recognise human faces

Pigeons favour urban spaces

…..

Blue and great tits love bird feeders

Cuckoos use surrogate breeders

Owls twist their heads by 360 degrees

Swans are never seen in trees

….

Starlings swarm in a murmuration

Magpies have a shiny fixation

Pheasants and grouse are not fond of August

Albatrosses have a keen wanderlust

….

Kingfishers dive for small things that swim

Whilst petrels look for waves they can skim

Ravens guard the tower of London

Nightingales sing second to none

….

All these and more are a joy to behold

Many others of whom I’ve not told

Nature can lift the troubled soul

Keep a lookout when next you stroll

Hope for the Future

Rowan is four months old today

Born into turbulent times

He doesn’t yet know the meaning of play

Or that Grandpa is crazy about rhymes

…..

He knows he is loved and has learned to smile

By watching his mum and his dad

To understand more might take a while

But for now things really aren’t bad

…..

One day he will walk, and also talk

And understand more about life

I just hope by then, I can rest my pen

Knowing he’s part of a world with less strife

Covid-19 and Racism

One is an arbitrary killer, which puts no value on life

The other holds an unspoken tenet: that some people are worth less than others

One is without consciousness, the other without conscience

One attacks vulnerable people, the other makes people vulnerable.

Both exhibit a lack of humanity, compassion, and reason

One is invisible to the naked eye; the other, insidious, is hidden in plain sight

One will, with perseverance, eventually be driven away by the ingenuity of mankind

The other will endure in the dark corners of men’s minds, until a cure can be found for prejudice.

The Rose and the Grass

One day a gardener planted a young and elegant rose bush in the border surrounding her well-manicured lawn.
‘Hello and welcome, friend rose’, said some of the grass nearest to the rose. ‘Our owner is a keen gardener and has chosen a fine sunny spot to plant you. You should do well there.’
“Quite so”, said the rose, somewhat haughtily. “My owner has placed me where I might display my wonderful flowers to the best effect. This clearly shows she is a keen gardener.”
‘Ah’, said the grass, ‘we can hardly wait for the summer to see what colours you will have’. “You must be patient”, said the rose,” it will take me no little time to prepare for the glorious show that I am to give. But what of you? What is your role in the garden and is green really your only colour?”
‘Sadly’, said the grass, ‘we cannot claim the brilliance of the colours you will bear, though we have the most vibrant shade of green imaginable and we work together to provide a velvety soft carpet for our owner to walk upon’.
“My owner cannot care for you too much then”, said the rose, “for she tramples on you daily and even the birds have little regard as they root for grubs and worms between your shorn down stalks”. At this the grass grew silent for a while, and a humble mood spread across the whole lawn as the grass stalks pondered just how keen a gardener their owner was.
The days went by and spring gave way to summer. The owner tended and fed the plants lovingly, and with a growing sense of pride as the garden was readied for its coming splendour. The lawn was given a dressing of fertiliser and had its hair cut at least once a week. The rose was inspected regularly and sprayed to prevent blackspot and mildew. The rose did feel it somewhat degrading when, in full view of the lawn, it was also sprayed to remove the greenfly that had cheekily moved in uninvited. However, this was better than having the pesky things greedily sucking its sap.
The rose pointed out to the grass that, being a keen gardener, its owner was merely taking proper care of it. “After all,” it said to its now weary audience, “all my sap is for my magnificent flowers. See how some of my buds are already beginning to burst. My owner must be overcome with excitement”. The grass gave no reply, but did note that a beautiful fragrance had begun to accompany the young and radiant blooms on the rose.
A few more days of warm sunshine later, the lawn woke to hear sobbing coming from the rose. Even though the grass had regularly been subject to the rose’s arrogant attitude, the stalks remembered their common bond as plants, and inquired what the matter was.
At this, the rose wailed and roared; “My prize flowers, they are all gone!” ‘Quite so!’, said the grass, ‘Our owner is indeed a keen gardener, but she is an even keener exhibitor at the local flower show’.