Team GB Success Causes Medalmania

With the runaway success of Team GB at the Rio Olympics, British people are now expecting medals for virtually every activity.  The phenomenon was first observed after Adam Peaty took the gold for the 100m breaststroke on day 2 of the Olympics, whereupon a fight broke out between two pensioners at the early-bird swim in the Wavertree Aquatics Centre in Liverpool over the pool attendant’s refusal to hold an award ceremony using some benches and a stack of floats as a podium.

Initially, the problem seemed to be confined to sporting activities.  The Hull Ladies’ Crown Green Bowling Club hired local lad Reece Shearsmith at great expense to decorate them for their victory over the Humber Bowling Demons Ladies’ team, choosing to play Housemartins hit ‘Happy Hour’ instead of the national anthem during the ceremony.  In Cornwall, a last-minute sprint gave Mevagissey man Dan Polter a victory over Devonian outsider Alan Hammond-Jones in the charity egg-and-spoon race at the parish church of St Kentigern, before a ceremony on the village green, attended by local dignitaries and Derek Thomas, the Conservative MP for St Ives.

However, as the Team GB Rio medals have stacked up, so has medalmania in the UK.  The insistence on being given not only a medal, but an accompanying solemn ceremony with a podium, a flag and music, has now spread into less obvious pursuits.  Police had to be called to a branch of Aldi in Cardiff when a woman demanded to see the manager after she claimed to be due a gold medal for getting her shopping into the bags at the same speed at which it had been fed through the scanner.  She was charged with common assault, fined and banned from all branches of Aldi in Wales for twelve months.  Further incidents of medalmania include unrest caused by people who were upset at not receiving medals for ‘getting a Renault Captur into a tight parking space’,  ‘putting a USB stick into the slot the right way up first time’ and ‘understanding all of the lyrics of Come On, Eileen’.

While many of the incidents of medalmania have been dealt with in a timely and relatively trouble-free manner, the authorities are concerned that the attitude could become ingrained in British culture, adding billions of pounds to the cost of an already strained infrastructure.  An emergency session of parliament was called to discuss the growing crisis.  Michael Fallon was awarded the gold medal for ‘shouting for the longest before being told to pack it in by the Speaker’.

Word Thief

“Poems don’t have to rhyme!” she said, shoving an adjective hurriedly into her pocket.

But as she left the shop, I heard her add “If they don’t, it’s a minor crime.”

I locked the door in case she should come back and steal more words:

Some verbs could easily slot into the pocket of her jeans; a noun or two shoved down a sock.

And then where would I be?

Alone, behind the counter, committing a minor crime.

A Busy Life

When people ask me what I do, I silently judge them for their nosiness before telling them I’m a copywriter.  I then explain what a copywriter is, unless they’re fans of ‘Madmen’, in which case I explain what a copywriter isn’t.  But I don’t really have the time for writing at the moment.  Just the creation of that sentence has guaranteed that the bathroom I should be cleaning will, at best, be left with a smeared mirror, while the sentence explaining about the smeared mirror has probably ensured I won’t have time to mop the floor.  If I don’t stop explaining stuff, the bathroom will be a no-go area for all those not in possession of hazmat gear.  As usual.  But the heart wants what it wants and a writer writes and meta crap like that, so I’m neglecting the list of jobs that are mounting up in order to write this.  I’m sure my expected visitors will at least be polite enough to pretend they can’t see the mess as long as they’re here and will only comment on my inadequacy once I’m out of earshot.

There are always things I should do, but don’t.  Find more work, sleep more, get more exercise, wash a dish now and then, train one of the cats to switch the kettle on … important stuff like that.  And there’s also the other list; the things I shouldn’t be doing, or shouldn’t be doing as much: eat less sugar, tweet less, yell less at political programmes, write fewer lists …  But, at the risk of accidentally plagiarising Hallmark’s output for the last century, the thing I should be concentrating on, should have always been concentrating on, is appreciating the things I have while I have them instead of worrying about what I used to have, think I should have had or wish I could get in the future.

Shortly after my dad died at the end of 2014, my mum went into a care home.  Her dementia had left her with short-term memory problems and some confusion, so visits immediately took on a Groundhog Day ambience, only on a 5-minute loop instead of a 24-hour one, and we struggled to have a conversation.  However, a life spent playing board games and doing quizzes had burnt those processes into her brain, so we could still enjoy some quality time together with the Trivial Pursuit or Ludo and little flashes of the intelligence beneath the fog would surface even as she was asking which colour pieces were hers each time it was her turn.  I’d leave when it was time for her to have dinner or for me to go and do mum things instead of daughter things and it’d be just another little interlude in a busy life.

So, when she had an accident last month and went to hospital, we lost those games and had nothing left but Groundhog Day and it was hard to take.  We were all looking forward to the day when we could get her back to the home and slip back into the routine that would let her be herself again, in some small way.  Sadly, that didn’t and won’t happen as she died in the early hours of Wednesday.  Comfortable, clean, sleeping, not alone.  We could all do a lot worse.  Since then, I’ve been cleaning, decorating, making more phone calls than I usually make in a year, eating fast food because I have no time to cook, writing when I shouldn’t be writing and, as ever, not appreciating what I have while I have it.  From now on, when people ask what I do, I’ll give them the honest answer; I fiddle while Rome burns.

Farewell, NaPoWriMo

A month of poetry can take its toll

Upon the reader and the poet too.

Though topics may be dredged up from the soul,

They often will appeal to just a few.

The poet tries each day to do their best

To strike a chord within each reader’s mind.

But, as your own appraisal will attest,

Such harmony is difficult to find.

And now this final day has come around.

Just one last piece before I rest my pen

And I can dash my notebook to the ground,

‘Tis many months till I’ll need them again.

So this is all that’s left for me to say:

Thank fuck tomorrow is the first of May.

Poem

A poem can move, can calm can thrill,

Its lines can guide, help to decide,

Much more beside, yet still,

At times, its words unwind

And leave their many powers behind

And wander where they will.

 

In countless ways a poem has soul,

Its meanings change, it’s not that strange:

Its readers range, each role

A brave new part to play,

The poem has fresh things to stay,

Each thought a compact whole.

The Wise and Friendly badger

You see them in the stories; they’re always very wise.

With gravitas, with patience and with kind and caring eyes.

They steer the woodland animals away from foolish errors,

They keep the mice and rabbits and the hedgehogs from all terrors.

Their guidance is unparallelled, their insight quite astounding,

Their sense of fairness most advanced, their qualities abounding.

Their homes are neat and cosy, their habits most fastidious,

Their entertainment perfect as each one’s a host punctilious.

The other forest creatures know that these beasts can be trusted.

They’ll sit and tell their troubles in a cottage highly dusted.

But if you see a badger as you walk out in the twilight

A rustle in a hedgerow and a peek of black and bright white,

Don’t tell it all your problems!  Don’t expect it to be nice.

It will tear your sodding throat out without even thinking twice!

 

The topic for this was chosen by a Twitter friend, Sian Ifans () and I’d like to thank her for it because it was a lot of fun.

Curses

May you always be caught as the lights turn to red.

May your socks start to slip as you run for the train.

May your bladder fill up as you get into bed.

May you exit the salon into lashing rain.

May The One Show come on when you’ve lost your remote.

May you email your boss with a kiss at the end.

May a pair of tights stick to the back of your coat.

May you spot the text typo just as you press ‘send’.

May you go a whole day with your top inside out.

May you think you’ve got tea when you’ve drunk the whole cup.

May you ruin your photos by trying to pout.

May you get in the ‘down’ lift and find it goes ‘up’.

May you buy the wrong ink for the printer you own.

May your laptop keys break so there’s no ‘e’ or ‘r’.

May the Crazy Frog ringtone get stuck on your phone.

May a gull take a dump on your freshly washed car.

May your series link fail so you miss your best show.

May you make a mistake and put talc in your stew.

May your nettles run wild but your roses not grow.

May you see this and realise it’s about you.

D.U.L.L.

I hate the sound of my own dull thoughts,

Drilling their way through the things that matter,

Waving insistent hands behind my eyes

And shouting “LISTEN TO ME NOW!”

 

Why do I even have such dull thoughts?

They should be pushed out by things that matter.

Sometimes I can’t even believe my eyes

As thoughts parade, shouting “WATCH ME NOW!”

 

I need a way to be rid of dull thoughts.

Without getting shut of the things that matter.

Then all the annoyance will slip from my eyes

And I’ll shout out “I’M FREE AGAIN NOW!”

The Whole Day Blues

Well, I woke up in the morning

And the sun streamed in the room,

I wish I’d had the curtains closed

I sleep better in the gloom.

I’ve got the blues.

I’ve got those half asleep blues.

 

I’m tired right through the daytime.

I’ve got the whole day blues!

 

So I got up and I drank some tea,

To make me feel awake,

But I hadn’t switched the kettle on

And that was my first mistake.

I’ve got the blues.

I’ve got those half asleep blues.

 

I’m tired right through the daytime.

I’ve got the whole day blues!

 

Then by the time I started work

I thought I was okay,

Till I signed an email with a kiss

And sent it on its way.

I’ve got the blues.

I’ve got those half asleep blues.

 

I’m tired right through the daytime.

I’ve got the whole day blues!

 

By lunchtime I was wide awake,

My mind was free of doubt,

But it turns out that my cardigan

Had been on inside out.

I’ve got the blues.

I’ve got those half asleep blues.

 

I’m tired right through the daytime.

I’ve got the whole day blues!

 

And when the day was over

And I got back in my bed,

I couldn’t get to sleep with all

The things stuck in my head.

I’ve got the blues.

I’ve got those wide awake blues.

 

Keep wakin’ in the night time.

I’ve got the whole day blues!