It's rewarding work, turning up at the Mission, serving food to vulnerable adults who don't mind listening to a few minutes of religion in exchange for a sausage roll, a bowl of soup, and some nice people to talk to for an hour or so.
I am full of existential guilt about it, because doing good makes me feel good, but I am reconciled to this since learning (EdX course 'Science of Happiness') that we are genetically programmed this way, and it helps species survival rates. So that's OK then.
It was my turn to give the talk. It's a tough gig. Most of the audience are appreciative, but I am very ambivalent about doing it. Anyway, I said I would, so I did.
Unfortunately, I spoke without notes, and close to the beginning of my 'put your trust not in men' homily, I accidentally called the President-Elect of the United States of America a narcissistic sociopath.
Michael got up and quietly informed me that if I was going to talk about Trump he was leaving. I kinda got the hint, and also the strong feeling that calling ANYONE a narcissistic sociopath wasn't exactly Christlike, so I rowed back and galloped to the finish, sitting down absolutely determined never, ever, to do the talk again.
Michael hadn't left, but I could see he was upset so I went over to him and let him tell me what a hypocrite I am ( I am, I am, it's true.) and then to give me his reasons for supporting Trump. I listened and I listened good.
Trump offers hope to people like him. Michael feels his voice is finally being heard. After I sincerely apologised for upsetting him, we had a real conversation. At the end of it I was both enlightened and chastened.
Michael was given up for adoption at birth, but his mother changed her mind, and struggled on for two years before giving him up for good. A string of foster homes followed, then a boarding school. Then prison …
Michael, in his forties, is good-looking, and intelligent. As his story unfolded I offer up absolute respect for him: for having a completely shit life and not being totally crushed by it.
Yes, Michael gets that mysogyny and the racism don't look good, but he believes that's media hype, ” The media lies. He's a good man with a family who wants to change the way the world is run … ”
Michael is sitting in a room with some very unhappy people with a food voucher in his hand looking for a job that's being done by someone in China and he wants the world to change in a way that would give him a life more like mine.
I wouldn't vote for Donald Trump in a million years, but after my conversation with Michael, I understand why people did.
I don't think my little homilies ever achieve much, and I sweat blood over them, but today mine achieved something. I made a monumental error of judgement, but as a result, I made a real connection with a young man whose opinions I really needed to hear.
I read once that dreams help you to process experiences, and that you cannot dream about someone you don't know or haven't met. I can't say how true this is, but as I can't recall strangers in dreams it could be true.
I am scraping the barrel here. I have determined to write a blog post today, and my mind has gone blank, and a quick delve into my subconscious, has dragged up this really weird dream I had last night. Something must be going on, but what it is, I have no idea. I was back in a school that I worked in forty years ago, and I was incensed because I was the headteacher, but had just been ousted in a coup led by my good friend and all round lovely person, Angela.
A little background here. I was never the headteacher of Newtons School, nor did I aspire to be. Angela is the sweetest person I know, and Pauline, a complete nonentity that I didn't know I remembered.
I was mad! I reasoned, cajoled, threatened, but Angela was adamant, a decision had been made at a meeting of The Singing Group that I had to go, and that was that, Pauline was taking over, and would I like to see the Jobs Vacant list?
Being a dream, the job vacancies were on one of those rolling calendar ring-binder type of things that seemed to display only houses for sale. No-one thought this odd.
The situation was ludicrous, the plot incredible, but the FEELINGS! My, they were real! Anger, frustration, disappointment, futility, betrayal …
It was a relief to wake up.
Maybe there IS something I need to come to terms with here. Stuff I thought I'd dealt with …
Nope, not going there.
Happy Tuesday, everybody. See you in my dreams!
Grandchildren! What a delight!
When I, rather involuntarily, left work in 2009, one of my colleagues said, “Now you can spend more time with Rosie.” And a light came on. With almost total recall, all the things about being the headteacher of a very small school that I DIDN'T enjoy (teaching NOT being among them …) flashed before my eyes … Taking the temperature of the water and logging it, so that nobody died of Legionnaire's Disease, putting salt down on the playground on frosty mornings, explaining to an inspector who should have known better, that serious inferences cannot be drawn from cohorts of eight … And on and on …
Rosie is the eldest of my grandchildren: she was the only one, back then, but now there are five … And I adore them all. The latest addition to the clan was born a week ago today, and already it's as if he was always coming: we were just waiting for him to be here. He's the star in the photo below.
I have visited with them all this week. Here are the highlights:
Rosie, 9, now singing in her daddy's choir talking about the Christmas repertoire.
Abigail, 5, listening, wide-eyed through my dramatic re-telling of The Three Billy Goats Gruff, then remarking, “You used LOTS of adjectives, grandma!”
Sam, 2, running away and hiding under the table in the middle of a nappy change, “Go away! I''m busy!”
Frank, 8 months, giving me his stellar smile before crawling off commando -style to investigate the vacuum cleaner.
And now, Finley, a lovely warm bundle, sleeping soundly through all the fuss as he meets and greets his extended family.
I'm proud of them all, and very thankful to my amazing daughters and sons-in-law, for allowing me to be part of their lives!
Finley, Auntie Kate and Mum, Hannah.
Summer has arrived and my window is open and I am suddenly caught up in the joy of birdsong and for the first time this year, I smell lilacs.
It's good to be alive isn't it?
The Handyman's Tale
I answered an ad in 'Faryland Times' – I thought it a joke
Until a bear on a chair took me on : 'You seem a good bloke!”
So I packed up my kit and through forest and dale
I fetched up in Fairy Land: this is my tale
I don't get a mention, I'm sorry to say: my mythic employers prefer it that way –
But who do you think, when things go awry, arrives with his tools to save the day?
Rapunzel, for example, a delicate flower, sends for me frequently to unblock her shower
And that clever little pig despite all his tricks, needed an expert to point all those bricks.
The hooves of those billy- goats sure took their toll, but it a was ME, not them, that did for that troll.
I took out a plank on the bridge and he fell through the hole.
ITgey say that a woodcutter saved Little Red in her hour of need
But it was me that killed Wolfie, I did the deed.
Cinderella's coach? I put back the wheel that fell off when it went in a ditch
And with a dollop of Swarfega I made the glass slipper fit.
Those princes and giants have there place, there's no doubt
But there'd be few happy endings if I didn't help out!
First gather everything together
Into A Singularity
And blow on it!
That was a very, very,
Now wait 13.7 billion years and open a cook-book.
(My thanks to God.
Who did the Big Bang
And Carl Sagan, whose recipe this is!!)
Sounds of Home:
Crack and hiss of a spiteful coal in it's narrow hearth
Westminster chimes, Disneyfied, by the ice-cream seller in his pink-cream van.
” My Whippy” or “Tartaglia's”
I remember the day they had a fight and whizzed dollops of vanilla
Over our wondering heads.
Mum's industrial Singer treadle machine
Whine-hum tat-tat-tat d-D-D–d-D (She was fast, my mum, sewing
Collars, plackets, pockets, lapels … for pennies Piece- Work,
For Comptons, where she worked, before she married.
My dad's old 73's churning around on his ancient record player
In A Monestry Garden, In A Persian Market, Panis Angelicus.
My dad wasn't a church-goer, but Panis Angelicus made me one.
Mum breaks into song.
“Catch A Falling Star and Put it in your Pocket …
D-D–D ddddddddddddd d-D-D
And my grandfather's old clock ( seven shillings and sixpence, Woolworth 1913
Ticks on and on and on …
Ascends from Dirge to Ditty more's the pity
Bucolic, more peasant than pleasant
Definitely not Epic
Flarf! Don't make me laugh.
(Google it .. You'll see … )
A Genre for geeks if you ask me.
Haiku might suit you
If you're not into Hexameter
Which I'm not, because I forgot
How many beats I should encounter.
Possibly I'd be word-winning
If my Poet-heart tried Kenning
A Lyric for a Madrigal might be more my thing
Now there's a Metaphor for life or quolachrism
(Don't look THAT up
It's a Neologism … )
Alluring, isn't it, to delve into another
Life, to fetch up into the
Mystery of where,
And when, and how:
Nottingham, 1350, with Alan
A'Dale whistling through the beeches
Confiding secrets of centuries to come.