We sent the students home today And then wrote off the year Agreeing we would all downplay Their panic and our fear. The younger ones all whooped and cheered As soon as they were told Then out the door they disappeared To watch events unfold. The seniors nervously dispersed First, shell-shocked, then resigned This endgame they had not rehearsed Would leave some friends behind. Worse still, I had no lesson plan No academic text No clever quote from some wise man To say what might come next.
I struggled with this year’s goodbyes But didn’t let it show Instead I joked and signed their ties And let them call me Bro! Throughout the revelry we knew The world was not the same Our balanced lives were now askew And we were not to blame. But you can’t keep a good kid down When they’re up for the fight And as I watched them rally round I knew they’d be alright. The proof came when I reached my car That’s when my vision blurred In foam they’d written Au revoir! Then What’s the French for NERD??? Mr Ormsby
Old King Henry had six wives Whose days were full of dread For most of them led tragic lives Then often wound up dead. Catherine of Aragon To whom he first proposed Could not produce a princely son So he said Adios! Then Anne Boleyn, closer to home Demanded that they wed So Henry cut off ties with Rome And then cut off her head. Poor Jane Seymour was the one Who finally played her part When she, at last, produced a son But died, which broke his heart. Anne of Cleves, the next one booked Was royal, young and wealthy The problem was she didn’t look Quite like her latest selfie. Catherine Howard, it was said No man had ever dated But rumours spread after they’d wed So was decapitated. Catherine Parr, a lively sort Who wielded her own power Helped organise his kids and court Once she’d escaped The Tower.
All Henry wanted was a son A prince whom he could teach To rule his people when he’d gone But this was out of reach. The irony which overwhelms This patriarchal scene? He gave to England and its realms Perhaps their greatest queen Because Young Bess, put to the test Excelled in her employ And showed the world it takes a girl To do it like a boy. Mr Ormsby
“I’m being sued by the Catholic Church again,” Laverne announced, while reorganising her purse. “I have no words for that.” “How unlike you,” she mused. “Hold on, I thought you were working on a piece about the East African Lion,” I suddenly remembered. “Turns out all they do is sleep. My son can do that.” “Have you ever been to Africa? I haven’t.” “Yeah, with my sister for her fortieth. We went on safari in Malawi.” “So is that where …“ “… my people come from?” Laverne zipped her purse and placed it on the chair next to her. “Couldn’t tell you; the furthest back I’ve been able to trace my roots is to The Shirelles.” “Ha, ha. Very funny. I was actually going to ask if that’s where your sister went with the Peace Corps.” “Oops, sorry,” she giggled. “No, that was Mozambique.” “I’d like to ask you another question though. When you were there did you feel any connection to it?”
“Well now, funny you should ask that,” she became more pensive, “because I expected to feel African from the moment I arrived but the whole time we were there I felt like just another tourist. People are people wherever you go so, yes, we had that in common. Culturally, however, I struggled to make a connection and that bothered me. I think maybe we’ve been gone too long.” “I felt the same when I met my Scottish relatives for the first time,” I concurred. “We shared the same name, same sense of humour and some even look liked me but culturally we were raised in two very different worlds.” “Not even close!” Laverne screamed with laughter. “Honestly, are you kidding me with that? Your parents emigrated using Air Miles!”
“But their journey to The New World was horrific; first, they ran out of headphones and then they gave my mum’s gluten-free meal to someone else,” I grinned. “Anyway, cut me some slack – you’re my only ethnic friend.” “Hey, I’m your only friend. I’ve got more in common with those lions than I do with you.” “How so?” “They don’t like to cook either.” “And we have our connection!” I declared, triumphantly. “Okay, but back to this business with the Church,” she lowered her voice, “it’s over a certain someone I told you about at Christmas.” “Is this the same someone with the thing?” “Yup.” “And are you telling me they’ve now found the thing?” “Oh yeah, they found it alright,” she confirmed. “Was it on him?” “No, up him.” “Whoa!” I leaned back in my chair. “And the monkey?” “Still missing,” she arched an eyebrow.
I love secrets and Laverne knows plenty. A freelance journalist, she moved to the UK from Seattle over thirty years ago after meeting and marrying Elliott, a sound engineer at the BBC. The three of us first met at The Pu Pu Pot, our local Chinese restaurant, after she’d overheard my accent. “I need some human conversation while I’m on this island… I need someone who doesn’t talk about Bobby Charlton in his sleep!” she blubbered into her chop suey. “Who’s Robby Carlson?” I asked. “Exactly!” she cried. “And do you know where I can score some Fruit Loops because the last people to eat porridge were the Vikings!” That was twenty years ago.
Tonight we were out for our weekly meal at The Pu Pu Pot but without Elliott, who begged off to attend a Bolton Wanderers match. “What’s the viral load of the Szechuan Chicken today?” Laverne asked. “Slightly elevated I’m afraid, so I’d be happy to pee on it for you. We Chinese believe that urine possesses magical properties,” our waitress took her on. “Is that like chlorinated chicken?” I followed through on the logic. “Well, if you’d prefer you can bring in a pet and we’ll cook that for you,” she smiled, sweetly. “We’re gonna need a few more minutes,” Laverne smiled right back at her. Just then, the kitchen doors swung open to reveal a sinewy, old man lifting the lid off a huge cauldron. As he did so, he stepped back to avoid the rush of steam which escaped. “What’s that for?” I asked. “We’ll be cooking shrimp in it once we take the shirts out,” our waitress stated matter-of-factly. “Would you excuse me for just one moment? I need to inform on my neighbours.” “She’s good,” Laverne nodded her approval, as she watched the diminutive figure disappear behind the bar. “Is she still in med school?” “Fourth year.” “She’ll have them in stitches.”
During the course of the evening Laverne made a visit to the Ladies’. While she was gone from the table an attractive young woman breezed into the restaurant and joined her friend at a table nearby. Tall, elegant and stylishly attired, she quickly attracted the attention of other diners. “I’m back,” she announced, resuming her seat. “They have the nicest hand lotion here.” “Uh huh,” I replied, looking past her at the young woman. “What’s up with you?” she shot me a quizzical look. “It’s what’s behind you.” “What’s behind me?” “A girl walked in while you were gone and she’s gotta be a model. She’s absolutely stunning. Definitely a model,” I surmised. “Wow,” she was genuinely interested but it was now Game On. “So, on a scale of 1 to 10?” “Ten.” “Hair?” “Lustrous.” “Make-up?” “None.” “Height?” “NBA.” “She’s gotta have a flaw, everyone has a flaw.” “If she does, I can’t see it.” “Then maybe it’s hidden,” she paused for a moment, then lit up. “I’ve got it: slug feet.” “Killer farts.” “Fifty bucks says she uses disconnect as a noun.” “Another fifty says she’s planning to call her at least one daughter Chandelier.” “Hmm… not even a split end?” Laverne wasn’t having it. “Turn around and see for yourself if you don’t believe me.” “Have I taught you nothing?” she reached for her purse. “Watch and learn. Which shoulder?” “Right.” She took out her compact and opened it, angling the mirror until she caught sight of her quarry over her shoulder. At that same moment, the young woman put on her glasses to read the menu. Closing her compact again, Laverne chuckled to herself as she looked across at me and mouthed, “Four eyes.”
Flat screen, smart phone Filming neighbours with your drone 3-D, 5G Virtual reality Instagram and Amazon Have you left your charger on? Youtube, Snapchat, Spotify Your latest Tweet’s had no reply Binge-watching a favourite show On Netflix or on HBO While texting strangers live on Kik And maybe sending them a pic…
If you could only look away You might realise It’s World Book Day
The push is on to get to Mars Because down here we’ve blown it I’m just not sure if Mars is ours For who’s to say we own it? Maybe its own inhabitants Will greet us when we cruise in In tiny, shiny disco pants And shout We’re all called Susan! Then we’ll tell them about the Earth Its sky, its seas, the land How right from birth we know the worth Of taking someone’s hand Of running jumps into a lake To beat the summer heat And hopes that Grandma’s gonna bake Our favourite thing to eat The satisfaction we derive From finding the right gift And pulling over when we drive To give a friend a lift Why monkeys make us laugh out loud While spiders make us shriek How lovers can tune out a crowd When dancing cheek to cheek Of course, they’ll think us all absurd Forsaking paradise A move to Mars? Why that’s unheard! It’s just some rocks with ice… And watching with their mouths ajar They’ll note down in their book: It’s true, these Earthlings really are as stupid as they look...
After work I thought I’d venture into Manchester to check out the city’s annual Mardi Gras shenanigans. Caught up in the spirit of goodwill, I ditched the 4×4 and opted instead for public transport to help save the Himalayan Poop Bat which, I’ve been told by my 16 year old niece, is hunted to make Himalayan Poop Soup. This led to my boarding a bus only recently decommissioned by the Pyong Yang Transit Authority and shipped to Britain by sampan in the dead of night. Now glancing down the aisle at the human roadkill sprawled across each seat, I decided to remain standing and endeavoured to engage the driver in some lively banter. This, however, proved a non-starter because life had kicked him in the nuts not once, but several times that shift, reducing him to a series of unintelligible expletives and questionable hand gestures. Backing away slowly, I retreated upstairs where I was immediately overwhelmed by the kind of scented spice you won’t find in any Laura Ashley candle.
Unexpectedly offloaded at the corner of Kidnap and Tetanus, I happened upon an old timer in a doorway balancing a few coins in his outstretched hand. Well, everyone has a story and I had time to spare so I told him to start from the beginning. What unravelled was a sorry yarn indeed and at its end my raconteur summed up his lot, “I have a wooden crate for a seat, I have to beg to use the toilet, people brush past me as if I’m invisible, I can’t afford to buy myself a hot drink because a brew around here costs £5 and, worst of all, I have no idea where I’ll end up tomorrow. Do you have any idea what that’s like?”
“Yes, I do” I commiserated, “because I’ve flown EasyJet.”
I then cut through the Gay Village where I had a deep and meaningful conversation with a 7ft woman. Thelma Mahogany Jr (I very much doubt that’s on the birth certificate) initially stopped me to ask for a light and, yes, I will admit that for a brief moment I was outside my comfort zone. However, I would like to state for the record that it had nothing to do with her station in life and everything to do with the knife down each leg-warmer. Now I’ll talk to anyone and, as luck would have it, it turned out Thelma just happened to be going wherever I was.
As we strolled through The Village I marvelled at the outrageously extravagant decor adorning every building and asked her to pass on my compliments to the Mardi Gras Committee.
“Oh, those aren’t Mardi Gras decorations,” Thelma corrected me.
“They’re not?” I queried, taking closer look. “Then why are they up?”
“Isn’t your neighbourhood decorated all year round?”
“Then what’s your street like?” she looked at me, puzzled. “Is it just blank space everywhere?”
“Uh, I guess so,” I murmured, now giving it some thought.
“That’s a bit of a waste, don’t you think? Why not jazz it up? Honey, you gotta live a little!”
The lady had a point. And while I might not have gone in for the winged butt-plugs, I was starting to come around to the idea of a themed neighbourhood, in principle.
And Thelma has dreams. She informed me that she is, among other things, an artiste who will soon be appearing at The Manhole in her one-woman show, a tribute to women of colour, past and present, entitled From Motown To Ho-Town. The production sounds very edgy because in the opening number she appears onstage as a black Elizabeth I, head-butting Pilgrims while twirling fire batons pre-soaked in poppers the night before. Other members of the cast include three Shih Tzus on hoverboards, an ABBA tribute act from Korea who went missing last summer, a married father of four who should know better and Thelma’s own mother who’ll be throwing Bibles at the audience during the interval. As for the big finale, a final homage to those who went before her, Miss Mahogany Jr will lip-sync to her self-penned, glitch-hop track Ain’t No Hairdo High Enough.
You’re all invited but it will be matinees only until her tag comes off.
Ever go upstairs and not remember why you did? Or take the groceries out the car but then forget the kid? Ever open up the fridge and find the teapot in it? Forget to play the lottery then curse when others win it? Lose your keys? Kill the grass? Return home to check the gas? Fail to find your car though it’s right next to where you are And so you verbally abuse it while more shoppers watch you lose it Now if you were on the booze it might excuse it… (let’s defuse it) Scientists would say your frontal lobe is disengaged. You won’t remember that, so write this down: you’re middle-aged
I’ve got two mutts who sniff the butts Of dogs whom they don’t know But what is worse and quite perverse This passes for Hello! Imagine if we all did this When meeting someone new If that’s hello I’d like to know How one would say Adieu!