Secret Santa

The Office': Revisiting season 2's ill-fated Secret Santa | EW.com

The day before The Night Before
The office turned into a store
With gifts galore from Santa’s stock
At lunchtime, right on one o’clock

A furtive glance across the room
As someone tried to wrap perfume
A figure hunched behind a fern
(the new girl had a lot to learn)

A friend will cough to help a mate
Disguise the sound of Sellotape

Shirley’s eyes revealed a glint
Each time she dropped another hint
In knowing just what not to tell
She kept the weak under her spell

And Andy, bless him, the poor dear
Just hoped he’d get it right this year
For Sue, who longed for something French
He’d bought a Jean-Paul Gautier wrench

Old Davey Wilcox saved a packet
He thought the whole idea a racket
His gifts were met with trepidation
Bought at his local petrol station

All dreams of wintry escapades
Were dashed by half-price wiper blades

Still, pity those who drew Pru’s name
The dowager who ran the game
And claimed the true meaning had gone
Then priced her gift on Amazon

Big Tony came to stuff his face
So ate at an alarming pace
Before they wrapped it up for Luke
Whose wife was just as bad a cook

Stollen, edam, Toblerone
Belgian nougat in a cone
Baby Jesus, Heaven sent
Now came via the continent

I’ve seen several scars happen
Over a slice of marzipan

Paper plates now put aside
Each festive tummy satisfied
Fiona stood to give a toast
But belched up Captain Morgan’s ghost

So Lenny then began to lift
And sift until he found his gift
50 ml of CK One
Would do quite nicely for his son

Aww, it’s lovely… that’s so sweet
As girls are wont to coo and tweet
With every present they unwrap
And gaze upon whilst in their lap

Which makes guys pause and think a bit:
This Santa thing’s made me a hit
That perfume seemed to animate her
I’ll say ‘hi’ at the laminator

So Merry Christmas one and all
Be pleased you got a gift at all
Enjoy that glass of Triple Sec
In your new purple turtle neck

Present Tense

goat in Santa hat | Eden Hills

The day I want to bake some bread

You’ll be the first to know

Were you confused that time I said

I need to make more dough?

And should I wish to buy a goat

Around the holidays

Feel free to name it but take note

I’d like it honey-glazed.

A scented candle lets me know

Exactly what you think

You’re hoping when it’s all aglow

At last, my house won’t stink.

That weird liqueur with toads inside

Distilled by monks in France

Soon made me wish that I had died

Then made me shit my pants.

The Cookie Monster sweater seemed

To spread more disarray

On seeing it, the baby screamed

And both cats ran away.

Gym memberships address excess

With weights or on a mat

Do you think I need to de-stress

Or is it that I’m fat?

It’s not the gift, John, it’s the thought

While this, no doubt, is right

It’s what they’ve thought, not what they’ve bought

Which keeps me up at night.

Best Before Date

January’s no one’s friend

A month that lingers without end

No end to winter’s deepest chill

Which steals the breath and makes us ill

No end to counting every dime

From letting go at Christmastime

To resolutions boldly made

Then just as quietly betrayed

No reason to buy a bouquet

No fireworks

No Mother’s Day

At New Year’s we all raise a glass

Bemused by how the months soon pass

Then wake the next day full of dread

In fear of that which lay ahead

Decimulled

AOL You've Got Mail Voice Man Is an Uber Driver

I have a friend, Mr Dearden

Statistics say he’s one in ten

Who lives at Number 2-2-3

Look for the house that has a tree.

His job is fixing old machines

Throughout the night, by any means

Days off, he reconditions cars

And meets his mates in select bars.

Devoted uncle, brother, son

He always calls before I’ve rung

To wish me all the very best

Before my family’s even dressed.

We’ve different circles, different pasts

And yet this quaint connection lasts

For out of nowhere he’ll appear

If only once or twice a year.

As for this figure: one in ten

I’ll need to look at it again

For should I know one million men

I could not meet as dear a friend

Stone Pillow

Song written by sister of Normal People star Paul Mescal playing in Brown  Thomas Christmas window - Independent.ie

On her rounds every night

She’s a curious sight

With her trolley and crushed velvet hat

As she shuffles in shoes

Lined with yesterday’s news

Through the town like a wayfaring cat

Where are you from, Crazy Annie?

What have you done, Crazy Annie?

Now and then she will stop

To peer into a shop

At a world where it never grows cold

Where the ladies dress up

And take tea in a cup

Framed in windows of crimson and gold

What don’t they know, Crazy Annie?

How is it so, Crazy Annie?

They shared kids, a nice home

Worked themselves to the bone

‘Til he left without saying a word

As she started to sink

So she started to drink

After that everything becomes blurred

Have you no friends, Crazy Annie?

Where does it end, Crazy Annie?

At the end of her walk

Near a derelict block

Out of sight, she beds down on the floor

And should anyone ask

It’s hot soup in the flask

Which she’d share if she only had more

Try not to cry, Crazy Annie

It’ll pass by, Dearest Annie

I Noah Guy…

Image result for hipster nativity

In the spirit of the season, I drove an elderly neighbour to mass this morning after she knocked on my door claiming to need a lift due to the icy weather. The Church of St Mary Magdalene (didn’t get that memo) is a local Catholic landmark conspicuously situated between the Women’s Health Centre and Darth Vaper’s E-Cig Emporium about a mile from where I live. As we pulled up to the entrance Mrs Malarkey gently enquired, “Are you coming in? You can send a calendar back home to your mother. I’m sure she’d love hearing what’s been going in the parish.”

The old clam had me. At 85 she didn’t miss a trick and knew I hadn’t been to mass since my parents’ last visit.

“Of course,” I stated coolly, looking her straight in the eye. “It’s Christmas, isn’t it? Now, are you going to be alright managing those steps while I park the car?”

“I’ll just wait for you here,” she parried, then thrust, “and it’s not Christmas. It’s only the Fourth Sunday of Advent.”

“I know it’s still Advent. Hey, it looks like they’ve put down some salt,” I pressed on. “Try the steps and see how you go.”

“No, I’ll wait for you, then we can go in together.”

Game on.

Entering the church brought back a load of memories. I’d been an altar boy right through high school and was much more sanguine about the role the Church might play in later life. Uncompromising and unafraid to challenge the moral turpitude swirling all about me, from an early age I had developed a low tolerance to riff raff. After all, I’d been named after Pope John XXIII and unlike a lot of 12 year olds, had written my own Encyclical:

  1. When you overhear your parents choosing your high school, ask them to aim higher than one simply called St Richard’s or St Agatha’s, guiding them instead towards spiritual heavyweights like Our Lady of the Blessed Annunciation or St Anthony and the Holy Infant. This will disarm any cynics questioning the fact your parents stopped attending mass years ago.
  2. When adults catch the name of your school across your hockey jacket and ask what a Blessed Annunciation is, let out an audible sigh and look upon their children with pity. As you walk away rolling your eyes, ponder the fact they can read at all.
  3. Wonder why all the nuns at school have names beginning with Mary and ending with a male name, such as Sister Mary Edward. Believe your older sister when she tells you they all used to be men until God changed them into nuns as punishment for a crime only the Pope knows about.
  4. Think it a shame that priests can only wear black because it shows up dandruff and means they can never shop at The Gap.
  5. When a pretty young nun starts teaching at your school, tell your mother that if you were older and she lived next door, you’d become a priest and marry her.
  6. When a cool young priest starts teaching at your school, agree with your friends that if he grew his hair longer and learned how to play the electric guitar he’d be the most famous priest ever.
  7. When your father informs you that he saw your parish priest swimming lengths at his health club, ask yourself if priests are permitted such indulgences, then check if his bathing suit was black.
  8. When your teacher warns that thinking impure thoughts during mass will get you an extra year in purgatory, decide it’s worth it.
  9. Ask your RE teacher if Eve really looked like the woman in the Pantene Shampoo commercial.
  10. Ask if Jonah crawled out of the whale’s spout or got pooped out.
  11. Ask if, after turning water into wine at the wedding in Canaan, Jesus then made chocolate milk for the children.
  12. Ask your parents a million times if you can go to midnight mass this year because you’re now an adult. Reassure them that you no longer believe in Santa, elves and reindeer, explaining that you only wish to fulfill a religious obligation. Don’t tell them your older sister reliably informed you that this is the mass in which God appears.
  13. Tell all your friends you were allowed to go to midnight mass. When you’re sure none of them attended the service, lower your voice and inform them that God appeared. When they inevitably ask you what He looked like, whisper that you’re not allowed to tell.
  14. Turn to your Dad during midnight mass and insist you just heard sleigh bells outside. When he chides you, wonder how he can seriously expect an 8 year old to think about God and not presents on Christmas Eve. Hope that Rudolph drops a big steamy one on his new Ford Bronco.
  15. Point out your neighbours during mass and say out loud, “Hey, Mom… you’re right! The Espositos only DO go to mass at Christmas and Easter!” Then report back each time they sit down when they’re supposed to kneel.

No Room For The Unstable

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Turned on the radio to discover the media have named today Panic Saturday. Spotting an opportunity, I asked a friend recently diagnosed with acute anxiety if she would like to accompany me into town in the hope we might qualify for free parking. Thirty minutes later Cynthia and I were pulling into a reserved space directly opposite The Booze Bucket, her Prozac prescription clearly displayed on the dashboard next to a large crucifix. Experiencing the same rush as when I find any amount of money, I smirked across at my twitchy accomplice while ratcheting up the handbrake, confident our plan would work. So you can imagine our surprise then when, upon our return a mere nine hours later, we found a £70 ticket with a brusque rebuttal: Acute Anxiety? You’ll have to do better than that, Sweetheart issued by an equally dissociative traffic warden. Now Cynthia can’t watch Top Gear and refuses to leave the house without her Dusty Springfield wig, so I think we know the real victims here.

Hello World

Image result for Earth

I’m Mr Ormsby and thank you very much for dropping by.

Each of us has our own guilty pleasures: Chocolate Blackout Cake, slot machines, staying in our pajamas all day, seeing a stranger walk into a lamp post, etc.

Mine is words. Whether I’m at work or walking the dog, words are constantly ricocheting around my brain. For example, whilst writing this I’ve been wondering what the word is for that little piece of plastic on the end of shoelaces.

[for what it’s worth, we call it an aglet]

Sometimes I like to chew words and blow bubbles with them just to see where they land. At other times, I’ll painstakingly place them in regimented rows where they’re not allowed to move until given the order. Most days, however, I rely on words as ammunition in a world where I’m increasingly expected to explain my actions to others. And I must admit that it’s during these encounters when, for me, the fun begins. This is especially true when the occasion calls for returning swimwear without the receipt or spicing up one’s court testimony.

And so, this blog.

However before we continue any further, some context…

I recently started teaching in a new school so I haven’t had time to get to know everyone. On top of that, it has been pointed out to me more than once that I have replaced a very popular member of staff who left “before he was ready to go” (I don’t even want to know). This, now I’m only guessing here, might explain the slights I received in the form of gifts from my Secret Santa: a Yankee candle (they’re fully aware I’m Canadian), a voucher for 10 free tanning sessions (I’m ginger) and Maltesers (choking hazard). It’s the anonymity, of course, which is the appeal of Secret Santa but if I had to wager money on it I’d ascribe these unpleasant undertones to Jerry, our racist librarian.

Needless to say, I now keep the small talk to a minimum when checking out books.

In my blog you’ll find humorous poetry, vignettes, characters and outrageous word play along with the odd sober moment. And you can join me in my quest for the perfect rhyme because to me, and you purists are going to hate this, poetry needs to rhyme. Well, mine does anyway. I mean, could it be worse reading free verse?

See what I just did there?

(they hate that)

In any case, Dear Reader, I hope I make you laugh ’til you fart.

Mr Ormsby

P.S. Here’s an online interview with yours truly, if you’d like to know more:

March 19th, 2021

Bio:

I grew up in Toronto where upon graduating university I landed a job as a copy editor for a legal publisher. The work was poorly paid and mind-numbingly forensic with no room whatsoever for any creativity; we were basically word accountants. Upping sticks, I moved to the UK where I’ve ended up teaching high school. It can be a tough gig some days but the kids are insanely creative and there are always lots of opportunities for laughs with them. Often what I hear during the day inspires my writing.

What is your greatest accomplishment as a writer so far?

My greatest accomplishment to date would be starting my blog and sticking at it. I wrote loads when I was a kid, edited the newspaper at university and almost went into journalism so writing’s definitely in the DNA. And then finally, I got off the pot and started my blog. To date, I’ve posted a collection one publisher has called ‘eclectic’- it’s a mixture of humour, horror, poetry, prose, essays and opinions – which has attracted an equally eclectic readership. I’m proud of my efforts and honoured that others consider it worth reading.

Why do you write?

I guess I’ve got lots to say. Sadly, few of us are gifted orators and writing offers me the chance to get my points across without being interrupted. I’m not a very brave sort but when I write I become a superhero who’s unafraid to pull out the creative big guns and tackle anything. I use different styles and voices I wouldn’t normally get away with at home or at work; it’s very liberating being a homicidal demon one moment, then a camp Martian in hot pants the next.

What is your writing process? (Any favorite places to write? Any interesting quirks, traditions, or rituals you may have? How many times might you revise something before being satisfied with it? Besides you, does anyone else edit your work? etc.)

I’m writing this on a laptop with my dog snoring next to me on the sofa. Years ago I used to rise early at weekends and write until noon, after which I spent the rest of the day making revisions. These days, however, I can write day or night. I’ll often write and then take the dog for a walk so I can mull it over without seeing it. Usually by the time we’ve returned home I’ve ‘pictured’ what I need to do and make the necessary changes. And I revise constantly, often searching days for the right word until I find it. It sounds tedious but not for me because I love hunting them down, day and night. For me, constant editing is essential because I rarely do anything right the first time.

Do you have anyone (friends, relatives, etc.) review your works before you publish them?

As more friends read my blog they’re becoming braver with their criticisms which is invaluable when it comes from those you trust. They’re catching everything from typos to non sequiturs which is surprising because a lot of them were raised outdoors.

Could you give us an idea of your upcoming works without spoiling anything?

My blog contains the prologue of The Abomination which revolves around the First Nation peoples of Canada, the Church and a lot of cultural rituals we perform without knowing it. It’s a thriller and I’ve written about half of it so far. Right now I need to kill a character to further the plot and I can’t bring myself to do it. I would have made a terrible vet.

What do you hope to achieve as a writer?

I would like every one of my students to have to read my work and then sit a three-hour exam on it. That would be poetic justice after having had to read all of their stuff over the years. Other than that, like most authors I simply wish to become widely-read because I’m not writing a diary. That’s it, really.

What advice do you have for novice writers?

Write about what you know and research what you don’t know before writing about that. And don’t be intimidated because someone’s already covered what you were going to write about – what you have to say may spin the whole thing on its head. In this life, we have few opportunities to break rules without ending up before a judge; writing has no rules except those you impose upon yourself, so impose as few as possible and go for it.

What do you feel are the most important resources a writer can use?

Honesty: draw ideas from all around but don’t take what doesn’t belong to you.

A decent vocabulary (or a thesaurus): make every word count because the readers deserve it.