Archive for January 2011

Party Games and Songs

January 29, 2011

In a few days time it will be my friend’s daughter’s nineteenth birthday. She had a party for her tenth birthday and my youngest son, then aged eight, was there. This was a big birthday bash that was held in a hall. I took my place on the sidelines with other parents and watched the proceedings.

There was a DJ installed who was Master of Ceremonies. He was very good at his job. He captivated his kid audience with various party games and assorted pop tunes. Various prizes were issued to winners in the competitions and generally all was well except my boy had won nothing. Now I knew at the end of the gig there would be a party bag for all the attendant children, that was expected, but the games offered the chance of winning a bonus goodie. And a goodie won is better than a goodie earned (© almost Paul Newman in The Color of Money).

The DJ began a game that was similar to the old TV programme Runaround. The DJ would ask a multiple choice question and in the four corners of the hall were four different colours. The children had to run to where the colour they thought was the correct answer. If they ran to the wrong colour they were out. Gently coaxing my eight year old to learn a code, I coded the answers to him. Everything was going well until a hard question came up and I had to guess the answer for him. I guessed wrong and he was out. To this day he mocks me for my lack of knowledge.

Another great idea of the DJ’s was to have a notice board with a pen attached to an elastic band. Children were invited to write down the names of songs they’d like to hear. Every now and then the DJ would look at the board and play the songs from his vast collection of pop records. The hits included songs by artists such as Britney Spears, The Corrs, Pink, Dido and Mr C the Slide Man. Not my cup of tea, any of this, so I picked the pen up in my left hand and in imitation of a ten year old’s hand writing I wrote: Metallica- Whiskey in the Jar. The DJ ignored my request. Ten years or so down the line the Cha Cha Slide is growing on me but I’m still a die-hard metal fan.

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A collection of poems by B.Keeper

January 21, 2011

One of the most beautiful creatures on this planet is the bee. According to a good friend of mine that is an expert on the subject, there are 20,000 different species in the world. Mr Bee Keeper has written extensively on bees and has a new book of poems about the flying insect about to be published. With the author’s permission I have included here three of the odes from the upcoming book. Hope you enjoy and happy thoughts to one and all.

Kite

Close to heaven
I saw a kite fly high
By wind driven
It glided in the sky
Unafraid
Of falling
From a great height
It was aware of its calling

Farther down, in the pleasant green
I spied a flying ship with a sting
And I recoiled first, before disarming
For this was no predator
No preening matador
There was no malice in its face
Its masts were set sail to sail with glee
And it hugged on the tree
The bee embraced the flowers round the bark
And on its body bore a kitemark

You can’t kid a kidder

Bedecked with bright colours
I lounge on the decking
Waiting for my discoverer
Waiting, anticipating
The flowers in the garden draw me a quizzical look
Confused by my disguise have they mistook
Me for a Crocus, a Narcissus, an Aramanthus?
Do they see me as a Water Lily, a Chrysanthemum
A Violet or Rosemary
An Ivy or Daisy
Or even an Andy?
A flower is a flower is a flower in my book
And the flowers thought I was one of them

As the sun smiles with a shiny face
There is a buzz about the place
The air is alive with a kaleidoscope of a thousand Joseph coats
I open my drawbridge and drain my moat
The beautiful Princess of the air nears me
Is she pretending not to see me?
She sniffs me and I’m sure she laughed
She disappears; the bees not daft

Summer Day

The ice-cream van airs out a merry chime
I buy my sundae and bask in the summertime
On a deckchair I recline
My ear hears the sound of a whirring whine
From my vantage point I survey the landscape
A wooded garden guarded by a metal gate
Flowers are alive of every colour and shape
The intruder has no intention of escape

I see the bee but does it see me?
It looks busy
Or is it having fun
Rushing about in the sun?
I know next to nothing about bees
When all’s told
But I know when I see one
All’s well in the world

All poems © Bee Keeper- 2011

Night Prowler

January 10, 2011

The old man’s fear of living alone had long vanished. Members of his family had taken turns “sitting” him after his faithful companion, Dot, passed away. Now, they barely looked in and he settled into a lonely routine.

Only early in the mornings did he have any contact with other souls when he called into the greengrocer’s. Subsisting on the most basic and cheapest of food, his day was one long eternity of solitude. Lately, he had been given to waking up in the middle of the night. After a brief visit to the bathroom, his sleep could resume uninterrupted.

He grew to enjoy these nocturnal appointments. From bedroom to toilet he bypassed the hall. Comfortingly, the light on the outside landing shined through the peephole on his front door and it lit the way for him. It saved him electricity.

Over many months this ritual was observed every night and he grew to love the shining light. On a few occasions he had to rein himself back from approaching the light. The navigational aid was confusing him. Instinct had made him complete his task night after night yet the beacon at the door enticed him.

One night he entered the hall and found utter darkness. With no light source the old man became disorientated. This did not help his urinary condition. And an unwelcome thought appeared. Was the light outside still working? If so, was there someone standing at the peephole?

Twenty-first century wrapping procedures

January 9, 2011

All the various branches of science are continually exploring and creating new marvels for the wider world. That’s nice but I think that they should stop looking for the next best thing and improve current inventions. Naturally, scientific farmers should maintain their research into developing the rectangular potato as this would make peeling easier.

The destructive tool of beauty, the shredder, has always impressed me. This should be left alone as it does its job beautifully. Shredding utility bills has a pleasing, relaxing effect. The shredder’s computer equivalent, the recycle bin, doesn’t have the same motorised teeth appeal to it. The shredder does not give you the option to change your mind. Are you sure you want to permanently delete this blog? The shredder never asks you this. You know where you are with the shredder.

There is one small favour I would like to ask the professors of the white coats. Can they make DVD packaging a bit easier to open? Like most people, I have a burgeoning collection of DVD’s that overfills the limited space available on the shelves. Capacity is one thing, it’s the opening of these discs I find unbearable.

The elastic modulus, the yield strength, the ultimate tensile strength, and the fracture strain are all clearly exhibited in the packaging that is packed with a metallurgist’s fanaticism. The high stress point of the plastic drives me to high stress levels. My big clunky fingers can’t find the little fag wrapper bit that gives you a starty. So I turn the disc over and try to peel away at it from all angles desperately looking for a loose edge, scratching and gnawing at the perimeter of this Fort Knoxian abomination.
No joy.
I contemplate the shredder then I remember the big knife. So the big knife comes out and the little triangular corner bits on the end elevation of the cover are going to be shredded meat. Complete satisfaction is gained when I manage to make inroads into the packaging. After this, there’s only one winner and the plastic cellophane is crunched up and bowled into the bin beside its plastic pals.

(Photographs: Top left- “There goes the bill” & Middle right- “The only good piece of wrapping: Ashanti”

It is hungry work opening up DVD’s and usually I’ll have a cup of tea afterwards. The long lived and trusty old invention, the Roger Kettle boils happily and a wee cuppa goes down a treat. To compliment the tea I’ll have a few digestives. Trouble is the packet is not open. So I’m in a struggle once more with over-zealous packaging. There’s a little fiddly bit that unlocks the safe though locating it is as difficult as finding the end of the sellotape. Time for violence and the big knife rears its ugly head again. Its crumbs for the biscuits.

Out with the old…well most of it, anyway

January 1, 2011

You can get attached to some of your wardrobe. Even when that trusty old jacket is showing signs of wear and tear it doesn‘t seem right to let it go. But there has to be a cull somewhere because if you don’t your house will be as packed as a stall in a Blackpool market. Twice a year it is culling season for clothes in my house.

Both my sons are slightly bigger than me though clothes wise we are the same size. At Christmas time their two grans and other assorted family members present them with clothes as they are too old for toys. (I miss those days and sometimes buy myself a toy to play with.) Most of the presents have the gift receipt inside the wrapping paper and if the boys don’t like the clothes it is easy enough to exchange them. Quite thoughtful, my immediate family, to give them their due.

After they have made their exchanges and/or kept the items they liked, their wardrobe is full to the gunnels. So now it’s the boys turn to cull. With sadness they place a heap of old clothes at the door. Before the charity shop beckons for these garments I have a ruffle through them. Now the lads’ old clothes are in better nick than my new ones. From the bundle I claim a few of the unwanted and squash them in my chest of drawers.

The transfer of this clothing can confuse my wife and after a washing she forgets whose stuff is whose and where it should go. When the laundered items they discarded are put in their rooms by innocent mistake, my sons throw the T-shirts and polo shirts at me. “They’re yours” they say. Charming, only a few days ago they were upset at losing these things. But now with all their brand new clothes they’ve forgotten about the old puppy they had. The hand-me-downs don’t deserve to be treated like this. For hand-me-downs everywhere, the not pressed oppressed, I’m thinking of you at this crucial time of year.

Talking of hand-me-downs. When I was young no one in my area was well-off and everybody was struggling to make ends meet. It was not uncommon for families to pass clothing down the line from oldest to youngest. Nobody made a big deal of this and as far as I can remember nobody was teased about it. I was lucky to be the only son of my parents although I did receive some of my cousins cast-offs. Even luckier for me was that my parents didn’t dress me in my sisters clothes. I could have turned out differently, if you know what I mean and not be the muscular, macho, masculine individual that you know today. I did cry when watching Toy Story 3 but we‘ll keep that to ourselves.

In the coming year I’d like to wish everyone health and happiness. Hope all of you had a great time at the bells. Happy New Year.

Tales of the Wire: 4. Templeton

January 1, 2011

The editor of the magazine where I work sent me on a special assignment. After the recent success of the Baltimore Sun’s Scott Templeton with his superb collection of essays on the serial killing of tramps in Baltimore, I was given the order to go undercover with the underclass. No down and outs had been murdered in our city as far as I knew and my remit was simply to study their ways. The chief also told me not to fabricate any stories as some of Templeton’s tales are suspected to have been falsified.

Dressed in rags I ventured into the alleys and back passages of the deprived. Beside a brazier I saw eleven tramps in a huddle. I shuffled up to them with my eyes focused on the ground. This was when I spotted my first mistake. Although my attire was of the hobo my training shoes were as polished as a Not in Wisden article. Trying to scuff them a bit I approached the fire.

Even though I was a stranger in these parts I was welcomed with open arms. I couldn’t make out their grunts but it was clear that I had obtained membership of their church. One of the parish handed me an opened can of Super Lager. At this time I was feeling thirsty and unaware of their customs. I drained half the lager and handed the can back.
They turned on me.
Their grunts and groans got louder but I was unperturbed. I’d been called names before. Only when they produced sticks and stones from the ground did I scarper. I didn’t wait to find out if there were any potential Olympic Shot Putters or Javelin throwers amongst them. I was also thankful for the decent pair of runners on my feet.

For help in writing this article I contacted Scott Templeton. After all, he is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist. He was more than happy to help as long as he was given due credit. I asked why are the natives restless and why was I attacked? The following is Mr. Templeton’s eloquent prose.

Those that society has forgotten are in a land that Time magazine forgot. Luckily, I was on hand to sympathetically narrate the feelings and distrust of this under-privileged tribe of lost souls. Liquor and drugs are the footsie top two in their Bloomberg world. As these precious elements are rare they take an eternity to consume their intoxicant of choice. There’s no McCarthyism down in the dumps. Socialism is alive and kicking in this Marxist utopia as no one is allowed more than their fair share of beer in a can and they must be sluggish slow with their slugs. The rationale being the denizens don’t know where the next one is coming from.
That’s it, we’re done. I can’t reveal my sources. OK turn off the tape recorder and remember to plaster my name all over your piece.

Siege at the Barn

January 1, 2011

A one act play

(A Barn. Comprising a barn door, small window, heaps of straw and crocks of stones. From outside, gunshots and inaudible voices. The barn door is forced open and enter in a state of dishevelment two men and a woman.)

Jeff Taylor: You’ve goofed, Nibs. You’ve led us into a dead-end.

Nibs Granger: They killed our horses. What do you want to us to do? Get away by out running them. There might be a man called Horse, there’s not a man faster than a horse. Besides, this place gives us cover. Consider this. Their shooting is so bad in the open that they shot the horses and missed us. They’ll never hit us in here.

Jeff Taylor: They could hit us with a lucky shot.

Belle: I once went out with a guy called Lucky Kitchen. I won’t go into detail about his demise. Lucky’s luck ran out when he got fitted up. Poor Lucky, I miss him. Lucky was a great f-

Nibs Granger: -Belle, behave. (At window) They’re taking up position and hunkering down. That’s good we can get some relief. Best to rest up during this ceasefire.

Jeff Taylor: You know, I’m normally a cheery kind of guy but they’re holding all the aces. The cards are most definitely stacked against us.

Belle: I was once romantically involved with a three card stud player: Sleeves Fuller. He got caught cheating and they put spurs in his eyes and hung him by the eyeballs. A sad loss. Sleeves had beautiful hands and they used to roam all over me.

Jeff Taylor: It’s all about strategy, tactics and facts. They have more ammunition than us, ours is running out. They have a supply line and will have an abundance of food and water. They could starve us out if they choose. Or they could set this place on fire. Or charge their horses at the stable door. Check that the door’s bolted. The roof looks paperweight. They could drop down on us from a great height. They’ve got-

Nibs Granger: – Alright, alright, Jeff. I catch your drift. Let’s see if there’s anything in here we could use to assist us in our plight.

(The three of them amble about, bumping into one another as they scan the barn)

Jeff Taylor: Look what I’ve found: an old wanted poster.

Nibs Granger: Who is it? Anyone we know?

Jeff Taylor: Buzzard Gizzard. Wanted dead or alive. The bounty has been torn off.

Nibs Granger: I think if I was ever after someone I’d take them alive. Yep, alive over dead any day.

Jeff Taylor: That would be too much trouble. The villain would try to escape. Better off killing him. A clean kill then no hassle.

Nibs Granger: That’s the wrong option, Jeff.

Jeff Taylor: Give them the bullet, that‘s what I say. What do you think, Belle?

Belle: Buzzard is quite a good-looking guy for an outlaw. They say that once you’ve had a black hat guy you never go back. Rattlesnakes! I’ve had plenty and I always went back for more.

Nibs Granger: Technically, you’ve picked that saying up wrong, Belle. Unless it’s clever word play on your part.

Jeff Taylor: So why not kill the baddie and be done for? Reasons, please.

Nibs Granger: OK now bringing him in dead would take away the possibility of escape but there’s other things you have to take into consideration. If he’s dead you have to humpth him halfway over the country and, of course, he’ll be a dead weight. Alive, he has to walk so it’s an easier transit. Also, depending on how far you are from the town that wants him, by the time you get there decomposition might have kicked in and old Buzzard would look like a vulture’s breakfast. He would look nothing like his mug shot and the Sheriff might not pay up.

(From outside shooting begins)

That’s the showdown started. Come on, Jeff. Let’s shoot back at them.

(Nibs and Jeff shoot out the window and the outsiders shoot at them)

Jeff Taylor: This is no use. As I said earlier, we’re running out of bullets and we‘re running out of time. I say we surrender.

Nibs Granger: Do you think they’ll take us alive or kill us?

Jeff Taylor: I’d like to think they’ll do it your way and bring us in alive.

Nibs Granger: But then we’ll swing from a pole.

Jeff Taylor: We’ll try and escape.

Nibs Granger: They’ll shoot us if we do that.

Jeff Taylor: No they won’t. We’ll tell them about your decomposition theory and how they’ll get hee-haw once our faces start to fall to pieces and be a breeding ground for maggots that’ll eat our brains out. We’ll be dead ringers for the Karamazov brothers. Oh, wait a minute that‘s bad news. They could tell the authorities that we were the Karamazov brothers and claim the money on them. They’re worth more than us.
Nibs Granger: To be pedantic for a second. They are called the brothers Karamazov and there were three of them. Four, if you count the illegitimate one.

(At the back of the barn, Belle picks up some stones)

Belle: These stones remind me of Draggerbuck Dong. Big Dong’s stuff trailed right along the floor. The big dragger wilted in the desert. He caught his privates on a cactus tree and copiously bled to death.

Nibs Granger: Stone the crows, I’ve got me a plan. To confuse the varmints outside we should throw stones at them. They’ll think we’ve no ammo and they’ll come in all guns blazing. Once they’re in the open ground, we’ll shoot them like dogs. Ready, Mutt…I mean Jeff.

(They throw stones and the sound of horses hooves gets nearer as the varmints rush them)

OK shoot now.

(After a brief fire fight they shoot and kill their opponents)

Jeff Taylor: You’ve goofed with your sneaky plan. A poor man’s Trojan horse, if you ask me. Not only have you killed our pursuers you’ve shot their horses. There goes the get away vehicles.

Belle: Why don’t we just stay here? We’ve got lots of horse meat and a lovely big straw bed.