Darkness and Light (a lot less dignity than you think)

Look in their eyes and then you’ll see

Love or murder in the first degree

Friends last forever but the lovers just lust

And the demon’s glare turns it all to rust

I went down to where the vultures still feed

I would’ve gone deeper, but there was no need

Heard the tongues of angels and the tongues of men

Taunting my back and corrupting again

So many roads and so much at stake

So many dead ends, I’m at the edge of the lake

Sometimes I wonder which path to take

But I cannot return from the last mistake

See my blue-eyed boy run cross the mud and sand

We keep going down into that forgotten land

I heard the songs of darkness and the songs of light

In the emotional avenues of despair

She smiled and sparkled and I just laughed

Duplicity never been photographed

I went down to the bottom and back it seems

Into the valley of those electric dreams

Running fast and moving too slow

Now at the end, there’s no place to go

Just bite down hard on the next bitter pill

And follow sweet fairies to the top of the hill

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The Anniversary Waltz

THIS weekend my blog No Time to Think (www.seagullnic.wordpress.com) celebrates its first birthday.

During this first year I have written 173 posts, and the blog has enjoyed 16,000 hits, more than 200 Likes and 100 followers. Plus I have been nominated for two awards.

The blog was conceived as a therapy to help recovery from my nervous breakdown last year and emerge from the depression which had haunted me since I was 14 years-old.

My doctors advised me to talk or write about my problems and that catharsis would help me address the demons which led to the collapse. So I blogged on the sex abuse I suffered as a young teenager, my 30 year-old conviction, my battle with cancer, the loss of two of my children, my failed relationships, my alcoholism, my bankruptcy, bereavements and the assault which almost ended my own life prematurely.

The writing was on occasions deeply painful but it was also liberating. I looked back and addressed each issue and found amazing support along the way from my close family and many great friends. Plus a brilliant GP who has been there every inch of the way – thanks Dr Beverley.

I was also able to work out why I had been so depressed and so angry for so long.

My own depression, which was diagnosed after my breakdown, was classified as ‘reactive depression’. In other words, it was not a clinical illness but a reaction to what life had thrown at me.

The depression manifested itself in the more obvious feelings of deep lows or worthlessness – especially in a relationship or at work – but also in many other less obvious ways such as anger and irritability, frustration, OCD behavior, selective hearing, tiredness, insomnia, over-eating, forgetfulness, clumsiness and inability to concentrate on one thing for long periods. In my case, it was all of these, plus for many years, an over-dependence on alcohol.

You see, I learned from an early age to put on a mask of happiness, and even stupidity, to hide the pain inside to allow myself to function normally.

But, there is a limit to how long you can lock things inside while smiling on the outside. As I wrote in an earlier blog posting When You Gonna Wake Up And Strengthen The Things That Remain? my jaunty exterior collapsed in a complete nervous breakdown on 12 June last year… a day when I simply could not hold it all in any more.

The process of healing has been long and last November made the hard decision to leave my career in newspaper journalism behind after 28 years and dedicate the final years of my working life to writing, publishing and teaching.

I have resurrected my old name Time is an Ocean (thank you Bob!) as a vehicle for my writing and lecturing. And later, with the help of an amazing business advisor (and now close friend), launched my own company writeahead.

But all the while my blog was ticking away in the background allowing me to write and develop ideas.

The blog contains the aforementioned stories about my life, anecdotes from my years in newspaper journalism, chapters from my first children’s novel and opinion pieces on current events.

But is also contains a poetry section, which over the year has grown to Topsy like proportions. It has become the most commented and favourably reviewed section of my entire blog, with friends and relations urging me to publish the poetry.

So today on the eve of the anniversary of No Time To Think, I have finished my first book of poetry. It awaits pre-press subbing and I plan to publish the first edition by the end of November. It is called: The Hill – poems and songs of darkness and light.

I am unsure exactly where the future will take me – who does? But it is going to be an adventure and I’m not too old to begin new adventures

I genuinely feel happy, positive and excited about the future for the first time in my adult life.

‘Time is an ocean it ends at the shore’… my own boat has just set sail.

Shannon

Your blue eyes linger

With your impish grin

Your dark hair wavers

The joy that’s within

5,000 days is too long my girl

Much too long

Time to come home

At the end of this song

 

You play in the meadow

With sun in your hair

You shout at your sister

With barely a care

5,000 days is too long my girl

Much too long

Time to come home

At the end of this song

 

Your voice resonates

In the caverns of my mind

Your tears wash away

What was left behind

5,000 days is too long my girl

Much too long

Time to come home

At the end of this song

 

You run over the sand

Your buckets to fill

We sit and watch blithly

From the side of the hill

5,000 days is too long my girl

Much too long

Time to come home

At the end of this song

 

We walk the old wall

Along by the farm

You scream with laughter

Safe in my arm

5,000 days is too long my girl

Much too long

Time to come home

At the end of this song

 

Now 11 years have passed

The memories remain

It’s time to come home

It’s the end of the game

5,000 days is too long my girl

Much too long

Time to come home

It’s the end of the song

 

 

No frontiers

Andy is a plumber

He works from dawn till dusk

Barrie is a banker

Money fuels his lust

Colin is a carer

Looking after his old mum

Derek is a beggar

Seeking food to fill his tum

No borders

No nations

No class

No way

 

Edward is a baron

In a mansion cold and grey

Freddy is a homophobe

Though he is secretly gay

Gregory is a millionaire

Funding international genocide

Harry is his best friend

Knowing how he lied

No borders

No nations

No class

No way

 

Indira is a seamstress

Making dresses for the rich

Jakinda she sews trainers

One rupee for every stitch

Kondo was a warrior

But HIV has made him sick

Leandro he is starving

Earning a dollar for a trick

No borders

No nations

No class

No way

 

Mendel is a Rabbi

Living in the promised land

Noam is quite pleasant

Though no one sees his hand

Ovadia he buys weapons

For the IDF to fire

Pesach is an agent

With 20 guns to hire

No borders

No nations

No class

No way

 

Qasim is a builder

He works to earn some bread

Radi is an Iman

Saying prayers for the dead

Saha she smiles bravely

While burying her mum

Tasnim lost her legs

In the heat of the Gaza sun

No borders

No nations

No class

No way

 

Ursula is the Scottish wife

Of a paedophile parish priest

Vanora owns a town house

On a street in Inverleith

Willie wants independence

From the bastard English rule

Yolanda says he crazy

And a brainless Indy fool

No borders

No nations

No class

No way

 

While bombs rain down aplenty

On helpless Palestine

The yanks they start to blitz

The bloody ISIS line

The rulers keep us under

With lies and racial fear

They sip their Pimms and cocktails

And serve us promises and beer

No borders

No nations

No class

No way

May you build a ladder to the stars and climb on every rung

I was driving my son to school one day

When I spotted six wild deer

Skipping ‘cross the meadow, in the mist they were so clear

In the hexagram of my senses

It was the strings of my guitar

Oh Nathan, you are my perfect star

 

From the day that you arrived kicking

You were bundle so very small

Now 13 years have passed and you’ve grown so tall

My life has become a travelogue

Of adventures from afar

Oh Nathan, you are my perfect star

 

People’ll tell you where they’ve gone

They’ll tell you where to go

But till you get there yourself you’ll never really know

Where some have found their paradise

Other’s just go too far

Oh Nathan, you are my perfect star

 

You’ve kicked your way to glory

With determination and some skill

You’re the mirror of my childhood, still with time to kill

At school you are a scholar

The payment for my scar

Oh Nathan, you are my perfect star

 

As the future burns so bright

The deer have now skipped away

The mist envelops the road ahead, turning light to grey

I think of all the things I’ve done

And how we’ve come so far

Oh Nathan, you are my perfect star

 

(with thanks to Amelia)

 

 

Poison: Chapter Nine

The Adventures of Nathan Sunnybank and Joe Greenfield

Book 1: Poison

Chapter Nine

NICOLAS pulled his car onto the now familiar gravel outside Greenfield Mansion. The moon played shadows on the steps to the front door as he and Felicity quickly made their way indoors. The lobby and drawing room lights were still burning and the house seemed unusually warm. Nicolas suddenly remembered that he had probably left his own back door open and his cottage would be far from warm.

“Blinkin’ goats!” he spouted involuntarily.

“Pardon?” exclaimed Felicity.

“Oh, nothing important,” answered Nicolas. “I have just remembered that I probably left my back door open and you can bet the goats will be in the kitchen or conservatory again… the blighters make such a mess if they get inside.”

Felicity smiled broadly and giggled to herself quietly. Nicolas’s cottage was a mess anyway, she thought.

“Look, I have an idea,” she said, brightening suddenly.

“Why don’t you pop home and sort out your goats and things, pack a bag and come back. I can get Bob to make up a bed for you in the West Wing and we can plan what to do next.

“Meanwhile I will telephone the police station,” she added.

“Sounds like a plan,” said Nicolas. “And a good one too… I won’t be long,” he added. He made his way back towards the front door, the stopped and turned towards Felicity.

“Oh, the registration plate on Tony’s Porsche is T04Y WWD,” he said.

“Crikey, that was observant of you,” Felicity replied, blowing an air kiss in his direction.

Nicolas blushed and waved as he hurried outside.

Back at Severn Avenue, all hell had broken loose.

In what seemed to be a co-ordinated simultaneous action the younger man, Rolf, tumbled forward down the stairs cracking his head hard on the bottom banister as he fell.

At that same moment a grey haired animal leapt from the open front door and sank its fangs into the right leg of the blonde haired man Klaus. The pain of the animal’s bite shot up his leg into his thigh and groin. He crumpled to one side, firing his silenced Walther revolver three times into the kitchen door. The wolf was upon him, now biting hard into his right wrist until the gun dropped onto the hallway carpet. Quick as a flash Nathan kicked out and sent the revolver spinning into the open living room.

Amy froze.

“Blue!” Joe yelled. “You beauty!”

“Blinkin’ heck,” gasped Nathan, “What is he doing here and what a life saver!”

The wolf was now standing astride a terrified Klaus, slavering onto his face.

The wolf made eye contact with Joe as the young boy ordered: “Hold… don’t kill!”

Nathan moved towards the body of Rolf, who lay just four feet away. The man’s swollen right hand gave away the secret. TJ’s bag and its contents lay scattered on the stairs, and in the half-light, Nathan examined where the pieces of fungi had fallen.

Nathan turned to Amy and Joe, who were now both on their feet.

Amy was shaking almost uncontrollably as Nathan ordered: “Don’t touch anything… this other guy is dead… but I think it was the fall that killed him and not the Grey Skull shrooms!”

Joe placed a hand on Amy’s arm and hugged her.

“Don’t touch that grey stuff on your stairs, Amy, they are poisonous,” he told her.

He turned to Nathan and added: “And you, matey, are a legend.”

Amy was slowly regaining her composure. She moved quickly and closed the front door. As she did so she noticed the lights in a number of houses opposite were switched on and she could see faces peering out of one upstairs window.

“Whaaaat is that?” she stammered pointing at Blue.

“Never seen a wolf before,” Joe grinned back at her. “He’s mine, he’s called Blue… but I’ll be blowed how he got here! Look, he will let you pet him,” he added, tousling Blue’s mane.

Under the wolf, the blond haired man’s face was almost white with fear as the animal’s dribble trickled around his chin and throat. Blood oozed from his leg and right wrist. His grey eyes blinked into the unflinching green eyes of his captor and guard.

“We need to ring the police now,” interrupted Amy urgently.

At Landfill Cottage, Nicolas’s VW pulled up outside the back door. He jumped out and ran into the conservatory. The door was still open, blowing back and forth in the gentle night time breeze. He reached for the light switch and in the electric glow he surveyed the devastation that two unattended goats could cause. Chewed wicker furniture, a broken mug, a ruined rug and half eaten tomato plants gave an indication what lay ahead.

“Oh dang it, blinkin’ goats,” Nicolas swore.

He turned on the kitchen lights and viewed the mess, which included a well gnawed pine chair and two decimated wooden door handles, while the entire contents of the veg rack and the kitchen waste bin were strewn everywhere.

Next to the kitchen range, two content goats slept soundly.

Nicolas moved quickly towards the animals. He poked the first goat with his foot and shouted: “Right you two… outside!”

The animals started, before obediently trotting out through the kitchen door and into the conservatory. Nicolas followed and watched as the younger of the two animals stopped to take a bite out of what was left of a tomato plant.

“No, Annie, get outside!” he shouted.

The goats broke into a run through the conservatory door and onto the veranda, leaving pebble-shaped involuntary mementoes of their stay as they ran.

Nicolas shut the door behind them and began the tiresome task of cleaning up the mess.

Two full black bin bags and a matted broom later, the kitchen was passable. He would need to clean it properly another time.

The conservatory was a different matter. The mess of chewed tomato plants, strewn compost and goat poo needed a shovel, a bucket, disinfectant and a mop.

Nicolas had just finished the cleaning and was thinking about selling the goats and packing an overnight bag when he noticed a piece of half chewed note paper on the floor by the left hand window. The paper betrayed his son’s neat handwriting and he could make out the words: “Love Nathan”. He bent down, picked up what remained of the note and began to read it.

A mile away in the lobby of Greenfield Mansion, her Ladyship was explaining to Bob about their pursuit of Master Anthony.

“I need to speak to his father,” she was saying, “He has as good as abducted my daughter. He is in real trouble when I catch up with him.”

“Yes Ma’am,” said Bob, yawning.

“Oh, Bob,” I am so very sorry,” gulped Lady Felicity. “It is well past your duty hours and your bedtime. Please get yourself to bed and thank you for everything you have done.” “Thank you Ma’am,” answered the butler, “But as long as you are sure there is nothing else I can do tonight.”

“Oh, just one small thing,” Lady Felicity remembered. “Do you mind turning back the bed and putting a radiator on in the Elizabeth Room in the West Wing… Mr Sunnybank may be staying tonight?”

“Not at all,” answered Bob as he trotted off towards the back staircase, grinning quietly to himself.

Felicity sat on the chaise longue next to the landline telephone in the lobby and prepared to give the local police station both barrels of her anger.

She breathed in deeply and was about to dial the station’s number when she noticed Clara’s pink mobile phone on the lobby table next to her.

“Blimey, I thought Master Anthony had taken that,” she exclaimed loudly.

She picked up the phone and for the first time since her daughter was fourteen decided to read her text messages.

“I know I shouldn’t but a mother must do what a mother must do,” she muttered.

Felicity quickly scanned the most recent text conversation and grew quickly agitated when she read the recent exchange between Clara and Tony.

The agitation turned to fear and anger when she then read Clara’s original text message.

“I am unsure who is going to feel my wrath first,” she fumed, “my darling daughter or that duplicitous boy!”

“But I am sure of one thing… the police need to know now!!

And she began to dial the police station number on her landline phone.

At Albert Avenue in Shrewsbury, a red Porsche Boxster pulled up under a leafy Rowan tree outside a terraced house advertising bed and breakfast. The car’s occupant glanced at the upstairs windows of the building and then at the packed holdall on the passenger seat.

“Phew, that was close getting away from Lady Felicity and that guy from the cottage,” Tony thought to himself. “I hope she doesn’t involve dad in all of this or there could be hell to pay. I just hope it is all worth it.”

He turned to his mobile phone and sent a short text to Clara.

Two streets away in a black BMW, a laptop computer was beeping for attention. Almost 140 miles further away, the caller’s steel grey eyes were growing agitated at the failure of his operatives to respond.

The last text message on his phone simply read: “We are moving on the girl now.”

But there had been no further contact for more than an hour.

In a room less than three miles from this location two blank eyes gazed towards the ceiling of a surgically clean painted room.

Standing in the doorway

The tiredness creeps upon you

It fingers icicles in the brain

The day it became outrageous

Like the end of a sad refrain

The memories they still linger

Confusing wake from sleep

Sad eyes blink quite bleary

And the pain it runs too deep

The words recall the story

Of how this all came to be

Just shadows of a victory

With nothing left to see

So brush the cobwebs daily

Feel your strength inside

Breathe deep the scent of roses

And race against the tide

Human life is much too short

We all stumble on that road

Look into the distance

With nothing left bestowed