Category Archives: Rhyming Stuff

Poetry and shit. Mainly shit.

A Visit To Hill Top Farm

Absolute style

Absolute style

This morning I awoke to this news: Beatrix Potter story Kitty-In-Boots discovered after 100 years – BBC News and I wet the bed.

For a reason that’s emphatically unknown to science, God, and everyone I’ve ever crossed paths with, I have a comforting yet inexplicable obsession with the children’s author and scientist, Beatrix Potter. Several years ago, almost overnight and for reasons I’ve never been able to figure out, I developed a deep and definitely-not-completely-bizarre fascination with everything about her life, art, mycology and anthropomorphic animal tales involving lots of anthropomorphic animals and their anthropomorphic animal adventures.

While you would probably expect this Potter fixation to have stemmed directly from my childhood experience of Peter Rabbit and all his fantastically-attired chums, it turns out that though my early years were obviously splashed with a touch of Beatrix’s critter creations (and, let’s face it, it should be law that all babies and toddlers are drip fed an early childhood of Peter Rabbit, Mrs Tiggy-Winkle et al – and one would expect those that aren’t probably grow up to be extremely dangerous), it wasn’t actually until I reached the pointless old age of 30 that I began to acknowledge that this was a person with whom I was completely captivated, and was clearly everything I could ever hope to be as a human being.

Peter Rabbit presumably being strangled by his mam.

Peter Rabbit presumably being strangled by his mam.

I suspect it’s obvious that there may be an argument for a link to pre-school literature and my general mental age, but I can assure you this is only half the case. While I’m so obviously besotted with the children’s books that made her name, it was her general outlook on life, her way of living and her contempt for authority that resonated mostly with me.

Read any article or biography of Beatrix Potter and you’ll discover a society-raised, well-to-do young woman who despised the snobbish foppery, social aspiration and high society that her background represented. She held principles that align completely with my own, forged a career in something I’d love to forge a career in, pissed off an entire community (in this case the mycological science community by submitting, as an amateur mycologist, a paper on fungi that has since proved to be entirely accurate prompting the Linnean Society to issue an apology in 1997 for their sexism) before buggering off to live her later years as a sheep-farmer in the Lake District, all the while maintaining an outlook on life that makes me drool.

Here’s a few quotes from Miss P that illustrate just how startlingly wonderful she was:

“Thank goodness I was never sent to school; it would have rubbed off some of the originality.”

“All outward forms of religion are almost useless, and are the causes of endless strife. . . . Believe there is a great power silently working all things for good, behave yourself and never mind the rest.”

“I remember I used to half believe and wholly play with fairies when I was a child. What heaven can be more real than to retain the spirit-world of childhood, tempered and balanced by knowledge and common-sense.”

This woman knew what’s what.

She was also a brilliant businesswoman, invented what we now know as merchandising, and was notoriously tough when it came to quality and output of her creations. Fun fact: she once told Walt Disney to basically sod off when he approached her in 1936 about adapting Peter Rabbit into a film. Oh, and she was also a huge conservationist, stubborn-headed when it came to preserving the landscape and fell-farming, and bequeathed all of her land and property (as well as her illustrations) to the National Trust which included the land which now makes up the Lake District National Park. I just simmer at her brilliance.

Beatrix Potter lived a perfect life. At least she did in my eyes. Aside from my fiancee Laura (of course!), she’s the one person who I idolise unequivocally. There isn’t a single aspect of her existence that I’m not fascinated by, completely in love with or just plain bowled over by. My friends and associates fully acknowledge my strange fixation with all things Beattie P and I’ll regularly get people who I’ve not spoken to in years pinging a link to my Facebook or Twitter when they stumble across something about Beatrix Potter they think I may have missed. Apparently just the mention of Beatrix Potter reminds them of me and my delirious fanboyism, and I am more than fine with that. Admittedly I’ve had friends say the same thing regarding Brad Pitt and Andrea Pirlo which, again, I’m absolutely fine with.

But Miss Potter’s my true icon. If I was eleven I’d have a poster of her on my bedroom wall. I’m not eleven though so instead I have a poster of Peter Rabbit and as many Beatrix Potter-themed trinkets dotted around the house as my girlfriend will allow. If it sounds creepy that’s because it isn’t.

But I’m blathering…

My future home

My future home

The first time I went to visit the Mecca of all things Beatrix Potter – Hill Top Farm – was with one of my oldest and most delightfully loopy mates, Emma, back in 2010. Such was the immensity of occasion, I was overawed and compelled enough to write a couple of poems about it, one of which is presented below in sonnet form. The day itself was one of the best I’ve ever had because BEATRIX POTTER’S HOUSE! Emma, being as much of a fangirl as I was a fanboy, really got into the spirit of it, ooohing and aaahing at handwritten letters and pencil sketches, and almost causing a riot when she discovered we weren’t allowed to take photos inside the house. This was a marked difference to the second time I went in 2014 with my friend Dan who looked as pissed off as one would expect a 34 year old to be when being moaned at for not acting as excited as I was at visiting Peter Rabbit’s house.

It took Emma and me about four hours to find the place despite driving straight past it about a billion times, completely oblivious to the hordes of Japanese tourists queuing up outside. Added to this was getting yelled at and chased by angry locals on Windermere for Emma’s illegal parking manoeuvres as well as spending an arresting few hours encouraging her pet dog, Arthur, to swim in the lake and acting like a proud mum when he didn’t drown. It’s days like these that memories are really made of.

So here’s the scribbles from the day we had tea and cake at Beatrix Potter’s house. It’s obviously dedicated to Emma because it was an utterly glorious day plus she drove us all the way there and I still haven’t paid her for the petrol.

 

‘A Visit To Hill Top Farm’

_____________________________________________________________

Hours in the car, laughing; a trip we took,
On winding roads towards green, looming peaks.
You drove us there. We got lost by a brook
And in fields; endless moors steeped in mystique.
We drove past it five times. Possibly six,
Laughing, wondering if we’d ever see
Her home; the cottage where our Beatrix
Spun her tales and inspired us. You and me.
Then we found ourselves there, softly entranced
By bunnies, ducks, or a handwritten note.
We stood where imagination once danced;
The creatures she drew, the stories she wrote.
And all day we laughed. You and me. Content.
Still you don’t know – you don’t – how much it meant.

Dedicated to Emma Kate Corr, written in the summer of 2010.

Emma also edits a superb parenting blog at www.emmakatecorr.com. Have a gander. Right now.

 

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National Poetry Day

As anyone who knows me should proudly attest, I’m a right miserable bastard. In general, I basically hate almost all of the things around me simply because they exist. Which isn’t to say there aren’t exceptions to that rule. There are but I’m still in denial about that. Like those idiots who are convinced that human beings didn’t land on Mars in 1969. My close friends tend to act as mediators between me and the living. Even the things I like I find tiresome or irritating. Case in point being my iPhone. I love having an iPhone and being able to do everything on it like juggle or play fetch with the dog with it but I only really enjoy using it while I’m sitting on the toilet as it distracts me from the terror. If I’m doing something of mild importance such as staring into the middle distance or dancing in front of the mirror and I receive a phone call I become agitated, throw things that break easily and end up having to drink 11 cans of lager. I don’t go on about it though. (Fun fact: human beings landed on Mars in 1969 with less technology in their spaceships than what was in their iPhones.)

Like everyone else on earth, I have a history of depression which is a brilliant topic to bring up during job interviews or over dinner with people you’ve just met. Usually I drop it into conversation when a stranger whom I didn’t know existed until mere minutes ago asks me what I do for a living. For some reason being asked what my job is riles me up more than someone sitting next to me on the bus. Talking about work is the most tedious thing a fully developed homosapien can do so why this has become socially acceptable is completely flummoxing. I was once asked where I worked by someone during the wake at a funeral and I said I was a part time Grim Reaper and they better watch out. To this day I’ve still no idea why they took so much offence by it. If I’d told them where I really worked we would have ended up discussing cliques in job centre waiting areas or extreme poverty. But, you know, I don’t go on about it.

I have a lot of friends and acquaintances who suffer from this disease and while it’s something we can all joke about, it’s not something that should be joked about. As we all know, depression is massively, appallingly, disgustingly, stigmatised and a lot of people simply don’t seek help because of that fact. And, despite my dislike of all things that exist in the universe, this saddens me. In fact it fucks me right off. And not because I was once one of these fearful individuals. I won’t go on about this though.

With that in mind, and with today being National Poetry Day and the theme of the day being light, here’s a villanelle I wrote about this wonderful affliction. There’s an uncharacteristic amount of positivity in it as well so don’t overly concern yourself. I’m still the bringer of all things negative. 

By the bye, this post is exactly 666 words long. So now you know.

Lighter Lands

The time is right for helping hands.
Before the dying of the day,
The mind must strive for lighter lands.

The darkness in the room expands,
And blessed sun in sky is grey;
The time is right for helping hands.

Your idle thoughts are reprimands –
While rolls of mist and fog hold sway,
The mind must strive for lighter lands,

Not furrow deep with grave demands
That pressure you to stop and say:
‘The time is right for helping hands’.

You know no soul who understands
This air of camouflaged decay;
The mind must strive for lighter lands.

Lay siege, it will, its coarse commands
Leave little room to disobey.
The time is right for helping hands,
The mind must strive for lighter lands.

The Tap In The Bathroom

Leaking taps = bastards.

In total I have four taps in the sordid little grief-hole that I call my home, and every one of the gushing little sods leaks when they’re not in use. Apart from repeatedly biting your lip, being asked to help and the Tory Party, there are few things more terminally irritating than a leaking tap. My flat is open plan so when the tap in the kitchen drips it thumps through the whole place like when you get punched in the back of the head, or like that bit in Jurassic Park when the squeaky, dino-obsessed little shit hears the Tyrannosaurus Rex thundering towards him via a distant thud and his tumbler of gin on the car dashboard. I usually have to place things directly under the tap to lessen the impact of water to sink. More often than not I use a sieve and because it’s been repeatedly collecting water it’s turned a bit pink but this gives it a fancy psychedelic tint which is nice for when I have drug addicts visit. 

One evening before I went to bed I put the plug in the sink in the bathroom to see how much water was being wasted. When I awoke the next day I discovered the sink overflowing on to the bathroom floor and had completely wiped out the family of spiders that lived by the toilet, all of whom I had previously named. Davey, Gemma and their family would not have stood a chance against the mini-tsunami that must have overwhelmed them. I often wonder where their sodden, lifeless little bodies ended up. Probably on the soles of my socks then trodden into the carpet which, to be honest, is rarely vacuumed. On the plus side all this unused dripping water is only adding an extra £400 a month to my water bill so you win some, you lose some.

The Tap In The Bathroom

One couldn’t wonder or imagine thus;
That vexatious wave of irascible fuss
Could present itself like a sobering slap;
Conjured by the drip of a tap.

An innocent splash from nozzle to sink
Disrupts my ability to think.
Or accomplish work, or my afternoon nap;
This doleful, soulless drip of a tap.

I neglect or dismiss what’s on my plate –
The burdens, the resolute quandaries of late –
To quietly simmer or mentally flap
At the relentless, obstinate drip of a tap.

Inevitably now, this attrition is done
For it’s clear to me that the tap has won.
Prevailing in its task to intrude and to goad,
But it’s something at least that it gave me this ode.

Job Centre Waiting Area

Several years ago when I was addicted to unemployment, my general existence consisted of signing on every week for the chirpy folk in the DWP Illuminati in order to get my weekly ration of spit and bile then be talked at by someone who would slowly and methodically outline my failings as a human being simply because they happened to be paying income tax and I wasn’t.

I subconsciously improved my vocabulary in elaborate swearing based on the amount of general expletives in the air, and the collective atmosphere in the job centre was something that brought to mind being part of a cult whereby every one of us knew a suicide pact would soon be coming to fruition. It was a jovial little community to be a part of and included a smorgasbord of the great and the good from a small section of England’s underclass.

One week, having turned up on time at the correct job centre, I got a dressing down off one of the DWP fuhrers for being too punctual. Moments after I was castigated and hauled off to sit in the holding pen with the other non-conformists, a bloke dressed in a Newcastle United football kit sat next to me drinking from a can of McEwan’s Best Scotch with another bag full nestled comfortably at his feet. He offered me one in what I could only describe as a desperate show of unemployable solidarity. Attempting to maintain my rigid exterior of confident underclass chic, I declined citing flamboyant bowel movements, and he simply shrugged and continued chugging.

I kind of admired his balls-out brazenness in a mindless sort of way until he let out a discreet burp in which a calm gust of hot alcohol breath violently plundered my nostrils causing me to quietly dry heave under my breath for several minutes. To this day I can’t look at a can of McEwan’s Best Scotch without developing symptoms similar to that of a stroke.

There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t wonder what’s happened to him though.

Job Centre Waiting Area

(Observations from the dole queue)

The Bitter Benefits Adviser

The adviser sits behind her desk
And deals with all the unemployed.
She finds this part of work grotesque;
She hopes she won’t get too annoyed.
A different face on different days,
All with troubles much the same.
She must advise that working pays
And offer guidance with their claim.
But she cannot summon strength
To interact with the inane.
She keeps this rabble at arm’s length,
And holds her nose high with disdain,
For they all want to sit and waste
Their lives just living off the state.
It leaves a bitter aftertaste;
Why can’t they just pull their weight?
Get employment; earn their keep.
Stop scrounging off hard working folk.
Her taxes pay for scum this cheap,
This welfare state is such a joke.

The Unlucky Jobseeker

Bless his heart, he tries his best;
His rejection letters will attest.
Punctual, smart and very keen;
Always heard but never seen,
For he can’t get one interview
And on the dole for now he’ll stew.
He’ll sign each week and won’t forget
His mantra: ‘I’ll be a worker yet!’

The Riff Raff

He’ll saunter in an hour late
Dressed in tracksuit, cap and shoes.
Unkempt and loud and quite the state,
Reeking of three-day-old booze.
He doesn’t care to find employment,
In fact, to him, this is a job.
Full time work brings no enjoyment;
He stays at home: a benefit slob.


The Carefree One

Unemployed but none’s the worry,
Just a victim of misfortune.
It’s early days. There’s no hurry;
Unemployed but none’s the worry.
Jobs tend to come all in a flurry,
Something good will crop up soon.
Unemployed but none’s the worry,
Just a victim of misfortune.

The Over 50

The over fifty is calm and meek;
He knows he’s worth a rightful role.
He’s worked for years, six days a week,
Never having seen the dole.
Retirement is just in sight,
Even minimum wage would do.
Redundancy was such a fright,
For now he hopes he’ll muddle through.

He takes his place at the back of the queue.


The First Time Unemployed

Dismissive and above it all
With no time for this rigmarole.
‘I’ll be back in work inside a week’ –
The only words he cares to speak.
Twelve months on and still no joy;
He’s anxious, broke and paranoid,
And cursed as long-term unemployed.

The Conflicted Part Time Worker

Nervously he’ll sit and wait…
He must create a good smokescreen.
Declared five hours but worked sixteen;
He needs to get his story straight.

Terrified they’ll burst his bubble;
He sweats, he lies then signs his name.
Next week he’ll stop this stressful game
Is it really worth the trouble?

His poverty requires it so;
His morals simply tell him: ‘no’


The Sympathetic Benefits Adviser

The adviser sits behind her desk
And deals with all the unemployed
She finds this part of work a test –
But work that she will not avoid.
So many different faces here;
With each she talks their problems through.
She reassures, and with little fear
Exclaims: ‘There’s work out there for you!’
For she once sat on that other side,
Hopeless and with meagre aid,
Many nights she lay and cried:
The cuts were called, and cuts were made.
These days it’s true some want to spend
Their time resisting daily grind.
It’s hard for her, she can’t defend
The attitudes of the disinclined.
But most just want to earn a keep
The desperate and the poorest folk
Are hurt the most; their lives are cheap:
This welfare state is such a joke


Written in late 2011 on the back of cereal box with a burnt out match because I couldn’t afford a notepad. Or a quill.

Fuckity Fuck Bobbins

My blog is coming soon…

Very soon, there’s going to be a lot of offensive writing here. Fuckity fuck bobbins. See?