2016

2016 has been an interesting year, it’s the year where we’ve seen many celebrity deaths, terror attacks and crazy politics, weather, and as usual, wars, conflicts, flooding and famine.

 

In celebdeaths, a whole list of stars from music seem to have died. Terror attacks in many places, Paris, Berlin, Tunisia, Turkey just to name a few.Crazy weather, with america frozen over as I type and flooding and droughts. War , in Syria , flooding and famine.

Politically we’ve seen Brexit and Trump, and a move towards a selfishness and a loss of citizenship. Global warming has caused climate immigrants, and added to this, its allowed terrorists to manipulate people.

I’ve also written a piece every month, be it poetry or opinion.

 

And so I end it with this piece.

2017 sees elections in many European countries and we shall see if the move to the populism seen this year continues. We’ve seen the older voters really change voting, in Brexit , where the older people voted for it and the younger stayed in bed, thinking that it wouldn’t make any difference anyway, older white people vote in trump, and older white people vote in Francois Fillion in France’s right-wing primary.

I teach these young people, who have either never voted, or will never vote, or just are disenfranchised and disengaged. They don’t know who their  politicians are, except on presidential scale. They don’t know who is mayor, or member of parliament, or european member of parliment, or senator, or even perhaps who is in the government.

The world has a choice. But unfortunately, large parts won’t take part, r can’t see the point in taking part.

Political problems now will melt into insignificance faced with the natural disasters to come. This may seem doom and gloom, but I try to be optimistic. Humans will endure, but at a huge cost.

Humans have to try to reel in the power that cooperation have, and to reel in the tax avoidance tactics, and reel in the influence and lobbyists. We can have a much more just world. It can be done. It must be done.

We need to go back to the ethics and morals that were the norm before we all wanted to be richer, faster, the greediest, forgetting to enjoy what we had already.

We move from fad to fad, in the search for satisfaction, but happiness is in our heads, or in our acts, not in the things we buy.

This year I stopped driving my car 100km per day and took the train

I walk more as a result

I wrote more. I feel better!

People are naturally kind, and are only turned towards bad actions by the things that are around them.

In the end, there is just love.

 

 

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The Scarecrow

Andy was a farmer. Worked the land, hands hard, worn with work, face like a wedding cake left out in the rain, year in and out, ploughed the chocolate sillions , planted the crops, kept the wildlife in the copse and out of the fields. Burly, broad, thickset, tall, dressed in the wear of work. This years’s crop was planned, soldiers in the field, left,right,left, when it was ripe it would blow in the wind, waves of crops crashing against the copse and picket fences around his land. Corn, wheat, barley,oats, planted to the horizons, hedgerows and ditches breaking the landscape into a patchwork of farms and farmers. In the rural zone, neighbours where close but far, in that strange village way, where everyone knew your business before you but not your character or dreams. Harvests were his livelyhood, and Andy tried to control what he could. The weather came, its rain and sun, hail and frosts, and there was little to do but plant three fields early and three fields late, and three fields in the middle. This made the work hard, and in good years he’d harvest three times and bad years once or twice, and in the worst not at all.

So every February , along with the other farmers, into the copse they would go to cut branches or collect fallen wood and fashion the staves and crosses to make the frames for the scarecrows. A kind of competition with the county. Farmers would spend the evenings sewing corn sacks or seed sacks together, a few would wander round the local villages with barrows , ringing the bell for the rag and bone, and of course collecting old clothes for a few coins. In the parishes, children grew ,people died and so clothes were either passed on to kith and kin or sold for scraps to the paper mill, or, when really worth nothing, sold to the farmer for his scarecrows. But the competition every year meant that sometimes farmers would pay a premium if the harvest had been good, or, if someone died with no kith or kin, a scarecrow or two would, rarely, be decked out in crinoline and bonnets , or Sunday bests , the splash of exotic in the landscape of humdrum.

So it was that Andy blustered and swore, hammered and painted his way through the scarecrows, creating as many as he could before sewing began.

He thought that ten would be enough, and with the rags and scraps he’d fashioned nine now, one more to go. He’d nailed the struts to make a cross structure and all he needed now was some clothes. Old Bert next door might have a few scraps. But when he’d trotted the 5 miles to next door, Bert wasn’t answering the door. Bert was a loner, a hot and cold .

Yes, he and Bert would set the world to rights in the local in over a tankard of stale weak warm ale, or argue about where his land began and ended. So it was in the country, at the edge of wealth, boom or bust.

Wooden Poles

Paul was standing outside the family saloon, a dirty cheap car, where family arguments took place. As usual his parents were busy blaming each other’s parents for the situations they found themselves in, as if responsibility was somehow genetic. Wagging fingers and raised voices, shedding tears and misunderstanding, things said in anger that would echo in their ears for decades, blown down those dusty roads , the crumpled crisp packets of our dreams , falling out of family saloon cars , blown by anger, fueled by emotion, crisp packets crumpled in our hands, frowns crumpled on our faces.
So Paul watched, turned, looked at the floor, the sky, the knot-hole in the fence, and then he saw, through the hole, the man sitting at the edge of the kerb, through the keyhole, knot hole. Grey trousers, white shirt, chest bobbing sobbing, weeping, ruffling his hair and wondering, what thoughts flitted through his mind. Paul reached in his packet, for a sweet, or something to cheer up the man, something to forget the heat, the row, the shame. He found a bank note, a gift from a relative, the one they’d seen, smelt–of-wee-whiskered lady, skin paper thin veins like a road map, stretched by years, slipped him a note and winked, she’d known what age does to us all and that we’d never be cool once bladder control had gone. Poked it through the hole, and said to the sobbing man “Here, take this”. He stood up shaking his head, weeping, sobbing, shaking, seeping. Took the money, wrote a name, poked it back, and fled.

Summer in Angers

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Golden flecks glisten and shimmer on broken ripples and waves, lapping splashing, swishing past sludging or rushing and burbling, timeless in its memory, silent but full, what history has it seen?

Whispering through airy trees, rustling eerie leaves, screeching swifts make their nets in golden clouds, black specks in the summer sky, fleeting past the aspens and planes found on the weed winding reed bound river bank. Angers, its dusty alleys and bourgeoisie houses, burnt out council estates and green parks, the supermarkets and specialist stores a Ying and Yang molded together.

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We chase that elusive wind called success when all the time it is in us. Thinking that what others think of us is important when in reality it is what we think of ourselves that counts. Oh to be alive, in the summertime, with the wind in our hair. Those moments picking fruit, strawberry picking or gooseberries, making jam with mum, or with Tom, when winter seems so far away.

Spotted along the Loire, those monuments abandoned millennia ago, standing mightily ivy and moss covered, huge dolmens or menhirs, splitting the landscape or marking territory, or aiding communication, or religious spots, marking death or long forgotten gods.

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What it means to be human? To leave those marks, make mistakes, love, lose, create and change,  even die. Pass on the knowledge, or watch it get lost in the mists of time, in the long grass of history, leaving questions and conundrums for the future.

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