It has been nearly two years since my little Wordsworth composed anything but today she came up with this little blinder. Here for you now is the Peanut’s third poem, An English Bear.
Do not get off this chair,
‘Cause I am an English bear.
It has been nearly two years since my little Wordsworth composed anything but today she came up with this little blinder. Here for you now is the Peanut’s third poem, An English Bear.
Do not get off this chair,
‘Cause I am an English bear.
Well folks, she’s done it again. This time she was sat on the crapper (where many of us, I’m sure, do some of our best thinking) and she came out with this gem that I will share with you all now (and to appreciate it fully, be aware that the emphasis on the second line is placed on the second syllable):
How are ya?
Around a forest I did roam,
my pulse began to quicken.
And as I walked, with flask in hand,
both trees and soup did thicken.
One day I ran through woodland glades,
and found myself dismaying.
A vote was called to end all war,
but the horses all were neighing.
Amongst the trees I found a lake,
and so I cartwheeled through it.
I almost rolled into a tree
but the poet beat me to it.
By trees I crawled on roots and soil,
the leaves beneath me crackled.
I couldn’t get up from the ground,
I’d just been rugby tackled.
Sometimes I walk into the woods,
through branches, sunlight cheating.
Long cables power laptops high,
I see the birdies #tweeting.
As you may or may not know, I have, in the past, had somewhat of a passion for writing jokey/sarcastic letters to companies after receiving poor service from them. I am constantly irritated by the constant influx of junk mail and adverts at my house, especially as I have a sign no the door telling people I don’t want it. Well today I got the above business card which included this message…as well as an address I could contact. Needless to say I have written and posted a letter in reply and I thought you may like to read a copy. Enjoy!
Dear Mr Jenkins,
I am writing to you regarding your desire to sell my house, conveyed to me by a single business card with the message printed in faux handwriting on the back “We want to sell your home! Please call.”
I thought I would reply to point out one or two problems I noticed regarding your message. I shall list them here:
1) First and foremost, as you so rightly pointed out in your message, it is my home, not yours. That said, I don’t care even a little bit if you want to sell my home, paint it pink, or spend thousands of pounds making it the most energy efficient pile of bricks in Sheffield. It is not your home so whatever you want to do is moot.
2) Should I wish to sell my home, do you honestly think I’d just sit in my lounge, waiting patiently, thinking “Golly gosh, I do hope someone posts a message through my door soon indicating their desire to sell my house. If they do not, how else would I go about it?” Assuming you do any sort of research at all you would see that I only moved in two years ago. Regardless of whether or not I actually want to move, the housing market continuing in the same lethargic slump it has been wallowing in since 2008 is hardly an attractive prospect.
3) The trained monkeys you employ to deliver your wonderfully thought out business adverts could do with some more training (do you give them any?) I would have at least thought they’d have the ability to read. On my front door, immediately below the post slot (which puts it directly at eye level for your person of average height) I have a shiny brass plaque that states “NO callers/sellers, advertising or free papers”. The “NO” really is in big, bold lettering so how anyone could fail to miss it is beyond me.
When people demonstrate levels of stupidity such as the ones you and your employees have to me, what do you think the result may be? It makes me think “Well, I’ll certainly never go to a company that stupid”. As I have previously stated, I have no desire to sell my house. I intend to die here (and by this point, I imagine you’re thinking “Yeah, and I hope it’s soon”). If, however, I do need to sell my house at some point in the future, do you know who may just be the last people I would consider contacting? Reeds Rain. That’s right, you’re not the worst estate agent out there (I can’t imagine anyone ever taking that honour away from that bunch incompetent idiots) but you are right down there with them. Just because you’re not the worst doesn’t mean you should be happy about that fact.
In summary, people too stupid to follow instructions barely deserve my time, they certainly don’t deserve my business. Please feel free to rip this letter up and not bother replying. I have no desire to read anything you have to say. Please make sure your lowly grunts are more capable of doing their jobs in the future as if not, they may find the next piece of junk mail they try to put through my door quickly and uncomfortably returned if I catch them at it.
Yours extremely sincerely,
This is a yet another piece I wrote for university. I stumbled across it tonight (13th April, 2013), read it and quite liked it so I thought I’d inflict it on you all (the six or so of you who actually come here!) I can’t remember the exact criteria but it was for my Words and Images module so I guess it was just “Write 2,000 words and incorporate some images”. I had recently finished redecorating my Mum’s old house in order to sell it so I thought I’d write about that. About 98% of what you’ll read here is true, I’ve just taken one or two narrative liberties.
I couldn’t believe the day had finally come. Until that morning I thought I would be glad to see the end of all the work. Instead I realised I’d been clinging on to the house but now it was over. The filler was not yet hard and the paint still wet but it was time for me to close the front door for the last time and turn my back on my first house, my first home.
I wasn’t ready. I tried to find an excuse to stay a little longer, to have one last look around. Most of the rooms we’d finished decorating days earlier and were already quite difference in appearance from how I remembered them as a child; but as I looked around I could still see my young parents in wisps of memories. Conversations, games played, photos taken.
Kidding myself that one last check was required, I slowly walked up the stairs and turned left into the playroom. In my youth it never occurred to me how lucky I was. As an only child, this room had become an extension of my bedroom and in the twenty-something years I lived in that house, it went through several transformations. Its first incarnation was where I played with and kept all my toys: Mountains of Lego, tatty McDonald’s Happy Meal boxes, piles of board games.
When I was twelve and far too mature and cool to be found playing with toys, I heard about a pool table for sale and begged my Mum to buy it for me. She agreed on the condition that I tidied out the playroom. It was brutal. I enlisted the help of my friends and cousins, all who had a vested interest in playing on the new table. When we started we could barely reach the windows at either end of the room, so deep was the clutter. At one end, we actually uncovered an old orange leather sofa that had been buried under the childhood debris. My mother was as surprised to see it as we were and after a moments exclamation, she went away and came back with a photo taken of me in December 1978. I would have been about six weeks old at the time, lying in a blue and white body sock on the same orange sofa, wearing a look of complacency. It almost looked like I was paralysed though not at all concerned, just draped on the sofa so the photo could be taken.
Eventually the room was completely emptied. Fourteen large bin bags all told were sent to the tip along with the old sofa, and then Mum dropped another, previously unmentioned part of the deal. The room was to be decorated. She would buy the paint (and a new carpet) but I had to choose it all. Thinking back on this now, I can’t imagine what she was thinking, burdening her twelve-year-old son with a responsibility such as this and similarly, what I must have been thinking when I made my decisions.
Two weeks later my new (well, new to me) pool table was set up in the playroom. The old faded and chipped yellow walls and white ceiling were now sky blue, and the skirting boards and door a bold glossy red. Dad had even brought home some material from his work and made curtains to match, stars and stripes. The pool table saw about a month of intensive use before quickly fading into disinterest. I think we had more enjoyment tidying and decorating the room than we did with the result.
The final incarnation of the room came shortly after my seventeenth birthday when a friend told me he was learning to play the guitar. That was all I needed to hear. The pool table was folded down and pushed against one wall and I set up a guitar and amplifier that my Dad let me borrow. From then on I insisted on calling it the “music room”.
Dad was a somewhat unconventional guitar teacher. He didn’t actually show me how to do anything, he simply bought me a booklet on how to play left-handed guitar chords and wrote down the chord sequence for House of the Rising Sun by the Animals. Over the next month I played the familiar riff over and over and over again. Mum must have been sat downstairs with the door shut pouring cement into her ears.
Years passed. Bands came and went and many good times were had playing and writing music in that room. I was never as good on the guitar as I wanted to be but then again, I was never disciplined enough. I’ve also never had as much fun playing the guitar as I did in that room.
I looked at my watch and stopped in disbelief. Had I really just spent an hour in that room pouring over old memories? Involuntarily I shook my head and walked out through the hall and into my old bedroom.
No individual memories came this time, just an image in my mind of how the room looked all those years ago. Garfield wallpaper on one wall and painted blue woodchip on the other three, not that you could see much of the walls at all. Almost every inch was covered. Stickers, postcards, beer mats and posters which over the years changed from computer game characters to suggestively posed super models. Shelves filled with computer games, videos, CDs and science fiction books.
The floor was covered (almost) with a threadbare purple carpet with yellow swirls. It was from the lounge in my parents’ first house and it was older than me. The ceiling was the same blue as the walls but with white clouds painted on it. Dad had done this when I first moved into the room and despite re-painting several times since, I always asked him to paint the clouds back on again and again. It was the ultimate boys bedroom and I had spent hours on end in there when I was younger.
That all changed though. Four years after I moved out, Dad moved back in with Mum and this became his bedroom. He stripped the walls and instead covered them with magnolia anaglypta and the ceiling went back to a more normal white colour. Standing there remembering the past, the room had never seemed emptier. Dad’s furniture was long gone but the newer blue carpet still showed signs of its existence. Indents that gave away the location of the bed, the wardrobe and the many bookshelves.
I walked over to the window and looked out on the back garden. This time I saw how parts of it had changed over the thirty years my parents had owned the house. I could still make out the line in the lawn that curved from the shed down and across to the opposite side of the garden, dividing the older part from the new. The area above the line used to contain the fruit and vegetable patch where my parents grew strawberries, beans, peas, raspberries and rhubarb.
I remembered digging for treasure when I was seven. After moving my small bucket of soil to the compost heap, I came back to find pennies scattered in the bottom of the hole I had been digging. My Nana had visited that day and she always found a way to give me some money. This one was probably one of her favourites.
I remembered the family barbecues. Half the men standing round a smouldering pile of coals, each one professing to know the perfect technique to get the fire going properly, if only the others would listen. Meanwhile the other half of the men would be sitting in the sun, being complained about by the women in the kitchen who dutifully prepared the carrots, potato salad, sweet onion and bread.
My favourite story from the garden wasn’t even one of my memories, although I could picture it as if I was there. My Mum always told it best. She’d say “The garden always attracted the neighbour’s cats. We’d run out to scare them off but they always came back. One time your Dad went out to catch one and it darted across the garden and jumped up onto the back fence where it stopped as if to gloat. Your Dad was washing new potatoes at the time and had one in his hand. He threw it as hard as he could and it lodged right in the cat’s arse. The startled feline yowled loudly before falling backwards off the fence.” I never knew if this was entirely true, it was a distance of about forty feet after all. I can see it in my mind though, clear as if it happened yesterday.
I went back downstairs and into the front room and remembered the warmest memory I had of the whole house. I was only young, about four or five probably, and every week, my Dad’s folk band would come to the house to practice. They’d set up in the front room and there’d somehow be cables everywhere despite the fact they mostly played acoustic guitars. Then they’d start playing and I’d sit on the floor and listen with a big smile on my face. My Dad’s guitar had the words sellotaped to the top but he sang with his eyes closed. He changed when he started singing. A confidence you never saw at any other time showed itself when he was behind that guitar.
The dark night outside was shut out by the gold velvet curtains that reflected the electric light back on us, adding to the warmth I felt when I heard my Dad playing his guitar with his friends. Songs about fishermen, war, long journeys, lost loves and distant lands. Their arrangements of these old songs washed over me, filled me with happiness. I was never more content than when I heard my Dad playing his guitar.
This memory could only last so long however, and it eventually faded into another. The one other strong memory I had of this room, though it had the exact opposite feeling for me.
The memory started outside. I got out of my car which I’d parked between the police cars and opposite the ambulance. I walked down the driveway, fighting back the tears and straight through the open front door. A police officer stood outside the lounge door and directed me instead into the front room. There my two uncles were waiting for me and I sat down helplessly next to Peter on the bench. My head sank into my hands and I cried. Half an hour earlier my other uncle, Steven, had called me at work to tell me he’d arrived at the house and found Dad lying dead in the lounge.
Tiny moments like that seem to last for hours and I spent eight hours in the front room crying that day. The longest eight hours of my life. When the police were satisfied that Dad’s death was not suspicious, they called for the coroner and I started to make calls too. I called Dad’s band mates, his closest friends. Telling Dad’s best friend Rob what had happened was the hardest thing I’d ever had to do. It was the last call I made that day. I couldn’t talk to anyone else after that.
I stood in the doorway of the front room for a while longer, hoping that some happier memory would come to mind. It didn’t. I slowly walked towards the front door. At one time I wouldn’t have wanted to live in any other house but now it was a choice I could make, I couldn’t bear to stay there.
It was the most wonderful house for thirty years. The wallpaper peeled, the carpets were old, the lounge carried the stench of nicotine and the battle for the garden’s back bed had long ago been won by the bindweed, but it was home. Now it was stripped bare. Empty. Freshly decorated and ready. Ready for another family, another childhood and another thirty years of memories. Hopefully more good than bad.
My ex-wife always said I could sleep anywhere, felt like she was right. My eyes were still closed but that weren’t no mattress I was lyin’ on. It was knobbly and hard, probably not from DFS. Well, maybe…
I decided I’d better take a peek at my surroundings. I opened my eyes but the light didn’t increase much. Took me a while to figure out I was wearing sunglasses. I took them off to get a closer look at them. Closer than when they were right over my eyes? You know what I mean. Anyway, they weren’t mine so I tossed ‘em to one side. They didn’t make a noise when they landed on whatever they landed on which gave me the urge to explore my surroundings more closely. I pulled focus and saw tree branches; I was under a tree. That’d explain the discomfort. No, wait. Lyin’ under a tree isn’t that bad, I done that plenty of times before. I was in the goddamn tree.
Faster than you drop after a kick in the nuts it came shootin’ back to me. The slugs. Those god-damned slugs. I looked around for my hockey stick. Well, ever’one else called it that, I just called it my stick. It was wedged between two branches to my right. Smart. I reached over to pull it down and grabbed it, but lost my balance and fell. Instinct kicked in and I reached out with my left hand, grabbin’ a branch without letting go of the stick. I pulled myself over to the trunk and wrapped my arms around it. Shit, I was high up. Of course, those bastards sure know how to climb. I was above my highest fly-paper salt trap which was still wrapped around the trunk so I was safe; had time to think.
I sat myself down on a branch and looked ‘round. I could only see one of them, probably on guard duty and…was he wearing my sunglasses? I don’t know whether they landed on him when they fell or he put them on himself but there was no doubt, he had ‘em on. I was surprised they even fit him, he must have been a below average specimen.
I didn’t have any salt left for my stick. Not to worry, I could still take him on as long as he didn’t have any friends nearby. I dropped down through the branches ‘til I was low enough to jump. He knew I was here, else he wouldn’t be, but he didn’t have any sense of danger. His mistake an’ he’d learn soon enough. I dropped to the ground behind him and swung the stick in a glancing blow across the slug’s head. Hard to tell what affect you’ve had on a slug when you hit him with a stick but this one didn’t move much so I must have caught him by surprise. Not wasting any time however, I quickly followed up with a blow straight down, trying to sever the head. I only got half way through on my first hit so I finished the job with a second.
I didn’t want to stick around. Slugs have an amazing sense of smell and the death of one of their own’ll bring a cornucopia along in no time providing it’s not a salt related death. In those circumstances they ain’t so hasty. There was a city due west so that’s the direction I set out in.
‘Hey! Old man!’
Who in the hell was that shoutin’? Whoever it was, better not have meant me, although it looked as though he might have. A twenty-something dude was runnin’ up and behind him near a bench was a group of people. Survivors. This should be fun.
‘You alright?’ he asks.
‘I’m breathin’, standing. How’d I look to you?’ I tell him.
‘You’re lucky we found you when we did, sir. Come with us, we’ll keep you safe.’
‘Keep me safe huh? Well that’s a mighty fine offer. Where ‘bouts you headin?’ I was damn certain I knew what he’d say but thought I’d give him the chance to prove me wrong. He didn’t.
‘Out into the country. We should be safe there until we can call for help.’
I couldn’t tell if this feller had been waiting all his life to be in this sort of situation or if he was the best pick of a real bad bunch. Either way it wouldn’t be long ‘fore he got someone killed; if he hadn’t already.
‘And what makes you think you’re safer in the country?’ I asked. Gave him plenty of time to answer, seems like I needn’t have bothered. ‘It’s because it’s what they do in the films, right? When the aliens attack? Terrorists get the nukes? Everyone high tails it to the hills, the mountains. Anywhere but the cities. Right?’
‘Well yes. It seemed like the best idea…’
‘‘cept this time it ain’t no aliens or terrorists, it’s slugs. Man-sized, carnivorous slugs; but what they eat don’t matter. They still need the habitat they’ve always needed, and that’s wet and soft. That sound like the city or the country to you?’
‘But there are more people in the city,’ the fool countered. ‘Surely that’s where they will go to hunt.’
‘Not so long as they’ve got idiots like you delivering yourselves like pizza. If I’m attacked by the slimy bastards I don’t want six or seven people around me, I want six hundred. Hell, six thousand. Narrows down the chances some of me gettin’ ate if there’s someone tastier nearby.’
The boy went quiet for a spell after that. Presented with a life saving solution and he still had to think it over; thinking so hard it looked as though his face would melt. Eventually he spoke.
‘Do you want to come with us? You probably wouldn’t slow us down too much.’
‘That’s kind of you to say,’ I replied, fightin’ the urge to slap him with the slimy end of my stick. ‘But I reckon I stand a better chance on my own.’
‘You’re alone?’ He asked. ‘Don’t you have any friends? Family?’
‘Nope. Well, I got my Pa.’
‘Really?’ the stranger asked. ‘Where is he?’
‘Oh, he’s…around.’ I got that question a lot. I liked to leave my answer hanging there just a bit. ‘Anyway,’ I said eventually, ‘you kids had better scoot ‘fore this feller’s friends show up. Surprised they ain’t already here, actually.’
The boy looked down for the first time and saw the two giant pieces of slug. I had to put a hand on his shoulder to stop him from pitching forward and catchin’ a face full of goo.
‘My god, that’s a…did you…?’ he stumbled.
‘Yes it is and yes I did. Got no salt on the stick at the moment but I find I hit anything with it hard enough it tends to die. Now go on, get.’
‘Right away. Thank you sir.’
‘Don’t be callin’ me sir, got an awful sound to it.’
‘Don’t tell me, that’s what people call your father?’ He was smiling now. Damn, this boy belonged in a copy room or a grocery store stackin’ shelves, not out leading people to safety.
‘Naw, they pretty much call him by his first name. Or Lord, which I think gives him a kick.’
‘So who are you?’
‘Who am I?’ I hate to admit it, but I loved this bit. ‘They call me Jesus.’
I was startin’ to wish I’d not thrown those sunglasses away. Putting them on as I said my name would have really set the mood. I wasn’t about to reach down and pull them from the slug remains though.
‘Of Nazareth. Jesus Christ, son of God, died for you sins, all that jazz. The Jesus.’ I said it slow. I like to think it helps it to sink in on the rare occasion it did, though this wasn’t to be one of ‘em.
‘Well Mister Jesus, thank you for your help. It’s been great talking to you but as you said, we’d better get going now.’
He didn’t believe me, so far no-one did. It made no difference to me. I try to help people and if they listen, all the better for them. If not it’s their loss. I tried.
‘That you should,’ I told him. ‘Best of luck to you all.’
The stranger turned around and walked back to his friends. There wasn’t much conversation between ‘em ‘fore they set off walking. East. Figures. Well I wasn’t goin’ to get all worked up an’ chase after ‘em. They’d made their minds up about me and that was fine. No sense wastin’ my time arguing with one group of people when somewhere down my road I might meet others more inclined to listen to sense.
I set off walkin’ again but barely made five steps ‘fore I felt a hand on my shoulder. I looked round and it was one of the girls from the group. She was barely more than a child but lookin’ past her, the group weren’t waitin’. She must have been on her own.
‘You really think you’re Jesus?’ she asked.
‘What do you think?’
‘Jesus died,’ she said with certainty.
‘Yep. Came back to life again, too.’
‘Yeah, but then he went to heaven.’
‘And now I’m back.’
‘He weren’t from Texas,’ she said, defiantly.
‘True enough, but I been here a while now and besides, I like the accent.’
‘He din’t play hockey or kill things,’ she said triumphantly.
‘I don’t play hockey,’ I replied. ‘This here’s my Jesus stick. I invented it firs’ time round. Carpenter, remember? Some feller must’ve seen it and come up with the game afterwards. An’ with these here slugs it’s either kill or get ate, so I kill ‘em.’
Another thinkin’ pause. Seems a lot of folk end up doing this when they talk to me long enough. This one was different though. Looked as though she might have a brain rattlin’ around upstairs.
‘If you’re Jesus, prove it.’
‘Ain’t never been asked that before. Last time people just took my word for it.’
‘People have changed, I wanna see proof. Turn some water into wine.’
‘You got any water?’
‘Doesn’t matter,’ I said. ‘I wouldn’t do it if you did. I can’t do no magic tricks, never have. Whoever wrote that Bible book of yours took more than a few liberties with the truth.’
‘Feeding the five-thousand? Walkin’ on water? Curin’ lepers?’
‘Curin’ lepers? Ha! I wouldn’t go near ‘em. Din’t want my feet fallin’ off. Look, I ain’t provin’ nothin’. If you want to come with me then fine, if you don’t, don’t. but I tell you one thing, you go with them lot you ain’t gonna last long. Come with me…well, it’d be nice to have the company and you’ll likely last a lot longer.’
I bent down to pick up the sunglasses and wiped off the slime with the corner of my shirt. I wasn’t going to miss that opportunity if it presented itself again. The whole time the girl just kept watchin’ what I was doin’. Sizing me up. I started walkin’ west and she followed.
‘So what’s your name?’ I asked.
‘I don’t want to say,’ she replied, looking up at me.
‘I ain’t havin’ you tag along and not tell me your name,’ I said. ‘Spit it out.’
She paused before she eventually said ‘Mary.’ I couldn’t help but smile.
‘Hey,’ she said suddenly. ‘Your shirt.’
‘What about it?’
‘You used it to wipe the slime off…but…it’s clean.’
I lifted up the corner of the shirt slightly and looked down at it. Then I reached into my pocket and pulled out the sunglasses.
‘Yeah,’ I said, putting the glasses on. ‘So it is.’