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'Changes'
January 2012


04 May 2012

 
Changing into a teenager

Changes happen all around us. My biggest one is that of my eldest daughter. She has just become a teenager bringing with it all the moods and tantrums. She has always been a moody moo and we wondered whether we'd notice the difference when P.M.T strikes. The answer is..... Not really, but at least she has an excuse (so to speak) Any slight trigger can set her off and I seem to get the brunt of it, Maybe when she comes out of being a teenager she may change for the better and become nice, helpful and caring. We have a few years before we will find out but by then our youngest will be in the throws of P.M.T. Maybe I'll get a lock on my bedroom door so when the going gets tough I can run away and hide.

Debbie Feltz
GROW



A Change of Scene

January

"Brr how I hate these dark miserable days." Alice mutters to herself, placing her key into the lock and opening the door.
She quickly gathers up the post before her husband arrives home.  She has always had a dream about living somewhere warm, for some months she has secretly been gathering information about properties abroad. Alice flicks through the post and gets excited when she sees one postmarked Spain.

"Hello darling,"  she quickly puts the letter aside, she would have to wait till later to open it.

"Hello Keith how was your day?"

"Oh you know the usual."  The trouble was Keith had always loved his job dragging him away from it might prove difficult, although we were both only two years away from retiring. He loved his holidays in the sun so perhaps I could work on this. "Alice would you mind if I go out tonight for a game of snooker?"

"Not at all" I said , I was really looking forward to opening the letter. Two bed roomed  villas for sale Arboleas, Almeria, Spain. From £24,000. This price seemed unreal to me. Properties due for completion  in six months, The villas will sit in a beautiful rural location on the edge of a small village. Fifteen kilometres from the coastal town of Mojacar. Please contact us to arrange a viewing.

Alice sat staring at the details well she thought this has to be it I will talk to keith when he comes home he is usually in a good mood after a night out.

Keith did arrive home in a good mood he had won three games, he goes with Colin a neighbour. Colin and his wife Joan are not exactly good friends of ours but I know Keith enjoys the man thing of a night out with him.

"Keith I have been thinking how do you fancy a few days away its such a miserable time of year, I have been looking at a place called Mojacar we haven't been there before it looks very nice."

"Well I do have a few days holiday owing to me to take before April, see what you can arrange."

"Maybe while we are there we could have a look at some properties,"

"Oh I knew there was more to this than meets the eye but darling I don,t think we could really afford to move, our own house will not sell for very much and we do not have a great deal in reserve."

"Well actually I have received some details about some villas for sale they only start at £24.000 would you like to look at the information."

"So that’s why when I get home the post has already been opened, you have been planning this for some time haven't you? Oh well I know you will not be satisfied  and I will not get any peace until you have looked."

I was so excited I could not wait to get to the travel agents, tomorrow I will phone the builder in Spain to organise a viewing.

By the following day it was all organised, Hotel and flight booked. A few days later there was a knock at door, it was Joan.

"Can I have a few words with you?"

Yes come in"

"Colin says that you are going to Spain to look at properties" That’s got round quick I thought. Keith must have mentioned it to Colin.

"Well yes I said why?"

"I wondered if you would mind if we came with you to look as well. Colin's health is not all that good since his last heart attack and I feel sure he would be better in a warm climate." Now I am not saying I don't like Joan, but to be in her company for a week felt a little bit daunting. She can be very domineering, but I don’t have the heart to say no. Besides we both like Colin.

Well the few weeks went by quickly we have now arrived in Mojacer, the hotel seems first class it has only opened recently so everything is new and shiny. I must admit we are a little disappointed with the beach front there does not appear to be a promenade it is obviously in the early stages of development. We had arranged to meet with the builder on Monday morning as it was only Saturday we decided to go and try find the site on Sunday so we hired a car. Talking to gentleman in the hotel who seemed to know a little about buying property abroad warned us about some questions we should ask  ie permission to build, licence to build, escitura for the land. At that time we all agrred that if none of these were forthcoming we should walk away.

Sunday morning we set of with only the name of the village fortunately I had spent two years learning Spanish so it would be left to me to ask directions to the site of the new villas. On the way there poor colin was taken short due to the fact he had taken his water tablets, we found an old shed where he could hide, this later was always known as Colin's toilet.

A couple miles down the road we arrived in the village of Arboleas the only place to head for was the local bar as you do in Spain, I was feeling a little nervous as it was going to be my first attempt at speaking Spanish, why we expect them to speak English I do not know as the more you are inland English is very little spoken. We entered the bar and ordered some drinks, I then proceeded to ask Somos buscando para Montana Oaks, (we are looking for mountain Oaks) I cannot tell you the pride I felt that I was understood, All I had to do now was to interpret the directions. Tomos a la direcha por dos kilometros , buscar las casas Nuevo.

Well that was the hard bit done how wrong I was, arriving at the site we noticed some villas were at certain stages of development it seemed there were very few pieces of land left.

The land was terraced, on the left the villas were quite close to the mountain and a road divided the other villas on the right (when I say road it was just a track) . On seeing the situation Joan immediately said

"I want one on the right I do not want to be next to the mountain"

"Wait a minute" I said  "I have done all the organising and it was my idea and you come along and takeover." I was not amused. "There is nothing we can do until tomorrow  when we meet the builder and confirm what plots are available."

We headed back to the hotel spirits had lifted by then as we were quite excited about the location and the village looked very nice. It  seemed to be one area that had not been invaded by ex pats, in fact as we were to learn it had only been fifteen years since they had a road out of the village to Albox the nearest town, prior to this one man with his donkey and cart used to make the journey with a shopping list, also electricity and piped water were quite recent, there are actually some caves on the edge of the village which were occupied until 1975.

I did not sleep much that night so many thoughts going around in my head, it was suddenly becoming very real, Keith as usual was snoring his head off nothing stopped him sleeping, at last it was breaking daylight I was dying for a cup of tea, we always carry a travel kettle so I quietly got up,

"Good morning darling, are you alright?"

"Yes thanks" I said "Do you want a cuppa?"

"Yes please" said Keith. "We cannot hang around to long we have to get some breakfast we are meeting the builder at 10 0’clock it is a good half an hours journey."  We met Colin and Joan in the dinning room we ate and set off.  We all had a little giggle when we passed Colins toilet.

The builder was there when we arrived we all introduced ourselves his name was Allan. How many plots are available, only three, two on the left and one on the right, they start at £24,000 for the small two bed roomed  and £28,000 for a  three bed roomed. We knew our finances were limited so we could only afford the two bed roomed villa, of course Joan jumped in and said

"We want the three bedrooms and I want the plot on the right." There was no give or take. As you will learn later this was the best thing that could have happened.

Joan and Colin made a decision right away, the completion date was expected in about six months, They went to the office with Allan to place a deposit. I was not too happy with the plot that was available so I said to Keith

"I need more time before I can reach a decision." So we set off back to the hotel.

Later that afternoon we spoke to Colin and Joan.  It took me all my time to keep my temper.

"By the way, did you ask about the documents that he should have?"

"Yes, he doesn't have them at the moment, but he is expecting to have them in the near future." This did make me a little suspicious.

Pauline Faulkner
GROW



I'm a hypochondriac

There is something very wrong with me I can feel it in my bones
There is something very with me I hate to moan and groan
I keep getting headaches I hope its not a brain tumour
That can be a symptom Im sure I heard a rumour
My stomach feels funny, I hope its not Salmonella
As for dinner tonight we did have chicken with mozzarella
When I try and talk to people about it they just get annoyed
They tell me that I am just being paranoid
I know I have got something wrong with me
Why oh why wont people listen to me

I have been to see the doctor, all tests came back clear,
He said I worry too much, I have nothing to fear
But that has just added to my frustrations
As worrying too much has its own health implications
People call me a hypochondriac
That sounds serious can you die of that
I fell and cut my knee today, people said to fix it with cream
But I cant help but worry about getting gangrene

I'm scared to even leave the house, you can never be to careful
I have got to the point where I am finding myself rather prayerful
A new spot appeared on my skin today I hope its not a tumour
People just laugh at me and call me a doom and gloomer
Every time I have a cold I always fear the worst
I only have to sneeze and I think my head is going to burst
I prepare myself for the worst case scenario
Though people always tell me to go with the flow
To stay upbeat and positive although I really try
I hate to sound dramatic but I think  I'm going to die


****

I'm feeling much better

I used to be poorly but now im much better
Used to take a back seat but now im a real go getter
I used to be a hypochondriac
But now I feel im over that
All of my old aches and pains have now gone
Im finding myself singing a completely new song
I have stopped worrying about disease
Im don’t get paranoid every time I sneeze
I can now see that my problems are all in my head
Instead of worrying I have a positive outlook instead
About the future Im feeling more optimistic
I am going to live my life each day or ill miss it
I used to worry about every little spot, thinking it was cancer
Now I have changed my life around I’m more of a take a chancer

People are so glad I am turning over a new leaf
I feel bad that my worries caused them so much grief
My life used to be worry worry worry
My new life is just hurry hurry hurry
I used to be so scared of everything like a timid little mouse
It got to the stage where I was scared to leave the house
Now I enjoy going out, on long walks with the dog
Im no longer finding life such a difficult slog
Little things that used to drive me crazy
I no longer even think about, nothing seems to phase me
I used to think these things were going to kill me
After facing my fears, im finding that they thrill me

I have developed a new lease for life
And forgetting about my troubles and strife
No longer concerned about gangrene
I'm staring to pursue my dreams
I can’t believe I have spent my life hiding
Tomorrow I am going to have a go at paragliding
I have stopped being scared of danger
I even dream of being a park ranger
The light at the end of the tunnel is increasingly bright
Ever encouraging me not to give up the fight
It is becoming increasingly clear
How much your life can change in a year
The experience has taught me no matter how old in days
You are never too old to change your ways

by Elizabeth Jury
GROW



Weather

My hobby is the weather.

Over the years i have noticed a lot of changes in the weather patterns here in britain and other parts of the world
Thinking back to when i was a kid we did have have rare times when we saw some freak weather . we had some good snowy winters and some hot dry summers
in 1977, 78 and 79 we saw some heavy snow.
We have also had some good summers but of course the best summer of all was the summer of 1976 when we didnt see any rain for months, and it just seemed to get hotter and hotter, with the temperature often in the 90s. Winters were cold, and summers were hot. You knew where you were with weather in those days

Over the last few years the weather has become much more unpredictable not only here in britain but also all over the world. There have been a lot of floods all over the world, we have seen big freezes and big droughts.

Last year December was very cold and snowy. This December was very mild and mainly dry buyt there were some stormy days as well. We also had a very warm March and April.  The year before last snow came in November and lasted right through to December.

The question is what is the cause, man made climate change or natural climate change. I personally think it is natural climate change in the 1970, scientist were saying that the climate was geting colder , now they say it is getting warmer

By Andrew Gager
GROW



Madelena, not her real name

Madelena, Maddy for short
looked at her face in the half-dark room
the mirror’s grayish tinge made her look tired
haggard, not worth more than the money she
had finally accepted

Madelena, not her real name
would add this small ugly payment
to the rest of the dirty money
give it to the boss and by noon
tomorrow she would be far
far away from here

thank goodness she had the payoff note
signed by the boss. He would not be able
to trick her like he tricked elegant Emalia who
saved and saved, barely fed herself and
got lied to and tricked by the boss

Madelena, not her real name
thanked her mother who smelled
like biscuits and bacon in the morning
and roses and wisdom at night
Madelena thought a quick prayer for her cousin
who left college to play music and write books
and live with a band of rebels in the woods

a woman must protect herself with words
they told her: not the ones from her mouth
men only laugh at those or if they want
something, pretend to listen—no, the words
that protect, the words that matter are the words
that do their talking on paper

Maddy would not end up like Emalia the best earner
maybe the best-looking
who could not prove that she had paid off her passage
and room-and-board and would have been dumped
in a near-by river if Maddy and two other girls had not
dumped her outside the hospital emergency room

thanks to her mother
thanks to her cousin
thanks to words on paper
Maddy would be far
far away from here
by noon tomorrow.

Bernice Mbadugha
The Writer's Block (New Brunswick, NJ)



Changing the World

It may be every writers dream to change the world but TheFED motto of 'Making a Difference with Words' just happens because it happens. It hasn't changed the world, hasn't solved global warming or the financial crisis, just something we didn't notice at the time. Even when someone mentions it, it doesn't register until someone else's words makes us think about it, jogs a memory about a word or conversation from long ago.

Joan read a piece called ‘The Mouse that Stayed in my House’ about a mouse which became a sort of friend. The mouse was the 'baddie' of the piece, avoided the poison, but eventually it's persistence won over the protagonist and it became a welcome companion in spite of what visitors thought. This reminded me of an incident in which my words had a hand in changing things.

Before I go any further I should say that my words had backing from someone who has become one of the world's highest authorities on the plight of mice whose plans have changed.

In 2005 I worked as a part time lecturer in East Ham College of Further Education and in the early part of the Spring Term, third week in January, just before lunchtime I came from a classroom on the top floor to the fifth floor staff room.

I was about to sit down at one of the 'hot-swap' desks when there was a large disturbance. A mouse ran from under one desk to the shelter of another, causing much consternation and many contortions getting feet off the floor. It was only a small mouse but the hullabaloo that ensued at the sighting was heard in every room that came off the fifth floor corridor.

The proper authorities were informed and poisons were duly placed where the errant mouse might partake of them and conveniently die. Posters were placed on every notice board in the staff room, and prominently on the side of a filing cabinet that every teacher used. These posters cautioned against the poison, urged cleanliness, do not drop crumbs and of course, use of the canteen. In the next few days the incident became a general topic of conversation and the mouse grew into a monster which, if not eliminated soon would spread death and disease akin to the Great Plague. Maybe at the weekend the building could be fumigated, sterilised, all six floors, maybe not. Since the canteen wasn't that good there were still a number of stalwarts who ate their lunch in the staff room, but the fearfulness coupled with the viciousness of their conversation belied the description 'stalwart'.

That's when I decided to act. I went home and wrote a poem, set it in a poster style, printed several copies, got in early on Tuesday 25th January and posted it next to every poison notice. My poem, and the poster, read: -

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On the plight of a mouse in the 5th floor staff room

There lives with us in our under penthouse
A wee sleekit cowerin’ tim’rous mouse
Trying to feed his kids an’ his spouse
With a fallen crumb
Left over from some teachers Lobscouse
So they don’t succumb …

I’m truly sorry the hygiene rules
That permeate in all our schools
That bring in special killing tools
To clean all surfaces
And deny you even tiny granules
In such fine palaces

With Apologies to Robert Burns 25th January (1759) 2005
Happy two hundred and forty-sixth Birthday

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The initial reaction was amusement from some, but from others there was a general muttering of disagreement, disassociation and some of my posters were removed. The vitriol was still running warm. Next morning I diligently replaced those that had been removed.

Gradually the general conversation did not dwell so much on the monster, and when mentioned attitudes appeared to be softer.
The mouse was not sighted again. Whether it left in fear, or disgust, or ate the poison gratefully is not known.

A couple of weeks later most notices were taken down, the ones on the filing cabinet stayed. I was about to go home when I stepped aside to let a teacher enter the room. She had been the loudest screamer and the chief executioner, revelling in the fact of the poison.

She looked over at the filing cabinet, nodded and said, “That was you, wasn't it?”

“Yes,” I said.

“That notice stayed there.”

“Yes,” I said.

“I can't stand mice, they give me the willies, I'm really scared of them, but I can't hate them any more.”

“One up to Robbie then,” I said.

“Yes, I suppose so”, she moved past me “See you.”

“See you,” I replied, and went on my way.

Dave Chambers
Newham Writers Workshop



THE GREEN PELICAN

The suburban street was not that different from any other northern industrial heartland. Rows of 1930s semi-detached houses, similar in architectural structure but each one unique in its own façade, stood back from pavement lined co-ordinated trees, preventing the prying eyes of passing strangers. A quiet peaceful street, where excitement was scarce, apart from the occasional mundane sound of manual mowers being pushed endlessly across front lawns on a Sunday morning.

In the midst of this ordinary existence, lives seventeen-year-old grammar school boy Malcolm, son of a petty industrialist, the proud somewhat owner of an inner city sweat shop, which manufactures corrugated products.
It was April 1973, the start of the Easter holidays. Malcolm should have been in his element, socialising with friends, and indulging in numerous activities.

But Malcolm was distances from this very environment. This would account for him having no friends, not because of his tall height, fair wavy hair, and National Health spectacles, or even the fact that he was a swot, but because he was agoraphobic, cut off from the outside world, ever since that fateful day, twelve years ago, when he wondered alone out of his father’s factory and became exposed and lost to the strange area around him. To make matters worse, Malcolm was an only child, although he once had a younger brother, who had sadly passed away, now never mentioned or discussed, for his mother couldn’t cope with another child as Malcolm’s condition had taken its toll over the years.
In fact, all that Malcolm had to look forward to was isolation stacks of ‘A’ level homework, and the occasional visit to his father’s factory.

But one particular visit was to take a dramatic turn in Malcolm’s life. The afternoon visit started off with the usual tiresome agenda, with the guided tour through the cramped noisy shop floor, being escorted to his father’s tiny cluttered office, followed by the famous last words, “You know son. All of this will be yours one day,” before being driven home.

***

After passing endless factories, mills, terraced houses and tenement blocks, Malcolm’s dad braked at some traffic lights. On one side of the road stood several tower blocks; the other side, abandoned lock-ups and the local railway station.

Malcolm, whilst observing these surroundings, spotted a teenage lad, with blonde hair, donning flared jeans and football t-shirt. He was kicking a ball on a piece of green waste ground.  The lad looked at Malcolm, smiled and waved. He returned the compliment with a polite nod, before the traffic lights turned green and his father drove off.

Malcolm was made-up with this kind gesture, thinking to himself, “I wish you were my friend, I wish you were my friend,” before falling asleep for the rest of the journey.

***

Lying on his bed, which was closely sandwiched between the large wardrobe and chest of drawers, in the box room, Malcolm counted the flowers on the wallpaper and then followed the pattern on the Persian carpet. He was feeling bored and wasn’t in the mood for homework.

Malcolm had a sudden notion. Reluctantly, he clambered off the bed, straightened his white roll-necked sweater and tightened the belt of his blue designer jeans, before slowly leaving the room, descending the stairs and grabbing his duffle coat.

Opening the front door, Malcolm suddenly froze. His legs stiffened, followed by the rapid beating of his heart and heavy breathing. He stood staring, in nervousness, at what would face him outside.

Moments later, Malcolm plucked up the courage to leave the house. It was a pleasant evening; the sky was a deep blue, the sun was shining, and the birds were singing away in the cavalcade of trees. He made his journey in the direction of the train station, continuously looking around him warily.

***

Boarding the train, Malcolm slammed the door of the empty carriage, before pulling up the window and throwing himself back onto the softness of the blue and white chequered seat. Heat flowed from the grid beneath the seat, which brushed against the back of his legs.

For a brief moment, Malcolm felt safe amongst the wooden décor and neatly set out seats with their metallic luggage shelves. But this was cut short by the sudden blow of a whistle, followed by the slow straining chugging noise of the train’s diesel engine.

Feeling the intense heat, Malcolm rested his feet on the opposite seat. He started to daydream; mainly about whether he should get off at the next station and head back home, after having flashbacks of that day when he became lost all those years ago. This was cut abruptly short by the sudden voice,

“Get your feet off the seat!” followed by, “Can I see your ticket please?”

As the train slowly approached Malcolm’s destination stop, five stations into his journey, dark clouds started to ascend upon the sky, with the distant sound of thunder, only to be drowned out by the screeching of wheels on the track, which began to grate on Malcolm’s nerves.

***

The train finally stopped. Malcolm was entering unknown territory; territory where he had usually felt safe within the metallic shell of his dad’s car. His legs began to weaken and tremble, followed by the rapid beat of his heart.
Malcolm slowly, but warily, made his way down the station ramp, and through a long dark dimly lit tunnel, finally encountering a number of tower blocks, with a multitude of lights, which rose up into the darkness of the sky. Malcolm felt that he was being observed by concrete monstrosities, with hundreds of eyes, which were ready to descend upon him.

Hurrying through the many streets, past rows of red bricked terraced houses, with their links broken by fish and chip takeaways or corner shops, Malcolm slowly journeyed into the darkness of this alien environment.
He entered lonely winding cobbled streets with high walls that guarded the many satanic mills and gasometers, which rose up like alien crafts.

Malcolm was lost. He came across a row of four terraced houses, knocking on the door of the last one. Nobody answered, even though he could sense a presence behind the door.

Suddenly, in the distance, Malcolm saw a glowing light. Approaching it, he came towards what appeared to be an old school. Pop music could be heard. The school was playing host to the local youth club.
Malcolm entered and slowly winded his way through the multitude of extravagantly dressed dancers until he reached the tuck shop.

Just as he was about to order a can of fizzy drink, he felt a tap on his shoulder, followed by the voice, “I’ll get this for you!” Malcolm turned. It was the teenage lad with the blonde hair, or Nicky as he introduced himself. He appeared to look somewhat different. Instead of the flared jeans and football t-shirt, he was wearing ordinary blue jeans, white polo shirt and a green parka.

***

Exchanging of information, mainly about schools attended, tastes in music, and familial backgrounds, followed as Malcolm and Nicky headed towards the latter’s home.

The pair made their way through the large arch shaped entrance of a red-bricked Peabody Trust apartment complex. Rows of four storeyed flats were positioned in the shape of a square, in the centre of which was a concrete area containing a children’s playground. Swings jingled amongst the breeze. Mothers shouted at their children to come indoors. David Cassidy’s ‘How Can I be Sure?’ blared through the window of one of the flats. Above, lines of washing were spread in a crisscross pattern. Malcolm and Nicky made their way up the stairwell to the top floor. They passed an elderly woman, in curlers and a dressing gown, smoking a cigarette. She nodded to the pair.

***

Malcolm nearly tripped and lost his balance when his feet collided with the dirty linen that was sprawled about on the floor of Nicky’s bedroom. He shoved it under the bed with his foot, before placing a “45 on the record player. ‘My Generation’ by The Who rebounded around the room.

Nicky, who was sat up on the bed, looked down and across at the cross-legged Malcolm. He pointed to a poster on the wall.

“That’s my favourite football team,” he said, before pointing at a photograph, “and that is a scooter, which I’m going to get when I leave school in two years time.”

Malcolm was more interested by the ornament of a green pelican, on the windowsill.

“What’s that?” he asked, pointing to the item.

“That,” replied Nicky, “is a mystery!”

“A mystery!” exclaimed a rather confused Malcolm.

“Yes! I’ve had it all my life but I don’t know how I came by it. Only two have ever existed. The other one is lost, but whoever has it is related to me.”

The bedroom door opened. Nicky’s mother entered. She looked down at Malcolm.

“You’ll have to go now lovey because he has to be up early for his paper round, but you can see him tomorrow if you like.”

***

Back home in his bedroom, Malcolm pulled out an old suitcase, caked in dust, from under his bed. Opening it. He came across an old colour photograph. It showed Malcolm playing. His younger brother was stood up in his cot. On the windowsill, in the background, sat two green pelicans.

Mark Crittenden
GROW



Changing face of War

Gone are the days when the warrior bold
Sat astride his trusty steed
Armed with a sabre of steel so cold
To thwart the enemy, his deed
And as we study how an Army life
Has changed over Oh! so many years
With crossbows, shot and musket
And even lances and spears
Progressing to formation of Infantry
With Rifles and bayonets at the ready
With riveting order of the Sergeant
“Come on lads hold the line steady”
Motorised armed units then came to the fore
As support to the lads on the ground
In the ever changing strategies of War
With experts ready to expound
Their theories on the rights and wrongs
On how best to carry out the task
When “ Give us the tools and we’ll do the job”
Was what the WW2 Squaddies used to ask
Battles would start with a barrage of fire
From hosts of Artillery
To weaken the positions and strongholds
Of a resourceful enemy
Followed by wave upon wave of support
From their colleagues in the air
And when the target is secured and overrun
The Tommy with rifle, and tin helmet was there
But today there are weapons of mass destruction
Chemicals and missiles too you will find
In the changing method of warfare
So lethal and deadly defined
But still you will see the foot soldier
Fighting for peace and may die
Saying don’t bury me here in these foreign fields
But in England’s green pastures let my body finally lie
Don’t weep for me at my graveside
For we are ne’er far apart
And though I’ve departed this world, that we know
I’ll live for evermore deep in your heart

Dennis Shrubshall
25th June 2008



Territory

Territory
Borders, manmade,
On Gods Earth,
Walls, barriers,
Erected 10 meters high.
Keeping the enemy out!
Patrols, armed.
Aim, shoot to kill!
Target, illegal entrants.
Borders, made by gangs.
Our postcodes, taken.
Anyone seen on their ground,
Stabbed, beaten, kicked-in or worse.
School kids, ‘hanging’ in their territory.
Woe betides the rival stray.
A child of all ages but still a child.
Alone he walks through barren land.
Anger flares, threats, teasing ridicule humiliation.
You were in the wrong place. Weren’t you?
Who allocated towns and cities to these packs?
Who gave permission? No one.
Take what you can!
Bugger you all! I’m all right!
Attitude, greed, power, domination.
Everyday lives affected.
What a great society, what a great future!

Zahida Shah
goodmayes writers



Moving on

There is a part of me that I have shut away. I’ve turned the key and locked the door forever. Childhood silliness, heavy metal music, rock chick clothing and doctor marten boots. Safe in my memories. Snowball fights at midnight, climbing the park gates after closing, bunking the cross-country run. Days that will never return and when they were, I thought nothing of them. I thought my life would always be this way. Carefree, happy, reckless, colourful with no shades of gray. Now I know and have come to believe that life is made of many parts. Like an enormous house with different rooms and as we enter a new room, we close the door to the one behind. Until finally we find the back door and we’re out of the house and out of life!

Zahida Shah
goodmayes writers



Last day

Everyone signing each others shirts. Funny faces and advice for the future. The biggest water fight planned to take place at the quad. The central meeting point of all year four and fives but today the year fours will stay clear. Clear out of harms way. Most of my years are armed with the jumbo three litre bottles that they’ve saved for this day! Every lesson has ended in hugs and tears. Gifts for the teachers and bestest friends. The lunch bell rings. The entire year five, boys and girls, rush to the square of patio and shrubs named the Quad. They missile each other with water filled bombs. Refuelling thanks to water fountains. Laughter screeching and screaming and that’s just the boys!!Being outnumbered they’re getting a real soaking. A memorable moment. If time stood still, one of the happiest moments of my life. All sadness of parting with friends, buds, teammates temporarily out of mind. This is what I’m remembering, sitting here on a very small bright green chai r in the front row, watching my sons last assembly in junior school. Feeling all the emotions he’s going through and keeping down the lump in my throat probably as he is. Thinking also how in twenty years time it’ll be him sat numb bottomed on a bright coloured chair watching his son or daughter in their last junior assembly. A tear rolls down my cheek!

Zahida Shah
goodmayes writers



Is this it?

Life seems to be following the same pattern day in day out. Only the seasons change. What do I have to look forward to? What can I call my own? From being my own person, independent, earning a living I’ve gone to being a person who is dependant! Waiting for my money so that I can pay bills, feed my children and if I’m lucky buy myself something. I feel obliged to account for each penny I spend. I have no savings, no back up. If I were to vanish today there would be no sign of my existence. So what is keeping me here in this degrading state of life? Love. Love for the children I gave birth to alone in the maternity ward albeit one. Love. My love to see them do better than I have and be happier than I am in life. Am I being ungrateful? Maybe. I don’t have to work 9-5 for someone I don’t like. I am materialistically comfortable albeit not having permanent secure accommodation. I’m not starving and have good shoes on my feet and clothes on my back, but I feel trapped. C ompressed, made to feel I’m a failure. This is my lot till death do us part, amen. Is this my allocated lot? Surely it can’t be. Can it? It’s probably just a gray day, time of the month or the start of a cold getting me down, that’s making me feel this way. Or is it? I have ambitions, interests, hobbies I would love to explore but I have to wait until it’s time. My time, but what if I get run over tomorrow? Where’s my time gone then? It’ll be too late. Circumstance has changed my entirety. My whole world and being. Is this all there is? Is this it? My fuel to live is my children’s need for me. Without me they will be lost , or so I like to think. I might not have been here writing this piece if their love had not kept me going. Despite all the shouting and telling off’s I’m grateful and i can only hope they are too.

Zahida Shah
goodmayes writers



Change (Can they handle it?)

Changes. I was watching the documentary about North Korea, their Communist country praising their new leader. The son of Kim Jong Ill had ascended from all star general to a Dictator. All those commanders, generals and soldiers around him pledging their allegiance to the new leader and the people of North Korea worshipping him like some god. I watch this and think why? Why is there no change? The Military first regime is killing it’s people and the world sits by to watch a country die not from killings like Syria or Libya or even Iraq when Saddam was in power. They are dieing simply by not being fed or taken care of. The new leader doesn’t want change...probably because he fears how it’d change the way of life, the lies unrevealed to the people would most probably cause mass suicides. How would the people feel if they found out that what they’ve been told all there lives was a lie? What would happen if t hey opened their boarders to South Korea and allowed the people of the North to flee to the south, crowding the refugee camps, causing diseases and infections. Crime rate may increase if security isn’t increased and South Korea will have to move some of it’s funding to support these camps and move money into trying to keep track of these people so they do not disappear. Can you imagine the riots? The problems? How much damage it’d cause around the world if North Korea ever got rid of it’s regime? Can you imagine the fourth biggest army in the world collapsing? In this age? Remember the USSR? The Union Soviet Social Republic? When that Empire fell, every eastern European country fell with it. The Countries value dropped, The army turned into a mob, the military vehicles and tools left aside on the street and nuclear submarines beached up on random coasts over Russia. When the USSR was in power, they had kept it all in check....now can you imagine North Korea? A thousand times worse due to the very fact it’s people actually believe their leader is a God. Imagine the pope turning around on TV and saying that Christianity is a lie and everything in the bible is a lie, What an uproar that’d cause. The whole world would be searching for that pope to just kill him for what he had caused. Imagine North Korea, Explode in an uproar. Every man, woman and even child react to this. I sit their and think ‘Why don’t people stop the regime’ but then i thought of the outcome...can the people of North Korea handle change? Can the world handle change?

Ifran Kasim
GROW



Integrity

I lost my integrity
I was so proud off.
"She has integrity,"
people whispered;
and said aloud, too.
I even heard words:
"She is genuine."
And I proudly walked,
stiff as a board.
I didn't know
how to lie.
An open book
to my fault.
Today I lie,
make up stories,
asking back:
"Why do you ask?"
and
"Why do you want
to know?"
I am having more fun.

Marie Neumann
POW!



Changes

according an embryo
pickled in spirits
in the school cabinet

I am in vertical position,
I do not think,
I do not see,
because my eyes
didn't develop yet.
My heart is pickled,
so I do not feel.
I swim in some liquid.
My underdeveloped brain
is permanently
pickled in the spirits,
so I am brain damaged.
I look like E.T.,
they say,
when they are passing
into their biology class,
notebooks in their hands
and pleated skirts
create a little breeze
in always stuffed hallway.
The boys are following
discussing the last
football game.
One of them pointed at me:
"This embryo was here,
when my father attended
this school".
So nothing changes,
only pupils do.

Marie Neumann
Pottsville Open Writers



The Underclass

The underclass is bigger now
For it includes the elderly
Who can’t afford to pay for care;
And people who are not too well
And haven’t got sufficient wealth,
So have to use the National Health;
And kids who live on sink estates
Who know that they will not get work,
So hang around in gangs with mates
And find that they must carry knives
Because they’re fearful for their lives;
And those who have just lost their jobs
Who find they cannot pay their loans,
Afraid that they may lose their homes.
The only work that they will get
Is juggling an endless debt.
Yet the rich still make a mint
While small businesses go skint
And we all watch expenses soar
While many earn less than before.
That’s why the situation calls
For us to protest at St Paul’s!

Andrew Diamond
Goodmayes Writers



BEFORE I FALL    

Catch me now before I go;
Oh not into a furnace or a hole below
Catch me now while I still know
Your name and who I am
Catch me before my memory’s in a can
Rattling round with no game plan
Rolling round in my emptying skull
That once was so very full
Of thoughts and such imagination.
Now I’m part of that aging generation
Knowing what I was and what I will become.
So catch me while you can,
While I’m still your Dad or your mum.

By Jim White



Best Laid Plans

Funny how life turns out.
All is tranquil and secure,
Then, by chance, something occurs
And things have changed for evermore.
Your foundations have now gone;
You’re thrown into a deep unknown.
Maybe you’ve had a bereavement,
Or not made a planned achievement;
Sold your soul to earn a buck
Or had some unexpected luck.
Nothing happens as it’s planned
And no one knows how it will end.
That is why I call life’s dance
A constant change of circumstance.

Andrew Diamond
Goodmayes Writers



Happy New Year

I looked at the candle alight on the table;
I stared at the label stuck on the bottle.
We’d finished our dinner, drunk all the wine;
Another new year and the dining was fine
In a posh restaurant with wife and with friends.
There were kisses all round as we sang Auld Lang Syne.
The end of a chapter, to start one anew;
With hope for a good one, just like the last few.
Not like the guys sleeping rough on their own,
Begging for money for drink and for drugs
So they can forget how they’re taken for mugs
By our affluent society that won’t give them homes
Or jobs and support to get off the streets.
Like TV, a story so full of repeats.
And as we move on and the year passes by
I wonder how many more homeless will die.

Andrew Diamond
Goodmayes Writers



Retirement

He’s retired and he is bored
And so he looks for things to do.
Today he’ll be a Buddhist Monk,
Putting on his saffron robes,
Burning incense in a pot,
Clutching at his begging bowl,
Standing on his doorstep.
Then his wife comes to the door
Puffing on a cigarette.
“Don’t forget, we need some rice
And don’t come back without it.”
So he toddles to the shops,
Walking slowly, chanting, “Ohm.”
She lights up another fag,
Then she goes back in the house
To have some tea and watch T.V.
And that is how they’re living now,
Before they take their final bow!

Andrew Diamond
Goodmayes Writers



The Fading Year (Canadian Arctic)

As the Beluga Whales revel in the low tide gravel,
sloughing their dead skin; so the Arctic is shedding its summer.
Birds, which have bred in their thousands, are leaving in a cacophony of sound,
heading south, urging chicks to follow.
Young Guillemots, with under-developed wings, leap 150 meters to the safety of the sea,
some landing short, a gift for the Arctic Fox.
Solitary Polar Bears come together at the shoreline, tolerant,
where once blood would be spilt and wounds inflicted.
Caribou are restless, breathing heavily; though the musk oxen just munch on,
oblivious. They are waiting for nothing.
With uncanny timing, all know it is approaching the darkness and quiescence
befalls the deserted nesting grounds.
On a sliding scale, the temperature plummets and the sea begins to freeze;
reflecting with glittering, crystallised diamonds.
A streaky film forms on its cooling surface,
clusters of ice coagulate into bobbing, floating, disc like shapes.
Bumping, jostling, interlocking – until once more the sea-ice is complete
and the Polar Bears can venture forth to hunt seal.
Giant cliffs sparkle; as their granite faces glaciate and waterfalls are stilled as they flow,
like children playing statues.
Natural sculptures of white and silver illuminate in an amazing show of crystal chandeliers,
in the ballroom of ostentatious stately homes.
The fading year is taking hold; it’s quick, it’s brutal yet to the observers eye
it is magnificently, breathtakingly, beautiful.
Knowing the truth of the harsh reality, the caribou cross the ice fields,
venturing south, and a marathon journey upon the frozen road.
Musk Oxen watch them go, they have no need to leave, they’ll survive;
their large bulk and shaggy coat the ultimate protection.
As does the male Polar bear, braving it out while the female climbs the snow slopes,
to seek, a natural ‘white-out’ birthing chamber.
Few creatures remain, as the storms surge, and winds whip the snow into thick flurries of illumination in the gathering muted darkness, lit only by perpetual moonlight.
The brief Arctic summer is over.

Jan Hedger
GROW


Inspired by The Frozen Planet and the commentary of Sir David Attenborough - capturing a changing season which is in danger of being lost for ever



For Merlin

Kind hands, stroking me with a gentleness of comfort
That I willingly respond too
Not like, with the rough hands that held me.
Kind arms, wrapped around my neck embracing me
That I can feel safe in
Not like, with the arms that tightened the rope.
Kind feet, stretching out inviting me to rest my head
That I can sleep relaxed with no fear
Not like, with the feet that kicked out.
Kind voice, speaking liltingly calming my every nerve
That I am at peace in my new world
Not like, with the gruff voice that chastised me.
Kind heart, loving with compassion and understanding
That my heart can openly return
Not like, with the hardened heart of the hunter.
Kind soul, seeing in me a need they saw in themselves
That we can heal together
Not like, facing the battle alone.

Jan Hedger
GROW


Merlin is my sisters beautiful, gentle and funny rescued Spanish 'Galgos (Greyhound). Their partnership has bought changes to both of their lives



WHO LIVES?

Who lives in the house on the hill?
Ragetty-Anne Mary
That’s who lives
in the house on the hill

Ragetty-Anne Mary was hairy and scary!
Even spiders were scared of Ragetty-Anne Mary

One bright morning as the alarm rang shrill
in the little house on the hill
Ragetty-Anne Mary jumped out of bed
with all her hair standing up on her head!

What shall I do today?
thought Ragetty- Anne Mary;
I know……………..
I’ll shop and I’ll mop
I’ll scrub and I’ll scrub
I’ll rub-a-dub-dub
I’ll polish and shine
and hang the washing on the line
Well………………..
She uttered and muttered and tutted and spluttered
as she swept the broom around the room
she polished and scrubbed and rub-a-dub-dubbed
in every nook in every cranny
in every corner behind the tele
where the spiders hid shaking like jelly!
‘You don’t have to run, you don’t have to hide
I’m not really scary I’m nice inside’

So now the house is spick and span
what about poor Ragetty-Anne?
Well the spiders hatched a secret plan……….

When all was still in the house on the hill
in quietly they crept as Ragetty slept……and
they spun and they weaved, they weaved and they spun
silver threads and golden webs

So in the morning when the alarm rang shrill
in the little house on the hill
Ragetty-Anne Mary jumped out of bed
looked in the mirror and said…………
Oh look at my hair! Look at the shine!
Look at my hair all ringlets and curls!

Now Ragetty-Anne Mary is no longer hairy
So Ragetty-Anne Mary is no longer scary!

Well now all you boys and girls

Who now lives in the house on the hill?
Airy-Fairy Mary!
That’s who now lives
in the house on the hill.

Jan Hedger
GROW



Changing face of War

Gone are the days when the warrior bold
Sat astride his trusty steed
Armed with a sabre of steel so cold
To thwart the enemy, his deed
And as we study how an Army life
Has changed over Oh! so many years
With crossbows, shot and musket
And even lances and spears
Progressing to formation of Infantry
With Rifles and bayonets at the ready
With riveting order of the Sergeant
“Come on lads hold the line steady”
Motorised armed units then came to the fore
As support to the lads on the ground
In the ever changing strategies of War
With experts ready to expound
Their theories on the rights and wrongs
On how best to carry out the task
When “ Give us the tools and we’ll do the job”
Was what the WW2 Squaddies used to ask
Battles would start with a barrage of fire
From hosts of Artillery
To weaken the positions and strongholds
Of a resourceful enemy
Followed by wave upon wave of support
From their colleagues in the air
And when the target is secured and overrun
The Tommy with rifle, and tin helmet was there
But today there are weapons of mass destruction
Chemicals and missiles too you will find
In the changing method of warfare
So lethal and deadly defined
But still you will see the foot soldier
Fighting for peace and may die
Saying don’t bury me here in these foreign fields
But in England’s green pastures let my body finally lie
Don’t weep for me at my graveside
For we are ne’er far apart
And though I’ve departed this world, that we know
I’ll live for evermore deep in your heart

Dennis Shrubshall
25th June 2008



COMMENTS

Your Name: Jan Hedger
Your Comment: I agree with Andrew, Zahida your work is very strong! I had a tear too for Last Day - all pieces concise and powerful!Lots of powerful writing this theme - my word we are flying!

Your Name: Andrew Diamond
Your Comment: Zahida, very powerful stuff. You were born to do this!

Your Name: Jan Hedger
Your Comment: Good to see an in-depth piece on here - thanks Ifran - a well thought out piece of writing on current events.

Your Name: Andrew Diamond
Your Comment: Okay Ashley, I'll put writing a story about my retired gentleman on my things to do. Don't know when I'll get round to it because my head is too full of poetry at the moment, but it will come and I'll share it with you when it does. - Andrew

Your Name: Ashley Jordan
Your Comment: Hey Jim - how lovely to see you here :-)  A timely reminder to make the most of the time we have - wise words, my friend :-)

Your Name: jan hedger
Your Comment: A lovely trio from you Andrew! Full of versatility just like your good self!

Your Name: Ashley Jordan
Your Comment: Dennis lets hope the face of war turns to look the other way from now on :-)  Jan love all three of yours and having met Merlin I can say with assurance that you have captured him perfectly!  Andrew - The various ways we pause, look back and take stock at this time of year - there is something quite Dickensian about your retired gentleman chanting Ohm on the way to the shops :-) I'd like to meet him in a story, if you are doing requests?

Your Name: Andrew Diamond
Your Comment: Beautiful and varied work Jan. Loved the one on the Frozen Planet. Dennis, you tell it as it is and we need you to continue provoking our thoughts!

Your Name: jan hedger
Your Comment: Thanks for re-posting this piece of yours here Dennis. Good to be
reminded of this strong poem and all its meaning for yesterday and today.


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