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'Leap Year'
May 2012

 31 May 2012


Little Harry Craddock ran into the family red-bricked terraced house, slamming the front door behind him. After taking off his green parka, which he threw over the stair rail, Harry kicked off his shoes, one of them rebounding off the wall, with a gentle ‘thud’, leaving a black mark on the dull pale blue embossed pattern of the paper.

Running up the stairs, Harry had trouble reaching the top as the wool from the soles of his socks slid against the grey pop cord material of the carpet. At one point, he slid, banging his kneecap on the stair below. It seemed that he was never going to reach his destination, namely that white washed door, at the top, which donned a poster of the local football team, otherwise known as the getaway to his bedroom.

The adrenalin, inside Harry was beginning to rush as he finally conquered the thirteen stairs to enter his own little world. That very world of rockets to far away galaxies, dangling airplanes battling through the inner skylines, and of famous footballers striking another victory.

But these colliding fantasy worlds were oblivious to Harry, as he changed out of his school uniform into a yellow t-shirt and his favourite pink flared jeans, with a blue embroidered seahorse on each leg, before shaking his blonde hair until it fell tidily into place.

Leaving the bedroom, Harry slid down the banister.

“Okey dokey!” he shouted excitedly, before jumping off at the bottom, landing on both feet and colliding with the coat stand, creating a loud crash in the process.

Normally, Harry would start to worry at this stage for fear of getting into trouble, but on this occasion, he just rushed into the living room, amidst an encore of ‘Happy Birthday to You’, which reverberated around the garishly decorated walls, drowned out by multitudes of different coloured balloons, endless displays of wrapped items of various shapes and sizes, and an overfilled table of mouth-watering delights overruled by a massive eight candled cake in the style of a football pitch.

Harry’s grey eyes lit up like saucers as he suddenly became oblivious to the numerous decorations, the neatly wrapped little parcels, and tempting spread, and looked in the direction of the other side of the living room, towards the handsome red metallic framework and black PVC attachments.

“My very own Chopper bike!” he shouted excitedly.

But this moment of excitement was soon short-lived as Harry looked at the single dated paged calendar, on the wall above the sideboard. It read February 29th 1972. Harry froze in terror, making a gulping noise in his throat, which had turned dry. The whole room fell into a deafening silence.

Mum straightened her turtleneck jumper and looked across at Harry. Dad straightened his British Rail tie, lowered his newspaper and peered up at him. Sister Maureen, with jet black permed hair, heavy eye liner, and donning glittered clothing, who was standing in front of a mirror smoking a cigarette, glared at him. All eyes were upon Harry. Even those of the green faced lady and the weeping boy, each in separate pictures, on the wall, opposite the mirror, seemed to be fixed upon Harry.

Dad got up from his chair to kiss a worried Mum. Harry quickly turned away only to be confronted by a kissing couple in a photograph in Dad’s newspaper. He looked up and came face to face with an ornamental old couple embracing on the sideboard.

“Oh!” said Grandma Flo, as she put down her glass of milk stout, getting out of an armchair to switch on the television. “’Crossroads’ is on in five minutes.”

The television set came on revealing Mr Smash giving Mrs Smash a kiss on the lips, with one almighty ‘clang’, shortly followed by the jingle, ‘With mash get Smash.’

Suddenly, the front door bell rang. Harry gulped again. Dad left the living room to answer it. He stared in terror as the slow screech of a door opening could be heard, followed by a slow grinding rolling noise across the hallway floor.

A young girl, roughly Harry’s age, with hair tied into two bunches, donning a pink checked ruffled dress, white ankle socks, and T-bar shoes entered the living room on roller skates.

“Veronica Dribbleswaite!” said Harry warily, yet embarrassed.

“Hello Harry!” she said soppily. “You’ve been avoiding me all day since you refused my marriage proposal, so now you’ve got to give me a kiss.”

“Oh no!” exclaimed Harry, as Veronica’s sloppy lips approached his face.

Mark Crittenden

unpolished slick

My boots need RE-SOILING and a brand new lace,  
but but but i'm not boiling over
my water levels do not even run a pace
my home is my kettle and i stay within
run amok on internets
but my boots do not begin

if one year in four can overspill
then why can't i do more
at least one day in four,
so what i will do
is have a siesta
make it one hour in four
and ask
what IS a trimester

i couldn't write a leap year poem
it had me stumped
until i read the others
and got them lumped
all together its a revelation
that Olympicians, Diamonds and the GLA
ear the mark and take the leap and so say
and to my edification

do days go missing 3 years in a row
or do we get an extra day just so we know
why would February be shorter than the others
every year and anyway and especially for lovers

I can surf my knuckles to number the days
in each other month
but even a child must make February
a special case for number-crunching
the 4-week standard that other months exceed
the phase of the moon and the time to bleed

but why did i always get stuck
on 4 times seven
could go no further
than 4 times seven
drilling through my times tables
and to this day however able
to move on, its still a clue
to something that i still can't say
and wish i knew

counting my money i often find
its the irregular periods
tidy up my figures in fact as in mind
seems all the powers that ever be
always knew it brings us through
in leaps and bounds,
that a jump could jump unto a leap
is good news to me

i love the co-incidence in english words
evil minds asleep, a car slowly crawling
so slow to go to work, no time to go a-trawling

oh for the time to beak away from the grind of every day
a blip in the ocean
flipping and flapping a penguin in motion
give the more eligible a chance
4 days in seven, the numbers dance
dance in my eyes it connotes confusion
but i do love the jiggling allusion

my scrapbook wants to keep a note
of each phrase i find
leaping out at me
upon one glance
to show me whats
already on my mind
that these phrases
ask to dance

the ones i just must keep
i want to enter in the record
somehow signify especially to me
one day i will track it down
but what struck me then
does not always strike me now

now i get to glean your poem instead
now novels gave way since i left my bed
now i can sit up to play
all in my language born and bred
i've lost the time to read the tomes
that kept me sane in bed
but i've found your poems

when i can and only when i can
i still note my favorite phrases
that i want to keep in my head
but must write down thereto and instead

what occurs to me by day
it can be gone tomorrow
intelligence converges
its all around
knits back however harmed
so i mind no more the lack at times
of memo-making function
nor do i sorrow loss as was and is and will be
just now and then i find my book of scraps to munch on

scraps connect, make more sense, add to map
amazing what aligns, so many signs
but it takes me half a lifetime
just to learn to take a nap

if i can, i copy out what speaks galores to me
be it my words or yours, since my teens i came to see
what i can't recall at all unless i write it down,
what got me thinking then, what gets me thinking now
aw shucks Ashley when i saw "Leap Year" i said "owch"

so be a slouch and be a slouch saw "Leap Year" i said "owch"

so be a slouch and be a slouch
thats the answer to it all
its hard copy or its pen and pad
if its not the grubby floor,
or the rubbish smelling bad
if its not that lunch is calling
as the telephone rings
how to get off this computer
is such a simple thing

pen and paper will just have to do
to tear me away
until i can return to the pleasure i once knew
get back into the world of books
let my tapping fingers go a-stray
unwind my grumbling back and give my eyes some peace
what is this printing miracle that will give me no release

i missed the extra day this year i can't wait another four
i'd better count the hours and get my head down
upon the fourth, its come to that, comrade,
then my boots can be re-soiled and so forth.
forth-right is your ticket and your forum awaits
but what am i doing on the laptop all day
when the sun is calling and its only a step away
aw shucks Ashley, can this be my comment too
now i'm off to do a divination
to escape your eyes so blue

i want the boys in blue to know
that i believe they exist
and it doesn't take a leap year
to come rushing out the mist
the boys in blue did save us
believe me its been a tryst
they been there all the while
so now relax in your position
step down and look around
take your day and be at peace
it won't be long now,
the boys are back in town

oddbods awaiting connection

My Extra Day

This year I had an extra day
To spend in my own special way
An answer to my heart-felt wish
For the time to break away
From the grind of every day
To stop the endless rush

I planned and dreamed
And thought and schemed
Wherever should I go
The sun should have beamed
But the rain just streamed
And so I stayed at home

Ashley Jordan


A girl looked calmly at a caller one evening and remarked,

"George, as it is leap year..."

The caller turned pale.

"As it is leap year," she continued, "and you've been calling regularly now four nights a week for a long, long time, George, I propose..."

"Grace, I'm not in a position to marry on my salary," George interrupted hurriedly.

"I know that, George," the girl pursued, "and so, as it is leap year, I thought I'd propose that you lay off... and give some of the more eligible fellows a chance."


February, 29

Freezing rain rustles in the trees.
Snow plow does it's lonely job
in the dark streets,
so people could drive to the work
in the morning and yellow buses
take children to the school.
Even evil minds sleep
and rest from plotting,
shocking, disturbing schemes.
Snow plow is working
and few cars are already gliding
to the work in the freezing rain.
There are more cars now on the road
slowly crawling to their destination - work.
It's February, 29, early in the morning.

Marie Neumann


'Leap don't jump',
so my old Irish dancing mistress said,
I thought it only applied to dancing pumps,
(black, with elasticated sides,size 10 feet),
I couldn't visualise what the levitation meant,
and but jumped to leaps of faith, gawky
intuition, and when days went missing,
I joined them with my head in the air.

Bruce Barnes

Leap Years

The GLA elections
Are held one year in four
And that is on a leap year
When we have one day more.

Occurances in leap years
Do not seem quite the norm.
This year we have got a drought
Throughout a summer storm.

Olympics come each leap year
When people run and jump.
I could not get tickets
And so I've got the hump.

Though it will be a wash out
This year, due to the rain
And so, like Cristmas, I will watch
The Great Escape again.

My wife proposed one leap year;
It seems he turned her down
And so she ended up with me,
The biggest mug in town.

We married in a leap year,
Our anniversary.
I buy a card once each fourth year,
So I have three years free.

And if there were not leap years
To regulate the time
I'd have not been able
To compose this silly rhyme.

Andrew Diamond
Goodmayes Writers


Foiled by the Ploughman


I look up and there’s Peter the apprentice ploughman standing in the doorway.

“Hello,” I say. “Your boots need re-soling?”

“No, no. My boots are fine. Though I could do with a new lace.”

I pull a pair of bootlaces from the string on which I keep them hanging. I have two strings of laces, one for bootlaces and one for shoelaces. “That’ll be tuppence,” I tell him.

“I thought they were a penny,” he replies.

“Penny a pair for shoelaces, tuppence for bootlaces.”

“I only want one.”

“I only sells them in pairs.”

Peter looks embarrassed, but he hands over tuppence and takes the laces. He does not leave.

“Is there anything else I can do for you?” I enquire.

“I don’t know how to say this.” He turns slightly pink. “The parson said it’s the twenty-ninth of February at the end of this month.”


“I think Mary might ask me to marry her. I think that’s why the parson said it was going to be the twenty-ninth.”

I suppress a snigger of laughter. I mean, is Mary really likely to marry an apprentice ploughman who’s only been an apprentice for a mere couple of months, and who lives with his mum and dad still, and who couldn’t afford to buy a cottage? However it’s good news for me, as I have had my eye on Susie in the next village.

“Ah. Are you minded to accept?”

“Well I don’t know. I mean she’s a nice enough lass. It’s just I’m not sure I’m ready to settle and all. I don’t know what to do.”

I spy a business opportunity here.

“You know the forfeit for refusing an offer of marriage on the twenty-ninth of February. Twelve pairs of gloves it is, to hide the shame of not having an engagement ring. So if you’re going to turn her down I better get on with making them.”

“Twelve pairs of gloves is it? I thought it was one pair.”

“No,” I say, eager to make the most out of this transaction. “It’s definitely twelve pairs. One for each month for a year. So do you want me to start making them?”

“How much are they?” Peter shifts uneasily from one foot to the other.

“Two shillings a pair.”

“Two shillings!” Peter looks at me.

“Tell you what,” I say. “If you order twelve pairs I’ll do them at one-and-six a pair. That’s eighteen shillings in total.”

“Okay,” Peter says. “But I can’t pay it all in one go. Can I pay you at a shilling a week?”

“Ooh no. I’ve got all the materials to pay for. Tell you what. I’ll do you twelve pairs, and you pay me one-and-six a week, plus an extra shilling for tick.”

“You drive a hard bargain.”

“Well I’ve got me business to run.”

“I’ll have the first payment ready for you on the twenty-ninth,” he tells me.

“I’ll have the twelve pairs ready for the same date,” I tell him as he leaves. I feel pleased with the bargain I’ve made, and I’m even more pleased Mary has set her cap on Peter as it lets me off the hook.

Three weeks later, and it’s the twenty-ninth. The parson has summoned the whole village to the church. I bring the twelve pairs of gloves in a bag.

“You all know why you are here,” he tells the assembled parishioners. “Mary has a request to make. Step forward Mary and say what you have to say.”

Mary steps forward, and then turns. She walks towards our group of unmarried men, and stops. She looks at me and says,

“Will you marry me?”

Damn and blast. Not only will I not be able to collect on the gloves, I’ll have to give them to Mary.  I manage to stammer out the refusal. The parson looks shocked and Mary bursts into tears. There is a general hubbub.

The vicar shushes everyone.

“Well now,” he says to me. “At least you will be able to make the gloves yourself. And now for some good news. Susie from over the hill has just been accepted by Peter the ploughman.”

John Malcomson
Heeley Writers




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