Wednesday, 30 November 2016

OTHER FISH TO FRY

I've hit the 'pause' button on this blog for a while and aim to reduce considerably my contributions to social media. I have other fish to fry and, besides, I'm getting tired of my own voice.

Also the dross, mischief and negative vibes generally across various sites is outweighing the positive stuff. Wearisome.

I will continue to glance at anything that's really interesting and if I feel an answer is required, I'll respond.

If anyone wants to commission some writing, please get in touch.

Until a point in the future, I leave you with a pledge you will never see in a political manifesto - 

'peace and goodwill to all'.

Adios.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

'APPY CHRISTMAS

From page 103 of The Fatter, Jollier Only Yules & Verses by, er, me....

On sale now: http://www.feedaread.com/books/The-Fatter-Jollier-Only-Yules-Verses.aspx



‘APPY CHRISTMAS

To gadget geeks – Appy Christmas
To bakers – Bappy Christmas
To dentists – Cappy Christmas
To good blokes – Chappy Christmas
To audiences – Clappy Christmas
To birds – Flappy Christmas
To Tube guards – Gappy Christmas
To motor racers – Lappy Christmas
To explorers – Mappy Christmas
To babies – Nappy Christmas
To urban singers – Rappy Christmas
To boxers – Scrappy Christmas
To make-up artists – Slappy Christmas
To crocodiles – Snappy Christmas
To plumbers – Tappy Christmas
To puppies – Yappy Christmas
To video game players – Zappy Christmas

Monday, 28 November 2016

HANDS OFF CHRISTMAS!

I am one of seven children that my mother raised singlehandedly without much money but with a lot of love, care and skill at knitting, sewing and, especially, cooking and baking. She was a genius in the kitchen.  I am going back to the 1950s/1960s here and for a lot of people, times were tough but I cannot recall a single birthday or Christmas or Sunday dinner for that matter that was disappointing. Our expectations for presents were simpler in those gadget-free years. At Christmas, we were content with what was called the ‘big present’ – perhaps a torch, a cowboy outfit, and once or twice a bike – supplemented with selection boxes, annuals and other bits and pieces. It was an exciting time of the year, a joy, happy days. It was Christmas, a word that has become entangled in that quagmire of political correctness because it might offend someone. I can think of many other words in the sweary department that would be miles more offensive that the word Christmas.  But we live in an era where some people treat certain words and phrases like farts in a spacesuit and protest at anything and anyone that utters even the mildest of comments or jokes, or refers to something that is alien to closed minds.

Some councils across the UK have dropped the Christmas word in favour of ‘season’s greetings’ or they’ve invented new words like ‘Winterval” for fear of cross-community apoplexy.  Some schools have abandoned the annual Nativity play because it is seen as a blatant insult to people who don’t happen to be Christians. It’s a story, people, a chance for kids to dress up, to play act and have a bit of fun. It is a kind of pantomime with no hidden agenda to recruit non-Christians into a weird new cult. And don’t get me started on ‘Xmas’!

Where I lived in Belfast all those years ago, we would get very excited as the day approached when the local church installed the crib. I wrote a little poem to encapsulate the memory:

It was the highlight of the year,
apart from toys on Christmas day,
to see the outdoor crib
where the baby Jesus lay.

Memory and maturity spoil
the wonder of it all
for the star was a bulb
and Jesus was a doll.

Now, I have every right to complain about that terrible depiction; a tiny bulb for a star and, cough, splutter, a doll for the baby Jesus. But I couldn’t have cared less. It was an absolute delight when I was five or six. I stared at it in awe. The light was yellow and warm and the baby had a lovely little smooth face. Even as a grizzled adult, the memory of the scene makes me smile. Offensive? Nah. Anyone offended by Nativity cribs can go and chase their Grannies round corn fields. (Ageist, disrespectful to Grandmas and the agricultural environment…….!!)

I would agree with many that the real negative about Christmas is the commercial aspect and the gooey television advertisements that go on and on and on from October to December. Everything has a downside, so deal with the busy streets and shops and all the ballyhoo but, at the same time, embrace the fun and joy of Christmas and never let go of the good memories or the notion of peace and goodwill to all. If you find offense in Christmas, tough turkey, say I. The moaning Minnies and Scrooges will be bleating away as usual and someone will be swinging a wrecking ball at the tradition, and the politically correct do-gooders will huff and puff. My take on all of them, go ahead. Get it out of your system but my overall message is – hands off Christmas as a traditional festival, hands off Christmas as a word and hands off my enjoyment of Christmas.  I feel another little poem coming on:


Christmas Eve,
Christmas Day,
Boxing Day……

The tut-tut-tutting,
The tweet-tweet-tweeting,
The whinge-whinge-whinging,
The bleat-bleat-bleating,
The blah-blah-blahing,
The moan-moan-moaning,
The nag-nag-nagging,
The groan-groan-groaning,
The boasts and baloney,
The humbug and grumbles,
The hot air and bunkum,
The belly-aches and mumbles.

We can all agree to disagree,
Christmas not everyone’s cup of tea.
Whatever you think, whatever you say,
Have your happiest *Whatever Day.



*And by that I mean CHRISTMAS!

Sunday, 27 November 2016

NAME CALLING

All our heads are stuffed full of stuff and occasionally an out of the blue name or memory spills out.
Sometimes, for no obvious reasons, names from the past pop into my head. This morning I remembered the name Vernon Cornell who was the administration controller in 1970s/early 80s BHS. I worked in his team for a couple of years under his right hand man who was called, and I kid you not, Ray Gunn who nicknamed our board director, Terry Lenthall, Cherry Menthol and laughed like a drain every time. We laughed to be polite, of course. At one time in our group there was a girl called Yvonne Knott... Y. Not.  Those were pretty good times based in BHS head office in Marylebone Road, London and travelling all over the UK.

Vernon left retailing and moved to Cornwall, I think, to run a bed & breakfast place. I don't know what happened to the others. But I love random thoughts and the game of connections that follow.

In 2009, the BBC published a list of names believed to be both true and unfortunate. They included:

Justin Case
Barb Dwyer
Stan Still
Hazel Nutt
Doug Hole
Rose Bush
Joe King
Barry Cade
Carrie Oakey
Tim Burr
Terry Bull
Mary Christmas
Anna Sasin

Hmmm. They may be genuine enough. Even typing this, I remember old jokes re names:

Carpet salesman - Walter Wall
Swedish bartender - Lars Torders
etc, etc.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

MICHAEL BENTINE




Today, 26 November 2016, it's 20 years since we lost Michael Bentine at 74. I thought he was a comedy genius.

I enjoyed him as a Goon, as presenter of It's A Square World and Potty Time, as a writer and as a chat show guest.

On hearing of his death, I wrote this little poem:

MICHAEL BENTINE

I thought he was bonkers,
then bonkers made me laugh,
but sharp mind and sharp wit
balanced the sense of it.
Take a bow, clever clown,
now my mouth's painted down.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

AN ALBUM HALF DONE - POSTSCRIPT 2

The two posts previous to this one talk about An Album Half Done, a collection of song lyrics (the tunes are in my head) and I thought I would share some of the singer/songwriter LPs that I have enjoyed and that have enthused me to play with words.  There are dozens of others but these were regular albums on my turntable through the late 60s, 70s and beyond.

Gordon Lightfoot - Don Quixote (1972)

Kris Kristofferson - Me and Bobby McGee (1970)

Roger Miller - Golden Hits (1965)

Johnny Cash - At Folsom Prison (1968)

Waylon Jennings - Dreaming My Dreams (1975)

David McWilliams - The Days of Pearly Spencer (1971)

Willie Nelson - Red Headed Stranger (1975)

John Stewart - The Lonesome Picker Rides Again (1971)





Wednesday, 23 November 2016

AN ALBUM HALF DONE - POSTSCRIPT

Yesterday's post - An Album Half Done - featured a selection of song lyrics dating back to 1976 and moving on through the next 10 years or so. Forty years ago, I had moved from Belfast to Manchester and, as I re-read these words, I remembered short bursts of homesickness, strangeness in a strange land, fish out of water feelings (and all the other cliches). I had a guitar that I could strum reasonably well and a headful of ideas for songs.

The 1970s were brilliant for singer/songwriters - Neil Young, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Gordon Lightfoot and many more. My personal favourite was John Stewart, formerly of The Kingston Trio, whose most familiar song is Daydream Believer, a big hit for The Monkees and still a radio regular after all these years. He also wrote Gold and July, You're A Woman.

There was no reason why I couldn't at least have a go at what these guys were doing.

In 1997, I did a weekly songs bulletin, sending my lyrics to various people, 99% of whom did not respond but it kept me amused.

Recently, I unearthed the folder and sifted the songs I like, the ones that remind me of people and places, of love, loss and all that jazz.

If you get a chance, go back one post to yesterday's Album Half Done and have a look. Oh, and the reason is is called An Album Half Done is the lack of music. I know their chords and the tunes. One day I might collaborate with proper musicians to bring the words to life and share with a wider audience.



AN ALBUM HALF DONE
by Joe Cushnan















All song lyrics copyright ©Joe Cushnan 2016

TRACK LISTING

Casablanca Lovesong
Poet Laureate
Somebody Else Was Driving
Listen For The Thunder
Like A Cat
She Played Music
Harry's Song (For Harry Chapin)
The Last Country Song
Song For Rita
Closed Down For Winter
Crossroads

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

AN ALBUM HALF DONE

AN ALBUM HALF DONE
by Joe Cushnan















All song lyrics copyright ©Joe Cushnan 2016

TRACK LISTING

Casablanca Lovesong
Poet Laureate
Somebody Else Was Driving
Listen For The Thunder
Like A Cat
She Played Music
Harry's Song (For Harry Chapin)
The Last Country Song
Song For Rita
Closed Down For Winter
Crossroads

CASABLANCA LOVESONG
Why don't you look at me
the way that Ingrid Bergman
looked at Humphrey Bogart
and she didn't have to say a word
not a word
she didn't have to say a word

Lost in a fantasy
somewhere inside of me
placing you in my history
then I'm back to reality

Why don't we walk away
to find the blue horizon
and touch the starry sky
then love until the morning sun
the rising sun
love until the rising sun

Lost in a fantasy
all that you mean to me
in this sweet mystery
in love and harmony


And the piano player played
a song about a Paris summer
when I hear the tune I live my life again
play it again

Why don't you look at me
the way that Ingrid Bergman
looked at Humphrey Bogart
and she didn't have to say a word
not a word
she didn't have to say a word


POET LAUREATE
I used to write poems for you
in our hot summer love affair
and I'd smile as I read them to myself
when no one was there

I wrote seven that are special
some more along the way
and I'll give them to you, wrapped with love in velvet
maybe one day

I thought I was your Poet Laureate
for you were my ambition
and that summer was the best of times
without a contract of conditions

Maybe I wrote this song for you
or perhaps it wrote itself
you've gone so I place it gently out of reach
up on a shelf

I thought I was your Poet Laureate
for you were my ambition
and that summer was the best of times
without a contract of conditions


SOMEBODY ELSE WAS DRIVING
Somebody else was driving
somebody else's hands were on the wheel
somebody knew the road
they'd been that way before
somebody else was driving me along

This is the way it is
there's no way I can change it
I've never been a fighter
there's no way to rearrange it

When I look back on me
I've always needed a guide
I've written a lot of songs
'cause I need a place to hide

Somebody else was driving
somebody else's hands were on the wheel
somebody knew the road
they'd been that way before
somebody else was driving me along

Sometimes it's not easy to smile
when you're down to your last hope
but there's always a lover on your mind
and a kiss is all you need to cope

Somebody else was driving
somebody else's hands were on the wheel
somebody knew the road
they'd been that way before
somebody else was driving me along


LISTEN FOR THE THUNDER
There's a drunk and his wine
singing old time tunes
to the sound of the cats in the yard
there's a soldier and his gun
waiting side by side
for the morning and the change of the guard

There's a woman and her prayer
waiting for an answer
and the strength to face the day
there's a man and his tears 
for someone past
and he can't find the words to say

Listen for the thunder
be ready for the rain
listen for the lightning's crack
listen for the thunder
be ready for the rain 
and don't look back
There's a clock and it's tick
and day by day
you wonder where the time has gone
there's a road and a bend
and a chance to take
and the choice to go on alone

There's a day and a dream
and the morning sun
a gift from the Lord above
There's a heart and a song
and a peaceful thought
As I think of the one I love 

Listen for the thunder
be ready for the rain
listen for the lightning's crack
listen for the thunder
be ready for the rain 
and don't look back


LIKE A CAT
I feel like a cat with one life left
almost wasted nine
wasted all this time

Running from towns
running through doors
trying to run from all I knew before

I feel like a loser with no love left
running out of friend
burning out both ends

Tearing down walls
tearing down dreams
nothing ever stays the way it seems

Drumbeat silhouettes look down from the ceiling
I picture you in my head and try to feel the feeling
it's almost twelve o'clock and this road could take us home
but as I turn to you in a dream, I go to sleep alone
I feel like a spider without a web,
lost without a home
make it on my own

I feel like a cat with one life left
almost wasted nine
wasted all this time


SHE PLAYED MUSIC
Blank pages and empty lines
make up my life
or so it seems
wasted dreams
come to me in the night

Broken pens and unfinished rhymes
seem to stay with me
and looking around
I hear your sound
coming through the night

She played music when she touched me and she held me and she owned me 
and she kissed me
and I think I told her once or twice she was everything

Sad songs and yesterdays
are in my mind
the longer I stare
you are standing there
lighting up the night

She played music when she looked at me and she talked to me and she smiled at me 
and she kissed me 
and I think I told her once or twice that I loved her

She played music with her fingers and her lips and her eyes
and then the music died


HARRY'S SONG (FOR HARRY CHAPIN) 
You took me to some places
and not once did I say no
from the deck of a sinking ship
to some local radio
you took me higher than an eagle
and you never let me down
you taught me simple lessons
of a world a-spinning round

It's so sad that Harry's gone but I can bring him back
with an electronic needle on a hundred album tracks
it's so sad to lose a singer before the final song
now the angels buy his music
it's so sad that Harry's gone

You made my dreams a little sweeter
and my smile a little wide
you made me laugh a little louder
and cry deep down inside
you took me by the hand
and you told your stories well
when the wheel stopped turning
there was still much more to tell 

It's so sad that Harry's gone but I can bring him back
with an electronic needle on a hundred album tracks
it's so sad to lose a singer before the final song
now the angels buy his music
it's so sad that Harry's gone


THE LAST COUNTRY SONG (FOR PFC)
The last country song 
that I'll ever remember
being sung from the heart to the crowd
was the last time I saw him
on the blue side of lonesome
singing from his heart to the crowd

I can't remember if the rain was falling
on that cold, cold December day
I know I couldn't cry
just sat and wondered why
it happened as the day was dawning

The last country song 
that I'll ever remember
being sung from the heart to the crowd
was the last time I saw him
on the blue side of lonesome
singing from his heart to the crowd

And somewhere he is looking down on me
listening to me playing to the wind
aiming all my thoughts at the sky
to kiss the clouds and love his memory

The last country song 
that I'll ever remember
being sung from the heart to the crowd
was the last time I saw him
on the blue side of lonesome
singing from his heart to the crowd



SONG FOR RITA
Songs of you come easy, from love’s lament to lullaby
Songs of you come easy, we said farewell but not goodbye

Your memory preserved forever,
Showing you in silhouette,
You gave us all we’d ever need,
You gave us nothing to regret
So many moments looking back,
Crystal clear inside our minds,
A decent soul, a loving heart,
Heaven’s child, one of a kind.

Songs of you come easy, from love’s lament to lullaby
Songs of you come easy, we said farewell but not goodbye

No one said life would be easy
You were dealt a heavy hand
Left to raise your sons and daughters
We were too young to understand
You kept us safe, you were our haven,
You found the will, you found the way,
You taught us right, you taught us wrong,
You loved us each and every day

Songs of you come easy, from love’s lament to lullaby
Songs of you come easy, we said farewell but not goodbye

In darker days and troubled nights,
After all your faith and prayer
Your three angels held you near,
To comfort. you with loving care
Came the hour, came the moment,
Came the time for life to cease,
In spite of all the tears and sorrow,
Came your time to rest in peace

Songs of you come easy, from love’s lament to lullaby
Songs of you come easy, we said farewell but not goodbye

CLOSED DOWN FOR WINTER
It started out as summer love
warm days and loving nights
picnic fun and country walks
feather kisses and dizzy heights

Riding horses across the fields
wind blowing our cares away
stetson hats to shade the sun
on every one of our summer days

But now it’s over, we’ve drawn the line
summer’s gone and the sun don’t shine
what are the reasons who and how
we’ve closed down for winter now

Once this room was light and air
sunbeam rays played on the chair
we would talk all afternoon
'til we witnessed the evening moon

Now the room is dark and cold
young love is now feeling old
windows locked and shutters down
and I look like the saddest clown

But now it’s over, we’ve drawn the line
summer’s gone and the sun don’t shine
what are the reasons who and how
we’ve closed down for winter now


CROSSROADS
Do we go north together
or south together
or east together
or west together
is this the end of our loving days
do we go north together
or south together
or east together
or west together

Doesn't time fly
can't believe it's been so long
we used to be good
can't believe it's gone so wrong
a love gone bad
we just grew up fast
different directions
it could never last

What is there to do
do we run and hide
let's meet at the crossroads and decide

Do we go north together
or south together
or east together
or west together
is this the end of our loving days
do we go north together
or south together
or east together
or west together

Is it too late now
we're standing on the ledge
just one more step
could push us over the edge
where is the hope
in this tunnel of doom
we both need space
need to find a little room

What is there to do
do we run and hide
let's meet at the crossroads and decide

Do we go north together
or south together
or east together
or west together
is this the end of our loving days
do we go north together
or south together
or east together
or west together