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Thursday, 31 December 2015

THANKS & HAPPY NEW YEAR



Thank you to everyone who popped in to see what I was blethering about on this blog and for helping me to break through 90,000 views in under 5 years.

I have my own writing projects for 2016 and, hopefully, the odd commission along the way.

I am grateful to the people who expressed an interest in my work, for the kind comments and the little nudges of encouragement. It all matters and is all appreciated

I wish everyone a very happy New Year and hope that someone takes the world by the lapels and shakes some common sense into it.
Image result for happy New Year clip art

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

10 NEW YEAR RESOLUTIONS


Ten resolutions standing in a line,
One couldn't be bothered and then there were nine.

Nine resolutions keen and feeling great,
One got the early jitters and then there were eight.

Eight resolutions, part of the New Year's fun,
Reduced themselves to seven when they sacked a cheeky one.

Seven resolutions posing for publicity pics,
One refused to smile on cue and then there were six.

Six resolutions pledged themselves to strive,
One went all glib and told a fib and then there were five.

Five resolutions more determined than before,
One took early retirement and then there were four.

Four resolutions said what will be will be,
One got a better offer and then there were three.

Three resolutions said what will we three do,
One felt nervous in a trio and then there were two.

Two resolutions left to get their mission done,
One decided to go solo and then there was one.

One resolution said this whole thing's quite absurd,
All our good intentions gone and it's only Jan the third.

Sunday, 27 December 2015

CHRISTMAS PRESENT VANISHES

Have you seen my magic set,
Can’t find it anywhere?
I’ve searched under the table,
I’ve looked behind the chair.
I’ve rummaged in all the cupboards,
I’ve been in every room,
No sign, no trace, no clue,
I’m sinking into gloom.

I’m lying on the sofa,
I feel a growing tear,
I mean - how can a magic set
Just simply disappear?


Wednesday, 23 December 2015

DECEMBER

Let me just say this. Christmas. I have always known it as Christmas and I like that. It means warmth and friendship and peace and happiness and family.....and memories. Happy memories.

If some people want to call Christmas something else, good luck to them.......as long as their chosen name for the day and the season represents peace, love and happiness. Don't darken my door with sarcasm, boohoo platitudes or threats.

I was raised as a Catholic and I have no shame or regret in that upbringing. My mother was (is) the greatest woman I have ever known, for reasons that can be found in blog posts and published articles in recent times. She had faith to comfort her and I always had faith in her. Still do.

My lovely sister has a birthday in December. My big brother died in a road accident in December. My mother passed away in December. But Christmas is in December and should be cherished for all its happy and sad moments.

If I drink a few more glasses of wine, eat a few more snacks, nibble more chocolate, watch more sentimental TV than I normally do, overdose on sweet music, then that's my business.

At a point in the Christmas/New Year days, I will be amongst some of the people I love and cherish, not least my two remarkable, exceptional sons. When I grow up, I want to be just like them.

I know how I got here. I know what I am. I know what I should be concerned about and wary of. I know this world has dark shadows but also some blinding flashes of brilliant, hopeful light.

I have contacts out there in social media who tip their hats or give little nods to some of my meandering thoughts and a few, precious people who give me nudges of genuine encouragement in my efforts as a qwerty slave.

I wish each and everyone a very happy Christmas (Whizzlepuff Day, if you prefer) and a New Year that sparkles with the zing of optimism.

The bastards hijack the headlines but the heros and heroines and the everyday-get-on-with-it people outweigh them by several tons.

Onward good, honest, decent, trustworthy folks. You are the future.

Have some joy!


Tuesday, 22 December 2015

THE NOT EVERYONE LIKES CHRISTMAS POEM


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 the happiest Whatever Day.


Monday, 21 December 2015

CHRISTMAS SHOPS ARE BUZZING

How much is that wasp in the window?
Not the one not making a sound,
Not the one crawling round on the floor,
Yes, THAT one buzzing around.

I’ve always wanted a wasp
As an alternative household pet
But up ‘til now I’ve not seen the one
That I’ve really wanted to get.

How much is that wasp in the window?
I’ve got the money to pay,
Hey, quick close the door, oh no,
Too late he’s getting away.

Now I’m sad the wasp in the window
Has gone, I’m suffering from shock
But I’ll pop back tomorrow morning
When you’ve got some new wasps in stock.


Saturday, 19 December 2015

CRUSH FEARS IN OXFORD STREET

I published this in December 2012 after I had read that, because of thousands of shoppers, there were "crush fears" in Oxford Street. As we head into Christmas shopping frenzy, I thought I'd revive it.


CRUSH FEARS IN OXFORD STREET

I look down towards Selfridges
from as far away as Bond Street
and I see you window shopping,
coping with the ebb and flow,
the pull and push,
and I develop a crush.

The police, much maligned,
line up to guide me through,
they close the street to avoid accidents,
restrict walkers and drivers,
to completely clear an avenue
allowing me to get to you.

I'm there, intimidated by stares,
but the cops hold the line,
and I look at you in romantic awe,
I offer to carry your bags,
I invite you for coffee and mints
and you turn to your husband and wince.

Friday, 18 December 2015

BOOK REVIEW - UNFINISHED PEACE BY BRIAN ROWAN

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Unfinished Peace
Thoughts on Northern Ireland’s Unanswered Past
by Brian Rowan
2015 Colourpoint £9.99

Link to Colourpoint site: http://www.colourpointbooks.co.uk/more_details.php?id=1878 to read more and, of course, to buy.


Unfinished Peace

“There is no one truth, narrative or answer. There never will be, and this is something that needs to be understood and accepted by us all.”

Brian Rowan lets us know from the outset that his excellent book does not conclude with a miraculous resolution to Northern Ireland’s troubled past and unsettled present. So, what’s the point of the book if it is not a prescription to cure the pain? Why do I call it excellent if it does not give us the magic answer?

Well, the book encapsulates the complexities, contradictions and confusions of Northern Ireland’s recent past (the book’s core span is from 1993 to the present) in a way that I don’t think anyone has attempted before. Here we read about the famous and the infamous people, the ordinary and the extraordinary, those who feel able to forgive and those who can never forget. We encounter the people who justify atrocities for their own agendas and those who will never understand why anyone can trigger a bomb and fire a gun to kill, maim and destroy for any reason. We read about those people who want a line drawn under the past and a guarantee of absolution and those who want to see justice done regardless of the passing years.

But through it all, there are stories of unusual things happening, not least one encounter that would have been thought impossible after the bombing by the IRA in 1993 of a fishmonger’s shop on the Shankill Road. Alan McBride’s wife was killed in the explosion.  Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams carried the coffin at the bomber’s funeral. Yet the two men met some years later, shook hands and had a long conversation, attracting congratulations and criticism along the way. Although this particular example happened in 2009, it is not out of the question to assume that in the early 1990s similar, perhaps, lower key meetings, handshakes, reconciliations, etc happened and can be considered as small steps that eventually led to the 1994 IRA ceasefire and the beginnings of a path to peace. It was a time to consider trusting people and organizations that had been involved in or close to violence and also a time of political confusion, seemingly endless talks about talks and debates over wording and terminology.  It was a time to forge ahead or to dig in heels. Either way, it was a long road ahead and it still is.

An IRA ceasefire followed by a loyalist ceasefire did not stop the killing.  But, in tandem with reprisals and scaremongering, there were more than a few efforts to start conversations out in the open and in secret. These were still dangerous, sensitive and unpredictable days. The book carries on with an impressive methodical analysis bolstered by individual memories and perspectives on how the police behaved, what prisoners thought, whether or not weapons decommissioning would actually happen, whether paramilitary high commanders could guarantee compliance in their lower ranks and how to deal with the dreadful mystery of “the disappeared’. There is also the continuing challenge of how to define the word “victim”.

The thorny issue of drawing a line under the past and creating a mechanism to allow participants in “the struggle” to give an honest account of events continues to this day. Anyone brave enough to speak the truth is liable, under current legislation, to arrest, prosecution and imprisonment. If there is no freedom to speak, the past will continue to occupy its own fog.  This is the major stumbling block in the hope of ever finding out the whole truth. Of course, as time marches on, a number of the key figures in the war, conflict, struggle or whatever you want to call it, are dead, buried along with their stories, leaving huge gaps in the complex historical jigsaw.

Any meaningful peace from a peace process should include peace of mind as far as that is humanly possible. Oh how easy it is to type such words. Changing hearts and minds, now that’s a long, tough haul. “The past is still with us and still waiting for some process, some creative thinking and some courage; some leadership and some new way,” writes Brian Rowan.

“Unfinished Peace” is a monumental work that has pulled together many stories and many perspectives from politicians, police, academics, religious leaders, counsellors, journalists, relatives as well as ‘policy’ statements from that alphabet soup concoction IRA, UDA, UFF, UVF et al.

It is a brave book because it tries to dig deep into the lives, history and emotions of many people involved in and affected by the horrors of the past. It is a book to be studied, a book to learn from and a book, hopefully, to help creative thinking to get Northern Ireland closer to the peace it wants and deserves. There is no future in the past but the next generations have opportunities to de-clutter, out with the old and in with the new as we say at this time of year. Unfinished peace can still be finished. If we give up on that ambition, what’s the point? Brian Rowan has done a great deal here to encourage everyone to face facts and keep bouncing back off the ropes.

Footnote:

Brian Rowan’s daughter Elle took most of the photographs in the book. They are outstanding.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

THREE CHRISTMAS PO-PO-POEMS

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

SAGE AND ONIONS

A wise old sage
Who knew his onions,
Had ideas daft and sublime,
Why once he made a coat
From herbs –
An utter waste of thyme.


HO-HO-HOSIERY

The fireman’s Christmas cracker jokes
Were no longer a surprise or shocking
For every year, the same old gag,
A ladder in his stocking.


SAME OLD, SAME OLD

The children of the skinflint
Were never deluded
‘Coz every Christmas
They got batteries,
Toys not included.


Saturday, 12 December 2015

'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


The Fatter, Jollier Only Yules & Verses

The original Only Yules & Verses was published in 2013. This edition contains the previous material plus new text. When the first book was published in 2013, an unsolicited comment appeared on Amazon. I call stuff like this little nudges of encouragement. Of course, for every flattering nudge, there are several pokes in the eye waiting in the wings. Here’s the comment from a man called Joe Koot: “Only Yules and Verses is one of those special little books that you happen upon serendipitously. I have read authors' blurbs before extolling the mirth to be found in THEIR book only to buy the book and be severely disappointed. What an unexpected joy, therefore, to pick up this little gem and read it to the end with smiles, a few laughs out loud and some headshakes at the ingenuity of Joe Cushnan. I thoroughly enjoyed this and wholeheartedly recommend it to everyone. P.S. I am not a friend or family member of the author, but how I wish I were!”
ISBN: 9781786101853
Total Pages: 132
Published: 6 October 2015


Friday, 11 December 2015

THE LITTLE DRUMMER BOY (REVISITED)

The little drummer boy


Who featured in a song
From 1958
Has had to move along.

He was handy with the drum,
Even handier with the sticks,
But all that drumming took its toll,
So he’s retired at sixty-six.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

WHEN THE CHRISTMAS RADIO TIMES WAS SPECIAL.....

The Christmas issue of the Radio Times is out alongside other similar publications and newspaper supplements telling us what to expect from television over the festive season. I single out the Radio Times, not for any particular promotional intentions but for sentimental reasons because the RT at this time of the year reminds me that at one time in my life, my younger days, Christmas was magical, special, exciting and even thrilling, and a large part of the emotional high was browsing the menu of TV programmes. Buying the Christmas Radio Times was essential when I was growing up and I used to turn the pages slowly, salivating over the shows and films to come.

Now when I buy the Christmas issue, and I still do, there is no thrill and little magic because, I reckon, I am sick and tired of the same old conveyor belt of celebrities who dominate chat shows, panel games, reality gigs, quizzes and shallow documentaries throughout the year. Light entertainment TV shovels the usual suspects down the tube and into our living rooms relentlessly. If we have a mind to, and I don't, we can even watch them strut their stuff and do their thing through our gadgets. People complain about the oft-repeated Great Escape but from Camp Celebrity there is no escape whatsoever, especially at this time of the year.

What has happened to this once excitable child? Well, I've grown up and any young innocence I had has been eroded by cynicism, some weariness, a large dose of apathy and creeping boredom when it comes to TV. I spent a long time in business management, a world full of cliches and claptrap, slogans and soundbites and one phrase always baffled me - less is more. Now, I think I understand. When it comes to television and a lot of other things in life, there is too much stuff going on, too much to watch, read, listen to, absorb and digest. In an age of two channels and then four, there seemed to be more choice and quality, if nostalgia is not distorting my memory. Now, with hundreds of channels and outlets, there seems to be fewer reasons to bother with celebrity specials, repeats and much of TV generally.

At Christmas and throughout the year, I'm a DVD box set kinda guy and I give thanks to whoever invented the remote control, especially that lovely touch, the off button.

But I do miss turning the pages of the bumper Radio Times slowly and feeling the magic. When I was a kid, come the end of December, the well-thumbed magazine would be in tatters. Nowadays, it is almost as pristine as when I bought it.


Tuesday, 8 December 2015

CHRISTMAS CRIB OUTSIDE ST TERESA'S CHURCH

Every year, when I was a kid, St Teresa's Church, Glen Road, Belfast assembled a Nativity scene, using some pretty basic materials. As a youngster, it was pure joy and magic to use our imaginations. As an adult, our cynicism got in the way.......

CHRISTMAS CRIB OUTSIDE ST TERESA'S CHURCH

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.