NURSING by Fay Marie Morris

Fay’s response to the June Trigger ‘nurse’

NURSING

Nursing! Nursing is one of my worst nightmares, so I decided to start this piece by stating what a rubbish nurse I am. I simply hate needy, ill people and have very little sympathy, mainly because when I’m ill, sympathy is the last thing I want. What I do want is seclusion and normality. Normal normality not abnormal, cliched, pretentious normality and I don’t like the usual trite, rubbishy, well-rehearsed, overly compassionate stuff that some people love to trot out. I am not unfeeling, in fact I feel things quite strongly and I know how hard it is to say something original when you are facing someone in pain. Pain is a massive leveler with the ability to turn even the bravest, most tenacious person into a babbling, physical wreck although some people seem to get off on being ill, they can ramp it up, turn it off or back on, almost at will…but seriously, I don’t have time for illness.

I remember when my son Danny was about 10 and he’d had to write about what it was like when he was ill and these were his very words. “I try not to be ill because It’s better to be well at our house. My mum’s horrible when you’re ill, even my dad says so. All she says is get your shoulders back and stop whinging.”

I was at a parent/teacher evening when his form teacher felt she had to show me his essay. I should have been horrified, tried to defend my actions or at least have a go at dignifying myself…but I didn’t. Instead I told her that I agreed with every word and as far as I was concerned illness is a state of mind, for wimps only.

I have never been any good at pandering to or pampering and I simply hate feeling pressurised into indulging someone through their insecurities. My French sister in law with her permanently silver lined, soft edged, mushy romanticism says I’m hard and that’s fine by me because I know I am. The thought of me trying to be a tender-hearted, nurturing, caring soul makes me want to throw up…but… I can be if I want to be, although I admit it isn’t pretty.

Anyway, after I’d had my brush with the big C, I felt I needed to give something back and decided that a spot of volunteer work might just do the trick, so I checked some of my options.
1/ collecting money for charity… so not me.
2/ Helping the elderly or housebound with housework or gardening, but I hate cleaning and reckon people who like it spoil it for those of us who don’t.
3/ Hospital visitor or serving in the shop or tea trolley or news trolley or driving people to hospital appointments but hospitals leave me cold so they were all out.
4/ Looking after or walking pet dogs for the elderly…A massive, colossal NO!
My husband, who had been driving people to Royal Perth Hospital for a couple of years told me how desperate Swan Caring were for volunteers to help in the daycare centre, so, I went, just for a look and two days later found myself knocking on the locked doors of the Dementia/Alzheimer wing, where I was welcomed like some kind of Samaritan or saviour, when I knew I was neither.

With wide eyes and hunched shoulders I listened to all Bridget, the care co-coordinator said, but the health and safety stuff made it really heavy going and I wasn’t sure if it was for me. Veronica, the care-centre manager, could see how I felt and told me not to worry as I was there to aid the staff, chat and help with the clients and nothing more. So, for a while I would lay the lunch tables then clear them, load the dishwasher, then unload it, be a Bingo caller and a general dogsbody every Tuesday and sometimes Thursdays too. I quickly learnt the daily routine and the clients all seemed comfortable with me around. [They were always referred to as clients, never patients.]

I wrote an awful lot of poetry at this time, probably my most productive period and one day I told Veronica about it and she said maybe I could read one to the clients. I said I didn’t think they’d understand what I was on about, most people don’t, but maybe, after lunch, during their quiet afternoon time, as they sat snoozing in their chairs, it might be OK. It was something I could do to help, but in my own way and…it would allow me to give my creative juices a bit of an air.

One of my favourite clients was Daisy. Daisy was born in London and her Cockney accent was unmistakable even though she had lived in Australia all of her adult life. But, as her Alzheimers grew steadily worse, her accent seemed to get stronger and she became withdrawn and morose. She was a teenager during the blitz and sometimes it was like she was reliving every second of the horror she had lived through, especially when the International flights from nearby Perth airport were taking off. She’d rush outside and freak out, screaming to her mother that the planes were coming over again but she wasn’t going down the air raid shelter.

One of the best ways to calm things down before the other clients became too upset, was to try and take their minds off whatever troubled them and I clearly remember the day Veronica asked if they would like Fay to read one of her poems.

They immediately sat down and waited, eager for me to start, which threw me slightly as I wasn’t sure which one to actually do. I decided on my earliest poem and while I was reciting it, Daisy went quiet, listened intently and started to smile. When I had finished she asked if I would read it again because she really liked the bit about soft cool spring days and could remember when the woods were full of bluebells and cowslips. Veronica said it was OK because by now all the others were fast asleep.

PIONEER WOMEN WROTE.

Whenever I feel low, my thoughts seem to stray
back, several decades, to a flawless spring day.
Where bluebells sway gently, a carpet of blue
and pale yellow cowslips all dripping with dew.

But that was before I made a new home
in this country of contrasts where kangaroos roam.
So why am I often beset with the fears
of loss and homesickness which bring on the tears?

For I love Australia, and all her moods
from the withering droughts to the ‘wet’ when it floods
and wide open spaces that choke up my throat
with emotion and longing.

Pioneer women wrote-

of hardship and toil in the heat and the dust.
Of living on hope and existing on trust.
So, how did they manage to get through each day
while longing for England’s soft cool spring days?

That was my very first public poetry recital and I must say I enjoyed it enormously. It became a regular afternoon session, requested by the clients themselves. I think it was my voice droning on that lulled them to sleep, although they clearly looked forward to it, because straight after lunch they eagerly placed their chairs in a semi-circle around mine. Luckily, by then I had plenty of poems in my portfolio and although I am still under no illusions about my nursing prowess, I was valued by the staff and clients at Swan Caring because I enjoyed putting people to sleep… but in a nice way.

So, is that snoring I can hear…?

Light by Michael Keeble

Light

You watched the news and what you found
Was devastation all around
And all one hears now is the sound
Of pain and anguish on the ground
And bombs in flight

In Africa severe drought
And camels corpses lie about
And folks so starved they cannot shout
What’s in their heart “Please get me out
Beyond this Blight”

In makeshift craft they cross the seas
Cramming boats like podded peas
The traffickers ignore the pleas
Of babes and mothers as the breeze
Picks up their fright

And so we watch and can’t conceive
Of horrors such as we perceive
On TV news.  Are we naïve
To hope that they can yet receive,
From darkness light

‘Dirty deeds done good’, by Kevin Murphy

‘Dirty deeds done good’, by Kevin Murphy

Jack choked on his mead as he heard a commotion in the outer office. He swept the nucklebones off the table and indicated the mead flagon to Harold, and the goblets to Ned. They slipped their playthings out of view as Jack sat back into his ample leather chair.

There was a scream from outside. The door banged open and three roundheads rattled in. The captain stood up to the desk.

The guardsmen blocked a swift exit with stamped feet and crossed lances. Not that anyone had legs to run with.

Jack’s nonchalant grin greeted the glare. He sucked his teeth.

‘Smells like a whorehouse in here,’ snapped the captain.

Jack sniffed. ‘I wouldn’t know.’

‘Sir!’

Jack looked around.

The captain, slapped a handbill on the table. ‘Is this your handiwork?’ he said.

Jack struggled up from his slouch and peered at the object which appeared to be causing some offence. ‘No sir.’

‘No sir! No sir?’

‘Prin’ers ’andiwork, sir. Nice ain’t it?’

The captain narrowed his eyes and took a noisy breath through flared nostrils.

‘Ow,  I gets ye, sir,’ said Jack, ‘ye sort a means is the rats my ’andiwork, but er…you gid me that job … so ye kinda threw me at first.’

‘Stand up when I speak to you!’

Jack wriggled in his boots. His voice changed. ‘I am sir.’

The Captain looked back at his smirking men. He stroked his chin and said, ‘of course, just the man for the job. Ferreting the vermin out.’  He turned and jutted his chin into Jack’s face. ‘But you haven’t, have you?’

‘Well your boys pretty well cleaned up round ’ere. Not left me a lot to go at.’

‘When did you last see your Master?’

‘Now, that’s another question I knows you knows the answer to, sir,’ said Jack drawing his left cheek off his teeth. ‘It were you dragged him and the Missis out, what, free month ago?’

The Captains eyes were now a squinting slit. Through gritted teeth he hissed. His looked to his gloved fists as he clenched them and banged them down on the desk. ‘He was sprung, you insolent slob. You know he was sprung!’

Jack stood back a little, almost falling into the chair, then up onto his tiptoes. His face blanched. He cleared his throat. ‘Do I?’

‘Do I? Do I?’

Jack wasn’t trying to be facetious. Try offended, Jack. ‘Well I don’t know sir. Who…?’

The captain looked at Jack’s two henchmen one at each side of the ‘desk’ … table. They didn’t look like they could hench much. ‘Stand up!’ he bawled, ‘both of you. Get over there with your master.’ He stood back between his two men and three faced three.

The Captain drew his gauntlet across his mouth looking steadily into each man’s eyes in turn, before addressing the sentries.

‘Like looking into the eyes of fish in a barrel – long dead. Smell like them too, I’ll be bound.’

Nobody laughed.

‘Are you trying to tell me that we let you keep your room in the manor house, and the Squire has not been back to…?’

‘Very kind of you, it were. Nice it is too … having it to ourselves…’

Our selves? Our?’

Jack shuddered. ‘Well yeah. Not these two, like. Missis an’ me sir. Me and Missis. Dint expect me to live there and her back in the cottage?’

‘But I did expect you to do something for the privilege, Horner! This is a damned Royalist hotspot. Veritable nest of Papist vipers.’ He stabbed the handbill. ‘What’s that say?’ He said pointing to ‘RATS, LICE, VERMIN’.

Jack looked at the captain. ‘Dirty deeds done good, sir.’

The Captain double checked and glanced at a sentry, who smirked out of the window.

‘It – says – rats, lice and vermin…’

‘That too sir, yeah.’

‘Dirty deeds, not done…!’ he growled. ‘Not done, are they?

‘Run off our feet ain’t we boys?’ He elbowed Harold to stop scratching his arse. ‘Printer done a great job and everyone callin’ on us to … look at that,’ he said shoving his rat-bitten hand under the Captain’s nose.

The officer slapped it away. ‘For us who are paying handsomely.’

‘We got some good leads, for you, ain’t we boys?’

They were all nodding like donkeys.

‘Just need to get a … well don’t want to send you in after any wild gooses. That’s our job. But, we will get you some sitting ducks ..’ He looked to his men ‘…this time next week. How’s that?’

The Captain took off his gauntlets.

Jack wondered if that meant either business, him in the rat trap, or the soldiers were going to get comfy. He glanced hopefully at a full flagon on the shelf behind the door.

‘That Manor house you are living in: you do know it could be yours?’

Jack thought it already was. That was the deal. He had given them seven houses – well the deeds he had found in the pie – and Lord Frederick had agreed terms. Keeping one was only fair. Did the Captain know? Did he care? He wheedled, ‘His Lordship … enjoyed the pie I took him?’ He waggled his head. ‘Not got indigestion, now I hope – Lord Frederick, I mean.’

That seemed to hit the spot. The Captain stood back, looked at his gloves and put one back on. He raised an ungloved finger very close to Jack’s nose.

Jack looked disdainfully at it, as it slowly retreated.

‘A week, Horner! Seven days. Same day next week – that’s Thursday, but morning, not late afternoon. You had the wits to look into that pie, and to bring it to his Lordship. You might not be able to read the word ‘deeds’, but you know what a Deed is.’ He stopped to ensure a reasonable tone, before continuing. He tapped the lose gauntlet on the table. ‘His Lordship appreciated you bringing him those other six…’ he looked all round and coughed ‘… but if it had been me, I would have you for spoiling the pie in the first place…’

‘What and take the pie where it was sent, eh? To one his nibs Royalist cronies, Eh? Eh? I ask you? That what Lord Fred…’

‘Calm down man. Of course not. Let’s be reasonable.’ He coughed. ‘Lord Frederick, is a fair a reasonable man and well … we don’t want that good nature being taken advantage of now, do we?’

Jack was beginning to relax.

‘You and me, Jack?’ He let the stress sink in. ‘That Manor is yours. Yes. The deeds from the … pie … are for keeps. His Lordship did indeed … if you’ll excuse the joke … enjoy the pie. He drew himself up to his full height and raised his voice, just a little, ‘but he is busy about the Parliament’s business, and you must be also.’

‘I realise what you are saying Captain, I need to deliver some of my Master’s friends, if I am to … enjoy my slice of the pie … and live in peace. Yessir.’

The Captain leaned in. ‘You pulled out a real plum, there Jack, and don’t we know it? But there is a reason why his Lordship let you keep it. Have some nice juice for me next Thursday, else I’ll leave with you just the stone. He indicated the door to the sentries and they turned out.

Jack’s mouth hung open.

The captain’s round-head helmet flashed sunlight from the street as he turned in the doorway and shouted ‘That’s a good boy.’

Jack clapped his hands, ‘Gives me the pip, that bastard’, but he cackled and pointed to the new flagon.

‘Yes indeed lads, what a good boy am I.’

THE CALL by Angela O’Connor

THE CALL by Angela O’Connor

She spat down the phone, vile words of attack;

Meant to harm

Meant to humiliate

Meant to help her

 

Holding the phone like a white hot coal

No sentence formed

Simple or complex

 

My ears accepted their host’s brutal yet beautiful deceit

I placed it in its cradle, ceasing the explosion of betrayal.

 

Shaken with cruel reality, I slumped into an old chair

Outside rain hit the panes, tinkling on the glass-

Sounding my resurrection

Respect by Michael Keeble

Here’s Michael’s response to the trigger ‘respect’.
Respect by Michael Keeble

I woke up in a doorway at some time in the morning.  I had no idea what time it was as I seemed to have lost my watch together with my wallet.  I also seemed to have sustained some injuries to my ribs and I had a big lump on my head, and the headache from Hell.  I felt like shit.

I unwound my body from the doorway and tenderly stretched my limbs, checking for injuries.  My ribs hurt and my joints were stiff.  My hands were bruised and cut across the knuckles and I found that I couldn’t close my left hand.  I sat up and my head swam and my vision blurred.  Someone was beating a tattoo inside my head.  I leaned against the door and closed my eyes.  

I hate it when I get these blackouts.  

The drumbeats subsided a bit and I opened my eyes.  I wasn’t sure where I was.  It seemed like a small backstreet with old Victorian industrial units.  I gingerly pushed myself upright and tried to stand.  I wobbled a bit and my ribs and head screamed at me.  Eventually I managed to stand more or less upright and leaned against the wall.  A woman walking along the road crossed over to the other side and hurried past with an anxious glance backwards at me.  I took a look at myself and saw that my suit was torn and covered in filth.  I had lost my shoes somewhere.  

It was time for me to get myself out of this backstreet and home and into the shower and then think about getting myself off to hospital.  The tune she had been singing suddenly came into my head.
“R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me”
I started to walk out towards the main road to see if I could get my bearings.  As I rounded a corner I paused to look at my reflection in a shop window.  As well as my generally dishevelled look, my hair was matted and one side of my face was covered with what could only have been blood.  No wonder that woman crossed the road to avoid me.  I looked around and realised that I was only about a 30 minute walk from my home.  I tried to hail a cab, thinking I could pay when I got home but it was as if I was invisible.  Penniless and looking like a tramp I started for home.

I couldn’t get the tune out of my head.  I remembered now, she’d been singing it at me when I came in from the pub last night.  I don’t remember anything much after that except that I must have gone back out to the pub because I now remembered getting into a bit of a fight and being thrown out.  After that it’s all a blank.  Maybe that’s when I got all my injuries.  I hate it when I get these blackouts.

Shuffling along in stockinged feet it took a lot longer than 30 minutes for me to get back.  As I approached through the quiet suburbs where I lived with my wife, for once I was relieved that the neighbourhood was so quiet.  No one walked anywhere, so I staggered onwards without meeting anyone.  My wife would have gone to work by now so I wouldn’t have to explain anything to her.  I just needed to get home, call into work sick, get into the shower, lie down to rest and think about whether I needed to go to hospital.  I rounded the last corner and was met with the sight of a policeman standing by police tape stretched from one side of the road to the other.  The street seemed to be filled with police vehicles of all sorts, policemen and others in overalls, all wandering about.  The policeman behind the tape approached me.

“There’s nothing here for you mate.  I think you should get on your way.”

“But I live here” I said, then by way of explanation “I got mugged last night”

“I see sir.  Can you tell me which number you live at?”

“Number 23.”

The policeman paused for a second, then asked if I had any identification.  I explained that I had lost my wallet in the mugging and that had all my ID in it.  He seemed to come to a decision and lifted the tape.

“Would you come with me please sir?”

I ducked under the tape and with the policeman’s hand on my upper arm, allowed him to guide me to the nearest police car.  He spoke to the policeman in the driving seat and then opened the back door for me.

“Could you wait here for me please sir.  I’ll be back shortly”

He wandered off and I tried to find out what was going on from the driver, but he was totally uncommunicative.  A few minutes later the policeman returned with another man in plain clothes who opened the door to the car again and asked me if I could get out and talk to him.  He introduced himself as Detective Inspector Carpenter showed me some ID, and then explained that there had been an incident at number 23 that they were investigating.

“What sort of incident?” I asked “Is my wife all right?”

“A woman has been found dead in the house sir”

“Oh my God.  Is it my wife?”

“We don’t know sir.  We only have your word for it that you live at number 23.  We’d like you to come down to the police station with us to answer some questions”

This was asked in the sort of way that made it far more of a demand than a request, particularly as at the same time he opened the car door, and taking my arm guided me into the back seat while a uniformed colleague entered by the other side.

And just for fun – here’s that song.

CHRISTMAS DAY by Michael Healy

CHRISTMAS DAY                                                                                   

C the Carols we sing in celebration,

H the Holly to help our decorations.

R for the Reindeer who pull Santa’s sleigh

I is Ivy to go with the Holly, we say

S the sweet Sauce we pour over our pud

T the green fir Tree where our presents are stood

M for the Marzipan wrapped round our cake

A in our bed the night before, ah that is Awake!

S as we Sing on Christmas Eve.

D for the Day that we all should be pleased

A for All those in need of our help.

And so to Y, Yuletide,

                        the old name for Christmas.

And a Merry Christmas to you all.         

By Michael Healy  

FIRE By David R Graham

David’s response to the trigger from the elements

FIRE By David R Graham

‘A match is lit by striking it against the side of a matchbox. The reddish material coating the side of the box is made of red phosphorus, a stable form of the highly volatile white phosphorus, made infamous during the Vietnam war. It is mixed with abrasives such as tiny fragments of glass to create heat through friction.

When you strike a match the red phosphorus is converted to white phosphorus for a fraction of a second, just enough to cause a spark of heat by reacting with oxygen in the surrounding air.

This heat then ignites the first chemical on our journey – potassium chlorate. This is an oxidising agent, fuelling the spark into flame using oxygen stored in its molecular structure.

While this produces the distinctive flame when a match is struck, it will quickly burn out if it can’t ignite the next step in the reaction. Antimony trisulfide – the same stuff that gives gold-coloured fireworks their colour – is ignited by the potassium chlorate and continues to burn steadily. The antimony is responsible for keeping the match head lit long enough for the underlying wood to catch fire.

The distinctive smell of a safety match is also thanks to the antimony, which when oxidised, forms sulphur oxides. The match is now lit and ready to go to work. Paraffin wax coating the match ensures that the flame travels down the match in a controlled fashion.’

Katelyn watch in awe. Like the rest of her classmates gathered round Mr Ellis’s workbench, she barely understood a word he had said. But she was fascinated by the fire he had produced at the tip of the long stick when he had scraped it down the side of the big yellow box, and she was mesmerised by the colours that danced and flicker round the black head of the match he held up between the finger and thumb of his right hand. It was the first time she had seen a naked flame. The sight of it sent a flush of excitement coursing through her young body that left her almost gasping for breath. She had never seen anything so perfectly beautiful. 

When the class was dismissed, and Mr. Ellis was cleaning the whiteboard, Katelyn moved round the workbench, opened the drawer, took out the big matchbox, closed the drawer, and walked slowly out of the room.