AN OCTOGENARIAN’S PANDEMIC by Barrie Purnell

AN OCTOGENARIAN’S PANDEMIC

There’s been some sort of epidemic
So say all-knowing academics,	
A kind of dread Chinese infection
Designed to avoid early detection,
Resulting in oxygen deprivation
For which there was no known protection.
The government and the NHS
Said, what to do we can only guess
But until we can make up our minds
You must avoid contact of any kind,
Wash your hands 10 times a day
Put your going out clothes away,
And for restrictions we’ll atone 
By paying you to stay at home.
Said if lockdown we don’t apply
Half a million would surely die,
But something they didn’t say
Was all of us would have to pay,
All the costs of shutting down
To the tune of 300 billion pound.
I have to think they’ve lost their mind
Paying ½ billion to save a life like mine.

On the news the professor reported
We’d all go mad before it was sorted,
But when I had the time to reflect
Saw on me it would have little effect.
I was allowed to form a bubble
With neighbour who said, it was no trouble
To do a supermarket shop for me
Of fresh food, bread, milk and tea,
And I booked an on-line delivery
Which hitherto had been a mystery.
My hour long visits to numerous clinics
Were now phone calls over in minutes,
And no waiting in a doctors surgery
With ill people sitting next to me,
Covering me in their coughs and sneezes
Spreading their as yet unknown diseases,
And oh what joy when they disclosed
All the dentists would be closed.
No visits from that demanding relation
Requiring clean sheets on each occasion.
My expenditure had been decreased,
From hugging I had been released,
No longer was I considered rude
When I indulged my love of solitude.
I don’t spend weekends in hotels
Or holiday in the Seychelles,
I have nobody to look after
I have no fear of the hereafter.
I thought now I will have the time
To watch programmes on Amazon Prime,
Then there was Netflix and Catch-Up TV
Opportunities spread out endlessly.
The prospect of gardening reared its head
Or I could do DIY instead.
Then there were all those books to read
Which would increase my reading speed,
And when these became less exciting
I could always try to do some writing.

But as months ran into longer time
I missed the freedom once was mine,
I missed the human interaction
Leading to increasing dissatisfaction.
I wondered if this imposed ban
Affected this old solitary man,
Someone long past his prime
Already living on borrowed time,
How much harder would it have been
If I had been just seventeen?
And here I had to face the truth,
We chose to sacrifice our youth,
They lost out on jobs and education,
On teenage fun and socialization.
My few remaining years protected
By youth, who even if they were infected,
Would avoid serious complication
And wouldn’t require hospitalisation,
But who’d be paying back for many years
The billions spent to keep our conscience clear.
So we mortgaged millions of young lives
To try and help the old survive.
Was this right, we don’t know yet
Or something the country will regret?
Maybe result would have been the same
If they’d just locked up the old and lame,
And supplied any help they needed
Until search for vaccine had succeeded.
Having lived through rationing and the blitz.
The old could surely have survived this?

Each year 600000 deaths are seen
From causes other than COVID 19,
For every 1 that from COVID died
Cancer and heart disease killed 5.
Now on the news a man of 99
Is said to have died before his time!!
What’s new is that now each day, 
Presented in graphical display,
Death is there for all of us to see
We’re confronted by our own mortality.
Everyday more of the same
Until we look for someone to blame
For the extra deaths of an aged few,
As if death was something new,
When we have been able to ignore
The millions who have died before.
Only when that eulogy is read
Over the special one we’ve loved who’s dead,
Do we realise death is always with us
Even if it’s something we don’t discuss.
As mortals why do we believe
From death we alone could be reprieved?
Heart attack, cancer or suicide, 
Broken heart or homicide,
Immortality is our minds biggest lie
COVID ………just another way to die. 

Why, God? by Pete Brammer

Why, God?

A refuse collector called Rufus Phipps, returned home to find his wife unconscious on the kitchen floor. An ambulance was duly summoned, and the lady conveyed under siren and flashing blue lights to hospital, a few miles away.

Unfortunately she never made it to Accident and Emergency, passing away en route. The paramedics fought frantically, but without success to restart her heart.

That evening Rufus made himself a mug of coffee laced with whiskey, and retired to their lovely blue and white summerhouse at the bottom of the garden. He and Mavis had loved to spend happy hours together there, playing records and reminiscing, until it either got too dark or too late.

Looking up, he saw a bright twinkling star in the dark sky, with floods of tears streaming down his cheeks, he cried. “God I wish I could speak to you, that is, if you do in fact, exist.”

Image result for starAt that moment a narrow beam of brightly coloured light passed through the clouds to illuminate the summerhouse. A voice called out. “I’m listening Rufus, ask away.”

Unable to believe what was happening, Rufus stammered. “Why did

you make my Mavis so kind hearted, Lord?”

“So you could love the lady with all your heart.”

Rufus stopped crying and nodded. “Why did you make her so

beautiful? She was the prettiest girl in our school.”

“So you would fall in love with her, which you indeed did.” God

replied.

“Why did you make her such a wonderful cook, she could make even a sandwich look fantastic.” he persisted.

“Like I’ve told you, all these things were done so you would love the lady.”

Rufus thought for a moment.”Please don’t think that I am in the least ungrateful or anything Lord, but why did you have to make her so utterly stupid?”

God gave a big sigh. “So she could in return, love you my son.”

 

…000O000…

IRONY by Barrie Purnell

Has Barrie captured the essence of the greatest irony?

IRONY

They say opposites attract
So we should have been alright.
You loved the dark, I loved the light.

You loved rock and roll, I loved jazz,
You loved late night parties, I loved bed,
You loved Poldark, I loved Father Ted.

You loved to read, I loved writing,
You loved the heat, I loved the cold,
You loved the new, I loved the old.

You were vegetarian, I loved steak,
You loved the sun, I loved the snow,
You loved the TV, I loved the radio.

But we were both self-centered,
and loved ourselves,
Much more than anything else.
Ironic isn’t it
that the only thing we had in common
Was the one thing that destroyed us?

Metally by Michael Keeble

Michael’s response to the trigger ‘Irony’

Metally by Michael Keeble

If it’s hard and it goes rusty and it came from out the ground,
And its ore is kind of reddy in the earth from where it’s found,
When you add it to some coally stuff and suddenly it’s steel,
And in metal terms it’s softy but it’s hard to touch and feel,
Then it seems to be most likely or at least it does to me,
Describing it most fully is to call it irony.

Jenna and the Challenge by Michael Healy

A third installment of Michael’s story for all grandchildren everywhere
Jenna and the Challenge
Jenna the elephant was off to town to take the Royal Family
His howdah was fitted with a cover to stop the rain
And the young family members climbed up and sat down.
Clearly the rain was a nuisance to all.
Jenna was unhappy as his normal carer, Majub, was not here
Instead he had sent his son Tariq to take care.
The Head of the Royals was not coming
So they set off down the road to town.
They had not gone far when this big American car forced its way past Jenna
Jenna saw the passenger was the Head of the Royals, but worse:
The driver was Majub!
How could he let Jenna down so.
Off shot the car, spraying Jenna and all on board with mud
Grrrrr, thought Jenna. What did the future hold for him now?
A nice dry and warm car stood there just waiting to go.
No draughty saddle to mount in sun or snow.
Eventually they reached town and Jenna saw the car
Parked just where he would stand to wait the return of his passengers.
Tariq led him in front of the car to wait the return and gave him a bucket of water.
Jenna could not help but look at this fancy car, with all its shiny chrome.
He felt quite tired, with the heavy saddle and the walk he had just done.
He decided he needed to sit down, so he sat down – right on top of this new cars bonnet.
Crunch, crash, smash! Oh dear, what a mess he had made of the shiny new car.
He got up and shuffled forward to look all innocent. But Majub was there.
‘Jenna, what have you done’, said Majub. ‘This will take weeks to repair’
‘Oh good’, thought Jenna. ‘ That will teach them not to use a car’.

The Hat by Pete Brammer

The Hat by Pete Brammer

The cruise ship Ocean Splendour had been at sea seven days and just entered port at Cadiz.
Penny Dixon-Wright and her daughter Carla Elizabeth, disembarked, to make their way into town. On their way back, Mrs Dixon- Wright suddenly grabbed Carla’s arm. “Look at that beautiful hat. It’s the most fantastic hat I have ever seen.”
The ladies entered the establishment to be met by a tall, long legged, black shiny haired, Spanish assistant. “Can I help you?” she asked.
“You certainly can my dear.” Penny pointed to the hat on the manikin, in the window. “I would like that hat, my dear.”
The assistant reached in and removed the hat. “You like it very much? Yes?”
“Yes. Very much.”
Minutes later she skipped out of the shop, box swinging from her hand, with a beaming smile across her face.
“I think you are happy mother, you look as if you’ve lost a penny, and found a thousand pounds.”
“I’ve never paid so much for a hat in all my life, but it sure was worth it.”
“It’s my cousin Jessica’s wedding soon after we get back,” said Carla, “It should be perfect,” she grinned. “There’ll be a few bursting with jealousy mum, you can bet.”
The following day, Mrs Dixon-Wright strutted up and down the numerous decks, like a peacock showing off her new headgear.
Suddenly an unexpected gust of wind whipped the hat off her head.
“Oh God! My beautiful hat!” she screamed, running across the deck, only tosee it fly off into the ocean.
Seconds later, passengers gasped as a crew member hit the water. “Man overboard” the cry went out.
It took what seemed an age, for the ship to eventually turn round and head back in the direction of the unfortunate seaman.
When they eventually rescued him, he was holding aloft the hat, with passengers cheering loudly.
As they hauled him back on board, the captain slapped him on the back. “Woodall, you should not have put your life at risk like that, especially, not for a bloody stupid hat. But after saying that; is there anything I can do for you?”
In reply, the crewman said. “Yes captain, you can tell me who on earth pushed me in!”

TEN ASPIRING WRITERS by Barrie Purnell

TEN ASPIRING WRITERS by Barrie Purnell

Once there were ten aspiring writers

At first everything was fine

One did not understand punctuation,

Notably the apostrophe’s location,     

So then there were nine.

There were now nine aspiring writers

But one failed to differentiate

Their acronyms from their synonyms,

Their allonyms from their pseudonyms,

So then there were eight.

 

There were now eight aspiring writers

Sadly one was taken up to heaven.

Their death by electrocution

Severely limiting their contribution

So then there were seven.

 

There were now seven aspiring writers

But one was given to polemics

Chairman ruled it counterproductive,

Said this criticism wasn’t constructive,

So then there were six.

 

There were now six aspiring writers

But one of them didn’t survive

The pressure of periodic presentation

Which led to the death of inspiration                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

So then there were five.

 

There were now five aspiring writers

But one was shown the door

The pieces they wrote were much too long,

And the sexual content much too strong,

So then there were four.

 

There were now four aspiring writers

One was told their poetry should be free

But, for the purposes of timing,

They insisted it must be rhyming

So then there were three.

 

There were now three aspiring writers

There was him and me and you

They said I used too many clichés, I was cut to the quick,

I could see the writing on the wall, I had to get out quick,

So then there were two.

 

There were now two aspiring writers

They could see nothing could be done.

These writers were quite bereft

They put their pens in their pockets and left

And then there were none.

 

With the writers gone the room was silent

The empty table spoke of shattered dreams

Empty chairs a testament to their conceit,

Their struggles and their ultimate defeat

They’d found writing is not as easy as it seems.

AT THE WHEEL by Pete Brammer

AT THE WHEEL by Pete Brammer

 Anthony Parr drove his car,

But could only turn it right,

He never went round to the left,

And yet he was quite bright.

 

Now he didn’t have a licence,

No insurance cover too,

How he loved this little Mini,

In purple and light blue.

 

In fact he hadn’t passed his test,

So this story must unfold,

He was on a fairground round-a-bout,

And was only six years old.

Coming Home to War by David R Graham

David’s response to the trigger ‘then’:

Coming Home to War

By David R Graham. 26.09.16

‘Callum.’

‘What d—! Who d’feck–!’

‘Easy.’

‘Killian? Is that you, Killian?’

‘Aye.’

‘Jesus Killian! What d’feck are ye doin’ comin’ up on me in d’dark like that? Ye frightened d’feckin’ shite out’a me. Whew. Ye made it back then? Come in’t d’light an’ let me have a look at ye.’

‘No, Callum. I live in the shadows now.’

‘Jesus Christ, Killian. What d’hell have they done t’ye man? Ye have eyes that would frightin’ d’divil himself. Was it bad?’

‘Worse than bad, Callum.’

‘When did ye get back?’

‘I didn’t.’

‘What? What are ye say—?’

‘You haven’t seen me, Callum. I’m not here.’

‘But—’

‘You haven’t seen me.’

‘Right. I’m with ye, Killian. What about Sean, an’ d’Hardy boys? Are they with ye? ’

‘No. They didn’t make it.’

‘Jesus, Killian. All five a them?’

‘Aye.’

‘Thank God Maddy’s not here t’hear that. The news would a killed her deader than Carpenter did.’

‘He made his play, then?’

‘O aye, he did that. Not long after you lads went off. An’ a bloody play it was too.’

‘Tell me.’

‘He killed everyone, Killian. Burned, bombed, an’ shot his way t’d’top a d’shite heap.’

‘You’re alive.’

‘Ye can call me that, Killian. Others might call me walkin’ dead. I escaped death by d’skin a me teeth. I’m worth fifty pounds to whoever takes me in. You found me, Killian. That worries me. How long have I got? He’s sittin’ up there now lordin’ it over d’whole city. No one can touch him, Killian. He has everyone eatin’ out a his slop bowl.’

‘No one is going to find you, Callum. Or me.’

‘What are ye goin’ t’do, Killian? What can d’two a do against Carpenter’s army?’

‘Tell me about his empire, Callum. Every detail.’

‘Empire’s right, Killian. He sits on top of the entire pile. From City Hall down to d’sewers an’ every club, bar, restaurant, casino, cinema, bettin’ shop, an’ barbers in between. You name it, Killian, an’ if Carpenter doesn’t already own it, he soon will. An’ he’s a army a coldblooded villains who are only too happy t’do whatever dirty work is necessary t’keep his slaves coughin’ up their cash. So you tell me, Killian. What can d’two a us do against him?’

‘Others are on their way, Callum.’

‘Who? Where are they comin’ from?’

‘From the battlefields of Europe. I’ve gathered my own army of coldblooded villains, Callum. Carpenter’s army will be no match for them.’

‘Jesus, Killian. Are ye goin’ t’take him on?’

‘No, Callum. I’m not going to take him on. I’m going to destroy him.’

‘Jesus, Killian. What d’ye want me t’do?’

‘I need to know everything about every one of his soldiers, Callum. They fear no one. They’ll all have a daily routine. I want to know those routines. I want to know the details of every building Carpenter owns, every vehicle he owns and uses. I want to know all of his daily movements; where he eats, where he sleeps, where he works, where he plays, where he does business, and where he keeps his money.’

‘I can’t do it, Killian. I’ve a price on me head. I wouldn’t last five minutes.’

‘You’re going to live, Callum. Disguise yourself. Go behind your enemy’s lines, and move freely among them. You’ll not be alone. I will be covering you. Others will not be far away.’

‘When d’ye plan t’make y’ur move, Killian?’

‘You’ll know, Callum.’

‘When, Killian?  When will I know?’

‘When each of Carpenter’s soldiers lies with a spike through his throat, Callum: You will know then.’

AIR’S A FUNNY THING by Barrie Purnell

Barrie’s piece on the ‘Air’ trigger.

AIR’S A FUNNY THING

Air’s a very funny thing

You can’t tell if it’s fat or thin

You cannot grasp it in your hand

It’s very hard to understand

It can be hot it can be cold

You don’t know if it’s young or old

If you’re cold it makes you colder still

A phenomenon they call wind chill

If you’re hot a cool breeze relief will bring

Yes air’s a very funny thing

 

Air’s got no back it’s got no front

You don’t know if it’s sharp or blunt

It’s colourless yet the sky is blue

It’s odourless when it is new

We need to breathe it to survive

It’s oxygen keeps us alive

You need air to speak and laugh and sing

Yes air’s a very funny thing

 

There’s no air at all in outer space

So for us it is a hostile place

There’s very little in the sea

Well not enough for you and me

Air causes parachutes to float

And blows along the sailing boat

It holds the glider up in flight

It’s full of owls and bats at night

I’m an engineer haven’t figured yet

How if air sucks up a jumbo jet

Then why doesn’t it suck up everything

Yes air’s a very funny thing

 

We call it wind when it’s moving

If it’s slow a breeze but it’s confusing

If it’s fast a gale but I can’t explain

Why if it goes round it’s a hurricane

All the air we breathe you’ll understand

Has been used before it’s second hand

Air does not discriminate

You breathe the same air as your mate

The same air as the Queen and King

Yes air’s a very funny thing