“It’s a mixed up, muddled up, shook up world”…

Questions, Bognor, London…

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I am not sure I have the answers, but this week’s trip has got me asking questions. Firstly, it was back to Bognor to see my old friend. Life has been cruel to him over the years. He lost both his wife and child in child birth. A skiing accident then robbed him of his mobility. Then a stroke took his remaining sanity.

Yet his eyes remain kind – blank, but kind. He has travelled through his life without malice, followed his god and done the things the right way. Yet he will see out his time in a home, miles from anyone who really knows him – just waiting for the day his god deems he has been punished enough.

Where is the fairness in any of his life story? I acknowledge that life is about balance and for all I know, he could have committed some horrendous crimes along the way – but still, his punishment doesn’t seem to fit any crime. I tell young Ollie that the first rule of life is, life is not fair.

So it shouldn’t surprise me and my friend would be the first one to say that worse things happen to other people – that was always his nature. Not that there is much of it left. We spent 3 days sitting, talking, taking him out. Each time he forgot we had been the day before. The light in his eyes sparks, but it goes out just as fast.

The remainder of the week was back in my spiritual home of London. I know what you are thinking, that’s 3 times this year already and I just never get bored. However, there was a slightly different slant on this trip as I made the decision to reconnect with someone – or at least try.

It’s interesting that we go through life making connections with people. Some stay, some fade, some are lost. Sometimes through a decision made, sometimes simply by not realising. When I look back, I have allowed a few connections to fade.

I regret most of them – not all – and I wonder if I should have done more. But the balance is that it has to be two way right. With the best will in the world, you can’t manage to keep in touch with everyone. Which is where I think I went wrong and another friend is right.

I laughed out loud this weekend reading Oscar Wilde’s “The picture of Dorain Gray” – one of the characters referred to people he meets and some are friends, others acquaintances, others are merely people who pass through his life.

My friend is amazing at putting people she meets into this context. Sadly, I lack the ability and treat most people the same, I take people as I find them and I try to take time to scratch the surface to see if there is a connection – I always hope there is. However, I maybe am guilty of investing time in the wrong people.

That of course leads me wide open to chasing the wrong people in my life. Maybe it’s just because I want to be liked. Maybe I have a desire to be popular. Maybe I should finally and gracefully accept that I am what I am and the people still around me are the ones I should cherish more.

Anyway, I did take a decision to reach out to someone and reconnect – I was fearful, but pleasantly surprised to see I was remembered at least. So the rest of the London trip was surprisingly chilled. A boat on the river the highlight and great weather. Who could ask for more?

I did manage to escape into the darkness of London for two nights. Both very different. One night sat at the foot of Nelsons column at midnight. It is an amazing experience and one I can recommend. Just sat with a coffee watching the traffic buzz around like never ending flies. It seems a bizarre thing, but most therapeutic.

The other night was milling around Soho and the centre of London. It never fails to excite me and there is never a dull moment. From couples almost getting it on in the street, to others having drunken arguments. The sights, the smells, the exotic nature. I could walk for hours just being a voyeur.

So, in closing this ramble, other questions floating around.  At what point do you really begin to take responsibilities for your actions? At what point is the excuse that “It felt right at the time” no longer valid? At what point in your life do you look back and acknowledge that – no matter how good the intention – you have hurt people along the way?

And at what point should you go back and actually try to fix things – or do you let sleeping dogs lie? As I said, I don’t have all the answers – but I do have a good song to close. Walking down Soho reminded me of this song – could only be The Kinks and “Lola”.

Enjoy

“I don’t need a devil to change my mind”…

Ed Harcourt – Leeds

So the next step on my Forty for Forty quest took me into the heart of Leeds. It’s a place where times are changing and changing fast. The streets that I aimlessly wandered as a teenager are still there, but the feel of the city is being transformed.

The heart of the transformation is the new Trinity shopping area – I can’t say shopping centre, because all they have done is enclose and add a roof to the exisiting area, but still, it makes a dramatic difference.

And who would have thought that the venue I would find myself in would be a church. A church that is still very much alive and used, but now also transformed into the most intimate gig venue. Strange to think that I have not really set foot in a church – other than weddings or funerals – in over 30 years.

During the evening sun, the church felt very much that – a church. Rows of seats, the lectern, the prayer books – it would change, but I will touch on that later. I arrived early and had the chance to meet Ed pre- show – as I used one of his songs in the “It is as it is” book, I wanted to get him to sign his page.

Ed – a true gent – said kind things and then proceeded to scribble a poem in the book – most unexpected and most beautiful – this is the type of writing I can only aspire to.

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After the meeting it was food then wander back to take my seat. The setting was a good conversation opener, and it was easy to chat with people before things got underway.

They kicked off with a stunning female singer called Catherine AD – She was easy on the eye as well as the ears, with a set of really beautiful and haunting lyrics – ably assisted by her female companion, Catherine had good stage presence and not afraid to communicate with the audience – something I have noticed support acts struggling with.

Ed came on around 9 via a nice suprise –making the best use of his setting – his first song was belted out using the church organ, before descending upon the piano. Dressed like someone about to be cast in a Gothic thriller, Ed’s fingers danced their way through the first few tunes, with his immaculate voice booming, filling up the church.

He promised to curb his turrets syndrome in respect of his surrounds and bantered tentatively with the crowd at first, but as the night wore on – and the bottles of beer took hold, a more relaxed Ed became evident. I didn’t keep a setlist, I am sure that there will be one online somewhere – but there was a good mixture of stuff, even the Harcourt hardcore fan would have been pleased.

It was as the night crept in though that this gig notched to another eerie level. The darkness of the church was broken by the green lighting effect that Ed was using – it worked so well and really took the audience to another place. As Ed swapped Piano for guitar – using the loop type equipment I have seen Liam Finn use, all of a sudden, it felt we were not in a church at all.

Near the end, Ed even ditched the PA and wandered the aisle like some Gothic minstrel playing such a sweet tune – even the decision of one attendee to go to the toilet at this point to a bemused Ed – couldn’t stop him in his tracks – a born performer if there ever was one.

The show ended with the audience being Ed’s drum beat for his last song – it was all over much too soon! For the cost of a ticket, for the surroundings and for the quality of most of Ed’s songs, it really was value for money and I will see him again if in the area – I really recommend.

To accompany this post, what other song of Ed’s could I choose but the aptly titled “Church of no Religion”.

Enjoy

“Without a scream, in the dead of night”…

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It’s as clear as purest Black…
And as dark as sinful White…
Searching right into the day…
Looking left all through the night…
It’s the only way to find it…
Wherever it may be…
The only way to feel inside…
But never let them see…

It’s where you least expect it…
Where no life on Earth exists…
A memory you can’t explain…
Dark thoughts you must dismiss…
It demands you keep its secret….
A treasure chest of trust…
If it slips right through your fingers…
It’ll disappear like dead man’s dust…

It’s always in the beginning…
Yet the middle means so much more…
But when no one sees it coming…
The ending opens up a door…
It means the Sun is hiding…
When locked away inside…
Yet it’s always shining…
Makes sure all your tears get dried…

Its eyes closed to the vision…
And minds blocked mentally…
Each heart afraid to beat in time…
Whilst falling accidentally…
Its playful spirit is unholy…
Any God would look away…
There will be no intervention…
No matter how much they all pray…

It’s now time just to listen…
And try to communicate…
Hear everything it has to say…
Before it’s much too late…
It’s as clear as purest White…
And as dark as sinful Black…
Just keep searching for the right…
One day you’ll claim it back…

~

“And this loneliness won’t leave me alone”…

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They all turned against me…
My family and my friends…
Treated me like an outcast…
And never made amends…
 
Now it’s much too late…
Life’s passed by too fast…
So I sit here reminiscing…
With another vodka in my glass…
 
They took the moral high ground…
But who were they to judge…
They were no better than me…
Yet held such a bitter grudge…
 
They couldn’t see my viewpoint…
Didn’t take the time to ask why…
Only heard her side of the story…
Never gave me the right to reply…
 
She played the perfect victim…
Claimed rape was my souls intent…
But she gave me the come on…
Partly responsible to some extent…
 
You know that type of girl…
The sexually teasing kind…
They make you think they want it…
But then advances are declined…
 
They laugh in your fucking face…
Make you feel stupid, small and sad…
But this one felt so different…
Said I was driving her crazy, so very mad…
 
So we went back to her place…
It was intense and just insane…
She never tried to stop me…
Or had reason to complain…
 
It was hard and it was rough…
She gave as good as she got…
Yet not Twenty Four hours later…
I was detained by the cops…
 
Innocent till proven guilty…
Do not make me laugh…
No avoiding the sex crime stigma…
Branded within a minute and a half…
 
Then they turned against me…
My family and my so called friends…
The charges were eventually dropped…
But the whispering never ends…
 
My life is almost over…
Filled with sorrow and regret…
She had the softest lips I ever did kiss…
And an Angelic face I’ll never forget…

~

“It is as it is” – For Cancer Research…

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Well…

Not quite sure what to say, but the paperback version of this book of poems is ready to buy earlier than planned! If you click the picture it should take you through to the lulu webpage.

It’s taken a while from concept to delivery, some road humps along the way, but it is not too bad for a first attempt.

All profit from this project will be collated over the next 12 months and donated to Cancer Research.

For your information, the cost to make each book is £4.10, so each purchase will mean a donation of £5.89. I will keep a running total on a fixed page somewhere so you can keep track if you are interested.

A hardback version will follow, but the cost price on that is huge, so I am not sure if there will be much in the way of selling / donations. Time will tell.

When I started this blog, I did it in secret and for the most part, I still do. I wrote and continue to write for therapy under servere pressure, trying to hold my head and my sanity together whilst the world around me fell apart. Watching my Father slip away crowned an amazing 15 month period in my life that couldn’t have been written by the best script writers.

But I am still here, still trying to get through life like we all do – It’s fair to say I have been on the ropes, but not knocked out…

I appreciate that many of you have read my words and have been subjected to my torrid last few months – for that I apologise and thank you in equal measure. Most of you are faceless to me, but you all have a talent in writing and reading others work inspires me to do better and look at my own work through a different lens.

I have had help and encouragement from offline too and they know who they are – so thank you!!

I hope that you are able to donate to this cause, but if not, the poems remain on the site and who knows, a volume 2 may evolve– so thanks again for reading and enjoy.

Cheers

J

“Tales from my head, can’t buy the book”…

Another week flashes past – Not too sure where all my time is going at the moment. Between work and family, my life force just seems to get drained and whereas I used to be adapt at surfing the virtual world till late in the night, I now find myself collapsing well before the witching hour.

I guess that’s not really a bad thing, given I went through a phase of not falling into bed till the early hours and then suffering from a torrid dreamscape that felt like it belonged to someone else. Those dreams appear to have now stopped, replaced by Blackness and the kind of occasional interesting ones.

Another drain on my time is an offshoot of my Forty for Forty project. Initially this was all about the music, but now it has become about the words as well. I feel strange about it all really, but I made a conscious decision a while back for nobody who really knows me to read this blog.

I am honored that you, dear reader, are along for the ride – and the 115 random strangers who have followed me really humbles me beyond words. Yet strange as it sounds, I keep these words divorced from my day to day reality – with the odd exception – so even my closest family are unaware of this side line.

Well, that may change, as I have realised that this blog now contains just about 40 pieces of poetry. Apt given my age, but unintentional none the less. Now, I was thinking about legacies recently and wondering what mine will be. Clearly, young Ollie will be my main one, but I have nothing else that’s tangible.

I hope that my main legacy will be the impact I have had on other people and they will remember me, how they will speak about me. That’s something I can’t control though, so back to the poems. These are very personal, but I think the time is right to collate them as a body of work. Not to be celebrated, not for vanity or ego stroking, though I am sure I could be accused of that on some level.

But rather – and I am embarrassed to admit this – something for me to leave. So I am putting them into a book – nothing flash, self-published on the Lulu website and just 1 copy to start with. I then have the option to sell copies, but would rather figure out a way to get donations for Cancer Research rather than profit. Time will tell and 1 step at a time.

So I have had a crash course in fonts, formats, sanity checks, running orders, introductions and writing things about me and the words I write that push me far outside my comfort zone – oh and a new software that drives my up the wall – all I can say is thank the lord this isn’t a 600 page novel! It could put you off being a writer for life.

Thanks for your patience as another ramble comes to an end – for you this Sunday night, we are back to Mr Finn and the remarkable “Try Whistling This”– who knows, if things go better than expected, perhaps you CAN buy the book one day!

Enjoy

“I know someday you’ll have a beautiful life…”

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There’s a man at the door…
Wants to buy your soul…
Says it’s worth double…
As it’s got a Black hole…

Got a big Black hole…
Deep down inside…
Been getting bigger…
Each time you lied…

Every time you lied…
The man here knew…
Made him smile…
As the Black hole grew…

The Black hole grew bigger…
Swallowed up your heart…
Covered up the truth…
Shot out a poison dart…

That poison dart…
Hit the one you love…
She took flight…
Like an escaping Dove…

That escaping Dove…
Has broken your soul…
All that’s left…
Is a big Black hole…

It’s that Black hole…
That this man wants…
Killing time in the shadows…
As her memory haunts…

And that memory haunts…
Stalks your hurting head…
You made the choices…
Now you wish you were dead…

You wish you were dead…
Because the living is hell…
Now the time has come…
And your ready to sell…

Yes you’re ready to sell…
Detach that big Black hole…
So just close your eyes…
And hand the Devil your soul…

~