Monday, 19 July 2010

Well, I've been considering the concept of space recently. Not the 'final frontier' type, you understand, but that area we put aside for ourselves, whether that be a garden, a room or a public space where we can find that special inspiration, contemplation or relaxation. Recently we were on holiday in West Wales and came across St Non, on the coastal path near to the city of St David's. This has special significance in the Celtic- Christian world, and is now dominated by a 'retreat', a safe place where, assuming you are in the 'gang' as it were, you can go and commune with your god. The area has a fence around it and a sign telling casual visitors such as me to keep off the terrace - politely reminding the would be intruder that that space is for residents only. After that, I became aware of just how restricted we all are, signs everywhere read 'Keep Out', ' Trespassers Will Be Prosecuted' 'Permit Holders Only' . I was even politely told off by a well meaning old gentleman for walking my dog on the outside of a local cricket field. The dog was even more restricted than me, as she was wearing a lead. We all need a sense of freedom, a sense of safety in our own space, where we can do our thing, whether it be writing, reading, creating music or just being. Sadly, the more we are restricted by imposed barriers the less we connect with the world around us making us aliens in our own world. I'd considered creating a space for writing at home, in a spare room, so that I can concentrate. But, to be honest, I see that as self imposed barrier, no different, perhaps worse, than those that are all around us. So, no special space for me - wherever I am, that's my workstation. Now, where's that big bag for notebooks, guitar, laptop.............

Monday, 21 June 2010

Well, here I am again with another reflective, referential rant.
I'm starting to collect quite a bit of writing 'stuff ', you know, notebooks, pens, leaflets advertising this and that. I decided last friday I needed a bag for it all, somewhere to keep it all neat and tidy. Previously, I used an attache case, a nice leather one I've had for years but somehow that just isn't 'me' anymore. I can't get my flask in it, and it makes me look 'official'.
Ah, ah, I thought, 'I have a computer shoulder bag in the car, that'll do nicely.' When I got the bag out, I noticed that it was full of work 'stuff ', stuff that well, to be honest, I just do not need anymore, old folders and documents that are out of date. I don't even keep my computer in it and never have. 'I know' says I to myself, 'I need a box to put all that in, then I can use the bag for my scribbling paraphernalia'. (The attache case can be used for something else).
Low and behold, in the car, next to where the bag once sat, was a box. The box was full of more work related tat, which, just like the contents of the bag, was largely redundant.
As I started to go through the stuff in the box and the bag, I got to thinking how reluctant I am to get rid of old things that have no particular use. Yes, I recycle and yes I give stuff to charity, but it seems as though the rest, I keep; in boxes and bags. A quick look around the house proved me right. I have tons of the stuff. And I have loads of boxes and loads of bags, ' a place for everything and everything in it's place' , except that most of it is rubbish and outdated.
On saturday, at my writing group, I won a small bag in the raffle, which stereotypically could be thought of as a young girls toilet bag, as it was pink and came with a mirror, which was also pink. Several comments were made, including the suggestion that I use as it as a pen case.
It got me thinking. I wonder just how many of my attitudes and ideas are outdated. Does my view of who I am and what I do and believe need a spring clean? Am I setting self imposed hurdles to my progress in the form of piles of acquired attitudinal junk? Am I using my boxes and bags for the right reasons? Indeed, do I need them at all?
It's time to start thinking outside the box. In the future, that will be my bag. Sod the cliches.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Well, it's been a while!!
I've been really busy with this thing called 'life', and I've not had much time for blogging.
I have a colleague off long term sick, both cars have been off the road and I've had some really unusual clients to work with. Then of course there was the election!! We all plough a furrow, and it's really easy to get stuck in that rut (metaphor salad, anyone?) so that we can't see the wood for the trees. The last meeting of Wrekin Writers was the turning point, and this past few days have been the first opportunity I've had recently to stop and reflect and think about my relevance in the world.
It's that reflection that's been really interesting. I've re-considered my politics, what I do my job for, what I like to write about and in what style, and what I consider truly valuable in life, in a general sense. One of the cars has needed an MOT, and I feel as though I've had one myself!
So, rather than just do more, I'm going to reflect more in future too. It's amazing how being a bit of a pudding on an a la carte menu can stop you in your tracks!

Saturday, 27 March 2010


Well, it's been a month or so since I last posted anything. It's not that I can't be bothered you understand, but because I've been really busy. Molly the spangle has been with us for about two months now and she is doing really well. She is however extremely tiring! Two good walks a day is doing us all the world of good. I've also been trying to structure a couple of short stories, trying to put a band together, chopping wood - tons of the stuff- pawing over plans for the house extension...... the list goes on. Anyhow, we had friends to stay last weekend, the first time they'd been to our new Shropshire home. It got me thinking about parochialism, xenophobia, nationalism and all those other 'isms' that are exclusive attitudes that to some extent we all possess by degrees. All communities, whether they be racial, geographical or organisational have rules of membership, sometimes unwritten, sometimes proscribed, sometimes blindingly obvious; it's what binds them together and prevents invasion by unwanted 'others'. We took our friends to a local village pub where we usually enjoy a warm welcome. No change there for Jane and me. There was however, a faintly stifled comment overheard at the bar -'they all look the same'. You see, our friends are Hong Kong Chinese in ethnic origin. They are also second generation born and bred Brits, with University educations, and excellent jobs which add value to society. Not surprisingly, our friends, thoroughly nice and decent human beings rose so far above it, it was to them invisible. It was more of an embarrassment for us as their hosts.
This childish and unenlightened comment by one person is of course not representative of the wider community view. However, the broadly held and expressed opinion that soon to be built affordable houses in the locale are a bad thing does come closer to demonstrating parochial paranoia.
Some of the reasons expressed are well founded. Others, such as 'we'll have to start locking our doors', and the implication that the new residents will in some way be not the right 'sort' of people are particularly distasteful. But for me the most amazing is the widely held belief amongst locals that their dog mess is in some way cleaner than that of visitors dogs. I have not yet seen a local clean up after their dog, and there is plenty of ground evidence to prove they don't, yet when the farmer recently had aborted calves attributed directly to dog faeces, well, it must of course be from the dogs of people visiting. God help us if these people move in, bring their dogs and are different because they all look the same. God help us if we have we have to confront our fears, prejudices and delusions. God help us if we have to realise that we are all 'others' to someone.
I enclose a pic of Molly because she is black, female and of doubtful parentage. Her breath and faeces stink and she is at times willfull. Amazingly, despite these attributes most people who meet her think she is quite cute and like to make fuss of her. Go figure.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Well, I've decided to post my poem Irreplaceable Son so that those who are interested can see what the fuss was about.

Irreplaceable Son

I found myself that day-
In a sea of beige and sand
I was marching out of step to The Regimental Band
I found myself that day-
Within sight and sound of war
As a mothers' irreplaceable son cried; 'What are we fighting for?'
Each time we form The Hollow Square
A thousand heads will bow in prayer
The silence breaks
A bugle calls
Each time a son so irreplaceable falls.

I found myself that day-
In a sea of sand and beige
As a mothers' irreplaceable son signed in blood across The Page
I found myself that day-
In the Quiet Mass of pain
As a thousand irreplaceable sons steel themselves to fight again.
Once more we'll form The Hollow Square
A thousand heads will bow in prayer
The silence breaks
A bugle calls
Once more a son so irreplaceable falls.

I found myself today-
In this mean unpleasant land
Still marching out of step to The Regimental Band
I found myself today-
In a hot slow burning rage
As another irreplaceable son signed in blood across The Page.

Dean King 2009

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Well, we've had Molly now for two weeks and she's come into season! At least we know she's not pregnant!!
This of course is the issue with rescue dogs- you know very little of their history. We've discovered that she's not keen on young spaniels. Perhaps her father was a spaniel and took advantage of her mother on a one night stand and now Molly has 'issues'.
She's doing really well with her separation anxiety and now rarely cries when we leave her at night. The cats are another problem altogether. They can stealthily avoid the pooch so I think the socialisation process might take some time. We have an unusual and unexpected assistant with this however. One of our near neighbours has a cat which regularly visits our house to steal our cats' food. We learned recently that this cute looking grey moggy ate something agriculturally toxic some time ago which has rendered it intellectually compromised and partially deaf and blind. It still has all it's basic instincts but it's a bit slow and seems to forget that there is a dog about. She blunders into Molly's vicinity and so inadvertently helps with the feline socialisation programme which our own cats avoid. Molly therefore has her very own Training Cat, which is what we now call it.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Well, Molly has been with us for a week now and boy, have our lives changed! She has been absolutely fabulous, and apart from a few minor issues no problem at all. Our female cat has got the measure of her, but the tom is behaving like a wuss. (A wusspuss, if you will). I've no idea how animals of different species communicate with each other, but they do and sort of work it out.
Molly was found in Walsall and so Shropshire is a bit daunting for her. She clearly has never seen horses cows or sheep before but to give her her due after a few days she now largely ignores them, though an owl the other night spooked both of us.
As we have been walking out with her, it's amazing how many people stop and chat. I know I've done the same and I've been wondering if we humans sometimes need an excuse to approach others and talk, and I suppose a dog is as good an excuse as any.
Today we've had a dog trainer in for a one- to- one lesson so that we don't get into bad habits right at the start. Diane was very good, and has taught us alot about how dogs understand commands and rewards. Gaining an understanding of what we can offer to a relationship is the first step towards understanding what we want from it. We cannot expect others to read our minds or them to read ours, especially if we talk different languages. This language barrier could exist for any reason - species, gender, generation, belief system,orientation or any number of others. It is my belief that effective communication between sentient beings depends on a willingness on both parts to try to understand something of the unique language of the other. But perhaps the most important aspect is an initial investment of trust. With this in the bank we can earn rewards in spades. When we lose it or fail to invest trust sufficiently, our relationships, whether with dogs or humans can struggle to thrive. With dogs as with humans we reap what we sow, and, unlike vegetables, the harvest is available everyday.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Well, what a week!! A week in which I've been reflecting on what it is to be a neighbour.
We've decided to call the spangle 'Molly'. My apologies to anyone out there called, or related to a Molly, but the name really suits her. At the Shrewsbury Folk Festival last year we met some Molly Dancers called 'Black Dyke Molly'. They were very friendly camping neighbours who dressed in black with flashes of white, which is exactly how the spangle's coat looks. So there we are, she's called Molly.
At the weekend my next door neighbour and I built a run for her. Our garden is insecure due to upcoming building work, so she now has a safe, 70 square metre area big enough for a horse!
It was a pleasure to work with my neighbour. He is a multi talented man who has a tool and an idea for everything. Without his help, I'm not sure I could have built it so quickly and robustly, if at all. When he came round for sunday dinner, it put me in mind of how communities used to be - neighbours helping neighbours and accepting nothing more as payment than a place at table and the fellowship that comes from that. We regularly hear on the news the phrase 'close knit communities'. I've doubted for some time if, with the rise of television, commuting, cheap supermarket alcohol and dwindling church attendances, such things exist outside of soap operas. I think if I have a new year resolution, it has to be to pay more attention to the needs of my neighbours.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Well, it's amazing how your life can change in a matter of moments. On tuesday we found a beautiful little dog at the rescue centre which just has to come and enrich our lives. She's a 'spaniel', but with lots of mongrel I reckon, so is I guess she's a SPANGLE. She's a livewire, so god only knows what's going to happen.
I've finally tendered my resignation from the army and I feel a huge weight has gone from my shoulders, metaphorically and really!! I cannot be part of an organisation which restricts freedom of speech, while at the same time existing as the instrument of a government that seeks to protect our freedoms worldwide. It is a paradox born out of, and nurtured by a delusion as to what freedom is. We live in a culture which is one of the most observed, surveilled, restricted and legislated in the world.A culture which is seeking to make everyone 'middle' class, with a university education from what used to be a polytechnic, creating 'middle' England. All so beautifully stable, controlled, so that those that place themselves above us can maintain their status, whether they be politicians, bankers or whatever, and we, satisfied with our middleness will not rock the boat, in case we lose what we have.
On tuesday, I saw freedom. She is black, with a white chest and a big bounce. She has floppy ears and has no idea who her parents are. Her free exuberance is irresistibly attractive. But, for her to live with us in harmony we are all going to have to bend a little to make it work. Surely, true freedom exists when all of us work together for mutual advantage, not when one party seeks to dominate the other.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Well, it's a beautiful morning here on the outskirts of Bridgnorth. We are very fortunate, Jane and I to live here.
I've been reflecting, as I do, on all the troubles of the world and reckon that me being prevented from reading my poem on the BBC is small beer in relation to the freedoms now being compromised for the people of Haiti, especially as I can look out on such a peaceful setting. Freedom is something many of us take for granted here in the so called first world countries- we all have 'rights', and complain if we don't get them. Roads gritted, bins emptied etc, not to mention clean drinking water, free education and health care. Haiti shows how a random, natural event can devastate an already impoverished nation. The bad weather of the past few weeks here in Britain shows how a random, natural event can piss off an already over precious, spoilt nation.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Hi There everyone, and welcome to my blog!! Who knows where this will lead but I hope it provokes and stimulates free thought.
I hope to hear from you soon.