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Monday, 18 March 2019

Villages


Villages

Rolling through the broken landscape, the old road cracked at the edges,
surface cratered with potholes, hard-used and neglected
our progress precarious

A village –
the people curious and suspicious, houses broken and shell-holed
tarpaulins, ropes on the roofs, rusted, corrugated sheets bound into walls
pungent smoke from crumbling chimneys, old carpets draped in doorways
hunger in their eyes

The track twisting and turning, churning mud under tyres
the engine labouring, my arm aching from shifting the gears
my back breaking from the rolling and pitching
but moving forward

Another village –
no people, or perhaps hidden from view
echoes in the emptiness, smells of scattered straw
dirt and dung piled in the streets, the burnt black ribs of a house
deserted amid the rubble

Straighter again before plunging downhill through a gulley, arched by trees,
darkness for a few moments, flickering light dappling the windscreen
emerging at the foot of a valley
the car rolling and rattling

And another village –
tents here but no buildings, the women washing clothes in the river
their faces gritted with effort, bodies shivering with cold from the water
regard us with envy and disdain, their menfolk nowhere to be seen
danger in the darkness

Right foot down quickly, thankfully, left behind
in the fumes of our escape, diesel exhaust and dust
headed for the distant lights of town
blockades, barricades, checkpoints, the only things remaining
between ourselves and sanctuary

Copyright Andy Fawthrop 2019

Sunday, 17 March 2019

Drivel From Devizes - Dateline Sunday 17th March 2019


Drivel From Devizes: Dateline – Sunday 17th March 2019

Here is our weekly round-up of events from D-Town:

1.      Transport difficulties for D-Town citizens are expected this week, after the entire fleet of double-decker buses on the 49 route were restricted to their home garages, following a spate (two) of crashes involving these vehicles.  It has already been established, following initial enquiries into the minor mishap on the A342 on Thursday that, under certain special circumstances, these buses may suddenly accelerate beyond their designed limit of 27mph.  Drivers have reported finding that they were suddenly going faster than they had intended, merely by touching the accelerator pedal.  A fleet of replacement single-deckers has been organised for the coming week, and the bus company has assured the travelling public that their drivers would continue to find several other means of behaving like utter bastards.

2.      Self-confessed football fan and local idiot Ben Dover was fined nearly £10 banned from attending any football matches for three days after pleading guilty to common assault on Monday at D-Town Magistrates Court.  He was accused of running on to the pitch in the middle of D-Town’s crunch local derby match with Trowvegas Town in a bottom-of-the-table clash in the Germolene League Division 7 (South), and clipping his own son (who was playing in the match) round the ear and verbally abusing the youngster.  He apologised and said that it had been “a moment of madness” when the boy had missed a critical tackle in the 34th minute.  D-Town went on to lose the match 1-0, falling to a controversial 94th-minute penalty.  After the court hearing, the guilty man commented that “we were lucky to score nil”.

Copyright Andy Fawthrop 2019


Saturday, 16 March 2019

If Only...


If Only…

If only… he’d got out of bed in the mornings
And gone for a run in the sunshine
Just a few miles to get the heart beating
And the muscles more finely toned
If only… he’d never started smoking
And forsaken the twenty a day
Given his lungs a break from the poison
And avoided the tobacco and tar
If only… he’d not developed a taste for the beer
Not drunk so many pints in a night
Missed out on the intake of alcohol
Ah, yes, if only he’d looked after himself better
He might have led a healthier life

If only… he had taken his chances
When they had presented themselves
Had taken the risk by gambling
Double or quits on the turn of a card
If only… he had backed the horses that won
The ones that romped home by a mile
Or piled in another few coins
To the machine that was due to pay out
If only… he’d remembered to buy a ticket
And pick out his usual numbers
That week they came up in the lottery
A double roll-over jackpot
Ah, yes, if only he’d speculated
He might have been so much wealthier

If only… he’d been brave enough
To speak his mind when he saw her
To ask her to walk out with him
And to be the special one in his life
If only… he’d been sure enough
To value her above all of the others
To want to spend the rest of his life with her
And given her the whole of his heart
If only… he’d asked her to marry him
And set up a home life together
To have and to hold from that day forward
Ah, yes, if only he’d asked her
He might have been much luckier in love

If only… he’d seized life by the scruff of the neck
If only… he’d squeezed out the juice of the fruit
If only… he’d tried that little bit harder
Things might have been so much different for him
He might have been healthier,
Wealthier and loved by the world
He might have felt a sense of fulfilment
That he’d drained life to the dregs
That he’d truly lived
Ah, yes, if only…

Copyright Andy Fawthrop 2019

Friday, 15 March 2019

Split


Split

the sudden chasming of the Earth
the falling away of land, the breaking ground
from its sharp, precipitous edge
a vertiginous rim
looking down into the stomach-churning void
to the deepest valley bottom
far, far below the vantage point
almost beyond the power of the naked eye
is still the greatest shock
and a glory indescribable

a level, monotonous landscape
fools to deceive, carries no warning
conceals within its folds a feature
the volume of a mountain range of rock
a massive hole of empty space
an accident of geology in its prehistoric making
a crack, a gash, a split, a weather-riven wedge
canyon crack in the planet’s crust
trench of impossible scale
seduces the senses with its shimmering blues and greys
a shifting drift of haze making mist of distance
belying its terrible depth
down, down into the abyss

Copyright Andy Fawthrop 2019

Thursday, 14 March 2019

Chocolate, Orange & Hazelnut Biscotti


Recipe for: BISCOTTI - Chocolate, Orange & Hazelnut Biscotti

Ingredients:

·        50g ground almonds
·        20g cocoa
·        180g plain flours
·        ½ tsp baking soda
·        2 eggs
·        100g sugar
·        1 orange
·        50g toasted hazelnuts
·        50g chocolate chips

Method:

1.      Heat the oven to 180C/ 170C fan
2.      In one bowl mix together the ground almonds, cocoa, flour & baking soda
3.      In a second large bowl whisk together the eggs & sugar
4.      Tip the flour mixture into the eggs & sugar & mix together
5.      Grate in the zest of the orange, then all of its juice
6.      Add the toasted hazelnuts and chocolate chips
7.      Mix everything together well
8.      Line a large baking sheet with baking parchment
9.      Using wet hands knead the mixture, then shape into a long, thin loaf
10.   Place onto the parchment & bake for 30 minutes
11.   Take the “loaf” out of the oven & very carefully slice into thin pieces
12.   Lay the pieces flat on the parchment & bake at 130C for 15 minutes
13.   Remove from oven & allow to cool

What else you need to know:


1.      The slices should have dried out and be hard & crispy
2.      Eat with coffee or tea, or with a glass of chilled white wine

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Red Shoes


Red Shoes

It’s a strange kind of wanting
An emptiness you could call it
But there is a hankering I have
A longing, a long-held desire
To complete my wardrobe
And fulfil a need I’ve had since youth
But had not the means
And when I knew no better

I must have a pair of red shoes
To peer out shyly from my denims
And show the world that I still have some style
And that I am still alive

But they cannot be bright or brazen
The wrong shade, not Royal Mail red
But dark as ox-blood, deep as bleeding
Soft, gentle tongues
Lurking beneath eyelets
With laces pulled through
And carefully tied with double bows
Hard soles and calf-leather uppers
To embrace my aging feet
And carry me through
Until I need footwear no longer

 Copyright Andy Fawthrop 2019

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Weather Warning!


Weather Warning!

I used to fall asleep to the weather forecast,
Barely noticed what they had to say,
Just slightly interested in one thing -
What would be the conditions for next day?

On the BBC it was just information,
There was really no need to get frantic,
About average temperatures,
The fronts coming in from the Atlantic.

But now things seem to have changed quite a lot,
The language has turned rather urgent,
The Met Office is sexing things up,
And talking about a “weather event”.

Rain has become “precipitation”,
Gales have suddenly become “cyclones”:
It’s all about “threat levels” and “warnings” -
I can feel annoyance through my bones.

The jet-stream’s gone all over the place,
They’ve ramped it up to a third-tier “yellow”.
It’s all because of global warming
The presenters are ready to bellow.

It sounds like a national emergency,
Extreme freezing due to climate change,
Bulletins filled with hyperbole,
Exaggeration that’s out of the range.

Severe conditions are a “weather bomb”,
Fahrenheit has become centigrade,
The “alert” level rises to “amber”,
Dire predictions are being made.

Panic sets in over a very slight frost,
Melodramas over the isobars,
Alarmist language because of the storms,
The jeopardy in store for the cars.

Hysteria if it drops below zero,
Or if there’s “severe cold weather action” -
We’ll soon be at warning-level “red”,
If things change by just a fraction.

The weather-men seem surprised about this -
It’s time we put them all in the dock.
This is the usual pattern, you know,
Not really a surprise – no shit Sherlock!

We might expect a bit of a cold snap:
Blizzards, snow-drifts, maybe some floods.
It’s on a par with the Pope being catholic,
And bears taking a crap in the woods!

We live in the Northern hemisphere!
This chilliness to us is no stranger,
We’re familiar with these conditions,
And we’re not really in any danger.

It’s good advice to wrap up nice and warm -
We might consider an overcoat,
Perhaps a scarf, or maybe some gloves,
Carry an umbrella would get my vote.

We might have to scrape the car’s windscreen,
Inconveniences in a many a guise,
But I’m sure we’ll work our way through it -
After all, it’s hardly a surprise!

We’re British! Resilient and hardy!
We can cope! We know how to do it!
We’ll use our common sense and survive -
Somehow, yet again, surely we’ll get through it!

Copyright Andy Fawthrop 2019