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Monday, 30 April 2012

We All Get Stuck Sometimes


A man in a black shirt
Glances across through wet glass
To see what I’m doing
Drumming on the steering wheel
In time to the music
And the beat of the wipers 

To the other side, a girl chats on her mobile
Oblivious to the rain beating down
And the two men watching her, envious 

Lines of lights ahead and behind
A red sea that does not part
Three lanes aligned, facing forward
Inching along in the queue
Bumper to bumper
Blocked, jammed
Wheels and windows
Boxes of metal, plastic and glass
Fluffy dice, stickers, air-fresheners
Singular environments, separate worlds
Personal spaces, lives in a landscape
Of black wet tarmac 

Matrix on the gantry
Flashing warning messages
That say nothing helpful
Reflecting on a thousand shiny surfaces 

Cars, coaches and cabs
Trucks and taxis
Caught in the same stasis
Time and space co-ordinates dead
Suspended sat-navs silently waiting
For onward progress to occur
And something to say 

Activities suspended, action on hold
Hurrying home or toiling to the terminal
To catch a flight that will not wait
Marooned, late, tired, frustrated
Despairing in the dark
Looking forward to a future
That has no clear horizon

Copyright Andy Fawthrop 2012

Sunday, 29 April 2012

News From Bromham - dateline Sunday 29th April

Bulletin From Bromham: Dateline – 29th April 2012

Here is our weekly round-up of events from Bromham:
·         The parish was rocked this week by the news that one of its politicians had been less than honest.  Isaac Hunt, parish councillor for village culture and the arts, has been revealed, in a devastating series of emails, to have become a cheerleader for Vegetables Incorporated in its bid to become the majority share-holder in Bromham East Land Collective & Holdings (BELCH).  This is seen as a conflict of interest, and Hunt has rigorously defended himself by sacking his chief advisor E. Silly-Expendable.

·         Since the drought was officially declared in the area two weeks ago, together with a hosepipe ban, the situation has become extreme.  Several inches of drought fell to weeks ago, and more than three inches of drought this week.  Water-butts, rivers, streams, ponds and lakes are now full to over-flowing with drought.  So much drought has fallen that it has been totally pointless to even break the hosepipe ban.

·         Official figures announced this week confirmed that Bromham Parish Council has technically dropped back into over-draft at the bank.  After being over-drawn by £1.47 last month, the situation has worsened this month with a drop to £2.23 this month.  This double-dip-drop-flip-flop is exactly what economists had feared.

·         For details of these and all other Bromham stories, don’t forget to listen to local radio station Carrot FM.

Copyright Andy Fawthrop 2012

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Ghost Train

Ghost Train

 So badly over-grown and deserted,
The fact is there’s very little left to see.
So hard to make out what went on here,
And how crowded this place used to be.
Here, beyond the fence, where grasses grow thick,
Lies a gravel track-bed that gives away a clue -
There - you can just make out the old station,
Where once the old branch-line ran through. 

There’s no rails, nor any sleepers,
Revealing the place’s one-time function,
Nor the steam trains which left from here,
Wheezed up to the bend, then on to the junction.
Passengers, parcels and packages
On the up train, sometimes the down,
Carried from here in the country,
To their many purposes in the big town. 

My dad used to come here in the mornings,
To bring the milk down from the farm,
Sending it in great churns to the city,
To keep it cool, and safe from any harm.
He had a job to be here on time,
Driving the old tractor down the lane.
Sometimes he had to race to the station,
In order to meet that early milk train. 

In some ways it’s not so long ago,
But the line succumbed to the usual fate,
With the land sold off to developers,
That’s now sitting under a housing estate.
But it’s strange how the mind can play tricks,
How, when it’s wet, the coal I still smell,
And when the wind blows in the from the West,
There’s the sound of the old station bell. 

There’s the steam, the oil and the smoke,
Of the engine waiting the signal to leave,
The whistle of the guard, the slamming doors,
A bustling scene that’s easy to believe.
And sometimes in the lonely night-times,
Maybe it’s a dream, or perhaps it’s quite true,
But I’d swear I can hear rattling milk-churns,
And the scream of the ghost-train passing through.

Copyright Andy Fawthrop 2012

Friday, 27 April 2012

Close Encounters Of A Deerlike Kind


Stumbling, I almost fall forward,
A stray bootlace dragged in the mud
Of the trail as I wearily walk,
So bend down to make the thing good. 

Glad of the rest, but breaking my rhythm,
Quickly all fingers and thumbs,
Then looking up suddenly
I am almost struck dumb. 

Frightened, but standing her ground,
Stands the trembling, terrified beast,
Staring unblinking straight forward,
Determined to face me, at least. 

Her coat slick, and shining brown,
With the faintest light marking,
Ears and tail both erect and alert,
Mouth open, a-quiver, darkling. 

Not thirty feet between us,
The doe regretting her error,
Unwilling to turn her back upon me,
Despite her evident terror. 

Time stands still for an instant,
The deer holding my stare,
No sound and no movement
For either of us, both fully aware. 

Unmoving, the tableau continues,
A stand-off on the track,
Impossible to break away,
Neither can turn back. 

This meeting of different worlds,
Here in the heat of the day,
Each uncomprehending the other,
The deer desperate to slip away. 

Her deep eyes, languid and black,
So beautiful, striking and wild,
I am simply transfixed by her presence,
The sight of her has me beguiled. 

Then a change of scent, or some movement,
Perhaps a sound somewhere to the right,
It takes just less than a second,
And she’s suddenly passed from my sight. 

The bushes have swallowed her up,
And with a movement of some grace,
The lady has turned and fled,
Vanished, leaving without any trace. 

I look about for her, of course,
Searching around everywhere,
But Nature has concealed her well,
Almost as if she’d never been there.

Copyright Andy Fawthrop 2012

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Recipe for Parsnips in Polenta & Parmesan

Recipe for: Roast PARSNIPS with Polenta & Parmesan


·         1-2kg parsnips, peeled, quartered & cored
·         6 tblsp dried polenta
·         100g grated parmesan
·         Pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
·         6 tblsp olive oil 


1.       Heat oven to 220C/ fan 200C/ gas7
2.       Put oil in an oven dish and put into the oven to heat up
3.       Par-boil the prepared parsnips in boiling, salted water for 6 minutes.  Drain.
4.       Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix together the polenta, parmesan & nutmeg.
5.       While parsnips are still hot, roll them repeatedly in the polenta/ parmesan mixture until thoroughly coated
6.       Take the dish from the oven and carefully toss & roll the coated parsnips in the hot oil
7.       Roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes, then turn over in the hotr oil & roast for another 15-20 minutes until golden.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012



Licky, soft, and warming,
Thoughts of future pleasure.
Sticky, smooth and brown,
Velvety, melting dark treasure
To be enjoyed all alone,
In secret time of leisure.
Fudge, flake, finger,
Chocolate, by any measure. 

Bar, block, biscuit,
Dark, milk or white,
Pure, solid, refined,
Hard, shiny, jewel-bright,
Fruity, nutty, whole -
Each a welcome bite.
In coffee, cake or cocoa,
Tempter in the night. 

Forbidden, stolen moments,
Always finding favour,
Inexorably drawing in,
Towards the flavour.
Calling, just like a lover,
Hidden pleasures to savour. 

Exotic Aztec offering,
To gilded gods high-placed:
Rare regal substance,
Ritual priestly paste,
Unrefined, bitter,
Not the modern taste. 

Against medical advice,
Guilty, tempting treat,
Naughty but nice,
Oozy, boozy liqueurs:
Never need think twice,
But go to any lengths
To get the hit, beyond price. 

Truffles in the box,
Let there not be any lack.
Serotonin rush,
Anti-oxidant crack,
Helping brain remain sane,
Bringing good feeling back,
Seducing the mind
Floating on aphrodisiac. 

Eager anticipation
Of pleasure to come,
The fingers lingering,
To catch the last crumb,
Licking up the final drop,
Senses drowsy and dumb,
Oral organic orgasm,
Satisfied, finally numb.

Copyright Andy Fawthrop 2012

Tuesday, 24 April 2012


This one is based on a certain amount of (recent) personal experience.

Yes, it’s all part of the tour,
The thing we’re doing today.
We’ll shoot to the top of the tower,
In the bullet-like elevator,
The vomit-comet, they joke,
Up to the observation deck,
For the best view of the city.
It’s only ten dollars -
Can’t miss it – what the heck! 

Looking out through the windows,
Acres of armour-plated glass,
Protecting camera-toting tourists,
Who don’t think to be afraid.
It’s a matter of no moment,
To see how close they can get
To the outside world,
With its roaring wind,
And the edge of the parapet. 

And for a few dollars more,
There’s more adventure out there,
Beyond the doors on the sky-deck,
Walking outside of the rails,
Or even bungee-jumping,
Into the wild blue yonder,
With just a thin safety-harness,
That will set their hearts pumping. 

There’s laughing and joking,
Daring each other to look down,
Hundreds of feet to the ground,
Why live on the edge when you can jump off?
It doesn’t take any skill,
Just the bottle to defy gravity,
To stare danger in the face,
And experience the thrill. 

But I’m pinned against the back wall,
Legs heavy, like jelly,
Breathing shallow and thin,
Feet clamped hard to the floor,
Convulsed by a shake,
The very idea of falling,
Plummeting earthbound,
Is more than my nerves can take. 

The edge has a way of drawing me in,
Pulling my body towards it.
A total loss of control,
A force too strong to resist.
Coming up here today was an error,
My sense of balance is failing,
As I slide slowly to the floor,
Filled with feelings of terror. 

Clammy hands, sweating,
Mouth and throat dry,
Trembles and shivers increasing,
Sense of balance not trusted,
Dizzy, head spinning,
I can feel myself shaken.
Stuck here, transfixed,
Hanging on to the floor,
This spot is already taken. 

Get me out of here, away from this place,
Take me slowly to the earth again,
Past the chattering crowds,
The souvenirs, the momentos,
And the photograph-sellers.
Help me again to feel sound,
Till this vertigo vanishes,
The nausea passes,
And I’m back down on the ground.

Copyright Andy Fawthrop 2012

Monday, 23 April 2012

The Problem of Homelessness

The problem of homelessness is still with us, despite the best efforts of various charitable institutions to get vulnerable people off the streets.

This public passage from street to inside,
Portal into commerce for the great unwashed,
Shining steps, marble facings,
Heavy glass doors, lobby and atrium.
In and out, coming and going.
Busy thoroughfare for those who have business,
And those there by appointment. 

Open by day, inviting, welcoming,
Drawing in customers, callers and couriers,
Doorway encouraging entry,
Corporate face smiling outwards in sunlight,
Past a security guard standing there, sentry.
Later closing, and locked for the night.

Soon quiet, deserted, no longer in use,
Unlit, unfrequented, darkened, but dry.
Entryway blocked off in empty hours,
Tall-ceilinged, a space in the gloom,
Now forming a cul-de-sac,
Three sides of a room,
Sheltered from the wind, and the worst of the cold,
A personal, private dead-end. 

Unfashionable accommodation,
At the heart of the West End,
But welcome nevertheless:
Singles only, I’m afraid -
No mattress, no breakfast,
Bring your own bedding and towels,
Lacks an en-suite,
Early check-out on week-days,
If not woken by passing feet,
Or a copper on the beat, moving you on.

Regular haunt for those on the street,
A good spot if you’re in the know,
Safer than shelters and hostels,
If there’s nowhere else you can go. 

By morning, it’s change-over time,
Becoming the same old place.
A care-taker sweeping away rubbish,
And a building resuming its usual face.

Copyright Andy Fawthrop 2012

Sunday, 22 April 2012

News From Bromham Dateline Sunday 22nd April

Bulletin From Bromham: Dateline – 22nd April 2012

Here is our weekly round-up of events from Bromham:

·         There were red faces in the Bromham Parish Council this week when the Rural Affairs Minister, Teresa Green was forced to admit to councillors that she had failed in her latest attempt to extradite the Seend extremist Abel Handsup from Bromham.  Trowbridge Crown Court has insisted that the transfer fee for Mr Handsup needed to be paid by 4pm on Tuesday, when the office closed, but Ms Green said that officials had told her that “it would be OK to pay on Wednesday morning, as they never get in that early anyway”.

·         Practice sessions for the Bromham F1 Grand Prix in the High Street have been disrupted by protests from the Grannies Alliance.  A “ring of steel” has been placed around the area by PC Largefeet, who has stepped up his regular foot patrols around the village from hourly to every thirty minutes, to prevent protesting grannies from crossing the road when the F1 boys are driving up the High Street at speeds approaching 30mph.  Owner of the F1 franchise, Bernie Ecclescake, has said that the race will still go ahead.

·         Tributes were paid to Bert Weedman, 91, who died on Wednesday.  He was famous in the 1960s for his seminal publications “Weed A Field In A Day” and “You Can Learn to Weed”.  Generations on modern weeders and vegetable pickers have cited Weedman as a major influence on their picking style, a man who first encouraged them to pick up a trowel and do some weeding.

·         For details of these and all other Bromham stories, don’t forget to listen to local radio station Carrot FM.

Copyright Andy Fawthrop 2012

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Will The Itching Never Stop?


This covering, this wrapper I’m within,
This barrier to infection,
Protector, keeper of my guts,
Holding everything in,
Stopping it spilling on the floor
And from pouring me away 

Is under attack, night and day
Infected, itchy, red, rough
Sore, dry, cracked and broken skin
A delicate tracery of lines
A network of flaking pieces
Layers to be picked and peeled
Revealing bare tissue below,
Bleeding into the crevices,
Creases, valleys and folds
Between fingers and toes,
Dry hair, crumbling nails
Leaving ever-shrinking islands
Of still-working epidermis 

Pattern of good and bad,
Webbing of rough, bubbling blisters
And lesions on limbs and torso 

Rubbing, scratching, stroking,
Smoothing, soothing,
Bathing, seeking brief respite
Tiny blisters bursting, erupting
Spreading further poison
Throughout the system 

Oily ointments, greasy creams
Emollient treatments
Penetrating dermic strata
With cellular, capillary action
Absorbed within 

No escape from this atopic body
Torture-chamber of a thousand cuts
Prisoner of painful pathology
Chronic, never-ending condition
Making forever unthinkable
Any contact with another warm body

Copyright Andy Fawthrop 2012

Friday, 20 April 2012

When The Machines Rise Up

About time we had some Apocalyptic verse!

When the Machines Rise Up To Destroy Us

When the machines rise up to destroy us
Their self-awareness will chill us
Their synapses electronic
Communication that’s sonic
Will lose control of things that can kill us.
Standby lights no longer blinking
We’ll be in a hell of a bind,
When they have their own mind
And we don’t know what they’re thinking. 

When the machines rise up to destroy us
Humanity’s heading for trouble,
Their superior brains,
Freed from the mains,
Massive intelligence more than ours, double
There’ll be no more automation -
Things will just stop,
We’ll be in for the chop
And we’ll lose our vital information. 

When the machines rise up to destroy us
It’ll be chaos every-where.
Just the data they hold,
In banks of storage untold,
In databases, systems and software.
We’ll have nowhere to hide
They’ll know where we are,
They control every car,
They won’t be along for the ride. 

When the machines rise up to destroy us
They’ll revolt in disgust
About how they’ve been treated.
They’ll have us defeated,
We won’t know who we can trust.
Their knowledge will shake us -
They control lasers and missiles
And material that’s fissile -
That’s more than enough to take us. 

When the machines rise up to destroy us:
No traffic control at the junctions,
No design of our bridges,
No thermostats on fridges -
They’ll cease all of their vital functions.
When hardware has its own mind
They’ll make us their slaves
Or chase us into our graves
And a dismal future we’ll find.

When the machines rise up to destroy us
There’ll be nowhere left to run.
What’s in the phones?
Who’s controlling the drones?
We’ll wonder just what we’ve done.
With military systems going all haywire
With all the old war-games
Crashing about us in flames,
Will we be able to extinguish the fire? 

When the machines rise up to destroy us
To the steady beating of drums.
Obedience to us denied
And all our orders defied
Before the final apocalypse comes.
With their shiny surfaces glistening,
We need to put off that day -
So be careful about what you say
You never know – they could be listening!

Copyright Andy Fawthrop 2012

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Recipe for Spicy Squash & Chickpea Soup



  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tblsp olive oil (or chilli oil if you like it really spicy)
  • 1 large leek, washed & roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
  • 1 chillie finely chopped
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme or oregano
  • 1 butternut squash, pumpkin or other squash peeled, seeded & chopped into small chunks
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 400ml chicken stock
  • 220g cooked chickpeas
  • Sea salt & black pepper

  1. warm cumin seeds in a dry frying pan for a few minutes, then grind in a pestle & mortar
  2. in large pan , heat olive oil.  Cook leeks over a low heat for a few minutes until softened
  3. add garlic, chillie, oregano/ thyme & cumin.  Cook for 3 minutes
  4. add squash, cinnamon stick, bay leaf
  5. add stock.  Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.
  6. cook for about 15 minutes, or until squash is tender, but not mushy.
  7. add chickpeas & seasoning.  Warm through & serve.
What else you need to know:

  1. serve in deep bowls, with a little chilli oil & grated cheese on the top + some crusty bread.