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Monday, 31 March 2014

Masterchef - That's Really Enough Now!


I’m all for a successful format,
But the BBC thinks it’s in clover,
If, for its tenth anniversary series,
It doesn’t give Masterchef a make-over.

The temperature’s reduced in the kitchen,
There’s boredom all over the nation:
Junior, celebrity, professional -
We’ve had every possible combination!

John Torode’s a chef, and knows how to cook,
But can we all stand yet one more outing,
For that great pudding Gregg Wallace,
Who doesn’t know when to stop shouting?

Too many contestants’ back-stories,
India Knight’s plodding and steady:
It’s getting like warmed-up leftovers,
A dish we’ve had too often already.

Combination recipes drive me mad,
Invention tests that feature just fish,
And all the fudging, over the judging,
As they deliver their “Signature Dish”.

Poached this, stuffed that, the drizzles and foams,
Smears, juices, crumbs, and the crispiest fat,
The sweetness finally coming through,
And the sharpness of this, cutting through that.

Fondants, creamings and, of course, salads,
De-constructing a favourite dinner,
Creating some fanciful new twist,
In an attempt to knock up a winner.

Then there’s dustings, little plates and purees,
Fondues, concasses and those ganaches,
There’s textures, baby-sick sauces and flavours,
Everyone’s in there, giving it a bash.

But the results can be disappointing,
Like a cheese soufflĂ© that’s failing to rise -
The bizarre lengths these guys can go to,
In pursuit of that Masterchef prize.

It’s all getting to be too technical,
Using blow-torches, vacuums and suction,
And I swear I’ll scream hard at the TV,
If I’ve to look at one more “reduction”!

Good flavour’s a strange and fickle thing,
It’s not enough when you can only see -
Food’s all about how it smells and it tastes,
But you can’t do either when watching TV.

I don’t know what to do, when given a jus,
Too many things graded and marinaded:
I think I’m losing my appetite,
And my palate’s decidedly jaded.

I’ve come to deride whatever’s pan-fried,
My whole stomach has come to feel bloated,
I no longer care for salting, wilting or grating,
Whether it’s steamed, or creamed or roasted.

I can’t take much more slurping and burping,
It’s over-cooked, boring and tough.
My whole attitude to contestants’ food,
Has changed - I’ve just about had enough!

Crispy outside, or melting within,
This tired formula I’m ready to miss.
I think I’ll just have a cheese sandwich -
Cooking’s really no tougher than this.

Copyright Andy Fawthrop 2014

Sunday, 30 March 2014

News From Bromham - Dateline Sunday 30th March 2014

Bulletin From Bromham: Dateline – Sunday 30th March 2014

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

1.       The church-bells at Bromham rang out across the parish as the first same-species weddings took place just after midnight.  Several sheep-to-sheep and chicken-to-chicken nuptials took place, with the world’s press camped out on the doorstep of the church.  Dave Wentwrong, leader of the Parish Council sent a carefully-worded telegram from the deck of his yacht in the Caribbean to congratulate the first few couples, and to wish them well in those activities which, as animals, they particularly like doing.

2.       The Bromham Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) hosted a live debate this week between Dicky Legge, leader of the Workers Horticultural Organisation (WHO) and Wat Farrago, leader of the SELF (Swivel-Eyed Loony Federation).  The subject of the debate was the contentious issue of Bromham’s continued membership of the Wiltshire Alliance.  Supporters of both parties were quick to claim victory, and the debate carried on into the saloon bar of The Wounded Ferret.

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

Copyright Andy Fawthrop 2014

Saturday, 29 March 2014



It’s been a long, hard Winter for sure,
The weather’s done damage that’s easy to see,
There’s potholes down both sides of our road,
And that they need fixing’s obvious to me.

So I phoned up the Council, as you do,
Who said they’d put the job onto their list,
That I was to await for developments,
But it’d be a while, if you’re getting the gist.

The weeks went by, and many a day,
And nothing happened, as you’d expect,
But the holes got much bigger and deeper,
And I was waiting for cars to be wrecked.

There were joltings and bangings and bumpings,
Suspensions damaged without any doubt:
I was worried we’d lose some-one one day,
That we’d never get the poor bugger back out.

Then one day, it seemed there was action of sorts,
When two men turned up in a marked van,
Who inspected the holes from a good distance -
They just sat there, believe this if you can.

They held some sort of a conference,
Whilst sitting there at obvious leisure,
Then reluctantly got out of the van,
And approached the holes with a tape measure.

There was some shaking of heads, if you please,
By The Council’s pothole-repairing guys,
As if they couldn’t quite figure the problem,
Nor grasp the depth of the holes or their size.

They walked away muttering sadly,
Then stood there having a cigarette break,
Looking at all of the pros and the cons,
Undecided what action they should take.

Finally it seemed as if they’d decided,
How they should restore smoothness to the lane,
But it must have been too complicated,
Cos they got in the van, and drove off again.

Obviously the problem was too great,
To be tackled by only these two men -
They’d probably gone for reinforcements,
And would return again who knew when?
The mystery resolved itself next day,
When a task-force invaded the by-way.
We were over-run by men in hard-hats,
Who’d come to restore our rural highway.

A full Risk Assessment was in progress:
With impatience my nerves had started to jangle,
But they wanted yet more measurements,
To view the holes from every possible angle.

After a tea-break they at last started -
It was one of Wiltshire’s terrific sights,
But the barriers made it single-file,
And there were two sets of traffic lights.

There were five vans, and at least twenty men,
Hazard warning lights and lots of tricks,
Then they unloaded from out of their vans,
Shovels and spades and couple of picks.

The poor holes were now fairly surrounded,
The repair problem was starting to crack,
But when they all stood back from the action,
They’d only dropped in a small lump of tarmac.

It wasn’t big enough or of the same size,
There were still several jagged edges.
The road was even more of a switchback,
As it snaked between the country hedges.

Then all further work was suspended,
As they beat a retreat hell for leather.
They said it was more than their jobs’-worth,
To go on working in bad weather.

And that’s how it remains to this day,
It’s weeks since they finally departed,
And now the road’s in much worse condition,
Than before they ever got started!

Copyright Andy Fawthrop

Friday, 28 March 2014

Don't Ask Me

Don’t Ask Me

I’m happy to give of my opinion,
If you want to hear what I think.
That is, when I’m down at the pub,
With my mates, just having a drink.

But at home, it’s a different story,
And one that causes me strife.
For there we have the fount of all knowledge,
And it’s not me, it’s the wife!

For she’s got strong views on every topic:
There’s no subject on which she hasn’t a take.
She’s an expert in every field you can name,
No interest in which she hasn’t a stake.

Tho’ she is my love and my darling,
My dearest, my treasure, my dear,
She’s got a fearsome way of talking,
That inspires a goodly portion of fear.

Across the marmalade at breakfast,
I’m on The Guardian, but she reads the Express.
She chokes on her toast and she fulminates,
And the crumbs she exhales make quite a mess.

You see she’s got a very firm stance,
On any social policy or decision,
Religion, the Royal Family,
And even on female circumcision.

I can’t get a word in edgeways sometimes,
As she dispels any kind of confusion.
She’s got the answer to everything,
And for every problem, a solution.

Professors, doctors and researchers,
Who’ve spent a life-time studying ideas,
Stand for nothing in her onslaught,
As she contradicts them with jeers.

Economics, world hunger and AIDS,
She can hold forth without pause,
So it’s pointless you asking me,
You’d best check with ‘er indoors.

Immigration, emigration, benefit cheats,
Foreign policy, football or cricket,
It’s best to listen, not interrupt,
Or she’ll tell you where you can stick it.

Decoration? Fashion? Or trends?
She’s the one who knows where it’s at.
Northern Ireland? Palestine? Or Syria?
She says what she thinks, and that’s that!

Homophobia, xenophobia,
And prejudice of every kind,
Could be banished within a few minutes,
If she gave you a piece of her mind!

She knows what’s wrong with everything,
She’s clear how things ought to be done,
There’s little she can’t address herself to,
And for her, there’s nothing new under the sun.

If only people would listen to her,
The world could be a much better place,
There’d be no fighting, or wars or disease,
And evil would be gone without trace.

Politics is her specialist subject,
And don’t get her started about the tax-man.
Her polemical style is worse than Jon Humphrys,
And on a bad day gets worse than Paxman.

Now, I know what you’re probably thinking,
That she’s incredibly well meant,
That she should perhaps become an MP,
And see how she gets on in Parliament.

But it’s far too late for that I’m afraid,
There’s already been a roll of the dice:
For Conservative Central Office,
Already ring daily just to ask her advice.

No, there’s no situation she can’t handle,
There’s not a dogma she won’t fight:
If you’re looking for a policy statement,
She’s the one who’ll provide a sound-bite.

She’s never ready to settle for nonsense,
And she can’t abide the status quo.
She doesn’t know the meaning of silence,
But, for God’s sake, don’t tell her I said so!

 Copyright Andy Fawthrop 2014

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Mushroom Pate



  • 90g butter
  • 300g mixed mushrooms (shitake, chestnut, button) wiped & thinly sliced
  • 1 small onion, very finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
  • Juice of one lemon
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp grated nutmeg
  • 80g ricotta
  • 50g gorgonzola (or other veg creamy blue cheese)

  1. melt half the putter in a large frying pan and cook the mushrooms, onion & garlic for 10 mins or until soft.
  2. squeeze over the lemon juice
  3. divide the mixture in half.  Set one half aside, and blitz the other half in a food processor until smooth
  4. in a bowl, combine the two lots of mushrooms, adding in the cayenne, nutmeg, ricotta, gorgonzola + salt/ pepper
  5. when thoroughly mixed put the mixture either into a single bowl, or divide between four individual ramekins, smoothing the top to leave a smooth, flat surface.
  6. melt the remaining butter, then pour carefully on top of the mushroom mixture to form a seal.
  7. cover & place in fridge for a few hours to chill and set.
What else you need to know:

  1. serve with toast or crusty bread, and onion marmalade (or a chutney)
  2. makes a good, impressive dinner party starter, garnished with a little salad.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Girl On The Forty-Seven Bus

(Girl On The) Number Forty-Seven

Monday to Friday it’s always the same,
Off to work, to carry the load:
Waiting, whatever the weather,
For that bus to trundle down the road.

Route forty-seven is the number I need,
Though other numbers stop there too.
There’s jostling, and pushing and shoving,
As we stand there in the queue.

Sometimes it’s full and we can’t board,
Or perhaps there’s some spaces upstairs,
Then you have to get up there quickly,
And wait for the man collecting the fares.

But there’s one thing that I look out for,
That makes my journey complete:
The girl with the long blonde hair,
And she’s always there in the same seat.

She rides the upper deck near the front,
Staring from the window, calm and serene.
She’s beautiful and desirable -
I’m sure you know what I mean.

I wonder where she goes to each day,
And what could be her destination,
Cos I have to get off before she does,
As I continue my journey from the station.

I admire her, from my seat here at the back,
Though of me I’m sure she’s quite unaware.
I don’t even know what I’d say to her,
But I try and get as close as I dare.

She seems so cool, and calm and complete,
She looks so happy, assured and care-free.
I think she’s in a league way above me,
And I doubt if she’s ever noticed me.

So day after day, I just think about her,
And carry on without any fuss.
I don’t even know what her name is,
She’s just “the girl on the forty-seven bus”.

Copyright Andy Fawthrop 2014

Tuesday, 25 March 2014



The careful unpacking of the car
Its safety seat unclipped, unbuckled
Passed gently in to waiting hands
Its cossetted cargo
Wrapped up warmly against any chill
Cocooned in blankets
Tissue-paper protection
For this long-dreamed-of new life
Fragile, precious
The son and heir
The only one

The oft-practised transfer
Into the bumpered baby-buggy
Strapped and restrained
Armoured against a hostile world
Robust and resilient
Protection against a reality
Of bangs and cuts and scrapes
Or cold and unseen germs
Screened and sheltered
Lest any danger should penetrate
Multi-layered defences
And give the slightest cause
For any concern

Fiercely treasured
Special beyond measure
An antiseptic existence
Preserved in layers of cotton-wool
This first, their only child
Kept from all possible harm
And dangers of the world
Loved and feared in equal measure
By his doting parents
Who will do anything
To ensure his survival

 Copyright Andy Fawthrop 2014

Monday, 24 March 2014

Smoke In The Woods

Smoke In The Woods

Footfalls muffled by leaf-mould
Springy turf of mulch and lichen
Amongst the dark and louring trees
Their trunks tall and straight
Like rigid columns
Holding up the canopy
That shades the lower cultures
Bud-laden, thick and lush
The saplings and the bushes
Of the under-growth

And among the monumental beeches
Pierced by glittering
Flickering sunlight shafts
Hangs a hazy skein of wood-smoke
Diaphanous, gauzy
Floating, drifting slowly
Its lingering strands
Fingering higher branches

And within the greater silence
Where there is no bird-song
Nor any rodent scuttlings
That can carry any distance
Through the depth of empty forest
There penetrates the faintest crackling
Cracking twigs and logs upon a fire
A simple sound of comfort
And a promise of human warmth

The smells of damp and ash
And simple cooking become stronger now
Than natural woodland aromas
Betraying the location
Of a camp-site under canvas
Hidden in a hollow
Among the dark, dank greenery
Of wet, mouldering vegetation
Near the gurgling stream
A lonely retreat
Far from any crowd

Copyright Andy Fawthrop 2014

Sunday, 23 March 2014

News From Bromham - Dateline Sunday 23rd March 2014

Bulletin From Bromham: Dateline – Sunday 23rd March 2014

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

1.       It was great news for farmers in Bromham this week as the Treasurer of the Parish Council announced new vegetable measures.  From July it will be possible to transfer carrots in storage to a parsnip facility, and vice-versa, without restriction.  The upper limit for cabbage-storage will be increased, and it will be possible to draw down the full amount of cauliflowers at any time.  Rules on courgettes and pumpkins, however, were unchanged.

2.       The search for the missing tractor continues.  Small pieces of baler-twine were spotted in the wilder stretches of the southern fields on Friday, and observers have been despatched from Bromham to try and locate them.  However, it is now over  two weeks since the tractor veered from its intended route and went missing, so hopes of finding it intact are fading fast.

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

Copyright Andy Fawthrop 2014

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Curried Black-Eyed Beans



  • 4 tblsp sunflower oil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 green chillies, slit & left whole
  • 1 medium onion, peeled & chopped
  • 17g fresh ginger, peeled
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tblsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • Salt, to taste
  • 3 large tomatoes, pureed
  • 2 tins black-eyed peas/ beans, drained & rinsed
  • Handful fresh coriander leaves & stalks, chopped

  1. heat oil, add bay leaves & cumin seeds & fry till they sizzle – 30 seconds
  2. add green chillies & onions, cooking until well browned
  3. meanwhile, using a blender, make a paste of the ginger & garlic with a splash of water
  4. stir the paste into the mixture in the pan, and cook for a couple of minutes
  5. add the powdered spices & salt, and cook for another 30 seconds
  6. add the tomatoes, cooking over a medium heat until the oil in the masala begins to separate – about 12 to 15 minutes
  7. add the peas/ beans & mix well
  8. cook for 2 minutes, then add 250ml water
  9. bring to the boil & simmer for 8-10 minutes
  10. remove 2 tblsp of the beans from the gravy, mash well, then stir back in
  11. stir in the fresh coriander & serve
What else you need to know:

  1. comforting & chunky in flavour
  2. freezes well

Friday, 21 March 2014

Major Incident At Construction Site

A major incident was declared yesterday at an out-of-town construction site.  Police, Ambulance and Rescue workers were called to the site when a man, thought to be one of the construction workers, fell from a recently-built wall.

A Police Spokesperson said: “Of course there will be a full enquiry later, but at the moment it appears that a man fell from the wall onto the ground below, where he sustained multiple injuries.  The wall from which he fell can be seen to be of considerable height, so it would have been quite a great fall.  The cause of the fall is not yet known, but the man was known to be slightly obese, and it is thought that his weight may have contributed to the accident.  Paramedics treated the man at the scene, but the extent of his injuries meant that he had to be moved to Bristol’s Frenchay Hospital by Air Ambulance.”

The man was admitted to the King’s Ward of the Hospital, where surgeons and medics worked throughout the night to save him.  However, the variety of different injuries sustained, and the loss of blood incurred, meant that they were unable to preserve his life.

And in other news:

·         Doctor Foster has returned home to Gloucester after a disastrous move to Somerset.  He said that he had not realised that it was so wet there.
·         A Farmer’s Wife has been arrested for animal cruelty after attacking three mice.  The creatures were known to be visually impaired.  Neighbours said that they had never seen anything like it in their lives.
·         And Police have been called to another local farm after a number of sheep were reported to have been stolen from a field.  The girl who was looking after the flock apparently fell asleep.  It is hoped that the animals will return to the farm of their own accord.

 Copyright Andy Fawthrop 2014

Thursday, 20 March 2014



Suddenly, there, within the soil
In the iron grip of frozen ground
Are thin, small cracks
That break the crust
Of Winter’s solid surface
And poking through
Are tips of something green
Pointing at the glassy sky
Seeking new-year’s light
Shoots of new life
From long-buried bulbs
Forgotten since a year ago
Alive again after all
Their tentative return
From their barren sleep
A miracle of remembering
Cold, bold fingers of new growth
Awoken by the spinning of the Earth
The Spring cycle of re-birth
And a testament to memory

Copyright Andy Fawthrop 2014

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Walking At Ephesus

Walking at Ephesus

It may be an effect of the light
Bright sunshine as it shimmers
The whiteness of rays from a low sun
Flickering between the columns
The almost-blinding sparkles
Of the crystalline texture of marble
Yet these stones that lay among the stunted grass
Will not rest nor stay asleep
Heavy and broken, a jumbled jigsaw
But seem to rise up and assemble themselves again
Resolving into the temples of many gods
Triumphal arches, fountains, houses
Palaces, tombs and theatres
The gateway carvings fresh, the features sharp
The markings clear as if newly-minted

The beating heat of Anatolia
Relieved by the coolness of water
Running through the fountains, pools and baths
And the leafy colonnaded avenue
Of the tree-shaded Arcadian Way
With the street and walkways busy
Thronged with people about their business
The simple sound of feet, sandal-clad
Voices of slaves and masters
Traders in the marketplace
The brothel thronged with customers
Asking to inspect the goods on offer
The girls watching for someone new
Perhaps an interesting stranger
A sailor walking up from the harbour-side
Far up into the heaving city

No longer the abandoned Graeco-Roman ruins
Or the ancient broken back of Byzantium
But a living space, a breathing place
Where ghosts are free to roam

Copyright Andy Fawthrop 2014

Tuesday, 18 March 2014



A flash of flanks and fetlocks
Horses running free within the paddock
The grass beaten and churned
Into sodden ground
By thumping, pounding hooves
As they wheel away
Heads held high and proud
Distended nostrils
And teeth exposed
Manes flowing in the breeze
Chasing along the fencing rails
At first a trembling trot
Building to a cautious canter
Before breaking into wide-legged gallops
Drumming in steady time
Shoulders and backs bent to the task
Of increasing speed
Careering across the open field
Driven by the memories
Of former glory racing days
And the dash along the final furlong
Now rid of bits and reins and saddles
And high-seated, whipping jockeys
Allowed to frolic unrestrained
Driven by sheer exuberance
Into an ecstasy of sprinting
Coursing round the circuit
Only pulling up at last
When good and ready
With a lung-deep whinney
Panting and straining
To catch their breath
Pleased as punch
Happy with their efforts
Then shambling gently over to the gate
To scrounge a proffered apple

Copyright Andy Fawthrop 2014

Monday, 17 March 2014

Drowning In Five Inches Of Water

Drowning In Five Inches Of Water

A telephone ringing
Down in the hall
Takes only a moment to answer
But creates an absence of minutes
From precious play-time in the bath
Begets a long, empty space of waiting
Of wanting you
Of needing you to come back
And an opportunity for her
To slide slowly down
Soft-skinned and slippery
Soapy from the bubbles
From the clear air above
To a short watery rest
Below the surface
Beneath the noise
Within the quiet, calm nothingness
And to breathe evenly
Drinking the warm liquid
Just long enough
To fall asleep forever

Copyright Andy Fawthrop 2014

Sunday, 16 March 2014

News From Bromham - Dateline Sunday 16th March 2014

Bulletin From Bromham: Dateline – Sunday 16th March 2014

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

1.       The search for the missing tractor continues, after nearly a week with no news.  It now appears from satellite and radar information that the tractor continued to move for up to ten more minutes after it was last seen in the lane by the school.  Searchers are now focused on two specific possible “corridors” where the tractor may have got to.

2.       Voting has commenced in the referendum in the local area of Hedddington to find out whether its residents wish to secede from the control of Seend and to join Bromham.  The majority of residents there share many ties with Bromham, and many of them speak Bromham-ese as their natural tongue, so it is expected that the result will be a landslide in favour of the motion.  The Foreign Minister of Seend, together with his opposite numbers in Trowbridge and The West,  has declared the referendum to be invalid, because it violates Wiltshire law.

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

Copyright Andy Fawthrop 2014

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Fleeting Madness

 Fleeting Madness

“Amor brevis furore est”

That day I thought my heart would burst
The blood boiling in my veins
A sickness at my stomach
Butterflies within
Every time I looked at you
Your eyelids flickering in the dazzling sun
Your lips parted in a gentle smile
Of mockery
And perhaps some pleasure

Reckless in my words
Hot and hasty, unthinking
Desperate to please, to promise anything
Urgent pleadings, passionate
Almost painful
Burning and breathless
Frightened lest you should turn away

I see it now
As a fleeting illness
Lasting but a little time
From which the fever passed its crisis
Symptoms resolved over many seasons
The heat now long dissipated
Calmer feelings restored
Cooler emotions to the fore
That messy madness gone
Replaced by a fine and clear indifference

Copyright Andy Fawthrop 2014

Friday, 14 March 2014



When did it start to happen?
Was it as soon as you were born?
Or was it even earlier
As you floated in the amniotic fluid?
Or even at the moment of conception
In a complex interplay
Of genes and chromosomes
That the differences began?

The females of my species
Developed along a very different path
From the ways that I had known
And had their own concerns
That yearned for pink in everything
(When I know full well
That such a colour
Never crossed our minds)
And took to wanting dollies
And kittens and puppies
From a very early age

And then grew up all too quickly
Soon giggling in barricaded bedrooms
Confused by active hormones
Pre-occupied with latest hairstyles
And clothing in the fashion magazines
Or brands of make-up and shampoo
And the sensitive removal of body hair
Or the base behaviour
Of the latest boyfriends
And who fancied who at school

Then the greater changes
Of maturing mind and body
Ripening into an all-at-once adulthood
With its sudden sensibilities
Of the female and the feminine
And the ferocious gender-bonding
Among the sisterhood
And a new respect
For a mother long-ignored
And who had little time for men
The masculine, muscled males
With their loudness and crudeness
Their football and sporting obsessions
And testosterone-driven lives

When did you girls grow into women?
Was it something subtle that I missed?
How did you grow so far apart from me
And became so very different?
And how many years has it taken now
For us to hardly know each other once again?

Copyright Andy Fawthrop 2014

Thursday, 13 March 2014



A careful journey through the house
Starts with the regular routine
The easy things at end of day
Of switchings-off, and shuttings-down
Of locks and bolts and doors
And the silences that quickly fall
Within the lounge and in the kitchen

Then heading for the staircase
And the reluctant nightly climb
Towards the empty, darkened corridor
That harbours brooding shadows
And perhaps conceals an unseen something
Now trying to hold back a creeping fear
And the mounting tension
Engendered by an empty house
And too many nights of loneliness

Fumbling round the corner of the wall
With a trembling, groping hand
Seeking out the elusive switch
That will illuminate the feeble bulb
And banish darkness
From the space along the landing
And the hurried steps
Echoing against the plaster walls
Towards the master bedroom
Past the other door, her door
The one that never opens now
And diving quickly into the empty bed
To banish this unwanted fear
This irrational paranoia
And to try to fall sleep
Yet again alone

Copyright Andy Fawthrop 2014

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Looking Up

Looking Up

We waited for you
To come and join us on the lawn
The tea cooling in the pot
And David said he thought he’d seen you
Climbing the back stair-case
Not long before we had come out

And mother made some conversation
About the wayward rambling roses
Near the dining-room windows
Causing dark shadows
And tapping on the glass
They needed cutting back
And she would speak to Jenson
When next she saw him

Then David called out that he could see you
And we turned and looked up
And spotted you high above the gallery
Walking towards the round tower
The white flashes of your dress
Between the crenellations
Of sandy-coloured stone
And we waved hello

The house was looking at its best
The growth of ivy softening the harsher edges
And we admired the summer blooms
The grass springy under our feet
And we called out to you again
While David talked about the wedding
Busy with arrangements
His face shining with happiness

We must have looked quite small to you
Children or puppets on the lawn
Acting out some scene
Within the grand setting
As you regarded us from your vantage-point
High up there upon the parapet
Staring down at us from above

And the breeze caught your hair
Your eyes calm and steady
As if taking in the view
Your face quite composed
Your arms held high aloft
At the very moment
When we all looked up once more
Just in time to see you step out
Into thin air

Copyright Andy Fawthrop 2014

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Sunday Dinner

Sunday Dinner

Hands washed, all at table
Before Mam brings it in
From the steaming kitchen
The still-smoking old roasting tin
Piled high with Yorkshires
Tall and brown and crisp
Dished out quick enough
Served onto cooling plates
With a lake of Oxo gravy
Thickened as we like it
And finished up in minutes
In case there’s another going
Simple batter puddings
To fill a grumbling stomach

Then the cindered joint of beef
(Chicken being a luxury)
Cooked to the usual formula
Gas mark eight for two hours
And when it’s brown, it’s done
But when it’s black, it’s buggered
Lifted straight out of a roaring oven
And asking Dad to do the usual
And carve the burnt offering
As if anyone else would ever be allowed

The small, careful, wafer-thin slices
Spread out to look like more
Watched like a hawk by Mam
And quickly passed around till all are served
The grey meat livened up with Colman’s English mustard
And then the roasties can be handed round
The shining fat still dripping down
With plain carrots or peas
Nothing fancy, plain as always
And what used to look like sprouts
Boiled to within an inch of their lives
Waterlogged and dangerous to know
Pushed to the side of the plate
And only eaten when threatened with no pudding

The scraping of knives and forks
On chipped and mismatched plates
Hides the murmurs of approval
But no time for chatting amongst the rapid eaters
And first to finish asks if there’s any seconds
But there hardly ever is
For nothing’s ever cooked that might be wasted
Except the remnants of the joint
That will make our Shepherd’s Pie
Or rissoles on Monday
Same as every other week

Then the siding away of dirty plates
And the clattering of the cooking dishes
Piled up in the sink to soak amidst hot, soapy water
And the inquests on any leftovers
Before the pudding bowls and spoons
Put in their appearance
A fruit and pastry pie
And lashings of thick Bird’s custard
Topped with a skin that nobody seems to want

Feeling full-to-busting, FTB
Heavy stomachs and shining eyes
Everybody had enough?
Before tackling the washing-up
Arguing over who’s washing and who’s wiping
And who shall put the pots away
Mam now tired and fretful
After slaving over a hot stove all the morning
Driven by the need to prove her metal
Haunted by recent memories
Of war-time restrictions
Of rationing and shortages
Making do and mend
Keeping calm and carrying on

And Gran asleep beside the fire
Leaving Dad to read his paper
And listen to the wireless
Where Family Favourites
And The Clitheroe Kid
Keep us all amused
And Mam can put her feet up for a bit
Before it’s time for Sunday tea

Copyright Andy Fawthrop 2014

Monday, 3 March 2014

Birthday Boy

Birthday Boy (reflections on being yet another year older.  My take on existential angst)

It’s funny how things can easily change,
How your view on life drops through the gears,
But your perspective can turn right around,
When you find yourself advancing in years.

I remember the early excitement,
When I was just a very young boy.
The anticipation of birthdays,
Would bring weeks of advancing joy.

How many cards and presents would there be?
When would my mother begin to bake?
How big and what kind of icing,
On top of my own birthday cake?

Would there be a party and some treats?
With games and plenty of laughter,
A day that would stick in the mind,
And provide memories for long after?

But things are all different now,
And I find my trepidation mounting.
After I’d got as far as fifty,
That’s when I really stopped counting.

There’s no special cake I’m having today,
But if bought from a shop you’d need handles.
It would have to be a massive confection,
If there was to be room for all of the candles.

They’d make up a blazing conflagration,
Of that you should have very little doubt,
And I don’t think I’d have the breath these days,
To blow every one of them out.

I’m no longer sure this day’s all that special.
Why make such a fuss of today?
Yesterday had no unique features,
And tomorrow’s just an ordinary day.

The few cards I get from those that remember,
Fall limply through my letter-box.
There isn’t enough of them to make up a pile,
And my birthday hopes are all mocked.

I don’t want to make any bother or fuss:
It would be good to get a nice present,
For I don’t want to be forgotten quite yet,
Or just seen as an ancient monument.

Once I hoped I’d die before I got old,
But you can see I’m not getting younger,
I’ve still got a great zest for life, though,

And for new things I continue to hunger.

And as I reflect on this anniversary,
And I head towards some veneration,
I begin to think about my own children,
And I’m talkin’ ‘bout my generation.

So don’t give up on me too soon,
Just because I’m advancing in years.
I can still go down to the pub, you know,
Yes, I can still sink a few beers!

Copyright Andy Fawthrop 2014

Sunday, 2 March 2014

News From Bromham - Dateline Sunday 2nd March 2014

Bulletin From Bromham: Dateline – Sunday 2nd March 2014

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

1.       The situation in Seend is now critical, with intense diplomatic activity seeking to head off a major regional meltdown.  Troops wearing Trowbridge insignia on their uniforms and carrying Wiltshire-made weapons have been seen massing near the Seend border.  Meanwhile, forces sympathetic to the Western-facing Bromham separatists have taken control of major public buildings like the Post Office and the Primary School.  Both parties are struggling for control of the hearts and minds of the bewildered population.

2.       Tonight sees the glittering red-carpet ceremony that is the BUSKERS (Bromham Urban Shows and Kitsch awards).  There are high hopes for George Piglet who is nominated in the Shiniest Tractor category, Peter Piglet for Greatest Village Idiot, and Sharon Piglet for Most Interesting Call-Girl Advert. 

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

Copyright Andy Fawthrop 2014

Saturday, 1 March 2014



Many years ago
I saw your blackened face
As it shone by firelight
With beads of sweat
Streaking whitened paths
Through the sooty grime
As it dripped into your beard

You stood above the flames
Your features darkened
By shadows flickering
Tending to your bonfire
Watching the orange fingers
Leafing through the pages
As they turned them over, one by one
And burned them fiercely
Within the conflagration

The blasphemous words
Dangerous thoughts
And heretical teachings
Within those banished books
Made easy fuel for flames
Mere card and paper
Covers and bindings
Consumed within the smoke
Rendered down to ash
So that none might read them any more

But now your brow seems furrowed
As you wonder what to do
With all this glass and plastic
Metal and electronica
Casings and batteries
Of phones and iPads
And other hand-held gadgets
That will not catch alight
Nor burn with any purpose

This digital economy
Its airwaves alive with anarchy
Downloaded through the ether
A seditious cyberspace
That cannot be controlled
A communications spectrum
That provides its own oxygen
Requiring nothing else to Kindle

Copyright Andy Fawthrop 2014