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Friday, 31 July 2015

Transit of Venus

Transit of Venus

He waits and watches carefully
Afraid to gaze too directly
At what he wishes most to see
For seeming hours-long periods which last but minutes
Terrified that he may miss the moment
When the smallest crescent of black
Floods the lens and resolves itself
Into the small complete spot
The dot of a distant planet at the very edge of vision
Left to right slow moving
Forging a steady path
Traversing the fiercely-blazing
Massive backdrop of the blinding solar orb
Light-pulsing energy
A hot star burning persistent
At astronomic distance from his naked eye

It is only a matter of seconds
Through a particular conjunction
Of elliptical trajectories
And specific circumstances
That she arrives where she does
At these exact co-ordinates
So that he might have the chance
To stare openly at her distant unclothed body
Across the cold expanse of dark empty sky
Although his voyeuristic act of observation
Means nothing to her
And is of no consequence

And as he bends again towards the eyepiece
Of the solar-focused telescope
To follow the heavenly path
And marvel at the beauty of her namesake
His earth-bound Venus
Walks behind and slowly past him
Hidden in the darkness of sun-cast shadows
Making a transit of her own, unseen
Across the space that divides them
Her movement attracting no attention
And within seconds the moment is over
And she is gone again
Her tiny body lost to sight
Pursuing an orbit of her own

Copyright Andy Fawthrop 2015

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Dear Diary

Dear Diary

Between the clasped covers
Lie the clean, unsullied sheets of white
To be carefully written upon
In the quiet times at night
When she can sit alone, unwatched
To confide the shapeless thoughts
That float around inside her head
And translate them into the solidity of words
Until they crystallise upon the page

Yesterday there were brief anxieties
Worries to be picked over
Like the entrails of the day
And a breaking heart to be repaired
If such a thing were possible
And in deepest desperation
She trusted in the blank discretion
Of her silent companion
Never to reveal her inner pain
Nor the nagging ache of love and loss

Then today there are things that must be said
Confided to her intimate, her familiar
That she cannot tell another living soul
For the fear that secrets will escape
Whispered out into the world
And that others may untimely know
Of her guarded hopes and dreams

And tomorrow there will be anger
Resolution and determination
A brutally honest appraisal
Of her future prospects
Confessed in some enigmatic code
To her friend, her willing witness
The pen fierce upon the page
Pressed without restraint
Biting through the paper
The contents then quickly shuttered
And hidden under lock and key

Copyright Andy Fawthrop 2015

Wednesday, 29 July 2015



How is it possible
for such a tiny frame
to hold a beating heart
the quivering lungs
and all the body parts
enough to survive
and endure the hard cold of winter?

And what is the source
of the courage of this little creature
a pert and perky thing
that cannot weigh an ounce
and yet has wits enough
to defy the cruel odds
of an enormous world?

And how quick must one be
to see the flash
of bright and beady eyes
aside a head so small
that twitches on alert?
or the feathers and feet
that flit and flicker
in a sudden blur of movement
before taking wing
to a safer place?

Copyright Andy Fawthrop 2015

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Fifty Sheds of Grey

Fifty Sheds Of Grey

A man has to have some hobbies in life,
Something  to make him leap out of bed,
And when he arrives at a certain age,
That something tends to be a grey shed.

It’s funny - it never appeals in anyone’s youth,
When things tend to happen all in a deluge,
But once you’ve been married for a few years,
A shed can become a man’s haven, or refuge.

It doesn’t take much – a shed can be quite modest,
A roof, a window, and four wooden walls:
Just somewhere homely to escape to,
Whenever some unwelcome chore calls.

It’s a manly or masculine thing,
Just to get yourself behind a closed door,
To rummage around in the darkness,
Or to spread your things out on the floor.

For in this exclusive men-only club,
You need never ask anyone’s pardon,
Just to disappear down the primrose path,
To your shed, at the end of the garden.

Yes, a shed can be a man’s very own kingdom,
The realm where what he says is what goes:
A place to play with his bits and pieces,
And what he does inside – nobody knows.

And he can make the place quite homely,
Then spread out as much as he dare,
By getting a radio, perhaps, and some carpet,
And, if there’s room, a comfortable chair.

A bottle or two and a few glasses,
And an optic can easily form up a bar.
Then you can get all your mates round,
And be the gardeners’ idea of a star.

You see it becomes more than a shelter -
It’s not just for keeping out of the rain -
It’s a sanctuary that’s out of the house,
A place that might keep you sane.

So, don’t denigrate such constructions,
And pay heed to what I’ve just said,
For a man’s the king of his castle,
When he’s finally alone, in his shed.

Copyright Andy Fawthrop 2015

Monday, 27 July 2015



How long can this go on?
You came, unbidden, two weeks ago
Without welcome
And stayed to torment me
Day after miserable day
Always making out
That you were ready to go
At any moment
To let me breathe again
And give me back my energy
And let things be
The way they were before

And yet you’re still here!
Can’t you see I’m sick of you?
You’re bringing me down
And choking me
Can’t eat, can’t sleep
Whilst you hang around
My head is thick and throbbing
And my chest wheezes
Every limb aching
As my body uses every cell
To fight back
And requests you, firmly, to leave

The medicine cabinet’s empty
Since I rifled the cures and the drugs
Seeking for any relief
From your unpleasant effects
Now I can’t think straight
And everything’s too hard
To manage any more
Enough is enough!
Be gone, foul visitor
Your departure’s overdue!
Go find someone else to impose on
And leave me to crawl back to bed

Copyright Andy Fawthrop 2015

Sunday, 26 July 2015

News From Bromham - Dateline Sunday 26th July 2015

Bulletin From Bromham: Dateline – Sunday 26th July 2015

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

1.       Train and passenger services through the Bromham Tunnel were disrupted for long periods this week when there was increased activity from illegal immigrants at the Seend end of the tunnel.  Police put “Operation Stack” into force, involving parking several Seend-bound tractors being parked along the lane.  New security measures have been announced that will involve building a new secure compound on Seend High Street to prevent people desperate to get to Bromham from hijacking cars to smuggle themselves into the village.

2.       Today sees the culmination of the great cycle race “Tour de Wiltshire”, with the peloton of riders entering the village in the final procession stage up the High Street.  Bromham’s own Chris Parsnip will be wearing the leader’s traditional yellow farmer’s smock.  During the race angry people in other villages have pelted him with a selection of root crops.  Asked if he was angry about the rough treatment Chris replied that he was simply looking forward to a mixed vegetable stir-fry for his tea.

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

Copyright Andy Fawthrop 2015

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Woss Happenin?

Woss Happenin?

Everything’s falling to bits,
Nothing’s the same any more:
Helicopters don’t stay in the sky –
They hit cranes and fall to the floor.

Things aren’t what they might seem:
You can’t trust what they tell you -
The Dreamliners have nightmares
And technical problems too.

The Internet is eating the world,
There’s no shops left on the High Street:
Not only Jessops and HMV,
But now Blockbuster’s admitted defeat.

And Rio Tinto walks into a wall,
Which is as bad as it gets.
The CEO’s taken his long walk,
For under-valuing their assets.

I think I’m going to go back in my shell,
I think I’m admitting defeat.
Can’t even do comfort eating,
Cos my burgers are full of horse-meat.

Copyright Andy Fawthrop 2015

Friday, 24 July 2015



everything is here
that could possibly be needed
for a careless, easy life
all that can be metered in clothes and cars
every modern convenience
every appliance, every gadget
shining sheet glass and steel
polished by the daily help
each room a showcase
of angles, clean lines

witness the good, the better things
from a lifetime’s striving
long-houred, hard working
trophies of success

nothing is missing
a sense of completeness
settles like a shroud
there are no loose ends
nor material wants and needs
that remain un-satisfied

we may go anywhere, at any time
at a moment’s notice
to fulfil the slightest whim
or the merest craving, our heart’s desire
and suck the juice until it’s dry

and yet
 and yet
 and yet

through this mogadon movie
of shining achievement
whilst we sleep in splendour
a spirit creeps about at night
breathes hoarsely
whispers insistently
an un-nameable something
and will not be still

and in the morning
when we awake, un-refreshed
we still ache inside
with that empty feeling of nothing

Copyright Andy Fawthrop 2015

Thursday, 23 July 2015

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 2015

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Girl On The Number Forty-Seven

(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 2015

Tuesday, 21 July 2015



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 2015

Monday, 20 July 2015

T In The Lounge

T In The Lounge

What’s the attraction of festivals?
The discomfort and the expense?
The downside is really extensive -
Haven’t people got any sense?

They’re desperate to go to Glasto
Have a great blast-o
Get absolutely plast-o
Sail before the mast-o
Get stoned fast-o

Or that other great festival
The aptly-named Bestival
Where you get no rest-ival
Patience put to the test-ival
The insects are a jest-ival
And you head gets messed-ival

Then there’s T In The Park
With rock music to hark
Mongrels to bark
Snort a good narc
Chance to make your mark
As you pee in the dark

Nip over to the Isle of Wight
Use all your might
Get in a mud-fight
Or as high as a kite
Not feeling too bright
Well out-of-sight
Go to bed tight

I suppose it’s about the music,
But who wants expensive booze?
Cheesy chips, over-priced, greasy food?
And queuing just to use the portaloos?

Chemical toilets are a real downer,
And with the exposure to the sun’s rays,
The sunburn, the dehydration,
The not washing for five days.

And then there’s the camping,
Sleeping out on lumpy ground,
And even with elegant glamping,
A tent that can never be found.
Watching the stage from half a mile away,
The sound is distorted and loud.
There’s a chance of food-poisoning,
And you get lost in the crowd.

The bouncers and security men are rough,
It’s quite a dud, in an ocean of mud,
Plastic glasses and polystyrene cups,
And warm cider’s really no good.

I could get very bitter
About all the litter
But I’m not a big-hitter
I get all of a jitter
I’m a miserable critter
I can’t help but witter
You see - I’m sofa-seat sitter

I like all the comforts of home:
A bed, a shower, and a good seat.
I can still eat shit food if I want to,
But watching on TV’s quite hard to beat!

Copyright Andy Fawthrop 2015

Sunday, 19 July 2015

News From Bromham - Dateline Sunday 19th July 2015

Bulletin From Bromham: Dateline – Sunday 19th July 2015

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

1.       Scientists in Bromham celebrated this week as their land probe, dubbed Wiltshire Voyager, successfully carried out its drive-by mission in the far-distant town of Trowbridge.  This strange, alien world, was first discovered in the last century, and only 50 years ago suffered the indignity of being reduced in local parlance from a “town” to “gert village”.  Photographs were beamed back via a weak 3G link to space headquarters on the High Street, where head scientist George Piglet said “we have discovered many new things about Trowbridge, including the fact that we had long suspected – it is a place with no atmosphere.”

2.       A new report has been issued on the future of the Bromham Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), setting out a range of options for how it should be funded.  The Corporation has suffered recent criticism of its attempts to make popular programs such as “Strictly Come Farming”, “Top Beer”, “The Bum Show” and “Fleece-Enders”, rather than more public service-oriented documentaries such as “Planet Bromham” and “The Great Bromham Beetroot-off”.

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

Copyright Andy Fawthrop 2015

Saturday, 18 July 2015

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 2015

Friday, 17 July 2015



A flash of flanks and fetlocks
Horses turned 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
Beating alongside 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
Then careering across the open field
Driven by the memories of former glory racing days
And the dash along the final furlong
To the invisible finishing line and waiting glory
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 imagined circuit
Only pulling up at last, when good and ready
With a lung-deep triumphal 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 2015

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Drowning In Five Inches of Water

Drowning In Five Inches Of Water

A telephone ringing
Far away down in the hall
Takes only a moment to answer
But creates an absence of minutes
From precious play-time in the bath
And begets a long, empty space of waiting
Of wanting you
Of needing you
To hurry back upstairs
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 2015

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

The Staff

The Staff

I’m a very busy man these days,
Working twenty-four seven earning a dime -
I’d like to do so many things,
But I simply don’t have the time.

I don’t have a minute unoccupied:
There are books un-read upon my shelf,
So I get others to do things for me,
That I can’t get round to myself.

Mrs Clegg comes in to do the ironing,
With folding and creasing she’s got the nous -
She drops things off at the dry-cleaner’s,
And there’s another lady cleaning the house.

Her husband is outside, doing the garden:
He’s here early, from when the day dawns,
And he’s still here in the evening
In order to get finished the lawns.

I have all the groceries delivered,
Because there’s no chance to nip to the shop -
It keeps the local economy going,
For my life never seems to stop.

My accountant does my all my tax returns,
To make sure the figures aren’t funny -
I don’t get chance to look at the papers -
I’m far too busy just earning the money.

I use people with the right expertise,
For being wealthy that’s a great perk.
I get things done professionally -
Like the government, I outsource the work.

The girl next door does the baby-sitting,
And a lady comes round to walk the dog.
I find that the task just takes far too long,
And I don’t have time to go out for a jog.

I’ve got a subscription at the gym,
But it takes far too long going there,
So my trainer does the exercise for me,
Well – it saves on all the wear and tear.

I record everything that’s on the TV,
And I’ve got a huge collection of CDs.
I’m using some-one to listen to them for me,
Then to make a start on the box-set DVDs.
I have a faithful old house-keeper too:
She makes the beds, and in the evening she cooks,
And, because I’ve simply no time for leisure,
She’s reading her way through my books.

You can employ someone to do anything,
Provided that you’re happy to pay.
For example, I can’t take a break from my work,
So I’ve got a young chap taking my holiday.

It saves all the time of travelling -
He’s relaxing in the Caribbean sun.
I’ve given him plenty of money to spend,
To make sure he enjoys all of my fun.

You see – I’ve got everything sorted!
My life is organised very fine -
I just wish that I was able to enjoy it,
But I simply don’t have the time!

Copyright Andy Fawthrop 2015

Tuesday, 14 July 2015



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 2015

Monday, 13 July 2015



Beady-eyed head bobber
Persistent beaky nodder
Large lawn-digging pecker
Ever watchful and waiting
Not greater nor lesser spotted
But sheen of green and crest of red
With your hoarse, chattering cry
As you take sudden umbrage
At my presence in your ground
And fly swooping to the trees
Where you call bitterly
Complaining, to your mate

Copyright Andy Fawthrop 2015

Sunday, 12 July 2015

News From Bromham - Dateline Sunday 12th July 2015

Bulletin From Bromham: Dateline – Sunday 12th July 2015

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

1.       A desperate humanitarian effort is under way this weekend as Bromham Airways (BA), based at its terminal in a small shed at the bottom of the lower field, prepares to send a fleet of tractor-replacement services to Trowbridge to re-patriate Bromham people who have been stranded there.  Recent advice from the Parish Council that only essential travel should be undertaken in the Trowbridge area, following last week’s outrage,  means that nearly seven people will need to be brought back to the village at short notice.

2.       Sunday will be a day of calm in the village after the local cricket team unexpectedly won its game against Potterne yesterday, wrapping the game up with a day to spare.  Asked if the team would use the extra day off for more batting practice in the nets, team captain Isaac “Hunt” Piglet said, ‘Oi doubt it. Ois’ll probably go down Ee Wounded Ferret and get bladdered with the rest of the boys.’

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

Copyright Andy Fawthrop 2015

Saturday, 11 July 2015



We rolled on through the broken landscape
The old road cracked at the edges
The surface cratered with potholes
Badly-used and neglected
Our progress precarious

A village –
The people curious and suspicious
Their houses broken and shell-holed
Tarpaulins, ropes on the roofs
Rusted, corrugated sheets bound in the walls
Pungent smoke from crumbling chimneys
Old carpets draped in doorways
Hunger in their eyes

The track then twisting and turning
Churning mud under our tyres
The engine labouring at times
My arm aching from shifting the gears
My back breaking from the rolling and pitching
But still 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 over 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
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 remaining things
Between ourselves and sanctuary

Copyright Andy Fawthrop 2015

Friday, 10 July 2015

BBQ Wars

BBQ Wars

What a fine creature is the Englishman,
Who stays English wherever he may roam -
He regards his house as his castle,
And always comes back to his home.

And I’m no different to the others,
A middle-class semi is my domain:
Like a dog, I mark out my territory,
But the neighbours can drive me insane.

In the Summer, the house seemed way too small -
I just couldn’t wait to get out in the garden.
I liked to spread out as much as I could,
And for that I’ll not beg any pardon.

The Supplements call it “patio living” –
I’ve no idea if that’s really true –
I just want to get out there and party,
And to wheel out the old barbecue.

I’ll admit that my cooking contraption
Had probably seen much better days,
But I’d used it over and over -
I was too old to be changing my ways.

The sides might have been grease-encrusted,
Harbouring a well-blackened grill,
But the rusting pan still held the charcoal,
And you could smell the smokiness still.

A quick dose of petrol and firelighters
Was enough to get them coals glowing,
A beer in my hand, the stereo blasting,
And soon we had the sausages going.

Set among the cracked patio slabs
With some rickety, broken plastic chairs
And a great big wobbly plastic table
It was a bit ramshackle – but who cares?

That was until I looked over the fence,
To see what it was my neighbour had done.
I know it’s not meant to be a competition,
But his guests seemed to be having more fun.

I saw that he’d started to up the ante,
That he’d got a bigger, better barbecue.
It was one of those high-end models,
And not only that, but it was quite new.
It had multi-burner gas rings,
Thermostats and finger-tip controls,
Shelves for the food and utensils,
And synthetic, re-useable coals.

I stared in horror and disbelief,
At this top-of-the-range barbecue beast,
As he loaded his flavoured cooking wood,
And served up a veritable feast.

There were coloured marinade brushes,
A rotisserie and a pizza stone:
It was truly the dog’s bollocks of “homeware”,
And, as he cooked, he jawed on the phone.

His guests lounged on ample bamboo sofas,
Under a candy-striped open marquee,
The sun shone on the glass-topped dining-table,
And his well-tended lawns were easy to see.

I looked back at my miserable display,
At my bare patch of ground with no plants,
At my shed that was tumbling down,
And decided the whole thing was just pants.

My middle-class angst overwhelmed me,
I could see how I’d be marked as a “fail”,
I hated next door’s culinary nerd -
I was beaten by the local Alpha Male.

My burgers and ribs no longer appealed,
That was to be no more cooking that day -
Steak that for a game of soldiers, I thought,
Went inside, and ordered a takeaway.

 Copyright Andy Fawthrop 2015

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Buffalo Wings

Recipe for: BUFFALO WINGS (Spiced chicken wings)


·         A great big pile of chicken wings (cut the thin tips off & joint each wing into two to leave bit-size pieces on the bone)
·         2 cloves garlic, peeled & crushed
·         1 tblsp olive oil
·         1 ½ tblsp cider vinegar
·         1 tsp parika
·         1 tblsp Worcestershire sauce
·         2 tblsp tomato puree
·         1 tsp salt
·         2 tblsp pepper sauce – choose how hot/ intense you want the wings to be!)
·         2 tblsp clear honey


1.       Prepare the chicken wings, and place them in a large bowl with some room to be able to stir them around.
2.       In a separate bowl, mix all the other ingredients to form a hot, sticky marinade.
3.       Taste & adjust as you see fit, depending on how spicy you want your wings.
4.       Pour the marinade over the wings, and turn them over to coat everything thoroughly.
5.       Cover and stick the bowl in the fridge for as long as possible.  Overnight is good.
6.       Stir/ turn the wings in the marinade a few times.
7.       When you are ready to cook, heat the oven to 180C/ fan 170C/ gas 4.
8.       Drain the wings and reserve the marinade.
9.       Spread the drained wings onto a large baking sheet, spacing them out as much as possible.  If there’s a lot, use two trays rather than crowd them – they need to bake, not steam.
10.    Bake for 30 minutes, then pour off any excess oil that has gathered on the tray.
11.    Baste the wings in some of the marinade, then return to the oven.  Turn the oven up by 10-15C, because we want the edges of the wings to start catching in the heat.
12.    Bake for another 15-20 minutes, basting with marinade 2 or 3 times.
13.    The wings should be sticky & glazed, with most of the liquid/ marinade evaporated or poured off.  That means dry, not floating in a sauce!

What else you need to know:

1.       Serve on a warmed large serving platter, sprinkled with chopped coriander and/ or spring onions.
2.       Provide plenty of napkins/ kitchen towel as the wings are wonderfully messy, and a bowl to catch all the discarded bones.
3.       The traditional American accompaniments are sticks of raw carrot and raw celery, together with a blue cheese dip/ dressing.  No idea why, but they do, and it works just fine!