Monday, 31 December 2012

Writes of Passage.

                          The Bridge to Nowhere, Belhaven Bay.


So my friends, 2012 passes and despite adverse predictions we’ve made it to the end. Is it a time to look back or a time to look forward I wonder? I could certainly look back at a year filled with catastrophic natural phenomena and self-inflicted human disasters, yet another year of self-serving, lying, mendacious politicians, senseless celebrities, widening economic recession and more than a few needless tragedies, I would also need to take time to celebrate a year of creativity, compassion and human achievement, to welcome the potential of new generations and mourn the passing of old ones. But such things are better said in better places than this wee blog and by folk better at it than I, so let me keep it personal.
 

If I had to label the year I’d put it down as a year of change. When it started I was long term unemployed and despairing after many hundreds of job applications seemed to be getting me precisely nowhere. Then a job came out of the blue. I now work full time for a charity supporting people suffering from autistic spectrum conditions. The money is rubbish but the job is great and rewarding in ways not experienced before, working as I did for a huge private sector company. Having said that I also have to live in the real world and reality tells me that without more income something is going to have to give. That decision will be one of the key challenges of 2013

The Lovely G and Jess
 

My Lovely G has been ill for quite some time and although thankfully she is slowly getting better, there has been stress and worry for both of us as well as yet another hit on finances to cope with. Luckily we have been able to offset impact with canny financial planning – all down to G – and that has helped tremendously. She has been helped by some great people in the NHS but undoubtedly there is a long road ahead. This year has proven how close we are and how good we are for each other. That’s the major plus to be taken from the year I think. That strength will carry us through anything. Health wise my type 2 diabetes has kick started a change in me and I'm now wearing trousers six inches smaller in waist size. It's been quite a thrill buying clothes that are smaller sizes I can tell you. I can't remember ever having been able to do that before. Hopefully that will continue too - but Christmas has taken a temporary toll I'm afraid.
 

I’ve taken on an additional role within Children’s Hearings, a voluntary organisation I’ve worked with for ten years, protecting vulnerable children in the local area. So far the impact has been noticeable but fairly low level but there are major changes afoot that I can see will take significant attention to get through across the first half of 2013.

Our niece Emily who arrived in March.
 

The major impact from all of these has been a loss of  that ‘free’ time which I had a huge overabundance of previously and time that was often given over to blogging. Can you believe it will soon be FOUR YEARS since this wee blog started? Phew! - and there have been almost 600 posts too! 

Time for blogging and indeed inspiration for blogging has been much missing in the latter stages of this year and I'm sorry about that. I miss it.  I’ve often relied on the weekly ‘Sunday Post’ poems to keep things ticking over, not something I’d ever planned. They were always meant to be a wee ‘extra’ not the main event. Still, I’ve been glad to have them on many occasions as they’ve kept some kind of forward momentum. That’s been a worry and I’ve by turns felt lazy or guilty for not being as involved with writing as I had been. I gave serious consideration over the last few months to stopping. What’s the point of a blog if you don’t actually blog? Strangely, when I was in the throes of pondering just that a fellow blogger pal posted on exactly the same thing and she worked through the reasons why she should keep going. That saved me a lot of work and showed me that as usual, I’m not - and we’re not - alone in facing these kinds of challenges. She came to the conclusion that we write ultimately for ourselves and our own pleasure, not solely for others. Comments and interaction, feedback and followers are a welcome and even treasured part of blogging but ultimately she identified that it’s something in ourselves that propels the need to get something down on paper not just in doing so for others. So thank you Jane at ‘What’s making me feel good today’ for sorting out some of those niggles that had been troubling me. There are times when we can and will write and times when quite simply we can’t and we shouldn’t cut off the chosen medium for what may be a short term issue. Even if it’s not short term, if the quality of what is written is satisfying and therapeutic to us as writers then isn’t that all the justification we should need. 

And so ‘Crivens Jings’ will definitely be staying. I’ve programmed the next three months of Sunday posts already and have more poems in the pipeline. I’ll be blogging ‘properly’ when I have time and I have something to say and just as importantly I’ll be reading and commenting on the blogs I follow regardless { something that’s also been remiss recently – commenting, not reading folks!}

The two of us at my niece's wedding
 

But for now I’m going to have to go. I truly hope you have a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year wherever you may be. Take care of yourselves and I’ll be seeing you all again in 2013.

 

Happy Hogmanay!

 

Here’s tae us!

Wha’s like us?

Damn few!

And they’re a’ deid!

 

Slainte!

 

Listening to:

Sunday, 30 December 2012

The Sunday Posts 2012/Silver



Slowly, silently, now the moon
Walks the night in her silver shoon;
This way, and that, she peers, and sees
Silver fruit upon silver trees;
One by one the casements catch
Her beams beneath the silvery thatch;
Couched in his kennel, like a log,
With paws of silver sleeps the dog;
From their shadowy cote the white breasts peep
Of doves in silver feathered sleep
A harvest mouse goes scampering by,
With silver claws, and silver eye;
And moveless fish in the water gleam,
By silver reeds in a silver stream.

Monday, 24 December 2012

Misery Bears Christmas.



A Bear is not just for Christmas.


As I raise a wee glass of something Scottish and take a bite of a mince pie - probably the first of many - I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas - unlike my wee pal Misery Bear above - and all the very best for a stupendous New Year from The Lovely G, Jess and I here in the house of Crivens Jings. Thanks for coming along with us in 2012. We hope to see you all again next year too.

Slainte!

Alistair.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

The Christmas Sunday Post 2012



Christmas Eve

On window panes, the icy frost
Leaves feathered patterns, crissed & crossed,
But in our house the Christmas tree
Is decorated festively
With tiny dots of colored light
That cozy up this winter night.
Christmas songs, familiar, slow,
Play softly on the radio.
Pops and hisses from the fire
Whistle with the bells and choir.
My tiger is now fast asleep
On his back and dreaming deep.
When the fire makes him hot,
He turns to warm whatever’s not.
Propped against him on the rug,
I give my friend a gentle hug.
Tomorrow’s what I’m waiting for,
But I can wait a little more.

Bill Watterson

Sunday, 16 December 2012

The Sunday Posts 2012/Nothing Gold Can Stay



 
Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

Dedicated to the 27 souls lost at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Poem by Robert Frost
Photo by Alistair
 

Sunday, 9 December 2012

The Sunday Posts/There's a little green eyed idol



The Green Eye of the Little Yellow God

There's a one-eyed yellow idol to the north of Khatmandu,
There's a little marble cross below the town;
There's a broken-hearted woman tends the grave of Mad Carew,
And the Yellow God forever gazes down.

He was known as "Mad Carew" by the subs at Khatmandu,
He was hotter than they felt inclined to tell;
But for all his foolish pranks, he was worshipped in the ranks,
And the Colonel's daughter smiled on him as well.

He had loved her all along, with a passion of the strong,
The fact that she loved him was plain to all.
She was nearly twenty-one and arrangements had begun
To celebrate her birthday with a ball.

He wrote to ask what present she would like from Mad Carew;
They met next day as he dismissed a squad;
And jestingly she told him then that nothing else would do
But the green eye of the little Yellow God.

On the night before the dance, Mad Carew seemed in a trance,
And they chaffed him as they puffed at their cigars:
But for once he failed to smile, and he sat alone awhile,
Then went out into the night beneath the stars.

He returned before the dawn, with his shirt and tunic torn,
And a gash across his temple dripping red;
He was patched up right away, and he slept through all the day,
And the Colonel's daughter watched beside his bed.

He woke at last and asked if they could send his tunic through;
She brought it, and he thanked her with a nod;
He bade her search the pocket saying "That's from Mad Carew,"
And she found the little green eye of the god.

She upbraided poor Carew in the way that women do,
Though both her eyes were strangely hot and wet;
But she wouldn't take the stone and Mad Carew was left alone
With the jewel that he'd chanced his life to get.

When the ball was at its height, on that still and tropic night,
She thought of him and hurried to his room;
As she crossed the barrack square she could hear the dreamy air
Of a waltz tune softly stealing thro' the gloom.

His door was open wide, with silver moonlight shining through;
The place was wet and slipp'ry where she trod;
An ugly knife lay buried in the heart of Mad Carew,
'Twas the "Vengeance of the Little Yellow God."

There's a one-eyed yellow idol to the north of Khatmandu,
There's a little marble cross below the town;
There's a broken-hearted woman tends the grave of Mad Carew,
And the Yellow God forever gazes down.

J Milton Hayes
Photo by Alistair.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Relieved to be home........





Leaving work it’s sleeting heavily and some big wet flakes manage to get down the neck of my anorak and make me wince as I walk the few moments to the car. I’m shivering and rush the last few yards less than manfully, watching the lights flash as the car unlocks to let me in. Inside, hot breath hangs in the air and starts to mist the windows as I fumble keys to turn the ignition on, wincing again as previously set blowers hurl freezing cold air at me, adding further insult to injury already inflicted by the weather. The setting was fine when the engine was warm on the way to work but not welcome now so I turn it down and adjust to clear the front windscreen, wishing that the cars designers hadn’t decided that this model didn’t need heating in the front window for some small economy in price. Because of their laxity I have to sit and shiver for a few moments muttering invocations to myself to man up and not be such a wimp before I can switch on the lights and pull out to head home.
 

By the time I’ve skirted the edge of the small seaside town and near the road that’ll take me home the sleet is falling ferociously and the window wipers moved from intermittent to fully on, leaving icy streaks which catch the light of the few cars that meet me on the way. At the roundabout I give way to let a car pass and take a second to pour steamy breath into cupped hands to try and heat my cold fingers while I look longingly at the engine temperature gauge stuck firmly to the bottom of its range and wish I carried driving gloves in the car. Once I get moving properly the car will heat soon enough but that’s small comfort as I leave town behind, move through the gears and head into the countryside.
 

A mile on warmth slowly begins to permeate the car but the sleet has been replaced with snow which is getting heavier by the second and already the road edge is creeping white in the headlights. This is the first snow of the Winter but although I love snow and even don’t mind driving in it – up to a point – I’d rather the first snow wasn’t happening after a hard shift and a 10pm finish. After a day like today I’d prefer to get home quickly and not have to be giving some serious extra concentration to getting there without damaging me or anyone else. Unfortunately, judging by the way snow is swirling disorientatingly before me as I ease off the accelerator, that’s probably not going to be the case tonight and I find myself wishing that I’d listened to that little voice that had whispered about visiting the facilities before hitting the road. Typical! I know that the road home will take me inland heading across farmland towards the Lammermuir hills and that just below them the road will hit a bowl in the landscape that seems to collect bad weather and can be especially treacherous in winter. Even now I can barely see more than ten yards ahead so I switch on my rear foglights and prepare to be some time on the road.
 

Ten miles down the road the snow is coming from every direction – at one point bizarrely even appearing to be going up – and my speed has slowed to a crawl. The road ahead is completely white and even though it’s dual carriageway I can’t see either the side of the road or the dividing white line. Thankfully the barrier separating the two carriageways gives me a marker and I steer vaguely somewhere between it and where I think the side of the road is. There are only a few souls unlucky enough to be out in this and we have made a slow procession heading home and I’m happy enough to tuck in behind a small lorry and set my tyres in his tracks. The journey home usually takes a hair over thirty minutes but I’ve been on the road for forty minutes and to be honest I haven’t a clue where on the road I am. I’d normally call to let G know I’m going to be late but there’s no way I’m giving myself any distractions and unfortunately the car isn’t techie enough to be bluetooth’d, never mind being voice connected with the phone, so I hope she’s not worrying and keep trudging on until I realise the car is speeding up which makes me think I’m going downhill. Out of the gloom there’s the eerie amber glow of an illuminated road sign which tells me that it’s snowing. No shit Batman. The one useful thing the sign does do is tell me where I am as I know there’s only one on the road. The bad news is that I’m only halfway home and my heart sinks while my bladder gives me yet another accusing nudge that I should have gone before getting in the car. There’s no way I can risk stopping for a pee. Knowing my luck tonight I’d get run over and that’s not the kind of headline I’d like in the local rag.

I feel the car slow and recognise the incline at the edge of the bowl where the worst of the weather always is. I feel somewhat relieved that I’m out of the worst even though evidence beyond the windscreen doesn’t back that up, but miraculously, within a few hundred yards the snow eases, starts to come at me from just one direction and I see the edge of the road for the first time in quite a while. Within another half mile, the snow has changed to sleet and unbelievably the road is now just wet with sludge which my wonderful, amazing and fortuitously good buy winter tyres make short work of. I’m confident enough to get a bit of a move on and find that the decision is a good one as the road condition keeps getting better with every hundred yards until I’m fairly tramping through the last few miles to home. 

As I pass Dunbar there’s barely any sign of the weather I’ve just come through and as I pass the last roundabout I know I’m minutes from home and more importantly at this time, a loo. Soon I’m coming up the drive faster than normal and I scrape to a halt by the side door of the house. G barely gets a shouted ‘Hello!’ as I head to the downstairs toilet scrabbling desperately for my zip.
 

And that my friends, is where this wee story will end.
 

Be assured that in future I’ll be paying attention to that little nagging voice in my head. It’s not easy driving though weather like that at the best of times. With your eyes crossed it’s murder!
 

See you later.
 

Listening to 

The Sunday Posts 2012/When you are old



When You Are Old

WHEN you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;
How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim Soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;
And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

Wiliam Butler Yeats
Photo by Alistair.

The Sunday Posts 2017/ Hush Hush

Hush, hush, time tae be sleepin'. Hush, hush, dreams come a-creepin'; Dreams of peace and of freedom, So smile in your sleep,...