Thursday, 30 April 2009

Frankie gets satorial advice

Frankei says: I knew my readers would not let me down, bless your cotton socks!

From my friend and colleague John we get:
'Make a statement I say! Vivid is good, and so would be soft shoes. After all it’s only for one evening (isn’t it?!) and you and the rest of the audience will be focused on the Pets anyway. Enjoy.'
John's right vivid is good and yes we will all be focused on the Pets but who knows when a mob or camera will be pointed my way and I would hate to end up immortalised on Youtube in the wrong gear. Have you seen the recent offering by Gordon Brown - dreadful.

And from F the Greek:
'maybe that Chlamys (worn only by men) or Himation or Chiton (these two worn by both men and women)is the outfit for Frankie...good for good weather...'
F sent me a picture rather Roman toga-like and very revealing. Possible gear for the Boss for his forthcoming 60th birthday ("Hrrmp, we'll see" - rather grumpy Boss). Or even me if the Boss does invite me ("We'll see") or maybe the Boss will theme his party and we can all wear and Chalmys - when F first said that to me I misheard it as Clamydia - its all Greek to me anyway!

Well I think this calls for some serious shopping therapy! Looks like I might have to "Go West" and meet up with my "West End Girls" and definitely become "Flamboyant" and no chance of "Being Boring" and it all might become a "Red Letter day" but it all really "Psychological" and is probably time to "Make my excuses and left"

Love and kisses,


Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Pets in Liverpool and let's get Frankie dressed

Cycling to work today a cold snap in the air and the sun in my eyes. Bliss. How great it is to be alive sometimes.

So I've got tickets for the pets in Liverpool in July! I used a link from their website for Petheads that operated a day before the tickets went on general release. I actually wanted standing tickets but these were already sold out by lunch time - ah to have been dancing in an audience of only Petheads. Still I got good seats.

Frankie is over the moon but challenged about what to wear.
"What can I wear Boss? And does this T shirt (turquoise) go with this jacket (vivid yellow) and these trousers (combat green)? And socks... And I haven't even begun to think about shoes... Oh Boss why did you lose that Pets baseball cap in your boating accident? [See last summer's blog entry] You could have lent it to me. It looked dead cool"
"Frankie, the important thing is that you are going to see the Pet Shop Boys live"
"I know, it's gonna be the best night of my life or at least the equal to their visit to the Apollo in 2007. So it is crucial what I wear"
The Boss sighed, "Sometimes Frankie you are beyond me. Can't you get Stacey or someone else to clothes shop with you"
"You must be joking Boss - Frankie
"No way Boss, that is beyond the call of duty, and Frankie is beyond- Stacey.
"I- Frankie
"OK, OK let's cool it down. I have an idea let's ask our readers to suggest the best gear for Frankie to wear. And the best suggestion we go out and buy."

Over to you!

Monday, 27 April 2009

Therapy and spirituality and suffering

Here is a new riff on therapy religion and suffering. It seems to me that both counselling/psychotherapy and religion/spirituality are responses to the human reality of suffering. Both try and help us reduce our causes of suffering and both help us process and live with suffering.

I think most of us a lot of the time are in denial of death, in denial of suffering. We expect medicine or therapy to cure us of death and relieve us of suffering. It seems to me that life is not like that. Of course we can make healthier life choices and this is important. However, there is a whole vast area within which we have no control. Trying to control the uncontrolable or chaotic or seeking to blame others for the inevitably suffering we have is futile if at times a necessary distraction.

It is very difficult to live with an awareness of one's own physical mortality. It is very freeing when we can and when I feel my fragility I feel extra grateful for the life I still have. I can't control my future in any realistic way other than living as well as I can so gratitude for what I have in my life now seems appropriate. I am glad to be reasonably fit and still able to think and feel and to work well and to have people around me who I love. It is enough for now so I am thankful.

What do you think?

Bill on bike

Friday, 24 April 2009

Years to Heaven

To paraphrase Dylan Thomas, it's my 60th year to Heaven. Well it will be my 60th birthday next January and I have been much exercised about this matter. Hence some of my blogs in recent times thinking about life, death, work, family the usual stuff.

I am not planning a mega do - though I am open to being surprised. My current idea is to invite some good friends to spend an evening with me and each one will be invited to sing a song or tell a story or offer a poem, no one will be forced to.

Naturally I am much taken with what my contribution will be. Dare I inflict my keyboard skills on my friends? I dare. A poem? Almost certainly. Something of the Pets, well come on!

Talking of the Pets having missed out on their forthcoming gig in Manchester as I was out of town when the tickets were on sale when I heard of their Liverpool I followed the link from their website yesterday and got tickets! I hoped for standing tickets but they were already sold out! Now all I have to do is to persuade a friend - any friend(!) of mine to share the experience! Of course Frankie will be there! ("Sure thing Boss, How abotu inviting Len ("Struth Boss I'd love to but I will be on walkabout" or even Q ("Not really my cup of tea Boss") not to mention Stacey ("The Pets aren't they a bit 1980s - too old to be retro and too young to be history?").

Best to all,

Bill on bike

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Bleeding ears

Here is one for you all.

So today before introducing John to my students I joked about reading out my poem about him to them - see yesterday's blog for details. I was running a verbal riff based on the Vogons in Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy who read out their dreadful poetry and it has a awful affect on people they start to bleed from their ears etc.

Then John tells me that he was bleeding from his ear in the shower this morning! He has that these kind of thing happens to him around me. Well after that I dare not read out my poem!

best to all,

Bill on bike

Monday, 20 April 2009

Shropshire Dreaming

So, cycling to work this morning at 8am and there is still a crisp cool feeling in the air even though it is a clear blue sky and it will be warmer later. Feel a real urge just to cycle off into the sun rather than have my first day back at work.

I remember cycling in Shropshire on my LEJOG ride nearly 2 years ago now and how the sun was coming up over the hills and the sunlight was in my eyes and there was was some early morning mist about too. It was magic.

Re-entry into work today could have been worse and in the mail was a new book on relational ethics edited by Lynne Gabriel and Richard Casemore with a chapter in it by me on training. The book has a lovely lilac cover to it too, and in published by Routledge.

Later in the day I opened the latest copy of Thresholds magazine only to find that Chris the editor had included a poem of mine - 'Poem for John and me' which I wrote on a train last year on the way to a conference in Cardiff. And coincidentally John was visiting me at work today!

Best to all,

Bill on bike

Sunday, 19 April 2009


So my 2 weeks off comes to an end in glorious sunshine. I don't want to go back to work but I always feel that way. First day back I feel the job is impossible, I feel the weight round my neck and shoulders and then, the next day it becomes normal again.

But comforting Grace, who had her best friend to stay, and who now faces a return to school - what sane 10 year old would welcome school? (and what healthy adult would want to teach in our schools?) I said, "Find what joy you can in whatever situation you are in."

Hey that's not bad!

On a recent post in a poem entitled 'Bleeding bikes' I wrote about a accident in North Manchester in which I ran into a bollard and bled. This is a true event and I might even just about about be able to show you the scar. It actually happened nearly 2 years ago - so don't worry Graham but thanks for you post to this blog on the matter. Sometimes for poetry and drama/entertainment one plays a bit loose with the details.

We had a great week skiing in France even though the snow was pretty useless after lunch. I fell over a bit more than usual and still feel bruised and we all picked up a bug that I have not yet shaken off. (In my worse moments it feels like the start of ME but I am a bit of a hypocondriac - Mercury in Virgo in my chart does not help. Still it is a change from my usual fear of the onset of dementia.

I have been reflecting on my mortality for some time. I think it is pretty impossible to live with the notion of our own mortality though I suspect it would make us all better people if we did. It makes many things seem so pointless and gives life a kind of poignancy, a preciousness. It is so weird being created and in no kind of control over any of this. And my own spiritual faith does not seem to help nor does my experiences of dead people. It is a mystery and it is so strange how we act as if we will live for ever when we wont certainly not on this earth.

It is also hard to return to work where my work in Kenya has been artificially limited. I have a few years left, I think, before my workplace gives me the shove/I walk away. I thought my final project would be my Kenya work which is probably so. But the work will end with me and not continue, or at least not at my workplace.

Feels like time to visit Q!

Best to all,

Bill on bike

Friday, 3 April 2009

On Marston Moor

We were at Marston Moor, again and more fired up than ever. For last year the CAVS had won! Had won at Marston Moor - how could we the 'HEADS allow this to happen? After all Cromwell and the 'HEADS, the Good Old Cause, the Ironsides, had won the original battle. And we were just re-enacters weren't we?

Well this year according to Tom - Thomas Harrison - no relation to the real Colonel Thomas Harrison but with a name like that how could he not be a re-enacter? Anyway Tom said that we had a trick or two up our selves and this year the re-enactment would end as it should in a victory for the 'HEADS!

It's bloody cold at Marston even though it's July - must be the effects of rampant global warming - 'One man's warming is another man's freezing doo das' as my mate Frank put it.

So there we were in the cold mist of morning waiting their first attack across the ploughed field. A few hardy souls tried to get us to sing a psalm or two but few of us know the words anymore or could be arsed.

Then out of the mist they came at us. Our pikemen were ready for their horses and so were our musketmen.

Suddenly Frank let out a yell and fell to the ground. 'Bit realistic mate' I said as crimson red liquid spread across his shirt near his heart.
'They're using real bullets,' he gasped.
'Bloody hell' and I dived for the floor just in time.

It was mayhem. The women were worst. They always are. What they did to the CAV prisoners does not bear thinking about. On the other hand 50, yes 50 of us HEADS were dead, and many more wounded.

Bill-on-bike with a bit from his creative writing/work in progress.

Bleeding bikes

Bleeding bikes

My first bike
I was nine
It was second hand
Black and no gears
I went cycling
With my friends
On Wolverhampton Road
Ran into a lamp post
The bike was unhurt
And so was I
But I threw up later

50 years on
My bike is still black
But now with 18 gears
And just north of Manchester
I ran into a lamp post
The bike was unhurt
But I bled.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

April flow

The Spring sunshine/ Miles Davis Kind of Blue on the tape deck/ riding my newly tuned and serviced bike/ sending off at long last the latest draft of my 4th book/ Feeling like my impossible workload suddenly feels only improbable/ Easter holiday about to begin/ white blossom on the wind/ No one on my case today.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Distressed sheep

So the big news is that my daughter Grace has passed her Grade One piano with Distinction. We are all made up about it.

At my piano lesson yesterday I found that Rebbecca had used my blog entry about the Pets Red letter day song that I sent her to settle down one of her younger pupils. 'Read this' she said!.

So I had another go at singing and I can still hit the same notes even if they are played several notes apart. The curious thing is that I can go up the scale more easily than going down. At one point Rebbecca announced that I sounded like a 'distressed sheep' and it was true and we both laughed. Hey ho as Kurt Vonniegut used to write.

That reminds me of Noel Coward' song 'There are bad times just around the corner' "The shrieks and wails of the Yorkshire Dales/Have even distressed the sheep".