Monthly Archives: September 2019

A Little Good News

The good news is that the latest issue of Contemporary Haibun Online is out and it has one of mine it in it. It has 63 others too, plus a few articles, so there is plenty to read.

The bad news is that this is the last one in the pipeline and after my recent spate of rejections I’m beginning to wonder if I will ever write anything worth reading again.

I suppose I will just have to do what I normally do in the circumstances and lower my sights until I find a magazine desperate for material. That was how I became a published poet in the first place. Nothing to do with the quality of my writing, just a willingness to lower my standards until I found someone willing to publish me.

According to an article I read there are 300 poetry magazines in the UK, and you are almost certain to get in one of them if you search around enough.

The situation is slightly different with a specialist form like a haibun, but even so, there are still magazines out there I haven’t tried.

There are, of course, reasons for this.

Some of them, for instance, only accept paper submissions, and I can’t be bothered. It’s a waste of time, a waste of money and a waste of trees,

Others have an unfortunate attitude, Frankly, I can’t write enough good stuff to go round so why bother with someone who I probably won’t like? I will take a certain amount of crap if I’m being paid, but not when I’m working for nothing.

That will do for now, despite all my good intentions I am only going to manage one post today.

I’m now going to prepare a submission for tomorrow and polish my article on coping with rejection by editors.

The Second Post of the Day

And so, with just 21 minutes of the day remaining, I find myself struggling to post twice in 24 hours.

I really do need to have a serious look at the way I live my life.

I’ve managed to shop, make lunch (hot dogs), write, have a short walk, and sleep through most of Strictly Come Dancing and Sanditon. After checking up on the net and talking to Julia, it seems that sleeping through Sanditon was a good choice.

So, on Strictly they voted off James Cracknell. Two Olympic Golds, six World Golds, rowed the Atlantic, fastest ever Brit in the Marathon des Sables, and a number of other things. But not a great dancer, it must be said.

However, at least he got the “celebrity” bit right, There are a number of competitors who I still can’t identify even after watching two episodes.Two minutes to go…

I came back after midnight to put a picture on. It’s the damage to the car, which seems so long ago now.

Plans, plans, plans

The plan for the morning was to rise early, sneak downstairs as Julia slept and get writing. I have haibun to write, submissions to make and a new ambition to fulfil.

I want to hit my sixth WordPress anniversary with an average of 365 posts per year. I’m currently on 333 a year. I think that means I have to write 365 next year, and a further 160 to catch up. That’s 1.5 posts per day.

So, I need to examine the reasons for my deficiencies in posting.

One, obviously, is idleness, indolence, sloth or laziness. There are some nice words for it, but it all boils down to one of my defining character flaws. I don’t like hard work.

Two, which is a similar thing, my talent for procrastination, time-wasting, loafing and wandering off on the internet, either to play games or browse Wikipedia. Recently I found a new games page and I am now a dab hand at Nine Men’s Morris and, thanks to Wiki, can also discuss its history and variations.

Three, memory. I sometimes forget to post. You’d think one a day would be simple enough to remember but I have a lot to remember, such as my name, computer passwords and what Julia just said to me. Some days it’s hard just remembering how to walk and breathe at the same time.

Four. Sometimes I just fall asleep at the keyboard, leading to fifty five lines saying ggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggg etc

Or, worse, with the pattern of a keyboard impressed in my face, like one of Dr Who’s more low-budget adversaries.

Today I will attempt multiple posts.

Watch this space.

Today’s picture is the recycled Robin from the Garden Centre in Scone Chronicles 3.

And Again!

Please excuse the plain unadulterated nature of this report. I want to note it down as part of the historic record, but I don’t want to dwell on it.

I turned up to work this morning and was surprised to find (a) a Police car and (b) the owner and his wife with brushes and dustpans.

It seems the burglars came back last night and though they didn’t get much, they did smash more glass.

The boarded up front door lasted only two kicks despite the claims of the boarding up service.

I can’t say any more because I don’t want to prejudice any case that may be brought.

That’s slightly tongue in cheek because the police have given us a number of excuses for not taking any action even though they have a person or persons in mind.

If, however, they had made their escape down a bus lane they would already have a threat of legal action in the post.

When the police wrote to me about my speeding offence they threatened me with a £1,000 fine if I didn’t comply with their procedures. When they wrote a few weeks ago inviting Julia to participate in a jury, they threatened her with a £1,000 fine if she didn’t return the letter as specified.

I have checked but there seems to be no mechanism for us to threaten the police with a £1,000 fine if they don’t do their job.

Now, let me be clear. This isn’t aimed at individual police officers. They have to operate within an environment of budget cuts and under-staffing and they are constrained by a legal system that seems to actively prevent the prosecution and punishment of habitual criminals.

Having said that, when the owner rang 999 on on his way to the shop this morning (the alarm calls his phone) the emergency operator asked him (a) if he was in a car and (b) if he was using hands-free. Burglars are bad, but car drivers, it seems, are worse.

Then we were given a quick course in the registration of CCTV cameras and the Data Protection Act. It seems that someone walking down a public street has the power to object to being filmed. I would have thought that a person walking along a public street could have no expectation of privacy, but there you go. More nonsensical laws aimed at making life difficult for honest people.

I hope that in addition to the afflictions I wished on them yesterday the malefactors also contract a corrosive fungal condition of the dark recesses of their bodies and souls, and a plague of boils would be a nice bonus too.

Sorry – no photos again today. I thought I’d better leave it in case anyone could object in court. (See above regarding prejudicing a case that will, in all reality, never be brought).



Smash and Grab

I was relaxing last night, having had an easy run up to Leeds, and a slightly less easy run back (rain, spray and lorries).

Number One Son is safely in his riverside apartment with half my kitchen equipment (Julia decided I didn’t need things if I hadn’t used them for a few months, though I notice her breadmaker is still here).

Julia was rattling round the kitchen, newly released from jury duty, and all was well with the world. Apart from famine, poverty and the shadow of Armageddon, but I normally manage to ignore that.

Then I get a phone call.

It’s from the owner of the shop.

He had left it till the end of my day off, but was just ringing to warn me the shop was in a bit of a mess after a break in.

A pair of robbers, who I sincerely hope will be afflicted by scabies and erectile dysfunction for the rest of their miserable lives, smashed their way in through two front doors and grabbed (a) the box of 50p pieces and (b) a random selection of coins.

The box of 50p coins probably contains £100 of coins. The random selection contains a rare 50p, and  other coins to a value of about £5,000. We think they were after the 50p rather than the other coins.

Of course, to do this, they had to smash the counters rather than reaching in through to open backs.

Considering all the effort he has put in to expanding the business, this is a real slap in the face.

Much worse than a car rolling away.

Sometimes you wonder why you even bother trying. A lifetime building up and two scrotes with a hammer can cost you thousands in five minutes.

The police have said they will get there as soon as possible.

An Unhappy Man

The header picture is today’s entry in the Nugget or No-gett Competition. Answers at the bottom of the page.

I had a car accident yesterday, just one more brick in the wall of misery that is my mediocre life.

It wasn’t even an impressive accident.

The short version is as follows.

I had to move my car to allow someone out of a space in front of the shop where they shouldn’t have been parked in the first place. I was irritated. I forgot to engage the electric handbrake properly. Normally it engages itself if I forget.

The car ran down the slope (it’s so gentle I didn’t even notice it until yesterday) and gently came to rest against the car parked next to it. If I’d left my wheels straight, or if he’d been parked straight the cars would probably have not been damaged at all. But above all, it wouldn’t have happened if I had put the handbrake on.

So there you are. A minor collision at less than walking pace while neither driver was in the car. Some scrapes and paint transfer and, in my case, one dinge in the paper thin metalwork of my car.

It’s going to cost me £400 despite being insured, and I’ve already spent well over an hour on the phone in the last two days. Much of it was to a cheerful lady who was, she told me, based in Cape Town. I wish I was. They have good weather, penguins and a high crime rate. We have drizzle, idiots and a rising crime rate.

If you’re going to be robbed you might as well be warm and watching penguins as it happens. They aren’t puffins, but they are an acceptable substitute.

Puffin at Bempton Cliffs

Puffin at Bempton Cliffs

This is a Puffin. Cute as a penguin, but able to fly. It also had a chocolate biscuit named after it.

Presumably they outsource the call centre because it’s cheaper. This has, so far, not shown up on my insurance costs. Over the last few years, despite a full no-claims discount and, until last year, an impeccable driving record, my policy cost has rocketed. I’m beginning to think they have abandoned actuarial tables and are just making things up.


Answer: That’s right, it’s a Herring Gull, so No-gett. 





Five Years on WordPress

According to WordPress it is now five years since I first registered with them. This was a surprise as I always thought that I’d started in October. It seems that it took me nearly two weeks to get the first post written.

When you read the first post this is even more of a surprise, as it doesn’t seem to have the polish you’d expect from something that took two weeks to write. In fact it looks like I just threw a pile of words at the screen and took a very bad photograph. This has remained my technique throughout the five years.



A bad photograph of guinea fowl . The start of a proud tradition of average photography


The whole blog is, in fact, a log-jam of typos, false starts and broken promises.


This is a better photograph. It’s a salad of weeds and edible flowers

The post which featured this salad was the third and things were getting better. This plate of f floral delights was unequal to the weight of health and safety wielded by one of the visiting Guide officers. She was determined to make everything difficult and, as I remember, her first complaint was that people were shooting on the fields and I should have known better than to allow it when sweet delicate Rainbows were going to be on the farm.

They were 200 yards away and the way the farm shoot was run were unlikely to be achieving much in the way of slaughter.

Anyway, if you’ve ever had to host a visit from any scouting/guiding group you will know as well as I do that it’s the closest you can get to being a lion tamer, now that we are no longer allowed real lions in circuses.

And Rainbows, being the youngest and squeakiest of the lot, add sonic weaponry to the horror of the day.

A brief read  will soon show you that I haven’t really developed over the years – five years ago I was idle, overweight and out of tune with modern life, and nothing has changed.

The featured image is another robin. I’m thinking of running a series of lookalike photos, under the title “Nugget or No-get?

Those of you who are currently looking bemused and wondering what I’m talking about should probably have a look at this post by Derrick Knight. It’s a typically elegant Derrick post with wine, women and song (represented by wine, Mrs Knight and a film) and a robin called Nugget. You’ll have to scroll down a bit for Nugget as Derrick is more industrious than I am and tends to write more. (This entire post, in case you hadn’t noticed, is about reusing old posts and photographs. Laziness, I feel, never goes out of fashion.)








Another One Bites the Dust

Hopefully, my masterful title writing has hooked you, and you are now wondering which of my many shonky enterprises is currently munching the dry brown stuff.

It could be the continuity of my blog. I started writing it last night but was diverted by a number of things, including a slow-cooked tea which refused to cook properly and an interesting programme on how they make cakes in factories, including fondant fancies and Battenberg, which are two of my favourite cakes.

Did you know they use jam to glue the cake slices together in Battenberg, but jelly to stick the marzipan? I didn’t. It really is fascinating. Not quite fascinating enough as I fell asleep before the end of the programme and missed my midnight deadline.

I’ve been burning the midnight oil recently, trying to correct the faults in my haibun, which are coming home to roost at an alarming rate. Another set came back today, meaning that I now have a run of five submissions without a single success to lighten the gloom.

I am not letting it bring my mood down. It’s frustrating that I no longer seem able to write acceptable haibun but I’m sure it will pass. If I write enough one of them, on the law of averages, will turn out OK.

With that thought in mind, I am off to lunch at IKEA. Number One son needs a few bits before he moves into his new flat and I want to be as helpful as possible in helping him  move out.

It will be a relaxing interlude, which will hopefully help my writing.



A New Medical Condition and Some Thoughts on Medical Matters

I have added the new photos to yesterdays post if you want to have a look, though they aren’t that interesting.


Over the last week or so I’ve noticed a new thing happening. My head has become heavier. I’ve been suffering from stiff neck and shoulders recently and have developed a habit of relaxing my neck and letting my head flop. When the time comes to take back control my head seems very heavy.

I’ve never noticed myself having a heavy head before, so it was quite worrying.

I’ve looked up “neck weakness” to see if it’s a sign of anything and I really should have known better. It is a sign of many things, though I have started cutting them down. If the other symptoms include “weight loss” I don’t have that condition.

By a process of elimination, and by crossing any where I don’t like the look of the symptoms, I’ve narrowed it down to having a heavy brain.

This doesn’t appear in the world of internet medicine but logically it’s the only conclusion,

Julia said this sounds like nonsense, but as I have said before, people have mocked many of our great thinkers. Mockery does not mean I am incorrect. And when we experience a no-deal Brexit and can’t get medication, my theories on the use of leeches and blood-letting to cure high blood pressure will come into their own again. It stands to reason that if you take some out the pressure will fall. Just like letting air out of a balloon.

I think what has happened recently is that all my brain training (Scrabble for word abilities, Nine Men’s Morris for spatial awareness and reading more poetry to improve the quality of my plagiarism) have all increased my brain power and it must have got heavier. I will need to do some work in the gym to ensure I am able to hold this new superpower brain in a suitably upright position.

I’m now starting to monitor my reflection for any signs of Mekon-like cranial development. Or Megamind for those of you too young to remember Dan Dare and the Eagle Comic.