IN or OUT – Does it Matter to You? [The European Referendum]

IN or OUT  Does it Matter to You?

[An observation on the European Referendum]


The airwaves pulsate with the broadcast debate
Each side convinced of their argument’s weight
Those pro-Europeans who want us to stay
Against Brexit supporters who wish us away

Experts have weighed in on each side of the fence
Learned opinion both For and Against
Those who feel if we leave we will all just go bust
Others say those ‘bean-counters’ you never should trust

Brexit supporters say the greatest threat to our nation
Are unending waves of cross channel migration
Each year those who move here exceed those who leave
Causing problems of which we yet cannot conceive

On the side of ‘remain’ are the financial guru’s
Lamenting the prospect of missing Euros
The continent provides us with markets galore
Depletion of profits we must surely deplore

On a serious note ‘sovereignty’ affects how we live our lives
And history tells us, a cause of much strife
The Leave campaign says Europe seeks to rule all
Their restrictions become the supreme protocol

The EU comprises some huge institutions
Each one determined to find good solutions
Through its Treaties, Decisions, Rules and Directives
They say they make laws that are truly effective

But some in our land question if all this is needed
And our autonomous actions are thereby impeded
They claim that an enlarged Europe is much overgrown
And now is the hour to strike out on our own

We have ceded to Europe the right of control
And political union is their supreme goal
But the Stay campaign deny this is true
And many safeguards this aim would subdue

In addition to these undoubtedly critical factors
There are other issues which to all of us matter
Many Brits love their two weeks in glorious sun
As ‘Non-Europeans’ travel might be less fun

And others whose thoughts are more philosophical
Think of the wide implications, social and political
Is not Europe much safer if to it we belong?
From inside, more chance to right any wrong

Many Brexit supporters abhor Europe’s rules
Laid down they claim by bureaucratic fools
Others say that Europe protects those who labour
And o’er the years it has shown workers favour

And so they go on striking points off each other
Showing little regard for their European brother
While each of us tries to discern what is best
As through all the fog, the ‘facts’ we digest

Perhaps in the end the choice that we make
Between complex issues, so very opaque
May simply be what in our heart we think right
Which the future will tell by the use of hindsight!

Ken Fisher


Better Together (Not in the political sense!)

Better Together (Not in the the political sense!)


[A bad hair day!]

Shampoo and conditioner, a useful combination
Eliminates ‘bad hair days’ throughout the entire nation
Toothbrush and toothpaste used each morning for a while
Freshens breath, cleans the teeth, makes confident our smile

Motor cars need fuel or they never can go far
The humble jalopy or the sporty Jaguar
Fish tastes so much better accompanied by chips
I bet the very thought makes you lick your lips

Pens and pencils are of little use without some paper
If we want to leave a note for our helpful next door neighbour
A lamp without a bulb is a very dim affair
Left in the dark we surely would despair

Shoes without their laces are liable to fall off
But those fitted with Velcro make the youngsters scoff
Clocks with no hands leave you to guess the time
And for many, being late is something of a crime

When washing our face we need soap as well as towel
For if soap gets in our eyes it can sting us something foul
And for a snack what can better than tasty beans on toast?
Together these two will credit any host

So from these little verses I think you’ll get the notion
Some things in our lives are closely interwoven
They are quite useful on their own, and can give us lots of pleasure
But when partnered both together, can be ever so much better

Ken Fisher


For the Defence of the Realm

For the Defence of the Realm


Viewed with much ambivalence
By politicians and public alike
These metal-crated behemoths
The subject of much controversy
Oft dividing governments and their citizens

Lofty sea admirals swift to defend
The lethal fire power and potency
Ensuring peace prevails long after
The Cold War threats evaporate
And new strategic challenges loom

The shipyard workers and technicians
Whose alchemy of science and craft
Ensured the growth of each vessel
From embryonic drawings to the catharsis
Of the launch midst pomp and ceremony

But few can be unimpressed when viewing
The construction and assembly
Of these mighty creations
Encapsulating the acme of
Technological ingenuity and invention

And so the building of warships
Melds together in one cauldron
The fruits of human capability
The skills of organisation
And the mastery of the material world

But in its ultimate potential application
This great endeavour never fails
To raise contentious issues
In the realms of politics, economics and philosophy
Can we ever afford to use or not to use its capabilities?

Ken Fisher
[Thoughts prompted during a visit to the Glasgow yard of BAE Systems]

And by the following fact: see this link

The 27th May 2016 is the 75th anniversary of the sinking of the German warship BISMARCK. This mighty battleship was scuttled following incapacitating battle damage on 27 May 1941 in the North Atlantic


Glasgow’s West End Charms

Glasgow’s West End Charms
[Look out for the West End Festival 3 – 26 June 2016]


The centre of the universe where ‘life’ begins and ends
The hub, the focus, the vortex, on which true joy depends!
You can travel far and wide to the corners of the earth
And fail to find a home to match the West End’s worth

What is the fascination that this inner suburb brings?
Advocates would claim an extensive range of things
From its old world charms and faded housing stock
To pubs like the Curlers, the Aragon and the Rock

Restaurants and cafes abound on every lane and street
Friends and neighbours gather and each other greet
From early morn till late at night the coffee’s on the boil
Student baristas thereby finding useful toil

Others of a more sober thoughtful disposition
Revel in its Uni ‘s lofty learning mission
Religious devotees can find all Gods’ houses here
Seeking spiritual comfort without the need for beer

Many find that leisure abounds here in G12
Cinemas, the baths and libraries wherein to delve
Our public park is elevated to the status of Botanics
And you can follow any interest here even if you’re manic

So you can see why so many like Hillhead, Partick and Dowanhill
Living here in Glasgow’s terms is nothing short of ‘brill”
It’s got the lot for students, workers, e’en those on the pension
Its distractions are sure to relieve all your ills and tensions

So let us raise a cheer for all who promote this happy place
The Annual Festival which provides a great showcase
But above all let’s give thanks for this haven we call home
Our heart’s desire and trysting place no matter where we roam

Ken Fisher


May We Hallow Life’s Brief Span

May We Hallow Life’s Brief Span



The passing of a friend can often be the prompt
Sets the mind reflecting on this finite span
In childhood and youth there seems no end to time
In middle age, too busy, consolidating life’s gains

And approaching retirement can pull us up quite sharply
One quick retro-glance reminds us less than half left in our glass
Mind you the modern retiree – despised by many younger
Is conqueror of the world as o’er its globe they trot

Intent on spending their defined benefit pensions
Lump sums are blown hedonistically on experiences of a lifetime
Or taking early release within new pension freedoms
Why not they say? If life is short – live it to the full!

Darkly we observe the loving concern of the staff of the local
Care Home who strive to nurture their charges’ lives
As in second childhood they sleep twilight days away
Is this how we spend the bonus of a longer life?

But what about a Christian dimension to all of this?
The biblical span of years is now oft exceeded
But should our creed not permeate all the years
From earliest understanding to mature faith?

Notwithstanding the fact that our life seems long
Against the background of history its span is brief
So how can we hallow the years we have been granted?
How do we live the philosophers’  worthy life?

And as we tread life’s path in daily increments
We might seek to live and love as God would wish
Not neglecting our duty to ourselves and kith and kin
But seeking always to support others as best we can

And so life’s span would thus indeed be hallowed
All our encounters, all deeds both great and small
Made somehow holy as others we would seek to honour
And thus their lives and our own be truly blessed

Ken Fisher

[HALLOW: To make holy, consecrate, sacred, sanctified, blessed, venerated]


The State Opening of Parliament

The State Opening of Parliament


Pomp and pageant, precedent and politics
Golden coach and heraldic caravanserai
The sovereign at parliament
Noble head bearing the Imperial Crown
And shrouded in the Robe of State

The Queen enthroned, confronts her Lords Spiritual
And Temporal in the grandeur of the upper house
The Commons symbolically excluded, then reluctantly
admitted as Black Rod hammers on the door

The procession to the Lords’ chamber led by
The Speaker of the Commons as lesser members
Follow on, recognizable faces then others in their turn
Thus all of parliament awaits the monarch

The Queens’s speech – written by the government
Mouthed by the sovereign, outlines the proposals for
Legislation and reform. Filled with noble aims
And high ideals but seasoned by ideology of the party

Thus the plans for the new session are set forth
Royalty, in great dignity retreat, and both houses
Begin the debate on the content of that speech
First to agree ‘An address in reply to Her Majesty’s
Gracious Speech’    Then let battle commence!

Thus continues a tradition stretching back to the 17th Century
Perhaps somewhat archaic but truly redolent of our
Constitutional democracy.

Ken Fisher


Spanning the Forth

Spanning the Forth [Three Bridges]


[Artist’s impression of three bridges]

In a world where we hear of so much division and strife
It is good to reflect on what our world might unite
And rather than vague abstract causes and notions
Here’s a suggestion quite devoid of emotion

When in the physical world we discern a real need
To bring people closer so that trade might succeed
Or that friendship can grow to their mutual gain
And such blessings may know a wider domain

Then the river or valley that those peoples divide
Creating a gulf that is ever so wide
Demands a response from some ingenious man
That in due time that great chasm be spanned

The earlier means to unite both sides of the Forth
Found the ferries no doubt of considerable worth
And for decades this method met most of their needs
Progress was steady but of limited speed

But when the age of the railway took the nation by storm
The growth of new industry demanded reform
Thus the great iron horses would have ground to a halt
For lack of a bridge that great gap to assault

And in similar vein in much later decades
Motor transport supported our myriad trades
And the trunk road network that commuters so love
Spanning the Forth from suspension above

So first we had the rail bridge stretching more than a mile
From 1890 renowned for its iconic style
In 1964 the road bridge opened its (then) tollgates
Doing sterling service only just maintaining the weight

And soon we look forward to the new Queensferry Crossing
The concept of bridges thus clearly endorsing
And so long as we seek to bring improvement to travel
These engineering triumphs will still make us marvel

Ken Fisher


[Panoramic photograph of three bridges]

Is There No End To It?

Is there no end to it? [The Universe]


Musings on the enormity of the Cosmos


It all began with the “singularity”
The origins of all, packed into one
A point in” space-time” when gravity
caused matter to have infinite density
but at that same time, to have zero volume
This the initial state of the Universe at the
very beginning of the Big Bang!

From that moment onwards
All that was, and all that was to be
kept on expanding, outwards and onwards
That explosive initiation was a long time ago
Indeed the current view is that
It was 13.77 billion years ago
Measured by checking the temperature!

And with the help of the ‘hiss’ from
the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation
Scientists have worked out the cooling time
of the Universe since the Big Bang.
Thus we can measure the expansion rate of the universe
And by a deft process of extrapolating backwards
Lo and behold – we have its age!

Then we have our Solar System
The planets orbiting round our star the Sun
You know them all I’m sure
Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars,
Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune
[forget little Pluto now!]
And Neptune is 2,795,084,000 miles from the Sun!

Now we have to wrestle with this cosmological behemoth
How do you get to grips with its vastness?
Well if we shrink the distance from the
Earth to the Sun to equal one inch
(It is actually 93,000,000 miles!)
Then the nearest Star would be 4.3 miles away!
And there are about 200 billion stars in the Milky Way

Stretching beyond the spiral arms of our Milky Way
Thanks to the legacy of Edwin Hubble
We can detect infinite galaxies each populated
By a never ending number of stars each progressing through
Their life cycle from Stellar Nebula through Red Giant
to Planetary Nebula to White Dwarf and perhaps even Black Hole

How many Galaxies in the Universe we ask?
The Hubble Space Telescope seeks out the
very edge of the Observable Universe – light that has
had a chance to reach us within 13.77 billion years
And by extrapolating from a sample we come up
With the almost magic number of – wait for it –
225 billion Galaxies in the cosmos

So what is the whole thing made of?
The CMBR helps us to quantify the content of the universe
And the result is rather mind-boggling
atoms, all the things we perceive, accounts for only 5%
24% is Cold Dark Matter – sub atomic particles
And most of the universe (71%) is labelled as
Dark Energy – with its gravitationally repulsive effect

And thanks to this Dark Energy the universe still
hangs together despite continuous inflation
The Universe is homogeneous and isotropic
It is the same and looks the same in every direction
This is sometimes called the Cosmological Principle
Which means that viewed on a large enough scale
The Universe looks the same whoever and wherever you are.”

Ken Fisher – with information from a wide variety of sources.


Map of the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation

Digital Memorial

Digital Memorial



Recent reports in the press and elsewhere point to a novel trend
Instead of erecting a tombstone or other such tangible shrine
The deceased, in advance, or their bereaved loved ones, in time
Have chosen a modern way for their lifetime’s work to transcend

Apparently we no longer live just in our everyday material sense
Our footprint on life reaches right up and enters into the ‘cloud’
And if others would know of all those deeds of which we think we’re proud
They should be made aware of what they were and similarly from whence

They thus can be informed of all those whose life we helped improve
And how in so many ways we facilitated much worthy change
Where our little efforts helped to bring about such serious gains
Or those, thanks to us, who found their burdens were lessened or removed

And where do our mourners find this great record of multiple achievement?
Normally it appears in an obituary, or some other published eulogy
But the digital memorial requires a great deal of electronic scrutiny
A much more complex appraisal amidst the process of bereavement

The daily paper’s death notice or the clergyman’s funeral oration
Are too limited to provide all that can be trawled on today’s social media
Whose various forms taken as a whole are large as an encyclopaedia
Thus Face Book, Linked In, Twitter, and YouTube each make their declaration

About the life of the deceased, in short messages, tweets, and clips encapsulated
Thus revealing to the world, in sound bites and Photoshop images
And snippets of communication in a million email messages
Like shards in a kaleidoscope our little life thus venerated

I’m not sure that the digital memorial is better than a graveside stone
And no matter what Big Data may tell of our life’s distinctive story
Of our dark days and sometimes even those of joy and glory
I prefer something more dignified than downloads from my phone!

Surely the best memorial that most people would truly respect
Would be recognition of our ‘real time’ presence among all those we loved?
And no matter how many followers clocked us from the cloud above
Our true friends’ joyous remembrance would the best we might ever expect

Ken Fisher

[The idea for this poem based on an item in the BBC Radio 4 Sunday Programme on 8 May 2016]


Election Time – After the Event

Election Time

The day after polling day



A long sleepless night, the vigil of the Results
Much excitement throughout the land
Early reports show the participation rates quite high
No man or his dog could escape the frisson

Polling day witnessed the stations fully used
No boredom or tedium this Thursday
And steady flows of voters
Eager to make their choices

The complexities of our PR voting system
Do not seem to have caused the voters great confusion
Whether it creates a two-tier universe of MSPs
In due time this seems to matter little

The magic hour of 10 o’clock, no more ticking
The metal caskets sealed and sent on their way
The smooth electoral machinery secures their safe progress
Ensuring each one directed to their counting station

World’s media turns on its search-lights
Politicians and pundits hover by the podium
At first there is little to say as there are no results
And comment from participants seems ambivalent

Then the early results – from small rural communities
Throw a crumb to the hungry journalists
Extrapolating tiny numbers into ‘national swings’
After all they have to say something

Gradually the momentum grows
Hopes begin to be dashed or faint hearts warmed
Explanation and rationalization comes thick and fast
Warning against early conclusion

Airwaves filled with chatter, rudely interrupted
The result is coming in from ……….shire
Self-important returning officers
Give their unhurried verdict to the anxious listeners

Broadcast journalists seize the opportunity
To demand some instant response
To any turn of events that challenges their prey
They go straight for the jugular

As the dark hours give way to daylight

A clearer picture takes shape, firmer outcomes predicted
Sharper focus now demanded in comments and explanations
The results seem to say this election has more to do
With constitutional issues than the traditional divide

The protagonists now face their new reality
Some heave a huge sigh of relief
Others nurse their wounds
Whither now the future of Scotland?

Ken Fisher

The Bank of Mum&Dad (BoMaD)

The Bank of Mum & Dad 



It would appear from press reports that if you find you’re short of cash
And trying to buy a house without the necessary stash
If you’re getting nowhere with the usual high street lenders
And chances of scaling the property ladder are getting ever slender

Then the best prospect for those who hold such aspirations
Is to maintain accord with your very close relations
Because it seems you will need to bring out that begging bowl
And ask your Mum and Dad if they will kindly you bankroll?

Costs of fleeing the nest seem to forever spiral
House price inflation having gone completely viral
So ‘baby boomer’ parents find that in this world gone mad
The desirable new brand is simply called BOMAD*

And offspring for sure are rarely being coy
As they latch on to this money-seeking ploy
As their elders have gained by rises o’er the years
And their bricks became a goldmine in common with their peers

So watch out all parents if you thought your wealth secure
You can’t ignore the pleadings of your kids who’re oh so poor
Cancel world cruises or a room in that care home
You’ll need to give your progeny more than chromosomes!

Ken Fisher

*BoMaD = Bank of Mum & Dad

Emblem: M&D from Shelter



Election Time

Election Time      5th May 2016


Time fast approaching when voters must make their choices
All sides in the debate near exhausted by the fray
Arguments finely honed and rehearsed so many times
So that, if prompted, even we might quote their party lines

Politicians seeking comfort from the pollsters
Turn to the pronouncements of psepholigists
[Modern custodians of the Holy Grail]
But interpretation of results they reserve as their own

This great event has shown the power of ‘branding’
With party emblems emblazoned all around
Zealots in each camp show no indecision
As cascading leaflets penetrate the letter boxes

The journalists like ‘war’ correspondents
Have not been afraid to enter in the fray
They have even been the cause of skirmishes
If seen to favour one party o’er the others

So TV political anchors readily bare their fangs
Determined to prove they show no bias, and give no quarter
They attack with vigour, candidates of every hue
Their confrontations grant no favours, make no concessions

But the TV broadcasts of the leaders’ debates have often palled
As participants talk across each other, stifling free speech
Nipping their opponents like ferrets fighting in a sack
Each must display the dominant voice no matter what

Perhaps a pity that the game of politics seems never to concede
Any potential virtue in an opponent’s stance, this might show weakness
But we have been told that politics is ‘the art of the possible’
Meaning a pragmatic approach as to what might reasonably be achieved

But promises of utopia seem to persist despite impossible challenges
And voters are expected to be credulous, no matter how improbable
All that is asked of us is that we trust our future to the party
And in due time we will surely reap the promised reward

But lest all of this seems too cynical, let’s pause for a moment
To consider the politicians’ contribution to democracy
At least we have some choice, and there is real competition
Who among us would be subjected to this gruelling process?

And in Scotland we do have a measure of Proportional Representation
Thus giving each of us two bites at the cherry
One for the constituency candidate, another for the party list
So perhaps by this mystical procedure some balance might yet arise

All that each of us must do now
Is exercise our hard-fought right at the polls
Enjoy the excitement of the night
And somehow accept the result with equanimity!

Ken Fisher