Halloween

Halloween [Monday 31st October 2016]

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Trick or Treat I hear them ask – what should I reply?
As on the threshold of my door the guisers I espy
To ward them off I pay their price as if it were a ransom
With fruits and sweets and even nuts a gift that I thought handsome

But before I let my ‘guests’ depart I ask them in return
What entertainment will they provide, what act will they perform?
It is in times like these I find that suddenly they’re silent
Unable to convince me that Britain has still Got Talent!

However, eventually together they muster up some courage
One even recites a bawdy poem – not really with much flourish
Two more play on the ‘air guitar’ a stimulating riff
While others mouth imagined lyrics, standing there quite stiff

The performance duly over towards the door they shuffle
And in sharing out the Treats try to avoid a scuffle
It was then I notice their costumes quite exotic
Theatrical to say the least – some even psychedelic

These young celebrants in this ancient hallowed festival
Of evil spirits, ghosts and some things quite heretical
Are really just out to have fun with all their many friends
And despite their spooky garb they bring no ill intent

So when our doorbell rings with the challenge ‘Trick or Treat’?
Let’s welcome them with open heart – and with a smile do greet
‘Cause on the eve of All Saints’ Day it’s best that we been seen
To welcome visitors e’re so strange on this night of Halloween

Ken Fisher

 

Clocks Go Back

Clocks Go Back [Sunday 30th October 2016]

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The days are getting shorter, the nights are drawing in
In no time at all we will arrive at Halloween
Darkness is descending, as we struggle through the gloom
Look out for the guisers draped in their costume

‘Ere we reach that ‘hallowed’ eve the clocks must be turned back
Between Saturday and Sunday an hour they give us back
For last Spring those same clocks were moved an hour forward
To rectify that change now the movement will be rearward

But this time it’s somewhat special because it’s now 100 years
Since Daylight Saving Time arrived ‘midst many doubts and fears
Some people think this clock change is the harbinger of doom
And thoughts of hibernation fill their hearts with gloom

But most of us will soon accept the changing of the light
Brighter in the morning, then earlier dark at night
Nothing’s really changed, it’s ourselves who’ve played a trick
Tinkering with the clock hands but letting it still tick

So with the changing of the hour we revert to Greenwich Mean
British Summer Time left behind till Spring’s green shoots are seen
But at least we know now where we are, the timing quite official
No fiddling with the hours of day or night, no changes artificial

Ken Fisher

Lentil Soup

Lentil Soup

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I wonder if it is possible for you to envisage a plate of lentil soup
Without finding that your mouth is watering?
Now I am devoid of any culinary skills whatsoever
But when I am treated to a hot bowl of this delectable concoction
I am almost overwhelmed with delight

Apparently this tasty broth can come in many varieties
Each with its own distinct charms to stimulate the palate
So there are versions with red lentil, chickpea and chili
And others comprising carrot, onion, celery and oregano
Vegan soup that will respect some dietary preferences
And for meat-eaters why not try lamb stew and lentils?

A quick trawl through the internet or the cook books
Will lift the pot lid on recipes galore for lentil soups
Try the economical ‘budget buster lentil soup’
At 20 pence per serving – just the thing when times are tight
For more savings – make double quantity and freeze some!

Lentil soups seem to come in a wide range of colours
From rather pale consommé to dark chunky offerings
And some types are gluten free while others offer high protein
And for those needing things to be pepped up a bit
Why not go for carrot and ginger with lentils?

So what more can be said about this quotidian potage?
I think the simple message is – if you are searching
For some food that’s truly nutritional yet irresistible in taste
Look no further than the humble bowl of lentil soup
I bet you are still licking your lips as you think on it!

Ken Fisher

Bureaucracy

Bureaucracy

 

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Bureaucracy sometimes is given a bad name
And tempers have been known to burst into flame
By what for many are just petty restrictions
And particularly awkward terms and conditions

There is no doubt when submitting data on-line
One wonders whoever compiled the design
‘Cause often we struggle to enter the facts
Of our new Registered Car or our Income Tax

Forms are the lifeblood of all office systems
And it is pointless to offer them any resistance
And whatever the information that is demanded
If we don’t supply it we’re left empty-handed

So if it’s a job application or a benefit claim
Or on-line ticket booking, the response is the same
We need to tell them what they want to know
Or the simple reply will be ‘Computer Says No!’

But for those bureaucrats you should spare just a thought
Submerged deep in paper they get quite distraught
As they seek to respond to all we demand
From systems even they may not understand

Ken Fisher

The Clash of the Titans [Presidential Debate]

The Clash of the Titans

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton shakes hands with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump after the presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., Monday, Sept. 26, 2016. (Joe Raedle/Pool via AP)

 

I wonder if like me you have found yourself cringing
At the vitriolic salvos fired at each other by those
Who would aspire to be the leader of the ‘free world’
In fact cowering in fear is more accurate than cringing

It seems to me that the level of debate has reached its nadir
When our thoughts are directed more to prurience than politics
More to roistering and partying than to party politics and policies
Not that these antics should be ignored, do they indicate priorities?

Of course without doubt views on morality have changed
And what is now acceptable was formerly roundly condemned
[Although one wonders what may have gone on behind closed doors]
And huge moral issues arise in our volatile world context

Challenges to peace and security bring back echoes of the Cold War
Major wars still smolder away and could burst quickly into flame
Economic instability, poverty, inequality, internecine strife, climate change
Surely these issues should be reflected in the Presidential manifesto?

And so let us hope and pray that these two pugulists will cast off
Their gloves and the rhetoric of the boxing arena
And seek to provide for us a vision worthy of the Office
That whoever wins, will seek the good of others in this divided world

Ken Fisher

Retirement

Retirement

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Retirement gives you time to reflect, and sometimes you might ponder
What happened to all those earlier years – we surely did not squander
But here we are, much more behind than what’s in front for sure
Despite the wisdom of the years the future still obscure

Today’s retirees should not be as depressed as those of former days
On average a longer span is ours – for this the medics praise
And of course it probably is true more days are surely ours
‘Cause good diet and exercise, have helped us keep our powers

Indeed we all know of pensioners who refuse e’er to stand still
Their commitment to volunteering and busyness now their treadmill
Others spend their cash as the globe they circumnavigate
Perhaps they hope to reach the moon before it is too late!

All of this activity is a blessing and a boon to themselves and others
As they seek to help their offspring, even their sisters and their brothers
And there is little doubt charities and clubs and other organisations
Would fail in their mission without the ‘oldies’ co-operation

But there comes a time in the life of every retired person
When steam runs out and once easy tasks now turn into a burden
It’s then that they must claim their right to take their well earned ease
And they at last must realise that rest is no disease!

Ken Fisher

The Volunteer

The Volunteer

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Where would we be without the volunteer?
Those selfless souls who freely offer to take part
Whether it be to join some ‘Great Cause’
And end up making the ‘Supreme Sacrifice’
Or whether it be for a much humbler task
Some regular kindness to our neighbour
That does not demand self-immolation
But nonetheless has the hallmark of self-giving

Is it just me who is becoming more aware
That volunteers seem to be a threatened species?
Despite political hectoring that we should all
Be part of the ‘Big Society’ showing social solidarity
Based on voluntarism and communitarianism
Each one prepared to play our part for the common good
Thus ordinary citizens should be enabled to
Provide the impetus for much greater ‘people power’

These are grand sentiments no doubt advocated
With the best intentions. Unfortunately
There is not too much evidence that the Big Society
Has managed to ‘big itself up’ to any significant scale
And I wonder why so few seem to have caught the vision
And responded to the challenge of active volunteering
Regretfully, I think the zeitgeist of our age is
More that of self-absorption than participation

Why should this be, I ask myself?
Perhaps it is the pace of life, we are all too busy
Work life balance is out of kilter, we are living
In the ‘always connected’ mode – there is no escape
Earning a living, extensive commuting, and exhaustion
All surely play their part. Don’t ask me to do anything
OK – point taken. But will this sound the death knell
Of all that hitherto volunteers have done for us?

‘I hope not’ – I hear you say.
Thank God for the volunteers –but please, please,  just don’t ask me!

Ken Fisher

 

The’Flu Jab

The ‘Flu Jab

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Don’t you just love it – this time of year?
That NHS reminder that can fill you with fear
It’s time once again to do as directed
And make sure from ‘flu you are fully protected

Not everyone receives this summons from high
But it applies to me – I admit with a sigh
The vaccine comes to us completely free
So take it manfully and don’t try to flee

If you are over the age of sixty-five
They will have checked your name in their archive
Or you are a pregnant lady, or overweight
It’s most unlikely that you can escape

If your immune system is somewhat suspect
They will be even keener your arm to inject
And if around the waist there is too much flab
They will puncture it all with the bold ‘flu jab

Of course we should not complain of this annual ritual
Intended to ensure that we remain fitter
And withstand the dangers of those nasty bugs
That seem to behave like micro-sized thugs

So when the message arrives to make the appointment
Make sure the nurse receives no disappointment
Get along to the surgery and bare your best arm
It will do you much good and surely no harm

Ken Fisher

In Praise of Poetry

In Praise of Poetry

[Prompted by the celebration of National Poetry Day 6th October 2016]

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From bard of old to modern scribe
Folks from their clan or ancient tribe
Set down their thoughts on love and life
Of peaceful days or times of strife

Primitive symbols on cave walls
Or ancient tomes kept in great halls
Retold their tales of days of yore
Of battles, feuds, and much spilled gore

Throughout the history of their land
In metropolis or island strand
In each succeeding generation
Poets speak out for every nation

As they recount in verse and rhyme
Acts heroic in their time
Myths and sagas thus survive
And old traditions kept alive

Poetry upholds a nation’s pride
Expresses feelings deep and wide
That tell of our own situation
Our joys, our hopes, and life’s frustrations

And in the words of rhyme and prose
The poet seeks to thus compose
A tale that touches deep the heart
Reflecting life like every art

But in that special written form
A poetic voice can thus transform
Emoted by some word or phrase
We shed a tear or shout in praise

Ken Fisher

Time

Time

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Time is a concept we simply can’t ignore
It can empower us when we have enough of it
It can enslave us if we have too little of it
It can be our friend if we use it wisely
But it has been described as ‘the Old Enemy’
In mensuration it is the ‘fourth dimension’

The coming of the railways standardized our time
Eventually all the clocks recognizing Greenwich
The agreement of time gave birth to the timetable
Not only for transport – in our schools and colleges too
Thus came the tyranny of ‘double maths’ on Mondays!
And international travel can’t ignore time differences

The factory system exercised control by the time clock
And processes subject to the time-and-motion study
Which seeks to optimize all that’s time consuming
Even in our family life we find the need of time management
And thus was born the modern plea for right work/life balance
We need to employ time savers to ensure some time out!

Elite athletes often find themselves in a race against time
Their lives devoted to shaving miniscule amounts of time
From existing records – Electronic time-keeping
Seems to have made us all more conscious of time
Will there ever be a time when humans can run 100 metres
In virtually no time at all?

But time can also be our friend – considering our whole lifespan
On average we have more time to spend on this mortal coil
More time for reflection, even more ‘time for amendment of life’
Thus some of the older time constraints have disappeared
Our lifetime segmented into learning time, working time, retirement time
Although the costs of this may be a personal and national time-bomb!

As the years have progressed we see the influence of time and time keeping
Become more pervasive in all aspects of our human lived experience
Think of the old adage – time is money; or time restricted offers
Or time-lines in historical analysis; or time capsules and time machines
Of science fiction. And when one mentions deadlines we are reminded
of the pressure which time exerts on us so often

And so I could go on – if only I had enough time!
But none of us can go on forever – our existence is time bound
And I am reminded of that great hymn of Isaac Watts
Where he refers to ‘Time Like and Ever Rolling Stream
Bears all its Sons away’. And perhaps the only message to learn
Is to savour each and every moment of the time we have

Ken Fisher