Auld Claes and Parritch

Auld Claes and Parritch

 

Like all good things, it must come to an end
And there is no chance that it will extend
I mean those joyous six weeks of school holidays
When all thoughts of work just turn to play

Of course not everyone enjoys the interlude
But for most this break can change our attitude
Free from normal routine with its constraints
Most say that they have no complaints

Globe-trotters will have travelled to sunny shores
Others have found elsewhere to explore
For many it will have given a welcome space
Some new experience, new joys to embrace

Scholars may have studied and learned many facts
Others, perhaps more wisely, just took time to relax
Parents seeking with their kids a closer bond
While free spirits might have been tempted to abscond!

Holidays should have provided time to reflect
On aspects of living we tend to neglect
An opportunity to refocus and plan ahead
These weeks may even have been a watershed

So whatever the outcome of the annual vacation
Exotic overseas adventures or humbler staycation
Whether life enhancing or perhaps even menacing
Its approaching conclusion is often unsettling

But for most of us auld claes and parritch is the diet we face
Perhaps we simply yearn for the commonplace
‘Cause notwithstanding all the excitement and thrill
The ordered life, the common task, does yet fulfil

 

Ken Fisher

Would You Credit It?

Would You Credit It?
The Credit Crunch – Ten Years on
August 9th 2007 was acknowledged to
be the start of the notorious Credit Crunch

We’ve lost those days of easy spending
Supported by our banker’s lending
Good-bye to wine, blooms by the bunch
Thanks to the wretched credit crunch

How has this happened, what has gone wrong?
Failed to save for far too long?
Or in our dealings with the bank
Not always been entirely frank

The truth it seems is more elusive
The money men are quite evasive
You might have thought they would be frank
Helping us to trust our bank

Unknown to us behind the scenes
Our cash obscured by complex screens
Was sweetened up like golden honey
But ended up as “funny money”

In former days banks held deposits
And lent from only their own closet
But now-a-days that’s not enough
Competition’s far too tough

So out into the money market
Like Mother Hubbard with her basket
To multiply her store of cash
Nothing ever seemed too rash

To profit from this increased store
The banks got ready to explore
Lending out to whomsovever
Re-inventing the “never-never “

It mattered not how you would pay,
Or from the contract you might stray
The banks were there to do a deal
No matter how that made you feel

If soon you found you’re out of luck
Re-payment made you come unstuck
Instead of payments made on time
You very soon became “sub-prime”

The US bankers took the lead
Meeting every borrower’s need
But very soon the world at large
Ensured they too had joined the charge

A new regime came into place
To grant huge loans and win the race
Thus none of us need ever wait
To meet our needs however great

Every banker now must sell
To prudence they all said farewell
But every spender really happy
Credit granted very snappy

But then it all became unstuck
Spenders seemed to lose their luck
As they began to hit the red
Bankers could not sleep in bed

Suddenly their glorious plan
Amazingly “had hit the fan”
Borrowers gathered at the dole
Bankers seemed to lose control

This enterprise had somehow stumbled
As one by one the moguls crumbled
Thus had begun what seemed quite viral
Disease around the world did spiral

Quite suddenly as if by stealth
The end of our financial health
No longer ever in ascension
Our house, our shares, indeed the pension

Well is there any consolation
Word of comfort for the nation
Perhaps it’s this – why do we trust
In things so quickly turned to dust?

Ken Fisher

Do we deserve what we earn, and earn what we deserve?

Do we deserve what we earn, and earn what we deserve?

[Prompted by recent press reports on salaries paid
to BBC high earners] 

The press has been full of reports of generous pay
Of high profile broadcasters in our modern day
And this has prompted a lively debate
Some giving praise, but others berate

Perhaps it’s just envy that they are paid so much
Astronomical amounts that we’ll never touch
But the discussions seem charged with heavy emotion
As we can’t get a raise or even promotion

I suppose it ‘s because many of those who gain such a lot
Seem to have jobs that demand limited thought
And the public are funding their celebrity status
With little regard as to how all this affects us

We are told that in matters of remuneration
The market demand results in inflation
So with such unique skills and rare attributes
Celebrities expect to taste sumptuous fruit

But what of the millions on the so-called living wage?
It is not surprising if they work up a rage
For surely they deserve a bigger slice of the cake
As a fair reward for the effort they make

Of course whatever our place in the hierarchy of work
We should all do our best, no-one should shirk
We must deserve what we earn for whatever we do
But how much we earn must be equitable too

And perhaps we must question the rewards some folk gain
Funding a lifestyle of caviar and champagne
While others struggle each week to survive
And seriously question how they might ever thrive

Ken Fisher

Say What You Mean and Mean What You Say

Say What You Mean and Mean What you Say

 

I wonder how often you use an expression
With words which merely give an impression
Of what you really intended to say
And thus the whole truth it will often betray

In order to soften the harsh words we intended
Of some painful truth that would leave you offended
We find an alternative choice of words
As we are so scared of inflicting such hurt?

Politicians and lawyers are adept at this ruse
Although quite often it will their hearers confuse
So if asked when to a problem they will they find a solution
Their response seems impenetrable circumlocution

If they see themselves drawn into a limited space
By a challenge which might force them to lose face
They will blur the issue by the use of ‘soft focus’
Avoiding the truth, hoping you will not notice

Metaphor and simile are two of their friends
Thus they define things with a ‘distorting lens’
Nothing is described in the true light of day
And your misunderstanding can be washed away

In the modern world I have detected a trend
To use technical jargon most can’t comprehend
And thus all the world’s problems still lack a solution
Secreted behind all this verbose confusion

And of course it is not just our words’ intention
It’s to our actions also we must give full attention
For if what we say has to have any clout
Surely it’s those very deeds that we must carry out

So would it not be better if we simply say what we mean
Hiding nothing behind a loquacious smokescreen
And at the same time we should mean what we say
Thus our intended message we would clearly convey

Ken Fisher

Chutzpah

Chutzpah

 

Chutzpah is a word sometimes used today
Which can mean impudence, even audacity
It seems to have a long Jewish pedigree
Yiddish or Hebrew we are led to believe

You may have encountered it in the press
Used for exuberance in excess
I suppose we might simply call it cheek
Which quickly removes any mystique

It depends whether you wish to give offence
Or test your companion’s tolerance
In this light chutzpah is really effrontery
You cannot describe it any other way

But if the user wishes to compliment
And to offer  praise is your real intent
Then chutzpah is thought to be fearlessness
Heroic and daring showing real gutsiness

So it seems that you need to give it some thought
For the use of chutzpah is quite easily fraught
And it rests on the context or what we intend
As to whether we praise or perhaps deeply offend

Ken Fisher

Shoehorn

Shoehorn

 

If ever there was a useful device
That solves one of the problems of daily life
The shoehorn is surely one of the best
To prevent our feet being unduly distressed

We all know that feeling when trying to get shod
Forcing our feet that seem far too broad
Into that slim tight-fitting shoe
A narrow gap they refuse to go through

We tug at the laces to make them go slack
We push the foot forward and then pull it back
We turn it around like a twisting corkscrew
But to no avail whatever we do

You would think modern ‘trainers’ would need no shoehorn
But round the ankle they are with padding adorned
Thus inserting your foot through such a thick cushion
requires much assistance as you begin pushing

It is then that the shoehorn comes into its own
By some kind of magic as yet unknown
Slid behind the ankle the horn guides our foot
By this method our problem we can troubleshoot

Shoehorns are produced from various materials
Plastic and metal, even obscure minerals
They are sometimes quite short but occasionally long
Some seem quite flimsy and others so strong

However they look, and by what means they are made
They act like a miniature form of a glassade
But just like a spade or sometimes a shovel
The shoehorn avoids all that foot-fitting trouble

Ken Fisher

POMS – Peevish Old Man Syndrome

POMS – Peevish Old Man Syndrome

I wonder if you ever find yourself in a peevish mood
No matter what’s happening, to you, nothing is good
Even if your life has provided you plenty
You always consider your glass is half-empty

You have adopted an ill-tempered disposition
All joyous thoughts beaten into submission
And no matter whatever the situation
Your usual response, simply irritation

Young and old alike are a threat to your peace
Their demands on your time makes your anger increase
Happy laughter or even friendly badinage
Produces a reaction as if you were mad

The reason for all of this I really can’t figure
Perhaps it’s their youth or obvious vigour
But I really must learn to share in their ploy
And avoid simply being seen as an old kill-joy

Being peevish will never win many friends
Instead warm heartedness would pay dividends
So I truly must stop nurturing my P O M S
And grant to the world my share of kindness

Ken Fisher

[With respect to Richard Wilson]

 

Continental Train Journey

Continental Train Journey

The joy and romance of a continental train journey
A feeling of excitement and even mystery
Each and every destination seems exotic
Despite the fact that many are quite quotidian

Perhaps it is the element of the unfamiliar
The anxiety of ensuring you are on the right platform
That you line up at the point for your intended coach
And not forgetting to compostez votre billet in the yellow machine!

The train trundles in to the station and you scramble aboard
If you have reserved your seat, can you find it?
Perhaps it is upstairs! A feature unfamiliar in Britain
Soon the journey starts, are we travelling in the wrong direction?
Who knows? Who cares?

We steadily progress through the suburbs and into the hinterland
Fields of stony ground support the serried ranks of vines
We are in the South of France where vineyards abound
Perhaps you prefer the olives, here in equal abundance

We gaze out at red tiled roofs and farm steadings
They seem to stretch for miles in every direction
No wonder the French are keen to support agriculture
It is claimed most city dwellers are only one generation from the land

Sometimes, at a distance, we catch sight of an ancient hilltop monastery
For centuries home to a venerated religious community
Offering up prayers for this profane world
As they devoted themselves to their Order

As you look out across the landscape little things surprise
The pylons seem like elaborate constructions from coat-hangers
And of course, who can ignore the railside graffiti?
Far exceeding the art of David Hockney or Jackson Pollock!

Inside the train we are not neglected and if you travel TGV
Or similar, you may be served a very civilized lunch with wine
And always the sun seems to shine perpetually
Surely this affects the outlook – warming the soul – who needs the wine?

One disconcerting feature which can concern the traveller
in a foreign land, is the on-board announcement to passengers
Schoolboy French provides about ten percent of the message
Check how the natives are reacting – then follow the crowd!

This journey is but a mere snap shot, a transient moment
In our life and theirs. But as the track bisects land
Little cameos of local life flash before our eyes in rapid succession
And in some small part we catch a glimpse of similarity and difference

In due time we reach our destination and climb down
to the platform – We know what sortie means!
So we emerge on to the station concourse
In expectation of further delights of the unfamiliar

Ken Fisher

Approaching the End of the School Term

Approaching the End of the School Term

Towards the end of June we approach the close of the Scottish Schools’ term
This time frame must produce mixed feelings for pupils, teachers, and parents
Relief for the teachers once all the marking and assessing are processed
Release anticipated by the pupils as they exit the school gates
Concern in the parents as to how their offspring have done
And also the perennial problem of child minding in the long break

Of course it is true to say that most kids today do go away, at least for some time
Whether on holiday with family and friends – and many of these are overseas vacations
to destinations that earlier cohorts could only dream of
In fact in common with many others of my generation the Scout Camp
At Crieff or Moffat was our most exotic prospect – ten days under leaking canvas!
Still, we survived (the midges) and were not subjected to the temptations of Magaluf

I suppose there is a sense of life in transition at this time
Some moving from Primary up to the ‘big school’ with all its unknowns
For others the prospect of progressing to college or university
In the hope of training for an uncertain future ‘career’
And teachers wish their charges all the best for whatever lies ahead
No matter they are inwardly glad to be seeing the backs of some!

And for all, pupils, parents, teachers, and those connected to them
A sudden increasing awareness of the very transitory nature of life
Perhaps even more so in this modern age where everything seems
Somewhat provisional.   The old certainties swept away
In jobs, in marriage and relationships, in housing, in the economy, even faith

Perhaps we no longer live under the shadow of the 1960’s Cold War
But do we feel secure as the schools are out – how can we feel calm?

Ken Fisher

Wake Up and Smell the Coffee

Wake Up and Smell the Coffee

“Wake up and smell the coffee” is apparently a call to action
A set of circumstances, an affair, demanding our reaction
It would appear that we might have been caught sleeping
Time now for us to act, and wake from idle dreaming

Some say the expression is used to tell us we are wrong
Time for a sharp rethink to move our thoughts along
Others say it is just a phrase to say we must wake up
To harsh realities, so many problems piling up

Wake and smell the coffee tells us to become aware
Not hide below the duvet or even turn to prayer
For although prayer may have its rightful place
Nonetheless these issues we simply now must face

So when someone reminds us of that beverage we should smell
It’s obviously something helpful that they wish to tell
And if we are truly wise we will produce a prompt reaction
A timely answer to advice which springs us into action

Ken Fisher

The Queen’s Speech

The Queen’s Speech

 

This time the Queen’s speech was somewhat truncated
Which may have left some of us feeling frustrated
But nonetheless our parliament will be put through its paces
Despite the Queen having to dash off to the races

Some raised an eyebrow about the lack of a Crown
Her headgear may make the traditionalists frown
But apparently to some the hat’s colour seemed bizarre
Giving more than a hint of the European flag’s stars

But I am sure the Queen stays aloof from all politics
No matter Government’s volt- faces and very strange antics
The original manifesto seems to have been whittled down
Ensuring nothing will result in an opponents’ showdown

So it would appear that for at least two more years
Brexit will obsess all the MPs and Peers
Anything else will be considered peripheral
To be squeezed into any convenient interval

So the business of Parliament is expressly defined
The way ahead has been clearly outlined
Let’s hope they get on with the job without any distraction
And pray that we avoid yet another election!

Ken Fisher

For Father’s Day

For Father’s Day

Father’s day has come round once more
The shops are filled with cards galore
It’s time to think of poor old dad
An occasion when we should be glad

‘Cause Dads don’t always get best press
And maybe they fail, we must confess
But most Dads do their very best
When often they are quite hard pressed

Sometimes these days it’s sad to say
The Dad has had to be away
Family problems causing separation
And Dad might well feel desperation

Thank goodness many Dads are still around
Shared parenting can still be found
And along with Mum they are a team
Ensuring for all a great regime

But what e’r may be the situation
Let us today make affirmation
That Dads do matter, we believe
Give thanks for all that they achieve

So let’s ensure this Father’s Day
We take some time to loudly say
We love you Dad, we won’t be shy
To tell you, you’re a real great guy!

Ken Fisher