On Realising One’s Own Mortality

On Realising One’s Own Mortality
 

Unexpected news of the passing of a friend
Surely not him, he’s younger than me!
Untimely intimation of death notice
Obituary, the contents of which one knows quite well
All this just as we look forward to annual Christmas cards
Bringing comforting news of settled journeys still progressing
The loved one’s lives harshly filled by inconsolable grief

Death obviously does not discriminate
The good and the great
The humble and anonymous
High intellect or simple artisan
Those whose contribution is preserved in words
Those who will be remembered in the work of their hands
The fruits of all their labours – gently fading into history

Makes you think!
We always knew life was just a provisional licence
But somehow we thought it might be granted an extension
And here we are, suddenly faced with the grim reality
Life is not a rehearsal as they say
So let’s act out our part to the full
Before our curtain finally falls

Ken Fisher

 

 

The Charms of Apple OS 10 Catalina

Unknown

I have downloaded Catalina which at first gave me quite a shock
I thought I had ruined my computer as it appeared to be in deadlock
Perhaps it was unfamiliar with the internal working of my old machine
But its initial response to my promptings was if anything not at all keen

But I persevered with my efforts and gradually it seemed to respond
But I did at the start suspect that all my saved data might quickly abscond
The problem I find with Catalina is that she prefers her own special ways
So that it looks as if mastery of the machine will take me many long days

But there is no doubt this new software will reveal her manifold charms
And if I just learn to tread softly I might avoid the need for alarms
I had soon to discover how my data now flies up to the cloud
With a will of its own it does this and doesn’t ask it that’s allowed

Anyway  thank-you to the Apple inventors who design this super software
I am sure they mean to be helpful and never our progress impair
In the meantime I will keep up the practice and gain some more expertise
And instead of being scared of the system I might learn to use it with ease

Ken Fisher

Decision Time Is Looming

Decision Time Is Looming

As we steadily approach the twelfth day of December
I assume there is little prospect that you won’t remember
The General Election will demand the participation
Of every eligible voter throughout the British nation

Of course this time I think it’s fair to say
The endless debate seems like an affray
Where protagonists of every varied hue
Convinced of the virtue of their own view

Each broadcast debate or discussion
Sounding like the clashing of percussion
Strident voices raised their point to prove
Of every other stance they must disapprove

Truth seems submerged in exaggeration
All opponents will lead you to perdition
To make the choice we advocate
All wavering or doubt you will eradicate

But perhaps more so than in days of yore
When only leaflets popped through our door
Now by social media we are lambasted
Outrageous claims leave us flabbergasted

The fundamental problem seems to be
On basic issues no-one will agree
Brexit has cleaved the nation wide apart
Division of opinion piercing through the  heart

Of course the politicians draw to our attention
Traditional issues still bringing apprehension
Health, education, employment  – an extensive range
And more recently our response to climate change

So here we are heading towards the day of decision
Why can’t we set aside all insult and derision?
Among those who aspire to have our mandate
Pray civil discourse they might reinstate

And let us hope that when the result is declared
From further prevarication we are spared
By the final count the issues we thus arbitrate
All then willing to accept with equanimity their fate

Ken Fisher

Apocalyptic Headlines

Apocalyptic Headlines

It seems news can only be news
If it is apocalyptic

Around the globe this is what we read:

Inundated by floods
Engulfed in uncontrolled grass fires
Ravaged by a rampant epidemic
Swallowed up by erupting volcanoes
Drowned by tsunamis
Devastated by earthquakes
Unrelieved angst about climate change
Civil unrest and international warfare
Corruption abounding
Life cruelly halted in multiple motorway pile-ups
Overwhelmed by economic disaster
Impoverished by hyper inflation
Scourged by widespread unemployment
Imprisoned in over-crowded housing
Education that pays no ‘dividends’

Depressed and despondent mental states
Poor health and short life expectancy
Inadequate health service provision
Loneliness and isolation
Trapped in elderly care provision
A society which has lost faith in anything

And right now (here at home)

Disgust at the antics of politicians
Longing for a Brexit solution
But unconvinced that the election will bring release

But surely there must be something
To bring a little levity to the headlines?

One Press Cartoonist today has said

“At least a December election  will put
a stop to all that ‘Season of Goodwill’ nonsense”

Ken Fisher

Shehovah

Shehovah

If God is a woman how would we feel?
Would that idea have great appeal?
Would traditionalists be thrown into confusion
Or accept it as an advance in social inclusion

For a few this proposal is somewhat heretical
Contrary to earlier pronouncements prophetical
Where God as a man is always depicted
His gender thus never been contradicted

But others might say that God need not be man
Being all-powerful, to change he certainly can
And if to trans to a woman is the preferred choice
At least half of creation might well rejoice

After all in this age of universal equality
We need not be concerned with causality
If God has decided that he is a she
We must accept it I’m sure you’ll agree

Of course a womanly God can bring advantage
There are few things a lady can’t readily manage
I know an omnipotent God can multi-task
And being female could cope with whatever we ask

So if God is a woman let’s not be upset
A lady-God is as good as you’ll get
Let not male pride send men into despair
Male or female this God will still surely care

Ken Fisher

Dithering

Dithering

The kindest thing I can say right now
Is that politicians don’t seem to know how
To make up their minds on the Brexit issue
Leaving them all in one unholy dither

You would have thought they have had enough time
To somehow arrive at a common mind
The public outside are completely frustrated
And even further delay makes them more aggravated

Why doesn’t someone bang their heads together
As opinions change as much as the weather
Get on with the job, you’re under a delusion
The pubic are anxious that you reach some conclusion

Enough is enough, you’ve had so much  time
Get the job done, or just all resign
Like ourselves, our European pals are really quite sick
So stop dithering now and get it done quick

Ken Fisher

Honour Bound

Honour Bound

“The louder he talked of his honour, the faster I counted my spoons”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Why sir, when he leaves our house , the faster I count my spoons”
Dr Samuel Johnson

 

 

Have you ever felt that protestations of honour
and integrity may sometimes smack of hypocrisy?
There is a long list of suspects whom we might accuse
From the “ Trusted Trader” to the Priest in the confessional

Indeed many of us have become case-hardened
To the blandishments of car salesmen and estate agents
Borne out of our discovery that descriptions
Were a distant echo of reality

Some people we may be more willing to trust
Nurses and judges – even if they are sometimes fallible
But journalists and, above all, politicians
Often deemed to be low on the reputational pile

But modern capitalist society relies on trust
At the very heart of its enterprise
Trust in the making and executing of contracts
Trust in the banking and credit systems

And although we may rile against
The pettifogging of Health and Safety rules
We nonetheless trust that our house will not collapse
Or our tumble drier ignite

Being honour bound is more than chivalry
To a damsel in distress
It is more than protecting our household
From the theft of spoons!

They say there is honour among thieves
This may be so,  but we do not have to
Commit larceny to gain honour
Just try honesty

Honour must be at the very heart
Of all our dealings with one another
Whether in commerce, in employment
Even in the intimate relationships of our family circle

So let’s not abandon honour
As expressed in our determination
to be trustworthy
In all our words and deeds and dealings

Ken Fisher

[This poem is based on ideas taken from an article
by Anthony Hilton in the Governance and Compliance Magazine
October 2019]

The Rule of Law (2019)

The Rule of Law

[As Brexit looms larger and  when Law is being challenged at the highest level
this may may be worth some further reflection]

Who needs lawyers? You may well ask
To give an answer, quite a task
The law seems a profession quite lucrative
Its rewards are clearly remunerative

But the Rule of Law is much more than lawyers’ pay
About precepts that control our every day
Our freedom, our rights and our obligations
Legal rules forming society’s foundation

If people wish to live together in community
In ordered peace, and with impunity
From the imposition of others’ aggression
Their rights protected from transgression

They therefore need rules imposed by state
Which in disputes will arbitrate
So when crime is committed or contract broken
Justice will not simply be forsaken

Through history, law has come from many sources
The Common Law and Equity, followed by the Statutes
Rules made by Parliament to govern our affairs
Intended to ensure that common life is fair

Judges too have played their part
As legal interpretation turned to art
Laying down new precedents
With which lower courts must be content

Some European laws are imposed on our nation
These are Directives and Regulations
This may change in double quick  time
If Brexit becomes the new paradigm

[Indeed politics and law are now in conflict
Politicians resent the law that might restrict
Their power our future to determine
This question they would re-examine]

Then there are local rules and even byelaws
Devolved legislation for simple causes
Thus we are enmeshed on every side
We must conform or woe betides!

The Rule of Law requires the Courts
Wherein the lawyers do besport
Judges and juries all required
That true justice ne’er be denied

And then we have our worthy police
Maintaining order, even peace
The Rule of Law they will enforce
That’s what their duties will endorse

Thus a whole apparatus is put in place
That the Rule of Law might be manifest
But above all the population must agree
That justice is what they want to see

Equality under the law is fundamental
Exceptions would be detrimental
To its strictures we must all comply
Even sometimes with a sigh

International law seeks to see fair play
Holding nations in its sway
Maintaining law where’er it can
Seeking justice for every land

In the end we have to have the Rule of Law
Or nature prevails, raw in tooth and claw
And to obey the law is surely wise
To sustain a world more civilised

Ken Fisher

If Typists Were Poets

If Typists Were Poets

[Reissued for National Poetry Day 2019]

If typists were poets what would be the effect?
Not a single ‘typo’ would you ever detect
The spelling and syntax all perfect would be
And correct punctuation I am sure you would see

But there’s more to a poem than neatly typed letters
If its words are intended to make us feel better
The emotions expressed or the ideas portrayed
Are greater than ciphers however displayed

So let’s never forget when to verse we resort
Lack of good grammar should not ever thwart
Our attempts to convey what comes from our heart
Our stumbling attempts to turn words into art

So if you aspire to be poet or a bard
Of course you will find it is often quite hard
To ensure that your words cause no great confusion
Or your readers bemuse by some obscure allusion

So as you reach for that keyboard have the spell-check to hand
And with your ideas your world will expand
But be careful to type well and present a clear case
And even take care as you choose a typeface

Ken Fisher

 

The Tyranny of the Majority

The Tyranny of the Majority*

 

The tyranny of the majority is the cause of all this woe
Almost equal numbers can turn a friend into foe
Because the larger figure dictates how we must run
Yet a bare majority is hardly everyone

If the rule of a majority is by which we must abide
And by the bigger total on the issue we decide
Then no matter how small the extra votes may be
The disappointed losers still have no valid plea

But the problem then is that it fosters discontent
The significant minority might very well dissent
The referendum winners will expect their will be done
But then the losers find their aspirations overrun

In such a plight our nation seems to wallow
No-one yet knows what from this will follow
Any consensus is very hard to discover
Who from this log-jam will help us to recover?

Politician and judges and all the good and great
Even the Sovereign dragged in to decide our fate
Perhaps all of this is down to our creaky constitution
Being un-written – as they say – perhaps it’s just illusion

But we can’t go on forever neither in nor out
Our friends in Europe wonder what its all about
We need to make our minds up and decide which way to go
Perhaps the tyranny of the majority we simply have to thole

Ken Fisher

*John Stuart Mill in On Liberty (1859) argues for freedom of speech
and argues against “the tyranny of the majority”

 

Climate Change

Climate Change

This is the challenge now we face
Suddenly it’s become a race
Against passing time and rising tide
The threat can no longer be denied

Young folks rise up in alarm
‘Gainst those who downplay the harm
Polar ice continues to melt
Effects around the world are felt

Island strands buffeted by tempests
Little defence against such impacts
Hurricanes wreak devastation
Carnage heaped upon these nations

Some delight in unaccustomed sunshine
But scorching heat is not benign
Forests burn ‘neath rays incessant
While we remain quite acquiescent

But perhaps some sign of hope we can discern
As in loud protest we hear concern
Expressed by thousands on parade
As their urgent warning is relayed

Ken Fisher

Niceness is a Thin Veneer

Niceness is a Thin Veneer to give the Impression of Civilisation

I wonder if you agree that niceness can be  just a thin veneer
Which we apply to our persona so that others think well of us?
But many consider the word nice to be really meaningless
Simply anodyne, not likely to provoke dissent or offence

And yet I suppose most of us would like to be considered nice
That is agreeable, pleasant, good-natured, congenial, friendly
Because few of us make it our avowed intent to be the opposite
Nasty, spiteful, argumentative, arrogant, hateful, repulsive

But if our niceness is only a thin veneer, sprayed on for effect
Then it seems to suggest that we are not always good guys
Yet we feel obliged to display qualities that would meet approval
Pressure is forcing us to be hypocrites, needing public praise

Apparently the social media has shown the propensity
For people to be anything but nice to others
On-line harassment is on the rise, computer rage rampant
The uncontrolled release of these emotions is damaging to health

So perhaps we need to recall that aphorism “It’s nice to be nice”
But we don’t need to sacrifice our honesty, or deny the truth
We simply have to calmly accept the reality of life
Stand our ground but be civil in all our dealings

Ken Fisher

 

The expression Niceness is a thin Veneer ………
Is a quote from journalist India Knight in the Sunday Times
Magazine 19 March 2017