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

Golden Glow

Golden Glow

[On a sunny July day]

Sunlight’s golden glow
Accosts our sleepy eyes as we awake
Dawn’s shadows scattered
By the radiance from the east

The prospect of a sun-filled day
Fills us with anticipation
Active hours in the great outdoors
Or lazy languishing in some shady arbour

Our spirits lifted by the vaulted sky
Azure blue with tiny wispy clouds
Flowers standing proud and tall
Bees teasing their alluring petals

All’s well with the world
As temperature mounts towards noon
No place to be out abroad in such heat
Siesta time surely has been called

From its apex the sun tips gently downwards
But still much joy in parks and gardens
As tiny tots cavort in paddling pools
And barbecue sets called into service

Throughout the afternoon’s long sun-filled moments
Absorbed in a novel’s world of imagination
Or transported by some majestic symphony
Brought to our senses by head-phones

Gradually the sun inclines toward the west
Daytime pleasures stretched into twilight
The glasses shared bring greater conviviality
Until the chill of dusk chimes benediction

Ken Fisher

The Anarchic Grace of Christ

The Anarchic Grace of Christ

[Based on Luke 15 vv 11-32 – the parable of the Prodigal Son]

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It isn’t fair, we all must pay our dues,
And each must play their part!
It’s not for us to pick and choose
From our obligations to depart

That’s the only way the world can work
Each one of us prepared to strive
No room for those who’d rather shirk
All together, that’s how we can survive

Of course there are always those who won’t conform
Like the younger son, they break away
Don’t tie him down, just let him roam
From hearth and home that lad would stray

And in many days of feasting he did joyously revel
Kept by his goodly share of the paternal inheritance
Courting with the pleasures of the flesh and of the devil
Offering no apology, no excuse, and no defence

But in due time that decadent life began to pall
His funds diminished, his joy somewhat less intense
And then his former settled life he fondly did recall
Thoughts turned to home, and comfort it seemed to make such sense

And yet he knew he had no right forgiveness to expect
His father and his brother in duty still steadfast
He deserved so very little and him they should reject
Why wipe away the sinfulness of those wayward years now past?

But on arriving near his home to his very great surprise
The dissident young brother saw his father open-armed
To welcome back that younger son as if he’d won a prize
But elder son, resentful, was anything but charmed

We all know this story of the prodigal who once was lost in vice
And making sense of such free pardon is somewhat problematic
How to explain this forgiveness but for the anarchic grace of Christ
An unmerited gift so full, so free, and so dramatic

When in our resentment we ask whither ethics or the law?
Surely love alone too simple to salve our every woe?
Our inward eye might open, and discern not one without a flaw
By God’s good grace, forgiveness He doth on each bestow

Ken Fisher

[This poem was read at the morning service at Hillhead Baptist Church
at the Hilton Grosvenor Glasgow on Sunday 23 July 2017]

 

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]

 

Objet D’art

Objet D’art

You may have seen some of these in the Antiques Road Show
An ornament, a painting, jewellery, or an old faded photo
Indeed any kind of decorative or artistic object
Quite collectible, even if no longer seen as perfect

Some of us, less cultured, perhaps inclined to debunk
Regard many such items us dust-gathering junk
Perhaps we have an underdeveloped awareness of art
Aesthetic appreciation has not yet touched the heart

But the fact that the public appears these items to hoard
In quantities in their loft on shelves or a concealed cupboard
Seems to imply that for them they have quite strong affection
So that over the years they build up a treasured collection

Yet I wonder if the chance to make a convenient disposal
Would result in a quick response to an overt proposal
So at the Road Show, or even a lowly car boot sale
A good price would ensure that reason prevails

And so to the treasured objet d’art they wave their goodbye
Parting is sweet sorrow but won’t induce them to  cry
And perhaps they will indulge some self-congratulation
As the original price paid has swelled through inflation!

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

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