Repeat Prescription

Repeat Prescription

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Those of us of a certain age are by now quite familiar
With receiving from the doctor, nurse, or someone similar
A repeat prescription for all those many pills and potions
We take to aid our health and locomotion

But I wonder if we ever stop to think how much our daily living
Might be described as a repeat prescription, a routine unforgiving
The pattern of each day or week prescribed so regularly
That month-by-month and year-by-year it really does not vary

Of course stated thus it all seems boring and confining
A straightjacket of a life, imprisoned and constraining
But is there any virtue in our regular routines?
Although we are all human, not merely dull machines

So the life prescribed by a regimen of work and play
Such that we find satisfaction in the passing of each day
Carpe Diem – seize the day might be the best watchword
The aim and motivation by which our life is spurred

Thus rather than feeling enslaved by the repeat prescription
We should rejoice that life is truly not conscription
But freedom to choose how each day and hour be filled
In no way determined by our daily dose of pills

Ken Fisher

Solar Eclipse

Solar Eclipse

[Monday 21 August 2017]

As we look up towards the skies
[And don’t forget to shield your eyes]
The moon will block light from the Sun
As its shadow will our globe o’er run

Not everyone will be in shade
So you need not really be afraid
But parts of the U S A
Will find that night replaces day

I think that those who will be in shadow
Won’t miss the daylight they must forego
Because if they observe with care
They might catch the Sun’s coronal glare

I suppose there is a kind of magic
To experience this shade fantastic
And all fear of the dark will be dispersed
As in the gloom they are immersed

Eclipses make us all aware
Of other objects ‘way out there
And just as shadows cross our path
We should not let them prompt our wrath

For the moon’s shadow will progress
Renewed light will its power repress
And in due time the sun’s bright rays
Will penetrate another day

Ken Fisher

The Singer Clock

The Singer Clock

 

Singer is a name you won’t easily forget
For decades this brand ruled supreme in
the world of sewing machine production
from treadle power to sophisticated control

Even today you will find Singer machines
in Asian sweatshops and chic fashion houses
But in Clydebank, Singer was also renowned
for its massive factory clock on a tower

For miles around, this monstrosity could be seen
Signifying industrial power and market domination
But like so much of Scottish industry it met with decline
And even the clock gave its final tick in March 1963

When the clock first appeared in 1885 in Clydebank,
then the European headquarters of this early multi-national
It signified the wealth and importance of the enterprise
And its enormous timepiece was a symbolic crown on success

Unfortunately this chronometer probably hung like
an albatross around the neck of the business
It was powered by massive cast iron weights
driving the mechanism that required twice weekly winding

Over the years of the 20th century several changes
were made to the clock. The dials and numerals
were redesigned and various forms of illumination
were employed, inside by gas, outside by spotlights

None of these was very successful, being too dim
or casting unwanted shadows from the internal machinery
In 1928 a total of 145 lamps were attached to the hands!
Then World War II snuffed out illumination and almost Clydebank

After the war, when some normality was restored
The clock came back into service with new enamelled
“Singer” signs re-lit for all to see from far away
But the fate of the clock was on the horizon

In 1963 the clock was finally ceremonially stopped
“As part of area reorganisation in the interests of
production with a smaller labour force”
The aluminium hands were made into souvenir ashtrays!

This was before smoking (and domestic sewing machines) became much less fashionable!

Ken Fisher

Background material from International Sewing Machine Collectors’ Society website.

200 Years of the Glasgow Botanic Gardens

200 Years of the Glasgow Botanic Gardens

 

Congratulations to this old friend
Providing such pleasure and satisfaction
For two centuries you have been our pride and joy
Playground and classroom for successive generations

Thanks to those whose foresight became our legacy
Benefactors and botanists who nurtured this grandiose project
The City Fathers in their own time too
Who promoted the development of the gardens

History tells of the sub-terranean railway line
And the old bandstand at the crown of the hill
In more recent times the Kelvin Walkway
Arboretum and Bard in the Botanics

In the wide pathways and greensward
Now liberated from restrictions of an earlier age
Children of all ages cavort quite uninhibited
While others meander along riverside walks

Surely the crowning glory of this renowned parkland
The glasshouses, Kibble and Main Range
Custodians of exotic plant species
Promoter of science and art together

Past venue for political diatribes to sway our views
And religious rallies to stir the heart and save the soul
Meeting point for horticultural aficionados
And platforms for booksellers and plant societies

Couples newly wed parade quite unabashed
Along the main pathway’s wide expanse
As photographers like the paparazzi
Seek the image that will surely flatter

And tiny tots with their attentive guardians
Flex youthful muscles while learning how to balance
In the play areas especially designed for them
A kindergarten for growing minds and bodies

Behind the scenes at the Botanics
Much serious work is undertaken
While visitors refresh themselves in cafes
The cultivation of the plants is centre stage

So thanks to those who had the vision and the will
To establish this treasure trove in our green space
We salute those pioneers and innovators
And pledge to do our part to honour their generous legacy

Ken Fisher

Summer Moon

Summer Moon

Summer moon hanging lofty in the sky
Its dappled face almost asking why?
Seeming so near and yet so far
Neither quite a planet nor a star

Constant companion of her mother earth
From whom she may have received her birth
Waxing and waning as the light reflects
But ne’er revealing her dark obverse

On summer days she emits a discreet glow
An unobtrusive presence to us below
At night her modesty is cast aside
As she besports herself with pride

We gaze with wonder at this mysterious sphere
Her facial features to our distant eyes made clear
We marvel at the enormity of endless space
And man’s insignificance in that vast place

Ken Fisher

 

See also:  https://thebardofkelvindale.com/2017/01/17/moon

Green Energy

Green Energy

The need for energy that is said to be renewable
A utility whose worth is doubtless invaluable
Has prompted the search for this holy grail
Manifest in the breath that moves these sails

As the invisible air-flow traverses the land
The pressure exerts its powerful hand
Forcing these mighty blades to rotate
Driving the dynamo as they twist and gyrate

We are able to steal from the atmosphere
By subtle legerdemain it would appear
And simply by raising up these metal arms
We have beguiled the wind to yield its charms

So thank goodness for this mysterious spell
Green power from this wondrous carousel
And as long as that breeze continues to blow
Such bounty on us it will surely bestow

Ken Fisher

Photograph Albums

Photograph Albums

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The digital age has brought new tricks and techniques
But one thing from the past which is fairly unique
Was the photo album into which we could slide
Our old printed pictures of suitable size

In those earlier days the pace was much slower
To pursue the hobby demanded some rigour
First on film we needed the image to capture
And thus a selection of shots we would gather

Then the film had to be developed and printed
A complex process not done in an instant
Through a chemical mist the images emerged
Up from the fixer where they’d been submerged

Most of us passed on our films to the chemist
Or a processing wizard who could handle them best
Days later back came our prints all shiny or matt
Colour or mono from their magician’s hat

We always hoped that there had been no disaster
Of photography we had proved we were no master
Yet lots of striking images were often portrayed
To pop into the album to augment our display

Of course modern photography is instantaneous
Image capture and output are just as spontaneous
With Wi-Fi we transmit the result of our clicks
Any problems, with Photoshop we can easily fix

But perhaps these modern techniques have come at a cost
Despite electronic wizardry something surely is lost
The leisurely thumbing through those albums quite classic
Brings back such fond memories and emotions nostalgic

Ken Fisher

Saturn’s Rings

Saturn’s Rings

Bobbing and diving between those multi-coloured rings
The Cassini probe will be playing hide and seek
Sending back more pictures to make NASA sing
Somehow dispelling strange Saturn’s mystique

This intrepid space adventure, extraordinary mission
Initiated as far back as nineteen, ninety-seven
Was for many long years the controllers’ ambition
Tracked at each stage on its endless progression

But now this robotic spacecraft is near the end of the line
Having scored many targets, new knowledge discovered
Moons observed and recorded as in first design
Its all-seeing instruments new secrets uncovered

But the mission has not yet reached final conclusion
In September its flirting with rings will eventually end
Cassini will take one final plunge to its own self-destruction
But its lifetime achievements will all our losses transcend

Ken Fisher

Quote:

Thursday April 27

8.25am BST: NASA tweeted: “The gap between Saturn and its rings is no longer unexplored space – and we’re going back 21 times.”
The spacecraft has survived the first-ever dive between Saturns rings.
The team is now planning 21 more dives before the space probe does a death plunge into the planet.

Iconic

Iconic

You must have noticed how the word ‘icon’ is now much overplayed
In ordinary conversation we seem to hear it almost every day
Historically the word was used to describe a religious work of art
Nowadays applied to distinguish some object thus setting it apart

In the digital age icons are used to represent a useful ‘application’
Click on the app’s icon and its faculties leap into action
So in this case the icon is a symbol representing a function
The graphic and the routine working in conjunction

Now we seem to have decided that anything exceptional is ‘iconic’
From a well recognized brand name to a modern health tonic
Thus everyday symbols like those for Apple, Coke or Dyson
Stimulate in our minds a sort of anticipatory frisson

All this is good for the salesmen and marketing gurus
But I wonder if the term ‘iconic’ they have patently abused
Indeed we seem to hear that label used so often in these days
It has long ago begun to sound like an inconsequential phrase

So perhaps we should resolve to give the word ‘iconic’ a well earned rest
As a description of anything that we extol as being the very best
And find some other words to refer to artifacts exceptional
And avoid hinting at ideas that are really undeliverable

Ken Fisher

Near Miss!

Near Miss!

 

On most things in life we don’t want to miss out
But here is one goody we can well do without
For yesterday the earth dodged an asteroid
An alien object we were all glad to avoid

Apparently this detritus was as big as Gibraltar
And on its path towards us it never did falter
But fortunately the closest it actually came to our home
Was about one million miles, four times a trip to the moon

Asteroids are a regular threat to our peace of mind
Space scientists keep warning us from time to time
An asteroid may unleash energy like 1,000 atom bombs
Enough, no doubt, to turn mother earth into a tomb

So let’s hope we might manage to remain asteroid free
Or else to another planet we may all have to flee
But even if we can find refuge elsewhere in space
Some other flying object might to that haven chase!

Ken Fisher

 

 

 

Threats from On High

Threats From On High

Apparently space has become a junk-yard
There is so much up aloft it has become a hazard
Detritus is now measured by some thousands of tons
Far greater than picked up by Steptoe and Son

Apart from threats from comets and asteroids
Space is no longer just an empty void
Old satellites, spent rockets, and defunct devices
Are floating out there in a variety of sizes

The planets of our ancient solar system
Over eons of time have been a victim
Of impacts small and others much greater
Resulting in some quite enormous craters

It is claimed that the dinosaur population
An asteroid impact led to annihilation
So you can see that objects falling from space
Might well do the same for our human race

And the reality is that the risk is increasing
With all the debris that we are releasing
And although these devices are put to good use
We must find a way to stop all this abuse

So technologists are conducting endless research
A method of disposal is part of their search
That after useful life junk might self-destruct
Or enter safe orbits thus humans won’t hurt!

However perhaps we should now all take heart
It’s been reported that a used rocket’s come back to earth
And in future we hope to recycle this kind of device
Which to the environmentalists must bring delight

Ken Fisher

Old Fashioned Radio

Old Fashioned Radio

I find the world of radio a great fascination
How transmissions are made by wave propagation
And the history or this amazing technology
Spreading the world’s treasures audibly

Elsewhere I wrote of radio’s evolution
And how it brought about a virtual revolution
From Crystal sets with their in-built cat’s whiskers
To VHF and  DAB via thermionic Valves and  Transistors

But an aspect of old radios that makes me smile
Is the detail printed on the wireless dial
The wavelengths are usually Medium or Long
Rarely they show Shortwave – not very strong

To select the wavelength there’s a switch to flick
So that leads to the programmes you may want to pick
The major provision seems to be the Home Service
Which serves those whose listening intentions are serious

The Home Service also has some local opt-outs
Scotland, Midland, Northern, and Wales to try out
The Third programme is for the intellectual mind
The Light programme for the rest of us  – unrefined!

The radio dials show that signals came from far and wide
Budapest, Munich, Paris, all on the Channel’s other side
Moscow, Brussels, Oslo, and somewhere called Hilversum
Apparently a town in the Netherlands not far from Amsterdam

Other stations that spread transmissions in the ‘ether’
Dublin, Hamburg, Strasbourg, and Lille feature
Back in middle England the Droitwich name
A major Long Wave transmitter of great fame

And let’s not forget that early rebel commercial pioneer
Radio Luxembourg on 208 filled the legals with such fear
It spawned the growth of pirate offshore DJ shows
And taught modern presenters all they know!

Religion was not neglected with broadcasts from the Vatican
And no doubt the other churches featured in the plan
To use the radio to ‘inform, entertain, and educate’
Which broadcasters even today claim they emulate

So there we have it, a nostalgic backward glance
Even in those early years quite an expanse
Of those with a message to spread by the radio emitter
Today surpassed by Facebook, Skype, WhatsApp and Twitter!

Ken Fisher

 

see also: Radio, the Listener’s Window on the World