Musical Monday: Funerals

We had a family funeral today. It might sound a strange thing to say, but it was really lovely. I learnt for the first time that my uncle enjoyed opera, and we entered to the impressive “Nessun Dorma”. I’d never thought of it before, but I liked that – some rousing music as you went in! At the end, they played “Gone Fishin’” (very appropriate for a trout fisherman).

It made me think too – something you may not have considered when planning a funeral: Photographs. I’ve never been to an audio-described performance, but I know at some cinemas and theatres, blind people can hear the description over headphones while the film’s going on. I don’t know how easy it would be, but if photographs are shown at my funeral, I’d like someone to write a description of the display, and I’d like headsets to be available for anyone there who’s blind. I’m sure nobody would mind describing pictures, but when you’re told it’s a time to reflect and think of the person you’ve lost, you feel a bit self-conscious if someone’s chattering away in your ear.

Do you have special memories of saying goodbye to a loved one? Is there a particular song they enjoyed?

Nobody Ever Goes In, and Nobody Ever Comes Out

You might think of this as a line from “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”, which it is, but it’s also a problem I’ve had this week when trying to book transport to a writers’ day I’ve been looking forward to for months.

First issue: How to get from railway-station to venue. Getting to London by train is fine, but you can’t book assistance on the underground. I’m not confident to go on the tube on my own. I’m blind; I’ve got two hearing-aids; I’ve never done it before, and I don’t want to try it now. Taxi then? Sounds easy enough, and you could book the return as well. No, wrong. Because when you try to book a minicab, they’re not allowed to park at the taxi rank (which the assistance can actually take you to), and the railway staff aren’t allowed outside the station! So how are you supposed to get onto the street to meet your driver? Solution: Don’t bother pre-booking. Just ask the assistance to put you in a cab at the taxi rank and hope for the best.

Second issue: Travelling from venue back to station. Surely I could just book a return journey? No, because the cab-driver’s not allowed into the station. Nobody ever goes in, and nobody ever comes out. Solution: I don’t know; there isn’t one. The minicab company’s only solution was: Couldn’t you go with someone? But would you expect someone to catch a train at 6 am, and travel with you to somewhere they don’t even want to go?

It’s unbelievably frustrating, and I don’t know who to flag it up with. Who made the rule about railway staff? I know it’s something I’ve encountered at lots of stations, not just in London. With cab-drivers, it’s probably down to the individual company. Is there a regulator of all taxi firms? I’ve no idea.

So, that’s my latest adventure (or lack of one). Have you had a similar problem? Did you find a way around it?

The Race

The horse in tiredness drops his head;
Another day is at an end:
Upon the sawdust rests content
That final night before the race –
The challenge put aside for now;
Tomorrow, glory or defeat.

The morning dawns, the horse is groomed;
The jockey strokes his ample mane;
The ground is checked and checked again:
Conditions – will they favour him?
And will the weather hold all day?
A loan spectator shakes his head.

The horse is fed his breakfast oats –
The ratios duly measured out;
A lot to gain for those in charge –
The trainer, yes, and owner too;
The scent of leather in the air,
Get ready then – the race starts now.

Outside, a few on their soapbox;
They won’t come in – they think it’s cruel
To push and prod them just for sport,
To spur them on to victory,
But still the hooves – they thunder on;
They overtake until the end.

And on and on, in fours they go –
A gallop past the one in front:
Some fall at fences; others jump –
The ground is somewhat of a blur,
But uppermost the thrilling chase,
And there the line to end the race.

The trainer and the owner rise,
And make their way towards the ring;
Congratulations meted out –
The atmosphere, electric-tinged;
Gold medal, silver, bronze await –
Awards and smiles of deep content.

So now, the glory or defeat –
The race has truly reached its end –
Content again; sawdust; bowed head.

“Blue Heelers” Nonets: Part 5

I hope you didn’t mind more blog-posts than usual this week. “Blue Heelers” has had so many main cast over the years and I wanted to fit them all in. Obviously I’ve saved the best for last!

Superior?

The less he saw of Ben the better,
And he tried to get rid of Tom;
Spent years just chipping away,
But never successful:
He was higher-ranked –
The inspector,
But colleagues
Had Tom’s
Back.

If Only

PJ never got over Maggie,
And Jo broke off the engagement:
Jo was killed in a bomb blast
When the station blew up;
If she’d stayed alive,
They could have been
Back in each
Other’s
Arms.

Priorities

Tom was always the old-fashioned type,
But his daughters were resentful;
Felt cheated by him as kids
When he focused on work:
A cancer patient
Made him rethink,
And reach out
To them
Both.

Crush

Now Ben’s a man you want in your life;
He sees a broken-hearted child,
And buys them a guinea-pig;
He’d move mountains for you:
He struggles at times;
Turns to the drink;
Has his flaws,
But still,
Wow.

“Blue Heelers” Nonets: Part 4

The later episodes were generally darker. I’m surprised I ended up writing about the newer characters.

Spunky

Kelly’s a family friend of Tom’s;
Her dad was killed while on-duty:
She’s hard to intimidate;
If they try anything,
They ought to watch out;
She’ll probably
Give as good
As she
Gets.

Green

Joss might be a junior constable,
But he acts more like a schoolboy;
His mum still does his washing;
He’ll never live that down:
Took a second job
Driving a cab;
Found himself
In dire
Straits.

Father and Friend

Alex rescued Jonesy and Susie,
And he and Jonesy were old friends;
He briefly dated Susie,
Without knowing Jonesy
Had feelings for her;
He discovered
Rory Hayes
Was his
Son.

Abuse

Amy got caught up in a scandal;
A victim of sexual abuse
Thought he and other victims
Had nothing to live for:
Abused as a child,
Feisty Amy
Called out her
Uncle
John.

Victim

Matt Graham was the newest recruit;
He used to serve in the Army;
It greatly affected him:
He enjoyed poker games
With Lily Majors,
And once he braved
A gunshot
In his
Ear.

“Blue Heelers” Nonets: Part 3

Commitment Shy

PJ can be fairly cynical;
Brings romantics back down-to-earth:
His hands are in the right place,
But his heart’s somewhere else:
Though his one-liners
Do make you smile,
He’s clearly
Scared of
Love.

Shonky Tradesman

If you want a laugh, trust Charlie Clarke;
Local plumber creates havoc:
He nicknamed his wife Cheryl
‘The minister for war’,
Spouts quirky phrases,
And named his dog
After Bob
Dylan,
Too.

In the Family

Maggie’s brother was in the drug squad,
The other was an ex addict,
And her mum died of cancer;
Tom loved her like his own:
Engaged to PJ,
She loved her job;
Went all-out;
Paid the
Price.

Lollypop Man

When Josef Freeman was a baby,
He suffered from a high fever –
Too late for any doctor –
Brain already damaged:
They called him Clancy,
And he held a
Lollypop
In the
Street.

Side-Lined

Mark came because of the inspector;
He had no confidence in Ben,
So brought in a new sergeant,
Who was good with admin:
Mark’s wife and daughter
Stuck together;
He felt they
Pushed him
Out.

“Blue Heelers” Nonets: Part 2

Grieving Process

Nick’s life had been touched by tragedy;
An accident took his loved ones –
Wife Jenny, daughter Zoe:
His father blocked it out;
Nick grappled with that,
But he forgave,
And found love
In the
End.

Obituary

Wayne and Roz were mad for each other;
She wasn’t mad for Mount Thomas;
Roz left him for the city:
Wayne played the field a bit;
He almost settled
When he met Gabe,
But he died,
Far too
Soon.

Disgraced

Adam was conned into marrying
Stacey, who was having a child;
He was better-off with Chris:
He liked his fancy cars,
And left in disgrace:
Returned later
With a grudge
Against
Tom.

Battles

Dash McKinley’s real name was Deirdre;
She had a penchant for gossip:
Almost missed her twenty-first,
When she was held hostage
With some schoolchildren:
She fought cancer;
Left after
Her mum’s
Death.

Hospitality

You’ll find Chris at the Imperial –
Everyone’s favourite landlady;
She’ll give you all the info,
Even when it’s hush-hush:
Her ex faked his death;
She’s not bitter;
She’s caring –
A true
Friend.

“Blue Heelers” Nonets: Part 1

I knew a nonet was a poem with nine lines, but they’re cleverer than that. The first line has nine syllables and they decrease to one, so just for fun, I decided to write some about our favourite “Blue Heelers” characters. If you’ve never seen it, maybe you’ll want to after this week.

Arrival

Jo bumbled her way into the job;
Forgot to say she was police
When apprehending someone:
The boss had to adjust;
He grew fond of her:
Compassionate
Idealist,
Heart on
Sleeve.

Unforeseen

Jack was caught speeding on his first day;
He had a horse called Matilda:
Once, his actions got him shot,
And a bullet lodged close
To his spinal cord;
He couldn’t ride;
Matilda
Had to
Go.

Tough Nut

Tess came in with some controversy;
Did Ben out of a promotion;
Because she was a woman?
She had a grim childhood –
Unstable mother;
Abusive men;
Forced to cope;
‘Tough nut’;
Strong.

Fierce

Evan Jones – they all call him Jonesy –
Worked on a building site before:
His father was in the Force,
So he shunned tradition;
When he did sign up,
He was driven,
Keen to see
Justice
Done.

Disharmony

Susie came to town with her husband;
Brad was confined to a wheelchair;
Feeling pressurised by her
Killed their intimacy:
Susie was a flirt,
Brad was unhinged;
Bitterness
Consumed
Him.

Opposites

Just a short poem today. Linda’s choices this week are: Bluebird, sweet and sour, taxi, sparkle, vintage turquoise, ultraviolet, and deep dark wood, and we only have to pick 1 as part of a simile. I used a few more, but still haven’t managed to incorporate all of them.

Opposites

Different as sweet and sour,
She sits upstairs at the desk,
As dedicated as a taxi-driver on Christmas Day:
I sit downstairs in front of the telly;
The faces on-screen sparkle like those of old friends,
Real as the deep dark wood of the furniture.

Why Write a Blog?

In a Voice for Performance and Life class recently, one thing our teacher brought home to us was that our voices have something to say. To me, that’s the primary reason you blog – to get a message across.

If you’re a Christian, you might use your blog to spread the message of Jesus Christ – who He is and the effect His life has on the world. I read a memoir recently by the actor John Wood (which I recommend, by the way). Certain quotes have stuck with me, but by far the saddest part was at the end of the chapter about his search for faith. He said: “The ideas were hung out there, and they were big ideas, but they were not explained then and never would be … not in any church I ever visited since”. I’d like to have those words above my desk because that’s a great reason to write. I hope a lot of my blog-posts and my Advent book do just that – explain the lofty things of God in a way that ordinary people (like you and I) can understand. First, the Holy Spirit has to do His work in someone’s heart to open their eyes to the things of God. That’s why Jesus says you can’t see the kingdom of God unless you’re born of the Spirit, but then God uses us to impact the lives of others. Jesus told His followers to go and make disciples (Matthew 28:19). The word ‘Disciple’ reminds me of discipline. A disciple is a person who follows the ideas/teachings of somebody else, so how can you be one of Jesus’ disciples (and follow His teachings) without having those ideas broken down for you?

If you or someone you know have faced discrimination, you could raise awareness about that. I read a great post once about a blind lady preparing for her wedding – someone assuming she was the bridesmaid, rather than the bride; the lack of choice, because so much had to be ordered online or from a catalogue. It may be convenient to store less stock, but it prevents a blind person going into a shop, running their hands over the material and choosing for themselves.

Perhaps you’ve travelled the world and you’d like to document it, as my sister and her friend did, using words or a photography-based blog. Someone who’s bedridden or housebound could visit those countries vicariously through you.

Blogging isn’t just about sharing what you’ve already experienced. It can be an opportunity to try something new. Linda Kruschke’s blog (“Another Fearless Year”) taught me so much about different types of poetry, as she made her way through The Poetry Dictionary, letter by letter. On Frank Hubeny’s blog, I saw the famous Noah’s Ark story, written in just six sentences. Could you write your favourite Bible-story that succinctly?

It might have become clear that what I enjoy about blogging is the chance to connect with others. Are you someone who likes to encourage another person? You can do that by writing a good motivational post, but what’s the point if nobody reads it? As I’ve hinted earlier, one way to attract new readers is by joining in with other bloggers. They set a challenge; you put a link to your post in the comments; you visit others’ blogs to offer encouragement, and hopefully they return the favour. I know a lot of my poems wouldn’t have been written without Linda. Another favourite linkup from the past was Write31Days, where bloggers got together every October to write for thirty-one days on a theme. It was fun to visit other participants and see the topics they were passionate about. I often enjoy reading other people’s work as much as writing my own.

So write a blog to express your thoughts, and read a blog to see where the other person is. We’re all on a journey, and we can all inspire one another.