Saturday, 31 December 2016

A Zombie Christmas

The December 2016 "Pub Poets"' gathering had a theme of a Very Zombie Christmas. For my contribution I decided to write a parody on a sequence of Christmas songs and carols - on a zombie theme.

Verse six and seven were later additions, but I performed the other verses a cappella on the night.

I should have posted this earlier but there's a good reason why not.

I've since created a multi-track recording of myself in four-part harmony and wanted to include the link to an MP3 of "A Zombie Christmas". So here it is.

Link to A Zombie Christmas MP3

If you want to follow along with the words whilst you listen, or simply want to read the words and imagine the tunes in your head - here they are.

A Zombie Christmas

Silent Night
Silent Night – I’d like to bite
On your head. ‘Cause I’m Undead!
Don’t need urging to feast on your brain
No! It’s not because I am insane
The simple reason’s because
It’s a Zombie Christmas.

We Three Kings of Orient Are
Common Zombie origins are
Wild mutations – some quite bizarre
Virus and voodoo, some you may pooh-pooh
But you know what we are.
Oh – As we lumber, you take flight
Running off with all your might
Still proceeding, may be bleeding
All we want’s a little bite!

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
I’ll bite the flesh of gentlemen
And ladies here today
Because I like the flavour
I’m a local food gourmet
Encephalitic hemispheres
Are lovely to flambé
Although raw brains are something to enjoy
Girl or boy
Yes raw brains are something to enjoy.

Once in Royal David’s City
How d’you foil a rabid zombie?
Take an axe and chop off its head
If another way is needed
Then arrange a shotgun instead.
If you miss, be reconciled –
You will have your brain restyled.

Oh Come All Ye Faithful
With some brains, a mouthful’s
enough for our enjoyment
But we eat more to meet our stra-a-tagem
Blood’s running from our lips
for the zombie apocalypse.
We do more than just gnaw them
We do more than just gnaw them
We do more than just gnaw them
We won’t be ignored.

Away in a Manger
There's no imminent danger
From the walking undead
But the risk then increases
If we're running instead.
With cars then you might try
to drive far away.
We will rip you to pieces
So keep us at bay.

While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks At Night
While zombies watched the cars drive off
Not all of us pursued.
Eventually the dawdlers come;
We don't all like fast food.
We're not, you see, into "street cred" -
We'll seize amaxophobes,
Glad that those folk who don't like cars
Will lose their frontal lobes.

We Wish You A Merry Christmas
So a big thanks to George Romero
We thank you – George Romero
Yes, a big thanks to George Romero
From e-ver-y-one
By deciding to sing
These words I do bring
I wish you a zombie Christmas
And that’s it – I’ve done!

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Rather Not Be The One (song)

And now for something completely different. Words and music on YouTube!

I wrote the song Rather Not Be The One as part of a creative writing exercise: the task being to create a response the Clean Bandit song/video Rather Be. You may wonder why I subverted the original love song. Probably because in my twisted mind it sounded a bit like a stalker's tale. And anyway, why not?

This is the second version of this project. Without the course deadline, I made the song faster, in a lower key, with a little more attention to the timing of instruments, and re-recorded the vocals. The earlier version is still viewable if you really must compare them!

Technical Details:

Audio: First time trying out the Ignite music software on my laptop together with the associated M-Audio Keystation 49es.Draft version transferred to an H4N digital recorder and multi-tracked some vocals for importing back into Ignite. As mentioned, I subsequently transposed the instruments to a lower key and sped the project up from 140bpm to 170bpm. This meant re-recording the vocals but the original take needed improvement anyway.

Video: Windows Movie Maker,  source images saved from a Google search (with appropriate usage rights), further modified with Xara Photo & Graphic Designer.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

National Poetry Day

Wow. Is it so long since I posted? I have been writing, but primarily in the fiction or shanty song writing arena. I still attend the Pub Poets event each month (Marc Grist was our brilliant guest poet at the beginning of October) but for the first time I hadn't prepared anything new. So why this blog entry? The answer is "National Poetry Day" which was a week or so ago. Mid afternoon I thought I'd write something to pop on Facebook, so now it seems opportune to replicate it here.

National Poetry Day

The announcement it's National Poetry Day
makes me wonder, "who said that it's so?"
Was it one of the poets of century's past?
Was it Browning or Wordsworth or Poe?

Was it Shelley or Keats? Was it Blake? Was it Yeats?
Was it Shakespeare who did it for fun?
Was it Dickinson, Tennyson, cummings or Frost?
Was it Kipling or maybe John Donne?

Perhaps the decision was made by a poet
who lived (or lives) nearer our time
There's Spike and there's Pam and there's Roger McGough.
And John Cooper-Clarke likes a rhyme.

And which of the countries around this vast world
would have thought such a day was required?
Well maybe "required" is too harsh of a word.
Perhaps the term should be "desired".

Whoever thought National Poetry Day
was "desired" - they encouraged the bards.
We now simply need to make sure that we own it;
not taken by - say - Hallmark Cards.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

The Boredom of a Raven

The theme of the last "Pub Poets" open mic evening was "Raven and Skull" as it coincided with the book launch of Ashley Lister's new horror novel of that name. [Ashley co-organises the event.]

Ashley, as well as a talented and much published author, is an teacher in English and in Creative Writing, so it made sense to incorporate such aspects within my poem. (He's rather fond of Edgar Allan Poe, too.)

If you want to check out his book, it is available on Amazon - UK link below (available in other regions).

So - here is the poem:

The Boredom of a Raven

Once upon a time there lived
a raven in a wood
But unlike many ravens, this one
felt misunderstood.
Accused of being Poe-faced by
the others living there,
he faked a happy attitude to
make them look elsewhere.

But deep inside, he knew the other
birds were not to blame
He watched the other ravens –
how they all appeared the same.
They didn’t question anything  –
just flew from tree to tree.
They’d eat and sleep and mate and poop.
And squawk incessantly.

“I’m not the same as that lot,” said
the raven with a sigh,
“There must be more to life than this,
A life before I die.”
‘Twas then he saw a bald bloke
with a cool appraising look,
who was watching all the ravens and then
scribbling in a book.

The raven was most curious
and had a need to know
just what the chap found int’resting,
this writer down below.
He flew down to a lower branch
To get a better view -
but the bloke had shut his notebook;
Had other things to do.

The raven would not be denied
His sanity at stake,
so when the man left in a car
he followed in his wake.
He followed down the country lanes
into the town nearby
and when the car came to a halt
he watched with birdy’s eye.

The man approached some buildings then
he disappeared within.
The raven checked each window
With a sense of discipline.
And then he found a window
where he peered through thickened glass
He saw some youths, and saw the man!
It was an English class.

The raven learned of metaphors
Of similes and nouns
The placement of apostrophes
And when misuse causes frowns.
He learned to count the syllables
some poetry dictates,
Aliteration, assonance
And all that advocates.

He moved on to a maths class
Learning geometry and trig,
of logs and complex numbers
And nothing seemed too big.
The raven was content now;
no longer felt a fool.
It was a “happy” pairing:
A raven and a school.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Cursory Rhymes

For the June Pub Poets' "Nursery Rhyme" theme, a touch of satire.

A government White Paper has been leaked regarding changes to the National Curriculum as it applies to nursery and primary schools. A select committee has decided that too much time and money is spent upon the learning of nursery rhymes, and a saving could be made if many of the rhymes were merged. The saving in time could then be used to introduce indoctrination – sorry, that should read information – into the support of the good work performed by the Cabinet.

The following is in response to this – entitled

Cursory Rhymes.

Little Jack Horner sat on a tuffet
eating his blackbird pie.
Down fell a Humpty, tripped over Jack's bucket
that Jill had left nearby.
The little dog laughed to see such fun,
although the cupboard was bare –
for Simple Simon couldn’t afford
the pies sold at the fair.

Jack's blackbird pie - it was the last;
no hot cross buns, no tuppenny rice,
the Queen of Hearts had no spare tarts,
no sugar and spice and all things nice.
Whilst Mary, Mary, quite contrary,
had a little lamb,
the Spratts had eaten all the rest,
including Bo-Peep's ram.

Hey diddle diddle, some folk chose to fiddle,
Tommy Tucker he sang for his supper.
Some little piggies - went to food banks for victuals *,
Willie Winkie was being improper.
There was an old woman whose life was askew –
no dainty dish for her – today.
Hickory dickory - it's all gone to cock.
So how is it things ... turned out this way?

There was a crooked man and he smiled a crooked smile,
Teamed up with Georgie Porgie to adopt a crooked style.
He brought in crooked cronies, power mad like him and then -
They all conspired together in the crooked Number Ten.

*[pron. Vittles]

Monday, 2 May 2016

Plain Brown Wrapper

And so another Pub Poets' meeting descended, and with it the theme 'plain brown wrapper'. And, as is becoming a habit, I'm writing the poem during the afternoon when the meeting is scheduled for the evening.

So what do I write? No idea. Just start writing then, and see what emerges. Part way through, I had an idea for the ending - which may need some explanation for those unfamiliar with the group (i.e. probably most of you). Ashley Lister teaches English and creative writing at the local college, hosts the Pub Poets' open mic sessions with much hilarity, and is a much published author of erotica. 'Nuff said.

Plain Brown Wrapper

I got a little package
in the post the other day.
It was wrapped in plain brown paper
and not marked in any way.
Okay, if you’re pedantic
you many point out my address;
That this should mark the package
- or did the postman guess?
But I’ll ignore such picky words;
the snides won’t get me down.
Ignore the printed label there;
the rest was plain and brown.

The bloke who brought the package,
he was plain and wrapped-up too.
He didn’t come from Royal Mail –
instead, some other crew.
He got into an unmarked van
and drove off down the street.
An independent courier
or maybe just discreet.
I closed the door and went inside,
the package in my hand,
and that is when I noticed
that the wrapping was so bland.

Perhaps it was just marketing;
another new campaign
from Virgin mobile or such firms –
they really are a pain.
I looked at it and shook it
and I pondered, “Where’s it from?”
I wondered, “What could be inside?”
Perhaps a letter bomb!
I laughed at my stupidity
“Who’d want to blow up me?
I’m not like Katie Hopkins
Or a government MP.”

It could not be from Amazon –
they’re never in disguise.
Their name emblazoned on the side;
their parcels advertise.
Besides, I’d made no orders
when I tried to wrack my brain,
so who would send me something
wrapped in paper – brown and plain?
I know what you are saying:
Why not simply have a look?
I did, and then it all came clear:

I’d sent for Ashley’s book.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

The Foul-Mannered Bureaucrat

For the looming Pub Poets night on 3 April, I was trying to think what to write, I considered limericks and ended up thinking about Edward Lear and his poem "The Owl and the Pussycat".

That's how I came to write a parody - and the alternative title had me thinking about failed attempts to influence local government and how these might feasibly be circumvented by those ruling the country.

The Foul-Mannered Bureaucrat

The foul-mannered bureaucrat went to see
how the dutiful cast their vote.
But something was funny despite all the money
wrapped up keeping int'rests afloat.
He scowled, wond'ring what they were all thinking of,
As he sat in the town hall bar,
You're not too fussy, when push comes to shove,
How incredibly wussy you are – you are,
How incredibly wussy you are.

Thus he said "Rank and file – will think a denial
is something your conscience should bring.
But payment's sufficient, so don't be deficient;
you know how the government swing."
Then he went away, coming back the next day
to then stand where the "throng"'s opposed.
And as we knew he would – an officer stood
with results now the votes had been closed,
as supposed,
with results now the votes had been closed.

"I declare to those seated – the motion's defeated."
Said the bureaucrat softly –"oh bum"
So he went back down south, a bad taste in his mouth
to the Minister at the Asylum.
But all was not lost; despite extra cost
the Minister said "I'm no fool.
Set up a committee from friends in the City
the locals we will overrule
we rule,
the locals we will overrule."

Thursday, 10 March 2016

The Captain was a Ladies' Man

These are the lyrics to a Sea Shanty I was inspired to write earlier this week. You see, in addition to the poetry lark, I'm currently rehearsing as part of a group called the Lytham St Annes Shanty Singers, formed by my mate Joel in the latter third of last year.

The title of the piece says it all really. Imagine a group of sailors reminiscing about a skipper they shared; a man who seemed to have a romantic dalliance in every port and ended up having to scarper.

Performance notes:
A soloist sings the first and fourth line of each verse (shown in italics), and everyone sings the rest. The Chorus is sang after each verse. Optionally, a second soloist can sing the second and fifth lines, with a different person responding in each verse.

The Captain was a Ladies' Man

Do you remember Jack the Lad?
Best skipper that we ever had
We do! We do! The things the captain used to do…
Jack Dawes he was a ladies’ man
But with a low attention span!
No way – he’d stay – And that is why we say…

The captain was a ladies’ man
A girl in every port
And half the time we set to sea
To stop him being caught.
Aboard the ship he’d run the crew
With fair and steady hand
But once ashore again he’d be –
Jack Dawes the ladies’ man.

Do you remember in St Annes?
Was that the time they read the banns?
We do! We do! The things the captain used to do…
He liked the girl but not to wed
He grabbed his boots and off he fled
No way – he’d stay – And that is why we say…

Do you remember Grimsby town?
The time the blonde twins tracked him down?
We do! We do! The things the captain used to do…
He won the game of hide-and-seek
He smelled of haddock all that week!
No way – he’d stay – And that is why we say…

Do you remember Rotterdam?
The time he got into a jam?
We do! We do! The things the captain used to do…
The green light that he thought he saw
Was red and not worth paying for,
No way – he’d stay – And that is why we say…

Do you remember in Bangkok
The time we spent a week in dock?
We do! We do! The things the captain used to do…
He ran off after quite a shock
It was a man inside a frock!
No way – he’d stay – And that is why we say…

Do you remember when he died?
The mourners came from far and wide (aah)
We do! We do! The things the captain used to do…
But even then we had to smile
With six wives fighting in the aisle!
He did – not stay – And that is why we say…

[Rehearsal performance on YouTube:  ]

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Leaping Into The Unknown

The February Pub Poets' theme of "Leaping Into The Unknown" made me think of virtual reality, so that's the inspiration for this poem.

And why not throw in a few TV show references and a bit of science fiction for good measure?

Leaping Into The Unknown

It must have been five years ago
Or thereabouts, I guess
The time I took a diff’rent job
so had to change address.
Much nearer to my cousin Chris
whom I’d not seen for years
so it was great to reacquaint
ourselves and share some beers.

One night when we’d run out of cans
(around about half-nine),
I sneaked down to his cellar where
I thought he kept his wine.
But what I found beneath his house
led to the Twilight Zone.
Before too long I’d take a leap
Into the vast unknown.

Before me, racks of DVDs
with walls of hi-tech gear,
a padded suit suspended high
within a plastic sphere.
And as I looked around the room
my cousin joined my side.
“You’ve found my secret world,” he said,
“You wanna take a ride?”

“I built all this advanced A. I. –    
a brain that fabricates
a virtual environment
from DVD base states.
You choose the video you want
from those stacked hereabout.
You get inside the padded suit
and tune the real world out.”

Well Chris was quite persuasive
(and drinking played its part)
so I was soon inside the sphere,
the system set to start.
My expectations were not high;
imagine my surprise
when I was next to Captain Kirk
upon the “Enterprise”.

I found that I could move around
but still remain unseen,
and I could look around the set
where cam’ras hadn’t been.
Extrapolated images
accounted for all this,
and all from software programmed by
my clever cousin Chris.

The next few weeks I spent my time
in many diff’rent zones.
I visited each TARDIS and
each place in Game of Thrones.
I mooched round Downton Abbey just
to see the rooms they’d got.
I went to Pasadena and
I sat in Sheldon’s spot.

I sat upon the tram that knocked
one Alan Bradley down,
but when I saw who shot J.R.
a thought caused me to frown.
I realised that not a one
of Chris’s discs were fact;
Yes: dramas, plays and comedies.
Non-fiction discs he lacked.

He’d missed an opportunity,
but I’d not, so next day,
I brought some vintage footage of
that “Shot” at JFK.
A solo flight while Chris was out:
he’d given me a key
So I would do my own research
In Dallas, ’63.

When I walked up the grassy knoll
There was a gunman – true!
But he saw me – to my surprise –
His shot went off askew.
A sort of pop and I was back
although the room had changed.
No Chris, no discs, no padded suit.
The past – now rearranged.

The flesh wound now a killer shot
that took out JFK.
My former past is now unknown
because I leaped that day.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Going Underground

A new year. A new venue for the Pub Poets open mic events in Blackpool. A new poem from me.

The theme for the poem was "going underground", presumably because the new venue is below ground level. When trying to decide what to write for my poem, I thought of moles, rabbits, Wombles, the Tube in London (discarded, since I've never been there) and Paul Weller (because of the Jam's first UK number one single). Nope. My mind went another way.

Oh, and again for benefit of non-UK readers, some years ago many towns and cities boasted a Littlewoods department store.

Going Underground

This tale is set some years ago
when corner shops were not so rare,
when youngsters thought the Beatles ‘fab’
but parents worried ‘bout their hair.
A time of change, and in one town
they opened a department store –
the only one for miles around
with many wonders on each floor.
An architectural tour de force:
five floors of goods for him and her
from gift shop ‘neath the glass-domed roof
to basement, where staff toilets were.

So now we have the where and when.
The who’s a guy called Jimmy Woods,
a shop assistant in the store
who had a job in “fancy goods”.
He loved his job; he did it well,
enjoying how it went for him
until the bosses saw his skill
and forced promotion on young Jim.
The problem with this change of role,
walking more than he would choose
it filled his bladder quicker but
he couldn’t use the basement loos.

This problem going underground:
the reason why, he did not know.
With Subterranean redbrick loos
the urine simply would not flow.
That first time Jim thought he could use
a bucket in a changing room,
but explanations to the staff?
Beyond the pale – so I assume.
He thought he’d try the alleyway
to ease the pressure down below,
but buskers played there all the day
so that was not the place to go.

He couldn’t find a single place
instead of going underground,
so going here and going there
he thought he’d spread himself around.
First, finding an umbrella stand,
he briefly stopped to wee in that.
And pausing at the milliners
he widdled in a bowler hat.
He widdled in a Grecian Urn,
he widdled in a non-stick pan,
but just a few drops in each place
until he found a better plan.

The pressure off, with time to think
he set himself a simple task:
a method to contain himself.
Solution - buy a Thermos flask.
His claustrophobic bladder then
would have no reason to refuse,
as later he could take his flask
to empty in the basement loos.
And now you know the reason for
this mystery at Littlewoods
They never found the culprit there.
The one who left the widdle: Woods.

Sunday, 10 January 2016

'Tis The Season

It's been a while since I updated the blog. No excuses - I've been dividing my time between doing other things and... doing absolutely nothing. That's not to say I haven't been writing some poetry - primarily for the Pub Poets events - so I'll add the Christmas poem I wrote for the December event. I know that the seasonal hiatus has now passed, but now you have the chance to reminisce without the alcoholic haze.

[Note for non-UK readers - DFS are a company who advertise on TV selling furniture, and it is a running joke that they are forever having new sales]

'tis The Season

‘Tis the season – ivy, holly, Carols playing – very jolly,
Digging out the Christmas tree, Festive adverts on TV,
Watch the new John Lewis ad, Argue if it’s good or bad,
Stores competing for success, Winter sales from DFS.

‘Tis the season to go shopping, Carols playing – never stopping,
Weather starting to go colder, Greetings yelled by Noddy Holder,
Christmas lights appear in trees, Toys invoking children’s pleas,
Will the parents acquiesce? Further sales from DFS.

‘Tis the season to go spending, Carols playing – never ending
Trying hard to disregard – The urge to use the credit card,
Chestnuts, cheeseboards all about, The enigmatic Brussel sprout –
Eaten under some duress. Another sale from DFS.

‘Tis the season to go buying, Carols playing – very trying,
on all those T.V. promos too – Strictly, Sherlock, Doctor Who
Tinsel and Baubles put up then – We’ll shortly take them down again.
The price of stamps: the cards cost less. Yet more sales from DFS. 

‘Tis the season to overspend; Will those carols ever end?
The time of year is certain when, The famous grouse appears again,
But the three drinks inebriant are*: Sherry, Baileys and advocaat.
Alcohol to great excess. Miss a sale from DFS.

‘Tis the season to booze and scoff. I’ve scared the carol singers off.
I’ve locked the door and dimmed the light. I’ll settle for a silent night.
Some box-sets if I change my mind; In case I feel that way inclined.
I call it Dodging Festive Stress – abbreviated – D F S.

* To be read in a manner reminiscent of "We Three Kings of Orient Are"