Sunday, 29 July 2012

Once More into the Breach

(in memory of leaks and competence)

Months of preparation
weeks of detailed costing,
another week or two of work,
to fix a cleansing issue
we started to put our lives
and chattels back into
cupboards, onto shelves,
to welcome back normality.
We looked at the product
of our plans and saw
that it was good,
but for a lengthening list
of minor snags, it did appear ok.
On the surface.
We waited patiently
for all their dust, which spread
throughout the Universe,
to settle out, so to clean
for one last time.
We enjoyed that special feeling,
you know, the one you get
for things when they are new,
like a child at Christmas,
that makes you feel 
that it was all worth waiting for.
Through all their soot and grime,
we tolerate
their tendency to make it worse
when they cleaned up 
after they had done.
Their habit of making
you feel like it wasn’t your home!
Then a sight that took us back
to where it all began,
dampening our ardour,
crushing our spirit.
Enraged, we watched
a patch upon the ceiling,
where it started, and where
we saw a rather 
expensive alternative 
to what we had before,
grow larger and larger
and larger.
So they came back 
to deconstruct
to reconstruct
to seal it properly
this time.
Near three hours it took them
to bring back hope
to our oh so forlorn hearts.
And so we let another day,
or two, pass into chaos.
And on the third day…
we stepped in, spirit renewed,
to wash away the anger
to cleanse our spirit
once more.
Once more…
Once more and they are dead,
I’d said, with feeling
like I really meant it.
Once more into this breach
and all that will be left of them
are entrails and body parts.
We’d wash them down 
through the drain
and out into the earth
to feed the worms.
Once more, this morning 
I was clean and happy,
for a few short moments,
as I stepped out
with towel around,
my hopes for future life…
...dashed in an instant.
The sight of it, 
a trickle, a little stream,
dribble, ooze, seeping as it was
through micron gaps,
a percolating spill,
pouring, gushing
rivulet that found its way
down below, to flee its source,
to prove them singularly
unable to seal
the breach in the damn.
If I were a psychopath,
I’d cut their fingers off,
stick one in the faulty dyke
and float one in the puddle 
I found a while ago
upon the kitchen floor.
© 2012 John Anstie

A poetic picture prompt...?

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

All White Then Black

On Thursday, 7th July 2005 I managed to organise working from home for the week, having spent the past few months working every week in London from Monday to Friday, returning home only at the weekends. I was back in London again the following week.

I sometimes wonder, if I had travelled down to head office in Marylebone, as normal via Kings Cross that very week, whether or not I might have been involved in some way. It was a Thursday, so it was less likely, but who ever will know?

Last Saturday, 7th July, was the seventh anniversary of the London bombings. Three of them occurred simultaneously at 08:50 on three tube trains : at Aldgate, Russell Square and Edgware Road - the other one an hour later on a No.30 bus at Tavistock Square, which was more than usually crowded because, by then, the whole London Underground had ceased operation in light of events and people were trying to get to work overground instead.

I wrote this poem as a direct response to this human tragedy, but particularly having watched an extraordinarily high quality, moving, but very sympathetically made television documentary on BBC2, "7/7: One Day in London", which was shown late on Wednesday, 4th July.

I have used the first hand accounts of a handful of the characters interviewed in this documentary to provide the substance of the poem. These were people, who were directly affected by the bombings. I've focussed on four victims in particular, with one stanza to talk of their personal preamble and another stanza later in the piece to recount their personal outcomes.

Through this poem, I offer my belated condolences for the families of the fifty-two people who lost their lives and to those who survive and will probably carry with them for the rest of their lives not just the physical scars, but also the emotional scars, that are etched into their conscious and sub-conscious minds...

...I'd like to make mention of some of those, who took part in the documentary, both the living (who had the courage to speak with such honesty) and the dead: William, Stan, Martine, Tracy (who recounted her experience in such an impressive, poetic way, that she effectively provided the title and theme of the poem), Philip, Yoko, Kathy, Bill, James, Matt, Laura... and many more whose painful memories and suffering live on.

And all because the minds of four young men were damaged by extreme indoctrination. From whatever source, extremism must be tempered by a balanced education.

Yet, once again this shows how even the most horrific acts of inhuman behaviour always seem to be met by the strength, generosity and goodness of the human spirit, in an undoubtedly unifying act. The last line of the poem makes this point. You will find it here.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

British Tennis...

I'd just like to say how very pleased I am for a fellow Sheffielder, Jonathan Marray and his Danish partner, who, as last minute wildcard entrants into the tournament, not only vanquished their fifth seed opponents, Robert Lindstedt and Horia Tecau 4-6 6-4 7-6 6-7 6-3 in the Wimbledon Men's Doubles Final in an astonishingly high quality display of doubles tennis, but, more importantly, brought back hope to all grass roots tennis players throughout the country that fairy tales can happen.

Jonathan Marray, I hope, when you woke up this morning and pinched yourself, that you will also remind yourself that you are a Wimbledon Champion... and always will be!

And now, to another rather important game of tennis... this afternoon.

Andy Murray, may every ounce of strength, resolve, good fortune and self knowledge that you are one of the best tennis players in the world... be in your mind all day until the final ball is played.