Pyloric Stenosis

 

“Lazarus”  David Bowie

I am not exactly certain how this poem connects with David Bowie, I think it was the david bowievideo and the hospital bed but I listened and watched and below is the poem that came out.

It also reflects how angry this election is making me. People I know, good people, kind people who would not normally vote for the conservatives will be voting for the Tories in this election. Their reasons are many and varied but I think we need to remind ourselves of our priorities and our achievements as a country.

I started this blog as a celebration of my forthcoming 70th birthday but I also share my birthday with something else, the National Health Service. In the last ten years, I have had used it services extensively as I have struggled with heart problems and I have always been impressed by the level of service and quality of care I have received.

I was also one of the first to use it seventy years ago. I was born with a condition called Pyloric Stenosis, a blockage between the stomach and the bowel which meant I could not keep food down and therefore suffered what they call today “a failure to thrive”. Thanks to the NHS, an operation saved my life. I still have the scar today to remind me of the fortunate timing of my birth.

To listen to a recording of the poem click here.

 

Pyloric Stenosis

 

I was the 259,897th baby born in 1948 in the newly created NHS

Deep within me was a blockage between my stomach and small bowel

Life nourishing baby milk could not pass through my body

Instead it festered and curdled in my infantile stomach

I could projectile vomit like Carrie in the Stephen King novel

Six weeks into this world and a surgeon’s knife saved my life

The scar down my stomach is a reminder of his skill

Fifty years before I would have withered like a wind snapped vine

A lost first born of a struggling poor family

But I thrived because of a political decision born out of war

Soon the forty fifth millionth NHS baby will be born

Whilst around its cot the Tory butchers will be looting the wards

Stripping the corridors and plundering the theatres

 

©Jeff Price April 2017

 

The Dog and the Crow

Ralph McTell “Streets of London”

I remember an interview with Ralph McTell about this song. He said he wrote it for a ralph-mctellfriend  who was depressed and felt that life was not worth living. Ralph tries to tell him that there are many in the world much worse off than him.

Recently on my Facebook pages there has been much discussion about how artists respond to criticism and how the bad review or unkind remark can eat away at your confidence. Each of us has an internal voice that sometimes is supportive and other times critical and we have to achieve some sort of balance.

I am not a good sleeper and often lie awake and that’s when the crow comes, I realise that inner criticism is what can drive us on and I try to take something positive out of it but it isn’t always easy. Here is the poem I wrote down when I listened to “Streets of London”.

The Dog and the Crow

 

The dog sits by his side strong in limb and devotion

It waits for his command with panting breath

“Go, Master” It tells him “Yours it the certain path.”

It would follow him to the cliff edge and beyond

At his back the crow pecks sputtering out rueful words

Words of shame, words of quivering doubt

He hates the crow’s questions but they strengthen him

Reminding him that progress does not come from compliancy

As the moon rises he waits for fitful sleep but it evades him

Hiding behind the doors to hidden and unknown rooms

The dog sleeps beside the dying fire and dreams of biscuits

Whilst the crow’s haunted cries echo across the valley

© Jeff Price April 2017

The Tally Man

Silver Thunderbird by Marc Cohn

This wonderful song by Marc Cohn brings back lots of memories of my Father. Although his car was not a Silver Thunderbird but a Standard Vanguard, Standard_Vanguard_-_NOX_569_at_Armley_Mills_2011_-_IMG_2817.jpgit was his pride and joy.

He was a hard working man with a very strong sense of family values. The Standard Vanguard belonged to a time when we as a family were doing well but hard times were to come. My Dad was an agent for a woman’s clothing firm, he had a special designed Van to take to

Morris-Minor-Gown-Van
The Gown Van was like this one but painted without writing on the side.

his clients as well as a car and we lived in a nice semidetached house. When I was 11 his major customers went bust owing him lots of money and leaving him in debt to suppliers. He had to close the business and eventually sell the house to pay off his creditors. After that, he had a succession of jobs with periods of unemployment in between

One of the less appealing jobs he had later in life was as a “Tally Man”. He worked for a loan company in Newcastle and his job was to go door to door and collect the weekly payments from the customers.

I remember one Christmas Eve he was leaving the house and I asked him were he was going and he told me he was going to collect the weekly payments. “But, its Christmas!” I said. He told me that if he didn’t collect the payments this week then they would owe double next week and the firm would add extra interest and it was best for the customers to pay now and that he was doing the a favour. In this piece I imagined what happened next.

This piece is also a “Drabble” a writing form that is exactly 100 words.

Click here  for a recording.

The Tally Man calls

Even on a good day, kids would be sent to shout through the letter box “Me Mam’s out” but no one expected him to call on Christmas Eve. So, Ada Johnson didn’t think twice about flinging the door open and saying “Merry Christmas” actually she never got further than the “Merry”. Then a “What the fuck are you doing here?”

Before her stood a slight figure of a man dressed in a brown suit. His hair thin and pressed close to his scalp with Brylcream. Out of a briefcase he pulled a small leather ledger.

“It’s a Wednesday, Mrs Johnson and I always call on a Wednesday, and sometimes on a Thursday if you are not in and then a Friday and a Saturday until your payment has been made.”

“But it’s Christmas Eve” she protested.

“It’s a Wednesday, I collect on a Wednesday, there is no exceptions for holidays. If I don’t collect this week it will mean you owe twice as much next week and then extra interest will be added and you will end up paying more. I’m doing you a favour by coming today.”

Mrs Johnson was stunned none of the other collectors had called this week, she went back into the house and got her purse.

“Here, you heartless bastard.” She thrust her last few pounds coins into his hand.

“Thanks Mrs Johnson I’ll see you next week, Merry Christmas”

©Jeff Price April 2017

School Run

Donovan “Catch the Wind “

Donovan Philips Leitch was born in Scotland in 1946. His influence on the world music scene has been much ignored. He has an amazing output of albums and singles. His track “Sunshine Superman” was said to influence the Beatles St Peppers album and he is credited with teaching Lennon and McCartney a finger picking style of playing which was used extensively on the White album.

Although the music press were very dismissive of him labeling him “The British Dylan” he had a very distinctive style of his own. He lives near Cork in Ireland and has five children including being a step father to Brian Jones’ son Julien.

I picked “Catch the Wind” and as I listened I remembered a morning when I was taking my granddaughter to her primary school. It was the title “Catch the wind” that made me think of her. It is that innocence of childhood that makes all things possible even the impossible.

The world is all wonder and discovery to the young and as we get old we can become weary and cynical. It’s a path I sometimes stray down but try and avoid as much as possible.

If you would like to listen to an audio version of the poem click here

 

School Run

 

Her parents have already left for work

After making porridge and toast

We share a story

She reads the words

I add my thoughts to the prose

 

I plead and she prevaricates

Her hair is platted and teeth brushed

Shoe laces are tied and her coat buttoned

The satchel is found and lunch packed

 

Together we walk to  school

Her hand trusts mine

The world is all wonder to her

The magma beneath our feet

The snails in the crevices of the wall

How her and Ben will wear matching wedding dresses

 

We enter the school gates

She spies a friend and runs off

I stand with the

Carers clutching coffees

The cycling lycra clad dads

Heavy footed grandparents

The unbrushed and the rushed

The reluctant and the hesitant

All waiting for the bell to break the spell

 

©Jeff Price April 2017