Corporate Suits and Corporate Lattes

My latest poetic effort; a tongue-in-cheek reminisce about those times spent in the corporate world from where the obligatory uniform of suit, tie, briefcase and filofax over the years swiftly became, no suit, open-necked shirt, smart phone and man bag.

So pull up a latte or a mocha, throw in a Belgian bun or tuna mayo sarnie or two, and see if any of what passes below stirs a memory – or a shudder!


Corporate suits and corporate lattes

Are so very corporate things,

Symbols of corporate success

And the status that it brings.

As we strive to climb the ladder

Following the path of chosen careers,

Fashions change and then come back

Once in every twenty years.

Yet one thing remains a constant

That with the beverage of our choice,

When we look and ponder the menu

We wait for that little voice.

The one that swirls inside your head

Every time you join the queue,

Latte or mocha, skinny or full fat

What a terrible dilemma for you.

And if you frequent the high street chains

They’ll like as not offer an inducement or three,

For to those wearing the corporate suits

There exists the aura of much easy money.

Now some may think I’m being bitter

Maybe consumed by jealousy,

That the corporate world is now way beyond

Where I once strived to be.

But nothing can further be from the truth

For it as a writer where I prefer to be,

Wearing my Saracens top and track suit bottoms

And holding a mug of Rosy Lee.

 

 

 

 

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A Budget Response to Philip Hammond

Well thank God some of you may say, that that media circus called The Budget has been done and dusted. Political Leaders of all persuasions will doubtless be on the airwaves pouring forth opinions on the what was good and what was bad blah, blah, blah.

I thought I would provide my own poetic response as an alternative to the millions of words and wasted column inches that once read and then forgotten  about, will  either provide emergency toilet paper or means of wrapping vegetable peelings, depending on which one you read.

So here it is my response called simply, Dear Mr Hammond. Enjoy!

Dear Mr Hammond, today your first budget did present

The media scrum did duly assemble, to record this momentous event.

You cut taxes for the already rich, you provided funding for new school starts

Yet once again the poor and sick, bore the brunt of callous tory hearts.

Social care received only a pittance, this much we expected to see

It seems once again goes the mantra, to do sweet FA to help the elderly.

To those with chronic conditions, who can’t work but need to maintain their dignity

Life has now become even harder, thanks to a vindictive DWP.

With money to burn on Trident, and vanity projects like HS2

Little wonder is it then, there’s nothing but contempt for people like you?

A cabinet full of millionaires, cocooned from life’s many pitfalls and strife

Yet for many in our country after today, there’ll be no let-up in their hardship called life.

And to those suffering mental illness, and those living without permanent accommodation

You failed to find adequate funding, to alleviate this blight on our nation.

You put sixty billion aside for Brexit, in case of unforeseen events

Yet your Government reneged on commitments, to refugee children sleeping in tents.

The self-employed got hit with a tax hike, but some pubs got a thousand pound rate relief

You first gave and then you took it away, just like the most opportunistic nightly thief.

You raised the threshold for personal taxation, you even increased the minimum wage

Yet to still call it, National Living, is enough to send me into a rage.

So congratulations Mr Hammond, you strove to do your manful best

For this the last springtime budget, that concept has finally been laid to rest.

We now look forward to Autumn, when the public spending rounds get started

But one thing we can always predict, it’s the ordinary folk who’ll get shafted.

 

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Second Time Around

This is my latest poetic posting which is a tongue-in-cheek reflection on being married for the second time of asking. You might think that after only six months it might be a bit too soon,  but we have been together nearly fifteen years. So read on, and hopefully, some of this may be strike a chord of familiarity.

 

I recently got married again, last year it was in September

A day which for many, we will always certainly remember.

They say things are usually better the second time around,

But can anyone enlighten me with advice that is good and sound?

My dilemma is so acute, I am perplexed and afflicted by confusion

Can a second chance at happy married life be more than just an illusion?

The reason I pose this question in case I forgot to mention,

Is that our current state of happiness, has made us objects of some close attention.

We’d been together a dozen years quite happily living over the brush

We knew we’d tie the knot one day but we weren’t in any rush.

But when the time had come for us to formalise our union,

We didn’t anticipate the obstacles trying to enter into a loving communion.

Because there are a few things to contemplate which may well indeed infuriate

With those with whom perhaps, we are now ready to commiserate.

Firstly changing of one’s status, ladies, you mostly remember what this is

All the bloody hoops you have to jump through, just to become a Mrs!

Passport, Driving Licence, Bank and Credit cards just to mention a few

Then remembering just for convenience, your Facebook, WhatsApp & Twitter too.

Whatever family name you’re changing be it wife to husband’s, or sometimes husband’s to wife,

There’s always some frigging jobsworth, who enjoys being the cause of much strife!

And don’t ever mention the semantics of so-called polite society

For here on display you will find, much in the way of unbridled hypocrisy.

For according to these self-appointed guardians of the morals of our nation

Marriage changes the sin of fornication, into the more acceptable copulation.

When February 14 draws near being married can sometimes be hard

When seeking to buy my beloved that all-important St Valentine’s card.

There’s plenty for girlfriend, boyfriend, one I love & the love of my life,

Yet do you think I can find a decent one, dedicated to my darling wife?

Yet despite all these obstacles, these difficulties which may blighten our way,

Based on present experience I believe I’m in a position to say.

That taking all things into consideration, I can make this statement profound;

Married life does appear to be better, when undertaken the second time round.

 

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Here in England’s Second City

During the festive season it is common to remember those less fortunate than ourselves especially those who have no permanent shelter. I wrote this poem in response to an article on itv.com posted on December 01st, regarding the scandalous homeless situation here in the West Midlands which is second only to London. (Click here for link) According to the analysis carried out by housing charity, Shelter,  some 16,000 people are classed as homeless in our region with almost 10,000 alone in Birmingham. Perhaps our New Year resolution for 2017 should be to bring more pressure to bear on our elected politicians to end the scourge of homelessness. A good place to start perhaps, would be with those standing for election as Mayor of the Combined West Midlands Authority on 04th May 2017. The poem is below.

 

Here in England’s Second City

Here in England’s second city

People are sleeping on the streets,

While the shoppers hurrying quickly

Searching for those Christmas treats.

Times like this can be very hard,

When deciding to use which credit card.

But for the homeless in our city

Not for them goodwill to all,

Killing time it passes slowly

Waiting for the dark to fall.

On the streets it’s cold and lonely,

With Sleeping bags to protect them only.

For the many in our city

Christmas is a time of pride,

Gifts and presents we’ll be exchanging

Season’s greetings on this yuletide.

But for those without a home

Left alone, on the streets to roam.

So as we shop and drink and party

As we put on our merry face,

Ten thousand people in this city

Lack an affordable, permanent place.

Stable and cradle were once Jesus’ stalls,

Now replaced by retail malls.

 

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Disturb Them Not Mr Grayling

Having been offline so to speak since last October I was looking for an opportunity to blog again but was struggling to find something truly meaningful, something to which I could write passionately about.  Well thanks to  Prime Minister,Theresa May, and her Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, such an opportunity has presented itself.

A few weeks ago the Government announced that despite David Cameron’s previous stance to the contrary, they were going to support expansion at London’s Heathrow Airport and allow the building of a third runway. Many column inches have been written and many debates on television and radio have taken place since then and I don’t intend to dwell any further on previously made arguments. I will however declare my opposition to the plans by stating that I come from the area which will be severely affected by any further expansion, and that having spent seven years of my working life airside at Heathrow itself, it will be a gigantic environmental and logistical nightmare to build in the first place never mind the destruction of ancient villages in its intended path.

My main objection however is a more personal one; namely the threat building a third runway poses to Cherry Lane Cemetery which is situated just north of the eastbound carriageway of the M4 Motorway and adjacent to the area earmarked for expansion. This cemetery marks my parents final resting place as well as the resting place of other relatives and family friends whom I knew from childhood. Although what is known about the plans do not currently appear to affect the cemetery, I remain deeply sceptical as do others that this will continue to be the case. Therefore I wrote the following poem addressed to Chris Grayling, making it clear that these final resting places Continue reading

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My Contribution to National Poetry Day

This is a poem I wrote as part of a Theology module last year. I never got round to getting it published so I am sharing it now as part of NPD.

 

My Emmaus Road

Then they told what happened on the road,  and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread

Luke 24:35    NRSV

 

Who am I this confused soul?

Seeking a path to a destination as yet uncertain,

But yet wanting it to be made known.

Where faith and its joyful expression,

Are projected onto a canvas of Spiritual Renewal.

Where the actions of a life less pure

Are not weighed down by the chains of guilt,

But instead, are cleansed by the love of one

Whose love is greatest above all.

Unlike the travellers walking with the unknown stranger,

My eyes had become blind to the sacrifice Christ made for me

And yet; I kept venturing back, wondering, if, maybe, perhaps

But no: I moved forward, ploughing a secular furrow

Serving not God, but his nemesis instead.

 

I turned away from the true path,

Like the seed sown among thorns the word was heard,

But the cares of the world proved a louder calling.

Like the master of the talents, I sought to reap where I did not sow

And gather what I did not scatter.

A creed based not on harvesting the fruits of the vine,

But on the lure of pleasure and the pursuit of power.

Qoheleth’s wisdom became my Gospel, my source of truth

To take life as it comes; as surely the same fate comes to us all.

Yet when my own brush with mortality beckoned,

I began to seek a different path, where the seed could take root

And the word would be heard and acknowledged.

It is then that I find the path that I seek,

The community, the place, on my road to Emmaus

Where once again, Christ Jesus revealed himself to me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Why I’m Supporting End Hunger Fast

To many of us, sitting on the sidelines while yet another government policy wreaks havoc on those least able to defend themselves has become something of a national sport. Encouraged by their friends in the right wing press, they continue to mistake the silence of the majority for acquiescence especially with regards for those pernicious and unjust policies emanating under the title of “Welfare Reform”. While no one doubts that the welfare bill is high – possibly too high – and in need of meaningful reform, what is frequently overlooked is that according to figures from the DWP, some 42% of the total annual welfare bill (approx £160bn) is taken up by pensions and pension credits, with a further 20% paid for in housing benefit which is now claimed by one in five working families. Job Seekers Allowance however accounts for only 3% of the total, with similar sums accounted for by Employment Support Allowance, Disability Living Allowance and Income Support, hardly the signs of a workshy, benefits-claiming populace so beloved of sections of the mass media. I could go into more depth on the impact of welfare reform but prefer to leave that to those far more cerebral than I on these matters. My reason for posting this blog focuses instead, on the doing of something practical to show my support for those in our society who are having to pay the price for the years of profligacy by bankers and by politicians.

As a Christian as well as a student of Theology, I willingly seek to play my part in achieving two of the Church of England’s five marks of mission; to provide loving service to others and to seek to transform the unjust structures of society. In this I do have previous, being a campaigner on behalf of those living with Motor Neurone (MND) Disease and other life-changing conditions. In recent months as my knowledge of what being of Christian faith is really about and in particular, learning more about Jesus the revolutionary as opposed to Jesus the Prophet, I find myself more willing to now engage directly with the harsher realities of those who are suffering the injustices of poverty, hunger, homelessness and destitution. While organising campaigns and harassing politicians about poor neurological provision has brought much satisfaction on a personal level, compared to what is now happening in wider society for those not getting any statutory support or who face having it removed under the things like the Work Capability Assessment programme – a contradiction in terms if ever there was one – is not only unchristian, but shameful. For a country which is supposedly the seventh richest in the world to countenance a situation where people are having to be referred to foodbanks just to provide the basics, is a humiliating indictment to the depths we have sunk to as a society.

In our churches, our places of work and in our community groups we support all manner of worthy causes and we buy Fairtrade products where we can, and we all tend to come away with a nice fuzzy glow that says we’ve done our bit to further humanity’s cause. Yet for most of us this still amounts to sitting on the sidelines while we get on with life and leave others to get their hands dirty caring and supporting those left at the sharp end. So what will I be doing during this Lenten season to support End Hunger Fast?

Well after some protracted negotiation with the Diabetic Care Nurse at my GP’s practice – the stubborn Irish heritage in me refused to back down entirely – I shall two days a week during lent refrain from eating a midday meal. I originally wanted to do this for the whole of lent, but as a diabetic I have to be careful not to unduly risk my health and even I can see the wisdom of accepting such medical advice, albeit reluctantly. What do I hope to achieve by doing this? I hope that by this small gesture I can show a degree of solidarity with those for whom skipping meals is not an option but for them a daily reality; and while I have no firm intelligence, there are I’m sure, people living with similar medical conditions to myself who find themselves in this situation, with the inherent long-term health implications they may suffer and the likely increased cost of medical intervention.

I have also volunteered at The Hunger Hut in Cathedral Square, Birmingham tomorrow (13th) to help raise awareness of the plight of hungry people here in the UK, exacerbated as it is, by the actions of an uncaring Government wedded to its ideology of austerity.

I will be there between 1000-1400 with the obligatory bottle of lucozade just in case the old blood sugar decides to go south due to not eating.

Why not join us?

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