Words cannot hold the inside of our hearts.
Unasked for feelings seep between the cracks
What is left unsaid bursts out in a flood
Engulfs the narrow confines of my text.
Inadequate, I know, but all we have.
Blindly groping in the darkness of life,
Stumbling to simply say: “I miss you”.
I am left with memories of the day,
Sheltering in a dusty bookshop from the rain,
Others’ words seeped from the printed page.
Friendship’s fallible, fragile frontline falls,
Words cannot hold the inside of our hearts.
Words cannot hold the inside of our hearts.
UNISON members across the country are facing attacks on pay and conditions and their jobs are at risk. In schools, libraries, the NHS and council departments workers are facing the threat of downgrading or redundancy, as councils make cuts. Labour councils have not put up any real resistance to these cuts, except for a few councillors in Southampton and in Hull – their reward has been to be expelled from the Labour Party!
If there is one union that could stop the government’s attacks on the public sector dead in their tracks, that is UNISON. Prentis boasts about the potential strength of the union’s 1.3 million members but he has then done everything possible to avoid national industrial action. On the one occasion, workers did come out in November 2010, mass demonstrations were held up and down the country and picket lines were buzzing with excitment. However, this glimpse of possible militancy has never been repeated. We need national strike action again, this time co-ordinated with the private sector as well. We have tried being reasonable and negotiating, but this has only encouraged the government and been taken as a sign of weakness.
If you agree that we need a fighting, democratic union, vote for Reclaim The Union Candidates on your ballot paper for UNISON NEC elections. If you have lost your ballot paper, if it is underneath a pile of junk mail on your desk, or if the dog has eaten it – you can get another by phoning 0845 355 0845 befoire 21st May. Ballot closes 24th May.
Jean Thorpe (East Mids region, Female Seat)
Adrian Picton (East Mids region, Male Seat)
Monique Hirst (Black Members’ Seat)
April Ashley (Black Members’ Seat)
Hugo Pierre (Black Members’ Seat)
Suzy Franklin (Health Service Group)
Gary Freeman (Health Service Group)
Mark Boothroyd (Health Service Group)
Greta Holmes (Young Members)
Claire Wormald (Eastern)
Jim McFarlane (Scotland)
Duncan Smith (Scotland)
Jamie Davis (Wales / Cymru)
Dave Auger (West Midlands)
Bernie Parkes (South West)
Helen Davies (Gtr London)
MarshaJane Thompson (Gtr London)
Jon Rogers (Gtr London)
Gundula Seidel (Gtr London)
Bernie Gallagher (North West)
Karen Reissmann (North West)
Roger Bannister (North West)
Tony Wilson (North West)
Jacqui Berry (South East)
Diana Leach (South East)
Paul Couchman (South East)
Helen Jenner (Yorks & Humber)
Mike Forster (Yorks & Humber)
Vicki Perrin (Yorks & Humber)
Reclaim our Union. Standing together for a fighting, democratic union.
We stand for – resistance to all cuts, privatisation and job losses.
industrial action against attacks on pay and conditions.
strike action to be co-ordinated across all trade unions.
only funding and supporting politicians who will oppose cuts and fight for our members.
1996 Great Scottish Run (1:54)
My first half marathon – I entered the day before, without having done any training, thinking it was a 10K race – really should have thought the word “Great” at the beginning would have meant a half, after the “Great North Run”.
1st December 2000 – 24 hour run for World Aids Day (a simultaneous event outdoors around Leicester University Campus and indoors in Canada) – the then British champion at this event, William Sichel from Sanday in Orkney ran 139 miles in 24 hours – incredible achievement. I managed to keep pace with him for around 20 miles, before getting blisters and retiring to the student bar! However, this race inspired me to enter the London Marathon the following year, thinking that if I can manage 20 miles, then a full marathon should be a doddle. How wrong I was, but I became infected with the running bug.
March 2001 Adidas Breakfast Run, Kingston-Upon-Thames (half marathon) 247th (1:42:43)
Preparation for the London Marathon.
London Marathon (April 2001) 10854th (4:10:36)
My first ever marathon. A flat course, with the only difficulty being the enormous number of competitors. A cool day – good conditions for running. However, I really struggled towards the end of the race and despite a great atmosphere, I did not enjoy the race as much as I might have done.
Nottingham Marathon (September 2001) 353rd (3:55:18, timed by chip in my shoe)
The route had to be changed because of foot and mouth, which meant that instead of going through the beautiful scenery of Wootton Park, we followed a main road instead. Very good support from people along the fairly hilly course.
Leicester Marathon, November 2001 107th (3:50:23)
Race notes: a hilly course and a cold, wet day made for tricky conditions. Good start to the race, from Mallory Park circuit. I ran the first seven miles quite slowly with Eve Taylor, who was running in her first half-marathon. Then I sped up in the middle section and hung on somehow at the end. The organisation was very good, but an isolated course meant that few people were out to cheer us on. I was delighted with my time.
10K, Victoria Park Races, Leicester, November 2001 42nd (38:34)
The course was over several tortuous laps of the park. Only gentle hills to contend with and good support.
Gaddesby Sunflower Half Marathon, June 2002 30th (1:38:42)
I went off pretty fast, and just managed to keep it going. It was a hot day, and the course was hilly. Good support and race organisation made for an enjoyable race. I celebrated with a pint afterwards; probably not a very good idea!
Potteries Marathon, Stoke-On-Trent (June 2002) (4:00)
Very hilly race on a hot day. Brilliant support throughout the race – a fantastic atmosphere. Excellent race organisation. I set off too fast, miling at 7:30 pace and so struggled in the middle of the race. However, I managed to recover a little by 19 miles, and made up some time. A very friendly event – sadly no longer part of the race calendar. The highlight was definitely the cup of tea (served in a proper cup) at 19 miles.
2002 Wycombe Half Marathon (July 14th) 413th (1:52:02) A fast course, but a very hot day. I was collecting for charity as I went around, so getting into a rhythm was difficult. I really enjoyed the race. It was very satisfying when people gave me their change. Good support in parts of the course. Excellent job done by the race organisers. I raised £48 for the NSPCC on the day. Thanks to Lee and Tracey for their support!
2002 Waterworks Valley 10K, Jersey (August) 41:10 A really tough course – I was quite pleased with my time.
Nottingham Marathon (September 2002) (4:00:02) – Killer section around the National Watersports Centre – where a looped track meant that you could see people who were 4 miles ahead of you! Good fun again this year.
June 2003 Gaddesby Half Marathon (1:42:24) 4 minutes slower than last year – but I had done less training.
Potteries Marathon (June 2003) (5:27)
Even hotter than last year, this time I elected to collect for charity along the course. Big thank you to the kind person in the card shop who let me change £20′s worth of loose change into a note to make my bucket lighter, and to Santa Claus, obviously in training for the North Pole marathon. His wife was going round in a car emptying his bucket and she kindly emptied mine too. As a result of the generosity of the people of Stoke, I raised nearly £100 on the day.
Wolverhampton Marathon (September 2003) (4:19)
A flattish course, and good conditions for running because of the 9:30 start. I went off too fast though, running the first half in 1:45 and paid for this after the 18 mile mark, when my legs felt like lead.
Feelfine British 10K 2004 – can’t find or remember my time for this!
Potters Half Marathon (Stoke On Trent, 2008) (2:25) 975th
Ran round collecting for the Socialist Party with papers and a collecting bucket. Very hot conditions and a tough course. Very enjoyable run, but hard work.
Coventry Half Marathon (2006) 2:14:37
Running with a collection bucket and papers for the Socialist Party.
John Fraser 10 mile (Countesthorpe) 2007? – can’t find results for this – remember running first 5 miles in a very fast 35 minutes and then paying badly for my earlier speed at the end – having to walk between 9 and 10 miles.
Leicester Marathon (2007) 4:39:46
Potters ‘Arf Marathon (2008) 2:25:29
Collecting as I went round for the Socialist Party – great support as ever in Stoke – but no cup of tea at nineteen miles (unlike the full marathon).
Coventry Half Marathon (2009) 2:12:10
Collecting for the Socialist Party.
Leicester Marathon (October 2010) 534th (5:06:19)
Collected for the Socialist Party, with papers and bucket. meant only to collect for first and last six miles of race, but my support couldn’t make it, so collected for all 26 miles.
Loughborough Corporate Games 10K 2011 Position 8th – Age 30-39M
Horrendous start to the race, when all the competitors were given the wrong directions to the event. Teeming down with rain, turning the course into more of a cross country race – making me wish I had dusted down my spikes! Difficult terrain, but I got round in just over 45 minutes, which I was quite pleased with.
Leicester Marathon (September 2012) 397th (4:29:15 Andrew Walton V40 M) Collected money as I went around and sold copies of the socialist newspaper – my best time for 26 miles with a collecting bucket! Great support as I went round the course, starting and finishing in Victoria Park, just a short stagger away from where I live.
cre·a·tion (n) /krēˈāSHən/
1.The action or process of bringing something into existence.
2.A thing made or invented, esp. something showing artistic talent.
Why do dinosaurs not stomp around on the pages of Genesis?
Are we to believe that a wise, all-seeing, omnipotent being
Overlooked terrifying Tyrannosaurs, docile Diplodocus?
It is not as if they weren’t big enough.
If our holy books had blueprints
Read not like fairy tales but instruction manuals:
“Welcome to the planet Earth. You are fortunate to find yourself on a water-saturated, carboniferous rock, not too hot or cold, with the appropriate atmosphere”
Before going on to unify general relativity with quantum physics,
That would be impressive.
Instead, we are supposed to be grateful, lie prostrate
Be good, meek, mild. Turn the other cheek.
Those in charge avoid difficult questions.
Offer passive acceptance in return for the afterlife,
To better exploit our gullibility on Earth.
We are on a tiny oasis of life and beauty
In a vast, uncaring Universe.
Isn’t that enough to make you wonder?
Question, think, consider.
Weigh up the evidence,
Come to your own conclusions.
Not blind acceptance of what you have been told to believe.
Life is precious.
Make the most of it while you can.
I am a draughtsman, a craftsman
Choosy. Alert to resonance and timbre
Words are my chosen timber.
Lithe, mercurial, quick-witted, flexible
Shaped, honed and selected, poems perfected.
Fit snug, silky smooth, the sharpest of suits,
Details matter, when it comes to patter.
A critical eye, nose for metaphor,
Ear for rhyme, taste for design,
Honesty, truth, beauty not cant.
Nothing wrong, though, with the occasional rant:
Why isn’t there a gender-neutral suffix
That can affix itself to a line with grace?
Not plod around on heavy boots,
Announcing its place?
Poetry isn’t patriarchy.
But draughtsperson, craftsperson, draughtsman (or woman)
Don’t exactly scan.
I am a drafter, a grafter, a crafter
Poetry is my game – to please is my aim.
I get under your skin, shake up your thoughts.
Unique, honed, carefully toned.
Then there’s the matter of performance
Delivery, presence, attitude, concordance
With formalistic rules
Made to be broken, but useful tools.
Poetry is hard when you are stuck
Or it can flow effortlessly
A river of ink that makes you think.
A new poem is the birth of a child
Mewling and puking, but hooking
You in. I am a maker, a shaper, a mover and shaker.
Words – the great leveller
Free, accessible to all.
Common property that binds us,
Holds no-one in thrall.
Frantic frontman Fowler flagrantly flouted
Convention – cocaine-snorting celebration.
Marvellous, manic Maradona
Wild with wide-eyed wonder.
Powder polishes and prettifies
Flatters features, fixes flaws on freckled faces.
Subtle, superficial, shallow. Skin-deep,
Mercurial mask makes marks more mellifluous.
Chemical compound creates carbon
Dioxide, delivers delightful dough.
Miniscule microorganism multiplies,
Bakes bread and brews beer.
Cracks and crevices.
Picture perfect plaster.
Dip Dab delightfully dazzles
Taste-buds. Tongue-tinglingly tasty treat!
Sherbet sizzles, satisfies sugar
Cravings, comforts cross kids.
Perfectly packaged powder
Conditions and cleanses clothes,
Fragrant and flowery fresh.
Washes whites wondrously well.
Bournville born of burning
Ambition – aimed at ameliorating austerity.
Cultivated cocoa – cash crop, countless
Profits. Paradisiacal paradigm poignantly punctured.
Bathtime – bubbles burst
Softly seducing sensuous skin.
Talc treats tired toes
Flaky fungal infection fought off!
Toes tread on tired
Rugs – refreshed, renewed
Shake’n'Vac showered spreads
Sweet scents of spring.
Fairy dust floats, fulfils fantasies
Magnificent, magical, mysterious – makes
Wishes work wondrously.
Careful consideration called for.
I came up with the idea of a poem based on powder, as a way of linking together seemingly disconnected ideas.
I started with a list – make-up powder, cocaine, baking powder, washing up powder, cocoa powder, talcum powder, athlete’s foot powder, yeast, Polyfilla, chalk, sherbet, fairy dust, Shake ‘n’ Vac.
I like alliterative poetry, so decided to make each line alliterate and each verse would deal with a different sort of powder (although in the process of writing, I broke this rule – I don’t believe in slavishly following formal rules for the sake of it). Alliterative poetry and riddles are two of the oldest genres in English, and this poem combines elements of both.
“A dance is a walk which is felt” (Shklovsky, a Russian Formalist critic). Poetry roughens language and foregrounds our perceptions. It makes us rethink how we see the world, stops us taking things for granted, shakes up the way we see things and works on a subconscious level.
I finished with “fairy dust” as a contrast to other, seemingly mundane and concrete items, to highlight that even seemingly ordinary substances can be “magical” and “wondrous” – my aim was to explore sensations and link disparate, disconnected objects. I hope I came some way to succeeding – but poems can always be improved and there is a tendency to tinker with each bit of language – so the first version on paper (or computer) rarely turns out to be the last. The poem is simply called “Powder” at the moment – if you can think of a better title, please let me know!
Knobbly, misshapen, not the right shade of green,
I fell into the wrong hole in the sorting machine.
An unkind accident of my vegetable life,
Deemed unfit to be chopped by a Michelin-starred knife.
On special offer, “Buy two get one free!”
A budding Picasso carves a cock into me.
Left alone on my pitch of fake, plastic grass,
All too keenly aware of my lower class,
A bright yellow sticker announces my reduced fate.
The shop’s clock ticks on, past my expiry date.
Left out to rot in the skip with the fruit,
A lonely cucumber next to some sad beetroot.
A victim of vegetable snobbery, I despair
Of this consumer society that just doesn’t care.
90 million tons of perfectly edible food are wasted every year in Europe, while people starve. And they say the “free market” is the most efficient means of production?