Thursday 21 August 2014

Cold calls

The phone rings. I foolishly answer.
"How are you ma'am?" - the voice sounds sincere.
"This is just a quick survey," he tells me,
Not quite true, as will soon become clear.

"We have records that show..." he's now saying,
As the script is so slickly resumed,
"That you signed up for payment protection..."
(Admit that he's right and you're doomed.)

Or, "You worked in a noisy environment,"
(Got this call whilst was out in the garden),
"You can claim for industrial deafness..."
The answer a withering "Pardon?"

"Your windows all lack double glazing,
And our UPVC ones are good."
I explain that we've just had some fitted,
All authentic - and made out of wood.

Our property may be Victorian,
But it needs plastic fascias and soffits.
My annoyance is steadily rising,
(But not so his company's profits.)

It would seem I am ever so lucky.
There's a rep quite nearby who will call
To talk us through foam insulation,
Though we don't have a cavity wall.

A "show kitchen's" now being offered.
His firm many discounts will lavish.
(His accent is strangely un-Scottish,
But he's told me his name is MacTavish.)

We don't want their bedroom or boiler:
The ones that we have are quite new,
But these "records" are not to be questioned,
So that voice keeps insisting we do!

Tuesday 5 August 2014

A poem for football addicks (2014-2015 season)

To herald the start of the new English football season this weekend, an updated blog on the 92 clubs that are taking part.

Team nicknames in the Premier, and other football leagues,
Can be obvious, or one of those whose origin intrigues.
Each of them is mentioned in these rhyming acrobatics,
We'll start off rather mystified - just what the heck are latics*?

There is a range of colours, mostly patriotic hues,
Sky blues, whites and lillywhites*, three reds, three more plain blues.

Toffees...cherries...tangerines don't make for balanced dinners,
Though to fend off indigestion, those fine clarets may prove winners.
(No "shots" now of the stronger stuff - so tempting for a few,)
But guess the vast majority drink what the brewers brew.

When it comes to animals, enough for sev'ral zoos...
Stags, shrews...sheep aplenty, for the rams have got three "U"s.
Black cats, lions, tigers all fit into feline boxes,
Whilst the terriers are canine types, along with wolves and foxes.
There are shrimps and a cod army, which in water all survive,
(Though they wouldn't if they couldn't breathe: their gills keep them alive).
Of primates there's a shortage and this will tell you why,
The monkey hangers killed one (it was judged a foreign spy).

For budding ornithologists are lots of birds to pluck,
To start a brace of magpies (for just one would bring bad luck).
We have the sharp-clawed eagles, which have preying on their minds,
Whilst the swans and soaring seagulls are both webbed or swimming kinds.
Next canaries, bluebirds, bantams, three robins and the owls:
We'll add flying bees and hornets, though they're insects and not fowls.

We can classify the workers, who perform their chosen task,
The millers mill, the potters pot, the cottagers - don't ask.
We've tractor boys and railwaymen, we have the awesome gunners,
And as "goffers", we have trotters and three rovers but no runners.
Another pair of crafstmen both relate to types of seating,
Though the chairboys and the saddlers won't for custom be competing.

Of seasiders, a handful, as befits an island nation,
Pirates used to buckle swash, shrimpers nab the odd crustacean.
The mariners have sadly sunk to where the fish get caught,
Though Pompey must mean something of a nautical import.

And if the right accessory's the sort of thing that matters,
We've cobblers, glovers, baggies and we've now regained some hatters.
The royals can afford such things (and mansions with a 'pool),
And posh citizens go shopping just to make themselves look cool.
Through forest, dale and boro they will sport their trendy clothes:
Silkmen did once make their stockings (whilst the poor man dons* plain "O"s).

The right tool spurs the will of those in heavy metal trades:
Thus the iron and the hammers and those ever-steely blades.
That we put in handy Stanley knives (once opened and rescrewed),
Or the daggers (to be kept away from those in murd'rous mood.)

There is a bunch of villans, crooked spireites and some tykes,
We've a couple of red devils and their mischief-making likes.
But on the side of righteousness, some movers and some shakers:
Pilgrims, saints and minstermen, the valients (no quakers).

Were they settlers? Were they exiles? Did they just dream up the name?
Do the Grecians have connections with a land from whence they came?
The Cumbrians, however, is a very pointed clue.
The super hoops (or sometimes "R"s) complete our ninety-two.

*2 teams with same nickname

Also, welcome to our new viewers from Zambia, Azerbaijan and Costa Rica (who did so well in the 2014 FIFA World Cup this summer).

Saturday 2 August 2014

Mutiny on the Bounty 1789 - (Final) Part Two

Bligh now finds himself afloat,
In a little open boat,
With those whose strong allegiance hasn't wavered.
Thus the Bounty's launch departs -
No chronometer, no charts,
Not much to eat - the prospect isn't savoured.

There's a stop to find provisions;
Not the wisest of decisions
The Tofuans soon grow hostile. What a scrape!
They've provided little food,
And are now in murd'rous mood.
Norton's stoned to death whilst trying to escape.

"Men are tastier than animals" -
The view of Fiji's cannibals -
Meant landing there just wouldn't be astute.
But on Restoration Isle,
There is refuge for a while.
Here are oysters and supplies of native fruit.

To the west the boat now sails,
Through rolling seas and gales.
They ate little, due to stringent limitation.
Somehow, everyone survived,
And at Timor they arrived:
An extraordinary feat of navigation.

And for this, Bligh must earn praise:
After forty-seven days,
He had brought his men to where they could be safe.
His log's there for posterity,
But he did write with verity,
When how he dealt with some began to chafe?

Back home the tale was told.
The "Pandora" was enrolled,
To search for the dissenters of the time.
On Tahiti, some were found,
Then the vessel ran aground.
The survivors later answered for their crime.

The remainder were meanwhile,
On a (then) uncharted isle.
Pitcairn was the place they chose to stay.
As things soon turned acrimonious,
It may have been erroneous,
To burn their ship in what's called Bounty Bay.

Most were far from Fletcher-phylic,
So his life was not idyllic.
All was factiousness and drink-fuelled discontent.
Christian's dreams were unfulfilled:
It is likely he was killed,
But many now can rightly claim descent.

Ⓒ Maggie Ballinger 2014

Friday 1 August 2014

Mutiny on the Bounty 1789 - Part One

She'd had a modest role:
The carrying of coal.
Now "The Bounty" is a name we've come to know.
She sailed with the entreaty
"Collect breadfruit from Tahiti,
Then take it to a place where it might grow."

In charge was William Bligh,
He had been around, this guy.
He'd been master on Cook's sloop, the Resolution.
He liked everything kept clean,
Was on science very keen,
And he now set sail to make his contribution.

Near Cape Horn, the trip was thwarted.
That route had to be aborted.
He turned eastwards to collect his leafy freight.
Seedlings had to grow a bit
To make them travel-fit;
For the crew, this meant an unplanned five month wait.

So pots were duly tended,
And the natives were befriended,
Here, a sailor could be struck by Cupid's dart.
Fletcher Christian (Bligh's old pal)
Even wed a local gal,
But all too soon, the time came to depart.

Goodbye hedonistic life.
Farewell girlfriend. Farewell wife.
The loyalty of some began to shift.
Although Fletcher took the lead
Eighteen other men agreed.
They mutinied, and Bligh was cast adrift.

It's alleged that he was cruel.
That, his vanity he'd fuel,
By humilating those who caused affront.
Though it's hard to comprehend,
He targeted his friend:
Poor Christian always seemed to bear the brunt.

Ⓒ Maggie Ballinger 2014