My Basket Case

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My basket case

 

It maybe curtains

Or a staired frolic

Rampant. Rambunctious

A tripping hazard

Fly into window

Netted to shredded

Backpack to catnap

And a dream to purr

Let out of the bag

Stalks leg for ambush

A spring, grab with claws

Follow to kitchen

For bowl filled  for Tom

With catisfaction

A lap topped content

With one eye open

A sleepshow, peepshow

Two’s company ends

Stretch claws. Paws for thought

Post scratch, a saunter

Returns to sleepnest

He’s my basket case

 

 

 

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Memories are Alive

 

The Memories are alive

 

A life brimming with savvy

Flaunts the revelation

The tapestries are alive

Its threads snake through our conscious

 

Past pictured becomes present

Photos snapped in context

A reflection wonderland

Inhaled as we explore

 

Secret of wonder we hold

Their melody feeds our mood

Dancing ego of our souls

In time with times living ghosts

 

Our ability to remember is a gift that has allowed us to develop as a species into the ingenious race we are today. Our ability to look back and assess the past is a crucial talent that helps us to learn for the future. Without the ability to look back we would not have the capacity to plan and move forward.

Our memories are not static like a photo album where the photographs always stay the same. Perhaps a theatre is a better analogy where the memory can change or it’s scenery can change according to the context it falls within.

When I write poetry about the past I am not writing with nostalgia about a distant past. I am writing about something that is here with me in the present. I believe memories to be a major part of the palette that colours our definition and helps say who we are. Memories are alive. They are an ally to the present from the past and an influence on our future. We cannot be who we are without our reflection. A look in the mirror of the past can give us huge insight, but it takes both the good and the bad memories to make the sum of our experience.

We all have a store of wealth from our personal history. My poetry often mines that wealth and attempts to celebrate it.

 

Train of thought

 

Industrial beast of burden

Rare survivor from ages past

An elemental steed of steam

Derailed by diesels design

 

Rewinds memories of departed

From Bodmin station and from life

The passengers into the past

Father and son, tickets to ride

 

Steam hisses whistling an intro to

Onomatopoeia  song

As the engine rails in motion

Driven by the Clickety clack

 

Rhythm of movement felt and heard

Carried through connected carriages

As all senses engaged, windows view

Progresses through route with scenic glances

 

A journeys commentary

Fuelled by the locomotion

Railway Reminiscence

Seated In restored carriage

 

Paternal history passed down

Stories stoked by steam trains prompt

Tender experiences like coals

Shovelled, drive engine of heritage

 

Former Fireman became driver

Of esteemed trains just as diesel

Cuckoo nested and supplanted

Its’ modern offspring of future

 

Fathers steam termination

Signalled by emerging era

Coaches aligned to platforms as,

Passengers alight train of thought

 

 

Deliverance


A creation of our own ego

A mindful evolution of soul

Ponder the future summons the past

Opens the curtain on life’s drama

Dreams distilled in telling metaphors

Cut the chord, as memory is born.

Echoes of Echobelly

Music from the past often forms the soundtrack to my life. In the car I play CDs that ring out with anthems not just of my youth but also of more recent times. Songs that trigger memories of concerts I have been to, reminding of the sublime moment when they play the song.  The song that you know marks a moment in time that in the future will make you smile.  In the house I search Youtube for those songs, Songs of familiarity that I haven’t heard for a while. Songs like “Great things” by Echobelly that now plays as I write.

 

“I wanna do great things

I don’t wanna compromise”

 

Over the past nine months or so I have found myself in a strange mood with a mixture of feelings. I have become the half century man, a character of my own poetry.  At times I have been restless, knowing I still want something but not sure what. When I look back, I can see what I have achieved and I am satisfied. I am at peace with my past. When I look at my present, I am not so sure? When I look at my future, well who knows? I have yet to purchase a crystal ball.

 

So what does go on in my head. Unlike Scrooge whose visits by the three spirits of “Marley” provide a clear message my ghosts are less coherent. My visits from “Marley” are more likely to arrive via Youtube and tell me that he shot the Sheriff.  Sometimes searching for the meaning of life in song lyrics misses the point. The insight is not hidden in the words but within our own interpretation.

Immersing myself in the past often brings comfort but it is perhaps the recent past that I should focus on to move forward. A couple of years ago I was under medicated and under pressure. Struggling financially, physically and at work I juggled by instinct unsure why my balls hadn’t dropped but aware if they did it could be more than my voice that broke. I assured others I could cope but I shared some of their doubts. Would things come back together when my medication was sorted or was that just wishful thinking?

I need to now go back a year further in time.  My Parkinson’s medication and my Parkinson’s symptoms had become allies and the resulting combination of tiredness and compulsive behaviour was undermining my life. I recognised this and started to consider things needed to change. I could see some of my issues but at that time there were others lurking that I would only see with hindsight. Paranoia is a potential side effect of the medication that was starting to creep up on me. It took 3 months once I had made my decision to initiate the changes. Even though it was a prescription medication, it was still giving up a drug I was dependant on and that is no mean thing.

The changes took longer than I expected hence a year later, nine months after starting to adjust my medication I was still undermedicated and uncertain. Why did it take so long? A mixture of medical procedure trying one change at a time (with each change made in steps) and poor administration with co-ordination between medical practitioners sadly lacking. Three months later I started a new tablet the final ingredient to my medication cocktail. A cocktail swallowed shaken but not stirred with no cocktail shaker required.  I had successfully changed my medication reducing my main component in my fight against Parkinson from 14mg a day to 6mg. Increasing other tablets and introducing a new one brought me to a position that allowed me to find balance and a regular sleep pattern. I was able to reboot my life and regain trust and respect. Don’t get me wrong issues of tiredness and compulsive behaviours are not vanquished but they are manageable factors in my life.

It took me a year to trust that I now had a stable platform for my life. A year to realise consolidation wasn’t the only possibility I could move forward. I started the year feeling I was waiting with plenty of irons in the fire. Submitting a book to publishers, poetry short stories to competitions and using the opportunities to motivate me to improve as a writer. For the first time in years I applied for a different role at work. Many of these things didn’t come off and my restless feeling continued.

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At Buckingham Palace

As I look back though I can identify many high points. At work I have started to blog and received messages including ones that thanked me helping others through difficult times. In April I won the RadioParkies Poetry competition and released another poetry collection on Amazon. I produced a video on Youtube to promote that book and that is something I would not have felt able to do until recently.  

  In May I went to Buckingham Palace to one of the Queen’s Garden Parties (a report is in a previous blog). One of my poems features on the Parkinson’s UK website in one of their promotions. In June I attended a school reunion an event brimming with good will but without the competition that such events are supposed to be about. I had one self-conscious moment. As I ate, I was nervous about how my clumsy use of cutlery might look but the only one paying that attention was me. It helped me to understand why I feel restless. My Parkinson’s symptoms are visible at times. It is progressive and although stable it has still changed. There is scope for more medication if I need it, but I am aware this current period may not last. I needed to acknowledge that because now I have I can move on. None of us know our future and all we can do is take part in the present to open up opportunities that may open new paths for us.

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At the reunion with Sarah one of its organisers

I continue to write and enter competitions. In the summer I will travel to Lanzarote to visit my oldest daughter. I have much to look forward to. I am compiling a climate change poetry collection including contributions from other People with Parkinson’s who write. I still want to change the world.

 

  

“I wanna do great things

I don’t wanna compromise”

 

 

My latest book Laughter the 2nd Best Medicine can be bought at

In the UK  https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1093153172

In the US  https://www.amazon.com/dp/1093153172

My video can be found at youtube

https://youtu.be/3lxQv0XJAZA

Field test and a walk in the woods.

 

I was referred to the hospital because my marking was low in the field test they do at the opticians. I set off this afternoon walking to the train station as the hospital letter stated I shouldn’t drive. Arriving early after taking a taxi from the station to the hospital. I found lack of double vision had already put me at a disadvantage. The receptionist told me my one appointment was actually two.

Oh well chin up literally. The first appointment was to photograph my eyes as I rested my chin on a chin rest. Photos were quickly taken of each eye. I asked if they needed to retake them because I wasn’t smiling but apparently not. I was then led to another room and asked to read letters off a chart and I was then finally ready for the Eye Doctor. Unfortunately it was over an hour before she was ready for me.  

The Doctor started the tests, looking in my eyes and doing the pressure test. She put drops in my eyes mentioning she remembered me from last time. My eyes seem to have a password that has not been shared with her. I try to follow every instruction to open them wider but if the eyes are the windows to my soul then they have faulty blinds with minds of their own.

I engage with humour telling her that “every time a woman has looked closely into my eyes, it has cost me money.” I realise laughter maybe the best medicine, but this Doctor has no intention to self-medicate. The Doctor tells me that my eyes look fine and she feels something is happening affecting the results of the field test. She signs me off, so I head for home.

I had decided to walk back to the train station knowing that this would kill some time ensuring my eyes would be clear, when I reached my car back at my works carpark. I would also get some much-needed exercise. I had decided not to follow the road but take a pedestrian/cyclist route. The pictures here were taken to help a friend understand the directions because when I explained it to him, I was as clear as mud.

 

After walking past the Truro Gulf Club, I left the main road to follow a path to a lane parallel to the main road. My right hip had been aching  since leaving the hospital but I paused here and it stopped complaining so I decided to continue.  After about 100m I followed a sign turning left downhill, then right at the bottom, up a hill and then turning left at a sign onto a path off the road. The sign said the station was 1.5 miles away.  I had taken this route before following it all the way and it seemed much further than it was supposed to me. I decided to use my natural sense of direction, so I left the path returning to the road. I have a good sense of direction that was not shared by the planning department who had agreed the designs for the road. Coming to a dead end but not yet wanting to turn back I watched a man with a dog walk down a small lane behind a few houses. He seemed to have entered the woods. It looked like it could be a shortcut to get me back on track.

 

Armed with survival knowledge picked up from a lifetime of watching horror films, I considered my options. Rule one, never try to take a shortcut in a forest or woodland you don’t know. Taking the path into the woods I recalled “The Ritual.” A film about four men who take a shortcut across a Nordic forest and are hunted, by an ancient Nordic God. God of? I can’t remember what, but includes being unfriendly.  

 I follow the path through a couple of fields and through the woods. There are no signs but I follow the path and ponder if the distances I saw on earlier signs were “as the crow flies” because I think that in future crows should be made to walk to give them a real sense of distance.         

I walk through the thankful there are no corpses in the trees and that I have yet to go around in circles. I pass a strange shed reminding of the second rule of survival in horror films. Never venture into a strange house in the woods. I walk on relying on my innate sense of direction which has never led me astray (often). I eventually come to a gate and a road. I walk to the bottom of the road recognising my location. I am close to the station and continue up the road  then along a lane to some steps. A footbridge over the train station my final obstacle. Once crossed, I get to the platform 2 minutes before the train.

 

Royal Garden Party

My new suit packed in a new suitcase, I was ready and raring to go. Just time for a last minute check that I had everything. I had already checked but I had time so I did it again. The taxi arrived and I set off for a nice uneventful journey to London (just the way I like it).

I was staying in a Travelodge in Vauxhall and after dropping my luggage in the room I went for a wander. There were a few local Restaurants but the one that caught my eye was the strangely unappealing Dirty Burger. I decided to eat in. I returned to the Travelodge   and order a Mexican burger from the menu. My choice partly resulted from my curiosity of how I would eat a burger that included a portion of Chilli. The answer was unsurprising, with cutlery. The bun was far too precarious to pick up. There was however an extra layer I hadn’t expected. The plate was lined with a sheet of what seemed to be grease proof paper. Not a particularly attractive way of serving but didn’t get in the way of my eating. When I had finished, I noticed that chilli sauce had soaked through the paper leaving a rather unappetising mixture of chilli and paper on one side of the plate. The meal had not been bad for the price so I decided to just give feedback. The waiter told me it was Travelodge policy to serve all burgers like that. He couldn’t explain why or its benefits. He did agree it looked unappealing and confirmed he would pass on my feedback.

The bed was comfortable and I slept well from about 11.30 to 02.30 when I had to make my usual nightly expedition to the bathroom.  I awoke again at 4:45 and this time I wasn’t going to be able to go back to sleep. At 5:15 I performed my version of Peter Crouch’s the robot as I went for a hot shower to loosen up my aching muscles. Too early for breakfast I shaved and then watched the news.

I take my tablets at 7.00 am so I then waited for 7.30 (one part of medication is picked up through protein absorption so eating protein with 30 minutes before or after swallowing my pills, can weaken their effect), before having a full English breakfast. The emphasis was on full and combined with the “All you can eat” instruction I tried to prove that breakfast was the most important meal of the day.

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I had a peaceful walk along the river Thames walking from the Vauxhall Bridge towards the Chelsea. It was a nice morning and that boded well for the afternoon. At the end of the morning I returned to the room to shower and change for the Garden Party. I wanted to put my suit on at the last minute to avoid any risk of getting it messed up.

Suited and ready for royalty I took the underground from Vauxhall to Victoria. Leaving Victoria from a different entrance I couldn’t spot the way to the Palace so I got a taxi who took me as close as he could. I walked around to the Palace’s front gates showed my invitation card to an armed policeman and was placed by him, in my first Police line up. A line up so big I don’t think anyone picked me out. It was now 14.05 and it would open at 15:00. I got someone to take a photo for me at the Palace Gate and then waited patiently in the queue that grew snaking backwards and forwards. The rain made it’s first appearance illustrating the design flaw of almost every lady’s hat. Decorative being the call of the day but luckily for some they also brought an umbrella. Unfortunately I did not.

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The rain did provide an icebreaker though and it was the start of chatting to some of the other guests. 15.00 came around quicker than expected and it was time for ID out as the Police let us in. This was a different experience than any I had previously. I had never visited anywhere quite like it. Any stately homes I had been to had been more like museums, about history. Although this had a heritage aspect despite the traditions it was also about today. We were led through a courtyard and then a part of the Palace with paintings on the walls to the garden out the back.   

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Out the back a band played in a small tent and there were two large tea tents one for the majority of the guests and one for the Royal Family. I started with some tea and sandwiches before vacating a the crowded tent to peruse the surroundings and take some photo’s. I met a sample of the other guests a mixture of talented and capable too modest to explain why they were invited but generally resplendent in uniforms, smart suits and impressive dresses. I met teachers, soldiers, priests including people from Buxton and Manchester to as far away as Ottawa.

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After the first hour the garden party line dancing started. Line standing maybe a more accurate description as people tried to anticipate the route the Queen would take to her tent. Lines formed and reformed until the stewards took over and arranged us. I stood bemused with some other confused guests as there were two corridors arranged. A blast of the National Anthem by the band signalled the Queen taking the other route completely blocked from my vision. Still standing in the wrong line I realised that we had been organised for Prince Harry to walk through. Advised by the steward Prince Harry would randomly stop and speak to some people, but he was more likely to choose those not trying to photograph. I put my phone away but I didn’t catch his eye.

 

The rain was still continually visiting and then drifting away before returning I found some brief shelter in the tea tent whilst the Royals took refreshments in theirs. It was chilly but I was offered ice cream and it would be rude not to. After a while I spotted the Beefeaters but not in the tea tent. They marched outside the Royal Tent and started to form a corridor for the Queen to return to the Palace. I joined the corridor and as she walked past, I took a photo just as she turned and looked the other way. Other royal family members followed many of whom I relied on those around me to identify. The party was almost over and after a few more photo’s I joined the masses and walked back through the Palace and out past the armed Police at the gates.

I walked to the underground station at Victoria where I looked at the Photo’s on my phone. Some of you may wonder why I haven’t mentioned a guest. I invited my Mum because she is the most deserving person in my life. I invited her knowing she might not feel able to go. She is 86 and particularly with the rain it would have been too much for her. When we knew she could not go it was too late to ask for a replacement guest. My Mum’s only concern was not wanting to let me down. She has never let me down. She has an invitation to a Royal Garden Party and I went not just for me. It was my day but the pictures are for her. It was a day for both of us.

 

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Garden Party

An invitation

Buckingham Palace

Royal Celebration

 

Join the queue

And dress or suit

Feminine hats

Men lounge astute

 

Uniforms or

Fascinators

Umbrellas

If rain later

 

Tea tent

Etiquette

Finger food

Style ate

 

Mothers pride

Born and bred

Slice success

Served and fed

 

Royal guest

Of tradition  

Heritage

A modern mission

 

 

Mental Health Awareness Week is for everyone

We all take part in the lottery of life but we don’t get to choose our own ticket. We only get the one and like it or not we have to accept the balls that are drawn for us. We all have individual circumstances and during the course of life we all have the potential to face a myriad of health issues(both physical and mental). It is not as simple as those mentally healthy and those with mental illness. Often all it takes is different circumstances to change the issues we face. Instead of two groups we are perhaps one spectrum and many of us move up and down that spectrum.

 We tend to use language and imagery that creates the idea of a binary situation and polarises issues. Good and bad, strong and weak, healthy and unhealthy. People generally do not stay permanently in the same state and can also both or somewhere in between. Often our circumstances fluctuate throughout our life.

It is easy to judge others and I have previously written about instinct in Parkinson’s is Indignity(the example uses Parkinson’s but the point is general). We often evaluate others on limited information. We recognise the condition but fail to spot the individual behind it. We see the difficulties and miss the strength and determination that it takes to surmount them.

This is not a them and us situation. There are no separate communities of victims and victimisers, We all could be either. If we recognise our own behaviour, we will find things to be proud of and situations we could learn from. To build a society that allows people to be open and supported, we need participation and understanding. Life is interaction. Mental health awareness week is not just for those dealing with mental health issues but for everyone.    

Calling all Parkinson’s Poets

Last night I was listening to the news whilst discussing our poetry on messenger with Neil Benny another poet with Parkinson’s. Simon Armitage was announced as the new Poet Laureate. Some of his words caught my attention when he discussed how he might use his stipend.
“something in the field of climate change” – either a prize or an event. “It just seems to me that it’s the obligation of all of us and every art form to be responding to this issue,” he said. “It shades into all our politics, so I want to find a way of recording and encouraging poetry’s response to that situation.”
This has been a subject that I feel passionately about and I was stunned by the necessity of our need to be prompted by Greta Thunberg. A young girl who has showed more conviction in a short life than most of us in our considerably longer ones.
I read with interest the poetry of others with Parkinson’s and I have seen a group of writers of honesty, who write with emotion and sometimes a rawness that make their poetry very personal. Some stick to raising awareness and communicating about Parkinson’s while some write on a more general basis.
I would like to ask you to join me to take Simon’s challenge. Together we can produce a collection of climate change and environmental poetry. We can use our collective voice to send our poetic message and add to the people already seeking for our planet to be treated with more restraint and respect.
Everyone who has raised money for Parkinson’s with poetry will know how hard it is to sell poetry. If we band together on this issue we can sell it on a wider basis and perhaps create more interest in our other works.
I would like to ask any people with Parkinson’s to send me poems on climate change and the environment, that they would like me to include. Please send up to four poems per poet by the deadline of 31 August 2019. This leaves some time if anyone wants to start writing some new work.
I will compile the poems and edit the book. Poems will not be changed (If there are spelling mistakes I will ask permission to correct them)but I will decide which ones to include. I will self publish on Amazon.to ensure availability worldwide. All royalties will go to Parkinson’s UK.
Please email any poems to me on a word document to jonbest13@gmail.com. Send with the poems a paragraph of upto 100 words about yourself(if you wish to have your poem included anonymously you needn’t do that). However I need permission to include it in the book and identity details to make that permission valid. If anyone has a poem but can’t submit it in the way I have asked please contact me and we will find a way.
Hopefully to provide some inspiration I have included a couple of my poems. The first is about Greta Thunbergs visit to the UK.

The Quest for the Phoenix

A winter song migrates across the world
Melody charms but warns of the albatross
Whose shadow looms above a coming menace
Ever closer with every wingbeat a base line

Fledgeling choir unites voices of the unschooled
Striking out to raise alarm, as world snoozes
Snooze you lose as they duck, billing platitudes
Song mistaken for clucking Chicken Licken

And yet the song is not a solo of youth
But duets with the voice of the wise old bird
An early bird who opened a can of worms
To polite applause but thoughts of what a hoot

The angry birds pause and pose for a selfie
Preening their feathers as they coo on message
Before flocking together flapping onwards
Vying for position to lead to the storm

The media has recently discussed solutions to plastic bag pollution as though that is the only issue. We need to address all our waste issues. I wanted to highlight another aspect

One Man’s Treasure

 

One man’s treasure

Fills his leisure

Gadget pleasure

 

A device for every task

An idea we didn’t have

A machine we didn’t need

A fashion that we must have

 

Shiny toys newer model

Apped devices are so smart

Short life span or obsolete

Technology forever

 

We fill our life with new desires

Casting aside our former pride

Out of our sight out of our mind

To a graveyard in another land

 

Whether broken, boring or bad ideas

Born of man’s own industry

Children of our factories

Transported across the oceans

 

One man’s treasure

With alchemy becomes debris

Yet components destiny

Another man’s treasure

 

Scoured and sifted for chance

That science can reanimate

Components reincarnate

Prophets recycle for profits

 

A land filled burnished under the sun

Bones bleached bluster laid bare

Electronic carcases remains piled

Parts cannibalised for reanimation

 

Ingenuity, entrepreneurs earns

Tiny tycoons trade in toxic city

A mercurial market of materials

Led to leadlined in fortunes quest

 

Rushed in roulette

One man’s treasure

Another’s poison

Thank you for reading

Jon