Friday, December 24, 2010

T'was the Night We Call Christmas

Clement Clarke Moore's famous "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" reshaped a little.

This Christmas, as you tuck into turkey in the safety and comfort of your own home, spare a little thought in this festive season of goodwill to all for those whose Christmas will be just another nightmare.

Twas the night we call Christmas, And all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, Not even a mouse.
The children lay dying, their parents were dead,
There was no pudding, there was no bread.

Their stomachs distended, their eyes just a glaze,
They’d eaten nothing, nothing for days.
There were no presents, wrapped in a bow,
No crackers to pull, no songs about snow,

The water had gone, the medicine too,
the diarrhea had not, though the spasms were few.
Jolly Old St Nicholas, did not visit there,
And a world celebrating, declined to care.

Twas the night we call Christmas, And all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The bottles were slung, on the floor without care,
And stale cigarette smoke hung on the air

The children were quiet, though not asleep,
Even too frightened to cry or to weep.
The mother lay still, and wondered how long
The family would last, she must be strong.

The husband lay still, a heap on the floor,
Drunk and unconscious, yelling no more.
Frustrations suppressed, anger subdued,
Troubles forgotten, till tomorrow renewed.

No Christmas cards hanging, Just bills overdue,
No job and no future, in the dole queue.
Jolly Old St Nicholas, did not visit there,
And a world celebrating, declined to care.

Twas the night we call Christmas, And all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The mother lay silent, eyes open wide.
But though she was breathing, there was no-one in side.

The father lay still, in a dreamless sleep,
But soon he would wake again, only to weep.
The knock on the door, that they’d been waiting to hear,
Had filled their hearts to the brim with despair.

Their world lay in pieces, a couple alone,
The daughter they loved, would never come home,
None of their friends, know what to say,
So they leave them to cope, alone everyday.

A road toll statistic, a common enough death,
A line in the paper, a family bereft.
Jolly Old St Nicholas, did not visit there,
And a world celebrating, declined to care.

Twas the night we call Christmas, And all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The bombs had all fallen, the night became calm,
And just for a while, no-one did harm.

Even the orphans had fallen asleep,
As images of their parents, danced in their sleep.
A shot echoed somewhere, a cry in the night,
Another dead soldier, to not carry on the fight.

An elderly woman, lies on the floor,
Softly crying, and watching the door.
The moon shining brightly, a ghost in the sky,
Then all of a sudden, a harsh screaming cry.

Bombs crashing, More danger, More Panic, More Killing
Shame on it, Oh stupid, Oh dumber blitzi-krieging.
To the victor, the spoils, to the victor the oils Now dash away, dash away, dash away hope.

And Suicide bombers, light up the sky
And the rest of the world, pretends not to know why.
Jolly Old St Nicholas, did not visit there,
And a world celebrating, declined to care.

And a world celebrating, declined to care.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Out Of Work - Again!

I don't get it. I just don't get it.

I'm good at my work; enjoy my work; actually try hard in my work. And people say I'm one of the best they've had. They said it today. Max, he's my boss - WAS my boss - he reckons I'm about the best worker he's ever had. But now I'm unemployed. Again.

I'm one of the long-term unemployed. I spend most of the year unemployed. Yeah, there are lots who call me a dole bludger so feel free if you like. But I'm not. I just find most employment too difficult. I'm not stupid, but I can't focus on it, you know what I mean? I can't stick at it.

But then, I get the kind of work that fits me like a glove. I like it, and I'm good at it. In fact, I reckon that I'm the best and most of my employers agreed. But they still sacked me.

No, I didn't do anything wrong. I didn't break the law. I'm not a risk to the public. It's never that. It's just that they reckon that I've hit my use-by date.

For about six weeks I'm the bee's knees and they love me. Then, it's good bye, we don't need you any more. Redundant.

So I hang up my Santa suit for another year and wait patiently for November to rock around again. Out of work. Again.

Friday, December 10, 2010


"Hello Grandad. How are you today?"

'Grandad' just grunted. He always grunted. He was known by all the nurses at Bide-a-Wee Rest Home For Retired Gentle Folk to be their grumpiest resident. He never spoke to them at all - he just grunted. It was just his way. They said.

Mr Ernest Brown was actually not grumpy by nature. In fact, those who knew him found him to be very friendly, extremely witty, and the sort of man who was everybody's mate. That was the experience of those who knew him.

But the nurses did not know him. Which is why they called him 'Grandad'. And why he grunted back at them.

He was no grandad. He wasnt even a father. He wasnt even married - had never been married. He had not been engaged, or even had a girlfriend. And he was certainly no grandad.

Had the nurses read his records, had they talked to other residents of Bide-a-Wee, had they even talked to the Social Services who had placed him there, then they would have perhaps known a little bit more about him - known perhaps that he had a name, known that he was no grandad. But they did none of these things. They simply came to work, called him Grandad, and went home. None the wiser.

And things would have gone on that way if it wasnt for a little girl called Gina.

Gina had no family. She had been in a number of foster homes after her parents were killed when she was only a couple of months old. For some reason things had never worked out and she had spent most of her small life - about six years - being shunted from one home to another. She was alone.

At the time of the story, she was living with a good family called the Robinsons, but the years of instability had brought about a type of isolation - perhaps it was a protection. Although they cared for her, and tried to show love for her, she remained unaffected. She was alone.

One day Mrs Robinson called in to see her mother who lived at Bide-a-Wee. Her mother was feeling poorly and it was very much an emergency trip. There had been no time to organise a sitter for Gina, so Mrs Robinson had brought the girl with her.

And so it was that while Mrs Robinson sat by her mother's bed, holding her hand, Gina wandered away unnoticed, through the halls and relaxation areas of Bide-a-Wee, past the dining rooms, and ultimately to a small enclave in an out-of-the-way spot, favoured by one Mr Ernest Brown.

"Hello" said Gina.

"Hello" said Mr Ernest Brown

"Are you a prisoner here?" asked Gina.

"I suppose I am" answered Mr Ernest Brown.

"What did you do wrong?" asked Gina.

"I got old" said Mr Ernest Brown. But there was a trinkle in his eye.

Gina looked at him solemly, and he regarded her thoughtfully. She had big brown eyes and a face that held the sort of seriousness that takes most people a lifetime to gain. She had a story to tell, and one far beyond her years. It was a story of childhood lost, but not of adulthood gained. He smiled at her.

"Have you got any children?" she asked.

"No." said Mr Ernest Brown. "I never had a wife, so I never had any children."

"Are you all alone then?" she asked. It was more of a statement than a question though. She knew he was alone, had been alone all his life. In him she recognised a kindred spirit.

"Yes" he said. "Always have been, guess I always will be".

Unbidden, she climbed onto his lap. He winced at the pain as his arthritic legs struck out in protest at the unexpected weight, but he said nothing.

"Can we be friends?" she asked. "I don't have a friend".

He looked down at the little face looking deeply into his. He didn't have a choice, and he didn't want one.

"Yes" he said. "That would be nice," He paused, then continued "as long as you don't call me Grandad".