Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Saz part 1

For audio click here 
Saz looked at her wardrobe in despair. What should she take? If it was just for today, then the lightest summer clothes would be fine, but this wasn’t about today or even about tomorrow. She picked up a top and held it to the window. It needed ironing, everything needed ironing, but there was no time for that. She stuffed it in her bag and looked for knickers and socks. She caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror, her face was pale and her hair looked like clumps of frayed rope. Where had her beauty gone? She tried to muster a smile, but it barely reached her lips, let alone her eyes. She squeezed in one last top into the bag and picked up the photo of her and Greg from the bedside table and laid it flat on top.  Then, she zipped the zipper and was ready to go.

Go, go where?

Four steps out of the house and Saz could already feel sweat dripping down her back.
“Don’t look back,” she told herself, knowing the tears welling in her eyes would flow if she did. She walked up the hill and turned right. She heard the sirens and ducked into a doorway. Two police cars flew past her and skidded left into her street. She knew where they were going, but they wouldn’t find what they were looking for.
She imagined them smashing through her front door and trampling her carpet. Opening her doors and cupboards but finding only ghosts and memories that they were too boorish to notice.

She was amongst the shops now. Not the town’s main shopping street, but a bustling little row of stores, a grocer’s, a baker, a barber’s.  A barber’s? She pushed open the door and bells tinkled.
            “Hello love.”
            “Any chance of a wash, cut and blow dry, now,” Saz asked.
            “Well, we don’t have many in like you?” The barber said. “But you’re in luck love, I’m quiet today. Sit yourself down.” He patted the seat with a towel. She sat in the chair and looked at the black and white pictures of various versions of short back and sides dotted around the walls.
            “How do you want it, love?” the barber asked as he towel dried her hair. She could smell cigarettes on his clothes and clipper oil on his fingers.
“Short, very short,” Saz said.
“Crew cut?” The barber smiled.
“Going anywhere nice?” the barber asked.
“No,” Saz answered.
            “Enjoying this sunshine?”
            “No,” Saz replied.
            “Not very chatty are you.”

Saz didn’t think this deserved an answer. But to be fair on the bloke, he was doing a pretty good job with her hair. She’d not had short hair since she was about five years old, but it suited her. She handed over some money, checked herself one last time and after refusing something for the weekend, left the shop. She hesitated for a moment on the pavement outside the barber’s. Which way? Part of her wanted to walk past the house, look at the mess they’d left. But she knew that was folly; she’d had a haircut, not a facelift.  So, she’d turned right and carried on up the incline. Greg had given her two addresses to go to in an emergency. The first one wasn’t too far away; she could walk there by nightfall. One black cloud floated across the bright blue sky. People went about their daily business. Saz wished she’d bought water, should she go back to the shops to get some? She looked around and saw a car pulled up beside her. Men emerged from everywhere. Before she had time to react she’d been accosted and handcuffed. A second later she was being manhandled into the car and it sped away.

Monday, 26 June 2017

Spanish Diaries - The Race

We landed at 21.05 local time. My bus was due to leave at 21.45. Forty minutes from touch down to bus stop, was it possible? Sensibly, and unusually, I'd sat myself at the front of the plane and luckily an airbridge was being wheeled out; things were on my side. I felt like I was under starters orders, ready for the race of my life. I started well, overtaking the business class passengers on the first straight. But then, disaster! A steward was out on the course, flagging up a change of direction. Pointing me down the stairs and onto a bus. Congratulations, Gareth, you are first on the bus. You are the very people you usually mock. And we all know what first on the bus means, last off the bus. But before I go there, let me tell you about our little bus ride. I bet you are expecting me to say we went half way to Barcelona and back, aren't you? Well, after waiting for the other 87 passengers to board, and noting that I now had 28 minutes to go, we pulled off and proceeded to travel about forty-six metres.Forty-six bloody metres. Why? Why? Well, I'll tell you why. The gate we'd arrived at was Schengen and of course, coming from Britain, we had to go to non-Schengen. If it was possible, I hated those Brexit bastards even more right then. So, last off the bus, up the narrowest of staircases impossible to dodgy through the eighty-seven, and into Madrid airport. No queue at passport, good, at the very extreme end of the terminal, bad. Question, why do people stand still in travellators? They are not fucking fairground rides or sightseeing tours. Walk you lazy b stroke ds. I was like a slalom skier now, ducking in and out between the passengers, sometimes knocking them over but always keeping my balance. Baggage reclaim Cardiff belt 11. I looked around, I was at the last belt, belt ten, the next one was belt nine, bastards, belt eleven was a Harry Potter belt that you could only see if you had magic powers. My powers are many, but they aren't magical. I was stumped. Twenty minutes now. I had three options. I could roll into a ball and cry, yell where the fuck is belt eleven or look for clues. The best clue was the big sign saying belt 11-19 straight on. That'd do it, and there on belt eleven was my suitcase, ready and waiting. Well, bugger me, luck was on my side. The bus station was directly outside the terminal building. I hit a wall of heat and rolled my suitcase to a halt. My watch told me it was 21.31. Incredibly I still had 14 minutes to spare.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Poetry Friday 51

Poetry Friday from The Topical Poet on Vimeo.

Welcome to poetry Friday 51.
The weather is dominating our thoughts this week, so two poems, one a found poem, created by stealing lines about the Welsh heatwave from various newspapers, the second is a topical poem combining my two favourite subjects, the weather and Brexit.
Hope you enjoy.

A Newspaper Heatwave
Temperatures are soaring,
with Wales basking in
glorious hot weather.
Swansea is sweltering,
Bridgend boiling,
Wrexham roasting.
People flock to the coast
seeking refuge from the heat
as the mercury jumps higher than
The Sahara Desert.
It's a true British bake-off.
But enjoy it while it lasts,
the heatwave is about to break.

A Brexit Heatwave
They said  the mercury's topping 30,
oh no, that can't be right,
this is Britain my dear old thing,
and we use Fahrenheit.

They said it's global warming,
but that's a load of rot,
I remember Seventy-six,
now that was bloody hot.

The mercury's topping 30,
there's too much flesh on show.
Gents even removed their jackets,
at Ascot, don't you know?

And boys are wearing skirts to school,
it should be against the law.
It's a leftist conspiracy
Transgenderism through the back door.

So the mercury's topping 86,
but don't let standards slack.
We'll stop all this nonsense
when we take our country back.

Hope you enjoyed those, join me next week for the 1 year anniversary of Poetry Friday.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Debs part 1

For audio click here 
The thinnest branches at the very top of the tree moved slightly in the breeze. Wisps of smoke rose from different gardens, and the smell of grilled meat and suntan lotion filled the air. A duck quacked and a hidden thrush chirped repeated. Cardiff didn’t do idyllic, but this was the closest it came. A woman’s voice cut through the still air, the laughter echoing around the blocks, and then came the rumble of diesel engines and the clip clop of marching boots on tarmac. A flutter of duck wings and the ripple of water as the birds took to the sanctuary of the canal.
A thousand doorbells chimed simultaneously.
“Yeah,” Debs answered the door and looked at the uniformed man in front of her, hisr black gun shining in the sunlight.
“Your house has been requisitioned by the British Government, you’ve got one hour to leave.”
“Do what?”
“This explains everything. Please be ready to go in one hour. We will take you to a local processing centre.”
“A what?”
“Pack a bag and get ready to go. Oh, by the way, just one bag per person.”
            Debbie could see her neighbours having similar conversations with other uniformed men. One by one the soldiers turned their backs on the residents and marched back to the trucks that were parked in the street. Some lit cigarettes, while others removed their helmets and enjoyed the sun on their faces. Debs looked at the paper the soldier had thrust into her hand.
Emergency Requisition.
Emergency Powers Act 2023
Due to the increasing threat of armed conflict and the need to provide housing for troops and government officials in places of strategic interest, your home is being appropriated by the authorities.

“Bullshit,” Debs said, she let the paper drop to the ground.  A few of the soldiers looked over to her. “I’m not going anywhere,” she yelled over to the troops and then slammed her front door. She took her phone out and tried to make a call, but there was no signal.  Texts messages wouldn’t send, and Facebook gave her an error message. She glanced at her router, there were no lights blinking on it. She switched the kettle on and plonked a tea bag in a mug.

Debs watched the ripples in her tea as she blew on it. She looked up and saw her neighbours filing out of their homes, suitcases in hand. They were escorted by the soldiers who helped them into the lorries. Debs took a sip of tea. One black cloud floated across the bright blue sky. Her neighbours continued to emerge. They looked around as if answers to their questions were written on walls around the block. Debs only had one question, why were people so compliant? Where was the fight? She watched her soldier march over to her front door. Her doorbell rang and then there was a regimented rat-a-tat-tat on the door. She ignored it. The doorbell rang again. She watched the boy look around at his mates. The pimples on his face going redder as his face flushed. Another formal knock and then he turned and marched away.

Debs wasn’t daft. She took this opportunity to throw some things into a bag and make sure she had her bank card and phone in her pockets. The rookie came back with reinforcements and again there was a perfect rat-a-tat-tat on the door. This time Debs opened it.
“Your time is up. Please come with us.”
“No. Who’s gonna make me?”
“Please don’t make us use force.”
Debs slammed the door in the face of the four soldiers standing there.
She turned and went back through to the kitchen, but before she could get there a loud explosion sent her flying forwards, dust and door debris clattered down on top of her. Rough hands grabbed her and hauled her to her feet dragging her out of her house and across the tarmac of the car park.

“In,” the rookie said, pointing to the back of the lorry. Debs could taste blood in her mouth and could feel damp in her hair. She didn’t make any effort to climb into the lorry so the soldiers manhandled her in and dropped her on the floor in front of her neighbours. None of them looked at her, none of them came to her aid. They just left her there as the lorry’s engine started and they moved off to god knows where.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Held Hostage

For audio click here 
The police helicopter hovered just above the rooftops, its blades creating ripples on the canal at the front of the house. I’d often heard the chopper overhead at night but this was the first time I’d seen it in the full light of day. I watched as it circled around and came back to hover over my block of flats. I couldn’t see any other action, so I went back to my sofa and back to Facebook sure that the chopper would find was it was looking for soon and buzz off. I heard a siren from the street outside and guessed the airborne lot had called in the ground troops. Like all middle-class, law-abiding citizens I had that guilty feeling for a split second, was it me they were looking for? but I dismissed it as soon as I started watching the latest Jonathon Pie video.
Something caught my eye, I looked up just as my clothes horse was falling towards me pushed over by the man who was climbing in my window.
            “Oi,” I said.
            The man stood in front of me, bloodstains on his t-shirt and blood dripping from a knife in his hand.
 “Is there a back way out?” he asked. He could have only been about seventeen, or maybe his bum fluff-y moustache and pimples made him look younger than he was.
            “You’re dripping blood on my carpet,” I said.
            “Sorry mate, it’s just, well I’m in a bit of a jam if the truth be told.” The sirens were louder now and the helicopters blades were beating just outside my window.
            “Is there a way out that way?” he pointed to the door.
            “You could try the bedroom window,” he slammed the door open and went into the bedroom just as three police cars screeched into the courtyard.
            “Fuck,” he said.
            “They’re out the front too,” I said.
            “Fuck,” he opened the window. “Don’t you fuckers come any closer or I’ll fucking kill this old geezer.” It took a while for me to realise he was talking about me. Christ I’m only forty-six.
            “Just drop the knife and come out side, Danny,” one of the police officers said.
            “I told you, you come any closer, I’ll kill Grandad here.”  He slammed the window and turned to me.
            “Sorry fella, a man’s gotta do...”
            “I’m only forty-six,” I said.
            “Fucking hell mate I thought you was about seventy. I thought I’d had a hard life.” He looked around. “We better stay here in the hall so they can’t get a shot at me.”
            “What have you done?” I asked.
            “I gave some old pervert what he deserved,” he gestured a stabbing motion and blood flicked onto the walls. “he’d been fiddling me and the other boys for years. Well, I wasn’t gonna take it no more.”
            “How old are you?” He suddenly looked very young.
            “Fifteen,” he said.
            “Look mate…” I started.
            “Don’t say it,” he waved his knife around.  I ain’t gonna give myself up. No way, they’ll send me back to the home.”
            We sat there not saying much for around twenty minutes, he chewed his gum loudly and rolled a ciggie.
            “Mind if I smoke, like?”
I did mind, but he had a knife. He sat back and leaned his head on the wall as he breathed in the nicotine.
“Listen,” I said. “the chopper’s gone, maybe they’ve given up.”
“They won’t give up.”
“Maybe they will, why don’t I go and have a look?”
“No, you stay there. I’ll go.”
He stood up and walked right into my trap. As soon as he went into the bedroom a loud bang echoed around the canal. Danny fell to the floor.

When I left the police station, having given my statement, I picked up the evening newspaper, the headline read:
Man holds pensioner hostage in knife siege.

            “Pensioner?” I said. “I’m only forty-six,”