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LIES, DAMNED LIES AND STATISTICS.

Today I looked back at this post which I blogged at the start of lockdown. It is interesting to be reminded of what lockdown was like then.

It’s also great to see that more people are viewing my blog. Over 14,000 since I began. There were 55 views of “51 Years” which is heartening. Most viewers hail from the UK or the USA but I’ve been pleasantly surprised to see that my blog has also had visitors from India, Romania, Saudi Arabia, New Zealand, Ecuador, Philippines, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, Ireland, Turkey, Kenya, Spain – even France! If you are one of those – thank you!

HERE IS THE BLOG I WROTE BACK IN JUNE 2020.

When your own OH (other half) is curious enough to ask what are you going to be blogging about today, you know that you must be doing something right.

A few blog statistics for you.

23 people viewed my last blog.  The breakdown was 13 people from the UK, 4 from Uganda, 2 from the Netherlands, 2 from the USA, 1 from Austria and 1 from Romania.

Yesterday I also gained two new followers which makes the number of you who have actually signed up to this blog around 200. So thank you! And an especial thank you to those of you who take the trouble to email or comment on the blog page. It’s very motivating to know that people are actually enjoying reading what I write!

I have actually been blogging my poetry since 2011. Those were generally irregular blogs – a handful a year. Since I have been blogging every day my viewing figures have shot up. From 2013 to the start of lockdown, 8306 people had visited my blog. Since lockdown that number has increased by well over a thousand! I’ve also been astonished by the number of people on LinkedIn who are reading my blogs. If you are one of them – thank you!

Then there are the Facebookers who “like” my blog post but don’t actually read it.  What’s the point of that?  I’d much rather they’d go to the blog and like it there where a “like” actually means something. But that’s Facebook for you. Full of people liking fluffy kittens, cute babies, twee sayings and photos of other people’s holidays – in the days when there were such things as holidays.

We are now told that we are coming out of hibernation.  Like my blogger friend Mel, I think BJ is doing far too much far too soon much in the same way as he did far too little far too late. Time will tell. I’m not in any hurry to get out there just yet.

I have to admit that there have been aspects of the lockdown I have enjoyed. Relished even.  Not having to think about what to wear is one  – or at least only having to think about the top half for my Zoom appearances. Not wearing make-up – not that I ever wore much before. Not caring about the streaks of grey showing in my now long hair.  Like Boris’s ideas for coming out of lockdown, it has all been quite liberating.

Another thing I loved about the lockdown was the empty roads and lack of traffic. For a few weeks families reclaimed the streets and it was a joy to see children being able to cycle again in the road just as they had done in my childhood. Seeing photos of London empty of traffic was eerie and at the same time thrilling.

At the start, like everyone else, I was savouring the birdsong when I could hear it above the sound of building work. Where we live, the lockdown seems to have liberated all those people who had been wanting to have work done on their homes. For the past few months we have had to put up with the noise of drilling, banging and hammering. In this beautiful weather it would be lovely to be able to have the windows open but all this building work has sometimes made for an unpleasant experience. A neighbour down the road has building work noise so loud that it has set her dogs off barking so we have that to contend with as well.

And now we’ve all been given permission to sit in our gardens with friends it seems such a shame that this pleasure will be blighted by the sound of work going on. Whenever we go for our walks we count the number of skips. Interestingly, there are two houses now for sale in our road and two more just round the corner.  More noisy building work to come no doubt!

On a good day, lockdown has sometimes felt like the Sundays of my childhood. The only activity would have been the sight of men mowing their lawns or hosing down their cars. The highlight of the week then would have been the Sunday drive out into the country.  Very little traffic except for what my dad would contemptuously call the ‘Sunday drivers.’  One could whizz through towns and villages because all the shops would be closed – just like it has been for the past few months.

But now the traffic is back to normal. Not a new normal. But, sadly, the old normal.  Traffic jams. Fumes. Pollution. And with drivers who are – if anything – a little bit more inconsiderate than they were before. Another thing we have to thank the lockdown for.

The hammering has stopped and I’m off to sit in the garden while I can. See you again soon.

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

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HAS OUR WORLD CHANGED?

“It’s a Wonderful World”, sang Louis Armstrong. I’m not so sure that’s true any more.

Yesterday I came across this poem. I wrote it just over two years ago, at the start of the pandemic.

Reading it again, I felt that this poem could equally well have been written about Ukraine.

What do you think?

Empty

The birds are still singing

No one has told them

No one has told them

Our world has changed.

The sky is still blue

The sun is still shining

But where are the people

Our world’s rearranged.

The flowers are budding

The willows are weeping

Weeping for us

And a world that has gone.

 Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

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POST 243# – SAFE

I wrote this poem just a few days before the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

It is what is known as a specular or mirror poem. You will see what I mean when you reach the last line.

SAFE

I am safe

I am in the bath

Outside it is not safe

Fierce winds are tearing down the trees

People must not drive

They say

Stay indoors

There is a red weather warning

A storm is raging outside

A pandemic is surging throughout the world

Putin might invade Ukraine

At any moment

I am in the bath

I am safe

Now read the poem again from the bottom line to the top.

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

CORONAVIRUS, COVID-19, OMICRON – WILL THERE BE A HAPPY ENDING FOR US ALL?

We all remember the story of Cinderella.  No fairy godmothers for us but aren’t we all wishing for something or someone to come along and take us away from all of this? 

An end to housework and cooking? An escape?  It used to be called a holiday but it looks as if that wish isn’t going to be coming true for quite a while.

In my writers’ group we were asked to dream up the sequel to a well known story.  I chose Cinderella.

You remember that at the end of the tale she had married her handsome prince and was living in a beautiful palace, supposedly happily ever after.

Here’s what I imagine happened next.

Cinderella sighed. Her new life had held such promise. But, after ten years of marriage, her prince had lost his charm. He spent all his time alone in the billiard room and didn’t want her even though she was the fairest in all the land. Letting her ugly sisters move in had been a big mistake. They were forever bickering.

It was probably the lockdown making her feel like this, she decided. Life wasn’t so bad.

Just then Prince Charming entered the room. He was wearing the dress her sisters had been fighting over earlier. And he looked pretty good in it too.

“What ho Cindy! How do you like the new me?”

“Is this some kind of joke Caspar?”

“Try to show a bit more understanding. The world has changed you know. It’s time I came out.”

“Came out of the billiard room do you mean? You spend far too much time in there.”

“I mean I’m fed up being the handsome prince. I want to try life as a princess. From now on you’re no longer to address me as Casper. I’m Cassy. And once I’m a princess you’ll no longer be the fairest in the land. I’m off to show your stepsisters how I look in their dress.”

And with that he flounced out of the room.

Cindy didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry.

“I wish,” she said out loud, “my life could be different.”

At that moment there was a magic whoosh.

“Fairy godmother! How lovely to see you after all these years. I have missed you.”

“Work’s been pretty quiet since this lockdown,” responded her fairy godmother, “so I thought I’d pay you a visit. How can I help my dear? I can manage a little magic. I’m too old for mice but what about a new home now that people can move house again? There’s a nice bungalow for sale.  Much smaller and easier to manage than a palace but it wouldn’t be big enough for your family.”

“It sounds magical fairy godmother. Thank you!”

“My magic doesn’t run to fancy gowns so just get a few things together. Once we’re there I might be able to do more.”

“Once we’re there?”

“Where better for me to retire than in a little home with my Cinderella? You know dear, you were the pinnacle of my achievements. We’ll settle down just the two of us. You can look after me just as you did your step mum and sisters in the old days.”

“No thank you, but I don’t think that’s going to work.”

“You’re an ungrateful child!  You don’t like your home or your prince. And you don’t like being in lockdown. So here’s what I’m going to do, miss fussy.”

Cindy felt the room spinning around her. Faster and faster.

When it stopped she found she was back in the kitchen of her old home, among the cinders by the fire grate.

“Oh no!” Cinderella sobbed. “What am I going to do now?”

The moral of my tale is be careful what you wish for! 

WISHING ALL MY FOLLOWERS – OLD AND NEW – A VERY HAPPY & HEALTHY NEW YEAR.

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

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WILL CHRISTMAS BE CANCELLED AGAIN?

This is my post from October 2020. Who would have thought I would be saying it again this year?

“Christmas won’t be Christmas without presents.” So said Jo in Louisa M Alcott’s book,  ‘Little Women’.  “Christmas won’t be Christmas with Covid”, is what many people might be saying right now.

Politicians, press, commentators and public have been talking about Xmas since September. For all I know, Christmas decorations may have have been up in major stores since August but I haven’t been in a shop to find out. However, our shopping delivery packages are already featuring Xmas on their packaging and we’re still only in October!  

I understand the fuss about Christmas. Aside from the fact that you’re celebrating the birth of a nice Jewish boy who historically may have been born in the spring, it’s a time when everyone gets together with relations they don’t normally see. And let’s face it, don’t always like – which is probably why they only want to see them once a year!   Here’s an idea – you could see them on some other day. Or spread it out so you see a few on Christmas Eve, a handful on Boxing Day, some on New Year’s Eve and the rest on New Year’s Day.  Assuming you’re able to meet them indoors of course or outside under cover. Or better still, see them during the year so you don’t pin all your hopes and expectations on just one day.  

I’ve found people are often disappointed with Christmas. They want it to be like the Christmas we see in films and read about in books.  Instead, there’s stress over all the preparation, the cooking and hoping that the day will meet with everyone’s expectations.  Apparently (at least until the advent of Covid) more couples broke up immediately after Christmas than at any other time of the year.   It appears that we’re not really a Christian country any more. Eurostat’s Eurobarometer  survey in May 2019 (that’s a series of public opinion surveys conducted regularly on behalf of the European Commission)  found that only 50% of people living in the UK  considered themselves Christian –  ie 14% Protestants, 13% Catholics, 7% Orthodox and 16% other Christians. That leaves 50% who weren’t Christian at all. 

Speaking of polls, a recent one suggested 51 per cent of Britons would break ‘the rule of six’ on Christmas Day. Apprentice contestant Bushra Shaik (I hadn’t heard of her either) was criticised after admitting that she’s planning on breaking government rules on Christmas Day. It’s reported that she said in an TV interview on Good Morning Britain, ‘I’m going to be considering breaking the rule of six. I’m saying what half the population is thinking. This is a tough time, as far as I’m concerned. I know what is best for my family. I know how to apply the rules for my family.’ Hang on a minute. Surely, it’s everyone applying the rules for themselves that has caused the recent spikes and the government having to resort to tiers – or maybe we should be calling them tears.

All this fuss over one day!  We Jews had to celebrate the Passover Seder (that’s what Jesus was doing at the Last Supper) in April without our families this year.  We also had to celebrate the Jewish New Year and a number of other important festivals without our friends and families.  Not to mention every single Friday night. Some of you will have seen the TV sitcom Friday Night Dinner. So you will know there’s a tradition that, aside from festivals, there is a big family meal every Friday night throughout the year for the Sabbath. And that’s just the Jews. Of course there are also the major Muslim festivals of Eid and Ramadan. And the Hindus are having to miss out on Diwali. The 37%  who claim to be non-Christian in the Eurobarometer  survey (9% atheists, 28% nonbelievers and agnostics), 5% Muslims (3% Sunnis, 1% Shias, 1% other Muslims), 1% Sikhs, 1% Hindus, fewer than 1% Jews, fewer than 1% Buddhists, 4% other religions, 1% who didn’t know, and the 1% who refused to answer, all have all been deprived of their festivals and festivities since March.

Christmas Day aside, there are all the associated trappings of Christmas we are going to miss, such as office parties.  I like the quote from Phillis Diller, the American comedian who said,  “What I don’t like about office Christmas parties is looking for a job the next day.” And how can you have a socially distanced Santa?  😦  

Alternatively, as Christmas won’t be Christmas with Covid, how about we postpone it this year and enjoy it some time in 2021 instead? Who knows we may even have a vaccine by then!

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

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PASSPORT TO FREEDOM

I have a little passport

I keep it in my bag

It tells the world that I am safe

That I have had my jab.

My granny’s in a care home

But me she cannot see

The carers there don’t want the jab

That doesn’t seem fair to me.

I want to go to the theatre

I’d like to see a play

Until everyone has had their jabs

I’d rather stay away.

I want to go on holiday

Fly off to the sun

Live the life I used to live

Well, doesn’t everyone?

So why not have a passport

that says I’m safe to roam

If safety isn’t guaranteed

I’d rather stay at home!

I have a little passport

I keep it in my bag

It tells the world that I am safe

That I have had my jab.

I hope you get yours soon!

Until then, stay safe and keep well.

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems