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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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THE POWER OF POETRY

With everything else going on in the world, I somehow managed to miss International Poetry Day on 21st March.

I feel I should be saying or writing something profound.

I don’t have a new poem to offer you. But some interesting news.

It seems that people who have dementia respond to poetry – sometimes with just a smile or a flicker of recognition. Sometimes even joining in with the words.

This does not surprise me. Those of us who learned poems as kids can often still recite them – even when we can’t remember the title of the book we last read – or even what we had for dinner the night before!

I  remember how at our daughter’s wedding ceremony we were all moved to tears when my son-in-law’s grandfather, who had dementia, seemed to respond to the familiar words and melodies. I had also seen it when prayers were said in the synagogue at his nursing home. Elderly people – many of them with dementia – joining in with the songs and the familiar prayers. Sometimes mouthing the words or even saying them out loud.  It was amazing to see.

So yes, there is power in poetry, prayer and music. To these things that we all hold inside us.

When it’s my turn, I want Robert Louis Stevenson,  Wilfred Owen, Leonard Cohen and also to hear the cherished voices of my own children and grandchildren.

So, to celebrate National Poetry Day, let’s all learn a poem by heart today – and tell it to our children tomorrow.

Here’s an easy one to remember from Robert Louis Stevenson:

The world is so full of a number of things

I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.

Or how about this one – from me.

Poems are very hard to write

I think about them in the night

I wish that I had time to play

Then I’d write poems in the day!

Happy National Poetry Day everyone!

© 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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MY KILLER BLOG

SPOILER ALERT – this was my submission to a local *competition where we had to write a crime story. It is a work of my imagination and is of course complete fiction. Let me know if you enjoy reading it.

MY KILLER BLOG   

1 October, 2021

If you are of a nervous disposition or take offence easily, please stop reading now. 

Everyone else – welcome to my blog!

For a long time now I have been thinking of getting rid of my old mother and this blog is all about my journey. I will be sharing my innermost thoughts and schemes with you.

Feel welcome to follow me. I am new to blogging so would be very pleased to receive your feedback and comments. Thank you!

ABOUT ME

I am a happily married (I will tell you more about that another time) middle aged man with children and grandchildren whom I love dearly. I live mainly in London and also enjoy a second home in the English countryside.  I enjoy walking and also spending time in my garden where I grow fruit and vegetables. I do not intend to post any photos of myself but suffice to say that I keep fit and I still have all my hair.

4th October, 2021

I think of myself as a kind and caring person. But that does not seem to count for anything any more.  All my life I have been overlooked. My own mother ignores me most of the time and my opinions are never taken seriously by anyone.

5th October, 2021

 I wish the old ratbag was dead so I could get on with my life. I am not getting any younger and she is standing in my way.

8th October, 2021    

I lie awake at night wondering what to do for the best. Dear mama is taking such a long time to die.  Would it hurt if I gave her a little bit of help?  I desperately need to think of some kind of ingenious way to hasten her end. I would be really grateful to receive any useful suggestions you might have in the comments below.

11th October, 2021

I have conducted a great deal of research online – where would we all be without Google?  It occurs to me that the safest way to do the deed will also, regrettably, have to be the slowest. I would prefer it to be sooner rather than later but, I am sure you appreciate that it is vital I find the most suitable method. Whatever I choose has to be the right kind of poison – odourless, tasteless and easy to obtain. Most importantly, of course, it needs to be undetectable.

14th October, 2021

I have conducted a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis of the various poisons that are easily available and here’s my list so far:

  1. Poisonous plants such as the Foxglove and Deadly Nightshade

Strengths – they are very easily obtainable

Weakness – far too quick and may have an acrid taste so they could easily be detected in food or drink

Opportunities – useful for quick results

Threats – they could pose a danger to me

  • Rat poison

Strengths – works well on rats

Weakness – works less well on humans. A very painful death

Opportunities – easily obtainable

Threats – easily recognised at a post mortem

  • Arsenic

Strengths – depending on the amount, it can be given over a long period so symptoms may take longer to develop

Weakness – can kill a person rapidly and painfully

Opportunities – can be consumed in small amounts over a long period

Threats – it can be easily detected in the system

  • Strychnine

Strengths – it is highly toxic and odourless.

Weakness – rather bitter in taste so easily detected

Opportunities – only a small amount is needed to produce a severe effect

Threats – a horrible and unusual way to die

And so on …

21st October, 2021

I won’t bore my followers by listing all the many poisons I have found.  Suffice to say that none of them are ideal as they all have their shortcomings. My conclusion is a really simple and straightforward one.  I don’t intend to use a “poison” as such.  Instead, I will make use of some of the pills my mother already takes on a daily basis. They have all been prescribed by her GP so it will be very easy for me to obtain them without anyone noticing anything out of the ordinary. In fact, I have already started doing this to good effect as you will see when you read my next blog.

29th October, 2021

Mama always enjoys a soothing hot cup of cocoa at bedtime so my plan is to slip one of her many pills (though not her sleeping pills as they would work far too quickly!) into her drink. This works very well as the chocolate disguises the taste. What’s more, she loves this nightly ritual and always drinks it down to the last drop.

You are probably horrified reading this. You might think she doesn’t deserve to die but you don’t know her as I do. When other people are around she is all sweetness and light.  But the minute their backs are turned she becomes this other hateful person. I think if you were in my position, you would do the same as me.

Life was much better for me when my father was alive because he would always speak up for me when I was being belittled. Sadly, dad died a few months back. It wouldn’t surprise me if the old goat had hastened his end.

I am so fed up with how she always undermines me in front of my children.  She is unable to spend even one minute in my company without telling me what to wear, how to stand, how to walk – even how to speak. What’s more, she has never liked my wife and makes sure that everyone knows it. 

5th November, 2021

Hello and welcome to those of you who have just joined my blog! Here’s just a quick recap to help you follow what is going on.

I am writing about how I began poisoning my mother earlier this year.  Little by little.  Not all the time but now and then. I wanted it to be gradual, natural. The pandemic has made it a lot easier for me because we have all been at home so much more – even my dear mama who, in normal circumstances, is hardly ever home. On the other hand, as many of you no doubt are discovering, being at home all the time with your nearest and dearest is not as much fun as you thought it might be!

10th November, 2021

For the past few months, as those of you who have been following my blog will know, I have been dissolving pills in my mother’s hot cocoa at bedtime.  However, recently, I have moved onto doing such things as hiding her teeth so she can’t go out. There is no way mama would want to see people without her teeth in!  She finds it a lot harder to eat without her dentures so has been asking for food that’s easier to swallow.  It’s been easy for me to grind up some of her pills into mushy food such as stewed apple and custard. I have been getting such pleasure in seeing her eat and knowing that every mouthful is slowly killing her.

19th November, 2021

When the poison first started working she began suffering from horrible headaches. Fortunately for me, the family just thought it was her old migraine problem and they took no notice.  Then, after a few months she began to visibly weaken. I could see that she developed a small tremor in her right hand. And, sometimes, to my great delight, her eyes twitched a little. In the end, her doctor sent her to hospital for check-ups but they haven’t been able to find anything wrong with her. Some of the family suspect that their dear old mother is turning into a hypochondriac but I know better. It’s really heartening to see how well the poison is working!

25th November, 2021

As the poison has taken its toll it has started to affect her mobility.  She totters about the place and sometimes even needs to hang on to my arm.  I really enjoy that. The one time my mother has ever shown that she needs me. Unfortunately, her dependence on me has not lasted and she has now been given a stick to aid her walking. I sometimes almost find myself feeling sorry for the old bat. 

3rd December, 2021

Hi everyone.  I don’t think it will be too long now.

8th December, 2021

The main effect of the gradual poisoning is that the old goat has lost confidence and has stopped wanting to go out. Unfortunately, this does mean that she’s around more than she was in the past which is a pain, but I can put up with it because I know it won’t last for ever.  I have successfully been stepping up the dose without her noticing. And no one else has noticed either! I am feeling very clever and proud of myself. I can’t help wondering why I didn’t do this years ago!

16th December, 2021

Mother has started to nap in the middle of the day – something she has never done before.

23rd December, 2021

The family think mama needs more help so I have employed some carers to help look after her.  We have to be very discreet because mother doesn’t want people to know that she isn’t her old self. 

There’s this agency – KARE4U. A stupid name – a bit like TOYSRUS – but they have come highly recommended. I have been able to hand pick all the carers from their photographs so you won’t be surprised to learn that I have chosen only the young, good looking ones. Female of course – I’m a red blooded male after all. I have selected their uniforms too, though my younger brother complains that they look like something out of a Playboy centrefold. Well, he should know! After all, he’s the only one in the family who would know anything about that kind of thing – if you know what I mean.  😉

26th December, 2021

Another rubbish Christmas because of this pandemic. We all have had to stay home. Dear mama has spent most of the time in bed. What a shame.

31st December, 2021

Things have turned a corner. Mother keeps being sick. She might have to go into hospital again. Hopefully she won’t be coming out this time.

1 January, 2022

Happy New Year to all my followers! Have you heard today’s exciting – though not entirely unexpected – news?  If not, make sure you listen to the announcement on Radio 4 at 7pm this evening. The BBC will be announcing the successor to the throne. Yes, that’s right. Remember you heard it here first. Mum’s the word! 

PS Of course Camilla can’t help wondering if I’m going to be getting rid of her next. But how could I? She is such a wonderful support to me. And, after all – as I am sure some of you must have guessed – the accident with Diana was pretty much all her idea in the first place!

2nd January, 2022

DAMN! BLAST! AND DAMN AGAIN! SH*T! BU***R!!!!!!!!!!!!!  After everything I’ve done for this country, the old goat has only gone and ignored me altogether and put William and Kate in my place!!!!!!!!! 

BLOG COMMENTS

I found your SWOT analysis really useful to help me choose what to study at university. Thank you!

I was enjoying your blog until I saw the swear words at the end. There is no place for this kind of language online. I will not be following you anymore.

Have you thought of going on the panel of Gardener’s Question Time? I think with your knowledge of flowers and vegetables – not to mention poisonous plants – that you would be a real asset to the programme.  

I am a really big fan of yours and think you have been very unfairly treated. I hope this won’t be the last we see of you or your blog.

BLOG WORD COUNT:  2003

(*And, by the way, pleased to tell you I won the first prize!)

© 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