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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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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

IF YOU CAN REMEMBER THE 60S, YOU WEREN’T THERE!

At least, that’s what they say!

This quote has been attributed to a number of people including Robin Williams, Pete Townshend (The Who) and Timothy Leary.  It implies that the drugs/alcohol/sex/love-ins and general insanity of the period permanently impaired the memory of those who actually experienced the 1960s!

I remember the 60s all too well. 

I worked in London and hated the daily commute from my home in the suburbs where I still lived with my parents.

One day I spotted a notice in a shop window advertising a room to let in a road called Kinnerton Street. I asked around at work and a colleague said it was a fabulous posh turning behind Harrods and that I should definitely take a look. Today it is better known as the road where Ghislaine Maxwell lived and where, it is said, she entertained many high profile celebrities including you know who.

The street, in the heart of Belgravia, was charming. It was lined with mews houses and even a tiny pub.  As I arrived at the house, four good looking young men carrying guitars were coming out of the front door. A band. Wow! Without even seeing the room I knew that this was where I wanted to live! 

The room to let was a bedsit just a few steps up from the front door. It was smaller than my room at home and barely furnished. Hidden behind a sliding door was a small sink. Upstairs there was a shared bathroom and kitchen. The cost would be almost what I was earning every month.  But I was so smitten with the idea of living there that I decided to take it.

My father helped me move in. When I had told my parents I wanted to move out they had seemed disappointed but had not tried to dissuade me.  It’s not home, was all my father said when he saw it.

I met my neighbours.  On the ground floor lived a balding bachelor, whose room smelt of damp washing and socks. On the first floor there was a chef who worked in a London restaurant. I salivated to the smell of his steak cooking as I tucked into my nightly meal of yoghurt and grated apple – all I could afford after I had paid my rent. Nothing would persuade me to enter the kitchen after I had seen a mouse feasting on cheese in the fridge. The bathroom wasn’t much better. Years of grime had stained the bath and no amount of elbow grease would remove it.

On a sunny day, if one felt inclined, it was possible to climb into the bath tub and then out of the bathroom window in order to sit on the roof and sunbathe.

On the other floors lived a gay couple and a spinster – which is what single women were called then. I envied the other residents their large rooms – mine was a closet in comparison. I was on the same floor as the telephone which meant I was always answering phone calls for others.

Where was the band? Where were the four young men I had seen on my first visit?  Gone. Kicked out for loud and lewd behaviour. I was devastated. Also, where had they lived? Surely not in the cubby hole that had become my home.

Living in a bedsit did not live up to my dreams. It was great to be able to walk home from work along Piccadilly and around Hyde Park Corner to Knightsbridge. But there was no one to enjoy it with me. I was alone and lonely.

In the end, I could bear it no longer and phoned home. My dad came to collect me. You were right, I said to him. It’s not home.

Now here we are in 2021 when so many young people – and the not so young – have moved back home to live with their parents. Some of it as a result of the pandemic but also because it is so hard to get onto the property ladder. The money required for a deposit on a home today would have bought a detached house back in the day!

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

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HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY USA!

This is for all my friends, family and followers in the States who celebrate Mother’s Day today.

I know I have posted this before. Of all the poems I have written it is one of my favourites. I hope you will like it too!

Every Day is Mother’s Day

First smile, first laugh, first sweet embrace

The tender way they touch your face

Every day is mother’s day.

First sit, first crawl, first tooth, first walk

The joy when they begin to talk

Every day is mother’s day.

The fun when they begin to play

The cries when they don’t get their way

Every day is mother’s day.

The day they start to question why

And ask what happens when you die

Every day is mother’s day.

The climbs, the falls, the hurts, the tears

As they learn to overcome their fears

Every day is mother’s day.

The very first day you’re on your own

You take them to school, come home alone

Every day is mother’s day.

The very first time they stay out late

And you remember your first date

Every day is mother’s day.

The love, the joy, the guilt, the pain

The more you give, the more you gain

Every day is mother’s day.

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

My mother and me

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

LIFE, THE UNIVERSE AND EVERYTHING

Thank you to the 200+ people who have been following My Life in Poems.

I’ve been blogging on a regular basis for most of this year.  Not only poems but also flash fiction and my thoughts on “life, the universe and everything”.* At the height of the pandemic I was posting virtually every day!

Although my poetry has been performed, published and broadcast, it has always been my desire to have all my poems published together in one place. Last year I finally made the decision to self-publish and put 52 of my best poems together in one anthology – “Wonderland”.

I was thrilled that whenever I read my poetry people bought copies of my book. I had planned to get it into bookshops. Then, sadly, Covid came along, the bookshops closed and I had to put my plans on hold. 

I still have 100 copies of Wonderland sitting in a box waiting for a new home. Wonderland costs £7.50 including postage within the UK. Any profit I make from its sale will be divided between Pancreatic Cancer UK and the Parkinson’s Disease Society. 

If you’d like your very own signed copy simply click on this link or cut and paste it into your browser.

Paypal.me/WonderlandPoetry

A copy will be posted to you as soon as your payment has been received. Please note that Wonderland is only available in the UK for now.

Whether or not you wish to buy a copy of my book, I’d like to thank you for all your support, encouragement and positive comments over the past year.

 

ARE WE WINNING THE BATTLE AGAINST COVID-19?

“This virus is in retreat. We’re working through our plan and our plan is working.”

Matt Hancock  11/6/20

All this war terminology. People talk about people winning or losing the fight against cancer as if cancer is an enemy that you can defeat by putting up a good fight. So, if you succumb to the disease, does that mean you didn’t fight hard enough?

We battle against the virus. We have people working on the front line. And now the virus is in retreat.  I’d love that to be the case but I’d be surprised if it’s true.  There may even be a spike in a couple of weeks as a result of all the Covidiots who haven’t been following social distancing.

It seems there’s a list of 60 statues the protestors want removed including Nelson’s statue in Trafalgar Square.  I think we should replace him – and all the other statues they’re complaining about – with statues of pigeons.  Totally inoffensive. And the pigeons would love them.

OH (other half) and I have been in lockdown now for 87 days. We began quarantining ourselves before we were all officially told to do so because we thought, at the time, that our daughter had the virus. She went through all the symptoms, was examined by an ambulance crew and went into self-isolation away from her husband and three young children. Recently she had the antibody test, only to find out that apparently she had not had the virus after all! All that self-isolation for nothing! And she’s by no means the first person I have heard about who has had this experience.  On the other hand, I’ve been told about other people who had extremely mild symptoms and found out when they were tested that they had indeed had the virus.

It seems to me that – in coping with this “battle” most of us have been going through the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

Some of us – maybe those people in their thousands who swarmed onto beaches and beauty spots – are still in denial. Many are angry.  A few of us may have done some bargaining. Maybe with God if we believe in one.  Or maybe with ourselves.  A large number of people have suffered from depression and many still do.

And then there’s the final stage of acceptance. I think that’s where I’m at now. It was easier when the message was ‘stay at home to stay lives’ rather than ‘stay alert’. But I think many of the people in my position – older and no longer working – have found it easier to accept the lockdown.  So much harder for younger people who led very active lives who are missing work and financial security.

What’s more, working from home and home schooling your children is not an easy task.  I know many parents who are finding it exhausting. If I’d had any say in it I would have said forget about this year altogether. Think of it as a long, extended holiday. Enjoy the time you have with your kids – you may never have a time like this again in your lives. My suggestion would have been to pretend this year had never happened. Postpone all the  assessments and exams. Start again in January 2021 where you left off the curriculum in January 2020. Everyone would be at the same level. No pressure.  Yes, it would mean next year’s cohort starting school a year later but I don’t believe that would harm their education.  There are many countries where children don’t start school until the age of six ( in Hong Kong, Singapore and Finland it’s not until they’re seven) and very often those children do much better academically than ours.

One of the recent bugbears is that the congestion charge has been increased and will now be operating over evenings and weekends too. Talk about adding insult to injury! At a time when they are trying to encourage fewer people to use public transport, they’re obviously going to get more people using their cars!  So, here’s my idea.  Why not lay on free shuttle buses?  We could use the open top deck tour buses that are redundant at the moment.  Stop all but essential traffic and offer free car parking to people coming in from the suburbs so they can get a shuttle into London or wherever it is they live. Rather like the park and ride many towns operate over Christmas.  And reduce the congestion charge so that people who have to use their cars can afford to do so. We should be doing everything in our power to encourage people to get back to work not hindering their attempts to do so.

Do we really have the second highest figures of deaths out of all the countries in the world?  Really? I find that hard to believe.  Some countries are obviously not reporting their figures correctly or honestly. According to WHO, we are told that India’s total number of deaths up till now is only 10,000. A country that is 17.7% of the total world population! Can you believe that?  Maybe Diane Abbott has been helping them add up the figures.

Rant over.

Stay well. Stay safe. See you again soon.

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems