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"We're sailing on a strange boat"
The Waterboys


Some reflections on amusing humans I have known all of them caricatures,
of course.

The first one, called "going where"  gives a bit of existentialist advice the rest speak for themselves.

Going where?

As with a lot of things in life
And we do well to admit it
We don't know where we are going
We just know we want to go there.

Otterley's Decision

Otterley Hopelass was his name.
Quite why I don't know;
I suppose, Mr and Mrs Hopelass
called their son Otterley,
and there he was - Otterley Hopelass;
and he was, and still is,
and probably always will be
Otterley Hopelass.

I first met him down at the riverside pub
‘The Innocent Lamb.'
Strange name for a pub.
Innocent, it was not
and lamb didn't appear on the menu.
Still, the Innocent lamb
was where it was
we had this little converstation.

Surely you can.
It can't be that difficult?
Why only the other day
Sam Othersmahavit
reminded me how he
had packed it all in
and invested 
everything he had
in what everyone else thought
was a crazy project,
and that was '85,
and look since then."

"Well I know
it sounds risky,
but that's the game:
nothing ventured
nothing gained.
Look at it this way:
you're not giving up
all that much
(no offence intended),
good though they are,
the prospects in
‘Grey Clouds Interior Design'
aren't exactly
silver lining."


"Of course.
Wise move.
Spread your assets.
If the business did collapse...
of course it wouldn't -
shades of grey
will always have a market
but if it did,
you'd still have
stocks and shares
with Umayleaver and Gamble -
they're into pensions now,
promising ..."

"Do you really!
I mean,
what do you do all day?
It can't be that absorbing.
I've mixed paint -
colour matching
is quite an art,
and with grey,
well, it becomes
a profession.
But does it really bring
Life-long career
job addiction?"

That was it, really -
didn't come to a conclusion,
and Otterley
didn't reach a decision.
His background,
the environment,
what others may think,
the business,
the wife
and addiction -
all left him




The Snorers of Mendoza

No one knows
Whether it was something to do with the water supply
Or perhaps some kind of genetic trait
Developed in the oesophagus of the people
Or indeed the pollen of a local tree species

But everyone knows
The town's reputation for steady vibrations
n.n.n.n.n.n.n.h.h.h.... s.s.s.s.s.s.s.z.z.z...
beginning around 10pm and reaching a crescendo
after midnight  the hum of thousands of air conditioners

But this was no

Engineering side effect of ugly cooling machines
Designed to relieve inhabitants from oppressive heat
No this was the natural song and rhythm
Of the snorers of Mendoza

And you must understand
The habit was not confined to middle-aged men
Who had laboured, dined and drunk themselves to sleep
Absolutely not beautiful young maidens, athletic youths
And the greatest grandparents all indulged in this extravagance

Visitors to the town
Perchance irritated or disturbed by the nightly rattle
Soon found the contented din of slumberers
n.n.n.n.n.n.n.h.h.h.... s.s.s.s.s.s.s.z.z.z...
pulled even the most insomniacal into its welcome charms

It is not however
Infectious or contagious or adoptable in any way
Only born and bred locals are certain to develop the trait
A little after puberty and thereafter endemic
But to visit or to stay is to be blessed

By the snorers of Mendoza.




Although the class system sucks
From the sewer to the troposphere,
The British still earn a bridled admiration
Despite it all.

Achievements in art, science, and academia
In sport, endurance and adventure
Are generally attained with a measure of modesty
And often an apology.

Just got a bit lucky - got there in the end
With chin up and a stiff upper lip,
Bearing an old war wound and
Against all odds.

Jolly ho
What oh
Good chap
Fancy that!

What a surprise
Can't believe m' eyes
That's my girl
Flags unfurl!

Oh, the British!

They embody a spirit fundamentally admirable -
Human achievement in the face of adversity;
They rise from a mad and bigoted history
To occasionally shine against a backcloth of perversity.


An English gentleman, 1907

Mosely Road Baths, London

At the Baths 

Calder Street Baths built like a prison
Red-painted bars and peeled-paint ceiling;
Noise of boys cheeking a peek
Past the neck-a-knee blind of the changing room streak;

A pooled together of Glasgow's laughs
And closed forever this culture's past
Where a weekly wash and a day of show
See the white tangled limbs of mums, boys and aunts;

A busty woman in a slung-up holster
Shows a rubber baby to stay a float;
A beer-bellied man with slumped chin and bum
can float but cannae swim;

Skinny boys in football shorts
Fly through the air in awkward exposure
And pretty girls in their first bikinis
Delicately blush in the eye infested splash.

"Baths" were community swimming pools, now mostly replaced by "leisure centres"