Fridge doors across the land
Milk bottles rattle:
Against an unknown foe
Actions carried out by hands belonging to
People not feeble in the face of fear
Never defeated ,
They don’t plan on starting now
Milk jugs in staff kitchens
Replenished by morning
A conjuring trick!
Or humans weaving hard-won magic?
Kettles flicked on
by determined volunteers,
Interpreters working all hours
Untangling words even they don’t understand
Explaining the unexplainable unknown
Soothing scared strangers who ‘don’t understand’
There are no leaflets to give out
But you can’t misunderstand fear
It floors us, momentarily.
Then we get up and fight
mop buckets wage war
On floors that gleam
Not giving their cleanliness a thought
But somebody’s done the backbreaking work
No child, cuddling ted, ever said:
‘Mummy, when I grow up I want to work for minimum wage
Do the grimiest job for no glory.
Be an extra in someone else’s story’
But they do:
in buildings, factories
Places you don’t even know
Cutlery in canteens gleams
Taps don’t leak in toilets where
Staff stare at haunted reflections
For the onslaught
‘I’ll put the kettle on’
The mantra of anyone in crisis
That unofficial remedy for shock/when there’s nothing to be done
Mugs of (enter your beverage of choice here)
Made with precision and
The grim determination of someone who wishes they weren’t there
Witnessing in slow motion the thudding sadness of tragic theatre
Attempting to crack heartbreaking silence with
jokes and facts everyone knows
Hollow laughter juxtaposed
Drinks poured into inappropriate mugs passed as
Liquid hugs (contact prohibited)
When we need to connect:
Eyes sadly smiling
A nurse takes the beverage with shaking hands
Sugar spins like his mind
Milk flows in
He sips and grins
A liquid gift
From an army of female workers who don’t get paid
Ruminating stars of The Milk Show,
Ensuring millions of exhausted employees don’t go off
to work without milk in their tea or cereal bowl
Cows’ bodies map their story
Trace their tales
Key workers in England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales
Slice through their own dreams
To keep milk flowing
Delivered to doorsteps on milkmens’ whistles
By drivers on missions
Stacked by (very) supermarket staff
Key workers walk with bags of dreams
To jobs that often don’t seem to live up to the
Aspirations they once scrawled on school books
Commuting past houses
They can’t afford to look at
Let alone rent in the communities they serve
But still they
Rebuild societies shredded by fear
Rescue those whose bubbles have burst
When the highest paid people in the land don’t have the solutions
Or the ‘quick fixes’ we’re used to,
Those on the ground plod on
Not loud or showy
Keeping hopes of others alive
As if it’s nothing,
Stepping over fear
Wading through tears
Embracing us with caring arms…
A SPEECH FOR THE GROOM
The place for cheese is inside sandwiches and has no place in speeches, but you must forgive me for I cannot resist just a bit.
The thing is, when you entered my life, you made it begin [and this is where that cheese creeps in], meeting you was like discovering when you were a child, that the world actually spins and does not remain still.
When I first saw you, it was like breathing in,
As if I had only ever breathed out my entire life
So I may not be an astronaut, living out childhood dreams,
Or be famous, discovering amazing things,
but little do I care,
e, none of which was attained, does not matter, as true love, remains.
for in you I have my best friend and as such am beyond the wealth of kings.
You are the wish I have been making for the whole of my life.
And you, you beautiful woman, are my soulmate, my best friend, my lover,
and now, my wife.
MR & MRS
Love isn’t like it is in books.
(And ain’t that the truth?!)
It’s not all romance, roses and longing, wistful looks.
The reality seems to be more picking dirty socks up from the floor
Fuzzy-brained fights at midnight over trivial things;
who used the last of the milk, who should put out the bins.
Bleary eyed mornings with our children trampling on our bed,
When we are sleep-starved and have aching heads.
Trying to balance the books and learning to cook.
Shopping trips to Asda planned with military precision.
Piling up the car with provisions, getting stranded abroad.
Daily life can sometimes seem like such a mission.
You drive me mad, sometimes.
I am sure I do you too.
Sometimes it is an endless circus,
Trying to keep all the plates in the air.
And sometimes I am so exhausted, it feels like I can’t do it.
But as we muddle through together.
Encountering storms I am sure I cannot weather,
When I cannot see anything clear,
I hold out my hand and you are there.
And I know that no matter how much you drive me round the bend,
I want to grow old with you because, you are my best friend.
You make me want to be a better person, you make me howl with laugher.
You bring such joy to our son and daughter.
There is nobody with whom I would rather be.
I don’t always say I love you.
But please, as we travel through the years together,
When I am too stressed or tired to say the words,
Remember today as we become husband and wife that,
To me, you mean the world.
It has always been you and me.
Through good times and bad, you are the love of my life.
Perhaps I was wrong and the old romances are all true.
Maybe we do all get our happy endings at last.
I found you.
YOU, ME AND ALL OUR DREAMS
The man who wanted to be a pop star.
Now pops the albums of other best-selling artists on the shelf of a store.
The woman who dreamed of being a model, now merely expresses model behaviour in her academic career.
Who would have thought you, me and all our dreams would have been defined, not by concerts and fashion shoots, but by alarm clocks and duties involving replenishing stock.
Lucky then, that throughout the days of seemingly endless work, the shopkeeper and the writer, whose careers they would not describe as perfect,
are able to go home to each other, and realise that the one person they would apply that word to, is standing before them, and that, suddenly, the fame, fortune and dashed dreams matter no more.
For true love remains.
RETURN TO FLANDERS FIELDS
While the landscape has changed and planes now fly overhead.
We will not forget the sacrifice you made.
Soldiers: forever young, forever brave.
Silenced by death.
Who laid down their lives in Flanders Fields
Countless raindrops have fallen since then,
but it has not made us forget,
despite the passing of the years,
tears are still wept, falling like the rain.
Those who thought the war they fought
would be the war to end all wars.
United in their vision to protect the nation.
Selfless acts indeed.
Whose journey ended in Flanders Fields.
Today, a new generation stand with the people of the years gone by.
To pay their respects to the men who perhaps found peace,
comforted that they did not die in vain, but battled on
for a new generation so they could be free and live in peace again.
With the poppy still burning red;
a lasting reminder to all
of the courage, kindness and bravery of the men who gave their all.
Words cannot portray the gratitude we have for the men of yesterday.
The poppy’s message is quite clear when worn,
and speaks more proficiently than any words could say.
The silence on the eleventh hour,
pays tribute and calls out across the years
back to those fields, where the wind softly whistles, with a message to impart.
So the men who fell in battle may rest peacefully at last
for the generations are united – time and age depart.
The message from the new generation is ‘
“Thank you with all our hearts.”