The gift that keeps on giving


This one is from a notebook going back to 1998.

It needed considerably more tinkering with than some of my previous ones.

If anyone else is suffering from writer’s block, I would definitely recommend revisiting some of your old notebooks or files to help ease you back in. It’s part editing, part writing.

 

DEPARTURES

By David Milligan-Croft

 

After a tearful embrace at passport control,

I walk through the departure lounge at Charles de Gaulle.

 

I head to duty free to pick up a carton of cigarettes,

And a giant Toblerone. I don’t know who the Toblerone is for,

But it’s getting close to Christmas, and a giant Toblerone

Always comes in handy at Christmas.

 

I pick out some Chanel sunglasses

To give to you on my next trip over. I know you’ll love them,

Because I saw you trying them on once at Heathrow,

On our way to America. Then,

 

Out of nowhere, I am engulfed by your essence.

A surge of adrenalin makes my heart pound and my legs almost buckle.

I spin, dizzily, to see if you are there. I scan the crowd,

Trying to spot your beautiful face amongst the throng of passengers.

 

Then I am consumed by sorrow, when I realise

I am standing beside the Yves Saint Laurent perfume counter.

 

For more of my poetry, click on the image below.

LETMEFAIL-COV-A

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More from the vault


Whilst rummaging through a musty old cardboard box, I came across some more notebooks.

I found a couple more poems whose jib I liked the cut of so I reworked them. This is one from around 2003.

 

Driven to Distraction

By David Milligan-Croft

I am trying to avoid your gaze,

When you look up from your desk.

I am trying to ignore you,

When you stand by the water cooler.

I am trying not to notice the way your auburn hair cascades

When you lean over my desk.

I am trying not to inhale your Poison

As you glide by the photocopier.

I am trying not to notice your smile

From across the boardroom table.

I am trying to avert my eyes,

When your slender ankles clip-clip down the corridor.

I am trying to be ambivalent,

About the new dress you bought in Paris.

I am trying to dismiss your emerald eyes,

Framed in dark-rimmed spectacles.

I am trying to be oblivious to the way you laugh,

The way you think – even the way you blink!

And, try as I may to ignore these things,

I carry them with me, every moment,

Of every day.

Although the above poem isn’t in my collection, if you liked the style of it you can find more of them by simply clicking on the cover image below.

LETMEFAIL-COV-A

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The gift of the notebook


If you’ve read my previous post you’ll be aware that I’m going through a period of ‘writer’s block’, so I’ve been dabbling with a paintbrush instead.

Another thing I’ve been doing is going through some old notebooks. I have scores (if not hundreds) strewn around the house in various boxes, on bookshelves, in bags and suitcases, cupboards and wardrobes.

I always have a notebook on the go to jot down ideas or do a little sketch in. The problem is, I hardly ever look back on them. I guess the thinking is, that if the idea didn’t present itself at the time, then it was probably a rubbish idea. For the most part, this is true. But, occasionally, a little gem pokes its head to the surface. (And, wasn’t that the point of the notebook in the first place?)

I came across a poem I wrote in 2000. I can see why I didn’t take it any further at the time, but with a bit of jiggery-pokery I think I’ve got something quite nice. (See below the photo.)

So, the moral of the story is:

  1. Always carry a notebook.
  2. Don’t leave it 16 years to revisit them.
  3. Good ideas will present themselves in the end.

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DENIAL

By David Milligan-Croft

 

I inhale your words as you exhale them.

And I place them into separate categories:

Those that I wish to retain,

And those which I do not.

 

Words such as ‘terminate’ and ‘over’,

I place into the carbon dioxide pile,

To be expelled into the universe

As quickly as possible.

 

But the words of love and affection

I send directly into my bloodstream,

To feed my heart and my brain,

Keeping my soul sane, for a few moments longer.

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Painting instead of writing


Earlier this year I began work on my third novel. I was making good progress until it all ground to a halt as Spring gave way to Summer. I think the expression is “writer’s block”. You may have heard of it.

Anyhow, I wasn’t too worried as the school holidays were looming and I would be spending much of it trying to keep my two daughters entertained. So the chances of getting much work done were slim to zero.

Now that they’ve gone back to school, the “block” is still here. And it’s very frustrating. I get quite depressed if I am not creating something. I worked in advertising for 30 years and every day I’d go into work and have to create something.

So, instead of wallowing in self-pity, I turned my hand to something else – painting. Mainly watercolours, but acrylics too.

Here are a few examples I thought I’d share with you. I know I won’t be getting an exhibition at the National Gallery anytime soon, but I quite like the colours and freshness of some of them.

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Self portrait in acrylic.

 

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Terrorist or mentally ill?


Something has been on my mind this past month or so. And, after the tragic events that saw at least 84 people murdered in Nice yesterday, I feel compelled to write about it.

It’s not about the atrocity in Nice per se, but it is connected by how the perpetrator has – or will be – labelled by the media.

Thomas Mair – the man who murdered Labour MP Jo Cox – was immediately dubbed by the press as being mentally ill.

No doubt, the French-Tunisian man who killed 84 people in Nice will be dubbed a terrorist or Islamic extremist.

Why the difference in labels?

We know Thomas Mair had links to far right white supremacist groups. And we know that he called Jo Cox a ‘traitor’ because of her pro-EU stance. But still people say he must be mentally ill.

Why is a British white man who commits a politically motivated atrocity mentally ill, while an Arabic French man is a terrorist?

I’ll tell you why:

Because many British people share the same views as Thomas Mair.

They want England for English people. (And, by ‘English’, they mean ‘WASPs’: White Anglo Saxon Protestants. Not brown people who were born here. They don’t count.) They want foreigners out. They blame years of austerity measures on immigrants rather than the successive governments.

They don’t want to be identified as extremists or terrorists. So Thomas Mair’s mentally ill. He’s crazy. No normal person would do what he did.

Thomas Mair was radicalised by right wing groups like Britain First and the English Defence League. (As well as white supremacist groups in America.) I also believe that UKIP, Nigel Farage and other Brexiters who whipped up a storm of racial intolerance prior to the referendum had a role to play.

Hate crimes prior to, and following the referendum, were up 42% on previous years.

Are all these people mentally ill, or have they been radicalised?

Of course, I am not accusing all Brexiters of being right-wing-racist-radical-terrorists. Not even the majority of them. But some are.

And Thomas Mair definitely is.

It may well turn out that Thomas Mair does have a mental illness also. But that didn’t make him murder Jo Cox. His ideology did.

The man who murdered 84 people in Nice might have had a mental illness too. But I doubt he will be labelled as such.

Was what he did normal? Can any terrorist act be classed as normal behaviour? Are all terrorists mentally ill? Of course not.

Well, perhaps just the white British ones.

Obviously you don’t have to have brown skin to be a terrorist. You can have white skin. Particularly if it has an Irish accent attached to it.

But not pure, white English skin. Because “we” don’t do that whole terrorist thing.

It’s Jo Cox’s funeral today. RIP young lady. You were a shining beacon of hope in a dark world.

Britain Lawmaker Killed

An image and floral tributes for Jo Cox, lay on Parliament Square, outside the House of Parliament in London, Friday, June 17, 2016, after the 41-year-old British Member of Parliament was fatally injured Thursday in northern England. The mother of two young children was shot to death Thursday afternoon in her constituency near Leeds. A 52-year-old man has been arrested but has not been charged. He has been named locally as Tommy Mair. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

 

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Dear EU, a love letter to Europe.


Dear EU,

I am so sorry, I have some bad news. It’s not you. It’s not even me – It’s them!

And, by ‘them’, I mean the 52% who voted to leave the European Union.

I guess they’ll say I’m just a sore loser and that democracy won the day. But it’s hard to see it as democracy when their decision making was based on a litany of untruths and fear.

You see, I was one of the 48% that wanted to stay with you, because I love you. I’m a complete Europhile. I love your rich, colourful, cultural diversity. I also love the fact that we can come and go as we please. Not just for holidays, but for work or to study.

And it’s that cultural diversity that leads to understanding, respect, tolerance and unity.

The world needs fewer borders, not more.

Sure, it’s not always been plain sailing and we’ve had our ups and downs. But I think we’ve had more ups than downs over the years, don’t you think? You’ve let us keep our own currency and border controls. And you’ve made the prices of things much cheaper. And made sure workers’ rights have been protected.

You’ve been very kind and patient with us these past few months while we’ve tried to make up our minds whether or not to dump you.

The problem was, the Vote Leave campaign told so many whopping big lies about the economy and immigration that they managed to get 52% of people to believe them.

Only this morning have they reneged on one promise to spend £350 million pounds a week on the NHS! I bet the Vote Leavers feel like a right bunch of suckers right now.

I have to be honest, and say that the Vote Remain campaign didn’t cover itself in glory either.

A lot of folks over here are saying that the people who voted leave are ‘stupid’. But they’re not, are they? They were just lied to on a monumental scale. The fact is, the Vote Leave campaigners played on people’s fears. They managed to convince them that all the problems we’ve been having these past few years are the fault of the EU and immigrants rather than the financial crash of 2008 and Tory austerity measures.

Unfortunately, they’ll soon find out that they were spoon fed a pack of lies.

The other big problem is that a lot of people in England are becoming ever more racist. They don’t want you ‘foreigners’ coming to our country and nicking our jobs and sponging off our welfare system.

But you don’t do that, do you? You create £6 billion worth of wealth for the UK economy. And withdraw a paltry few hundred million in welfare by comparison.

All the clever people wanted us to stay with you. People like Stephen Hawking, Richard Branson, Lord Sugar and Posh & Becks. (Maybe we should have got someone from the Big Brother house or Geordie Shore to be a spokesperson instead.) Whereas, all the right-wing scaremongers such as Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Katie Hopkins wanted us to leave. And, because people are becoming more and more right wing, they believed in the harbingers of fear, hate, division and intolerance.

Maybe there is a way for us to stay together. Me and you, that is. Not Britain, it’s too late for that. And, the irony is, the ‘Great Britain’ Vote Leavers so desperately coveted will probably lead to it being dismantled. (Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain with you.)

Poor-little-England will have to take on the world single-handed. It’ll build a grand new fleet of galleons made from the finest spruce and oak. England shall once again, rule the waves, sail the seven seas and plunder, rape and subjugate all in its path!

Until, it sinks and drowns.

We’re not all racist, nationalistic, xenophobic, imperialistic, unrealistic, gullible Luddites, you know.

I still love EU. And I always will.

Yours,

David.

P.S. Can I please come and live with you?

 

 

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Dear Mr. President: An open letter to Barack Obama, from one dad to another.


Dear Mr. President,

I hope you don’t mind me writing to you out of the blue like this.

I know you’re an avid follower of my blog because I’ve seen your little Stars ‘n’ Stripes flag on my stats page.

Please forgive my spelling too, as I’m writing from across the pond. Ditto for interfering in your internal affairs, as you could say it’s none of my business, being a foreigner, and all.

But it is, you see. Because I am a dad. Like you. And it matters to every dad and daughter on the entire planet.

I just wanted to appraise you of something monumentally bad that’s happened in your country. In fact, it’s so bad, the aftershock from it has reverberated around the globe. And I know you’ll want to do something about it as you seem like a really nice guy. (God help you all if that Drumpf turnip becomes president. I believe the Secret Service, CIA and FBI are already squabbling about who gets first dibs on the grassy knoll should he get elected.)

But, I digress… the reason for the massive global furor is because of this Brock Turner fellow, who was sentenced to a paltry six months in prison for raping an unconscious girl. Have you heard about it? Unbelievable, don’t you think? Particularly in light of the fact that another chap, by the name of Cory Batey, was convicted of a similar crime. Except, he got 15-25 years. Doesn’t seem to be much in the way of parity or consistency, does there, Mr. O?

Oh, did I mention that Cory Batey is black? Surely, the two can’t be connected? You can read about that here, if you fancy.

In the Brock Turner case, the victim is only known as Emily Doe. She wrote an extremely moving 12 page victim impact statement which she read out in court addressing Brock in person. It is such an articulate, excruciating, dignified, haunting and devastatingly heartbreaking treatise on what the poor girl has endured, is enduring and will always endure due to Turner’s violation. If you haven’t read it, Mr. O, I implore you do so here. You will not fail to be moved and dismayed by the injustice of it all.

I think one of the main reasons why the world is aghast, is that Mr. Turner doesn’t appear to take responsibility for his actions. He puts the incident down to excess alcohol. Now, to be honest, Barack – may I call you Barack? I like a jar or two myself. I’m particularly partial to a snifter of Shiraz. And, in the 34 years that I’ve legally been allowed to drink, I’ve never once raped anybody. Conscious, or otherwise. So, it’s not much of an excuse, is it? In fact, no one I’ve ever drunk with has raped anyone either. Brock seems to think it’s the drinking culture that is to blame rather than himself.

What seems to compound matters is that Brock’s dad also read out a statement to the court (read it here) in which he pleaded for leniency for his son’s “20 minutes of action”. Raping someone isn’t really ‘getting some action’ though, is it? It’s my thinking that I’m not entirely surprised Brock isn’t taking responsibility if this is his dad’s attitude. Obviously, Judge Persky, (a Stanford alumni and former athlete), completely empathises with Brock’s plight too. Because that’s how it comes across – Brock’s plight, rather than Emily’s.

It just all feels a bit, y’know – like some sort of clique. A gentlemen’s club or something. That it’s almost treated like a rite of passage.

And that goes way beyond Brock Turner. It permeates the very fabric of university values. (Or lack, thereof.) No wonder he doesn’t accept responsibility if a supreme court judge doesn’t think he should either.

You’re a father too, aren’t you, Mr. President? Two girls isn’t it? Me too. Although, mine are a lot younger than yours. Still at primary school. (I think you call it elementary.) I am constantly filled with dread about anything bad befalling them. Some people say I’m over-protective. I don’t care if I am. That’s what daddies are for. My heart goes out to Emily Doe’s dad.

One day, though, I’ll have to let them go. Let them go off to university (if they so wish) or travel round the world. And I won’t be there to protect them. To protect them from the likes of Brock Turner.

That’s why we need a strong justice system. When that system fails the victim we begin to see vigilantes crawl out of the woodwork seeking justice themselves. Perhaps it would be for his own safety that Brock Turner receives a tougher sentence. It wouldn’t surprise me if someone opened him up from his gullet to his ball sack with a pair of hedge trimmers for his lack of contrition. Not that I’m advocating a lynch mob, you understand.

How would you feel, Mr. Prez, if it happened to one of your daughters? And the assailant got six months! I guess you’d be pretty pissed off.

That’s why I was wondering if you could help Emily Doe out? As one dad to another. Maybe have a word with the prosecution and ask them to appeal the sentence. (Unbelievably, Brock’s lawyers are the ones appealing the sentence for being too harsh! Talk about rubbing salt into Emily’s wounds.) Or, have a word with the judge. He really has a skewed view of justice. Or have a retrial. You see, it’s not just about Emily. It’s about all girls and all women all over the world. This sentence says it’s not really that bad to rape someone when you’re wasted. Not really.

But it is, isn’t it, Mr. President? If it was your daughter? If it was mine? If it was Emily Doe?

Rape is rape.

It’s not dependent on one’s level of intoxication. It’s dependent on one’s actions.

In my humble opinion, rape – the violation of someone’s body and mind – is a close second to murder. And should be judged accordingly. After all, Emily Doe has already received a life sentence courtesy of Brock Turner.

Anyhoo, I best sign off now as I’ve taken up too much of your time already and I’ve got to put my two little ragamuffins to bed. I’ll leave it in your very capable hands.

I hope you can get this sorted out before you retire in November. I think it would mean a lot to Emily, who has suffered enough.

Yours sincerely,

David Milligan-Croft.

A concerned, and over-protective father of two girls.

P.S. Fair play to the two Swedish guys, Carl-Fredrik Arndt and Lars Peter Jonsson, who caught Brock Turner in the act of raping Emily, chasing him down as he fled the scene and holding him until the police arrived. Could you give them some kind of medal or something?

Another thing that bothers me though, is that, in Brock Turner’s statement to the court, he says that Emily Doe responded and consented to his advances. Whereas, these two heroes said that she was completely unconscious. Was their eye-witness testimony ever heard in court, I wonder? As Emily Doe said that she has never met them to say thank you. Would seem odd if it wasn’t. Could be a way in for a retrial. Just a thought.

P.P.S. I’m off to the garden shed to dig out my hedge trimmers.

 

 

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