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Just Saying …

You say that you’re ‘just saying.’
But why the need to add
‘Just saying’ to what you’ve just ‘just said’?
I thought that you just had
Just said what you had wanted to,
So why, I’m not quite sure
You’re telling me that you’re ‘just saying.’
Why ‘just say’ any more?
We’re all ‘just saying’ what we’ve just said.
To add ‘just saying’ means nowt.
So, can I ask you nicely
Just to try and cut it out?
If you don’t think your view
Will get across what you’re conveying
Perhaps you should refrain from saying.
So, don’t ‘just say.’
Just saying!

© Carol Ann Wood
June 2016


Index of Posts:


Links:
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Levelling the Playing-Field: Carol’s football-related blog
Only in ErinsboroughCarol’s fun look at the lives and loves of the characters from the Australian soap, Neighbours


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You Are Old Said The Mail 

(With apologies to Lewis Carroll)

You are old, said the Mail,
And you dye your hair blonde,
Your jeans are impossibly tight.
Yet still you insist you are worth getting kissed,
Do you think at your age that is right?
You are old, said the Mail,
And your face, it has lines.
You’ve never had botox at all.
Yet you vie for attention
From players we mention,
Should you even BE at football?
You are old, said the Mail
And you don’t fit our bill
Of how an old woman should be.
You held a big banner in flirtatious manner,
And romped for the whole world to see!
You are old, said the Mail,
Past your prime, getting on,
A woman of fifty-six years!
And yet you don’t hide. Have you really no pride?
You’re endorsing our readers’ worst fears!
Well, I’ll say Daily Mail that I’m not yet quite frail,
I’m not gaga, or sweet, or infirm.
I’m a woman quite active
(My spouse says attractive!)
Has that made your readership squirm?
But it’s wrong! Says the Mail
To be visible still.
We’d hoped for a sexy young thing
To be clutching that shirt,
Not a hag in short skirt
And DMs that suggest she’s left-wing.
So up yours, Daily Mail cos I will not conform
To your idea of ‘acting my age.’
And I’ll do what I please, hugging David Luiz,
For I live in the pink, not in beige!

© Carol Ann Wood
December 2016

 

luiz-elderly-woman


Index of Posts:


Links:
About the author
Contact the author
Follow Carol Ann Wood on Twitter
Levelling the Playing-Field: Carol’s football-related blog
Only in ErinsboroughCarol’s fun look at the lives and loves of the characters from the Australian soapNeighbours


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I Must Be Silenced

I must be silenced. How do I know?
The Mail and Express have told me so.
I voted to remain, you see.
And we lost. End Of. History.
I must be silenced, gagged and bound.
Never must I make a sound.
Because we lost. End Of. I must move on.
Accept it. My European status gone.
I must be silenced
Because I’m unpatriotic.
I probably find Corbyn’s beard erotic.
I’m a loony leftie, under your bed.
The sort the Daily Fail wants dead.
I never listen to the Archers,
I’m filthy scum, I’ve been on marches.
My profile picture isn’t ‘our’ flag,
I really am a left wing slag.
I must be silenced, sent to the tower,
And brought out for each witching hour.
Publicly slated, humiliated,
Tortured, laughed at, trolled and hated.
I’m the sort who might say hello
To a Polish woman I barely know.
I must be silenced, my tongue’s too loose.
It’s my own fault if I get abuse.
We lost and I must take my fate.
Stupid whinging reprobate.
I should not be granted the power of speech,
Cos I dared to whisper the word impeach.
Treason! cry the fifty-two.
Name her, shame her. Stone her too!
I must be silenced, my voice annulled,
My thoughts impounded, my senses dulled.
Get on with it. Accept it. Never complain.
Be properly British. But I voted remain.
So I obviously don’t love my country, right?
A traitor to the red blue and white.
I don’t post tales of how Christmas is banned.
I’m stupid, I don’t understand
Why Rule Britannia is still sung.
In fact, I probably should be hung.
Shut up, shut up, shut up, shut up.
We’re Enger-land, we won the World Cup!
So what if it’s been fifty years?
That doesn’t matter to Brexiteers,
They are the ones who’re allowed a voice.
They won, you see. They spoke. Their choice.
I’m just a sore loser, a moaner, a whiner.
A radical woman with radical vagina.
I must be silenced, I must bow low.
The Mail and Express have told me so.

© Carol Ann Wood
October 2016


Index of Posts:


Links:
About the author
Contact the author
Follow Carol Ann Wood on Twitter
Levelling the Playing-Field: Carol’s football-related blog
Only in ErinsboroughCarol’s fun look at the lives and loves of the characters from the Australian soapNeighbours


Please note that any advertisements which appear below these posts are placed there by a WordPress algorithm. They are not indicative of any endorsement by the author.


Anyone Can write A Poem

For one day of the year,
We’re all poets.
Anyone can chuck a few lines together.
Easy. You just start with
‘There Once Was …’
Because poetry is mostly about the limerick, right?
Or, you can start with ‘Roses Are Red.’
Most poetry is like that, right?
The beginnings of poems are already written for you,
You just change a line here and there.
Not really that original.
Or clever.
Anyone can do this shit.
You prove that poetry is easy
By writing your hilarious and rude limerick
And it gets read out on the radio
On National Poetry Day.
Boom! You’re a poet.
Poets who do this all the time
Don’t really deserve accolades
Or recognition.
You can write better stuff than them
In your bus queue.
But! Can you face the abuse and insults
That some poets get every day on social media?
Can you face down the hecklers at Spoken Word events
Who only go to listen to their own friends
And either heckle you or talk loudly
Throughout your performance?
Can you stand your ground when
You’re told that poems should rhyme
Or that poems shouldn’t rhyme
Or that one sort of poem is better than another?
Can you face people quoting Pam Ayres at you
Because they know jack shit
About poetry?
Can you hold your own when someone
Informs you that you ‘never start a line with And’
And come out of it unscathed?
If you’re a woman, can you deal with
Seeing your football poem ignored by a man
And then the same man writes his own and gets
Accolades for it? Because his is full of ‘clever’ insults
And it’s ‘quality?’
Anyone can do that shit, right?
Anyone can write a poem
But maybe not every one of us can be a poet
For three hundred and sixty five days a year.

© Carol Ann Wood
October 2016


Index of Posts:


Links:
About the author
Contact the author
Follow Carol Ann Wood on Twitter
Levelling the Playing-Field: Carol’s football-related blog
Only in ErinsboroughCarol’s fun look at the lives and loves of the characters from the Australian soapNeighbours


Please note that any advertisements which appear below these posts are placed there by a WordPress algorithm. They are not indicative of any endorsement by the author.


Second Rate 1972

I’m going to a secondary modern
Because I’m second rate.
But this is just the modern way,
And the modern way is great.
Grammar schools are for the ones
Who pass the IQ test.
But my IQ’s just average
So I’m lumped in with the rest.

I’m going to a secondary modern
Where I’ll learn to sew and cook.
I won’t grow up to shine at much,
Or ever write a book.
But that’s okay because
I wasn’t really meant to shine.
I’m just a girl for starters
So I shouldn’t whinge and whine.

I’m going to a secondary modern
With a vestibule no less.
And I’ve got my bag and my pencil case
And my secondary dress.
There’s a modern lunch time menu
And a modern PE hall
And some friendly, modern teachers
And a modern-painted wall.

I’ll maybe get a merit for some good work I have done.
Or, actually, I might not get
A single bloody one.
What a lucky girl I am
To live in modern days
With my modern friends and my modern life
Getting secondary praise.

I see my friends I knew before
Walk from their Grammar School.
We played together once, but now
They’re bright and I’m a fool.
I might work hard in my secondary mod
And I might do just as well
And shine out in a secondary way.
Or I might not. Who can tell.

Boys catch up much later
And I’m sure that it’s quite right
To set their pass rate lower
Cos the boys will soon be bright.
They need the better jobs
Because breadwinners they’ll become.
The girls, well some will shine of course,
Before their role as mum.

Anyway, I won’t be bitter
About this big divide.
I’m sure it’s fair, it has to be
Despite my hurt inside.
I’m going to a secondary modern,
Where the boys are taught next door.
If you’re secondary, you won’t get
To learn with boys no more.

I’m going to a secondary modern
Cos I failed Eleven Plus,
But they have to test us all somehow.
No need to make a fuss.
I can do just as well, they say,
It’s really for the best.
In spite of my new label
Based on a single test.

Judged at age eleven
And a lifetime to amend it,
And now they want to bring it back.
I cannot comprehend it.
But! Grammar kids of yesteryear
Cry out in swift defence
You’ve done okay, and so the system
Really did make sense!

But they have never felt my lack,
And we know the truth is that
The system favours middle-class,
And not the tabby cat.
But I was poor! They’ll say,
And look just what it did for me!
Ah yes, but you were token poor.
Surely you can see?

I went to a secondary modern,
Oh it wasn’t bad at all.
With its modern buildings, vestibule
And the modern PE hall.
But my failure wouldn’t leave me
And I languished at the back
Of a class of secondary friends,
Afforded similar lack.

I went to a secondary modern
And the staff were mostly kind
When I hid in toilets for PE,
They never seemed to mind.
They didn’t seem to mind that
I just wasn’t even trying.
Did they even know I was there at all?
Sitting quietly, crying?

And now they want to bring it back
And Mrs May has said
We’re divided by the housing price,
So let’s do this instead!
It’ll make for social justice,
And you must see that it’s true!
So tug your forelock boys and girls,
And learn what’s best for you.

© Carol Ann Wood
September 2016


Index of Posts:


Links:
About the author
Contact the author
Follow Carol Ann Wood on Twitter
Levelling the Playing-Field: Carol’s football-related blog
Only in ErinsboroughCarol’s fun look at the lives and loves of the characters from the Australian soapNeighbours


Please note that any advertisements which appear below these posts are placed there by a WordPress algorithm. They are not indicative of any endorsement by the author.


Keep Write On: How this writer regained the power of words.

Remember when you were a kid and your elders said ‘sticks and stones may break your bones, but words can never hurt you’? Except, we all know it’s not really true. Words are powerful, and can be used in good and bad ways. At some point in our lives, we’ve all been the recipient of hurtful words, and very likely, the deliverer of them, too. This is not a rant post, nor a moralising one, but I have good reason to tell you how my creativity was almost crushed by cruel words. And how that creativity resurfaced, at a time when I needed it most. Mine wouldn’t be such an unusual story, were it to have happened in the 1950s, 1960s or even perhaps the 1970s. But we’re talking rural Norfolk in the early 1980s here. Girl ‘got herself pregnant’. Girl ‘had to get married’. In that neck of the woods, attitudes languished approximately ten years behind the rest of the UK. How ridiculous those loaded phrases sound now, even aside from the implicit demonisation of the unmarried mother. If you take the first phrase literally, it appears that back then, back there, I was doing cloning before even Dolly The Sheep came to be. And I was crap at science!

Let’s just say that the marriage I apparently ‘had to have’ was not a happy one. I won’t elaborate too much. Coercive Control wasn’t defined as such, back then, back there. It was called obedience. You know, you promised to love, honour and obey. I can’t recall my actual vows, but even if they didn’t include obedience, it was an expectation of union in my community. The men made the big decisions, the women were expected to abide by them. I’d made my metaphorical bed and must lay in it. Jump to four years later and here was a young woman who loved her two children to the moon and back, who was overjoyed with motherhood, but whose spirit had been gradually knocked down and replaced with lethargy and despondency. I had very little money, and not much control over how I spent what I did have. I could still write, though, because the outlay was minimal. All I needed was a pen and a notebook. I just needed to resurrect my creativity, albeit mostly in secret. In particular, my reading of – and writing – poetry, had never left me. Since I was five years old, I had been entertaining my school friends with funny rhymes about the teachers. Later, I would do the same at college, and at work. It gave me such pleasure to make others laugh, or reflect.

With my creative avenues limited by circumstance, I first wrote a few short stories and poems to entertain my children. I also continued writing my poetic social observations. Mainly to keep my brain functioning outside of the world of nappies and potty training, I suppose. (Something that all parents will identify with regardless of circumstance: that, much as you adore your children, you still need adult interaction.) No-one else read these poems initially, apart from the few times I got one of them published in a Woman’s magazine. I once accidentally expressed delight at this, but my then-husband rubbished the achievement. Poetry was for other people, not ‘folk like us’. Imagine if you’re told on a daily basis for nine years that writing your ‘silly little poems’ is a waste of time. But poets tend to be stubborn so-and-sos. You don’t just stop being a poet. Your brain can’t stop thinking like a poet. No matter how much someone tries to crush your creativity, it refuses to be broken completely, even if it’s driven underground. Instead of giving up, I tucked my precious note book containing my verse into a Mary Poppins-size handbag and took it everywhere I went. No one questioned my sizeable bag. Mothers needed to carry around a lot of baby and toddler paraphernalia. Having my poetry with me was a safeguard against it disappearing in ‘mysterious circumstances’.

Then came a point when I felt able to fight back even harder against my restricted life. Little things, nothing drastic at that point. But my fightback was propelled by a very good friend, and by verse. I gained some ‘freedom’ on Sunday nights, by visiting this friend, who lived in the same village. My visits to her were ‘sanctioned’ because even my ex-husband realised that most women went to visit their friends some evenings, and to deny me would be futile. Besides, my friend was someone that he considered a ‘good example’ for me; a few years my senior, and part of a loving, extended family.

I knew not to push too hard with my new-found autonomy, and there was an agreed time I had to be home by, just as one might dish out a curfew to a rebellious teenager. Whilst my friend didn’t know the full extent of my behind-closed-doors existence, she gleaned enough to recognise that I wasn’t happily married like her. Enough for her to feed me supper, because she guessed that I had only picked at my dinner, so emotionally strung-up was I. Enough for her to suggest that some Sundays, if her husband babysat their young son, we could pop out to the pub. The pub! I hadn’t been in a pub much since I’d got married. The only time I drank alcohol was when my father gave me a bottle of his sloe gin (I don’t even like gin much!) I didn’t always dare tell my ex-husband that my friend and I would be going to the pub. I would go to her house and change out of the frumpy knee-length dresses and regulation jeans that he considered acceptable, and into something altogether more daring. Often, an outfit, hidden away, and paid for in cash instalments, from my friend’s catalogue that she ran. My large handbag was not only a useful hiding place for the poetry, but for my mini-skirts, which otherwise could be accurately described as belts. This more daring, ‘different me’ didn’t sit well with some of the villagers, who were of the opinion that I was out of control and a bad mother and wife. They said a lot more besides, but I understood why they would. And remember, like my friend, they had no idea about the actual circumstances of my personal life. I wouldn’t be ready to admit that to myself, let alone anyone else, for a very long time.

With the encouragement of my friend, and a few other more ‘forward-thinking’ pub-goers, I read out a poem or two on these pub jaunts. These weren’t ‘open-mic’ nights. There was no such thing, back then, back there. Rather, it was just a case of a few regular drinkers gathering in one corner of the bar, and listening to me. Actually listening. And laughing! As I gained confidence, I started to write poems about the villagers themselves. Nothing nasty, just good-humoured, affectionate poems. Poems about amusing situations they might have got into, poems about an engagement, a wedding, a birthday.

Not everyone was enamoured by my rhyme any more than some were by my bolder apparel. I had to deal with derogatory comments, both to my face and behind my back, which, in true small-community tradition, always reached my ears. It hurt. It hurt like hell. I was getting enough hurtful words at home, so why on earth put myself through more? But the determined poet in me was gaining momentum. Anyone who made one derogatory remark too far worried that they might find themselves the subject of my next poem. And it might not be all nice! Words have power; did have power, even back then, back there. And because I was the writer, that power belonged to me. I was, if you like, a bit of a dangerous woman, the loose cannon of the village. You never knew what Little Ol’ Blondie (as I was called back then, back there) was going to come out with next. Gradually, despite the initial hostility and suspicion, most people worked out that it was probably better to have me inside the proverbial tent than out of it. I started to get invitations to write songs and poems for the village cricket and football clubs. I was invited to perform at the annual Christmas musical afternoon, run by several well-respected villagers. I’m no genie, but despite the attempts of my ex, once I’d escaped the bottle, I wasn’t going to be pushed back in.

It would be some time before I finally left the unhappy relationship, and several years after that until I was able to go into higher education. My poetic ramblings were always limited, back then, back there. I couldn’t be too edgy or ‘in your face’. I was invited to events like WIs, which were still pretty traditional, so talking about intimate body parts or sexual encounters weren’t going to be well-received. Nonetheless, I had a foothold. I had regained the power of words.

Words can still hurt me today. The advent of social media – a vital tool for contemporary creative writers – means that you will inevitably be the recipient of nasty comments from trolls and idiots from all walks of life. They’ve always existed, it’s just that on the internet, they are afforded more opportunity, and often, anonymity. And they’re as likely to be from Dakota or Darwin as from your local town.

Of course, I am a different me, now. I am someone who has gained a degree and a Master’s degree. I am someone who travels alone to football matches, an environment which is possibly one of the last bastions of sexism if you infiltrate it as a lone female. And now, I am even someone who has had poetry published. But occasionally, some remarks I read online transport me to back then, back there, when I was told that I was just a silly little housewife with stupid ambitions; that I was lucky anyone wanted me, that I was useless, even at being a silly little housewife.

I know that none of those things were ever true about me. But at the time, my self-esteem had been chipped away at, and when you hear that shit for nine years, you can start to believe it. So, I am telling my story, not to gain sympathy, not as a ‘poor little me’ tale. I tell it because for every me, there is someone else trapped in a ‘back then, back there’. Someone who is not yet empowered enough to change their situation. And I tell it because I need you to understand, if ever I misinterpret a badly-phrased remark on social media, if I raise my heckles and bite when I have no need to, it’s because you never truly forget your past, even if you’ve escaped its circumstances a long time ago.

© Carol Ann Wood
September 2016


Index of Posts:


Links:
About the author
Contact the author
Follow Carol Ann Wood on Twitter
Levelling the Playing-Field: Carol’s football-related blog
Only in ErinsboroughCarol’s fun look at the lives and loves of the characters from the Australian soapNeighbours


Please note that any advertisements which appear below these posts are placed there by a WordPress algorithm. They are not indicative of any endorsement by the author.


Welcome to Birmingham New Street Station

This poem, written in April 2011, was the response to a frustrating (non)departure from BHM. I have since changed trains at the new ‘improved’ Birmingham New Street Station, which has been redeveloped as only a privatised railway system could: swish (profitable) new shopping centre above; same muddle of competing, overpriced, private train companies below, with far too few staff to help you find the correct platform (announced, then re-announced then changed at the last minute).

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

We’ve transformed Birmingham New Street station into a major transport and shopping hub, stimulating economic growth and regeneration in Britain’s second city.The first half of the new station was completed in April 2013 and the full redevelopment opened in September 2015Network Rail


Watch the YouTube video here, and listen to the poem in station-announcer style.



Welcome to Birmingham New Street Station,
The most hated, inadequate one in our nation.
Where Cross Country Trains live up to their name
And make passengers cross in this privatised rail network game.

Welcome to Birmingham New Street Station,
Where the sight of a staff member’s met with elation.
Till they tell you wrong platforms and they don’t give a fuck
If the train’s full to burst, well that’s just your bad luck.

Welcome to Birmingham New Street Station.
You’ve booked a meaningless seat reservation.
And they won’t let you board and you try and complain,
Then they tell you to run cross country
After the train.

Welcome to Birmingham New Street Station.
It’s filled with confusion and mis-information.
I am a traveller more sinned against than sinning
And I’m in a bad mood and my patience is thinning.

Welcome to Birmingham New Street Station.
We are sorry to announce, with great consternation
That the 18.45 service to Stoke
Has been delayed by one century
And that is not a joke.

Welcome to Birmingham New Street Station,
Where there is no one to help with your frustration
I am sorry to announce that this does not bode well.
Welcome to Birmingham New Street Station.
Welcome to HELL!

© Carol Ann Wood
April 2011


Watch/listen to the YouTube video here


Index of Posts:


Links:
About the author
Contact the author
Follow Carol Ann Wood on Twitter
Levelling the Playing-Field: Carol’s football-related blog
Only in ErinsboroughCarol’s fun look at the lives and loves of the characters from the Australian soapNeighbours


Please note that any advertisements which appear below these posts are placed there by a WordPress algorithm. They are not indicative of any endorsement by the author.