Posted in Covid19, In Isolation, our NHS, Thought for the Day, Uncategorized, Witterings

I’m not a ‘stockpiler’… I’m an impulse buyer with a really bad memory.

…and before anyone tosses their head and tuts loudly in condemnation, I must explain that our current accumulation of grocery items happened well before this crisis.

I can’t resist a good deal, so when our supermarket of choice has offered ‘3 for 2’ on this or ‘BOGOF’ on that I’ve never been one to refuse their generosity, especially if it’s an item we would regularly use or consume anyway. I freely admit to never pausing for a moment’s thought as to whether we already have a sufficiency of said items, or even if I had succumbed to the identical offer the last time I was in store.

It’s a bargain…that’s all that matters to me.

When we returned from our holiday to Norway at the beginning of February certain countries close to China were closing their borders and most of the world were banning flights to and from the region. The UK had only just confirmed its first case of the virus and WHO had published and released a ‘Preparedness and Response Plan’. There didn’t appear to be any indication of the ensuing catastrophe so on my shopping trip the day after our return there was no thought of anything other than getting essentials and, of course, a bargain or three.

Anyway, the long and short of it all is that when we started to practice ‘Serious Social Distancing’ just over 2 weeks ago there were certain items in our store cupboard we’re happy to know will probably not run out…but then I’m not sure we can live entirely on frozen peas, pickled beetroot, salad cream, tonic water (slimline of course) washing up liquid, tomato ketchup and Jaffa Cakes. At least we have plenty of wine and gin to help us forget any hunger pains in the ensuing weeks.

Stay safe and please…stay at home, protect our NHS, save lives.

#ourNHS #NHSheros #stayathome #covid19 #lockdown #inisolation

Posted in Memories, Nostalgia, Poetry, Witterings

A little bit of Nostalgia…

As a child I only had the luxury of one surviving Grand Parent…and she was quite old too. But I do remember visiting her at her home in Aston on a Sunday afternoon, which was one of the old fashioned ‘back to back’ terraced houses near to Villa Cross.

While sorting through some old photos I found a picture of my parents wedding and they were standing outside Grandma’s house…so i wrote this:-

There’s only four rooms in my Grandmothers house

Two up and two down, life is hard.

No heating or plumbing, bare floorboards frayed rugs,

And the toilet’s out back in the yard.

Now the sitting rooms posh, but no one’s allowed

To sit on the couch to sip tea

It’s covered with sheets and the fires never lit

You can look but don’t touch, leave it be.

There’s a tatty old radio plays crackly songs

It’s the only indulgence she’s got

Cause she aye got a telly nor radiogram

Sings along as she warms up the pot.

There’s a rusty old tin bath she keeps out the back,

Once a week it gets dragged through the door.

Fills it up in the parlour from the kettle she’s boiled

Quickly bathes while it leaks on the floor.

There’s a slight musty smell but it’s pristine and clean,

The front step gets a scrub every day.

With a duster that’s surgically fixed to her hand

The dirt’s quickly shifted away.

My Grandmothers poor as her home will attest

No luxuries has she to boast

But the smile on her face as she opens the door

Shows she’s happy, her family to host.

Posted in Poetry, Witterings

Something Old…

I thought I might share a little of my poetry…this one was originally included in Penguins & Panamas and was inspired by a moment that I experience on an all too regular basis. It’s called ‘At the Top of the Stairs’.

At the top of the stairs I stand wondering,

Hands on hips, then a scratch of the head,

Attempting to recall a memory

That all of a sudden is dead.

I’m trying to gain inspiration

Scanning each bedroom door with a sigh,

Whatever it was lured me up here

Has left me confused, high and dry!

Was it something I wanted to look for?

Or a task that I needed to do?

So I pause for a second to ponder,

No, I don’t have to go to the loo.

There’s no light at the end of this tunnel,

And it won’t be alright on the night.

At the top of the stairs just frustration,

With the chance of remembering, slight.

But now a dilemma has started,

To remain, or give up and go down,

If somebody else sent me up here

That’ll make me appear such a clown.

At the top of the stairs I’m still standing.

Hands on hips, with a memory that flew,

I was sure it was really important,

But now that I’m here…not a clue.

© Jamie Gray 2013 – 2019

Posted in Self Published, Witterings

The Other Side of Me…

When I’d started to think about an appropriate title for my first book I remembered that some months previous I’d started penning the lyrics for a song. I had this romantic notion that having worked in musical theatre for many years I could write a script about the possible ‘goings on’ backstage between members of the cast and crew (and before anyone gets the wrong idea this was all in my imagination of course, and not based on anything that actually occurred)

Briefly, the backstory to the song went something like this…an aging West End Headliner no longer finds himself wanted by producers for any of their latest shows. His partner of many years, a girl from the chorus line, who with his help had made it to principle, no longer saw him as useful…she too no longer wanted him.

He takes a job as the Stage Manager of a provincial theatre and finds himself attracted to another member of the staff, but it’s not clear to him if she feels the same way. As he doesn’t want to get rejected again he adopts a demeanor of disinterest in her, and even though he wants to reveal his feelings…he can’t.

And so he sings

Dreams hide in the shadows, yet unspoken through fear,

As I dare not reveal them just in case she won’t hear.

So afraid of rejection and the pain of before, here concealed by the darkness

Will love pass by my door?

And then she looks at me, the demons disappear, I long to be

That special someone that she hopes to see,

And I pray she’ll free the other side.

I know if she were mine forever in my heart a light will shine

To show the way, tomorrow we’d define

If she opened up the other side of me.

But how do I tell her and just what should I say? She may not feel the same as I do.

Then she’ll think that I’m foolish, it may push her away,

Then my pitiful life would be through.

But then she smiles my way with eyes so full of love that I must stay

To be with her for more than just this day,

I just have to be the other side of me.

And when you look at me I hope you see the one you’ll love, and we

Will always be together endlessly,

And there can be another side.

Please say you’ll be right here to hold my hand and chase away this fear.

My every dream becoming crystal clear,

As you open up the other side...

I know that there’s another side…

Please God she frees the other side of me.

© Jamie Gray 2019

Posted in Self Published, Witterings

Is it me?…

I really don’t want this to sounds like ‘sour grapes’, but after working for over three years writing and perfecting my first novel, ‘The Other Side of Me’, (shameless plug) then spending hundreds of hours composing interest letters, along with a concise synopsis, to send off to the many, many literary agents around, why did I not have even a sniff of interest?

I was desperate to know why.

Okay, I understand that the most obvious answer is definitely not the one I want to hear…in fact I believe that everyone who has put heart and soul into their manuscript would never admit (or accept) they’ve turned out a piece of rubbish.

And quite right too, because why would anyone commit so much of their valuable time to a project that they genuinely didn’t believe was going to be successful. I truly believed in my story, my characters and my ability to assemble each and every aspect of my imagination into a readable manuscript…as I also believe that everyone who has ever put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) in an effort to entertain others does too.

My second novel, ‘Penguins & Panamas’ (shameless plug number 2) took me less time to write, but I’ve subsequently spent many more hours trying to tempt some kind-hearted agent to take pity on me and proffer their support. Alas the result has been an identical lack of interest.

I was starting to think that maybe my family and friends, having read my books, were being too kind…maybe I wasn’t a good writer after all.

So, in the name of research I trolled Amazon for other ‘self-published’ works in order to obtain, read and compare the work of various other aspiring writers to mine. I wanted to see if I could gain any insight into why so many of us are turned down.

I ended up (generally) reading stories that I absolutely loved. They were well written, had believable characters and provided various emotional responses. The sort of thing you would expect from a good book, and certainly on a par with some of my favourite ‘well-known’ authors (who of course I won’t name, just in case they read this and are offended by some unknown saying that some other unknown is as good a storyteller as them)

So…I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s them and not us…well most of us.

Book shop shelves are teeming with ‘Celeb Books’ who of course already have a large fan base who will readily buy anything their icon puts their name to. So I suppose it fair to say that agents and publishers are so busy with this, along with their regular writers, that they have no time or capacity for us normal, hard working, cash strapped writers.

So take heart all you great scribblers who’ve been rejected, I can honestly suggest that it’s not your fault.

Oh My Gosh…these grapes are so sour…anyone got sugar?