While you sip that pint of yours, take a look around, Bernie. I’ve been thinking about this a lot, the change of behaviour in the pub. See that old couple over there, been married for donkeys years, obviously. The bloke bought two drinks fifteen minutes ago, then sat down next to his wife. They’ve not spoken since. They just stare forward, thoughts confined to their own brain, no communication at all. I reckon that’s not good. They’ve come out for a drink but have nothing to say to each other. Sad, eh?
Yes, Mike, but not unusual. Happened for years. It puts you off marriage, and we’re both married. Maybe that’s why we come to the pub together and always have done. We talk at home then come here and talk to each other, intellectually compatible we are. But it’s not just the old couples, Mike. I’ve been watching the two youngsters in the corner. Probably been together for a few years, not married yet, that’s my guess. She’s pretty, he’s handsome, they look aspirational types. About 25 I’d say. He got them drinks and then sat down next to her. And then? They both started looking at their phones. They’ve been thumbing away for twenty minutes, not a word said between them, not a drop of drink drunk. Now that is sad!
Bloody hell, Bernie. That’s depressing. Good grief! Well, maybe that explains why I turn up to see you every bloody week. A good pint and a good chat. Get me another pint!
I live here
In a house near a city
At the end of a journey
With hum drum and the day to day
I live here
Have lived here
Thity years and more
A wife a daughter now flown
I live here
But I don’t belong here
I belong on a hillside
With my thoughts and my strangeness
I grew on that hillside
Staring into space
Staring down at the valley
Flood and snow and fields of colour
I live here
I cannot go back
To that hillside
Though it is where I belong
I know that
I shall always know that
To the day when breath it leaves me
And returns to that hillside for all time
My sons of Magna Carta
How does it sit with you
This so-called negotiation
With bureaucrats and fonctionnaires
Snarling in the face of democracy
Rejecting the ballot box of millions
With a desire to punish and belittle
It is time
To stand firm and test their mettle
For they fear their own psyches
Their unity a facade
To protect them from themselves
From the cracks within
And if compromise defeats
Then my sons of Magna Carta
Smile and turn and walk away
Hi Bernie. I’ll get you a pint. You look shattered. Been overdoing it over Christmas?
Thanks Mike. Yeh, really done in. Must be the statins.
Statins! How come your doc’s put you on statins? You’re fit as a flea.
Oh, it wasn’t the doc. My wife gave me a bottle of statins, little blue pills, to take. A Christmas present, she said statins would perk me up. But ever since I’ve been dead tired.
Mmm! You’re sure they’re statins, these little blue pills?
Yeh, of course.
Well, since Christmas, I don’t how to put this, has your wife been a lot happier in the bedroom department?
Amazing Mike. Yes, she has. But how on earth did you know I’d bought her a new wardrobe?!
Well, I didn’t spot Robin Hood, but robins, nuthatches, great tits, tree creeper, etc. It was so quiet that I could hear the birds’ wings fluttering when they flew from nearby branches. What a marvellous place! The ‘great oak’ is over a thousand years old but there are so many spooky blasted oaks to enjoy.
I worried about self-publishing but finally had a go, over the last 12 months producing six e-books and five paperbacks through Amazon. Their software is fine. No, I don’t expect to make money. That’s not the point. It’s been about self-discovery and trying to be creative. And a feeling of self-worth!
When I was ten years old I had three or four A4 sized quiz books that I particularly enjoyed. Each had twenty or so pages on which there were twenty questions on history, geography, science, famous people, books, etc. I tried very hard to learn all the answers and, to this day, retain an inordinate number of trivial but often interesting facts in my head, for no good reason.
In one book, on one page, there were questions on geography, including, at the bottom, ink pen sketches of three mountains. One was Everest, the world’s highest mountain at 29000 feet. Another had a strange but distinctive shape that fascinated me. It was named on the answers page as Pen y Ghent, a most peculiar name indeed. I grew up knowing that Pen y Ghent was ‘merely’ a hill in Yorkshire, approximately 2300 feet in height, one of the famous Three Peaks. I vowed that I would climb it one day.
This Christmas my daughter gave me a magnificent present, a weekend away in the Yorkshire Dales. And so, fifty years after my Mum buying me that quiz book, and two days ago, I finally climbed Pen y Ghent in glorious winter sunshine with marvellous views. What a fabulous place!