Cats and Shoplifters

After some good acceptance news in the middle of the week—I know you’re all desperately hanging in there and waiting for my annual “stat attack”; it’s coming, I promise—the week has drawn to a close on a sad note.

We had to say good bye to our beloved cat, Wilbur, on Friday. The poor lad has been poorly for a while. We thought we’d lost him in the summer, but he seemed to rally. However, the last few days saw him take a downward turn, and after a trip to the V.E.T’s on Wednesday it was decided there was nothing could be done for him. My wife and I took him on on Friday and let’s just say that there were tears…

While I think he left us with some lives in the bank – he was more of a lover than a fighter, he certainly had more than his share of names. Florence had named him Wilbur after the cat from Winnie The Witch. She adored those books when we got him about 9 years ago, so Wilbur it was to be. My choice of Alan was rejected, but one day I will prevail.

However, on top of Wilbur there was also: Prince Fur I, Captai, El Capitano, Prince Floof, Prince Wilbur of Catland, The Floof, Floofy Bollocks, Old Floofy Bollocks, The Bollock, Little Twat, His Nibs, Mr Wilb, Mr Wilbs, Knobhead, Knobbo, El Knobbo, Knobbolino The Riches Cat, El Knobbolino, Lad, The Lad, Laddo, The Wanker, Little Man, Prince Fluffy Trousers, Shithead, Best Boy, Handsome Prince, Sausage Chops, Wilbo Baggins and almost certainly many other names that I’ve forgotten.

Fare thee well, Knobbo.

There are always articles floating round that try and define the poetry experience, or what is poetry, etc. I can’t think of any that have ever precisely nailed it. I’m not sure there ever will be, or even needs to be, but I quite enjoyed this quote from Roy Marshall this week.

While it’s not a definition of what poetry is, I think this as close to a definition of writing a poem as I’ve seen for a while. NB other definitions are available and your statutory definition rights remain unaffected. I liked this particular note as it reminded me of two moments from across the years.

The first being the young me shoplifting some ink cartridges from Roys of Wroxham‘s stationery department. I must have been no more than 10, but needed them for the fountain pen I was already using because I thought I was a poet then. Arguably I was more of one then than I am now, but let’s gloss over that. Oh, the giddy rush of stuffing them up my jumper sleeve and meeting my parents in the car park…I’d attempt some sort of reference to Shoplifters of the World Unite, but Morrissey is a twat, so I won’t.

The other moment was having thought about the above story, I bumped into a colleague of mine for the first time in about a year. We met in the office at work. We are having to clear our desks while we move offices. It turned out that it would be the last day we spend in that office after the work from home rules came in this weeks, so it might be the last time I see him for a while.

The connection, and there is one, honest, is that he gave me a lovely bottle of ink, Diamine Presidential Blue, to take home. It’s not the strongest link, I grant you, but there’s been enough happening this week, so take it or leave it.

Given everything that has happened this week, the despicable changes in the Citizenship laws, the lying and cheating that’s been uncovered (that doesn’t seem the right word, given all that we know about our “leaders”), I was grateful for this poem landing in my inbox.

I noted a few weeks ago how much I’d quickly fallen in love with Vona Groake’s work after finding it in a magazine. I’ve bought one of her collections, but have yet start it. However, this poem arriving means I am going to be pulling her book to the top of the TBR pile.

For Now

Vona Groarke

Call it quits on a night of rain,
excitable rain that fizzes and simmers
as though it’s been waiting years to declare
what it has to declare, and gives the world
an imperative and an urgency. All we can do
is marshal attention, allow the day to dissolve,
as it does, in the nothing of our doing
and the nothing we have done.

That this rain hammers itself home
barely needs to be said. In between,
in the half-held breath, listen for
a sideways shift from Chains to Change,
Wrong to Rung, Seethe to Seed
and, eventually, No to Now.

Day will happen, will break, they say
and when it’s done, they’ll say it has broken
and we (by ‘we’, I mean, of course, You and I)
will spend it fitting edge to edge, hour to hour
to convince ourselves a pattern is discernible
for betterment, for focus, for the best.

Whether we are there to divine it
or whether we are not.

Shared by Poetry Daily

There’s an optimism about this that I like, and for that alone, I think I will love this forever.

22K running.
0 hangovers
1 car breakdown- but not mine. Although it was in the same spot on the same night a week later. Weird.
1 car battery bought and fitted
1 precious cat lost, 1 cat still left
1 house decorated for Xmas
1 pint of blood given
0 rejection: this week
0 poems finished:
1 poems worked on: Nature Abhors a Vacuum but I bloody love it
2 submissions: Mary Evans Picture Library, The High Window
1 acceptance: Mary Evans Picture Library
32 poems currently out for submission.
72 Published poems*: Was 69, but one was not used in the end, having been accepted.
40 Poems* finished by unpublished
25 poems* in various states of undress
554 Rejected poems* Eg I’ve decided they are not good enough
3 reviews to write: How did that happen, I’ve gone from 1 to do to having more…Hmmm
1 day without cigarettes…I was doing well…
0 Days since drinking
1 sleepless nights: This is not a development I approve of
1 more week that I’m not having an affair with Eva Green

* To date, not this week. Christ!!

Uh Huh, etc
The Sectors


Alice Oswald:Nobody
Naomi Foyle: Importents
Poetry London 100

Olafur Arnalds: Eulogy for Evolution, Dyad 1909, And They Have Escaped The Weight of Darkness
Octopus Project: Hello Avalanche
Demon Fuzz: Afreaka
Matthew Halsall: Salute To The Sun (Live)
Arooj Aftab: Vulture Prince
Deep Throat Choir: In Order To Know You
Massacre Massacre: Bunkaa 1
Fleet Foxes : A Very Lonely Solstice
Don Cherry: Live At Cafe Monmartre
Old Canes: Early Morning Hymns
Andrew Scott/Ryan Jewell/Ryley Walker: Post Wook
Explosions In The Sky: Those Who Tell The Truth, The Wilderness, Take Care Take Care Take Care
Caspian: The Four Trees
Bardo Pond: Amanita, Vol. 1, Dilate, LapsedBalmorhea: The Wind
Pearl Jam: Vitalogy, Riot Act
Dropsonde Playlist
Michael Nesmith: Texas Fighter, Pretty Much your Standard Ranch Stash, Magnetic South, Tropical Campfires
Endless Boogie: Admonition
Unwed Sailor: Heavy Age, Look Alive
The Archers
The Verb: Repair Episode
The Foxhole Companion

Little Women
New Girl
Friday Night Lights
Criminal Minds
The Green Knight
The Nine Pens Poetry Evening via Zoom


Stuart Carswell: Earthworks

A song about shoplifting at Tescos. It took me interviewing the now sadly departed Mark Keds to find out while I was at university. There’s probably a post in that.

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