There will be no call from Reception this Valentine’s Day

To tell me that something has been delivered for me to collect.

No walk through the office avoiding eye contact, brushing away

Comments like “Something has come for you, Horace, I expect.”

No, grinning Lady at the desk holding a big Helium filled balloon

Of a gorilla, or a giraffe or some such thing with mandatory hearts

And Happy Valentine’s Day message in various colours including maroon.

I’d have given anything to pop them. “Anyone have any darts?”

Then the problem of getting them all into the lift without blocking the door.

Now the walk back to the Department, always the worst bit to endure

Looking like an idiot with huge helium balloons as I walked across the floor

Knowing everyone was looking and laughing, every year there were more.

At home I knew she would be sitting in her chair giggling at her bit of fun

And thinking how smart she had been and preparing to tease me all night!

Her chair is empty now, her jokes have stopped, no one comes when I call, Hun.

Would I want to be embarrassed like that that on Feb 14th? You’re too darn right!

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Mother dear it’s not fair.

You said you want to cut my hair

If so, why is Uncle in the chair?

Oh my sweet son and heir

You really must learn to share.

Of that virtue please be aware.

Dearest Mama I really do despair

That no way will that chair I snare.

That is today my biggest bugbear.

O little one please be very aware

That I decide whose head goes bare.

I suggest you take your sulk elsewhere.

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A Donkey’s Tale

On Monday you give the States of Guernsey a donkey, a stick, some string and a carrot and ask them to move the donkey from Town to the Bridge by Wednesday latest.

On Friday a donkey wanders into Torteval. Its head is covered in lumps where it has been beaten with a stick. An elaborate harness has been contrived from string which does little but cause the poor creature much distress as it cuts and chafes its legs.

I won’t tell you where they shoved the carrot.

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I Knew a Nazi

The terrible events in Charlottesville reminded me that the only Nazi I’ve ever knowingly met was nothing like the vile thugs I watched on news streamed over the Internet. She was a quite lovely lady with wonderful memories she shared with me as a little boy.

The Countess, forgive me but I can’t remember her actual name, she liked to be called Countess was a very strange hire by my farmer father in a long ago time when the sun always shone. I can’t recall exactly how old I was but I’d say about 8 or 9. The Countess had heard that Dad was looking for a farm worker who could hand milk and she turned up explaining that she learnt to hand milk on her father’s Austrian estate before the war.

She had a stereotypical educated German accent and a natural commanding way. She was, for her age, obviously a striking woman but I was pre puberty and didn’t really take that in. It may have given her a bit of an edge when Dad interviewed her. She got the job but because Mum hated her from the first moment they met it was for a trial period.

The Countess was obviously used to having servants and she soon had everyone running about getting her things or doing some of her heavier work. Even Dad used to boil kettles at the crack of dawn to ensure the water she used to wash the cow’s udder prior to milking was nice and warm.

It was summer and the cows were tethered in fields some way away from the farm. The Countess would ride in the tractor pulled trailer but only after bales of hay were found to make her comfortable. I would go along because it was during the holidays and she would have me carrying and fetching for her.

She could milk but she didn’t like the cows moving around and one of my jobs was to hold it still while she milked it. It was then she would tell stories of her grand life before the war. It was very Sound of Music with her father an Austrian nobleman managing his vast estate. 

She was a beautiful young woman, her words, the belle of every ball. She eventually found herself in Berlin High Society and she developed a crush on Herr Hitler. She joined the Nazi party and was “a low number” of which she was very proud. Gradually she got into the Fuhrer’s social circle and lived some sort of magical life.

I told Mum these stories and she said that’s what they were, just stories. The Countess was a liar. 

I told the Countess what Mum had said. This was the time when it was decided the Countess should leave. She was quite sad and just before she left she brought a photograph album to show me. Lots of glossy black and white pictures of ladies in slinky dresses and men in fancy uniforms. She pointed herself out in one and I could see it was a much younger version of herself.

She was at a fancy dining table. The man sat next to her I recognised as Adolf Hitler. She pointed out other men whose names I only knew from a playground song about testicles. She was telling the truth.

Are you familiar with the Kevin Bacon six degrees of separatio? Well there’s only one degree of separation between me and Hitler. Can you beat that?

She was a Nazi, she did know Hitler and she was a very nice lady. 

Years later I was reminiscing about the Countess with Dad. Mum had given him hell until he fired her. He did add a bit to her story which was she was from a Jewish family and had to make a quick exit just before the invasion of Poland. Now I’ve no idea if she was telling the truth or was just trying to get around Anti German sentiment in Guernsey at that time. Who knows?

But I do know that I knew a real Nazi and that she knew Hitler. 

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The Bunny that Shrieked in the Night

The Bunny that shrieked in the night

Woke me from a deep sleep, full of fright.

The three dogs that use 97% of my bed

Were shaking, their eyes full of dread.

The Bunny, in pain, shrieked once more 

Just as the black cat came through the door.

Mystery solved, Bunny was cat Zero's trophy prey

Brought home as tribute which somehow got away.

Following the three quaking dogs line of sight

I saw it hidden under the chair, jammed tight.

What to do, what to do? Don't Panic, sort it out.

Zero calmly advanced to finish her kill. No, I shout.

The Bunny withdraws further under the armchair 

Hoping to find a way to escape but life's not fair

And Zero is waiting there the seeds of death sown.

I can't see what's happening but I hear a crack of bone.

I sit here now killing time before I clear the carcass

Please don't judge my cat she isn't really heartless.

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The Meadow

I've cut a path through my old meadow

And made the long wild grass short and low.

This makes it easier for me to amble

Through the wild flowers that ramble

Amongst the variety of grasses.

I stop and raise my trusty field glasses,

Yes, it's a wren. There she goes again and

She's replaced with flashes of gold so grand

As my favourite, the Goldfinches, feed on seeds.

Everyone should own a meadow, full of blooming weeds.

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My Old Tractor

There’s something about an old tractor that makes my poor heart sing. 

Give me an old grey Fergie with tinwork dotted with rust

And you give me a wonderful tractor which I can love and trust.

It maybe because it was my first one, and I let nostalgia rule

But driving an Old T20 makes me feel young and cool.

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