Ship of Fools

I have not posted anything for some time. There is no particular reason for that other than the distinct possibility that I’ve run out of things to say. The well has gone dry, creatively speaking. I’m in a drought. It may just be a seasonal thing or a permanent climate change.

So I delved into my list of silly poems and dragged out this little (have you seen it before? You’d be unlikely to remember it, anyway) one which seems to reflect my current state of mind.

The world is full of fools but there is no fool like an old fool – left stranded in an increasingly incomprehensible ocean without a paddle ….


There are so many rules

On this ship of fools

That I’m thinking of taking a dive

We’re so fucking old

We don’t need to be told

That not one of us gets out alive

NYC Short Story Challenge

I’ve been a bit quiet lately. My family keeps throwing me into ambulances and dragging me off to hospitals. It’s only a matter of time before I find one of them standing over my bed, pillow in hand, whispering strange biblical quotations with just a glint of a tear in one eye.

Nevertheless I did manage to cobble together an entry to the NYC Short Story 2020 during the period immediately preceding my last confinement and therefore another potential source of shame and embarrassment when the judges take a knife to it.

The good news is that I expect to still be around for next year’s competition.

But, for this year, the requirement was for a 2500 word thriller featuring an addict and an investment. I don’t really do thrillers.

So …. only if you are bored …. here it is.

Down by the Tracks

‘How I spent Christmas’ or ‘Travels in an Ambulance’ an update.

In a recent post which was little more than a sad plea for entirely undeserved sympathy some of you may have registered, I was dragged away kicking and screaming to the hospital on Christmas Eve. It is now the morning of December 29 and I have spent the last few days absorbing tax-payers’ money with all manner of blood tests, X-rays, MRIs, anaesthesia, surgeons, knifes, stitching, machines that go ‘bing!’ and, of course, an assortment of drugs. There are only a few good things in that list. I’ll leave it to you to guess which ones they are.

Has anyone spent much time in hospital? Not a lot happens around here. So this little post is just a way of me filling in time. Don’t bother reading it. You have better things to do.

Further sympathy is not required (or even advisable) – I am more interested in devious escape plans that others might have employed with success. Meg helped me with one that involved several junior members of my family and (for reasons unexplained) a kangaroo. The plan failed.

Background Information.

I am old. One must accept these little inconveniences and indignities with the passing of time.

I have no spleen. That’s right – I am literally spleen-less, due to a moment about one hundred years ago during which I zigged when I should have zagged. The result of that is that I am particularly susceptible to infection – a fact that tends to set off alarm bells with medical types whenever something goes a bit wrong with me.

Are you interested in this? Probably not. More important background information is the fact that Mrs Richmond (and myself, to a lesser extent) had prepared a Christmas lunch consisting of cured trout and caviar, rolled lamb, ham and a peach salad followed by several cakes and deserts. Anyone who knows me would understand that some trouble had been taken with the wine list.

Thus far I have only seen photographs of it. It was served 3 days ago.

Events thus far.

My older son threw me in the car and rushed me to hospital when things started to go pear-shaped. Mrs Richmond was in the shower at the time so, before we left he opened her bathroom door and spoke through the gap, “Hey, Mum, I’m taking stupid to the hospital, see ya!”

Apparently she emerged from the bathroom about 5 minutes later wrapped in a towel.

“What was that all about?” she asked.

My daughter-in-law is Korean and about as unflappable as her husband so replied, matter-of-factly, “oh…. he take Papa to hospital.”

Things ramped up fairly slowly at the hospital with a few fairly boring drugs but it wasn’t long before it became rather more industrial. I was doing some fairly heavy duty swearing, apparently, and the drug regime was wound forward a few notches if for no other reason than to keep the noise down. Even my son was getting a bit concerned at this point and was conducting all these inane one-sided conversations in the hope of diverting my thoughts. He was hugging me and rubbing my back all the while. I am not known as a tactile/human touch sort of person so it was a bit surreal to be softly embraced by a huge, heavily bearded bear. And quite beautiful.

Meanwhile Mrs Richmond had arrived and was questioning everything the doctors did. “What’s happening to him?” “Why are you giving them that?” “Hasn’t he had enough of that already?” “He’s getting worse, give him some more.” That sort of thing.

Eventually my son said to her, “Keep it up Mum. You’ve really got them on their toes. It’s only a matter of time before one of them admits to a fatal error of judgement.”

This quietened her down for a minute or two but, as things deteriorated further she couldn’t help herself, “Do something. Please do something.”

“I’ve already given him enough to kill a brown dog,” one made the mistake of saying.

“You’ve fucking what????”


“What I mean lady, is that we are getting a bit out of our depth. It’s a small hospital [it really is] and it’s best we put him in an ambulance and send him elsewhere.”

And so that’s what happened.

Who of you have spent much time in ambulances? One might intrinsically assume that they would have a smooth ride, like travelling on a waterbed. But the fact is that because of the weight that they have to carry the suspension is very solid. At high speed it’s like travelling in the London to Dhaka rally.

The first thing the guy in the back with me said was, “this isn’t going to be much fun. Slow your breathing down. Slow your breathing down. You want some more morphine?”


A few minutes later, “Slow your breathing down, you don’t look so good. Want some more?”


What seemed like five minutes later, “You’ve really got to slow your breathing down. We’re almost there. How’s it going?”

“Actually …. that last one might have hit the spot.” I was beginning, in fact, to feel nothing.

“That’s it, that’s it. Just slow your breathing down a bit more. One more for the road, then?”

“Another dose of morphine? Are you sure? Is that OK?”

“You can’t have too much of this stuff. Trust me.”


I was willing to trust anybody by then, of course. But I was wondering if my breathing might be in danger of stopping altogether.

In the emergency room I was met by Mrs Richmond and my son. Somehow they had managed to beat the ambulance to the hospital. That was a bit of a disappointment . Thinking back now on events I realise that they didn’t use the siren either. What a rip-off.

My son managed to snap another photo in his collection entitled ‘A Portrait of the Artist as a Very Old Man’. I have since seen it. He was certainly right about one part of it, anyway.

Negotiating a Loan

Cyranny wrote a lovely poem with some inference of lending oneself – so I ran that idea. Again.


Am I asking too much

Just to borrow your touch?

Might I breathe in your breath for a while?

Will you lend me your skin?

Will you let me within?

Might you credit me once for your smile

Will you soon make me whole

Let me mortgage my soul

Let me owe. Let me know. No regret

I will sign any loan

Just to call you my own

With no hope of repaying the debt


No two snowflakes are the same? I don’t believe it.

Cyranny was talking about snowflakes this morning and I’ve always had big questions about this idea of no two of them being the same. I mean …. has anybody actually checked? Until global warming has rendered all snowflakes as redundant the jury has to remain out on the issue, as far as I can tell.

Anyway, I’m stuck here in hospital (no sign of snow out the window) with little inspiration so wrote another silly poem about it.


No two snowflakes look the same

How can that be true?

If I can’t find my special snowflake

What am I to do?

The last one melted in my arms

Under a sky so blue

Now I’m searching every snowflake

Until I find one just like you

Christmas Greetings From Oz

The day is almost done here, but still just awakening elsewhere – so I pass on my good will to all.

My own day didn’t go quite to plan when, at about 7 last night, my son rushed me to hospital.

The experience, as usual, has not been without its laughs.

Upon admitting me the nurse looked up at my son prior to jabbing a few needles in my bum and asking a few personal questions. He’s an ex professional sportsman and, with a massive frame (and beard) and a baseball cap looks a bit threatening. He doesn’t look a whole lot like me.

“Are you related to the patient?” she asked as she pulled down the back of my shorts.

“No,” he replied, dead-pan, “I’m just the Uber driver that brought him in.”

A little later in the evening, when things had gone down hill somewhat and I had changed colour dramatically and was writhing around on the bed mouthing obscenities, he took a photograph of me which he entitled ‘A Portrait of the Artist as a Very Old Man’.

I elected not to include the photograph in this post.

The Butterfly Effect

Meg suggested that I wrote a poem on ‘the butterfly effect’. I’m not sure why. But, as you can see, I created a highly original title for the piece. I’m good like that.

Here’s the theory. I’m sure you are all familiar with it. A butterfly flaps it’s wings in China and a week later there’s a tidal wave in Samoa. Or something like that.

What I take this to mean is that everything, everyone, is connected. Someone smiles in Africa and someone cries in Tibet.

But there is something that made the butterfly flap it’s wings. A subtle change in the wind, perhaps. And what caused that change in the wind? Was it a heatwave in Indonesia? That heatwave may be the result of forest destruction in Brazil. And so on and so on and so on …..

So the wings of a solitary butterfly at one particular moment in time have an impact on all of us and on everything. Just as all of us and everything influence the flight of the butterfly. Everything happens for a reason. Or for no reason at all. Who can really tell the difference?

Not that my poem really has all that much to do with it.


You take a breath in Texas

I exhale in Japan

It’s unbreakable. A nexus

This game. This little plan

Everything directed

Every moment bought and sold

Everything connected

Everything has been foretold

You’re a captive in the prison

Whilst I am chained here to the mast

When there’s no hope, there’s no decision

Because the future is the past

Yet I can hear your thinking

Every thought entwined with mine

While our boat is surely sinking

We are doomed. But feeling fine

It’s a book already read

It’s a song already sung

All our words already said

Our race already run

It’s the butterfly effect

And that’s how it’s meant to be

We act. We don’t direct

But still you flap your wings for me