Araucaria Araucana

I recently visited the weirdest place with my family. Called Robin Hood’s Bower, it has literally nothing to do with Robin Hood – it’s a clearing in Longleat Forest, Wiltshire, where the late Lord Bath decided to randomly plant some monkey puzzle trees.

The clearing is the site of an ancient settlement, and has also been a gathering place for battles of all colours and flavours. But what is particularly eerie about this dark patch in the forest is the evidence of human rituals that take place there to this day. Anyone fancy a night hike?!

It was a place that most definitely needed a poem, and you can find it here at Green Ink Poetry:

https://www.greeninkpoetry.co.uk/poetry-submissions-all/nina-parmenter-araucaria-araucana

 

 

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A Tousled Boy

A little poem I wrote upon discovering that Our Beloved Leader messes up his hair before speaking to the press. Glad he has his priorities right. I mean, I’ll grant him, it’s been a quiet month.

A Tousled Boy

This is the hair I used to mess
to win round Nanny. “Oh God bless
that tousled boy,” she used to say
It made the bad stuff go away.

When cricket balls met greenhouse glass,
I’d muss my hair in one quick pass –
“There there,” she’d say. Or, caught pants down
with Daddy’s maid, I’d play the clown –

she’d smile and pass the girl a scone!
It’s different now that Nanny’s gone.
Quite baffling. Take Barnier.
I went FULL RUFFLE. Could not sway

the man. Now even Murdoch seems
immune! The stuff of lurid dreams!
The markets fall, the lorries queue,
I tease each foppish strand askew,

the bodies pile, the untruths stack,
Rees-Mogg is smirking at my back,
the germs mutate. Oh, save me, mop!
Please Nanny? Nanny? Make it stop…

 

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Get Fit with Boris

I don’t really mind that the government are advising us to lose weight, although combining it with incentives to eat out seems not ENTIRELY joined up! Nonetheless, it’s a TERRIFIC opportunity to take the piss, and who am I to refuse.

Get Fit with Boris

Drop your chips and sausage patties,
get in shape for Covid, fatties!
Come on Maureen! Come on Doris!
Let’s get fit with beefy Boris!

OK, let’s start. To get us warm,
we’ll streeetch the truth. Feels good! Now form
a partnership with someone near –
aaand leave. NICE WORK! Next, let’s all veer

towards the right – and right again –
aaand right. Come on now! Feel the pain!
Now sink real low to please the press,
reach out and… take donations! Yes!

You’re doing great! Last thing – let’s weave –
AVOID those questions! Nice work, Steve,
and good job, Raj! Now, who’s with me?
It’s two for one at KFC.

 

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Image: Pixabay

 

 

 

The Lockdown Lament

This one needs no introduction…

The Lockdown Lament

“Oh to spend time with the family!
Freed from our offices! Freed from our schools!
Imagine the hours of harmony!”
That’s what we said, we ignorant fools.

Have you ever tried video-calling New York
to talk about trends in a businessy way
while your kids disembowel the cat with a fork
and your husband walks by with his goods on display?

Have you ever tried tempting the kids from their screens
to do papier-mâché or make lemonade
or have ‘fun with a workout’ (whatever THAT means)
while they pelt you with attitude, grunts or grenades?

Have you ever tried teaching a nine-year-old maths
and a five-year-old spelling whilst muffling a scream
as you realise you’re living with sociopaths?
‘Is this it?’ you enquire. ‘Am I living the dream?’

“Oh to spend time with the family!
Freed from our offices! Freed from our schools!
Imagine the hours of harmony!”
That’s what we said, we ignorant fools.

 

 

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Photo by John Salvino on Unsplash

Home

What do I love about my country? The scenery. The history. The humour. What don’t I love? The hijacking of patriotism. The urge to close doors to the world. The misplaced superiority. And horseradish sauce.

Home

Home is not an iron fence
or a nation’s bullish confidence.
Home is not the salt we sweat
in conflict, nor the traveller met
with distrust and intransigence.

Home is not immune to time
or compromise; no sacred line
partitions it from otherness.
And home is not the hate we dress
as pride, plastic and anodyne.

Home is not a prize we’re due,
a baked philosophy to skew
to every cause we scurry round.
Home is merely borrowed ground –
whichever flag we pin it to.

 

 

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Photo by Andrik Langfield on Unsplash

Mummy’s Millions


I wish Harry and Meghan well. No-one deserves to be mauled and vilified the way Meghan has been – by the press at least.

But in our very British way, we all seem to be obsessed by where they are going to get their money from. Er… I don’t think Harry has any worries in that department.

Mummy’s Millions

People say “Harry, how WILL you two cope
having nothing – apart from each other?”
I say, “Look, don’t you worry – I’m hardly broke,
I am minted! All thanks to my mother.”

Most will remember her caught in the net
of her fame, undeservedly goaded –
which was tragic. But what all you people forget
is that Mummy was totally loaded.

A people’s Princess! Yes she was! There’s no doubt!
She grew up having people all round her!
There were people to cook and to chauffeur her out
to the polo – where Daddy first found her.

She listened with love to the poor and sick,
she spoke out against conflict and hate,
and she kept twenty million under a brick
round the back of the Althorp Estate.

So I don’t need the palace to give me the nod
and the prejudiced press can jog on,
I have served, I have smiled, now I’m taking my wad…
and me and the missus are gone.

 

 

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Photo by William Krause on Unsplash

Measure the Children

The increasingly Orwellian nature of education in this country inspired me to write this. Despite the best efforts of some wonderful teachers, it seems that the emphasis  is firmly on conformity and performance – as if our children were washing machines off a production line.

If it helps by the way, I picture “the meddlers” as being little oompah-loompah-crossed-with-Michael-Gove figures  – but please don’t have nightmares about that!

Measure the Children

The school was a cauldron of mischief and learning,
and children were children, their impish minds turning,
until, at the will of political men
came an army of meddlers with rulers and pens
squealing, “Measure the children, measure them!”

“Let art be abandoned! Let music be killed!”
cried the meddling ones. “There are forms to be filled!”
Then they pored over stories of magical horses
impatiently counting subordinate clauses
to measure the children, measure them.

“More!” they screamed, hurling out brain-popping sums
while the tape measures tangled small fingers and thumbs.
“Forget curiosity! Curb innovation!
We’re sending your teachers for recalibration…
Measure the children, measure them!”

We strive for a future where oneness prevails,
but there’s no place for play on the measuring scales,
and as tables and tests burn the light from their eyes,
we say, “Hush, little citizens, think of the prize…”
and measure the children, measure them.

 

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From Dovecote Hill

Just on the edge of my home town of Bruton, Somerset, lies Dovecote Hill (and yes, it does have a dovecote on it!) From there, you can see the whole town, which, for most of my childhood at least, formed most of my world. So for me, it’s a place of great nostalgia… and for longing for simpler times.

From Dovecote Hill 

From Dovecote Hill, my thoughts spill down on drowsy mill-town streets
and run the maze of alleyways where once my youthful feet
traced winding paths around the huddled houses that complete
this view of all I knew and loved
from Dovecote Hill.

The fields were loving ramparts shielding us from drifting mists
of worldliness – as if this town were all that might exist,
so we grew up as slowly as the silver river twists
through all I see, from here above
on Dovecote Hill.

This frantic, anxious world conspires to see my spirit crawl
and falter, courage crippled by the hugeness of it all.
One sight could help me find once more the strength of being small –
this view of all I knew and loved
from Dovecote Hill.

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Last Tussle in Brussels

Unfortunately, I thought it was time for a Brexit poem. But as the whole thing is a complete farce, I thought I’d make my poem a bit of a farce too (I mean, it could happen, but…)

Last Tussle in Brussels

Somewhere in Brussels, March 2019,
Poor Theresa’d not slept since about Halloween,
But at last it was ready! The dream Brexit treaty,
Which pleased every spluttering zealot so sweetly!

So ready to sign it, she tried not to squeal…
Until Boris burst in and cried “NO BLOODY DEAL!”
Theresa yelled “shut it, you haystack-haired chancer!”
But Europe said “sorry, we’ll take your first answer!”

Then Macron and Barnier, Merkel and Juncker,
Cried “See ya, Theresa, we’re off to the bunker!”
Theresa gave chase; Boris stuck out a toe,
The Jimmy Choos buckled, and down she did go!

The bunker shut! Pawing the intercom button
And licking the speaker, she heard them all tutting,
Then Merkel said “Vile vee regret ze estrangement,
Zey cannot exist vizout formal arrangement!”

Theresa was screaming “JUST LET ME IN NOW!”
But she could have sworn Barnier cried out “KA-POW!”
Then she felt a great shake like the boom of a bomb –
And her satellite glasses showed… Britain was gone!

Well, after some hours of wailing and gnashing,
They found little Britain complaining and splashing
and shivering up by the cold Arctic Circle…
“Best wrap up vorm!” tittered Angela Merkel.

———————————————-

We last saw Theresa all sun-kissed and blustery,
Hiking the warm Euro hillsides of Tuscany,
Boris was found (well was dug up in parts),
With a hot Belgian waffle stuck right up his arse…

As for Britain – it’s time in the cold had begun,
The crops slowly died in the thin arctic sun,
Til a hobbit named Corbyn cried “Right! Who needs feeding?!”
And was hailed as a God with his frost-hardy seedlings.

And somewhere in Dudley, a “leaver” called Norris,
Polished his gold-plated statue of Boris,
And petting his bulldog (with hands somewhat frozen),
He gave a wry smile, and said, “that bloody showed ‘em.”

 

© Nina Parmenter 2018

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Show me a celebrity

I used to be quite good on the celebs. I watched the soaps. I watched reality shows. I knew what films were in the cinema. “Love It!” magazine was stacked welcomingly in my bathroom. (Yes, bathroom. Well, this WAS the time before smart phones.)

And then… something happened. One by one I dropped  the soaps. Then the magazines. Then the reality shows. And in the mean time, celebs were spawning* like shiny, superficial, bunnies. People got famous for being able to put their make-up on quite well. Or for allowing their actual life to be scripted and filmed. And me… well I started a family, free time became a scarcity, but more than anything – I just stopped caring. Was this a reaction to the burgeoning shallowness of society? Nah. Expect it was just my age.

*There’s far too much Minecraft in my house.

Show me a celebrity

I’m forty-one, a wife, a mum,
“But hey!” I cry, “I still feel young!
My hair’s not grey, my teeth are mine,
I’d DEFO pass for thirty-nine!”
But sadly, there’s a tiny flaw,
That gives my age away for sure,
Yep – show me a celebrity,

And I’ll say, “Who the fuck is she?!”

Singers, blingers, strikers, wingers,
TV talent contest winners,
Bloggers, vloggers, shaggers, snoggers,
Over-hyped attention-hoggers,
Debutants and sycophants,
People who look good in pants,
Actors, film stars, soap stars too…

Show me one, and I’ll cry, “WHO?!”

It’s not fair game, they’re all the same,
The women with their shiny manes,
The blokes all buff with facial fluff,
Both sexes caked in orange stuff,
So how am I supposed to know,
Which one’s Georgia Toffolo,
Charlotte Crosby, Stephen Bear,

Who ARE these people? Should I care?!

Cos who has time for reading Heat,
or watching Coronation Street,
And working out who sings each song?
Got too much on! It takes too long!
There’s more to life than people who
I’ve never met. And don’t want to.
So – forty-one. Still young? Still fun?

Nope. I’ve turned into my Mum.

 

©️ Nina Parmenter 2018

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