SOMETHING LIKE HAPPINESS

SOMETHING LIKE HAPPINESS

The end of the tether type night, doing a supermarket relay, I am a team leader of DIY store relays, but here I’m just a skivvy. The Team Leader of the group, was a useless individual, who I had thrown off my team because he couldn’t keep up. Obviously, this led to an awkward atmosphere. And then the fun began. He had me in every bloody deep chest freezer sorting out the stock. I stuck it out for an hour, and then I said that’s it I quit!. I walked out of this god-forsaken store in Huddersfield at midnight.

I got in to my car and drove the seventy miles back towards home. This was my lowest ebb. I stopped at a layby in Northwich. The air was crisp with frost and I just reclined my seat and looked at the stars with tears in my eyes. I had had enough. I gave God a serious talking to…

“Lord, when am I ever going to enjoy this life you have given me. For fifteen years I have forgone my own desires and wishes in life, to provide for my children… Surely there has to be more to life than this? When will I know love, when will I know joy?”

At that stage of my life, my wife and I were barely speaking, I had been sleeping on the sofa for 15 years, when I actually got to be at home. Life was a hellish merry go round of work and arguments. I had pulled the plug on my job… So what next.

I said to God,

“If this is it Lord, I don’t want it, I’m about ready to finish it!”

There was no flash of light, No soft words in my mind… but suddenly a wave of hope transcended my body. I was given a certaity that things would change. I put off the idea to end it and carried on back to my home. The next day I got a letter from the firm where I had had an unsuccessful interview.

It said, they wanted to offer me the job as the original successful applicant had not been suitable.

I began the job the next week.

The love and joy took longer to come to fruition. My Marie had accepted me as a friend on facebook. I was the only person she had friended. I played it cool for eighteen months, but eventually I just had to talk to her. Then I received the love and the joy that I had craved. We had nine glorious years together. I still feel a little short-changed as I was promised 15 years… But still I had nine years of pure love and harmony. Not many people get that.

So I guess I was blessed. Seems to me if you ask with the whole of your heart and soul, your prayers will be answered… Just make sure you know what it is you desire. Follow that dream and you will eventually find Something like Happiness.

Dale M 2021

SLOW SUN

SLOW SUN

Weaving into the bathroom,

Slow eyes quickened by the showers fall,

Desultory sponging down of dirty secrets,

And you, who have no urgency,

Spring up to make tea,

and a flask, perfect little sandwiches,

Which will be demolished before sunrise…

That’s real love.

Secret little fancies, porkpie or chocolate,

a little note in my sandwich box,

an act of devotion.

Out of the door wheeling my bike to the alley,

lights on bike and on my back pack.

Mac on in winter or stowed in the dry,

Spring but before the equinox,

so the slow sun has yet to rise.

And I make the most of the slope,

herd pressed on the pedals to maintain momentum,

But the mile up hill which looks like nothing in a car,

But burns my aching quads like buggery.

Eleven minutes, eleven minutes of avoiding cars,

with no lights or drunken pedestrians throwing bottles,

still not home from the night before.

That was a tough choice, tempted as I was,

To turn back and take on the two inebriates,

But then came sense I am over 50, and they

are but twenty odd and high on something.

Work is a fair exchange for a kicking,

so I peddle on, pride intact, sense prevails.

Get to the top of the road and free wheel into the yard.

Stow my bike around the back and sign in.

Get my keys and lift the roller shutters,

Back my van in and then sort the mail into routes.

Load all the routes on the back of my van…

And then I hit the road again. The fingers of dawn,

Lifting the sun’s sleepy head from the fluffy clouds.

A myriad on hues wash across the Cheshire Plain,

And I am glad to be alive, but not as glad,

As if I could have stayed beside you in our big bed,

And slowly and tenderly explored

The places only we know.

And then back as the slight sun slips back down,

You are there to save me the peddle home,

As eager to see me as I am to see you.

I change out of my work clothes,

And there in the corner, a cup of tea waits,

And as you wash up I grab you by the waist,

and you turn coquettishly, one foot raised,

Like a fifties wife, the way it makes me smile,

As if you are trying to learn to be perfect,

When you could never be less than perfect,

Macushla.

Dale M 2021

THE RIVER SONG

THE RIVER SONG

Pebbles dash down the young brook,

Giggling across the rocks

Like giddy schoolgirls,

The torrent tickles the new path,

scouring out with petulant fingers,

as it tumbles across harder

higher stones of service.

As the terrain levels and

the life-blood gathers

Its notes are more serious,

An educational leaning,

Still fast as a hurrying hare,

It nevertheless leaves greater gravitas.

It talks so fast its great philosophy,

Deeper more significant churning …

Less head-strung more adroit,

Until in middle age its pace

Is less the point than its great size,

Knowledge is the key to learning.

And it’s ways become vague,

meandering off the subject

of its earlier rush,

The call to the ocean is not so

pressing as the ozone licks its mouth…

And there it comes to its fruition,

The knowledge shared in the awesome swell.

DALE M 2021

SILENCE

SILENCE

Silence sits on my shoulder waiting,

will I ever let it slip in?

Three safeguards:

The television,

my laptop,

my phone.

I am so afraid of silence,

It stalks me with pointed stares,

Jeering at me with sign language,

A finger across my throat,

A cacophony of abstract images,

The dark places where no screams exit.

Even in sleep I cannot allow it in.

I put on books through the night,

a soothing voice saving me from descent,

Into the pit of silence.

In silence my lovers eyes plead,

Why have you forsaken me?

Lover I will never forsake you…

But the picture of your mortality,

Jars so vividly with your vivacious life.

The dichotomy is too profound,

If I can’t hear you but only see,

I’d rather keep the silence drowned,

pressed deep down below…

The belligerent patter

of superficial sounds.

Dale m 2021

SPIT IT OUT

SPIT IT OUT

Wednesdays were both the worst and best of days. September 1974, my brother just four months dead and buried. I coped with brittle dark humour, trying to roll with the heavy swell of emotions as they broke and crashed around me.

Wednesday morning, the worst straight off the bat, Assembley followed by double latin. Double Latin, never was there a phrase which could evoke so much anguish. It was not just that the language was dead and dusty, but the fact that the old crippled teacher, Miss Morton, was totally devoid of humour and lacked the ability to make the dry texts remotely interesting. She would have us stand up with a verse of Homer and expect us to be able to extemporise a translation without the aid of a dictionary. We were kids from working class backgrounds, not the little rich day pupils and boarders that she had been used to, we had not the Latin gleaned from Prep school, we had only learnt how to run away from bullies, and not had the first inkling of how to conjugate verbs in English let alone Latin, French or Spanish…

I was however quite good at getting the drift of what the verse was about, and so I would translate it but with a twist… I would try to include as much sexual innuendo and bawdiness into the translation as I could without evoking Miss Morton’s wrath.

On this day I had managed to translate that the hero had been pricked by thorns as he went through the undergrowth. This I was able to translate into a wonderfully gay allusion, where his friend had pulled out his prick…The class erupted in laughter and Miss Morton looked up from her copy of the Iliad, trying to ascertain why the class were laughing, she hadn’t caught the smutty translation as it was mostly accurate, but slowly my words began to sink into her innocent mind, to be fair I don’t think she had ever seen a prick, and none of the Grammar school girls would have ever made such a lewd comment.

It was a picture in slow motion stop action film making, she slowly reddened from the neck up to her ears. She began to splutter as she tried to get the words out…

“come on Miss, spit it out..”

The words gurgled up from the depths of her being and she screamed,

“DALE BECK GET OUT OF MY CLASSROOM!”

I shuffled off to my bag and shouldered it as I made my way to the door. She limped across the classroom after me and caught me outside the door, she grabbed me by the arm pulled me around and slapped me hard across the face.

“If you’re brother was anything like you, I’m glad he’s dead!!”

Just let that sink in a moment, my brother a 10 year old had been hung from a tree when the rope swing got tangled around his neck. Just four months had elasped since his death, I was still in turmoil, but tried to hide the tears that welled twenty times a day. I was so shocked I was lost for a response.

I turned on my heels and walked out of the school.

My Mom took me back into school at lunchtime and accompanied me into my tutor’s room. She told me to tell him what the witch had said to me. I told him. He denied that she had said it.

“So you think I’m lying?”

“No I don’t mean that, obviously she was upset, she finds you difficult to cope with, you will have to try to meet her half way.”

I did meet her half-way. As I said at the start Wednesday’s were the best and worst of days. The best was double games in the afternoon, where I could play rugby and football… So my means of meeting her half-way? I wouldn’t come in until the afternoon on a Wednesday. An arrangement which suited us both just fine. And lasted until the next term when I dropped Latin after three horrible years and took up Spanish instead.

School was such a formative experience.

DALE M