THE ENGLISHMAN ABROAD

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Twixt birthing night and withering day

a fire blue fleeting fugitive sundown

free spirit’s very own circadian pageant

a fanciful canvass upon heavenly cupola

showcasing those everlasting sparkling stars

they rub eyes, yawn, awaken, flaunt their stuff

all this, compliments of the divine continuum

a wonder lost upon the Englishman abroad

boiling alive in nature’s own oppressive sauna

sweet dream deprivation, superannuated mattress

mosquito net inconvenience, creature hullabaloo

come night-time’s absolute all that lives feeds

on prey of choice or procreates vociferously

save those who wail the death throw ballad

in the tropics, all that can stir, stirs, a given

first light affords small comfort, another day

of linen shirts and sweaty armpits, brow wiping

‘Give me a bare-breasted native girl to towel me down

another to fan me, better still a buxom serving wench

and a yard of porter back in a reeking Soho ale house

give me back the pissing rain of Olde England fair

take me away from this hellhole, magic me home’

such were the days of Empire mercantilism

balance ‘tween beauty and banknote adrift

preferring London’s open sewers, mother’s ruin

not the virgin abundance within the new lands

yet, more guineas to earn, deepest pockets to fill

he, his kind all castaway mongrel white knights

thieving gold and spices the eight black pawns

neglect, gifting them a Union flag to bow to, an

English speaking, pale skinned latest edition Christ

to put on a pedestal, pay homage to and hold dear

 

 

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62 thoughts on “THE ENGLISHMAN ABROAD

    • Any honest Englishman should carry the guilt of his forefathers you know…stops (or should stop) bad things happening in our name in the ‘now’ that way. Imagine my trauma when the national anthem is played. Me, an atheist, republican…and the first line reads, ‘God save our gracious Queen’…I’m done for, plus our flag has a Christian cross upon it! ‘Tis why I call myself a European that is!

      • Oh I have…great, great, great (not sure how many ‘greats’ without going through my papers now filed away) grandmother (got back to 1779) on paternal side of ‘traveller’ stock! Her name (true this is) Eliza Mean!

    • Love it!! I have Scuffles. yes. In fact it was the way the noble and illustrious Thomas Montague Scuffle, born in Farnborough Work hoose pronounced the equally noble and illustrious name Scoville as in the Descovilles who partly inspired hardy’s Durbervilles. How low, how low, have my lot fallen since they were the scourge of Brockley.

      • I think that makes you much posher than me…then most people are much posher than I am. ‘Steeden’ has its origins in horses adding more credence to the ‘traveller’ premise. I don’t think we knew each other when I posted the true tale of a mad shire horse, a campsite washing line, a pair of polka dot (red dots) bikini bottoms and me! I am not very good with horses…must dig it out for a reblog.

    • Me posh? Eh right, as we say here. As for horses…Eh am not even going to start about the time this poash county bint needed help being put on one while me and Mr were humbly oot walking one day. But I bet your lot wis posher than mine. x

      • Just did. It was I recall a tale that was in the book I deleted all those years ago. Re-wrote it for the blog in early 2014 yet by the looks of it, it needs some fine tuning before let loose again.

      • Mike Steeden, you are your own worst critic. That is good in a way , but if you ever delete a book again I will personally break yir fingers. The wrath of the Shey is awful you know x

      • I have been heeding your wise words of late…to the extent I am running with two versions of my writing thing presently – although I guess you may think that somewhat stupid…I do and I’m the one doing it!

    • I don’t think that is daft Mike. Any story requires flexibility if you want it out there. I know I just write. I never have a plot or a clue where I am going. that is the honest truth. But there’s points where the spanner gets in the works and then things can split and there’s also points where you think…this story is working better than the other. I know when I wrote the first bit of Splendor, the hero’s mistress was nice and she had quickly got engaged to another man to save herself from ruin because the hero won’t marry her, just as the book opens. But then one day I realised that it was casting the hero in an even worse light that he was doing stuff to make her jealous and using th4e heroine to win this woman back when he had no intention of ever marrying her. Also I thought why would an insipid bint like this attract a man like him? So I had to change that and make this mistress an absolute cow who has got engaged BUT she has no intentions of marrying anyone, except the hero. It’s a game, pure and simple. So for a bit I had two first halves of the same story. I went with the second one because I think it made for a different and stronger story. So just keep doing what works for you and a hold of both drafts. x

      • My thanks as ever. I have a cad or coward (or a bit of both) dilemma not that unsimilar truth be told. The issue causing me the biggest ‘thinking issue’ is that one tale seems well-crafted, fine words yet self-indulgent (if I were a critic that’s probably what I say about it); the other, pacier, easy to read, yet far, far more direct, more risqué. Shirley thinks the latter is best in that she commented, ‘You’ve got a dirty mind, run with it, it has more chance of selling’ – she meant that in a good way I stress. Heart wants something classical as in version one; head says go with the risqué one! Choices, choices!

    • Mike what I would say is run with your strengths and if that is a dirty mind, so what? Ok.. Here’s the deal in a nutshell. The writing world these days is a brutal arena no-one in their ‘WRITE’ ha ha– mind enters . I have written one way or another…as in to sell…for years. I even used to routinely knock out picture story books for the Bunty and the M + J. I used to hear writers yelping at the powers that were that they were artists. Whenever I was asked at these same meetings to change this or that, I thought yeah fine, cos it never pays to be precious about your work. It is about selling. Hell, I even rewrote His Judas Bride in four weeks and wrote a Highland clan out of existence, cos my ed on that book didn’t want two books back to back where the heroine wasn’t who she said she was. I have done all that. HOWEVER, I did have run ins for the first time ever with my new ed on that last book. She wanted a stone circle for the time travel and it to be like Outlander cos she loved that book. Now, they had sat with that manuscript for the best part of a year. For the first time ever in my writing life I thought NO. I will take that story back first because what you want is NOT my story. . I guess what I am saying is it is all the more reason to keep both drafts. till go with your strengths. Decide for yourself what sacrifices you might be making re creativity (BTO, I don’t even like romance. I just write it to have some books out. BUT I do try to write it my way ) Finish both ways. sleep on it. You will decide eventually what is best. I am sure neither Shirl, nor I will let you sit too long x

      • It is clear you work in a cut throat world yet know your enemy well! Know when to put your foot down and when not to. Not sure if my slow burn, non-confrontational demeanour that takes so long to snap (although when it does I tend to lose the plot) would cope. Still what you say fascinates me. Art for art sake that no one reads versus ‘give the punters what they want’ tale that will get (or possibly will get) read.
        With the poetry book (soon to be ‘books’) I was writing them as if they were my ‘gravestone’ i.e. something to leave behind for future generations of Steeden’s to find out more about their nutty old ancestor, yet the book idea (and I must thank you for inspiring that idea) is something different. I am neither rich nor poor, still have, ‘money I haven’t spent yet’ so have never really considered the potential for profit until Shirl said that ‘why waste a year for something that will gather dust, when you could try and make a few quid out of it’. All new territory for me, trading metaphor for story line; alluding toward a point in poetic form v writing coherently (I am thoroughly enjoying the process by the way – old dog/new tricks etc.).
        Getting better ideas for a part of the story already written that when added cause contradictions within the whole story to be ironed out…then describing characters features; dress code etc. in full rather that waxing lyrical in poetic form…that irks more than anything!
        I shall work on both versions yet believe the punchy, ‘rude’ one that is ‘well on the way’ toward its initial conclusion will likely win out.
        Indeed, this very day I shall start to write a chunk in the first person as a female no less – having pretty much got the key bits for the first person bloke in place. I just have to decide which female I shall pretend to be when ‘getting into character’! As said previous this is all new to me…great fun for the bloke who failed O Level English (and still can’t spell for toffee) all those years gone. If I am cursed, then the curse is knowing so many words yet being unable to spell most of the same way twice in a row

    • Failed your O level English and cannae spell? Mike what an eedjit the system is when you write like you do. Bloody fools. I have always believed in knowing my enemies. That goes all the way back. Even if you don’t need to do this for financial reasons. (I suddenly thought I must sound like this GOTTO HAVE THE DOSH AT ALL COSTS bint, when I am anything but,) I still think you would want your work to be seen. Also it is possible to write a commercially viable book that still has enough of you in it. There are things you don’t compromise. that is what I mean by going with your strengths and it is possible to take your wonderful way with words and still make it commercial. I really wrestled with writing this romance stuff. it is not my scene. but I was at the end of my lolly knocking on doors, having books accepted by small presses that went burst and agents were interested but wanted you to write something else, etc–this was before the ebook revolution. Anyway I decided to have a go and I did get interest from the revolting Mills and Boon on the book that many years later became Loving Lady Lazuli. I tell you, at this point I thought it would be my worst nightmare to write for them. I realized there was compromise and compromise and I could not turn this kind of shit out where people have to be perfect, the wee woman, obedient, the hero, protective …No fecking way. . But I did want out there with a desperation that bordered on the insane. So I went back to the drawing board and I thought about what I feel I can do reasonably ok and how I could work a romance from that. Like I feel I try to be funny and quirky and call it like it is, but I am always interested in people’s demons and what drives them, so it is their flaws I want to get at. I do try to stick to that and I’ve been lucky enough to find publishers—whatever their faults– who let me write these kind of people. . I don’t feel what I do is compromise, just not my first choice is all. I think if you keep enough of yourself then it is not compromise.

      • You certainly didn’t sound like ‘I’ve got to have the dosh’ at all…your passion for writing shines through and as I’ve said previous, is infectious. You seem a bit like a football manager plus the whole team combined and seeking out a method of tactics that will ensure victory over a mighty oppenent. From the enlightening things you’ve taken time out to comment upon (truly appreciated) I now have an insight I didn’t have before; I have learned of things I did not know…brilliant stuff. The only thing about going what I call the ‘Shirley route’ with this book is that the one thing I will lose ‘a bit of me’…or better put, quite a lot of me, out of necessity yet is that a problem? Maybe not as the style of writing for poetry won’t change and as yet I haven’t claimed a style of writing in terms of books! One could argue nothing lost. My thanks any way.
        As to my spelling just the other day filling a form in, in front of the person who wanted the bloody form I got stuck writing my forename…the dreaded, is it ‘Michael’ or ‘Micheal’ struck again! Maybe in this day and age the system might have sorted me out. My musician son has a 12-page report detailing the extent of his dyslexia and another, albeit smaller report, confirming his acute colour blindness (my 2.5-year-old grandson beat George at a colour matching game just last weekend and G is 23!). Mind, he still got a 1st with his degree.
        Even writing replies/comments I have to type them in Word then copy and paste for fear of otherwise seeming a fool. I actually quite enjoy getting confused with spelling and mixing up words. Shirl has a sense of humour as I hope do I and the ludicrous nature of some of my errors are the stuff of legend in our house.

      • Hee he, yir too kind but it comes from an upbringing where my dad said, you can’t eat your canvas and the cemetery is full of Laurence Oliviers and Viv Leighs. I do love your son’s music by the way, what you have let us hear of it. He obviously know his craft back to front. Personally I don’t know there is such a thing as perfection. Let’s face it, how often do we look at a piece and think it is shit and I need to sort it and you keep at it. Yeah you might get something you then think is brilliant….on that day and that time you look at it. There is knowing when something is wrong with your work and what you need to work at but that is a different thing. Have you ever read Orwelll’s Keep the aspidistra flying? It is about a writer and like that he so wants perfection and art etc, often his novel gets ‘unwritten’. So he has less words at the end of the week than he started with. it never gets any better and he agonizes over every sentence. Should it go this way? Should it go that way? Instead of getting the fecking thing on the page. (All quite funny) I do think every truly creative person wrestles with this but at the end of the day those who succeed are the ones who get it on the page cos you then have something to put out there. Now, there’s also bread and butter money and jam money. Jingles pay well and they continue to pay. I don’t think it is a sacrifice of your art to do some mumsie shit , take the dosh and fund the projects that are art to you. I say that having stepped back from Mills and Boon that time cos I thought no way could I knock out 75 thou words of this shit nonstop. The 75 thou words was just too much. I was trying and I was sleeping at the keyboard, it was such soppy shit. If I could have knocked out like 10 thou words now under another name, yeah I’d a done it. But these places all have constraints on word court etc. It’s hard for young people today to find their way Mike. A lot of them are just working like your son, and the fact they are at home makes that possible. But what can you do? Very difficult

      • You know I don’t think he’ll ever change this, ‘It’s got to be perfect’. Even this ‘day off’ wet Bank Holiday he’s announced, ‘That’s it…I’m giving up for the day, nothing is fitting together as planned’ – he refuses to swear by the way, hence stress bottles up within. Never mind. You’re right though it’s bloody hard for young people these days. When my old man put it bluntly when I was the same age as G saying, ‘Get a job today or f**k off’ I (albeit lasting far too long at a parental home I would doss down in when not dossing elsewhere) I popped into town to an agency and had a well-paid job by lunch time, notwithstanding my long hair and pink velvet flares!
        One of the reasons we bought this old place was so that he could effectively have his own quarters.
        Never mind, the weather I hear is on the mend, France beckons in June, all I need now is the ability to write today – empty head for the first time in weeks!
        I’ve not read Mills & Boone yet have seen bespectacled ladies on trains (and my old mum when alive also) reading them. You did well to avoid that gig…the covers alone are uninspiring enough, Lord knows what the read is like. Shirl said they are template written, same story each and every time books.
        As to a possible pseudonym dear Shirl thinks a female name might work best for me yet thus far the ones thrown in my direction are beyond silly, some downright crude.

    • Oh hell I have that kind of spelling prob with numbers. I get them all the wrong way round. Don’t ever worry about cutting and pasting when you are replying to me. Talent obviously runs in your family’s veins. No need to worry re the small stuff. You are always very kind to me. Keep up the good work and you know–another thing– it is like everything else, we have all been there re compromise. You sleep on these things, you keep both doors open, then one day you will just wake up and know what is the right way for you. I honestly think you have such talent, you will find the way to go the Shirl route without sacrificing, that you will bring you and your strengths to this. You can actually govern how much of you is still there. The important thing is to write, write both. I am sure you will then choose. Also, quite a lot of authors have two personas and pen names and write two entirely different genres. Noelle Clark for example also writes as Nikki Dee Houston. She’s a hoot if you come across her at any facebook events cos Nikki always gate crashes and starts insulting Noelle. I could name some others but I found out their secret out by mistake and I have said I won’t tell. So always remember, if you feel you are compromising, there’s safety nets that way. Never do anything when you are writing that you are un happy with. .

      • Art! Or perhaps staying true to one’s art. My George for example. 157 job apps over the best part of 2 years now, not one interview even! So he gets 25 hours a week in a café (he hates it because old ladies engage him in conversations about the weather) so he can carry on composing his various genre music. Presently, orchestral sound art in his forever growing magnificent portfolio. Save for brass there is not an instrument he cannot play. He works hour upon hour to mix and master his compositions, never varies the routine, ever! All this time though he has not finished his website; not got his SoundCloud, YouTube channel tarted up all professional therefore hasn’t got that crucial thing ‘followers’…he won’t do that until his ‘art’ is perfect. A nutter in many ways yet so overly true to his art it is costing him his life almost. The radio station Heart FM last autumn were all over him like a rash to write their jingles. They wanted ‘Mumsie’ style jingles. He backed them as it was not ‘art’! “Yes George but it’s f**king money” say I, to no avail. We love him dearly I stress.
        This very day he tried, for the umpteenth time to heat up a tin of baked beans. The concept of ‘simmer’ is alien to him, as is the part a high or low flame from a gas ring play in the heating up of tinned food! Often he goes without eating lunch at all preferring the sanctuary of the top floor and attic where he has fashioned his own studio and lives.
        Why do I mention this? Basically because the view you have conveyed over this thread of valuable conversation is so, so right. I have asked him to read said thread yet likely his mind will be on something else now. Sometimes one has to go with the flow or end up standing still.
        In essence, what you have said is perhaps something all artists – whatever their chosen art might be – should read and digest! Spot on stuff young Sheannemoore

    • I kinda thought that was also why you bought the house Mike. Our girls are settling now. One is just 32. No they cleared off yoinks ago but jeez. I know former neighbours with ‘kids’ still at home, now living there aged 31 with a partner cos they want to do YET another degree. I couldnae stand it. We had Coreen and her fiancé live with us for three weeks there till they got their house, having sold up the flat. They are a lovely couple but it drove me nutz. I have other former neighbours with 3 adult kids at home , all doing part time work. I have a niece and nephew–lovely folk- who just drift and it is made possible cos their dad keeps them. It is a very difficult situation. They are the Peter Pan generation. There’s not a lot of jobs and also a housing shortage in this country. At the end of the day you do your best for your family and it’s bloody difficult to say right…out, fend for yourself like I had to at your age. Fortunately both of mine are independent . Always were. I hope it works out for your son. he’s very talented. Creative folks are driven by a kind of insanity to want to get there. Difficult. Mills and oon? yeah. I did well to avoid them but I see some good writers out there who feel they have not made it unless they get taken on. I know one who wil not consider anyone else and bto her stuff is quite the wrong fit for there. I have told her and told her but she think she can change them… Another who has books out with several companies–good companies– and M and B keep shitting on her, saying they are interested in her work then rejecting her. She’s been off the park for a bit. I bet that is why. I tell yah creative fouks..nowt worse! Get yourself a good pen name one no-one else has. Nowt wrong with a woman’s name.

      • Coincidentally I referred to George as ‘Peter Pan’ just the other day. And as you rightly say there are loads of them out there. His pal from our days in Devon, Degree in Journalism, can’t get a job; living at home. There are others he tells me about still in the same boat. What point a degree these days. Even at Christmas 2014 he applied for seasonal work at both Lidl and Sainsbury’s. Both came back saying, ‘You do not meet our criteria’! As an old socialist it makes my blood boil, not just for my lad but all of them.
        Still, the sun just gone in so back to a bit of writing. Beautiful morning here in Hellfire it was. Even regretted putting the thermal vest on as outside the café ‘people watching’ I boiled alive for the first time this year.
        I have just been mucking about with one of the early ‘self-indulgent’ opening pieces for the book I previously rejected. Put a bookend on it and made it a blog post for later in the week so I am taking your advice and not pressing that old ‘delete’ button anymore. Also, and I think you mentioned that as well…well you did…sometimes a thing that seems rubbish is good when revisited and vice versa.
        Best of good fortune.

    • Do not get me started on the worthless degrees and the sheer bloody amount of degrees in this country. Someone, somewhere is making a fat fucking killing on it, on the loans, on the fees, on the lot. It is a disgrace the whole thing. My younger girl is a trainee lawyer, she was lucky to get on the diploma course, they weed them then. We had to foot the thousands for it.–which we did not have She could not get a loan anywhere, but I was damned if after 4 years of study…and some debt, she was good that way… she could not get further but those with rich folks could. Law is obvi the preserve of the rich. WHile she was studying the only casual work she got off her own back was at the Casino…( Mind you she is a good looking gal and I think that was it.. At one point she was the only female dealer in Scotland in that set of casinos and they would pay her to go all over for the big tournaments. ) The other casual work she go was from knowing someone already there. SO this do not fit is shit but so disheartening. My older girl now has every degree you can name including a masters. She ended up working in Tescos call centre. Fortunately tho I have no time for said firm they do have a grad scheme and they did notice her qualifications and now she is an executive there. But ahrd times indeed. you son will not be alone in what he sways. Glad you are keeping going and he is too though xx

      • A truly mad world we live in. If I were starting out again I think I would train as a magician, then stand for parliament. Expenses paid and an eye for injustice, plus tricks to make crap things (and crap people) disappear!

  1. I never really know what to say after reading your words, and sit for a while trying to conjure something in relation. I don’t have anything, but I know I enjoy reading them, and often feel something every time I do.

    • I meander upon a central theme in my head…at least I think I do. Your own words (you really should write more, or is that me being selfish?) for they have the same effect upon me…surreal with a bite or gentle touch. Words are fine things.

      • Not selfish at all. I do write, it’s more the sharing part that’s stalled. My voice is kinder in images , less opinionated. But your compliment is received graciously, thanks Mike 🙂

  2. I can vouch, the far southern end of the Empire that was, was much better than streets of open London sewers :))))) such is even clear from this poem – Well done Mike

  3. If I had written this I would be slated! But, since you, an Englishman, have, may I just commend you on your honest analysis, penned with such precision, and add that I wholeheartedly agree. We all have skeletons in the national cupboard and they need rattling to keep them in their place. Very well rattled, Mike.

    • My thanks…I am a tad rattled this day as I have put my back out of kilter leaning for a tin of tomato’s from a bottom shelf. Indeed these old bones are rattling something chronic!

  4. Curtains for Boris.

    I enjoy the arena – Bonzo Dog/Flashman/Shrewsbury School…possibly – mimic it myself sometimes, can’t help it really…anyways, can’t get linear with this thought of mine: wiff waff and Keeenya – enjoying the Tory Civil War, shame there’s nobody else.

    Enjoyed the write most of all, chief, and dip into your site, thanks Mike.

    Mat

    • Sometimes I have a ‘Fuck me cried The Duchess’ moment…generally when that twat Boris threatens my European identity. Then again in my own ‘small’ way I am likely to be termed just as much a word beginning with ‘c’ (pre-watershed I think as I am writing this) as he is in a ‘big’ way. Such are the vagaries of life. Good health and wealth Sir.

    • Not at all. I call myself a European rather than be associated with imperialism (a British forte in days of yore when we ‘ruled the waves’) that took what it wanted, when it wanted and gave back just a new white man’s religion. Then again I do not support the monarchy or ever sing a national anthem the first line of which reads, ‘God save our gracious Queen’. As an atheist I am done for on that very first line…I best not speak of our trinity of crosses flag for fear of having a ‘funny turn’ and being rushed away to the looney bin!

      • I think if the vote is to leave the EU good old Nicola Sturgeon (I do rate that gal a lot) will – because of her intellect and honesty) will seek to gain Scottish independence as Scotland has got its act together and wants to stay in the EU as do I very much. Could be interesting times ahead methinks.

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