Category Archives: Special

Shoulder to Shoulder to Day: Firefly’s First Stand – A Re-blog for Day Six

I’m republishing this post because I just want to cheer Emma on, and also give Victoria a bit of support; she has stepped in to keep Shoulder to shoulder to Day going today as the very courageous Rachel is poorly – she gives an interesting insight into her condition on her blog, not to wallow in self-pity (that wouldn’t be her) but to raise awareness. The #S2S2D team send her all the best. And then, of course, it happens to be a bank holiday. (You’ll see how that fits in as you read on!)

A few words of explanation: This post was originally published on my Posterous account, before I had this blog here. It came into being because in real life I tend to be a bit withdrawn – although maybe that is changing a little – and I wanted to imagine myself as more of an extrovert. Was it possible, I asked myself? And then I began to dream…

Well… You might get a laugh. Or a smile. Or a slight snigger…

In a theatre, the auditorium lights dim and a compère walks onto the stage and is picked out by the beam of a spotlight.

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the show ‘Semi-serious Fun’. Thank you for supporting what we hope will be the first of many of these shows. As I’m sure you know, we’ve put together a wide range of acts from a great variety a performers for this evening. And as the opener for tonight we have someone who has never performed on stage before, so let’s give him the jump start he needs. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome…Firefly Phil!

Firefly walks on, to a round of applause. Compère leaves. Firefly takes a piece of paper from his pocket, unfolds it, and begins to speak, looking occasionally at the paper.

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, and thank you again very much for coming tonight. I know the weather isn’t very pleasant out there and many of you have braved heavy rain, lightning, act of God, riot or civil commotion, subsidence or landslip (first £1000 of any claim)…(frowns) Hold on! Something wrong here. (turns over the paper, frowns again, then looks up)Well, that’s a bummer.

Firefly frantically rummages in his pockets. Paper hankies and supermarket receipts fly across the stage.

It’s no good. Must have filed those notes for tonight under ‘insurance’. It figures when you think about it, doesn’t it? Anyway… (reads) Without prejudice to the foregoing… (looks up) I must just say that if the two pretty, smartly dressed (well, almost dressed) young ladies on the front row were to prejudice the foregoing, it would be a shame.

At least this isn’t one of those terribly formal affairs where the men wear enough suiting to cover a decent football pitch. I was talking to a friend of mine about this and he said he thought the women were nearly as bad, although the sport was different. I asked him if he meant, let’s say, netball instead of football. He said, No, he meant Subbuteo.

And that reminds me what I really meant to talk about. You know, I was watching a video the other day about the indoctrination of women by the fashion and cosmetics industry. You can get videos on just about anything now, can’t you? Anything from ‘The structure of the earth’s crust’ to ‘How to lay laminate flooring’. Mind you, all I’d say about those two videos is that if you’ve watched either of them, you can say you’ve watched them both.

Anyhow, you’re probably wondering how I came to be watching this video about women and fashion and what not. Why should it bother me, you might well ask. Well, that’s a very interesting story. Would you like me to tell you? (enthusiastic nodding from audience) That’s a shame, really, because I can’t remember it properly. Only that it all started when I was browsing the web to find out about vacuum cleaners, and then I somehow found this video. And, you see, in this video, the presenter was talking about the cosmetics industry’s idea of the perfect woman. I’ll just quote: “She has no scars, she has no blemishes, she has no pores.” Now that set me thinking. You know, you get these magazine articles where some new young lady journalist interviews an even younger, even newer up-and-coming songbird who hasn’t had the time, or the money, to get a drink or drugs problem yet, never mind go through rehab, and so she’s really full of life and everything (I mean the songbird, not the journalist.) Anyway, the aforesaid songbird is always described as ‘oozing vitality and zest for life through every pore’. Right then, back to Miss Perfect Woman. She, poor dear, has no pores. So what’s she going to ooze vitality and zest for life through, eh? Answer me that. (raises eyebrows and forefinger) Gentleman at the back…sorry, sir…no, I really don’t think the show can accept answers on a postcard this time. Nor e-mails, I’m afraid.

But that brings me nicely onto my other subject for this evening – and I’ll try to keep this brief – by the way, have you ever noticed how people say “I’ll try to keep this brief” and then ramble on for half an hour? I won’t do that, I promise you – but I just wanted to talk for a few moments about how some people use computers. Now, obviously, a great many people use computers sometimes, either at work, or at home, or both. But what I just don’t understand is this: there are people, supposedly of sound mind, who, of their own free will, will sit down by the hour at a computer to play at shooting and killing other people before getting killed themselves. Now, I ask you: just have a quick think about the international news and current affairs. If you need to, there are lots of news websites to look at. Now, is there not enough war in the world, (pause) enough fighting, (pause) enough brutality,(pause) enough mindless killing (pause) so we have to pretend to do some more? HOW SAD IS THAT? Well, I’d better stop before I get high blood pressure, but I can see the lady at the end of the fourth row, who’s wearing the most delightful see-through… (turns and coughs) Excuse me. Now where was I? Oh, yes, the lady with the delightful see-through glasses, is agreeing with me. Well, not all specs are see-through, you know. Not from the outside, anyhow. Just think of all those gangsters.

Well, the little man in the box up there’s waving now so that means time’s nearly up, but the organisers asked me if I would introduce the next act. I said I would count it an honour. After all that semi-serious thinking, I’m sure you’re ready for some music. So, coming on any second now, we’ve got a terrific young man with an amazing voice, backed by three lovely young lady songbird-instrumentalists who are – yes, you’ve guessed it – oozing vitality and zest for life through every pore. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome HANK BOLIDAY AND THE DAYS OFF!

The four walk on, to thunderous applause, and Firefly stands aside.

Well, before I leave you to enjoy some really great songs, thank you all very much indeed for listening to me tonight. I can honestly say that it’s been a pleasure. And the pleasure’s been all yours.

Shoulder to Shoulder to Day

Best wishes again to Emma and family, who seem to be getting a fair bit of limelight of their own. Emma, the twins are lovely film-stars already! Thanks to all of you for supporting #S2S2D on the blog hop and Twitter, and for reading now!

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Shoulder to Shoulder to Day: Day One – The Other Side of the Line

Today (May 22) marks the beginning of a new phase of treatment for our friend Emma Day, who blogs at Crazy With Twins and tweets as @crazywithtwins . A further strike against cancer (she has already had surgery – see her blog) involves the internal  use of radioactive iodine. This in turn means that she will be emitting radiation from her body that is dangerous to others, especially small children. As a result, she will be, as it were, on ‘the wrong side of the line’ from her family – and unable to reach out and cuddle her beloved baby girl twins for over thirty days!

A series of blog posts from those of us who know Emma – and her husband and family – via the blogging community will accompany Emma on this journey, under the general heading ‘Shoulder to Shoulder to Day’. I have the honour to open this, along with Victoria at Verily, Victoria Vocalises.

Now, I know Emma has a fascination with history – when it comes alive in true stories from times past. So, for encouragement to her – and to us all – I’m going to recount an occasion when somebody else – well, two people, in fact – found themselves on ‘the wrong side of the line’ in another sense, and how it resulted in a wonderful outcome – just as we’re all hoping for a great success from this medically and psychologically gruelling treatment that Emma is undergoing!

The year was 1814. The Anglo-American War of 1812 had been going for – yes, you’ve got it right – two years. (And a bit.) And on the evening of September 13, several British ships lay at anchor in Chesapeake Bay, just off the Atlantic Ocean, under the command of Admiral Cochrane. Shortly before, a noted resident of Upper Marlborough, Maryland, a Dr William Beanes, had been taken prisoner by the British, and sent to the flagship.

Meantime, in Baltimore, a young lawyer, Francis Scott Key, the son of an American officer and a friend of the old doctor, heard about the imprisonment. Bravely, he went to the admiral to plead the cause of his friend. Evidently he was received honourably, but the British were about to attack Fort McHenry, and so the pair were not immediately allowed to go!

Now comes the exciting part! All through the night, the British kept up a bombardment of rockets and fire-bombs, such as there were in those days. The light of each explosion briefly lit up the scene, showing the flag flying over the fort. And then in the morning, as the Sun rose from across the Atlantic, the scene was incredible. For there, above the fort, unfurling gently in the morning breeze, just where it had been on the previous evening, so sublimely indifferent to the night’s conflict, still in place, was the flag now known the world over as the ‘Stars and Stripes’. The British must have been hard put not to be awe-stricken!

Now, I don’t always agree with everything said and done by ‘Uncle Sam’ – and of course, had I been there as an Englishman, all those years ago, I would have been among the enemy! But, had I been young Francis Key, I think, at that moment, I would have been proud to be an American! For that young lawyer, the sight inspired the words of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ – afterwards set to music and finally adopted as the national anthem of the USA in 1931. He gave the genre of national anthems something special – but he did something else; he inspired those around him – as Emma has done, too.

The Star-Spangled Banner

O say can you see by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave,
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
‘Tis the star-spangled banner, O! long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation.
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Francis Scott Key (1779 – 1843)

Set to music already well-known (written by an Englishman!)

John Stafford Smith (1750 -1836)

Here is a link to a video of this song being sung.

To Emma, we salute you and wish you well. And to all of you, thank you for reading.
Victoria and I now happily pass the baton to Suzanne at 3 Children and It for Day Two.

Shoulder to Shoulder to Day
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It only remains to say that no-one is excluded from giving support; please leave comments on any of the host blogs as they appear, and feel free to write your own post, too. Grab the code (above) for the pretty badge, and link up by clicking on the link below, or at Victoria’s blog.  Thanks again!

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I am also linking this post to Emma’s meme ‘Wednesday Words’ as I find the words of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ so powerful and moving.

Wednesday Words
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In Memory of Matilda Mae

Over the last few days, the blogging community has been rocked and stunned. We have struggled to come to terms with a message put out on Twitter, announcing the ‘cot death’ of a baby girl, on the 2nd Feb 2013: Matilda Mae, the daughter of Jenny (@Edspire) and her husband David.

I, for one, have found my thoughts and feelings going round in an endless whirl; firstly, the struggle to accept the awful truth, then the sense of grief as the plight of the affected family bears in. After this, more happily, the incredible warmth of love and empathy in such a sorrow, as the news has touched so many hearts. I count it an honour to be associated with this.

I have tried to put all this into a poem. The metre of the verses was inspired by the tune sung to the Welsh song ‘Myfanwy’ composed by Joseph Parry (1841 – 1903) of which I am very fond. You can listen to it here.

We who, till now had never known you,
Are taking each the other’s hand;
Desiring to extend compassion
Yet struggling here to understand:
Of each who took to heart the story
Of how you left us on that day
The heart and mind, with ties that bind
You’ve drawn so close, Matilda Mae!

We who would never wish such sadness
Should fall on any family,
But rather, seek to share the gladness
A growing, happy child to see –
A rainbow through our hearts is streaming
Sorrow, for those who feel such pain –
And yet, for you, the sky is blue!
In this, we take our strength again.

Your absence in the body deeply moving
So sharp for one your mother and your nurse!
Yet now the power of love we’re proving
Strongest in all the universe!
The joy of Paradise receiving
Is yours, surpassing brightest day –
Yet now, as torn, for those who mourn
You’ve joined our hearts, Matilda Mae!

With best wishes for Matilda Mae’s family. Thank you for reading this.


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A Short Message From the Heart

This will be, for me, an unusual post. Those of you who know me here, and on Twitter, know that I’ll readily join in the round of joking and banter. But there is a time to be serious. Yes, there really is. Now, I’d like to say that, as a Christian, I have tended to refrain from posting anything on here that might be interpreted as ‘pushing religion down people’s throats’ and I would rather try to set out something by way of humility and compassion than by exposition of doctrine. I am concious of measuring up very poorly.

But tonight is different; Liska over at New Mum Online, just here, has made an appeal that I could not ignore. It’s about the plight of a blogger called Kerry, aka Multiple Mummy. I don’t know her really, myself, but those who do speak of a kind, compassionate woman with a big heart. Now, at the end of July this year, Kerry suffered a brain haemorrhage. We now gather that her progress since has been somewhat erratic.

Hence the direct appeal from Liska, for prayer.

I’d just like to say that I have prayed to the God in whom I believe and trust, about Kerry, and I will continue to do so; that God may be pleased to spare her life, and restore her to her loving husband and family – and also that her husband, children, extended family, and friends might be aware of genuine comfort, including the concern of a great many people, at this very agonising time.

With best wishes to you all. Thank you.

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