Daily Archives: August 23, 2016

A sign of the times


what did you learn today in school?
I learned they can’t stop me from playing the fool
the teacher doesn’t know how to punish a child
who is shooting paper pellets and running wild
he can’t hit me with a ruler or beat me with a cane
so he gives me lines to write, and only the tame
will be scared of the punishment for making a kite
out of the paper on which I’m meant to write
I get a detention and although he may shout
he’s got no power to stop me from walking out
I just can’t wait for tomorrow to come
when I’ll be back in school and having some fun.

what did you learn in school today?
I learnt some games that the big boys play
we rigged a up some cards and and we set up crooked bets
and everybody paid us in cigarettes
we had so many that just for a kick
we forced a kid to smoke them until he was sick
we beat up a boy and set fire to his books
but on the way home I was getting looks
from his older brother and a few of his friends
and I think it’s too late to try and make amends
I’ve had enough of messing round playing the fool
Tomorrow I’m gonna need a knife in school.

Written for The Daily Post #Learning

©Jane Paterson Basil


The summer of ’76


the sun licked their steamy skin
as they primped in skimpy bikinis
sipping cider, slurping icecream
which dripped, sliding down their thighs
while I
said goodbye to my love

they disguised their innocence
beneath promiscuous hippydom
prodding intimate hot-spots
slyly faking orgasm
while I
said goodbye to my love

young skin defined Britain
bubble-gum tunes and lyrics
floated through open windows
that still evening
when I
deserted my love

all  of us were young
every forever would end
next month or maybe next year
to be replaced or renewed
but I
could never replace my love


©Jane Paterson Basil

Living by numbers


She lived her life by numbers, expecting good luck on days which were multiples of six, weeks which were multiples of four, months which were multiples of two. The best luck of all arrived on days which involved all three factors, so Sunday April 24th – falling on the twenty-fourth day of the month, the 26th week, and the fourth month of the year, should have been a very auspicious day – the first of only three this year, counting Friday, 1st January as the first day of the first week of the year. She had woken up that morning to find her dog, Loopy, dead on the kitchen floor. The post mortem found that he had suffered a massive heart attack. He’d been sixteen (four squared) years old, his sight had been going, he was diabetic, he had athritic legs, and some kind of digestive problem which often resulted in her having to scrub and disinfect carpets, so dispite her grief, she looked upon his death in a positive light; he had died suddenly and relatively peacefully at a point where his life had been becoming a chore. Furthermore, he had saved her having to make the decision to have him put to sleep. All in all, it had been a good end for her old companion.

The second super-lucky day was Saturday, 18th June. A lorry lost control coming out of the junction opposite the front of her house, and ploughed through her wall, grinding to a halt with its wheels in the centre of her living room. Her bedroom was above, and her bed was pushed across the room, while the ceiling collapsed on top of it. It was 6am, and she would normally have been in bed at that time, but a bout of indigestion had made her unable to sleep, so she was in the kitchen pouring milk of magnesia into a cup. She considered herself extremely lucky to be alive.

The council moved her into another house, and she was just getting settled when the
third especially lucky day arrived, on Friday, 12th August, which happened to be her 50th birthday. She wanted to take stock of her life, as this was her half-centenary, so for the first time ever, she looked through her diaries. She had begun keeping a record on her tenth birthday, which was the day she had begun her system of numerification. The only entries she had made had been on her lucky days, both minor and major, but she skipped the minor ones (written in gree) and only read the major ones (written in purple).

The first entry told her that on Tuesday, 24th April 1976 she had ridden a horse for the first time, but had fallen off and broken her leg. She had spun it into a happy result – the nureses were very kind to her at the hospital – but her leg had become infected, and had never healed properly.

On Thursday 8th March she’d still been in hospital. There was a brief mention of the news that her father had left her mother, but a long description of the gifts he brought to make his daughter feel better about it.

Already she was beginning to see a pattern. She read about fall-outs with friends, the death of her cousin, her sister and her mother, several attacks by a group of three bullies who had made her life miserable over an eighteen-month period, a car crash, two burglaries, ambitions crushed by failed exams… the list went on and on in this vein, and yet she had put a different spin on every entry, so determined was she to believe in her lucky dates. She pictured herself, a poor, lost child who had taken up he needle and darned fantasies over her hollow life; whose only consolation had been her faithful Loopy, and now even he was dead.

She remembered how he laid his head on her lap when she was feeling low, how pleased he was to see her when she returned from her cleaning job, or from shopping.

She lived her life by numbers, always planning to end it on a lucky day, a tidy day, a day with round numbers, She was a round, tidy, fifty today. It was a very lucky day. She had fifty pretty little pills and she was going home to Loopy…

Written for The Daily Post Prompt #Fifty

©Jane Paterson Basil