Tag Archives: friends

The Theatre of Life

I feel like a bad actor 
in a play I thought not to rehearse. 
fudging my lines, 
smudging the plot.
Sometimes  my mind slides to 
a distant place and time
and I forget I'm on stage.
The fans must surely 
perceive I'm a sham.

Sometimes it's like
I've failed an audition
for a part in a thing called The Human Race
and having been banned 
from the theatre of life
                                       due to some kind 
                                        of failure or something I lack 
                                        that no-one explained
                                        and I don't understand
I've broken through the roof 
and am watching the acts
with my back to a grey-blue sky.

                                        I see evil, destruction,
                                       hunger, need and corruption
                                       and I find myself screaming again and again
                                       Not In My Name
                                       Not In My Name.
                                       At least it was not me
                                      who stole a killers role in the play.

Sometimes I know I am inept with those 
who sprang from my womb 
and I think of the myriad ways 
in which I have failed, yet 
I see 
their wisdom,  insight and grace
and feel forgiven.
I am inept with friends 
yet they see me, understand, love
the why and what of who I am.
Even strangers like 
the incomplete face I display to the world,
so I leap from my peeper's perch,
my alien ship,
to embrace the living earth.

Sometimes I cognise, re-cognise
I belong.
I am real.

©Jane Paterson Basil

The depth of down

all these years
through everything
sometimes I was bowed
but I always remained standing

don’t know how you do it, they said

but today I finally fell.
like there was no floor, no base

thought I knew how deep
down went, but no
it’s past fear, past panic
beneath agony and grief
so far, so, so far

my family was called
determined, they lifted me
to the surface

with their help
I’ll be well again
maybe soon

©Jane Paterson Basil

Hiding in the dark


It feels like a little adventure, sitting in my dim-lit living room, hiding, out of reach of all but my caring WordPress friends in distant climes.

My neighbours thought I’d gone away, but now they’re not so sure. Maybe they can see a little light, but I don’t care.

I hear them outside, subdued by uncertainty and a trace of guilt.

Someone’s knocking on my door. I sense their bated breath as they listen for a clue to my presence.

There’s a second knock, and then a third.

Maybe they heard my kettle; well, let them wonder.

I don’t have to answer to those who expect me to listen to everyday tales I’ve already heard several times this week;

those who must be the centre of attention even when they have nothing to say;

those who are so blinded by ego or whatever makes them that way that they have no time to see my pain, or the fear writ clear across my face;

those who break in when I try to speak; greedily competing, citing swollen feet, headaches, self-made, half-invented, grossly exaggerated health scares to which I listen each evening.

This terrifying week, it would have been nice if someone had noticed me, instead of looking for a reflection of themself, and reached out to help.

The other night I described a terrifying image which had flashed across my vision. One of my erstwhile friends told me not to be so stupid, and without a pause, asked me how to delete a message from his phone.

All I could hear was him saying “Me me me.”

I stood up and said I had things to do, and without another word, I walked indoors.

He must have noticed I was offended, because yesterday he apologised. It was too late; it’s happened too many times over the past few days, and he would not have troubled himself if I hadn’t displayed my anger.

I hear another knock on my door.

I ignore it.

I prefer to spend the evening with you, my true friends; my loyal, supportive, WordPress friends.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Ad infinitum

                           I would like to invite
                          my dear WordPress friends
                     to join me me in a reachable place
                    where we could meet as whole people,
                     our bodies, intellects and souls
                        together in a green meadow
                           with fresh food to eat

                                there would
                            be no musical treat
                       no guitars, no lyrical singer
                        just we friends, in a field
                           sharing, singing our
                             own sweet melody
                               original and

      I could be over-polite
               and invite my friends
      to invite their friends and friends of friends
                        and friends off friends of friends
               each batch would be a little 
                like Chinese whispers
               their principles and beliefs 
     rolling like 
   a broken string of love beads
   from the nucleus

        to increase the size of the field
                       I would need to flatten hedges
           killing small creatures concealed within
           murdering trees that allow us to breathe

         then the friends, friends of friends
                            and friends of friends of friends
  would come in their millions
 brandishig their news, 
            their views,
            their sense of fun,
            their blithe spirits and their shrunken souls
            their charity and greed
            their intuition, wisdom and ignorance
            their atheism, devil worship and all kinds of godliness
            their hearts black, white and all colours in between
and just as in life
we would need to listen hard
                              to hear the melody
    beneath the deafening cacophany
       of humankind as it screams out
            its differences

This post was inspired by a lovely comment from  Sestina

Thank you for the inspiration Sestina!

Also written for The Daily Post #Melody

©Jane Paterson Basil


Nocturnal clowns


deep late night voices
rumble beneath my window.
Flexing my brain in preparation for
sociability exercises
I stretch my doubting spine,
grab my keys and go outside
to find John
with his oft-repeated claim
“I worry about you Jane,”
and his questions
“Are you glad it’s Sunday tomorrow?”
which pass for conversation,
and Clive
with his attention-seeking need
to be less well than anybody else
for which there is stiff competition in this complex.
He invites me to put my hand on his knee
so he can demonstrate the vibrating creak
as he straightens it.
I cringe at his questionable treat,
thereby encouraging a continuation of his guided tour
of physical ills, free of charge.
He lifts his vest to display impressive scars
and to wiggle the pacemaker beneath his skin
while regaling me with tales in the timeless style of
“my wife doesn’t understand me,”
although he’s not actually married.

Maybe that’s a tale for later, but probably not.

Meanwhile John vies for my attention:
“I worry about you Jane.
I’m a doctor.”
The second part of his repartee is his idea of a joke.
He doesn’t know
that the phrase is meant to begin with the words
“trust me.”
I’m squashed on the bench between the two of them,
or rather, I’m crushed against Clive because
I have a pernickety aversion
to the proximity of John’s right leg.
I haven’t experienced intimacy with the left one,
but I expect it would bring about
similar squeamishness.

John again reminds me that he worries about me.
Clive wants me to go to Bingo on Wednesday.
This sounds like the kind of life I could lead
if I was rather less


I try all the usual excuses, but
he has no intention of accepting a refusal.
Perhaps it’s time to mention
that in spite of his limited intelligence
and his valuable collection of ailments and fading wounds
he’s kind of


like a homeless chihuahua with a sore paw –
which is an odd comparison, because
while I like dogs
I’ve always ignored chihuahuas,
and I wonder if they are funny too.
That’s what really appeals to me about Clive –
he can make me laugh like a runaway jack-hammer,
or a wild-eyed child, without doing much.
So I agree to join his crew at Bingo
with the ridiculous proviso that I don’t have to play,
but when it comes to it
I don’t show.

Lacking the dubious advantage of
smelling like sewage
or a talent for drooling,
I consider unreliability to be an acceptable way to dismiss
any minor risk of amorous advances
while exercising my right to sit on the bench
with John and Clive,
making inane remarks, laughing –
a trio of nocturnal clowns stifling yawns,
too old to be sent to bed, and
too big for the naughty step.


©Jane Paterson Basil

Her Wild Boar Wood Adventure

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Always, in the past, she had known that things may be better tomorrow. She had known that in order to move forward she had to take a step. She had known that the cloying grey mud which seemed to engulf her was not a physical thing.

But now it just Was There…. as if it had always been and always would be.

Although it threatened to engulf her, like a burnt out actor she tried to continue to play her part, unable to leave the stage until, too weak to resist, kind hands led her away to an enchanting woodland far from the slurry pit of her unwitting, unthinking tormentors.

Blindly she followed, taking her battered brain with her, and looking neither ahead or behind, caught in an endless moment of dispair while her consciousness barely managed to attend to the rules of convention.

Although she instantly saw the beauty of the place, it took a while for her eyes to adjust to the light, but in that summertime haven she gradually sluiced off the filth.

She stood up and stretched muscles that had been crushed by the crash of a thousand thrown stones.

Hidden bruises healed and the sun warmed her skin.

People smiled and laughed, and her mouth and throat and belly opened to respond.

Strong trees of oak, birch and hornbeam offered up their beauty, and as their intricate patterns silhouetted the navy blue sky, she retired each night to enjoy sleep that had for so long evaded her.

Awoken as the dawn brought a cream glow into her tent, she would snuggle more deeply into her bed, luxuriating in the lyrics of a miriad of neighbourhood birds that seemed to sing of her escape to freedom. Gently she would drift back into sleep, until it was time to get up and start the day’s work.

Looking after the guests at this holiday campsite was a pleasure, as were most of the practical duties which needed to be carried out.

2014-08-01 16.14.29

Those unforgettable months were spent greeting and getting to know all sorts of interesting people. Pleasant evenings were enjoyed around their campfires, as she learned of lives so different to hers. There was the fun of helping guests to light a fire in the golden glow of early evening, and the thrill of seeing the excitement on the children’s faces, as together, they explored the woods. Dens were built and mock battles were fought between strangers who had so easily become friends.

With the generous blessing of the manager, when there were spare tents her family and friends sometimes came to stay, and she proprietorially showed off the unfamiliar lilac mushrooms which glowed as if radio-acive, and the wildflowers that were never seen in their home county.

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Every day she found a new treasure to add to the fast-expanding coffers of her heart.

Then summer ended.

She returned to the home that she loved. Everything was a little more crumbled and broken – everything except her.

She stood tall, with her head up and her shoulders loose. Her breathing was calm, her heart beat gently in her chest. She flexed her toned muscles, and then relaxed.

She was ready to mend her damaged world.

© Jane Paterson Basil

I offer up gratitude to all the people who helped me to lift my feet when they were heavy, and in particular I would like to thank my niece Heather for inviting me to apply for the shared job of campsite warden with her, and Hugh Sandie, who had the faith to employ me.


A couple of days ago I had the good fortune to find and read a well written, descriptive blog post about amphetamine use.


For reasons that I can’t explain or even understand, for all of my adult life I have found myself involved with people who use a host of recreational drugs. Some of those people are dead now, several of them from drug-related causes such as brain haemorrhage, overdose and organ failure. I have never had the desire to use drugs (I even have an aversion to prescribed medication) although I smoked cannabis for a short while when I was at art college, but the fascination expired after a few months, because I don’t like not being in full control of my actions or emotions. I have a strong sense of self, and even half a glass of wine makes me feel as if I have mislaid the person I am, so after the initial weirdness of changing into peculiar clothes in order to parade myself around a room full of people, thinking I am the funniest person who ever lived, while I talk loudly, laugh raucously and perhaps fall over a couple of times, I get a rush of self-loathing and shame.

I tend to be well-accepted in drug circles, partly because many assume that if I don’t do drugs now, I must have in the past, or why would I be the way that I am? I’ve no idea how I give that impression.

At a mixed age-group party I attended once, where nearly everyone was doing MDMA or methadrone or Ketamin, I was staring worriedly at the K. holed girl who, sliding from the chair sideways, as she drooled, made barely comprehensible sounds, started rolling a cigarette and then forgot about it, dropping tobacco all over the floor, all the while looking as if her dearest wish was to die and be released from her misery.

I suggested that the best place for her would be bed, and the response of the people surrounding us was a resounding “No! She’s having a really good time!”

Afterwards, according to her recollection, she had indeed been enjoying herself. Ketamin, is a peculiar drug that draws you inside yourself, so that what shows on the outside may be the opposite of what is happening in the brain.

Although I could see that MDMA, Cocaine, and Speed made some people feel good, I couldn’t really understand why they would risk their future for it, or why they would do something which may erase the true colour and beauty from their everyday lives, because that’s what happens in effect. The more Amphetamines you do,the duller you feel when you’re not doing them. You reach the point where your social life consists of getting wasted together, so though you may be hedonistically throwing yourselves into having fun, surely each of you is standing alone in a puddle of your own unreality, because how can you meaningfully interact with another if you are off your face?

Sirena’s post clarified the point that I have been millimetres away from fully understanding for years. Even though I talked about it, the words came only from my mouth: I didn’t feel them inside me. Most people who become fully entrenched in the drug scene gave up long ago on the any hope that they would achieve the feeling of belonging that we all strive for. That’s why they are doing drugs. It may not be perfect, but at least it is a bright and glittering escape from a world where so many feel disenfranchised by the adverts and images of others who appear to have perfect lives full of friends who love them, interests which absorb them and enough money for all they desire in this materialistic world.

At the same time, heads of nations are poking and prodding each other, their countrymen are taking up arms against each other, Governments are shouting about terrorist threats to distract us while they subversively pass laws which damage us, and nobody’s doing much about cleaning up our beautiful planet, although plenty of good people are trying hard.

We should be banding together to destroy this system of inequality, but we don’t feel able and we don’t know how, and it’s not our fault because MONEY (in capital letters) is power and those of us who want to see positive change haven’t got either of those things.

Addiction to drugs is an illness in itself, but more than that it is a symptom of an illness which already existed in the body, an illness which if cared for may have stayed latent or even been cured. We don’t look after our world, our country or our children, not because we don’t care, or can’t be bothered, but we don’t feel able and we don’t know how.

The resources are not available, in other words, not enough money is spent on the problem.

I was growing up when the hippy movement was in full swing. It’s true that it got a bit messy for a lot of people in the end, and it’s true that that generation was hedonistic too, but at least they felt empowered to stand up for the things they believed in. They didn’t achieve multi-lateral or even uni-lateral nuclear disarmament, but they were optimistic and they took drugs at least partly because they believed that it broadened the perceptions, rather than to kill the pain.

Succeeding generations have had those feelings of empowerment and optimism taken away from them by powers that aren’t interested enough in their well-being.

So they take drugs, and they feel good for a while.

And we can’t help them, because we don’t feel able and we don’t know how.

I would like to thank Sirenaross for her post at a time when I was most in need of it.