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Poets Are From Earth, Haiku Go To Mars

23 Sep

So NASA emailed me to say my haiku had arrived on Mars…

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There’s a sentence you don’t read (or write) every day.  And what’s great is, it’s true!

Truth is relative, of course.  NASA did email, as they do every day; I’m subscribed to their website.

I did write a haiku, however, and it did go to Mars…along with thousands of others submitted to their competition.  NASA put all of the entries on to a DVD in case the Little Green Men like Japanese poetry.

According to the website:

NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft successfully entered Mars’ orbit at 10:24 p.m. EDT Sunday, Sept. 21, where it now will prepare to study the Red Planet’s upper atmosphere as never done before. MAVEN is the first spacecraft dedicated to exploring the tenuous upper atmosphere of Mars.

It doesn’t say anything about my haiku but I guess they’re kind of busy with all the, like, sciency stuff and that.  Go figure.

But hey – I can say with absolute truth: my writing is out of this world :)

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That Was The Week That Was (I)

19 Aug

 

Such a good looking boy...

Such a good looking boy…

Hello Readers.

I don’t know if you remember me – I used to blog.  I’ve been so busy lately, however, I haven’t had a chance – well, we’ve had a couple of weeks here at Tilly Bud Towers!  A bruised scapula from chasing a rabbit; a septic appendix; and a hysterical teenager.  Not to mention exam results and poetry readings.  I’ll break it down into diary form or it will take up a third of the page just to repeat, ‘…and on Suchaday we…’  It will probably take a couple of days to regale you – you know I can never make a long story less than Lord of the Rings length.

Saturday 9 August

In the week prior to a week-last-Saturday, First World War anniversary fever hit me hard.  The Hub, Spud and I attended a candlelit walk around the park on Monday 4th, along with several hundred others, following a piper and six flag-wielding WWII veterans.  A short service followed before the Last Post was played, and all candles were extinguished at eleven p.m., to signal the moment one hundred years ago when Britain began to be at war with Germany.  It was incredibly moving.

I don’t know if my non-Brit readers know the story of Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey, but it is worth repeating:

A friend came to see me on one of the evenings of the last week [...]. We were standing at a window of my room in the Foreign Office. It was getting dusk, and the lamps were being lit in the space below on which we were looking. My friend recalls that I remarked on this with the words: “The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our life-time.”

From Grey’s memoir, published in 1925

DSCF1354To commemorate the start of the war, my church held an open morning with the theme, The Lamps Are Going Out.  As I was one of two people organising it, I spent the whole week working with my friend Pam The Great Administrator (she’s amazing and must only be spoken of in capital letters in my hearing) to collect artefacts, set up a slide show, arrange for costumes, rehearse poems and heavily promote the event.  The last bit worked especially well because we more than quadrupled our usual Saturday morning numbers.  Actually, it was even more than that, only I don’t know the correct term for ‘five times as many people came into church than is usual’.

We expected two tables of old bits on display but we had six.  Some people brought a table’s worth alone, and stayed with their stuff to chat to visitors and explain the (fascinating) history.

Pam baked delicious Anzac biscuits.  The children decorated glass candle holders.  We had period music playing in the background.  And Spud and I gave two readings of poems written between 1914-1919.  The whole event was a huge success, not least because it reminded us of what was sacrificed, at home and abroad.  Spud remarked to me that, as he was just eighteen, if he’d been born a hundred years ago he would probably have been off to war with all of his pals.  A sobering thought.DSCN3284

Sunday 10 August

Morning

Church followed by Stockport Writers.  It was my turn to chair.  I wanted to take the August meeting so I could use the theme, The Start of the War.  I hadn’t considered, three months earlier when I put down my name, that it came back-to-back with yesterday’s event and I woke up in a cold sweat in the middle of Thursday night, realising that I had nothing prepared.  Two hours and one irritable Molly later, it was done: I pared fictional and actual events down to their bare essentials – e.g. the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand became An angry teenager with a gun - and used them as prompts.

Afternoon

I had been in five minutes and had just poured boiling water into three mugs when there was a knock at the door.  A neighbour had seen a runaway rabbit and called at my house because I was on the corner and therefore would probably know who it belonged to.  With logic like that, it’s hard to believe we can win a raffle, never mind two world wars.

Still, I’m a sucker for a scared pie filling so I went out to help, calling for my pretty assistant the Hub to come along: animals love him and if anyone could catch it, it would be him.

Turns out anyone couldn’t catch it, including the Hub – it sat in a shrubbery patch, snaffling the carrots we used to entice it and ignoring the umbrella-thrashing we gave the bushes in an attempt to frighten it out.  The last we heard, it had eloped with a runaway pig and they had set up home in Tamworth.

The poor Hub didn’t have such a lucky escape: it was raining and he slipped on some cobbles, landing flat – hard! – on his back and breaking his watch, to the amusement of those neighbours who had come out to watch us chase the rabbit but felt no need to join in.  Or to help him up.

When I got him back inside, Spud was in a spin: having had a late night, he had only just got up.  He came downstairs to find half-made tea, still warm; the car in the drive; the back door unlocked; but no parents.  He tried calling us but our phones rang inside the house…he was creeped out like only a half-asleep teen with a vivid imagination can be.  The Hub would have laughed if it hadn’t hurt so much; but he refused to go to the hospital.

The Hub wasting away because of my neglect

The Hub wasting away because of my neglect

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Tune in again – date to be determined because the excitement is still ongoing.

Coming soon: A day trip to Wales

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hoo-Ray!

10 Mar

So glad to see Ray Quinn win the last-ever Dancing On Ice.  Incredible to think he’s an amateur.  Here’s his Bolero:

My favourite skate:

His solo skate:

What am I going to do now DOI has finished forever?  Sad face.

I guess I’ll have to watch Strictly.  Sadder face.

It’s National Poetry Day

3 Oct

In protest OFC

As it’s National Poetry Day, I thought I’d share some news: I have another poem coming out in an anthology.

For me, this one is kind of a big deal, because I get to be an anthology buddy with Carol Ann Duffy, our Poet Laureate, and Ruth Padel, a big noise in the British poetry world.  You can’t see it, but I’m dancing a joyful jig right now – I’m an ‘emerging poet’!

Contributors have been asked to publicise the event, so here goes:

Press Release

In Protest: new poetry anthology explores human rights and social justice

Poets from around the world explore themes of human rights and social justice in a unique collaboration between the Human Rights Consortium and the Institute of English Studies (both School of Advanced Study, University of London), and London-based poetry collective the Keats House Poets.

In Protest: 150 Poems for Human Rights is an ambitious new publication aiming to bring together the fields of human rights research and literature in an innovative way. Selected from over 600 poems submitted by established and emerging poetsit provides a rare international insight into issues ranging from the trans-Atlantic slave trade, the Hola massacre and indigenous peoples’ rights to the current war in Syria.

All the poems received were anonymised and the final 150 chosen include works from jailed Colombian human rights activist David Ravelo and acclaimed UK poets Carol Anne Duffy, Ruth Padel, Moniza Alvi and Douglas Dunn. Campaigner and philanthropist Sigrid Rausing, who wrote the afterword for the anthology, said:  ‘Poetry brings tiny details to life, and in a world where human rights is mostly about reports and abstractions, where real life and real details are lost, poetry can still make us see and feel.’

Co-edited by Helle Abelvik-Lawson (Human Rights Consortium), Laila Sumpton and Anthony Hett (both Keats House Poets), the 251 pages make up a body of contemporary works that is truly outstanding for its exploration of human rights. The poets come from a variety of backgrounds from more than 16 countries.

Divided into 13 themes – Expression, History, Land, Exile, War, Children, Sentenced, Slavery, Women, Regimes, Workers, Unequal, and Protest – the poems vary in style from compelling personal stories to reflections on contemporary events experienced via the evening news. With the forthcoming centenary of the First World War, this anthology also proves vital reading for an insight into contemporary war poetry, covering conflicts ranging from the Spanish Civil War to Syria.

‘This book has validated my suspicion that there is space and enthusiasm for literary creativity in human rights,’ said Helle Abelvik-Lawson. ‘Reading and writing poetry is a very therapeutic way to process some of the darker aspects of humanity. That said, it’s not all doom and gloom – there are some very empowering, fun and funny poems in this book. The feeling of solidarity is palpable, and I feel very privileged to have been able to read so many incredible poems. Like any good anthology, each poem offers something unique, telling a different story about the human experience.’

The editors, together with a number of poets, will speak at an event marking the UK launch of In Protest: 150 Poems for Human Rights (paperback) at the Bloomsbury Festival finale in Senate House, University of London on 20 October at 18:00. Discounted copies will be available. A series of events connected to the anthology are planned throughout 2013-14.

 

Poached, by Dr William Fowlds

20 Sep

Warning: the pictures in the video below are distressing.   I’m not ashamed to admit that I cried when I saw them.  If we don’t help these magnificent animals, they won’t be around for much longer.  We are brutalising them into extinction.

I don’t usually do grim here at The Laughing Housewife, but I saw this story on Sky News and I have to share it.  I have included a short extract but I beg you to read the whole story and watch the accompanying video.

The number of rhinos killed in South Africa looks set to exceed last year’s record total.

With just three months left in 2013, the number of rhinos killed is more than 500 and appears almost certain to top 2012’s death toll of 668.

One man doing his fair share [to help] is veterinarian Dr William Fowlds who is the founder of Rhino Lifeline.

Dr Fowlds was the first vet on the scene when three rhinos were attacked by poachers 18 months ago on the Kariega Game Reserve. One was so badly mutilated, he died hours later.

But somehow Dr Fowlds’ prompt work managed to bring the other two back from the brink.

The rangers were traumatised by the sight of these animals with their horns and part of their faces ripped off by the poachers.

Seven billion humans live on this planet: are we all going to stand by while a greedy few exterminate an entire species?  I don’t want to have to explain to my grandchildren that, in this information age, when a group of like-minded people with computers can put enormous pressure on individuals, huge organisations and even governments, I said nothing; I did nothing; I let others worry about it.

This is not someone else’s problem; it is ours, right now.  I urge you to blog about it; tweet about it; talk about it on Facebook; start a petition; lobby your MP, Congressman, political representative.

Don’t let us lose another species because we were too busy watching cute kitties on You Tube.

Joke 886

26 Aug
English: High Street, Edinburgh Festival Fring...

High Street, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, 2010 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Edinburgh Fringe Festival Funniest Jokes – a sample from 2008-2013

  • “My girlfriend said ‘did you know that hippopotamuses kill more people every year than guns?’. ‘Yes,’ I said, ‘but a gun is easier to conceal’.”
    – Lloyd Langford
  • “When I was a kid I asked my mum what a couple was and she said ‘oh, two or three’. And she wonders why her marriage didn’t work.”
    – Josie Long
  • “The Scots invented hypnosis, chloroform and the hypodermic syringe – wouldn’t it be easier just to talk to a woman?”
    – Stephen Grant
  • “I’m sure wherever my dad is he’s looking down on us. He’s not dead, just very condescending.”
    – Jack Whitehall
  • “Hedgehogs – why can’t they just share the hedge?”
    – Dan Antopolski (winner, 2009)
  • “I picked up a hitch hiker. You’ve got to when you hit them.”
    – Emo Phillips
  • “I bought one of those anti-bullying wristbands when they first came out. I say ‘bought’, I actually stole it off a short, fat ginger kid.”
    – Jack Whitehall
  • “Dave drowned. So at the funeral we got him a wreath in the shape of a lifebelt. Well, it’s what he would have wanted.”
    – Gary Delaney

From the Huffington Post

Ewwww!

6 Aug
county-clean-fatberg-image1

county-clean-fatberg-image1 (Photo credit: walt74)

This is probably the grossest thing I’ve ever read, so naturally I want to share it with you.

From Sky News:

 [A] 15-tonne mass of festering food fat mixed with wet wipes and sanitary products threatened to send raw sewage spurting onto the leafy streets of Kingston upon Thames.

“The sewer was almost completely clogged with over 15 tonnes of fat. If we hadn’t discovered it in time, raw sewage could have started spurting out of manholes across the whole of Kingston.

“It was so big it damaged the sewer and repairs will take up to six weeks.”

The foul blockage was discovered when residents of nearby flats complained they could not flush their toilets.

Mr Hailwood added: “Given we’ve got the biggest sewers and this is the biggest fatberg we’ve encountered, we reckon it has to be the biggest such berg in British history.”

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All I can say is, I’m glad my London trip wasn’t last week; ’cause you know the Hub would have blamed it on me.

The fatberg was the size of a double-decker bus.  

Seriously, London: it’s time to diet.

 

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