Check out my poem Electoral Math, South African-Style, published today in the ezine Streetcake. It’s a magazine for experimental writing. The poem is called Electoral Math in my SA collection but I added the last bit when I submitted it, to give it context.
I have my niece and nephew staying for two weeks. They are adorable children (I have to say that because their parents read this). Whenever they visit we go for lots of long walks. They arrived on Saturday and so far we have been to Alexandra Park, Bonar Park and Hollywood Park; coming up are Abney Hall Park, Gorsey Bank Park and Reggie the Roller Skating Dog at Stockport Art Gallery. The appeal of these Stockport attractions are two-fold: they are free and they tire everyone out, including Toby.
I’m a great believer in exposing children to fresh air. Even wet air, which is what we had yesterday: constant rain. It’s nothing new; if we didn’t go out when it rained we’d all be as pale as the aliens in Signs, and just as cranky. It rains a lot here in Stockport, aka Greater Manchester – hence, Manchester Cotton, for which we are famous, and all because of the rain. Soft rain, of course, or we’d be famous for Manchester Starched Linen instead.
The problem with taking children out in the rain is not that they dislike it, but that they object to wearing coats. The rellie kids, being well brought up, didn’t argue; but Spud, being mine, argued and complained the whole way about having to wear a cagoule, pausing only when we collected a spare child from his house (spare child being in possession of a football and Spud ensuring he didn’t leave without it).
When we hit the park, the first thing Spud spied was a girl he knew, which increased his outrage: ‘See. This is exactly why I didn’t want to wear one.’ I didn’t say it but it occurred to me that the girl wouldn’t have noticed the cagoule, being too busy being unimpressed with seeing him in the park with his mother and his eight-year old girl cousin.
I trundled around the park with Tobes while the kids played football in their t-shirts. Can you tell me why I insisted they all wear coats as we walked but allowed them to be coverless as they ran around? It’s not as if football has rain-repelling magical properties, is it?
After an hour or so, Bobo decided enough was enough. He parked his soaked and skinny carcass on the ground and refused to sniff another soggy leaf. He was shivering from the wet & cold and demanded to be picked up and cuddled, making pathetic noises that I interpreted as, ‘I wanna go hoooooome.’ So we did, to hot showers and pyjamas. No-one was the worse for not wearing a jacket the whole time.
I never took off my coat and guess what? I have had a sore throat and headache since we got home. Maybe football is magical, after all.