Positive Action Group - Possan Jantys Jarrooagh

Open, accountable government, rigorous control of public finances, and a fairer society for all.

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Outside Loop - Our poetry corner

As one does

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(On a bus in Kensington, BBC staffer Arthur Calder Marshall ‘heard’ a fellow-passenger remark that war had broken out in Debenham’s. As the bus neared the store, Arthur, half-hoping for a scoop, got off only to see a newsvendor’s poster announcing ‘War in the Lebanon’. Here is one of my Calder Marshall moments…)

Ken Dodd dead, the newsman said.
Leicester police investigate
motorway service station:
grim find in back of van.
Strange, I mused, as one does:
he usually dies on stage.
Is this Doddy’s final curtain?

It had been a scorching day;
all windows were tight closed,
Death due to heat exhaustion.
so said the RSPCA.
Without compunction,
as one does, I thought
he should have had the strength

or gumption to open one.
Perhaps he couldn’t reach.
Why was he there? I wondered,
as one does. Dossing down
from sleep to death unknowing;
or suicidally inclined to
finally pull down his blind?

Why the RSPCA? Paramedics on strike
again? Then a summary enlightened me:
how absurd! I’d misheard. Not Ken Dodd.
It was ten dogs that died. I sighed.
Glad that Doddy hadn’t died?
Sad for those hot doggies fried?
Or maybe just because. As one does.

Jeff Garland


Bed Thirteen

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(The cardiac recovery ward was short-staffed, struggling along with half its normal staffing , so Sister said. Contemplating the ceiling and infinity. I wasn’t inclined to poetry at the time but the good old subconscious filed away an idea…)

Hello, you Bed Thirteen?
Sister said I should come and
talk to you as I’ve nothing
better to do. I’m on work
experience. you know.Maybe
I might be a nurse one day.
Excuse me. You’re rather faint?
You’re ‘not feeling very well?’
I see, of course, wouldn’t
be, would you? That’s why you’re here.
If you don’t mind me saying
so, you look a little queer.
And Bed Thirteen, well, I mean –
Twelve A would sound lots better,
don’t you think? If I was
In Bed Thirteen, heaven know,
I’d be turning up my toes.
But don’t let me worry you.
You’re ‘going to die?’ Not now,
wait till a real nurse is here.
‘Where are they?’ At lunch, I guess,
left this place a right old mess.
‘Who’s in charge?’ Me, I suppose.
You do look funny! Gobsmacked.
With your jaw dropped open, and
your eyes rolled right up like that.
Anyway, if you haven’t died,
you haven’t lived, they say: the
best night’s sleep you’ve had in years…
(that’s a joke…) Well, please yourself.
I must go. All the best. If
I were you, I’d get some rest.

Jeff Garland


Thoughts are Free

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Thoughts are free, who can guess them?
They flee by like nocturnal shadows.
No man can know them, no hunter can shoot them
with powder and lead: Thoughts are free!

I think what I want, and what delights me,
still always reticent, and as it is suitable.
My wish and desire, no one can deny me
and so it will always be: Thoughts are free!
And if I am thrown into the darkest dungeon,
all this would be futile work,
because my thoughts tear all gates
and walls apart: Thoughts are free!

So I will renounce my sorrows forever,
and never again will torture myself with some fancy ideas.
In one’s heart, one can always laugh and joke
and think at the same time: Thoughts are free!

I love wine, and my girl even more,
Only I like her best of all.
I’m not alone with my glass of wine,
my girl is with me: Thoughts are free!


Hans Litten read out this poem while incarcerated in a concentration camp in Nazi Germany

Original lyricist and the composer are unknown


Dreaming of Tynwald

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(Prizewinner in the Olive Lamming Memorial Literary Competition)

Alfred Looney

Next year said the missus you’re to stand for the Keys

of course I said yes as I’m anxious to please

and keep the right side of her as anyone should.

And they would if they had any sense.


Now I’ve retired I’ve not much to do

and a bit more cash would be very nice too,

the perks are quite good if you take them that is.

And you would if you had any sense.


On the fifth of July on the Hill I’d be sat

in my new pin stripe trousers and shiny top hat,

maybe Government House for afternoon tea.

And you would if you had any sense.

They might make you a minister if you showed willing

but at question times you would get a good grilling,

best to keep quiet and sit at the back.

And you would if you had any sense.


Then what if I met my friends in the street

it would not be how are you and what’s all the skeet

but what of those promises you’ve failed to keep.

If you’d stuck to retirement might have been best.

And I should if I had any sense.


A word in his ear

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(Described as perhaps the Island’s sole surviving native thinker, Ealish is writing a verse epic: The Will of Tynwald. A Child’s Guide to Manx Politics. She lives in Bride, breeds Salukis and rides Suzukis)

Ealish Voght


Who’s the fellow that’s never alone –roaring silence

courted and flattered, well fed and sleek?

Why, he’s the Minister’s brother in law:

he is a power behind the throne.


But what does he do, what is he for –

nodding and grinning, nothing to say?

Drops a few words in the Minister’s ear –

birds of a feather – need I say more?


Does money change hands, oiling the wheels,

fixer and grifter, those back room boys?

I wouldn’t say that, we’re honest folk here:

in a family way, he just does deals.


Is he above and beyond the law?

A scandal, a sin, a crying shame!

No, he’s decent enough, and what is more,

Triple A rated by Standard & Poor,


Nod and a wink, a word to the wise,

under the counter and underhand?

It’s sensitive stuff, you must understand:

ask no questions and you’ll hear no lies.


So no charisma, but knows the score,

hits the ground running, gets up to speed?

I wouldn’t say that, he’s no ball of fire,

yet steady enough, feet on the floor.


So truth will out, a bit of a bore:

He’s nothing to look at, beige and grey.

Yes, he’s very like his brother in law,

the Minister, as I said before.




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