Archive for September, 2014

Talking to people

September 22, 2014

Talking to people
At some stage in our lives, inevitably, we have to stand up and talk to a group of people. As you know, I volunteer to give talks on subjects like ‘Water Aid’, ‘John, Dementia and Me’, ‘Flirting with Spanish’ ‘A close look at unseen poetry’ and ‘The View from Downunder’. I do these talks, not because I think I’m the best thing since sliced bread, but because I’m scared my mind is going to degenerate as I get older. If you don’t use it, you lose it eh? So I figure that if I have to stand in front of some people and keep track of what I’m saying and what is happening for half an hour, the chance is that I haven’t ‘lost it’ – well not yet, anyway.
Recently I did a course – if you have a spare moment, you might like to look at a website called FutureLearn for here you can take FREE courses – some of which are very good. The one I did recently was called ‘Talk the talk’. It gave advice on how to give a presentation so that your audience stays in the room. We were supposed to download a demonstration of what we were going to say – I only managed the first bit of this – but you had the opportunity to have a huge number of people look at your presentation and give you advice. There were a number of suggestions that were given by the Open University, which gave the course and the ideas I found most useful (and probably pertinent) are found in this series of questions:
Why are you giving the talk: to inform, persuade, motivate or entertain? (I like to think all four)
Who will be listening? How much will they already know and what would benefit them? (I made a bad mistake once, when I prepared a light (hopefully) entertaining talk only to find a member of a university had come to find out as much as she could about the subject!)
Will you use Powerpoint or some other technology? ( I’ve always used Powerpoint when I can – people have pictures to look at instead of me, however, lately I’ve been to places that don’t have the technology and had have to do without. I found it was much easier to prepare for. Now I use Powerpoint, not as something to hide behind but to illustrate a few strong points if I can.)
What are you going to say, how are you going to shape your talk – what will it begin with what will be the bulk of what you say, how will you connect your points and how will you end the talk? What examples will you give to illustrate your points? (Here’s the rub – I’ve realized that my talks up to now had not been thought through…)
How are you going to keep calm before and during the talk? How are you going to make sure your talk is within the time limit given? (I try to think ‘slow down’ all the time – I tend to gabble and at the moment I keep checking my watch which is not a good thing, but it’s the only thing that seems to work as yet.)
How will you evaluate your talk? Can you get someone to say what they think of your talk afterwards? (I’ve now got a sheet that I give out, asking people to write down what they liked and what could be done to improve my talk. One brave lady told me I shouldn’t use so many sheets – so now I try to talk more directly to the audience.)
I hope you find this information as useful as I did and before you think I’m a bit of a ‘know-all’ and think I give perfect speeches – there’s always something that goes wrong. At one stage I bought a dress to wear and was determined to wear it, only to find that it really was too short for my old legs, so I had to hide behind a table so that the audience was not put off completely!
Good luck with your speeches!
Oh, and, of course, if you are brave enough and think you would like me to give a talk to your group sometime – just contact me!


poem to remember those who fought in World War 1

September 4, 2014

‘A little girl’s smile’

In the stench of the trench
with rats and scraps and ankle-deep mud,
he stood, tense,
bayonet ready for blood.

His wife’s eyes, wide and blue
shone on his daughter’s sad smile.
The whistle blew.

In a sea of serge he rose,
Scrambling over damning
mounds of lost souls.

The ghosts of folk at home
whirled and swirled as he choked
in the battle-torn smoke.

He heard the whisper of an angel .
He felt the smack of a black shroud
smothering him as he lay
dying in agonizing pain.
Will we remember him?
Perhaps for a while,
but what we will always recall
is that little girl’s sad, sad smile.

poem Lament for our post box

September 4, 2014

(background: in July 2013 the postbox in Common Road Witchford was taken. Other post boxes in other villages in the area also went missing. Other villages have had their postboxes replaced, but not the one in Common Road. We ask why? What have we done to deserve such discrimination? The Chief Executive Officer says that the said post box is with the engineers and she does not know when it will be put in place – a little worrying that she represents the energy and drive of our newly privatized mail service in England!)

Lament for our postbox

Oh how I miss our post box
on the corner of Common Road
It suddenly went – such a shock
We miss it loads and loads.

It stood, tall and inviting,
ready to receive our mail.
I am always one for writing
Letters were sent without fail.

Now in the wind and biting rain
I struggle for miles with my post.
I moan and groan with the pain
In my feet, my legs, my knees at the most.

Oh when will our post box come back?
Oh when will we see its smile?
Oh when will see its bright red stack?
It’s not been here for a while.

Perhaps one day, next month, next year
Our hopes will be fulfilled
A lovely red box will suddenly appear
And our worries will all be stilled.

Oh please can we have our post box back?
‘Cause things are not the same
Oh please can we have our post box back?
We need it here again.

poem My Harley Davison Ride

September 4, 2014

Note: this event was organized to bring the plight of carers of dementia patients to the fore. We need the powers to be to focus on paying good money to good hands-on nurses, then many of the other problems will go away.

As a child,
I climbed on the back of a makeshift bike
took a reckless ride with chap from school
Perched on a hill, shook with fright
With a shove and a push I was off with this fool
Feet flailing, voice wailing, my arms holding fast
We sped to the bottom, tipping and tumbling
stopping at last in a heap on the grass.
Oh what fun it was for the biker
‘But not for the rider!’, I cried.

As an adult,
A rash moment of folly
and I had agreed
to another jolly.
But this bike was different, a bike to impress
a Harley Davison none the less!
But what’s in a name?
My nerves knotted just the same.

The day came and I waited,
My nerves’d never abated.
Suddenly, the air came alive
The ground vibrated
The beautiful beast arrived,
Its driver smiled ‘Ready for a ride?’

It was like a speeding demon,
Although it was standing still,
Wide-eyed and glistening, silver and crimson
a quiet giant ready for the kill.

Heavy helmet jammed on my head
Cocooned in leathers, lead-lined feet
I climbed aboard with a feeling of dread
One turn of the key and off we sped.

This gentle giant purred and purred
My heart fluttered, and stirred
with the power of this vibrant bike
weaving waves that whistled and whirred
with dashing glimpses of field and dyke.

Wild wind rushed at my cheeks,
Breathing freshness I’d not felt for weeks.
Curled up cows and leafy trees
streamed my sight with visionary dreams.

We were one with the road at our feet
burrowing and bending every turn of the street
We were one with the clouds and the infinite sky
We were one with the sheep in the fields flitting by.

With a half-hearted halt we finally arrived
at the home where my husband now lies.
Nurses and patients came out to derive
great joy from this sudden surprise.

The Press all came, and took photos galore
Now I was willing to climb on for more
We finally left, waved a fond farewell
and sped away for another bright spell.

Faster and faster this mighty machine
Rumbled and mumbled with speed
A rubbery face and a gale beyond measure
We trailed about 90 what potent pleasure!

Now when I see a mass of black
Of bikers and bikes I’ll never look back
It’s the bike for me any chance I get
You own one? Have we met?