Every morning you get up to greet
me at the door and, like an automaton,
pad off to where your breakfast bowl has been;
habit borne of sixteen years of life.
In this house you’ve ruled our every moment,
and emotion, every wistful sigh,
as you lie upon a lap, your tummy
turning upwards, scrummy, mottled brown.
Your ugly face, the essence of your charm,
your sturdy temperament, unfailing, cool;
your bagpuss belly, never varying
its udder-likeness swinging as you walk.
That steady walk, wherever it is you go:
inside, outside, wanting us to know
you are grimalkin and, yet, vulnerable
so you never really leave us, day or night.
This morning you did not get up to greet
me at the door, nor barely twitch a whisker.
But I see you in your favourite place:
lying hunched, but comfortable, close by
the garden mouse hole or a cornered spider;
playing hide and seek amidst the trees;
returning from the hunt with cobweb clung
behind your ear, you didn’t even notice.
Sitting (fairly) neatly waiting for
something – only you know what it is –
only you decide when you are ready
for your tea or for a sleep, who knows…
…where it is that you are off to next,
which is, as ever, entirely up to you.
You take your time, whilst you sit there on
your big comfy cushion in the sky.
© 2011 John Anstie
“Life is short and art long, the crisis fleeting, experience penniless and decision difficult”
As a young man, John was sporting and fit. It was then as much his recreational therapy as a cappella harmony singing, music, walking in the hills and writing is now. Playing Rugby Union for over twenty years, encouraged in the early days by a school that was run on the same lines and ethos as that famous Scottish public school, Gordonstoun, where our own headmaster had been as a senior master. This gave shape and discipline to a sometimes precarious early life.
His fitness was enhanced not only by playing rugby, but also by working part time jobs in farming, as a leather factory packer and security guard, but probably not helped, for a short time, selling ice cream!
His professional working life was spent as a Metallurgical Engineer, Marketing Manager, Export Sales Manager, Implementation Manager and Managing Director of his own company. Thirty five years spent, apparently in a creative desert, raising a family, pursuing a career and helping to pay the bills, probably enriched his experience, because his renaissance, on retirement, realised a hidden creative talent as a writer of prose and poetry. He also enjoys music, with a piano and a fifty-two year old Yamaha FG140 acoustic guitar. He sings bass in three a cappella harmony groups: as a founding member of a mixed voice chamber choir, Fox Valley Voices and barbershop quartets. He is also a member of one of the top barbershop choruses in the UK, Hallmark of Harmony (stage name of the Sheffield Barbershop Harmony Club), who, for the eighth time in 41 years, became UK Champions in 2019. He is also a would be (once upon a time or 'has been') photographer with drawers full of his own history, and an occasional, but lapsed 'film' maker. In his other life, he doubles as a Husband, Father, Grandfather, Brother, Uncle, Cousin, Friend and Family man.
What he writes is sometimes autobiographical, often political, sometimes dark and frequently pins his colours to the mast of climate change and how a few humans are trashing the Earth. In 2013, he published an anthology of the poetry (including his own) of an international group of poets, who met on Twitter in 2011. He produced, edited and steered the product of this work, "Petrichor Rising", to publication by Aquillrelle.
His sort of strap-line reads: “ iWrite iSing iDance iChi iVolunteer ”