Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The island of broken biscuits

Dashed to crumbs, my hopes and my dreams,
Where tropical colour’s not all that it seems,
Where reds and magentas turn beiges and creams,
Where crushing confectionery’s one of life’s themes,
And the water-wheel’s powered by fast-flowing streams,
And life appears normal out at the extremes,
On the island of broken biscuits.

On driving through cloud to Chirche to an Abba soundtrack

We slithered down the road to fate uncertain,
The clouds were thick and turns quite hard to guess.
Mama mia! Was this our final curtain?
Would we be sending out an SOS?
Black as night, we had no voulez view,
And thought we might well face our Waterloo.

The sad demise of Mr Jones

The pool’s roped off with yellow tape,
The day is growing dark.
Right now he’s just a starfish shape
Down near the eight foot mark.
His wife is in an awful way
Outside the poolside wing.
She blames herself, bystanders say,
For throwing him that ring.
He got a touch of cramp, they state,
And called for her assistance,
But seemingly the ring’s dead weight
O’erpowered his resistance.
Oh yes, it was a dreadful thing
That floored poor Mr Jones.
So which of you took that lifeguard’s ring
And filled it up with stones?


The massive purple dragonfly
Sat humming by the pool.
He was an inoffensive guy,
Just trying to keep cool.
Then Emmet sent a tidal wave
Of water ‘pon its head,
And though we tried our best to save
Him, Dragonfly was dead.


The ‘Fasten Seatbelts’ sign came on
As we were flying to Crete.
The stewardess announced that one
Should go back to one’s seat.
The public took it in their stride,
The seatbelts all clicked true
And then the pilot came outside
And went into the loo.
"The only bleedin' turbulence is in that feller's stomach."

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Twelve year old whiskey

The crowds have dispersed
And the bubble has burst
And the bar-room is quiet once more.
The bartender jokes
With some hillbilly folks
While Conchita and Raul sweep the floor.
A man with a scar
Eyes the till on the bar
But decides that it may be too risky.
On an old upturned crate
Reclines twelve year old Kate
With a bottle of twelve year old whiskey.

The jukebox is playing
A song sad and swaying,
The click of the pool cue cracks loud.
The dawn is approaching,
Reality encroaching,
Stale smoke hangs above in a cloud.
A maudlin old hag
Takes a drag of her fag
And recalls how she used to be frisky,
And though it is late,
There sits twelve year old Kate
With a bottle of twelve year old whiskey.

Reality bites,
Someone turns up the lights,
The customers shirk from the glare.
The corner chair scrapes,
The old hag escapes
And the hillbillies slump in the chair.
Raul gives dark looks
As he does up the books,
Typing slowly in case he might miss-key.
And in a drawn, haggard state,
The young twelve year old Kate
Drains the last of her twelve year old whiskey.
Looking at the menu one night, Emmet remarked "Hey Kate, they have whiskey especially for you!"

Monday, August 4, 2008

The subterranean Ostraco blues

Plakias is breezy,
The moon is cheesey,
Nico jumps boats and says it is easy.
Crickets keep humming,
Andreas keeps coming,
Don’t throw the paper and mess up the plumbing.
Watch out Kate!
Carrots on the plate!
Maria is singing,
Aftersun’s stinging,
Point out the star, on which we’ve been swinging,
Get down, Emmet,
Stop that tomfoolery,
Mon’s in the Talisman looking at the jewellery.
Dave’s gone smoking,
Áine’s joking,
Cicadas are croaking
Monica and Brenda are Malibu and Coking,
Drink is flowing,
Emmet says he’s going,
Kate’s gone to watch the video that’s showing.
Come back Kate!
There’s olives on the plate!
Adonis is walking,
Frau Fred’s stalking,
Down on the beach the goose is squawking.
Maria and Anna get
Ice-creams from the freezer,
Mon’s in the Talisman wearing out my Visa.

Nico is messing,
Dave’s excessing,
Brenda counts the days but says it’s too depressing.
Áine’s reminiscing,
Emmet’s gone missing,
Too many Cokes have sent him to the toilet.
Look here Kate!
These carrots look great!
Adonis shoos a cat away,
Nico puts his hat away,
Maria goes this-a-way,
Kate goes that-a-way,
Dave and Áine chat away,
Peter wants his stomach to sit in a flatter way,
Emmet’s taunting ‘roaches,
Andreas approaches,
Mon’s in the Talisman trying on the brooches.

Maria’s drinking juices,
Kate makes excuses,
Áine lists dead cats and many of their uses.
Dave’s telling fables,
Andreas moving tables,
The bottles look small so Emmet checks the labels,
Go on Kate!
More olives on the plate!
Maria is sleepy,
Frau Fred’s creepy,
Brenda’s eyes are weepy,
Dave explains the diff’rence ‘tween a wigwam and a tepee.
Emmet’s nose is runny,
Adonis thinks its funny,
Mon’s in the Talisman spending all my money.

Nico’s throwing nuts about,
The girls shake their butts about,
The goose looks offended and humorously struts about,
The moon is waning,
Emmet is complaining,
Áine spots a cloud and says it might start raining,
Eat up Kate!
More carrots on the plate!
The waves keep rolling,
Adonis goes strolling,
Kate won’t eat despite Brenda’s cajoling,
Sunburn stings now,
Maria sings now,
Mon’s in the Talisman trying on the rings now.

Dave is re-ordering,
Peter’s camcordering,
Mon wants to know if we can afford a ring,
Adonis drinking water,
Dave’s on the porter,
Brenda’s trying to get an olive in her daughter.
Just one Kate!
Choose one from the plate!
Kate refuses,
Brenda excuses,
Nico and Emmet are comparing their bruises,
Áine watches,
Maria dances,
Mon’s in the Talisman lightening finances.

Peter’s hunched stockily,
Nico shouts cockily,
Áine is extolling the virtues of broccoli,
Monica is sweating,
Brenda’s forgetting,
Dave checks his whistle and says it needs wetting,
Where is Kate?
These olives won’t wait!
Maria sings a stanza
Of Mario Lanza,
Emmet wants to know if we can play Bonanza.
Twenty dollars,
The carrot dangles,
Mon’s in the Talisman trying on the bangles.

The goose is getting playful,
Andreas has a tray full,
Dave can’t figure out why his pint won’t stay full,
From somewhere there’s an odour
Of Campari and Soda,
Kate throws the nuts the way that Nico showed ‘er.
Stop that Kate!
Leave some on the plate!
Mon wants a sweater,
Peter won’t let ‘er,
Emmet wants to know can he have some more Feta,
Brenda and her bra
Are locked in a crisis,
Mon’s in the Talisman checking out the prices.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Foreign departure lounge

Another stream of English? Greek? Swahili?
Everybody straining hard to hear.
We look across at Ray from Cabinteely.
He just shrugs and takes a sup of beer.

The plane was due to leave at 7:20,
My watch says it is now 8:22.
Of Gaelic football tops, there still are plenty,
So if it’s gone, it’s left with just the crew.

The monitor is grimy and quite dirty,
Our flight of course is nowhere to be seen.
The plane that left for Rome at 7:30
Still shows “Delayed till 7:17”

There’s no sign of our plane outside the window,
We’re six but squashed in seats designed for three.
Someone throws away last Wednesday’s Indo,
Someone else is going for a pee.

All around the travellers are sweating,
No-one really wanting to fly home.
My wife and I are earnestly regretting
We didn’t catch that bleedin’ flight to Rome.

Half an hour, another stream of babble,
Ray gets up and nods toward the gate.
We all follow like a brainless rabble,
Thankful that we’re only two hours late.

The ascent of the Kakomouri headland

(an account of the daring and intrepid ascent of this previously unclimbed – except by other people – mountain overlooking Plakias bay)

For a week I’d reclined
With not much on my mind
In the Ostraco beachside taverna.
And my plans to go hiking,
Once much to my liking,
Had been very much on the back burner.
But my conscience was roused
By the choice thus espoused
With a strength that conspired to floor me,
So I sucked on my lime
And avowed I would climb
The bloody great headland before me.

So next morn, I awoke
With a post-Raki croak
And set out in my shorts and my sandals.
And though it was still night,
The moon’s bounteous light
Meant I’d no need for torches or candles.
Round the beach road I strolled
With my sweat running cold,
Hoping any stray dogs would ignore me,
Till I reached that great rock
When it came as a shock
The extent of the journey before me.

It was huge, it was massive,
Aloof and impassive
And I felt an illegal usurper.
As I started to sweat
I began to regret
That I’d not thought to hire a Sherpa.
Along the cliff’s base
I redoubled my pace
As a sense of adventure swam o’er me.
With my guide-book in hand, I would conquer this land,
Despite all the dangers before me.

To the cliff’s end I went
And began the ascent,
Still in the deep shade of the mountain.
A faint path up the scree
Led diagonally –
Fifty yards, eighty and countin’.
On the path a large goat
In a black woolly coat
Scampered off round a rock when he saw me,
And I envied his speed
As I viewed rock and weed
That adorned the slight pathway before me.

At the top of this climb,
I sat down for a time
And gulped some large mouthfuls of water,
Which lightened the load
And conclusively showed
I was right not to hire a porter.
Then I turned to the left
And hopped gully and cleft
As ambition continued to draw me
Ever higher and higher,
As my heart filled with fire
And the sunlight grew stronger before me.

At the end of this track,
I again doubled back
With another diagonal sortie.
And, as the sun baked,
How my knee muscles ached
And I wished I was not over forty.
Another sheer cliff,
And I wasn’t sure if
I was right ‘bout this pathway that bore me.
It was faint, indistinct
And I dubiously blinked
At the words on the page held before me.

But I went with the book
Round each cranny and nook,
To the final ascent I was seeking.
As I skirted large boulders,
The bag hurt my shoulders
And my knees kept their incessant creaking.
Then a dip hove to view
Up above and I knew
That the gods could no longer ignore me.
No way would I plummet
So near to the summit
With such world-famous glory before me.

Further upwards I rambled,
Occasionally scrambled
With the brown vegetation quite prickly.
My legs were all scraped,
Not a square inch escaped,
And the sweat down my neck became trickly.
When I got to the top
I decided to stop,
Cursing loud at the plants that did score me.
And I sat on a rock
At just seven o’clock
Gazing down at the view spread before me.

Just one final slope!
Up I climbed, full of hope.
The “pathway” was now indiscernible.
I clambered o’er rocks,
Taking plenty of knocks,
Wondering hard if this route was returnable.
I scaled one last lip
And my heart gave a skip,
As grave doubts had continued to gnaw me.
I was there! I’d o’ercome it!
I’d got to the summit!
Oh great joy unconfined!
(Though disgusted to find
That a German had got there before me.)

Big wave

He went into the sea up to his oxters.
“Big wave!” his mother shouted from the shore.
He waved with all his might,
Then got carried out of sight
By the biggest wave that Plakias ever saw.

Thoughts of flying home

The thoughts of flying home again are killing me,
Another endless stretch of work and rain.
Every fibre of my soul is willing me
To take the brash decision to remain.
Deep down though, I know well it can’t be done,
Although the harsh realities are filling me
With despair that I can’t stay here in the sun,
However hard imagination’s grilling me.

The thoughts of flying home again are killing me.
Blank depression’s all that has survived.
The prospect has been resolutely chilling me
Ever since the day that we arrived.
I feel the urge to pack a case and run.
Responsibilities, alas! are stilling me
And so I’ll merely stretch out in the sun.
The thoughts of flying home again are killing me

Rethymnon lighthouse waltz

At the end of the pier,
Where few tourists go
In the mad Cretan heat,
O’er the waters so clear
That languidly flow
To bathe his tired feet,

He stands tall and straight
With a big toothless grin
On his world-weary face,
Watching tourists and freight
Purring out, purring in,
Past his thick sturdy base.

His old grey tin cap –
Does it nod to the bucks
In their bright fancy gear
That now hold the map
And the maritime books
On the opposite pier?

Does his mind flicker back
To empirical times
When he stood proud and strong,
Shining forth in the black,
With his nautical chimes
Chanting loud the old song?

In his mind, does he hear
The victorious crow
Of the large Turkish fleet?
At the end of the pier,
Where few tourists go
In the mad Cretan heat...


A ravine or a gorge or a gully?
The Cretans don’t seem to know which.
The difference admittedly’s woolly.
How do you describe a large ditch?

Poolside brilliance

With a leap and a bound,
He sprang off the ground
And dived in with joy unrestrained.
Universal acclaim!
It was only a shame
He’d not realised the pool had been drained.

Kate and the dragonfly

The serried mountain massif
Stood inscrutably impassive.
The sun was hot though afternoon was late.
Upon the lake, relaxing,
We did nothing that was taxing
Till a dragonfly went buzzing after Kate.

The size of a small sparrow,
It flew at her like an arrow,
And caused Miss Lawless to become irate.
All around her, it went buzzin’,
Likely calling for its cousin,
This huge dragonfly that buzzed around poor Kate.

Was she being battered?
Well the evening calm was shattered
With yells and shrieks too awful to relate.
She was screaming out blue murder,
Even distant farmers heard ‘er
When a dragonfly went buzzing after Kate.

Well the pedalo was rocking
It was tilting something shocking
As all her jigging distributed weight.
And Emmet had no wishes
To be swimming with the fishes
When a dragonfly went buzzing after Kate.

The fish beneath the waters
Called out to their sons and daughters
“Dinner will be soon served on a plate!”
All the baby fish came tumbling,
Their little bellies rumbling,
When a dragonfly went buzzing after Kate.

‘Twas like assault and battery
Committed in a cattery
Or a banshee shrieking loudly to its mate.
Far away in West Darjeeling
People wondered “What’s that squealing?”
When a dragonfly went buzzing after Kate.

On the mountain, rocks came falling,
The destruction was appalling,
With towns submerged by limestone, shale and slate.
All the traffic was diverted
And the Red Cross was alerted
When a dragonfly went buzzing after Kate.

In the White House, they suspected
That the decibels projected
Could only come from en’mies of the state.
The fighter planes were scrambled
As the Secret Service gambled
‘Twas no dragonfly just buzzing after Kate.

And then suddenly, it vanished,
As by Royal Ordnance banished
And the anguished howls ceased to reverberate.
Once again great peace descended
On the lake so calm and splendid
On the day a dragonfly buzzed after Kate.

The short stubby finger syndrome

It’s the short, stubby finger syndrome
When your fingers grow chunky and fat.
In hot sunny climes,
It happens sometimes
That you can’t hold a pen
When you think of good rhymes,
And that, says the saying, is that.

The jewellery shops of Rethymnon

In Rethymnon in Northern Crete,
There’s jewellery shops on every street.
In fact I’d say each second shop
Would make the jewel-eyed shopper stop
And point at watches, brooches, rings
And other bright and shiny things.
Such is the amount, I’ve often thought
How the market can support
So many stores all selling bling.
But yet the singing tills all ring!
‘Tis clear to anyone who cares
To wander down her thoroughfares,
The town’s prosperity is fuelled
By all these shops so brightly jewelled.
Thus, borrowing a phrase of old,
The streets are truly paved with gold.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Poolside Show

Across the pool, her boobs were flashing tersely,
Like something from an Alan Ayckbourn farce.
That was yesterday, but now conversely
Today we’ve had the pleasure of her arse.

The towel

The towel sat on the lounger from the morning until night
But I was not quite brave enough to shift it.
I sat upon the poolside with my knuckles turning white,
Hoping for a sudden gust to lift it.

But no-one came and claimed it and the lounger stayed unused.
The second day I eyed it with a scowl.
All throughout the morning I grew less and less amused,
Till after dinner, I threw in the towel.

The monastery at Preveli

At the monastery, fowl were a-plenty.
The air rang with cheeps, quacks and clucks.
Of the Catholic geese, there were twenty,
The remainder were Greek Ortha-ducks.

UFOs in Crete in July

Cylindrical and white,
Sure we got an awful fright,
When it suddenly swam o’er the mountain’s peak.
Then another came in view
In the sky so clear and blue
And a woman turned and gave a piercing shriek.

All the faces turned on high
To those objects in the sky,
You could sense the helpless panic in the crowds.
Then up spoke an English gent
With an air of puzzlement
“D’ya know, old boy, I think they could be clouds.”

Daves joke in verse form

If you should go
To the Ostraco,
You should not be surprised
If you get too jarred
And end up barred,
You may well be ostracised.

The Parental Guidance Restaurant

You can get whate’er you want
At the Parental Guidance Restaurant.
The menu, folks, is quite extensive
And singularly inexpensive.
Mine host, a woman old and nice
Will offer up some sound advice.
Should your daughter, short and cute,
Ask that the curry be served sans fruit,
She’ll answer in a voice so sweet
That fruit is good for her to eat,
For, (speaking with a slight inflection,)
Fruit can bolster your complexion.
And when the meal is served and done
And your caffeine-bred nine-yeared son
Requests a coffee, not dessert,
She’ll stare as if profoundly hurt
And ask his age and tut aloud,
And suddenly it seems a cloud
Has settled o’er the dinner table.
As parents you will feel not able.
See what modern ways have done!
Is that the way to raise a son?
But she holds back with great forbearance,
Despite this pair of hopeless parents.

Yes the menu’s writ in size twelve font
At the Parental Guidance Restaurant.


The weather’s so hot here in Plakias
You end up with rather a tacky ass.

The poor little shark in the pool

Lonely and friendless,
The days seemed so endless
For the poor little shark in the pool.
There was just him, with
Nobody to swim with
In the water so fresh and so cool.
Only him, all alone,
Swimming round on his own,
Rejected, abandoned, forsaken,
Though up on the edge,
‘Neath the palm-fronded hedge,
The loungers all seemed to be taken.

But the children stayed dry,
He could not fathom why
Those humans stayed out of the water.
Whene’er one came near,
The mother, in fear,
Would snatch up their son or their daughter.
He’d no cause to harm them!
His grin would soon charm them,
And then he would not be so lonely.
If only they’d get in
Just suffer a wettin’,
If only, if only, if only.

But no-one jumped in
So the solit’ry fin
Just circled around in the water.
A triangular marker,
Like graphite but darker,
Like the sail of a yacht, only shorter.
Lonely and friendless,
The days seemed so endless
For the poor little shark in the pool.
There was just him, with
Nobody to swim with
In the water so fresh and so cool.


Oh there are creatures in the trees
That are making quite a racket.
The decibels rise by degrees
And Monica can’t hack it.

Are they cicadas we enquire?
Perhaps a herd of cricket?
Whatever, it’s a raucous choir
And Monica can’t stick it.

The Cretans do not seem to hear
The racket they are making,
Deaf to that projected cheer
That sets the eardrums quaking.

Nothing falls out of the tree
Whene’er I try to shake it.
The noise is rising deaf’ningly
And Monica can’t take it.

Baby goat

Yessir, they’ll serve you baby goat,
Prepare it at your bidding.
It is a Cretan dish of note
And no, I am not kidding.

Plakias and Bob Dylan

Yes and what are the towels on my balcony doing,
Flapping around to get dry?
Yes and what are the crumbs of my croissant doing
As they disappear in the sky?
Yes and what are we doing in Plakias
In the middle of July?
The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind,
The answer is blowing in the wind.

Said George

A little piece of Paradise
Beneath the Cretan sun.
To fattened eyes, a little slice
Of how things once were done.
But oh that wind!
That howling wind
That whistled down the gorge,
Like Zeus’s choice
And vengeful voice
‘Gainst those who’ve sinned,
Said George.

Tavernas lounging on the beach
And gazing o’er the bay.
How much their languidness can teach
The tourist of today!
But oh that breeze!
That rampant breeze
That whistled down the gorge,
Like banshee shrieks
From limestone peaks
To basking seas,
Said George.

The little winding thoroughfares,
The pots of homemade jam,
The whistling as the chef prepares
A kleftika of lamb.
But oh that gale!
That constant gale
That whistled down the gorge,
Like waves that pound
The stony ground
And make gods quail,
Said George.

The cricketing grasshopper

On the steps in a manner improper,
Far away from the rye grass and thicket,
We first came upon this grasshopper
(Or it might well have been a large cricket.)

Half way up to our first-floor apartment,
It seemed to have OD-ed on brandies.
It was green in the colouring department
And it’s legs were quite spindly, like Ghandi’s.

It sat like a large green back-stopper
Engaged in a long game of cricket,
This quite paralytic grasshopper,
Far away from the rye grass and thicket.

For three days, it sat there unmoving
On the stairs that led up to our landing,
Once more conclusively proving
There are things that defy understanding.

At last I decided to flick it
And discovered it had come a cropper.
So we said our goodbyes to the cricket
(Or maybe ‘twas just a grasshopper.)

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The patron saint of holidays

I’ve shivered in the snow and ice in Vilnius,
I’ve braved the traffic madness of Trieste,
I’ve flown without much hassle
To the walls of Edinburg castle
And Pula left me very much impressed.

I’ve strolled the Jewish quarter in Girona,
In Wroclaw I have dined on wild boar.
In Frankfurt I’ve drunk beer
In the Christmas market cheer
And ambled by the clear Slovenian shore.

Oh I’ve seen so many wondrous sights ‘cross Europe,
Tripping like a trav’ler here and there.
And it will make people weep
To learn I’ve done it on the cheap,
Oh God bless all the folks in Ryanair.