Thursday, 28 August 2008

history coming to visit

I've ranted/rambled/wailed on about the state of the house we bought two and a half years ago on my old blog at In fact, at one point, I wrote this piece about how at some point in the past, SOMEONE had once cared enough to decorate with a bit of love.... . Well, imagine my surprise when I was introduced to a young woman on Saturday who was a guest of my next-door-neighbour, who was the person who actually did that stencilling!

DM and I kidnapped her and took her round the house, asking what was there in her day. I'm now sitting typing this in a room that had Thomas the Tank Engines all over the walls when we moved in. They've now gone and this room is my office, painted in a delicious "Barbie" pink. The TTTE pictures have turned out to be her little brother's decor - he was three at the time.

She remarked that she refused point-blank to use the toilet on the ground floor because it was so dark and scary. I refer to that room as a cave these days - it is truly nasty. It's now exactly the same as it was then!

As she left, she remarked that she had loads of photos of the house and garden from her time here. I asked her if she would mind scanning some and sending them to me, which she did so we can now see for ourselves some of the history of this place. It was really exciting to see what we recognised and what was done after their time.

One of the "best bits" was seeing her pot-bellied pig sleeping in front of the fire in the sitting room - now that was a strange but rather lovely sight!

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

public health warnings

I've been thinking about the way in which our nanny state warns us of the evils of everything we do. You know the sort of thing "this programme contains bad language and themes of a sexual nature, if you are easily offended, please select a different channel" and "smoking kills" and "this film contains scenes of mild violence, some nudity and swearing, only suitable for viewers of 15 and over", "this peanut butter may contain nuts" ......etc etc.

Yet remarkably they don't give warnings for things that are just as damaging - personally, I'd have warnings in front of those brown, sticky soft drink ads (yes, you know, THOSE ones) that say "these products contain nothing of any nutritional value and indeed could harm your health by consuming them - watch the ad then remember this warning before you choose a drink", the ads for burgers and chicken in buckets would be much better if aired after a warning saying "these products contain things that if you had any concerns about the long term health of your kids you'd avoid" and best of all, warnings saying "this programme contains poor people who have been duped into airing their dirty laundry in public for the cheap thrills of the daytime TV audience and is only suitable for ghoulish voyeurs whose own pleasure is more important to them than the sad lives of the programme's guests" - again, I think you know the sort of thing I'm talking about.

Of course I don't really think that every programme and ad should be prefaced by a warning, I suppose what I'm really worried about is that there is someone who decides what should be subject to a warning and what should not.

Perhaps if our viewing is to be moderated by do-gooders in this way, it'd be also appropriate to give warnings that say things like "this programme has been made from the money that viewers spend in premium rate phone calls to become contestants" or "this programme has been made and bought by TV companies who only care about making as much money as possible and producing the lowest cost shows imaginable, that's why the evening schedules are full of celebrities doing "stuff", the members of the public making idiots of themselves and let's get the star-struck public to fund the finding of a new star that we can make loads of money out of so if you watch it be aware that you're supporting the continuation of this trend".

Or town planning departments should insist that superstores put up signs saying "all we care about is getting richer and making more money than our competitors even though we already have more money than we know what to do with, so if you set foot onto this site you share responsibility for killing off shops in your town centre, reduction in biodiversity, pollution and the monopolistic bullying of suppliers - enter at your own risk".

Yeah, I like the sound of that one!

I am now convinced, having read this again before posting it that I've truly become a mad old goat.

Monday, 25 August 2008

Meaningful dreams?

I have always been plagued by bad dreams, going back as far as I can remember. They mostly consist of scary things in the dark, sometimes identified and sometimes just hints of bad things and danger. Often there is blood.....sometimes it's mine but often it's unidentified.

So, I thought I might be having a major breakthrough when I had a good dream last week. It was fabulous. I was swimming in an azure sea with dolphins and seals. They were playful and I was catching a ride on the dorsal fins of the dolphins, being pulled along fast. I was laughing, warm and happy. I love the sea yet it's a long, long time since I last swam in the sea. It's just too cold here in the UK most of the time for a wimp like me. The last time I got to partake of this pleasure was in Malta about a dozen or more years ago. In this country, I swim in heated pools and to be completely frank, I've not been in a pool of any description (other than my own bath) since before I moved to Cornwall three years ago. I've even got a brand-new, unused swimming cozzie that I've had for about three or four years that I've never even christened.

So, to have such a "real" dream, not just visually but touch, taste and sounds too was a great joy. My swim with seals and dolphins felt like a real experience even though it was fake in the most absolute of senses. I experienced pleasure in a completely pure form. It was fab.

I took this dream to mean my mind is starting to come through its blackness and out into the light again. Today I have looked up the meaning of swimming in a warm and wonderful sea with seals and dolphins in my guide to dreams (yes, I AM the sort of sucker who buys such drivel) and the news all looks good - the ocean - good, especially swimming in it in good weather, a sign of enlarging my sphere of activity and or influence. Seals = prosperity and dolphins = advancement through own mental vigour.......all good so far!

Then the next day, back to strange dreams of death and destruction - this time, finding the carcasses of dead animals in the garden, just lying in the grass. A cat, a sheep, a goat, a rabbit, a rat - all dead but looking like they were just sleeping. This one is trickier because it seems it's quite unusual but carcasses are supposed to be good if they are not decayed, dead cats in dreams are good omens (so says the book, not my words), likewise sheep are generally positive.

So, now I'm not so sure - is my mind telling me that some of the things that plague me are no longer a problem for me? Is my mind telling me something I've not actually worked out? Is it all just hocus-pocus anyway and not to have anything read into?

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Stephen John Alstead - the boy that never was

It was my birthday yesterday - I was 48. It's a bit of a scary thought to be honest. DM says I should think of it as having a 24 year old left half and a 24 year old right half and when you put the two together you get to 48. He's such a sweetie isn't he?

I am a woman. This is a fact of which I'm completely certain.

Anyway, my folks decided that they wanted to be with their broken daughter on her birthday, the first time they've been with me since my 40th, when I had a humdinger of a party but more of that another day. So, here they are. We went to Truro for the day on the train and had a lovely peaceful time wandering around the "fake" Gothic Cathedral there - it's fake because it's Victorian Gothic, not real Gothic. Mind you, its young age is no barrier to its beauty. It is quite deliciously lovely in a way that many churches are. It shares its age (in broad terms at least) with another of the most lovely churches I've ever seen - the Sacre Coeur in Paris, which is also a late 19th/early 20th century building. (Not a lot of people know that!)

Anyway, we got to telling DM that my "real" name is Stephen John Alstead and that I came into the world at 8.50pm several thousand miles away from home. My Mum went into labour at the tender age of 18 and my Dad rushed her to the military hospital where I was born a few hours later. As was the way in those seemingly unenlightened times, the strict military nurses sent my Dad home to await news of his first born.

When I arrived, the message was communicated to my Dad that he was the proud father of a baby boy. Since my folks had already decided on a name should they have a son, my Dad sent telegrams home to the family in England proclaiming the birth of their son, Stephen John!

When my Dad got to the hospital to see his new-born son, he found my Mum in deep distress, crying her eyes out. The problem? She had to tell my Dad he'd been misinformed and had got a little girl not a little boy. Ooops. She was distraught thinking my Dad would be disappointed with his little bundle of joy. Not so, fortunately for me, he was petrified that Mum was so distressed because I was seriously ill, rather than simply with two xs instead of an x and a y.

So, he was introduced to his baby daughter and fell in love with her at once. So, Stephen John Alstead, the boy that never was became me..........

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Seeing Jeff and Gary again....

I'm so thrilled because I'm going to see my pal Jeff again this afternoon, for the first time in three months. He doesn't know he's my pal but I regard him among my friends. (Sadly these days many of my friends are "not real" in as much as I think of them as friends but they don't have a clue who I am......I think I'm turning into a stalker.)

He's the presenter of Sky Sport's Soccer Saturday and he's fab. He's got an encyclopaedic knowledge of the glorious game, he's a "real fan", supporting I think Hartlepool rather than a glory club. He referees a bunch of pundits who are watching Premiership games and commenting on other scores, incidents and results. It's a truly wonderful show from a company who I normally consider myself reluctantly a customer of. Sky TV is expensive, very ad-laden and frankly the programming/scheduling is often so "lowest common denominator" as to be scary. I hate being a customer but they have a monopoly in this country unless you live in a city and can get cable.

Then there's the lovely Gary. Lineker of course. He'll (hopefully) be back tonight with Match of the Day. Gary is perfect. I'd marry him in a flash (of course that's a bit of a stalker thing to say too), though I doubt he'd even give me a second glance. He's also perfect in as much as he once wore the great white shirt of the Lilywhites and what I'm leading up to of course is that today we see our boys take the field for the start of the new Premiership season.

We've got Middlesborough away - a good, strong side, especially at home and we don't have a great track record there. The pundits think we'll lose. I've had my first cup of tea out of my new Spurs Mug (it proudly proclaims Spurs 5 Arsenal 1), I am wearing my Spurs shirt - these days you'd have to describe it as a vintage one - it's a Holsten one, a Spurs sweatshirt and lucky pants. I'm all set for the kick off and looking forward to reacquainting myself with the lovely Jeff and Gary. Bring it on.......COYS or Come On You Spurs to the unenlightened.

I may be an armchair supporter these days, but I have "earned my Spurs" the hard way at games week-in, week-out for donkey's years. COYS!

Friday, 15 August 2008

strange things happening

We want to know what's going on in our it coming to an end?

Why the dilemma?

Well, it's blue sky and sunshine here today, such a rare event as to be more so than finding hens teeth. It was cause for so much excitement last night that a crowd of us got together and discussed how much washing we could get dry in our single day-long window of good weather. I've done two loads and my friends Toni and Erica have also been working hard getting theirs done too. It's a miracle. It's glorious.

Mind you, I can see my herbaceous border from the house for the first time in ages (too murky and foggy for the whole of this summer) and I'm a lot less pleased to see a group of teeny-weeny baby wabbits munching their way through my plants. I've discovered that almost every man-Jack critter on the planet is trying to eat my plants at the moment - wabbits, wabbits and more wabbits, slugs, slugs and more slugs, not to mention that we humans are eagerly scooping up the tomatoes (which don't seem to be troubled by slugs), the potatoes (which DO seem to be troubled by slugs) and the peas which also manage to avoid slug damage. I've decided that over the winter I'm going to build a small pond right in the middle of my veggie patch and fill it with captured tadpoles from the pools on the moor. Although the beer traps work well in the right weather, this year they've been flooded with rainwater so often that they're virtually useless.

The other major weird event is that the house is devoid of dogs. It's very strange not to be either tripping over Rosie or having her yipping outside the back door because she's got herself shut out. They've gone off to be "done" - washed, trimmed, brushed and's very strange to get them back smelling of perfume and not dog but it's a welcome diversion from the norm every now and again.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

waking up with a tattoo

I'm now starting to build up my new drug for severe depression and anxiety. I reckon I've come through the worst of the withdrawal from Prozac and am now starting to get my body used to its new chemical crutch. This one is controversial - it's a derivative of one I've had before that I reacted badly to, it's patent protected so it's hellishly expensive and it's not on the formulary of my local PCT (Primary Care Trust - the local legislative body that decrees what local physicians can and cannot prescribe).

Frankly, the controversy isn't really that helpful to someone with depression - all I care about is getting better and I'm not sure if I care what I rely on to get me there any more. This is especially true as my natural patience span is short and this has been going on too long. So, if it works and my body doesn't object, I'm all for it.

Surprisingly I don't seem to have had the severe reaction that I had to this drug's (off-patent) older brother, although I fully expected to - perhaps there is a good medical reason for this - I dunno.

Anyway, while my doctors bicker among themselves, I'm just going to quietly go on trying to get better. Other "interested parties" also seem to be bickering and unwilling to accept life as it seems to be at the moment but I've resolved to not let them grind me down any more - there has been two months of "wobbling weather" in my world because of it and I need to put it in a box and forget it.

One of the weird things about these drugs is the morning hangover that feels like the result of a way-too-large quantity of the red stuff. I get sick and headachey EVERY day and I deeply resent it because I'm almost completely tee-total these days, only supping a glass of my favourite tipple once every couple of weeks on average over the last seven or eight months. It's just not fair. All of the pain and none of the pleasures of the dark green bottle........

So, in my fake hung-over state this morning I dragged myself into the bathroom and while going about my ablutions, I noticed something bright and colourful about my person. Oh no, I've forgotten I've been out, drunk a couple of bottles of wine and then found myself getting a tattoo. You know, that old cliche, reported in many an amusing tale over the years (I can think of the episode of Auf Wiedersein Pet, where Kevin Whately ended up with one that had the name of a woman who was NOT his faithful wife back home and the Dave Gorman driving licence to name but two).

I am adorned with bright pink.......OK, OK so it's not a tattoo really - I'm not sure I could ever go that far, especially as I'm completely certain that not a single drop of the red stuff passed my lips last night now I'm down from the initial panic.

Somehow, in my infinite wisdom and my clearly limited memory, I'd painted my toenails bright pink, a state in which they've not been seen for more than two years now, although I once would not have considered myself dressed without brightly-coloured toes. Somehow, the little pearl of wisdom of Gwynneth Lewis, the author of Sunbathing in the rain seems to have permeated my psyche. I can't remember the exact words but it was something like "dress above how you feel" - I've not quite managed to drag myself out from trackie bottoms and holey sweatshirts, but I've at least made sure that if the rain ever stops and I ever get to put on my Birkenstocks again, I'll at least have "over-dressed" toes!!!

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Weather warnings

My psychologist has given me a tool to help with my depression. She's asked me to stop describing my mood in the first person "I am sad/I am having a wobble etc" and to start to think of my emotions and mood as part of an ever changing landscape a bit like a weather map. So, "I am sad" becomes "sadness is happening". Strangely or otherwise, I find this quite useful so here goes:

The Emotions Office has issued the following warnings:

Expect a complex weather pattern over the next few days, with many emotional fronts rushing across the landscape. Expect sadness, anxiety, lost-ness(!), worry and gloom. This weather system will whip across your world for the next few days until the middle of next week, when we're expecting the pace of change to slow and a return to brighter emotional weather.

Who knows why but my recovery has hit a bump. The drugs that were helping with my improvement have stopped providing the relief I need. This is probably due to severe "bad things happening" on the work front but nonetheless, my doctors have said that a change of medication is needed.

The trouble is, this requires weaning off the Prozac to go onto something else. As I come off the Prozac, my anxieties and fear rise to the surface again and panic has set in once again.

I write this by way of an explanation because I may not write anything more for a few days - quite apart from the depression symptoms, the nausea and headaches associated with coming off the Prozac are making me feel decidedly grotty.

DM has been asked (by me) to "pull me along" for the next few days so last night he prodded me off the sofa and out into the fresh air. I was grateful and pleased to see my trees. My fight goes on....think of me as having found a ledge on the cliff where I'm shielded from the weather for the most part but with a north wind blowing, the rain is hitting me again. The wind will change direction and my shelter will return.

Friday, 8 August 2008

Just who is Rosie?

She's known variously as Rosie, the Roguester, Rogus Pogus....sometimes with a Poo on the end, you mad bitch, my petal, sweetie, oooowwwwww Rosie and a whole host of lesser names that come to the fore in moments of madness, delight or irritation.

It's her birthday tomorrow. She's going to be nine years old, which, given that she's a Border Collie, makes her a middle aged woman. If you believe the seven dog years for every one human year then she's a pensioner at 63!

Rosie is black, well at least to most people she's as black as the night. Her fur is so black it's almost blue if you know what I mean. She's only got the tiniest "shepherd's lantern" (the white tip of her tail). Her snout is greying and a friend once described her as looking as though she's just tip-toed through a puddle of milk. That's because she's got a pair of cute front legs that look splashed with milk and her back legs, although resolutely black, have the tiniest little blobs of milk on her toes. The roof of her mouth is also black - apparently this is a Border Collie breed standard - if their mouth doesn't have a black roof then the dog's not a "proper" Border Collie.

Her entire life is devoted to me. She would happily be joined at the hip with me but if I'm not showing any sign of receptiveness to her charms, then she'll certainly take her comfort elsewhere and is something of a tart, flinging herself at anyone who'll show an interest in her. At this moment, she's tucked up in a ball on the floor of my office by my feet. If I display any sign whatsoever of moving away from my desk, she'll leap to her feet and anticipate some thrilling trip down to the kitchen or better still, into the garden. Rosie doesn't mind where, as long as we're on the move and she's with me.

When I get up in the night to go to the bathroom, Rosie greets me outside the bedroom door, where she's managed to get herself from wherever she's been sleeping to "full parade" in the space of the few moments that it takes me to throw back the duvet, climb out of bed and negotiate the complete darkness to get around the bed and out of the door. Our pitch-dark environment means you can't see her, but you can feel her breath on your legs as you pass her by. I ALWAYS bend down and give her head a scratch on the way past. Some nights, she'll follow me into the bathroom and then stare at me with a quizzical look on her face while I do what I need to do.

In the morning, she eagerly awaits the moment when she can come into the bedroom, circumnavigate the bed, leap onto me and spend a few minutes trying to insert her tongue into one or both of my nostrils. That's when she gets called the less-flattering things in the list at the top of this posting! Then we play "the biting game" and I see a side of Rosie that very few other people see - her white side. You see, when she's upside-down she looks completely white, despite my earlier assertions that she's almost entirely black. She rolls onto her back, then tries to put my hand where she wants her fuss by taking it in her teeth and putting it onto her body where she wants to be tickled. She knows what she wants alright.

Her "best ever" game is "tennis ball" - she'd rather have a manky, chewed, soft tennis ball than any posh dog toy. You know she's managed to root one out when you hear THUD, thud, thud, thud. This is the sound of the ball being tossed towards your feet - the first insistant thud then the lesser thuds as the ball loses its initial momentum. I have NEVER known Rosie to be tired of the tennis ball game before her opponant.

She's my "Battersea Babe", coming into my open arms as a ten-week-old puppy, already having had the sad lot of being taken away from her Mum too early and being rejected by another family. I have loved her ever since the moment I whispered "Rosie" over her head as she sat on my knee in the waiting room to see the Battersea Dogs Home vet before we went home. She turned her head and looked at me and my heart was lost forever.

Although we don't celebrate Rosie's birthday - how can you celebrate the birthday of one baby when you have another who you not only don't know his birthdate, you don't even know his age? I expect we'll probably still spend a few moments thanking the day when I walked through the doors of Battersea and walked out again with her under my arm.

So, I salute Ali Taylor (the collie specialist at Battersea) and all of the rest of the team there for their wonderful gift to me. OK - I may have paid a small sum of money to take her away but nonetheless I still regard her as a gift. She may be 63 in dog years but she'll be my baby girl forever. Battersea Dogs Home gave me the gift of a little critter who loves me more than anything else on the planet - how can you EVER top that?

Cute huh?

Thursday, 7 August 2008


I know that I've written about things I've seen on the goggle box three times recently already and this makes no 4 but I'm nevertheless going to get on my high horse again and complain about the latest Coke ads to make their way onto our screens.

The ad shows beautifully shot footage of cold bottles, covered in condensation, the sensuous(!) shape of the bottle, the effervescent liquid looking wholesome and inviting. It claims that there are no artificial ingredients in the drink and that basically you can really trust Coke to provide you with a thirst-quenching refreshing drink that is not at all bad for you! Not only that, but it's always been good for you and has never contained any dodgy ingredients.

Well, I may be overclaiming the "no artificial ingredients" because this is based on my memory of the ad and as I've not seen it for a few days, I may have got the ACTUAL words wrong.....anyway, no matter, I think we can all assume that's the impression the company's marketers and ad agency want to convey even though they may be only able to make the claim about the "flavourings" - I'm sure their legal team were very careful to only claim what they could legally substantiate, even if they want you to believe that the product is and always has been truly wholesome. After all, the mighty Coca-Cola can't possibly say anything that might lead to a legal battle, can it?

So, never anything nasty in Coca-Cola? Er, well what about the aspartame in their diet formulations? Er - what about the cocaine that was in large quantities in the formula until 1903, then reduced substantially but still present until the 1930s? And while we're about it, what about the Sodium Benzoate linked to hyperactivity in children?

Not to mention having different corporate standards regarding the levels of pesticides that find their way into their products in countries where they think they can get away with lower standards? See Wikipedia's comments on this subject here, where an Indian organisation (Centre for Science and Environment) found levels of pesticides in Coke at 30 times the maximum allowed level in the EU.

But at the end of the day, who cares? Consumers buy it (and many, many people love it). The company makes a huge profit and provides stacks of money to governments all over the world in taxes - who am I to suggest that perhaps you should question the claims of wholesomeness and naturalness? I'm just an ordinary soul who thinks this is fundamentally wrong. I'd prefer to see companies being stopped from making these sorts of claims - even if they start saying that drinking Coke will make you more sexy, have a bigger penis or bigger breasts - surely at least these sorts of claims are so crazy that most people will see through their pretence.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Discretion is the Best part of valour

Can anyone tell me whether they are looking forward to seeing "Totally Calum Best" on the telly?

For anyone who doesn't know what this is, it's a reality TV show where Calum Best has to forgo sex for 50 days and 49 nights while his friends try to tempt him to sample the pleasures of the flesh.........

Oh please???!!!

Can this really be considered entertainment?

As far as I can tell, Calum Best has only one thing that makes him a "celebrity" and that's a Dad who was a gifted footballer and a fatally flawed human being in equal measure.

So, we, the Great British Public are now so discerning as to consider someone who is famous ONLY because his Dad was famous as interesting enough to feature on "celebrity" shows - we really are plumbing the depths aren't we? I must say, I couldn't care less whether Calum Best ever has sex again - as far as I can see that's much more information about the nearly celebrity than I'll ever need to know.

Let's face it, is it really so tragic/difficult/virtuous to go for 50 days without sex? I'm sure there are many folks out there who would love to have the opportunity for sex once every 50 days - in fact, I'll be prepared to bet there'll be many who'd be happy to get it once a year!

Dear, dear me, poor on earth is a man used to getting all his own way EVER going to manage to keep his dick in his pants for 50 whole days? It really is going to be such a terrible challenge. Strangely, we both (that's DM and me) think the so-called temptresses on the ad look rather less human than alien but that's a story for another day.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

talking to the sea

Since writing my little piece about whether or not there is anyone out there listening to what I'm saying, I have got to thinking "does it matter?"

You see, for whatever reason, writing is a burning need for me. It can't be stopped.

So, I thought about whether I needed an audience for what I have to say or not and decided that audiences can come in many forms and to be honest, perhaps there is something in speaking to the wind rather than writing it all down for some total stranger to throw brickbats at. A "guest" told me last week that I am going to rot in hell for the whole of eternity and that my only hope of salvation was to "embrace the one and only true Lord". Er right on - in fact, somehow hell seems like a better place to be than rubbing shoulders with this sort of nutter.

I decided that there might be a perfect solution. I could stand on the top of a cliff on the Coast Path and let the wind whip my words from my heart and soul. Let my thoughts be heard by seagulls, cormorants, sky larks, wild flowers, the wind and waves.

So, what to say......

Well, in order to make the effort of finding myself a perfectly remote spot, with weather wild enough to take my words and carry them away from me, I need something of value to say.

Can I write something in advance? Hmmm - I'm not sure I'm confident enough to consider my own words worthy of my wild listeners.

Can I recite someone else's prose or poetry? Well, I could, but where to start - I think the arena requires poetry rather than prose but I know so little poetry that moves me. In my somewhat limited education, the only poetry that I came into contact with was the First World War poets and despite Wilfred Owen's "Anthem for Doomed Youth" certainly being worthy of such an audience, it's also just about the bleakest sentiment I can imagine and that's not good for my struggling soul, trying hard to find hope. Since then I've been stirred by poetry I've come across in other contexts, like a lovely e.e.cummings poem that I found quoted from in a book I was reading. My knowledge of this huge area of literature is, therefore about as limited as it's possible to imagine.

Therefore I revert to what some may describe as a lesser form of poetry and have found my perfect anthem for my cliff-top eulogy.

If you should find yourself somewhere on the 258 miles of Cornish Coast Path and you see a middle aged woman with her arms outstretched, a glint in her eye and a smile on her face, it'll be me. I'll be the one letting the rain hit my face and the wind whip the words from my mouth while I yell out at the sea......

#.........if we get caught in this wind then we could burn the ocean
if we get caught in this scene we're gonna be undone
it's just a simple metaphor, it's for a burning love
don't it make you smile like a forest fire......#

I may be a philistine where poetry is concerned, but this will do it for me. This will give me satisfaction for my soul. They may not be my own words, (they belong to that wonderful musician Lloyd Cole) but they are a start. Those who consider themselves students of poetry or indeed poets themselves may think this is a poor substitute for "the real thing" but it's very much a real thing to me.