The End and the Beginning

 

Long Furlong

The End and the Beginning

 

Because others had named the day

We can plot the moment

When first in a church and then

in the barn of an after bouquet of a wedding

you caught a glimpse of the future in each other

deftly like a slipping shadow at first

then ripening boldly like a stalk of March wheat

in the rape fields of Long Furlong

where the South Downs remind us of eternity.

In a barn you found a storehouse

Of possibilities, scurrying everywhere

Like mice intoxicated

you saw how they ran

and the hurt platoons of the past

counselled caution

as you sensed the enormity and the shape

of the secret places undiscovered

yet waiting like the ruined bandstand

on the Brighton shoreline where permanent words

would be uttered fifteen months later.

And that day

there was a silent espousal that whilst

others were celebrating a wedding

at a place where the bloodlines and the ley lines met

The River Arun would take the promise of the future, a twist of wheat

through the gap in the Downs past Arundel

and out at Littlehampton to the sea

where the Channel eddies and tides

caress the leg of a Brighton pontoon

where one day soon the story

would at the same time end, and begin.

For Callum & Frankie, to mark the day it all began on 23.3.15

Love Dad 26.8.17

For an audio version of this piece with ‘The Irrepressibles – The Tide’ (Album: Mirror Mirror 2010) used as a backdrop please go here

Who Is Like God?

 

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Who is like God?

Love was the father and love the mother.

You arrived in December, anticipating another Christmas

A reward in yourself rather than a present

A pilgrimage more than a journey

Because we cannot find love in ourselves

Only with another

And you were the purest love

The world of love in a moment

To complete the place that was prepared for you

A place shaped, breathed into, palpitating, anticipated for you

And you arrived linking Winter with Spring

A week after Mandela died and two days before his burying

You arrived, your hair already hinting of gold

Woven like the wealth of the Transvaal on the South African flag

You arrived to separate the before from the after

The Anno Domini

Dividing the past from the future

You arrived to say that there was no going back

As the Ukraine edged westwards

After the charge of the dark brigade in Crimea

And your mother wrote the gospel of your life

Like a scream of joy

As the Scribes and the Pharisees fled back to the Old Testament

Making way for the new covenant of love

Turning over and seeding the soil of hope

Too big an enterprise now for the old scythes and hoes

‘We need a tractor’ you said in almost your first words

And we realised that the lines and the furrows

Could mean happiness after all.

Roy Stannard for Michael’s Naming Day 21.8.16

For a version of this mixed with music please visit Soundcloud at:

The Language of Us

 

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The Language of Us

Before you, I walked at the edge of the group

A straggler in strangers

My life didn’t fit, held together with an unsafety pin

I was made not to measure

A bird not of a feather

And my hesitant shadow held back

Expecting never to be expectant, half a step behind

Like a skittish kitten, playing with fear

And then, amongst the bubble wrap multitude

Issuing and popping with importance

Was a face that emptied the page, cleared the stage

And invited me into your dressing room

Shutting out the mob that scratched and mewled against the door

And said sit down, I have a place for you

In my heart

Come and try it on

And I tried it on

Inviting you to lunch without waiting for an answer

Knowing that the glistening still water waves of the Marina

Would caress our conversation

And lap at our bruised emotions

As we refused everything on the menu except love

We had been things to other people

We had appeared as guests in others memories

We were both in a foreign country

But as the first twitch of feeling shivered between us

We found we had the language of us

That said yes whenever we touched.

Roy Stannard for Natasha

20.8.16

For a recorded version with music on Soundcloud please click here:

Do It Yourself Celebrity

Do It Yourself Celebrity

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Last Friday 29th July I went to the Holmbush Centre at Shoreham to help my old friend and radio colleague Patrick Souiljaert man (person?) a stand at the entrance to Tesco there. He has written an autobiography in microscopic detail about the challenges of his life as a person with Cerebral Palsy. He was starved of oxygen a birth which led to the condition. However, instead of letting it define him, he has used it to energise and power his ambition, refusing to accept its limitations, using them instead to define his goals.

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After going to school in various special establishments (the word special is used in its loosest context here) in the South, Patrick emerged as a man with extreme sensitivity to his and others place in the world. He worked at a major telecomms company for many years before deciding that he could be a radio producer. He achieved this and worked for three Sussex-based radio stations before deciding that he could also be a property investor before going on to become an international speaker, writer and motivator.

His book — ‘Stairs For Breakfast’ was self published a year ago and has so far sold over 700 copies.

It is a raw, no-holds-barred account of the first half of his life with names and organisations changed to protect the innocent and the less than innocent. It is a page turning, honest, gripping story that demonstrates an almost documentary, forensic recall of detail and really installs the reader inside the head of someone who reacts powerfully to the limitations that life has laid upon him.

Last Friday, Patrick, John , Clare and myself went to Holmbush armed with 200 copies of the book, some banners and a great pitch provided by the generous customer services team at Tesco led by Lisa. I was given access to the public intercom system in order to make announcements.

Patrick called out to most passers by with a friendly ‘hello’, ‘how are you?’ and a goodly minority stopped to have a chat and by the end of the day 38 copies of the book at £10 each were sold.

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The point of this post? That you don’t have to accept the hand that life has dealt you. That you can dream and then wake up and achieve those dreams.

That you can decide to be a writer and go and write and publish your book. That you can call yourself an international motivational speaker and go and motivate by speaking. Internationally.

Stairs for Breakfast. Success for lunch. The world for supper.

 

For Now

For Now

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For Now

A long time ago

An entire lifetime in the past

Long before me

And before you were fully you

You played in the world

Before the world became a serious business

Because before you were a mother

You were a little girl

A wisp of a person

Without a care in the world

A fleck of colour on a dull daily canvas

Playing in the Stambridge fields

Rudely interrupting the country

Where nothing ever happened

Except perhaps an outing to Maldon

Or a flat cycle ride to Flatford Mill

Not noticing how golden the meadows were

In the late afternoon

When the prospect of another day was cheap.

And on another page, you’re smiling

A teenager with designs on womanhood

The hairstyle you were to keep for sixty years

Turned back in the light Summer breeze

Your lips laughing and unkissed

A girl spoken of and soon to be spoken for.

I can still hear the laughter in the grocers shop

Two quarters of a century ago

As you sliced more than a quarter of ham

And wrapped it up in your generosity

That you spent so freely

On all of us.

Even when your purse was empty

Your heart was full

I recall exchanging your last half crown

For a Blyton in Bobbins the Bookshop

In the old arcade where I looked for the clowns

In the Victoria Circus.

You walked so fast, it was a race to keep up

And when I did finally catch up, it was too late

You were too tired to go shopping

And your final half crown was spent

On a last afternoon in Chichester

Held back by the pain growing in the same place

That I grew a generation ago

And you told me that although you had to let me go

Our farewells were for now only

That love is not like a story at all

Because it has no end.

For Mum. Roy Stannard 16/5/2000

This poem was originally written for my Mother’s funeral. As part of a radio show on Thursday 3rd December 2015, it felt appropriate to record a live version of it. Listen here:   https://soundcloud.com/roystannard/roy-stannard-for-now

Eden Again

Sheep like the first Sheep Cuckmere Valley, Alfriston

Sheep like the first Sheep
Alfriston

Eden Again

I caught a single blade of grass twitching

The landscape was amoebic, a jelly of colour

As the Downs pushed at the horizon like rolling pins

Folding dough into the creases of the valley of Cuckmere

With Cross and Tye and Market Square

And an Inn with a Star calling to liars, kings and countrymen

Drawn as travellers, smugglers and heirs to a Wealden seat.

I caught a single field mouse fidget

In the May parade of heat

Sheep like the first sheep, fluff on the freshly ironed hillside.

The Saxon and the Domesday vibrations run

Through this land like arthritis

It will not be moved easily

It makes its own music, the reed pipes and the drum minorettes

And the river’s rustle percussion as a piano carillon

Slips from the South Down cathedral

And downscales to Pingles Place

Mozart’s 21 in C Major

played by 97 year old fingertips in a study

decorated by the Twentieth Century

Eyebrows aloft and a twinkle.

I caught a single piece of history

A man assembling his thoughts like a Summer picnic

You ran through the landscape like a chalkland stream

Swimming bareclad through the jibs and jibes and jabbering

You took photographs through the lens of your compassion

And used words like needlepoint, stitching people into history

‘When in doubt, tell the truth’ you said

And we did for two hours in May

As the rabbits met in coteries to debate the day’s news

and a lone falcon fingered the sky

We talked of Edna, the Bloomsbury Set and danced the Charleston story

Practised the Bernstein keys, recounted Schlesinger

And cocktailed with Bogart, Bacall and Onassis.

I caught a single tentative cloud, a chalk garden in the sky,

The Valley and the shadow of death

You went to Robben Island to meet with Mandela

Surrounded by rabbits, butterflies and jailers

You went to Moscow to meet Khrushchev

Surrounded by an iron curtain

You knew a man of oils at Balliol called Picasso

And painted him into your life.

I caught a single man threaded through with history

In the village where mourning has broken

Like the first morning

And for a moment

Like the photographs of Italy and the discarded apparel

It feels like Eden again.

Roy Stannard 8.10.15 for Lord Denis Healey

Who died at home at Pingles Place, Alfriston on 3.10.15

Listen here for a live version of this poem performed on The Whole Nine Yards on Seahaven FM 96.3 in the hinterland of Denis Healey’s home on Thursday 8th October 2015.

If you would like to listen to the recording of my original 2 hour interview and music selection with Lord Healey recording, it can be listened to here:

Is this the bravest book ever written?

Is this the bravest book ever written?

Digit by digit, key by key

Digit by digit, key by key

In 2011 while viewing buy-to-let properties Patrick was waiting for the estate agent to arrive. Puzzled, seeing a disabled man standing with crutches, the agent asked whether Patrick was OK walking up the stairs as there was quite a lot of them. Patrick replied as quick as a flash, “Yes I’ll be fine, I eat stairs for breakfast.”

The humour in this disguises the fact that Patrick has had Cerebral Palsy since a four minute air blockage at his birth starved him of the oxygen needed for a normal delivery. It has meant tackling life on his terms for over 40 years and as an obstinate, determined, visionary man, Patrick has refused to allow this disability get in his way.

This may be the bravest book ever written. Why? Firstly, because in physical terms it took Patrick the best part of two years laboriously typing 700 words a day with his left index finger. Secondly, the subject matter is raw, honest and occasionally self-deprecating. His account of a visit to an unfeeling, heartless prostitute, his account of how an equally heartless employer made him purchase his own desk and computer screen; his account of how he was bullied and abused as a child at a special boarding school. Thirdly, real people close to Patrick are featured in the book, sometimes painfully.

Brave because he sees his Cerebral Palsy as a gift – inspiring people and giving them the aspiration to do something equally remarkable. To show them that with enough self-belief and determination they can do anything they want.

He has spent his 41 years refusing to accept second best and above all refusing to be categorised as ‘disabled’. The worst thing (or best?) you can say to Patrick is don’t do something. It will mean that he is almost certain to do it. He was born in the south of England in 1973 to Belgian father and English mother. He has a sister and large extended family of devoted friends. He insisted from an early stage on being treated like everyone else and this led to an early career in IT and computer programming with a household name in telecommunications and a parallel career in commercial radio where he worked for three radio stations as a producer. This would be achievement enough, but Patrick was (and still is) determined to do more.

This led him in 2011 to leave the large corporation and set out on his own in property investment, pursuing an ambition to make £1 million. He started writing a blog at around the same time and this gave him the idea to write Stairs for Breakfast.

By networking in the property investment Patrick found his purpose in life: To help and inspire people – and to reach his full potential.

Cerebral Palsy is a condition that makes dealing with the physical demands of life very difficult but does not impair in any way the normal functions of the brain. Stairs for Breakfast is the first half of Patrick’s autobiography and it could have been a mawkish, self-pitying book but instead its real triumph lies in the upbeat, humorous narrative approach that entertains as much as it inspires. His other gift is a photographic memory that allows him to recount incidents from three decades ago as if it were yesterday.

Patrick was recently asked to take part in a TV documentary on inner peace. After being filmed Patrick said “This is one of the best things I’ve ever done. I want my journey and my book to make a difference in the world”.

The book is a search for self-awareness, achievement, acceptance and love. Patrick has become by default a very good, inspirational public speaker. His ability to engage the reader and the listener is quickly apparent. Not many books set out to change perceptions and succeed in doing so. This is one of them that does.

Ends

What the critics have said:

“When someone tells me they can’t do something I tell them Patrick’s story and share his ability to overcome whatever is put in front of him. He is an inspiration.”

Glenn Armstrong www.glennarmstrong.com

“This book is a must for anyone. It’s honest, funny and inspirational. It humbles me just thinking about the effort it must have taken.”

Paul Ribbons www.paulribbons.com

“An enormous achievement. Do yourself a favour. Add it to your reading wish list – and those of your friends.”

Roy Stannard www.roystannard.wordpress.com

Stairs for Breakfast is on Amazon now for £15.99. Patrick is available to deliver inspirational talks on overcoming adversity and his journey to success.

For more information please contact: Patrick Souiljaert

http://stairsforbreakfast.com   / 01273 465519 / 07710 021454 / mail@sussexpatrick.com