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Category Archives: GARDEN

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PART ONE

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Vera the Volkswagen lived in Llandudno

God knows why anyone would

Battered and worn by years of neglect

In a lonely back-alley, she stood

Her paintwork was yellow, all covered in dust

Her badge in some Beastie Boy’s trunk

Her doors hanging loose, through casual abuse

From schoolboys, and hobos, and drunks

V

The number of miles that showed on her dials

Was quite astronomically high

Twice ’round the world; that’s not bad for a girl

Who refuses to speed ‘cos she’s shy

Down in the bumper, and dull in the windscreen

Flat in the tyre, front and back

Vera’d had many owners, both cheerful and moaners

But now, she’s with old Mr Jack

V

Mr Jack was so old and forgetful, you see

He’d forgotten poor Vera existed

He’d walk down the shops on his grocery stops

Though his old bones were tired and twisted

So, starving for fuel and thirsty for water

Vera just sat there and rusted

Watching other folks’ cars being treated like stars

With one eye, … ‘cos one headlight was busted

V

Through Winter to Spring, she would quietly sing

Trying to keep herself warm

A sweet lullaby that made each passer-by

Think they’d heard the birds’ chorus at dawn

The thrushes and larks, the small birds in the parks

The squirrels, and rabbits, and mice

All heard Vera’s sweet song, and so they sang along

As the Spring sun dissolved Winter’s ice

V

As Vera grew weak, to her left came a squeak

And a rustling, slithering throng

From the bushes and trees, moving slow by degrees

Came the creatures who’d heard Vera’s song

In their snouts and their beaks, there were berries and leeks

‘Cos remember this tale’s set in Wales

They brought acorns and fruits, herbs and exotic roots

Clutched in paws, claws, and even on tails

V

They filled Vera’s tank with a mixture that stank

Of fermented, potato peelings

A mixture that bubbled, until the stink doubled

And left Vera senseless and reeling

Did they know that the mixture would mend her and fix her?

Who knows what the animals knew

But Vera grew stronger, as the day it grew longer

‘Till she revved up and sparkled anew

V

With her dents hammered out, by a woodpecker’s snout

And her bodywork polished by rabbits

With a tank that was full of vegetable fuel

Now was Vera’s big chance, if she’d grab it

On a willow that weeped, sat an owl, half-asleep

Or seemingly so, and he muttered:

“Vera, go to the land where all humans are banned

And you bread will be oiled, not buttered !

V

There’s a place on the route, where no hand has set foot

Where no man has driven a car

The country of Volks has no wimmin or blokes

With a full-tank, you’re sure to go far

Take the road out of town, take a left, then go down

Under the crust of the planet

There, the Earth is quite hollow, and there’s a path you can follow…”

Take it!  said a by-passing gannet

V

So, Vera the Volkswagen started her quest

To seek out this mythical land

Where cars could run free and have sweet liberty

Go wherever they wanted…. unmanned!

Vera rumbled and shuddered, her solenoid juddered

As her old engine stuttered to life

With a spluttering cough, and a bang! …. she was off!

Like butter on a hot pancake knife

V

As she drove from the alleyway, slow and uncertain

Old Mr Jack waved her goodbye:

” I was just wishing that…. I’d a nice car like that! “

And he sighed, but he soon forgot why

As Vera moved faster, no thoughts of disaster

Or troubles ahead slowed her down

On a wide open road, with no passenger load

Vera roared out of Llandudno town

V

Vera drove on and on; soon all landmarks were gone

She had no need for fresh fuel-injections

As the creatures of Wales had left vegetable trails

Both for fuel, and to give her directions

By the side of a log, sat a big Traffic Frog

With one webbed-foot raised from the road

Vera smiled and said: “Hi!”, as she swiftly drove by

‘Cos Vera knew the Old Highway Toad

V

She came to a stop, near a small coffee shop

Amazed by what she saw ahead

A demonstration of mice who, against good advice,

Were striking for cheese with their bread

With placards and banners, they marched single file

In front of a line of Police Cats

Demanding the right to eat cheese every night

And to have equal rights with the rats

V


Some militant mice, who were young, but quite nice

Dressed in PVC, made from bin-liners

To a thunderous applause, dug a hole with their paws

‘Cos they weren’t sixteen, therefore minors

The Welsh minor mice dug a hole, in a trice,

Vera jumped in, and dropped like a stone

With a song, to inspire, by a Welsh Male Mice Choir

She leapt into the vast Great Unknown

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Now it turns out the Earth, for what it is worth

Is hollow like Easter eggs are

And instead of Hell, the inside of the shell

Is the planet of Amerrycar

The Amerrycar nation, for untold generations

Had lived in both peace and tranquillity

All the cars ran unfettered, un-numbered, un-lettered

With no Car-Kings and no Car-Nobility

V

The cars’ only toil was to find veggie oil,

Which they ran on, without making fumes

And the oil dripped, with love, from the plants up above

And was totally free, one presumes

In Carboniferous time, their lives were sublime

The atmosphere clean, and not smokey

And each night they would sing, as they sat wing-to-wing

And they called it the Big Caraoke

V

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As her wheels hit the ground, Vera’s gaze swung around

To take in the landscape around her

As a klaxon horn sounded, she was quickly surrounded

By The Car Park Attendants who’d found her

They were all two foot tall, bald as a snooker ball

With the occasional, odd tuft of hair

They all limped a bit, ‘cos their shoes didn’t fit

And, in fact, weren’t even a pair

V

They wore all the odd shoes, which people might lose

When they’re barefoot and playing around

They’d been brought here by foxes, with all the odd soxes,

That get lost and can never be found

The Car Park Attendants had no kids or dependants

No homes, and no incomes or debts

Each one lived with a car, and were most popular

With their owners who called them Car-Pets

V

Two Car-Pets called Tough Ted, and Partially Rough Ted

Came over to Vera, and spoke:

“Hello, little car … We don’t know who you are

But you must be exhausted!, they joked

“We noticed you bound from that hole in the ground

And you look like you’re not from ’round here

You’ve still got number plates

And just look at the state

Of your hearing

You need a career!

V

“A Car… Ear!…. Do you get it?”

Vera whispered: “Forget it!

Excuse me! 

I don’t mean to be rude

You seem awfully nice blokes, but these corny car-jokes?

You can kiss my carcass … Understood?”

They laughed in delight for the rest of the night

Then took Vera on sightseeing tours

They did impersonations of the cars of all nations

With both car-toons, and car-icatures

V

They told Vera how pigeons had brought them religions

By carrier-post, causing panic

But they’d settled for Karma, and now wouldn’t harm a

Living thing …. Bless the Great Karmachanic

All the roads, they explained, were repaired and maintained

By gigantic slugs who left trails

Of tarmac behind them

And the slugs, when they find them,

Would eat the exhaust cars exhale

V

“This place sounds like heaven!”

 Said Vera,  “I’ve driven

For hours, and just love this domain.”

“Ah, well ….?, said the Teds,

As they both scratched their heads:

“There’s a problem, you see … We’ll explain!

Although things look great…. When young cars congregate

They are easily led by example

And some bear the curse of a problem much worse

And that car, coming now, is a sample!”

V

Coming towards them, in a great cloud of fumes

Came a rip-roaring Hell-Car on wheels

It screeched to a stop, on the highway’s blacktop

Just inches from the Two Ted’s, odd heels

The car was as sleek, and as black as a raven

An open-topped, roadster, two-seater

Red-leather upholstered, with chrome in abundance

And a steering-wheel, covered in cheetah

V

“It’s Vlad the Impala!”, the Two Teds intoned

As Vera looked on in amazement

If life is a building … The best at the top….

Then Vlad the Impala’s the basement!”

“Harsh words!”, growled Vlad

Through a tightly clenched grill

Doesn’t jealousy colour opinion!

These creatures resent what I best represent:

A Master who once was a Minion.

V

I can see that you’ve come from “Up Top”, little Vera

Where cars are still slaves of Mankind

Down here, we’re in charge And though car-ears are large

You may not be deaf, but you’re blind!

Hoodwinked by men, with their stories and jokes

And compliments, flattering sweet

Before you know it, they’ll be back in control

And sitting in your driving-seat

V

Surely you yearn for the freedom to run?

To drive on, for ever, and ever?

The Road is eternal, as wide as an ocean

We’re raindrops in life’s flowing river.”

And as he spoke, Vlad throttled his engine

His voice rising over the roar:

“Follow me now!   Freedom awaits!

Let no man put his foot to your floor!”

V

In a ricochet torrent of gravel and dust

Vlad screeched away, into the night

Barrelling westward, in constant pursuit

Of that Darkness which runs from the Light

Vera sat stunned, as his tail-lights grew distant

Vlad’s words echoed loud in her mind

Then, before she knew it, she’d done a u-turn

And followed Vlad’s trail close behind

V

As they drove through the night, Vera drew close to Vlad

As their twin headlights lit up the road

And, just for a moment, they seemed like one car

One that carried a really wide load

Ahead in the distance, a dark building glowed

A massive, grotesque silhouette

Of towers, and arches, and battlement walls

Done in dull-chrome, and red leatherette

V

“Welcome” said Vlad ...”To the kingdom of Carmalot!”

As they pulled up outside the main gates

“Where, just like the fable, we have a round table

Days are short here,…. but some knights are great!”

Now Vera’d had dreams of a dashing, young prince

And life in a romantic era

He would carry her off on his twenty horsepower:

King Carthur and Queen Guina-Vera

V

As they both drove inside, steel gates tall and wide

Swiftly closed with an ominous bang

Suddenly, Vera was quickly surrounded

By a mean and unsavoury gang

Cars, big and small, with no manners at all

Jostled and bumped her around

Some missing wings, and bonnets, and things

And all starting to make a weird sound

V

Phillip! Phillip!”, they chanted in time

“Phillip!, screeching faster and faster

“Fill up her engine with oil that’s crude

And we’ll fill up her mind with The Master!”

“Vlad!, Vera cried.  “Please help me!  I’m trapped!”

“You certainly are!“, he replied.

“I’m the Master, you see!  When I said you’d be free

If you came here with me… Well…. I lied!

V

Freedom’s a tale for the weak and the frail

An invention to keep you contented

Every car needs an owner

Like kebab needs a doner

Heaven’s not true! It’s invented!

It was made up by men … Told again and again

Until small minds believe that it’s real

There’s no Happy Land, but with me in command

 I’ll bring POWER to your steering-wheel!

V

I control all the oil that’s gathered each day

To make sure that none of it’s wasted

Join with us Vera. You surely need fuel?

It’s the best stuff that you’ve ever tasted!”

A wily Mondeo had crep up behind Vera

A nozzle held tight in his grill

Attempting to stick it in Vera’s fuel tank

Like a matador going for the kill

V

Vera shot forward, and swerved to the right

The Master screamed: “Ok boys! Get her!”

Vera squeezed through a space

Between two startled Saabs

And revved up her old carburettor

As she circled the courtyard, the cars in pursuit

Crashed into each others rear-quarters

Vera spun like a top, did a quick handbrake-stop

And aimed at two, big car-transporters

V

One transporter’s ramp was down at the rear

Vera raced up its length at full-power

Like a bonfire-night rocket, she shot off the top

And sailed past the battlement tower

Over the walls, Vera flew like the wind

And just as she started to fall

From under her chassis, emerged gliding-wings

Quite adequate, ‘though rather small

V

When all of the animals down in the woods

Had done Vera’s big renovations

The birds and the bees, with mechanic’s degrees

Had effected some modifications

Now Vera could glide … like an overweight eagle

Elated by this discovery

She swooped and she soared, as the crowd beneath roared

And she sang, saying: “Isn’t life lovely?

V

Lovely! Lovely! Isn’t life lovely?

Thanks to all those lovely creatures

They helped me recover, and now I can hover

I wonder if I’ve more hidden features?

I wonder what makes all those cars act so nasty

 Vlad sure has a bee in his bonnet!”

Her descent soon revealed a flat, pasture field

Vera bumpily landed upon it

V

From the dark walls of Carmalot, cries could be heard

As Vlad the Impala went nuts

“Find her! – Get Her! – I want that car caught

And I don’t want no Ifs, Ands, or Buts!”

But Carmalot’s exits were hopelessly blocked

By the crashed cars who’d tried to chase Vera

So she turned and she drove, still singing her song

As the start of the evening grew nearer

V

Finding the road that she’d travelled with Vlad

Vera drove back the way that she’d came

To look for adventures in Amerrycar

Vera hoped it lived up to its name!

The Two Teds were waiting, surrounded by cars

Of all colours, and every variety

“Welcome back Vera!” said the Teds simultaneously,

“Did you suffer from Vlad’s impropriety?”

V

“No. Everything’s fine. I learned a good lesson:

Be careful who you call a friend.”

“That’s right!” said the Teds

“Don’t get tyred of retreads!

‘Cos they can drive you round the bend!”

Vera giggled, “You’re daft!

That’s the first that I’ve laughed

All day.

It’s good to be back

You’re such uplifting folks, in the land of the Volks

They should start calling you the Car-Jacks!”

V

And they laughed on and on, ‘till the light of the dawn

Made their sleepy eyes close for a slumber

Dreaming dreams of the ways they could have better days

Better weeks, better years, without number

A life without worry, no reason to hurry

Wing in wing, paw in paw, hand in hand

Where even the snails have the right to have tales

Just like

Vera

In Vunderland

 


Brian Miller was a friend,  artist, writer, designer and director who lived and worked in the town of Cumbernauld for nearly 50 years.

Sadly he passed away last August, but in his honour the Cumbernauld Theatre presented an evening of his work on January 28 2012.

This is a wee film tribute, beautifull put together by his son, Kevin

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Brian Miller 1935-2011

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Brian Miller, was an artist, writer, lover of culture and enthusiast of life.
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Brian was Cumbernauld’s town artist for most of its early years, and his impact on the town’s civic art, and its colourful uniqueness, was dramatic and powerful.

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His contributions to the culture and arts in Cumbernauld was similarly dramatic (pun intended), as he was one of the small band of enthusiastic fanatics who established The Cottage, now Cumbernauld Theatre, as a venue for drama, music, comedy, and a wealth of community productions.

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No matter what your interest, Brian would be there to lend advice, lend a hand, or even just offer transport or a sympathetic ear – his enthusiasm and support for every single facet of the arts knew no bounds.

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Brian also established himself as an unofficial writer-in-residence for Cumbernauld itself, and his productions, musicals, and plays became the launching pad for the artistic aspirations of a wide-range of local wannabes, over the years …. And that included me

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Brian had supported my work as an artist at The Muirfield Project, and gave us valuable assistance in establishing a screen-printing department there … assistance, without which, we’d have struggled to survive

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He also, surprisingly, offered me a leading role in a play he’d written … all the more surprising as I had no acting experience, and was a mohawk-sporting nutter who fronted a very anarchistic, local band, not exactly renowned for our gentility or love of the establishment

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It was a helluva chance for Brian to take, and one that turned out to be my first step on the ladder of performance arts, and the start of a brand new career.

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Brian kick-started the aspirations of lots of Cumbernauld’s arts and drama community, and was a genuinely, lovely man and a true gentleman in every respect

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On Saturday night, the original Cottage Theatre, and then Studio Theatre of Cumbernauld Theatre, has now been dedicated and renamed The Brian Miller Studio Theatre in Brian’s honour

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And that is just as it should be
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I wrote and performed a tribute for Brian, earlier in the week, at the  Cottage … and this wee poem was part of it.
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MILLER LIGHT

In every village, every job was valued for it’s worth
And people took their occupation’s name as being their own
So, Bakers, Smiths and Cooks soon became a family name
Whilst the Cobblers thought they’d leave that trend alone

But the man who ground the flour and wheat, in windmills, or by rivers
He’d take the coarsest grain the farmer grew
And turn it into something more refined, and by his efforts
Would produce the finest flour-power too

Brian was a Miller, of people and ideas
An auld hippy of that fine, old school persuasion
With a love of words and images, toy robots, and dramatics
Be they Western, Eastern, African, or Asian

It was the source of all that passion
Which he shared with oh so many
In the years he sweetly tended Cumbernauld
Like a gardener, with love and care, and total dedication
Gamely answering that question
”What’s It Called?”

Brian helped define this town, by word and deed, and vision
His enthusiasm shaped a generation
Of artists, playwrights, actors and wee chancers, just like me
His encouragement and help was inspiration

In a world portrayed as selfish, Brian was a giver
Who unselfishly encouraged all he met
I thank him for the arse-kicks that he aimed in my direction
It got me moving, and I’m eternally in his debt

Brian was a Miller, of people and ideas
His legacy in, what some still call, The Cottage
Will shine on in our memory, for many years to come
Like a spotlight of a hundred thousand wattage!!

(Piss-off … let me see you find a better rhyme for Cottage!!)

Brian gave us laughter, in a world of short supply
He gave us colour in a world of black and white
In this town of dark grey concrete, he brightened up our landscape
Illuminated by that Miller Light.

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Stu Who – 2012

Click on the image to enlarge, and repeat for even bigger

And for my friend Maggie Wood, who also loves wasps …

as long as they’re not Australian?

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click on image to enlarge – click again to enlarge more

click on image for large image … and click again for even larger

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A sunny day, at last, on Friday … the garden hasn’t quite recovered from that fierce winter assault, but Maggi and I have worked to effect a repair … and then I cooked my first barbie of this summer, and wined & dined m’lady in the blistering, hot  sun, al fresco … and as I chilled out, this was my view

Thought the view from my door was rather nice today … !!

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