VERA IN VUNDERLAND – STU WHO?

PART ONE
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

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
.
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
 

Night of Memories by Kevin Miller

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

BRIAN MILLER RIP

Brian Miller 1935-2011

Brian Miller, was an artist, writer, lover of culture and enthusiast of life
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
And that is just as it should be
I wrote and performed a tribute for Brian, earlier in the week, at the  Cottage … and this wee poem was part of it.
.

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.

Stu Who – 2012

June

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