John R Bishop

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18th March 2014


You Are a False Prophet

I thought it was just a little battle

But now I know it’s a war

I have drawn up my line

I am a man of honour

Like my father and like my son

I have made mistakes

Normally of the heart

But I won’t take this laying down

I won’t be treated this way

So beware of what you’re asking me

Because I won’t go away

I have shaken my head too long now

I have only myself to answer the call

I will show you who I am

I was a number once

I am not a number now

I way shaking in my bunker this morning

I was weighing up the situation

I have no trust in your attack

It’s not honourable

You are a false prophet

And as we all know wrong is never right

I will take you on

I will stand my ground

I will not bow to you

Follow me where you will

I have right on my side

I have chosen my ground

And I believe in me

The Coup d’état

There is a Coup d’état going on in my head
One part is trying to break away
They have created a manifesto
A flag
And a song
They sing it quietly during the night
And it keeps me awake
At present it is peaceful
But it could turn violent at any time
I have no idea how this will end
In fact ideas do not come without a struggle
My heart was killed in a violent attack of passion
My head broke away from my body many years ago
My skin has become irrational
My bowls function without warning as they don’t like any of it
My eyes are doing their best not to see
It’s all quite hard to cope with
But I guess it will all go away in time
Wait I have to go a bell is ringing
False alarm
Try to sleep on you messed up fool

18th March 2014



978 Hits

Christmas Day in the Workhouse


Christmas day when my father was alive and I was living at home as a child and a youth would always find my father reciting some of “It was Christmas Day in the Workhouse”…Often he would quote “Bah Humbug!” and stuff like that, He was not always around Christmas time as he was a fireman and they worked longer shift patterns back in the day.

When he was at home It would be up at a reasonable time for the family and we would share out the gifts I often bought him cigarettes Benson and Hedges and whiskey Johnny Walker if I could afford it maybe some Tom Thumb cigars. My mom I would buy some kind of perfume a diary and chocolates. My dad would always unwrap the present I got him no matter how small and state “Is it slippers?”

After the gifts it would be breakfast and the smell of black pudding cooking my dad loved black pudding and we only ever had a cooked full breakfast at Christmas.

Then after that it would fall apart. Mom tried to sort out the turkey and dinner and my dad’s mates would arrive. There would be many cheers of whiskey and maybe the neighbours would pop in and they would pop around theirs but only for a few minutes.

His mates George Fox and his brother Bernard would say “Gordon Legion”!

Off they would go the men. The morning and the mid morning and dinner time would be spent awaiting his return. Often and Very often if not always they would return just as the dinner had been laid on the table. Then an hour or two later with the dinner cold George and Bernard and anyone else they had dragged home would stagger off and in fact drive away. Sometimes we would have eaten our dinner because they didn’t come back until 4pm.

As you can imagine this did not go down too well with mom. The afternoon would be spent in angry silences and dad asleep. Mom would go to bed early and they would argue about why they were not going next door to the neighbours who had invited them for a drink.

This would be the same every Christmas until I vacated the home when I was 20.

New Years Eve was more than not a repeat of the event without the presents and food.

But mostly my memory was a happy one of the tree and the decorations and the excitement. My mom would many times forget to wrap stuff and once they forgot to put the presents under the tree. This caused me a massive trauma at the time.

Here is the whole of the poem Christmas Day in the Workhouse as a memory shared.

Christmas Day in the Workhouse

George R. Sims, 1847-1922

It is Christmas Day in the workhouse, 
And the cold, bare walls are bright 
With garlands of green and holly, 
Ad the place is a pleasant sight; 
For with clean-washed hands and faces, 
In a long and hungry line 
The paupers sit at the table, 
For this is the hour they dine.

And the guardians and their ladies, 
Although the wind is east, 
Have come in their furs and wrappers, 
To watch their charges feast; 
To smile and be condescending, 
Put pudding on pauper plates. 
To be hosts at the workhouse banquet 
They've paid for — with the rates.

Oh, the paupers are meek and lowly 
With their "Thank'ee kindly, mum's!'"
So long as they fill their stomachs, 
What matter it whence it comes! 
But one of the old men mutters, 
And pushes his plate aside: 
"Great God!" he cries, "but it chokes me! 
For this is the day she died!"

The guardians gazed in horror, 
The master's face went white; 
"Did a pauper refuse the pudding?" 
"Could their ears believe aright?" 
Then the ladies clutched their husbands, 
Thinking the man would die, 
Struck by a bolt, or something, 
By the outraged One on high.

But the pauper sat for a moment, 
Then rose 'mid silence grim, 
For the others had ceased to chatter 
And trembled in every limb. 
He looked at the guardians' ladies, 
Then, eyeing their lords, he said, 
"I eat not the food of villains 
Whose hands are foul and red:

"Whose victims cry for vengeance 
From their dark, unhallowed graves." 
"He's drunk!" said the workhouse master, 
"Or else he's mad and raves." 
"Not drunk or mad," cried the pauper, 
"But only a haunted beast, 
Who, torn by the hounds and mangled, 
Declines the vulture's feast.

"I care not a curse for the guardians, 
And I won't be dragged away; 
Just let me have the fit out, 
It's only on Christmas Day 
That the black past comes to goad me, 
And prey on my burning brain; 
I'll tell you the rest in a whisper — 
I swear I won't shout again.

"Keep your hands off me, curse you! 
Hear me right out to the end. 
You come here to see how paupers 
The season of Christmas spend;. 
You come here to watch us feeding, 
As they watched the captured beast. 
Here's why a penniless pauper 
Spits on your paltry feast.

"Do you think I will take your bounty, 
And let you smile and think 
You're doing a noble action 
With the parish's meat and drink? 
Where is my wife, you traitors — 
The poor old wife you slew? 
Yes, by the God above me, 
My Nance was killed by you!

'Last winter my wife lay dying, 
Starved in a filthy den; 
I had never been to the parish — 
I came to the parish then. 
I swallowed my pride in coming, 
For ere the ruin came, 
I held up my head as a trader, 
And I bore a spotless name.

"I came to the parish, craving 
Bread for a starving wife, 
Bread for the woman who'd loved me 
Through fifty years of life; 
And what do you think they told me, 
Mocking my awful grief, 
That 'the House' was open to us, 
But they wouldn't give 'out relief'.

"I slunk to the filthy alley — 
'Twas a cold, raw Christmas Eve — 
And the bakers' shops were open, 
Tempting a man to thieve; 
But I clenched my fists together, 
Holding my head awry, 
So I came to her empty-handed 
And mournfully told her why.

"Then I told her the house was open; 
She had heard of the ways of that, 
For her bloodless cheeks went crimson, 
and up in her rags she sat, 
Crying, 'Bide the Christmas here, John, 
We've never had one apart; 
I think I can bear the hunger — 
The other would break my heart.'

"All through that eve I watched her, 
Holding her hand in mine, 
Praying the Lord and weeping, 
Till my lips were salt as brine; 
I asked her once if she hungered, 
And as she answered 'No' , 
T'he moon shone in at the window, 
Set in a wreath of snow.

"Then the room was bathed in glory, 
And I saw in my darling's eyes 
The faraway look of wonder 
That comes when the spirit flies; 
And her lips were parched and parted, 
And her reason came and went. 
For she raved of our home in Devon, 
Where our happiest years were spent.

"And the accents, long forgotten, 
Came back to the tongue once more. 
For she talked like the country lassie 
I woo'd by the Devon shore; 
Then she rose to her feet and trembled, 
And fell on the rags and moaned, 
And, 'Give me a crust — I'm famished — 
For the love of God!' she groaned.

"I rushed from the room like a madman 
And flew to the workhouse gate, 
Crying, 'Food for a dying woman!' 
And the answer came, 'Too late.' 
They drove me away with curses; 
Then I fought with a dog in the street 
And tore from the mongrel's clutches 
A crust he was trying to eat.

"Back through the filthy byways! 
Back through the trampled slush! 
Up to the crazy garret, 
Wrapped in an awful hush; 
My heart sank down at the threshold, 
And I paused with a sudden thrill. 
For there, in the silv'ry moonlight, 
My Nance lay, cold and still.

"Up to the blackened ceiling, 
The sunken eyes were cast — 
I knew on those lips, all bloodless, 
My name had been the last; 
She called for her absent husband — 
O God! had I but known! — 
Had called in vain, and, in anguish, 
Had died in that den — alone.

"Yes, there, in a land of plenty, 
Lay a loving woman dead, 
Cruelly starved and murdered 
for a loaf of the parish bread; 
At yonder gate, last Christmas, 
I craved for a human life, 
You, who would feed us paupers, 
What of my murdered wife!"

'There, get ye gone to your dinners, 
Don't mind me in the least, 
Think of the happy paupers 
Eating your Christmas feast; 
And when you recount their blessings 
In your smug parochial way, 
Say what you did for me, too, 
Only last Christmas Day."



Recent Comments
Former Member
I don't know of George R. Sims if it matters. Not a famous poet, I assume, but maybe I assume incorrectly. However, this must have... Read More
Friday, 26 December 2014 13:53
John R Bishop
according to Wiki... George Robert Sims (2 September 1847 – 4 September 1922) was an English journalist, poet, dramatist, novelist... Read More
Friday, 26 December 2014 14:55
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Somebody started a stream on Face Book with this line below I just added my thoughts.

Im feeling very needy lately…Maybe because its the holidays..I miss my mom..I will be seeing my daughter this week..But I know whats missing..Unfortunately…Another year without..

We’re all getting that bit older I guess and pain is felt deeper by those who understand life and care about stuff more. It’s dark in December because that’s just the way of the world in the north. Long nights and cold grey skies add to the sorrows in Europe anyhow. That’s why we have the feast and the drinking to help pass the darkness and attempt to bring some light. We have candles and prayer and holy holidays. It’s sad but they the ones we have lost would want us to go on as they did and ours will do after us because it’s what happens we have no call in it. Just be. And do our best is all we can do. Think on them with love and carry on.

I’m afraid I don’t believe in all that stuff that they are watching down over us. More is the pity. I don’t believe in heaven and hell stuff. My father taught me this. And I feel he was the most honest and truest man I knew. I do speak to them but it’s only imagination in my head and heart a memory of things they said and told me. When I am passed they will be lost. And so it goes. I would love a faith like some people have but I just don’t have it. I try to be good. I try to be fair. I try to be honest. Not because it’s a law or God says so but because I feel a need to be so for myself and I feel it to be the right way. Everyday I see evil people getting along so much better than the good thinking folk but I would not really want to be like them. Maybe if the tables were turned and I was desperate cold hungry and scared I would be different. I am no saint I’ve done stuff I’m not proud of but I punish me over that not God. We just have to keep going forward. Help each other if we can. Stay away from those that vex us. Life is so close to death. It’s so very random. One second we have it then it’s gone. It’s random we are here at all. And it’s random when we’re gone. Who lives forever anyway? ( Queen )

There was a bad accident in Glasgow the other day 6 people killed by a rubbish truck. They were just out in the city doing Christmas shopping random came along and they were gone. It’s not fate or God it’s just chaos theory I guess. Terrible sad. Random life and random death but they were people that think and breath and love and cry just like me. It makes me think on stuff. I think too much. I shouldn’t it’s a painful business.

Recent comment in this post
Virginia M Macasaet
This touched me very deeply. Randomness... of life indeed.
Wednesday, 24 December 2014 23:35
1014 Hits
1 Comment

Me, Douglas Adams the Whale and the Petunias.

I have been having some really vivid dreams. On waking they have felt very real. They are exhausting.

I have been feeling a bit off of late maybe its SAD you know the winter grey day problem but I have been feeling it quite a long time.

I guess it all started with the DWP trying to send me back into the work force at 63 years of age. I don’t really want to go into all the details but I guess I am sniffing the grave as I heard a friend of mine mention in a quote the other day. I had never heard this line before but I do hear my local friends and neighbours say they are shuffling up the queue. This gets up my nose, rather than the scent of the sniff of the grave.

I have always even since I was a young kind worried about the pointlessness of life.

Really as a kid I would make a model or do a lesson at school and think what’s the point of learning or making stuff when I am going to die one day and it will all be for nothing.

I was thinking again on this last night in bed and I thoughts about Douglas Adams book The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

In it there is a sperm whale and a pot of petunias. What occurs with these two things I decided last night is a complete package of what the point of life is all about.

What happens to them and what the say or think is an encapsulated micro cosmos of everything? It’s brilliant. I am not sure if Adams wrote it this way or was aware of it but for me it says it all.

If you are a believer or a non believer in a God or a force you are the whale and if you believe in reincarnation it’s the petunias. It works for me but I’m a little depressed at the moment and take the pills to prove it.

This is what Adams wrote.

“Another thing that got forgotten was the fact that against all probability a sperm whale had suddenly been called into existence several miles above the surface of an alien planet.

And since this is not a naturally tenable position for a whale, this poor innocent creature had very little time to come to terms with its identity as a whale before it then had to come to terms with not being a whale any more.

This is a complete record of its thoughts from the moment it began its life till the moment it ended it.

Ah … ! What’s happening? it thought.

Er, excuse me, who am I?


Why am I here? What’s my purpose in life?

What do I mean by who am I?

Calm down, get a grip now … oh! this is an interesting sensation, what is it? It’s a sort of … yawning, tingling sensation in my … my … well I suppose I’d better start finding names for things if I want to make any headway in what for the sake of what I shall call an argument I shall call the world, so let’s call it my stomach.

Good. Ooooh, it’s getting quite strong. And hey, what’s about this whistling roaring sound going past what I’m suddenly going to call my head? Perhaps I can call that … wind! Is that a good name? It’ll do … perhaps I can find a better name for it later when I’ve found out what it’s for. It must be something very important because there certainly seems to be a hell of a lot of it. Hey! What’s this thing? This … let’s call it a tail – yeah, tail. Hey! I can can really thrash it about pretty good can’t I? Wow! Wow! That feels great! Doesn’t seem to achieve very much but I’ll probably find out what it’s for later on. Now – have I built up any coherent picture of things yet?


Never mind, hey, this is really exciting, so much to find out about, so much to look forward to, I’m quite dizzy with anticipation …

Or is it the wind?

There really is a lot of that now isn’t it?

And wow! Hey! What’s this thing suddenly coming towards me very fast? Very very fast. So big and flat and round, it needs a big wide sounding name like … ow … ound … round … ground! That’s it! That’s a good name – ground!

I wonder if it will be friends with me?

And the rest, after a sudden wet thud, was silence.

Curiously enough, the only thing that went through the mind of the bowl of petunias as it fell was Oh no, not again. Many people have speculated that if we knew exactly why the bowl of petunias had thought that we would know a lot more about the nature of the universe than we do now.”

Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

SAD is sometimes known as "winter depression" because the symptoms are more apparent and tend to be more severe at this time of the year.







Recent comment in this post
Rosy Cole
Interesting take on the human conundrum What am I doing here? The way you describe it, John, reminds me very much of the Book of G... Read More
Tuesday, 23 December 2014 19:26
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1 Comment

Latest Comments

Ken Hartke Sofia's Bakery
20 May 2018
Thanks, Rosy, -- glad you liked it.
Ken Hartke I Promise
20 May 2018
I am so looking forward to your return -- I love your writing and wish you well. From my youth I've...
Stephen Evans I Promise
20 May 2018
Sometimes when I am dealing with deep anxiety I find that work (by which I mean writing), and the f...
Rosy Cole Sofia's Bakery
20 May 2018
I just love this, Ken. As appealing to the senses as a painting. Thanks :-)

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