Tomato — Art Meets Poetry

A couple of weeks ago, I braved moving on from sketching to do my first acrylic painting. The subject was a humble freshly picked tomato from the family allotment. The painting isn’t perfect but I’m quite proud of my effort.

Mister suggested I accompany my picture with a saucy, gently humorous free verse poem that I wrote more than two decades ago and then posted on my blog in its early days. The verses heralded from a challenge I set one winter Sunday afternoon while visiting some dear friends. This followed on from a roast dinner and an unspecified number of glasses of red wine, so all present were feeling particularly merry. It involved us each writing a poem in five minutes on a given subject, the first subject being “tomato”.

Plump tomato
you remind me of Maisie
on a Sunday, scrubbed clean
beneath a fresh bonnet,
shiny red cheeks
green eyes and lace frills,
smiling, basket upon arm.

Maisie loves the vicar
and brings him freshly picked tomatoes
matching her cheeks.
She smells of compost and lavender soap.
He asks her for lunch after church.

Their eyes meet over large tomatoes
eaten whole that squelch
as the juice runs down their chins.
She giggles into her lace handkerchief,
he wipes his chin on the tablecloth,
and over the crockery they kiss,
all tasting of fresh tomatoes.

She giggles some more.
He squeezes Maisie the plump tomato
and they disappear under the table
beneath newly-pressed linen.
Maisie's cheeks ripen until she shines
with the shiny red plumpness
of ready-to-eat fruit.

The vicar praises God for tomatoes
and descends upon Maisie for dessert.

Copyright(c)Sarah Potter, 1997

Book Review: Taz — Tales of a Rascal Pooch by Michael J. Dibden

I’m so excited to share my review of this fabulous non-fiction book by debut author, Michael J. Dibden, especially after my involvement as a beta-reader during its pre-publication stage. Below is what I had to say on Amazon and on Goodreads, where I awarded it five stars.

Taz – Tales of a Rascal Pooch is a humorous biography, told from the alternating viewpoints of the rascal pooch and his owners who he refers to individually as “The Suit” and “Ms Noodle”, or both together as “the hoomans”.

The story has its sad moments where I fought back a tear or two (no spoilers here), but mostly it had me laughing out loud. Taz does his utmost to play his new hoomans, who, although experienced dog owners in the past, have never had to handle an uncouth Staffordshire Bull Terrier who makes it his mission to train them, rather than the other way around. As an ex-stud dog, he has sex on his mind and a habit of humping the air at the most inopportune moments. The same goes for his dispensing of foul odours. He swears a lot, too, so please don’t buy this book and then complain afterwards, when you’ve been warned. If Taz could talk, this is how he’d sound – in other words, it’s authentic characterisation.

It is a well-written book, which, although memoir, has the pacing, spot-on characterisation, sense of setting, and realistic dialogue to be found in some of the best humorous novels. I think the story would appeal best to dog-owners, although it is also possibly a story for those who enjoy true stories that demonstrate canine loyalty towards their owners — a dog’s ability to know when its owners need it to temper its excesses and transform itself into a caring and tender creature of vast understanding.

A highly recommended read.   

Taz — Tales of a Rascal Pooch is available both in paperback and kindle versions at Amazon (UK) & Amazon (US), and other Amazon sites worldwide.

Review — The 10 Worst of Everything: The Big Book of Bad by Sam Jordison

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Sam Jordison has packed his non-fiction book The 10 Worst of Everything: The Big Book of Bad with mindboggling facts related to our past and present, which he displays in countdown lists from ten to one, with the worst offenders left to last. The author must have carried out a tremendous amount of research both in compiling lists from scratch and in sourcing existing ones.

I love it when a book teaches me loads of new stuff in an entertaining way. The author’s subjective comments are often hilarious, maybe some of them tongue-in-cheek, but who knows? He enjoys making passing jibes about Brexit and Trump, although for him he’s showing amazing restraint on the political front! I didn’t always agree with his choice of worst things. For instance, I happen to be a great fan of Game of Thrones (no. 9 in his list of worst TV programmes of all times) and adored the movie Dances with Wolves (no. 5 in the list of worst winners of the best picture Oscar).   

He has divided the book into ten main sections that, in turn, he divides into sub-sections. You may not find each one of equal interest but there’s something for everybody. I read the whole book from cover to cover, but struggled a bit with lists appertaining to sport. Also, I think there’s one too many lists dedicated to The Beatles, where just one would suffice. On the other hand, I’m quite tempted to check out “The Worst Duets in Pop History” on YouTube, especially as his footnote warns you against doing so. His list “The Ten Most Brutal Shakespearean Insults” has filled me with the desire to re-visit the bard’s works, following their past slaying by the school curriculum.    

For me, the two most fascinating main sections of the book were “Bad Nature”, which includes the deadliest insects and plants, scariest human parasites, and most venomous snakes; and “The Olden Days”, which includes punishments in ancient mythology, the craziest Roman Emperors, worst Popes, absurd popular scientific theories, and worst medical procedures.       

Ultimately, this book demonstrated what a miracle it is that the human race has survived for so long, despite… well, I’ll leave you to fill in the ellipsis by reading the book in its entirety. And when you reach the final sub-section “The Ten Most Likely Ways the Earth is Going to End”, you’ll be delighted to discover that humans could prevent five out of ten of them.

A highly recommended read.                 

Sam Jordison is a journalist for The Guardian and writes regular articles about books and publishing on their website . He’s the author of several bestselling books, including the Crap Towns series, Literary London (co-written by Eloise Millar) and Enemies of the People. He’s also the co-director of the award-winning publisher Galley Beggar Press.

The 10 Worst of Everything: The Big Book of Bad is available from all good bookshops in the UK, as well as from HiveWaterstones, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com

Friday Fictioneers — Lipstick and High Heels

Genre: Mainstream fiction
Word Count: 100

~~LIPSTICK AND HIGH HEELS~~

“Lunar, my dear, you’ve a heavenly body but, for heaven’s sake, keep your mouth shut in front of my parents.”

“What’s it worth?”

“My everlasting love.”

“Liar! All you care about is your inheritance.”

“Not so. I just don’t want my snot-bag of a sister getting her hands on the money.”

“What if she’s at the dinner party, too, and wants to engage in girl-talk.”

“She doesn’t do girl-talk. …Look, it’s essential that my parents don’t get wind of my sexuality, or they won’t leave me a penny.”

“I can’t wait to kick off these stilettos and become Michael again.”

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 Friday Fictioneers: 100 word stories
Photo Prompt: image copyright © Dale Rogerson