Zoo #5 – Chameleon

Somewhere in the reptile house,
Behind its swivel eyes,
The shimmering chameleon,
A master of disguise,
Just smiled a scaly sort of smile
Contented by and large:
Invisible to predators
Behind his camouflage.

Assured of his ability
To disappear from sight,
The colour-changing iguania
Looked settled for the night.
So smug until he realised
His final big mistake,
To blend in oh so subtly
With a lizard-eating snake.

I am always fascinated by the fact that animals in zoos very rarely eat one another.  All those fish in an aquarium full of sharks and you can’t tell me that at least one or two of them don’t go missing.  Reptiles (are snakes reptiles?) always seem to me to be impervious to zoo etiquette.  I remember, as a boy, wandering around a reptile house at the zoo when a keeper came along with a box of beautiful fluffy yellow chicks which he let us pet for a while before he fed them to the snakes.  I can recall the trauma today, and my feeling of uselessness at not guessing what was coming and saving at least some of them.  I don’t like snakes, but I’m not scared of them (although I’ve never actually encountered anything big and poisonous – this is England, we leave that kind of thing to Estate Agents).  I wouldn’t choose to share my life with one…

Mea Culpa (A Brief Apology)


Over the course of the last few weeks, other than corralling myself into meeting my own publishing deadline, I have been a little absent from this platform. The creative (pardon me) juices have been flowing as ever they do, but time has not been on my side. I have not interacted as I should; I have not read the blogs that I would have liked to. Please accept my apologies – normal service is just around the corner.

In case you’re interested (although God knows why you should be) here is what daunted me:

• Part one – what started out as a relatively minor kitchen ‘update’ grew in proportion (and budget) into a full-scale Hollywood ‘re-imagining’ involving heating, plumbing, wiring and flooring. I now have a kitchen in which I know not where to find anything. I dare not ask. That would merely illustrate my lack of engagement during the ‘process’. If I want something – eg the fridge – I have to hang about in the kitchen until my wife wants it too and then memorise the location of its tiny incandescent door-opened glow until the next time…

• Part two of my demi-disconnection was a holiday, designed to follow on from the travails of part one and to allow recovery from them – which actually turned out to be an opportunity to discuss (at length) why part one was, in fact, still on-going.

Anyway, there you have it; my excuse, such as it is: several weeks of toiling all available non-gainful-employment hours, followed by two weeks of finding myself disconnected from most things internet.

I publish three of these things a week, but I do not always write three a week.  Sometimes I write many more, sometimes I write none at all.  The excess bounty of a good week will be stored and dipped into during the fallow periods and, thus, chronology does, on occasion, go out of the window.  What I have published over the last few weeks has been roughly 50/50 newly written/stockpiled from times of plenty, but I sincerely hope that you will not be able to easily tell one from t’other. I have not lacked effort in that respect, but for the rest of it: reading and participating, I have been sadly remiss. I will catch back up over the next few days – hopefully before the next home-improvement schedule kicks me in the nethers – and, in the meantime, I hope you will excuse me a little unscheduled poem:

If ‘sorry’ is the hardest word,
Be sure you don’t demean it:
Mere platitudes will sound absurd,
So, if you say it, mean it.

Thank you for your patience…