Posted by: Postordinandy | October 10, 2015

A poem for World Mental Health Day (Oct 10th)

Today I silently screamed around the supermarket:

Wrestling with doubt as I tried to decide which brand of beans to purchase,

The dread tsunami of terror ever rising in my chest.

Not butterflies these – but great armoured beasts –

Trampling with ugly booted hatred on the fragile confidence I fake,

Until the shell of me wandered on automatic pilot into the frozen food aisle,

Picking up Petits Pois even as scattered chunks of my soul remained in “Canned Vegetables and Pasta”.

And then the tiredness – the brain-dead, body-wasted, emotionally-drainedness of it all,

The voices, rabid in their persistence,

“you are a life-sucker, a burden to those you love, a freak to everyone else”.

And so I wear my peace as a shattered mask,

Hoping that the mantra of “I’m fine” will metamorphose into something solid and true.

And sometimes it does.

And sometimes it won’t.

And sometimes it remains caught between reality and falsehood,

And my tired mental bones rise once more from the bed,

And a bark back at the Dog until he cowers behind the sofa,

Or I throw him a big enough stick that he loses interest in my psyche:

For an hour, a day, a week or more.

Perhaps never to return, perhaps silently present.

And I stumble into the self-service lane,

Swipe my goods, present my card,

And wander back into the world, both dead and alive.

All of me present, and

Most of me well.


Links and that:

For more info on the day, and the issues around it, please see here

As ever, I recommend the two videos below as fantastic initial resources for you if you a) suffer from depression and/or b) love or care for someone who does – [It’s well worth getting the books the videos are based on too!]

I’d also like to add Matt Haig‘s excellent “Reasons To Stay Alive

Posted by: Postordinandy | October 8, 2015

A poem for National Poetry Day

It is a truth universally acknowledged:

The absence of noise created in a space,

By children peacefully sleeping,

– Their bedclothes wrapped like warming snakes,

Chests gently raising against the weight of your world –

Can calm the roughest parental seas,

And remind us of the love that burns deep within us.

Posted by: Postordinandy | August 18, 2015


Charlie Johnson and I mulched together a game today while at a youth work session. It was pretty enjoyable, so I thought I’d share it.

Items needed to play:

A minimum of 2 players and no maximum number (although we suggest that more than 10 will result in complete chaos)

One ball – preferably a basketball or football.

2 basketball hoops, ideally with back board.

The basic rules:

Fastketball is played in a basketball court, players take it in turn to shoot for the hoop from where they stopped it moving.

Once the player has the ball in hand, they are not allowed to move in any direction, but must shoot from where they stand.

Basic scoring system:

Each player begins the game with 5 points – 1 points is lost if they miss the hoop or backboard with their shot, 1 point is gained for each successful basket.

Any player who ends up with zero points is out of the game, the game ends when one player reaches 10 points.


Additional playing rules:

Kick-off one player stands on the three-point line to start the game. This player is not awarded any points for a successful basket, but does lose a point if they miss the hoop or board.

Boundaries – There are few! If the ball is gathered behind the board, the player must shoot from there (however, it is legal to hit the back of the board).

However, if the ball leaves the agreed playing area (over the fence, etc.) they the player who last shot the ball loses 2 points and the next person due to play performs a Restart (see below).

FoulsFastketball is, theoretically, a non-contact sport – so any player pushing over, kicking or otherwise fouling another will also concede a free kick and lose a point. Players will also lose a point if they are deemed to have deliberately blocked the travel of a ball – in this case a Restart will be taken by the next player due to participate.

The player fouled can take a shot from the three-point line, and baskets are scored if successful.

Restart option – if a player has missed the target, the following player has the choice to play the ball from where they gather it (in which case the player who missed loses a point as usual) or take a restart from the three-point line (in which case the preceding player does not lose a point). Points cannot be scored from a restart.

Posted by: Postordinandy | August 18, 2015


AndyBall is a game that was invented while I was a youth worker for St Mary’s church, Walthamstow, way back in 1999.

It is designed to be as inclusive as possible, and many who were not necessarily good at football found they excelled. Non able-bodied participants may be able to play, with consideration from other players.

Items needed to play:

2 teams of roughly equal numbers – minimum players on each team are 2, maximum will depend on the size of the playing area.

plastic footballOne ‘air ball’ – those cheap plastic footballs (this is the great leveller as those with better football skills may find the ball responds quite differently).

2 basketball hoops, with back board. (You could play it without the boards, but the scoring will be slower).


The game works best in a sports hall or similar indoor space – a low ceiling is fine. If played in the open or somewhere without walls the game will need to be adapted slightly and there will be a lot more stoppages.

The basic rules:

AndyBall is played in a similar way to football – players can kick or head the ball, but any handling results in a free kick to the opposing team (there are no keepers).

Players try to kick or head the ball onto the back board or into the basket, and successfully doing so will result in a range of points.

Basic scoring system:

Kicking the ball against the backboard = 1 point.

Heading the ball against the backboard = 2 points.

Kicking the ball against the hoop (and/or net, if included) = 3 points.

Heading the ball against the hoop and/or net = 4 points.

Kicking the ball into the hoop (from above or below) = 5 points.

Heading the ball into the hoop (from above or below) = 10 points.

A game is either played for an agreed amount of time or ends when an agreed amount of points are scored by one team (agreed before kick-off)


Additional playing rules:

Kick-off one player from one team holds the ball while standing under their own goal. They then drop it so it bounces at least once, and then kick the ball into play.

Points can be scored straight from kick-off.

Once a point is scored, the opposing team have kick-off.

Boundaries – if played indoors, the walls and ceiling are part of the playable-arena, so there are no ‘outs’. If played outdoors, teams must agree pitch sizes and mark the edges appropriately.

Where boundaries are in operation, a player from the opposing team to that which played the ball out takes a kick-in (bounce and kick as above) from where the ball left play. Points can be scored directly from a kick-in.

FoulsAndyBall is, theoretically, a non-contact sport – so any player pushing over, kicking or otherwise fouling another will also concede a free kick. Free kicks have the same methodology as kick-offs (bounce and kick), but are taken from where the foul was committed. Points can be scored directly from a free kick.

Time outs – players who are deemed to have deliberately handled the ball, or fouled another player are removed from the game until the next point is scored by either team.

Posted by: Postordinandy | August 18, 2015

When the Black Dog barks…

When the Black Dog barks…

I don’t want you to know, and you’ll never guess.


When the Black Dog barks…

I tell everyone and anyone: I just don’t shut up about it,

I am the last one to know he is there.


When the Black Dog barks…

I bark at other people,

I turn up the music loud!

I can’t hear a word you are saying.


When the Black Dog barks…

I can’t wake up,

I can’t get to sleep,

I can’t get out of bed,

I can’t read, can’t even concentrate on the TV,

I work too hard,

I don’t work at all.


When the Black Dog barks…

I think myself out of the situation,

I throw him a stick,

I bark back at him ‘til he cowers,

I flinch and hide behind a cushion.


When the Black Dog barks…

I can’t feel my thoughts,

I can’t turn my brain off,

I can’t get it to start.


When the Black Dog barks…

I drink too much alcohol,

I eat too much cake.


When the Black Dog barks…

I forget to eat at all,

While the dishes pile up in the sink.


When the Black Dog barks…

I exercise hard,

I eat well and think positive thoughts,

I pull those socks up and snap out of it,

I sit in my pants on the sofa in the dark.


When the Black Dog barks…

I look at the glass full of potential,

I look at the glass draining away,

I only see shattered fragments of glass on the floor.


When the Black Dog barks…

I find refuge in the laughter of my children,

I revel in the comfort of friends.

I let my daughters watch DVDs all day,

I ‘forget’ to answer texts or meet you in the pub.


When the Black Dog barks…

Sometimes I control how I respond,

Sometimes I am overwhelmed.


When the Black Dog barks…

Posted by: Postordinandy | May 11, 2015

Waiting for, working for justice

This was written as participation in the “Lament, pray, create, and give” event organised by Richard Passmore on Facebook as a response to the fears that some have post UK election 2015.


The mighty river that seems dammed behind bureaucracy
and damned by calloused hearts,
Will yet flow, unstoppable, through our streets and lives.
The darkness can never swallow the light:
Though our eyes are drawn to the shadows,
There will always be bright rays shining through the walls of despair,
And we are each called to walk in the ways of hope,
Never tiring to lift those who are unable to carry themselves,
Never trapped by the shackles of fear,
Never beaten by the tools of the totalitarian,
Exhausted, but spurring each other on,
Hungry, but offering from our meagre store cupboards,
Trusting in the flow of the river,
And in the Source of all things.

Posted by: Postordinandy | May 7, 2015

I wanna be elected!

Vote for me, vote for us,

(Just don’t vote for those others!)

Vote for hope or hangman’s rope,

Or protecting homeless mothers.


Vote for us – we’ll protect you

From the starving heathen hordes,

(At least we might get around to it

Once we’ve paid of all our Lords).


Vote for transparency, vote for truth,

Vote for a new moral majority,

Vote for us to gain the power, but

Remember it’s you who has authority.


Vote for policies, not personalities

Vote for what we promise you we’ll do,

Vote believing we can do it,

And then hope we follow through.


Vote for us, and remember,

You participate not in a game.

For the government we get will be,

The one we later blame.


Posted by: Postordinandy | May 6, 2015

John 19 (pt 1)

This innocent man:

Taken, beaten, mocked and shamed.

Thorns dug deep,

Piercing skin in prophetic action,

Preparing the way for their iron counterparts,

That will pin his broken frame to splintered wood.

The King of kings, worshipped in cold sardonic parody.

Hands that flung stars…

Those made in His image, re-imagining their place above him,

Before he is raised above them in apparent defeat.

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they slapped him in the face.” [John 19:1-3]
Posted by: Postordinandy | March 13, 2015



One of the most impressive transformations in nature is that of the caterpillar to the butterfly:

A time-lapse video of a Monarch caterpillar undergoing this change.


The life-cycle of the caterpillar/butterfly is fascinating. After a short life – essentially as an eating machine – the caterpillar gets ready.

In the words of Eric Carle, (he)

vhcc  “builds a small house, called a cocoon, around himself. He stays inside for more than two weeks. The he nibbles a hole in the cocoon, pushes his way out and…”

vhcb…becomes a beautiful butterfly.

vhc  But as pretty as Eric Carle paints this process, this change is radical and costly to the caterpillar.

The Monarch butterfly can complete its’ life-cycle in as little as 28 days. The caterpillar exists for around 10 of these, spends another 10 or so as a chrysalis, and then around a week maturing enough to lay eggs. They then live for another month or so.

Imagine that.

Translated into human years (the average life expectancy in the UK is around 80 years), that would mean 25 years as a caterpillar, another 25 as a chrysalis, and then just over 30 as a butterfly…

25 years getting ready for change, 25 years of change, and 30 years to enjoy the fruits of that change.

The chrysalis stage is fascinating. Once secured in the cocoon, the caterpillar releases enzymes that break down many of its tissues into their constituent proteins. Textbooks will commonly talk about the insect dissolving into a kind of “soup”, but that’s not entirely accurate – some organs stay intact.

Other organs, for example muscles, break down into clumps of cells that can be re-used, like a Lego sculpture decomposing into bricks. And some cells create imaginal discs—structures that produce adult body parts. There’s a pair for the antennae, a pair for the eyes, one for each leg and wing, and so on.

So if the pupa does contain a soup, it’s like a thick broth full of chunky bits.

Change is costly, messy, and takes time.

Those of us who are educators or parents are privileged to be able to facilitate some of the key changes in the life of a young person. We can help them understand the process, steer them in positive directions, give them the tools to achieve the changes they want.

But we can’t speed this up, we can’t make it neat and tidy, and we can’t make it easy.

This is also true in your own life.

We are always undergoing a period of change. Like the caterpillar, we have times in our lives dedicated to gathering the resources for that change, and times when everything feels like it is being de-constructed within us.

hat are you transforming into?

We have a degree of control over the changes in our lives. Some things happen to us, others happen because of us.

The next decision, the next step, that is the most important one you will make.

Become a beautiful butterfly – but give yourself time and grace to get there.



Posted by: Postordinandy | March 11, 2015

John 18 (pt 12)

How complicit am I in this repeated choice of freedom?

I take my place in the jostling crowd, and

Mesmerised by the sirens’ call to power,

The sickly smell of success or the

Tempting taste of rebellion,

Settle on the charismatic agitator who,

I blindly

(And somewhat lethargically)

Hope will,

Destroy the demons of oppression I see around me.

This man, rugged of body and mind,

A trouble-maker it is true, but surely?

The one who can drive the hated enemy into the wilderness,

And grant victory for God’s little people…

I barely notice the beaten and bowed shape of Him.

The Nazarene artisan and travelling magician.

The one who we had hailed as deliverer, liberator, Messiah…

(Only last week – so distant in memory now,

My hands still stained with the sap of palm leaves waved,

My ears ringing with the echoes of joyful songs of praise).

He talked a good talk, to be sure,

But this lamb held before the encircling eagles,

Offers us no hope in our immediate circumstance,

And so is abandoned to the shearers sword.

And history restarts the process of repetition with our choice.


 “…Do you want me to release ‘the king of the Jews’?” They shouted back, “No, not him! Give us Barabbas!”…” [John 18:39-40]

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