I was never one for climbing trees. Never nimble enough. Heavy-footed, clumsy, lacking the agility of other children. So the tree at the end of my grandmother’s garden, the tree adjoining the cut, the path through from her street to the little shop round the corner where you could buy chocolate buttons, remained unclimbed  (by me, at least). Summer passed, and summer after summer. I grew taller, more awkward, and while I would play in the park at the front of her house, on the swings, and on the roundabout, and on the rocking horse, I’d never climb the tree.

and then one summer, one holiday, dared by a cousin, I clambered up, grasping at branches, and managed to get up, managed to balance on a branch as high as the peak of the roof of the shed in her back guard. I sat on that branch watching her exit the back door, peg out the washing. I sat there, uncomfortably shuffling, as she came out of the kitchen shouting that it was time for lunch. You could smell the soup, a thick lentil soup made with chicken stock.

I never climbed it again.

And years passed and I got older, and the summer of 1988 we didn’t go to my grandmother’s to stay. Instead, we were despatched, billeted to relatives around the country, because my Grandfather was ill. My grandfather, a tall, gentle voiced, dark haired man, was ill, losing weight, his voice a croak where once it was mellifluous and loving. Cancer was killing him and we were not there, not playing in the park, not climbing the tree. And he died. And we cried. And life changed for all of us. Holidays were never quite the same. But that first year was the most difficult.

And that is why on the day the plane fell on the town, my sisters were there. That’s why I was there just before Christmas,  conscious of the stench of kerosene, standing in the kitchen looking past the tree at the top of my grandmother’s garden at the houses to the rear, the houses where windows were smashed, the houses where one seat – visible from my grandmother’s kitchen – was stuck, lodged in a window, the left arm of its occupant lolling to the side; looking past the tree to the hillside to the rear of those houses, where bright sheets and markers were randomly scattered.

And those days after I watched and read lots, watched and read as much as I could to work out what had happened, what on earth had gone on. I was drawn to the coverage, but it didn’t make me feel better, didn’t switch off the dreams. But I couldn’t look away from the stuff. And so soon after, a few days after a muted Christmas, I read Time magazine, and there in the pages was a picture of the tree, and in it, a child, so high.

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The blogpost North Korea tried to ban

[Following representations received the author has agreed to remove this blog post  for reasons of North Korea.

All hail the dear leader.]

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an open letter to Russell Brand

Dear Russell (if I may)

How do?

Give us an autograph.

Yours etc

Ern Malley

ETA (2.32 pm)  PS I now have a bowl of cold soup because of the time I wasted typing this.

ETA (2.44 pm) PPS have been told I need to add some misogyny to get this in the papers. Here goes. Ooh women, you’re scamps. (not sure I’ve got the hang of the casual hatred thing, but hope the papers appreciate the effort)

Ern Malley types his open letter to Russell "the brand" Brand

Ern Malley types his open letter to Russell “the brand” Brand

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Is it snowing outside? – the original liveblog

11.00 – just back. my god, it’s bad. I was stuck for literally seconds after a carol concert.

9.01 – just going outside. I may be some time. it’ s like hell out there, but a hell of snow lightly covering the ground, and ice, and a light wind.

8.56 – person has just slid on the snow covered pavement. Let’s be careful out there, people.

8.52 – much heavier now. You can see pushchair tracks on the pavements now.

8.50 – still going. Even the pavements have a light covering now, like dandruff on the shoulder of a man in a rented suit at a black tie event he would really rather not be attending.

8.44 – still snowing. Lying as well. A gentle covering, like the dusting of icing sugar on a soggy badly made cake, trying to disguise how poor the cake is.

8.40 -ooh, it’s started again. And it’s heavier. The skies are dark grey – like a black jumper that’s been washed lots of times.

8.31 -It’s stopped.

8.27 – yep, still lightly falling.

8.17 – yes, yes it is.

8.10 – yes.

8.04 – it has started. Light flakes and they are lying on the rain sodden ground, destined to melt.

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lines declining to be the new makar

I couldn’t be the makar

I haven’t got the time

I have no sense of poesy

And have no sense of rhythm

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a rubbish poem bemoaning bloody hackers favouriting tweets for MPs that are household names

Poor Karl McCartney turned his back

And when he did his tweets was hacked

The hackers’ actions seemed absurd

They didn’t change poor Karl’s password

But spent time trawling just for fun

Some local stories from Lincoln

And bondage porn and rating bits

To favourite for him (callous shits!)

And then with not one word to Karl

They sodded off, with leery snarl

When Karl found out he was angry

He quickly stressed “it wasnae me”

And everyone was satisfied

And very glad when Poor Karl tried

To write a long complaining letter

To the scoundrels running twitter

But as yet poor Karl’s had no reply

I can’t think of a reason why

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to be a political pilgrim

Let us go to the house of the three flags

Cast off our clothes, dress humbly in rags

Bare heads bowed, clumsy in silent homage

Genuflect, at Ed’s cue seethe with our faux rage

Mouth the condemnatory incantation

“Thornberry’s tweet disrespects our nation”.

Chant loud the tribute for an ordinary Dan

“Praise be! Cometh his hour, cometh his van!”

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Modern political rules: number 45

Don’t disrespect the van

Of any man called Dan.

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“some comedians push the boundaries in the name of entertainment”

I’d no idea that being a misogynist

Was a way for a comic to take a big risk,

That leering and jeering and shouting out “moist”

Was something a telly bod would want to foist

On innocent viewers across the country

In the name of pushing entertainment’s boundary.

To be frank ITV, this decision you’ve screwed

Taking a net clown with demeanour so lewd

To give him a show’s one of your biggest gaffes

For poor Daniel’s not dapper, and he’s immune from laughs,

And she knows that he knows that when he’s on the pull

That the only ones laughing are deluded fools.

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Griff Rhys Jones lives in a hice

Impoverished Rhys Jones

Discards mobile phones

And other costly devices

As he renews attacks

On Ed’s mansion tax

For targeting wealthy folk’s “houses”.

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A rubbish topical poem about the fuss about the Ukips and the Mock the Week

We want a new hero to help Mock the Week

Rejecting the nob gags, and Parsons’ stock cheek

To stand up for Ukip, to come off the fence.

Where is he? where is he? Where’s Andrew Lawrence?

To talk to the public, to say the unsaid:

About immigration and why Ed is red.

Ask the silent majority in the audience

Where is he? where is he? Where’s Andrew Lawrence?

So discard the woman, the fat bald one too

The crap one, the mad one, the comic who’s blue,

What we need is a ginger to stare down the lens

The one and the only: here’s Andrew Lawrence!

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The “Revolution” will not be televised again on Newsnight (if they’ve any sense)

Oh Piketty! Woe Piketty!

Inspiring such prolixity!

Who’d have thought his economics

Translated into fluent bollocks.

But all ideas fall at the hand

Of cultural icon, Russell Brand

Whose revolutionary attacks

Would reinvent corporate tax

At twenty pennies in the pound

(the rate today, as most have found).

Russ questioned whether the twin towers

Were struck down by Islamic powers

When interviewed by Evan Davies

(as part of book promotion favours)

And garnered unintended laughs

In shrinking back from Evan’s graphs.

Poor Russell’s worldwide “Revolution”

Seems much afflicted by confusion.

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A rubbish hastily typed topical poem on David Cameron’s impromptu budget press conference

When you sign international obligations

You should watch for cheap machinations

And lectern thumping for party audience –

Play the long game, develop patience,

Pick your fights, avoid the faux rage

(designed to out Ukip that Farage).

Best when asked about the EU budget

To waffle a bit, and then just fudge it.

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lines on the departure of Johann Lamont as leader of the Labour party in the Scottish Parliament

Few will lament

The end of Lamont,

Apart from that Ed

Who she’s punched in the head.

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A rubbish poem written in 10 minutes about Russell Brand

Who’d have thunk when watching Big Brother’s Big Mouth

The Dickensian host with language uncouth

Apologising for Jade’s racist remarks

Some months later would alarm Andrew Sachs

By phoning to say he’d shagged his granddaughter

And other remarks he’d really ought not to?

Yet within a few years when quizzed on Newsnight

As a cultural behemoth, a man with insight,

Ribald revolutionary Russell Brand

Thought today’s politics was much too bland

And consequently we shouldn’t vote

Because those pesky MPs got on his goat.

At least he seemed to think that until this week

For faced with an old punk he seems a bit meek

‘cos when called a “bumhole” by one Johnny Rotten

Russell’s earlier views seemed quickly forgotten.

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A rubbish topical couplet

Might be best to avoid

Private views of Lord Freud.

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a rubbish topical poem contemplating the lack of official concern into allegations of ballot rigging in the referendum raised by a well known American writer

On Sunday we’ll go to Freedom Square;

Let’s hope Naomi Wolf will be there

Brandishing her blank ballot spreadsheet

With labelled columns, all lined and neat:

Listing regions from around Scotland

And ballot papers that should have been banned.

The Electoral Commission doesn’t care.

No, they won’t have someone in Freedom Square.

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This week’s rubbish topical poem-lines on the media reponse to Douglas Carswell’s by election victory

Matthew Parris blames you

For the Clacton to do.

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A rubbish untopical poem on a topic and in a style requested by a reader

Crow and legislative competence

His winged shadow


Fell on the page


Crow descended


He clawed the words


His acts – beak tore


Crow belched

“Not law”

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Another rubbish poem on a topical issue

I sometimes incline

To confuse Naomi Klein

With Wolf, which is a no go

Perhaps best resolved with a logo.

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