Weird objects in the sky that I have seen.

Last night I watched a documentary about alien abductions. It was a terrible programme and it really did waste one hour of my life. However, it did remind me of the occasions in which I have seen weird objects in the sky which I’ve not been able to explain.

I am a logical person with an interest in science and aviation. Since I was a kid, I’ve loved aircraft and flying, and I grew up near Heathrow Airport. Because of this, I’d spend a lot of time looking at the planes flying over our house. I knew all the airlines and the different types of aircraft and could distinguish between, for example, the Boeing 747-200 and the Boeing 747-300.

In the late 1980s, my father and I both observed two bright lights in the sky to the west of our house. It was night time and the bright lights were stationery in the sky. They were brighter than the surrounding stars and perfectly parallel with each other. We observed these lights for a few minutes, and then, quick as a flash, they moved to a slightly different part of the sky, still to the west. Naturally, my scientific mind is eager to determine what these might have been. Geostationary satellites is my best guess, for they appeared to be a very long way up in the upper atmosphere. I’m sure that other people must have seen these, too.

The second weird thing I saw must have been also in the late 1980s. It was a beautiful sunny day and I was on the school playing field at break time, at the middle school I was attending. As normal I was doing a bit of plane spotting, when I saw an object floating directly above. It was metallic and reflected the sun from its sides, and triangular, slowly turning, so that the sun on its sides seemed to pulse. I watched it for quite a while, thinking, hmm, I bet they’ve got a good view from up there, and what a beautiful day to be flying, then thought no more of it. It was only when I grew up did I ponder in exactly what it might have been. My best and most boring guess is that it was some kind of helium filled balloon. But where would it have come from? It looked very solid.

The third thing that I saw already has a name and a catalogue of witness accounts. During a ferocious thunderstorm, again in suburban Surrey, a ball of lightning moved very slowly past my bedroom window. I remember it very distinctly, the way that the shadow of my window frame very slowly moved across the room, the way that my drawn curtains lit up with the light from the glowing ball very visible the other side of them. Indeed, this seems to run in our family, as my mother believes that she also saw ball lighting when she was a young adult, actually penetrating the walls of the room she was in at the time and passing right through as if it were a ghost.

And the last thing I saw was the weirdest. In the early 2000s I caught the passenger ferry from Torquay to Brixham across Torbay, again on a very clear, sunny day, only to see what can only be described as a thin sliver of metallic ribbon curling and floating through the sky across the bay, in a westerly direction. It seemed to curl and bend over itself as it moved and there were no obvious signs of propulsion, yet it was very clearly moving. My scientific mind pondered on what it could possibly have been, eventually settling on a Swarm Of Bees or some such insect, but it really did have solidity.

So these are the odd things I’ve seen during my life. I’m open minded as to what they might have been. I’m aware that some might assign them as being of alien origin, though I’m conscious that it might be almost impossible for anything to travel across the vast distances of space. I have never believed in aliens, or at least, in extra terrestrial entities.

Englefield Green Blues

Between 1994 and 1996 I worked at a small village shop in the village of Englefield Green in Surrey. I was twenty years old and it felt like the best job in the world, because I got to know all the local characters. The drunks, the ne’erdowells, the good people, the bad people. A local author who was published to great acclaim came in every day after the school run. A member of the House of Lords.the local vicar and the local priest, who would buy the Holy Water and take it away to be blessed. Oh, such good times.

While I was there I wrote a comedy novel called Englefield Green Blues, about a trainee guardian angel who was not very good at his job. The novel was a turning point for me because it was the first time that I employed, throughout the narrative, funny poetry. The other day I sat down and looked at the poems again. They may not be classics, but they take me right back to 1995.

1.
Englefield Green Blues
(A song for the ukulele)

Plang plang plang plang pla-la-lang plang plang
Plang plang plang plang pla-la-lang plang plang

I told my wife
I says to her
What you looking
At me for?
And she says back
To me that is
This cola’s lost its fizz

Plang plang plang plang pla-la-lang plang plang
Plang plang plang plang pla-la-lang plang plang

I took it back
To the corner shop
He says to me
What’s this for?
I says to him
You know what it is
This cola’s lost its fizz

Plang plang plang plang pla-la-lang plang plang
Plang plang plang plang pla-la-lang plang plang

You take a gulp
It’s stale and flat
I says to him
Well fancy that
Just get me a refund
No need for a tizz
This cola’s lost its fizz

Plang plang plang plang pla-la-lang plang plang
Change of key
Plang plang plang plang pla-la-lang plang plang
First key again
Plang plang plang plang pla-la-lang plang plang

This cola’s lost its fizz
This cola’s lost its fizz
Oh yeah this cola’s lost its fizz
No its hasn’t
Yes it has
No it hasn’t
Yes it has
This cola’s lost its fizz

2. Fairground

It’s a fairground, it’s a fairground
Adults full price children free
Merry go round, merry go round,
Will you take a ride with me?

Tunnel of love, dodge the dogems,
Life is but a chamber of horrors
When it’s midnight at the funfair
You don’t care about tomorrow.

Roll up
Roll down
Fall down
Roll over
Tell me when
This feelings over.
Fairground
Fairground
Fairground people
We’re all just visitors
We’re all just sampling
life.

Funfair funfair
Why the hell should you care?
You know where you’re going
You know you can’t get there
Merry go round, miserable go round
Candy floss yes please
Eat it quick, kiss me quick,
I’m begging on my knees!

Roll up
Roll down
Fall down
Roll over
Tell me when
This feelings over.
Fairground
Fairground
Fairground people
We’re all just visitors
We’re all just sampling
life.

Win a goldfish, win a horse
You can take it home, of course.
Life’s so happy, life’s so fab
I’m going to explode with mirth.
Throw your balls at aunt Sally,
She won’t throw them back.
Ha ha ha
Ha ha ha
Ha ha ha ha ha ha haaaa.

Roll up
Roll down
Fall down
Roll over
Tell me when
This feelings over.
Fairground
Fairground
Fairground people
We’re all just visitors
We’re all just sampling
life.

3. Flute

I played my flute
Till the cows came home.
Tum de tum de tum de de
Tum de tum de tum de de
I played my flute like a woman possessed
Toodle toodle toodle all day.

I played my flute
I played my flute
And then I stopped
For the cows had come home.

4. I Am A Genius

There is a fine line
Between genius and prat.
Like:
This poem is either brilliant
Or
Rubbish.
Ooga ooga ooga ooga ooga
As the sun sets over
Englefield Green
And the vampires walk the aisles
I ponder
I ponder life through poetry.
Ooga.

5. Silly hat.

Do not wear
A silly hat.
People will say
‘What is that?’
You will have
To take it off
We will then
Suppress a cough
That is really
A raucous laugh
Cos its sensible
By half
To wear a hat
That suits your head
Wear that hat?
I’d rather be dead!

6. Strong wind pot tragedy.

Flower pot
On the wall
In the gale
Defying all.

Flower pot.
On the ground.
Potting compost
All around.

7. Untitled (Although Now It’s Called That It Has a Title,
Therefore No Longer Untitled)

The cosmos is so big
And I am so small
You should never get the two confused.
Lord knows, I don’t!
It would be embarrassing
To book into an hotel
Under the name ‘Existence’
Or look up at the night sky
And say
‘Doesn’t George look lovely tonight?’

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An elegy for Woking

I had a great time last night appearing in Woking at the Light Box. It’s the first time that I’ve performed there and the audience was amazingly attentive and receptive. Which is to say that they all laughed in the right places.

Woking has long been one of my favourite towns, not least because it is the headquarters of the McLaren formula one team. But also because my sister lives here. When people go on holiday to all these exotic places, invariably, I go to Woking.

Woking has taken a lot of stick over the years because there’s nothing there except for shops and coffee shops. This kind of overlooks the fact that it has some very fine shops and some very fine coffee shops. Often I go wandering among the shops and the coffee shops, eulogising the wonderful choice and array of shops and coffee shops.

It also has a very good library. The library is air conditioned, and when I’m up there in the summer, and the Surrey heat flows in from the surrounding forests, I sit in the library and write. This in itself is nothing special, except that my friend and poetry colleague Ian Beech used to work at Woking Library. Indeed, the coincidence deepens because Beechy used to play cricket for the pub where I stay whenever I’m in town.

It’s solidly commuter belt, Woking. The audience at the gig was the least diverse I’ve ever seen. Once everyone commutes off to London in the morning, the place gets a little sleepy, which means there’s plenty of time to look around the shops and the coffee shops. And the forests, which are not so far away, the deep dark woods where HG Wells set War of the Worlds. Woking is the only place I know where the statue in the town centre is of an alien.

And there’s another reason why I like Woking so much. About ten years ago, I happened to see Paul Weller on his moped, which was decorated with images from his album covers. And he almost ran me over, because I was standing there kind of gawping. You see, Woking really is the city of dreams.

So that’s why I enjoyed performing there so much the other night. It really is one of my favourite places!