Sunday, September 25, 2016

The day of the Degu Flood

Now degu’s are a bit like mice
With fluffy tails. They’re rather nice,
But there is little that they do
But eat and poo and chew and chew
And chew and chew and chew and chew.
All degus are extremely small,
You’d think they’d do no harm at all,
But they don’t like to be ignored.
Degu’s are dangerous when bored!

Now Granny’s house, I’m telling you
Is really much too big for two.
And so she rents one of the ends
To people who become her friends.
This time they had a couple who
Were rather young and just come new.
The girl, was small and very neat,
And boy was bigger. Both were sweet.
They’d got together and thought “Let’s
Have lots and lots and lots of pets.”
They had a fish tank, very big,
A rabbit and an guinea pig,
Three terrapins that snapped in rage,
And three small degus in a cage.

The flat was new and bright and clean
They had a posh new wash machine.
It looked good, but it caused them trouble,
It caused them trouble on the double.
That posh machine had flooded twice
And, though the fixing man was nice,
They’d both tired of the flooding scene
And cursed that “posh” washing machine.

Back to the degus. They were bored
And feeling they had been ignored.
For they’d been stuck inside their cage
For what, to them, seemed age on age.
They’d run around, jumped on the floor.
They’d chewed the hinges on the door,
They’d ran around the little passages
They scratched and gave each other massages.
Then said “There’s nothing we can do.
It’s boring here. I’m telling you.”

But then one gave a joyous shout
“I’ve found a way of getting out!
Just push hard on this little door,
Climb out and then we can explore.”
They ran around in every space
They found in our young tenant's place
They chewed the aerial of the telly
They sniffed the shoes, got in a welly,
And then one degu shouted “Cripes!
Just look at these enormous pipes.
They smell good and they look fantastic
And taste of most delicious plastic.
Come here and join me! Yes please do.
We’ll all have a terrific chew.”
(The pipes the degus had just seen
Brought water to the wash machine
Because they bent, Gran had to settle
For plastic pipes, not pipes of metal.)

The degus chewed for hour on hour,
Then one said “Look I’ve made a shower!
There’s lots of water rushing out
I’ve made a lovely water spout.”
They bathed in it, and washed their hair
And splished and splashed it everywhere,
And hit the water with their tail
And looked round for a boat to sail.
One chewed some more. There was a call
“Look folks, I’ve made a water fall!”
That was the end of degu’s play,
The water washed them right away,
The pressure was so very strong
It pushed the degus right along,
And now they did not feel so bold.
They climbed up from the water cold,
And shivered upon little shelves
And felt most sorry for themselves.
And sadly watched the flooded scene
Damp floor and leaks round the machine.

The girl then came in through the door
And saw the water on the floor.
Then rushed to Granny, face in pain
“It’s leaking on the floor again!”
And Granny shouts to husband, Nick,
“Another flood! Please help us quick.
Bring towels and curtains, bring a sheet,
Bring wellies to put on your feet,
Bring sandbags, spades and bring a broom
To sweep it from the second room.
(The second room was lower down
So anything in there might drown!)
They mopped up water more and more
But still they saw it on the floor.
And soon it was extremely plain
That what they mopped came back again!
They turned the taps and switched the switches,
But clearly there were major glitches
For very fast and more and more
The water flooded on the floor.

The Girl who then was all alone.
Rang partner on the the telephone.
“Oh please come home, the phone man’s here.
The degu’s gone. Oh dear Oh dear,
And there is water on the floor,
And it keeps coming, more and more.
Degus are lost, there’s not a squeak,
And nobody can mend the leak.”

Then “Stop! I need you helping ME,
Tell them it’s an emergency!”

Then silence. Then her voice NOT sunny.
“Stop laughing NOW. IT is NOT funny!”

Then Nick pulled out the wash machine
And shouted “Look what I have seen!
Three degus hiding in the cracks
With water running down their backs.
The degu’s did it I will bet.”
The girl then really got upset.
“Look at their tiny paws and feet
Degus are far too, much too sweet.”

The phone man who had come that day
Had tried to look the other way.
He kept on working on his own
And fiddled with the telephone.
Then Granny shouted to him “Hey you
Look tall enough to reach that degu!
Come over here, stand on this seat
And Nick will hang on to your feet,”
And so he came, and reached, and got ‘em.
Two by the neck, one by the bottom..
He put them through the cage’s door.

They ran straight out, just like before,
And then we chased them round the floor
And got them in the cage at last,
And tied the door up very fast.

By now the answer was quite plain.
Nick turned the tap off at the main.
And people mopped, and by and by
The kitchen floor was almost dry.
And luckily, since it was summer,
They fairly quickly found a plumber.
He fixed a new pipe that would fit.

We kept the one the degu’s bit,
And up on top and down beneath,
There’s six inch marks of degu’s teeth.

The degu’s cage has a new door
They’re back inside – same as before.
But now they never get ignored.
Degus are dangerous when bored.

Nick Mellersh. November 2006

Friday, September 9, 2016

Poem of the week back again for autumn: What are poems for?

You ask me “What's are poems for?”
I say, “To open up a door,
And show things never seen before.
Show words that sing and dance and run
And make us laugh and give us fun.
And light our life like some new sun.
And calm us on the way to sleep
And show us life runs rich and deep
And bring us comfort when we weep.
And play with words like they were toys
And light up love for girls and boys.
And guard the hopes time would destroy
And fill our lives with depth and joy.”

                                                                                          Nick Mellersh
I found this looking through my old poems and liked it. Now summer is almost over I'm starting up "(Almost) a Poem a Week"  again and it seemed a good way to start.  I hope you like it.  Please tell me if you do, writing a blog is a lonely business!

PS: Daughter Lucy is having a sculpture exhibition this weekend see

Our big news is that Illustrated Fluteplaying e-book edition is taking off.  More news later.  There's a good movie of Jeanie Mellersh and Robin Soldan talking about the history of the book and future plans that you can watch here: 

Saturday, June 25, 2016

The bent banana song

Give two cheers, for our Brexiteers,
I stand up and applaud 'em
Soon we'll have our bent bananas
With less money to afford'em.

The banning of bent bananas was one of my favourite Euromyths (see  When we've left the EU, doubtless we can gorge on them.

I'm still bemused by the Brexit vote. Don't know if it is tragedy or comedy or what.  It would be nice to think of people rejoicing by eating heavily curved or misshapen bananas weighed in pounds and ounces and paid for at half a crown a dozen.  But I don't think it will happen.

More likely after the euphoria and shock we are likely to get slowly poorer, both in the pocket and the spirit as our money and horizons shrink. What is clear is that what people hoped for when they voted for Leave is not what they will get. Geography and economics have not changed. When Brexit fails to lead to paradise (or much change at all in all probability) politics could become really nasty.    

We need think hard and deep about this.  
Incidentally the centenary of the Battle of the Somme came up just after the Brexit vote.  The Somme where a million men, mostly British German and French, got killed in  3 months is a horrible reminder of what can happen when Europe is divided.  Let's work to see it never happens again.

My father was wounded on the Somme and wrote about it.  I have put the complete chapter on the Njeanius website.  Just click on the link at

Or go to my facebook page 

Sunday, May 29, 2016

First poem for ages: Another comic one

The day Granddad thought someone was gassing him

Well Granddad was alone one day,
The kids and mum were out to play.
Hed eaten lunch that Grannyd cooked
And settled down to read a book.
He said hed do the washing up,
(Just of the plate and knife and cup)
But Granddad, just like many a man
Thought “Ill do nothing while I can,
In time Ill follow Grannys wishes,
Theres lots of time to do the dishes.”

So Granddad found a comfy chair,
And wriggled his bum, and settled there.
He stretched and thought “Aah! This is bliss!”
But then he heard a funny hiss,
But still he read a page or two,
Thinking theres nothing I need do.

But there was something else as well,
He thought he smelt a funny smell.
“I’ve left the gas on. Damn and blast!
Must switch it off! Must do it fast!”
So Granddad jumped out of his chair
And turned the gas taps everywhere
But when to every tap hed gone,
There was nt one that hed left on.
He thought “That was a strange sensation,
It must be my imagination.”
Im going silly, going potty
Having those kids has driven me dotty!”

So Granddad settled down once more
And started reading as before.
The book was interesting ... but then
He thought he heard a hiss again
And then he heard it very plain,
It was the hissing sound again!
And then he sniffed and knew full well,
There really was a gassy smell.
He jumped up, quickly looked around
And couldn’t hear the hissing sound.
He walked around, looked through the door,
But the hissing sound was there no more.
So Granddad sat down in his chair
And, yes, the hissing sound was there.
And yes he heard it very plain
The hissing sound was there again!
And then he sniffed and really knew,
“Someone is gassing me, it’s true!”
So he jumped up, scared and offended,
And as he stood - the hissing ended.

Some silly ass is playing tricks,
He turns the gas on when I sits.
Come out, come out, where I can see
Just who is playing tricks on me.”
But all was quiet, quiet as a mouse,
Nothing to hear inside the house.
So Granddad looked behind the doors,
Opened the cupboard, pulled out drawers,
Under the stairs, behind the curtain.
Someone was hiding he was certain.

He looked, and nobody was there,
He shouted and pulled out his hair.
He listened hoping for a sound
But there was nobody around.

So Granddad felt extremely bad,
He thought “I must be going mad!
Theres no one here that I can see
And no one could be gassing me.
Ill go and make a cup of tea.”
And so he turned the kettle on
And when it boiled the smell had gone.

“It’s in my mind I really think.
Ill settle down and have my drink.”
And so he sat down in his chair.
And you can guess what happened there.
Oh yes, he heard that hissing sound
And gassy smells were all around.
“There’s someone underneath my chair!”
Granddad jumped up. Guess what was there.

No one was there, Im pleased to say,
Instead there was a can of spray
Now everything was clear as day.
(It was a spray for Granny’s hair
An aerosol that she’d left there.)
His bottom pressed down on the cap
And turned the spray on like a tap,
And that had made the hissing sound
And spread the smell of gas around.
His sitting had pressed down the top
And when he stood, the spray would stop.

Then Granddad felt extremely silly
And said “I am a Silly Billy!”
Then he picked up the can of spray
And moved it carefully away,
And sat down with his cup of tea
And said “At last some time for me!”

Later, in spite of Grannys wishes,
He still forgot to do the dishes.

Nick Mellersh Nov 2006

Hope you like this and hope I have n't put it up before.  

News is that Jeanie's pics are up in an exhibition in Lyndhurst community centre so if you are around Lyndhurst go and see them.  There's card and framed drawings as well as the ones on the walls.  Other people's are there as well.

Also plans for the Illustrated Fluteplaying ebook proceed apace.  See more about Jeanie's pics at her blog


Thursday, April 28, 2016

Two poems for spring

Taraxicum officianale (the common dandelion) in the Alexey Tolstoy crater on Mars. Widely considered to be the first proof of extra-terrestrial life. Photo courtesy NASA 2026. When astronaut Bud Blowhard tried to discover the time from a Martian dandelion clock he had to stop at 2,500,603 o'clock.  The low pressure atmosphere on the planet makes seed removal by blowing extremely problematical

 The Dandelion Fields of Mars​

The fields of dandelions on Mars

Have yet to be discovered.

But I won't be at all surprised

The day that they're uncovered.

Those yellow things get everywhere

It makes me quite forlorn

They can't be killed or driven out

Especially from my lawn.

I'm absolutely certain

They do it to annoy

For growing where unwanted

Is their single, simple joy.

When men land on the planet

And upon its surface burst.

The red planet will be yellow

'Cos the dandelions were first.

Nick Mellersh 2016

The rites of passage of the Liver Flukes

The rites of passage of the liver flukes

Don't feature is the lists of world's great books,

Where human rites of passage,

Had you wondered

Are in all but seven of the first eight hundred

And this is very odd because you see,

The flukes have eight, while we have only three.

Note: Liver flukes have the most amazing life cycle, first as eggs, then a swimming thing, then a parasite of a particular sort of snail, then as more swimming things then as parasites in (mostly) sheep and cattle livers and people's livers if they are unlucky!. For more see this

What's all this to do with spring?

You may reasonably wonder what these have to do with spring. The answer is that they are about the fecundity of life here on earth and the surprising fact that we can't find it anywhere else. All the more reason to cherish it, and ourselves, right here.

I personally think that God produced liver flukes to win a bet. There doesn't seem any rational reason to believe that anything as complicated as them could possibly survive, let alone thrive which they do.

Talking of the wonders of nature, one of the world's great books is Pilgrim on Tinker Creek by AnnieDillard. It doesn't actually talk of liver flukes but covers many equally strange and wonderful things. Read it if you are interested in the complexities and beauties of life.

Ebook news 

Jeanie's flute book Illustrated Fluteplaying written by her and Robin Soldan will be published as an ebook this summer.  To find the latest news go to

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Poems for Holy Week

Holy Week: A peek into Christ's Diary

It's going to be an awful week. Look at my diary
Sunday: Ride on donkey while crowds shout at me to fight and defeat the world's biggest army.
Monday: Kick out the cheats from the temple and get cursed for doing it.
Tuesday: Try to teach but get interrupted by tiresome know-all fanatics asking me trick questions.
Wednesday: Same as Tuesday. Then, at night, sweat blood praying we might find another way
Thursday: Supper with supporters. Nice, but most don't understand me and one plots to betray me. Arrested on my midnight walk.
Friday: Whipped, hauled in front of the Roman governor, crucified.
Saturday: Wrestle with the devil in hell, or so the myth-makers say.
Sunday: Come back alive. I hope. They'll be talking about it in two thousand years if I'm right. But sometimes I think maybe I'm not.

It's going to be an unholy awful week.

About Holy Week

Well Easter has come round again.  And  I thought I should put this poem up on the blog again.  What struck me when I was preparing an art exhibition for the church was how short a time these events took.  All in seven days.  Whether you are a believer or not (and to my mind this doesn't really matter) the world was changed by these seven days.  

It is interesting to think what Christ might have prayed on that Wednesday night.  A thought I had was that maybe the alternative to him going ahead with the crucifixion was quite simply ending the world just at that moment. "Enough of this failed experiment Father.  Let's cut our loses and start again."

Anyway since this poem has been on the blog before, here is another one religious one.  About how twisted and imperfect people are.

Pink Hyacinth


Pink Hyacinth I hate you,
Look, you should be blue.
Your colour is a sort of muted pink
Your growth is small and stunted.
Your scent bred out of you.
Pink Hyacinth I hate you.

And yet …. and yet …and yet
Pink Hyacinth I love you.
I love you for two things.
First the good intentions of the men
Who turned you pink.
But most, because, in spite of all,
You still remain a Hyacinth.

Men are the same,
Twisted away from our true beauty
Into shapes and colours that are wrong for us.
Perhaps God loves men (and me) the way I love pink hyacinths.
Nick Mellersh Jan 2015

And a last thought while I am looking through old poems.  I often have long talks with my counselor (a very impressive woman click here to read more) about ambition in life.  While religions urge us to try to be perfect and to be discontent when we fail, counselors seem to urge us just to try and be more or less OK and make the best of it.  The religious view seems too hard, the counselor's view too depressing.  Both are speaking to one or other side of the truth I suppose. Anyway here are my thoughts on this tangled matter.


When life is “all-right” well, that's sort of all-right
Well it's nearly all-right, well it's almost all-right.
Yes being all right, is sort of all-right
But it don't seem a target to aim for.
Maybe being all right is really all wrong
For “all-right's” not the life that we came for.

But being all wrong, to continue the song
Is the place where the most of us wallow,
And above the all-right, well we'll fall from that height,
There's a truth that we all have to swallow.

Nick Mellersh 2015

Anyway, life goes on as usual.  Jeanie is putting up some iPad paintings on her blog.  We have found a way to show them being built up stroke by stroke and hope to put up a serious video on painting on the iPad pretty soon.  Meanwhile you can see a few pics being created stroke for stroke on her blog.  and there is my daughter's blog to look at too.  Interesting stuff about bronzes, finally try looking at my nephew's latest film.  It's a bit of fun.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Valentine's poem for Jeanie

I thought this was rather neat and it gave Jeanie and me a lot of fun. She;s great!  Hope you enjoy it too.

PS: a new drawing coming up on Jeanie's life drawing blog

PPS:  We;re working on the ebook version of Illustrated Fluteplaying.  Hope it will be available this summer.  More soon.

PPPS  Our daughter Lucy has recently created a couple of amazing bronze women nudes. A picture is below.  You can see more and learn about the process of creating a bronze from her blog.
Bronze by daughter Lucy Mellersh.  Learn more at her blog