Posted in April 2020 Poetry Month, COVID-19/Pandemic, General Interest, John Anstie

Waiting for God, Oh Happy Days

How long is it since I set out on a quest, my
life’s mission, it seems like an age since I
realised my first ambition to own a car, to
drink a pint, legally, but not at the same time,
obviously! Each step was like—I imagine—
a fix of drugs, the only thing that I ever wanted,
that brings the ultimate pleasure that cannot
possibly be surpassed by anything but another
fix of something newer, stronger, more in
keeping with my current mores, my present,
my expectation, my self-image when was it
that I was introduced to Status, that fickle friend,
who always taunts me, the little demon, who
also seems to be up to their neck in sand and
knows so much about me, too much, and
strangely seems to have acquired me, as a
chattel without so much as ‘by your leave’, but
Ego and I are old friends, even though I didn’t
know, it turns out he’s also known my new
friend, Status, for longer than I, partners in crime
it seems, strange how small and large the World
is and that feeling I’m not in control, but damn!
who had the audacity to tell me I’m not in control,
of course I am fully in control of my thoughts and
actions are completely my own invention, all my
own, I know who I am, what I want, where I’m
going so don’t tell me I’m not in control, my
friends all like me, for who I am, or are they
really a reflection of my own missions, ambitions
and do I support them against their enemies, who
they perceive, think, guess, assume I am against
… before another me arrived stage left, with
thoughts that are different from anything I had ever
espoused, before this moment all I ever wanted
was the next portion of life served up at a price.

Now, whilst ego may still be important, the only
status we need is to be alive, to live, all else is
immaterial. So, where is God? Where is salvation
for these sorry souls, faced with their mortality?
Then there was Samuel, who wrote of him, or
someone, who sounds like him, about people,
who wait forever, for a pot of gold, for a favour,
apparently owed, for an expectation assumed,
an entitlement thought to be a right, to enable a
mission, want, desire, dream, right of passage,
an explanation of it all … then I realised I didn’t
have a clue … what we were waiting for.

Now … this

© 2020, John Anstie


[Author’s note: We should never wait. We should absolutely not wait. Life is not going to be served up on a plate for us. I now know I’ve spent far too much of my life waiting for something that I was lead to expect would happen, something that would change my life for the better, that would magically transform me into the person I longed to be, or thought I longed to be, thought that I should be, according to the expectations I had grown up to believe I should have for myself, or that someone else had for me, that was apparently the key to success and happiness. And so it seemed to be … until, that is, I began to realise that I am, like every being, a unique organic entity, with a unique set of abilities and aptitudes. Then I started to believe I could make things happen for myself and stopped allowing myself to be influenced by the expectations of others, especially the (soon to be considered pariahs of modern materialistic society!) the marketing and advertising people, who want to make us believe in the idealised person we think we’d like to be, so as to persuade us to buy that nectar of the Gods, that machine that will revolutionise our life, that technology that will give us ultimate power of knowledge, those things that will make us the more attractive, that will pave the way to financial success, wealth, power and influence, simply by buying into their purveyance. How frail is the ego. How flawed is our search for status. How fragile is life and how much of a leveller is the Corona virus that will not select its victims according to status, but according the fact we are all organic beings. We are all humans, in need of purpose, compassion and love.]

Two plays by Samuel Beckett, “Waiting for Godot” and “Happy Days,” are the original influence for this text.


“Life is short and art long, the crisis fleeting, experience penniless and decision difficult” ~ Hippocrates. As a young man, John was sporting and fit. It was then as much his recreational therapy as a cappella harmony singing, music, walking in the hills and writing is now. Playing Rugby Union for over twenty years, encouraged in the early days by a school that was run on the same lines and ethos as that famous Scottish public school, Gordonstoun, where our own headmaster had been as a senior master. This gave shape and discipline to a sometimes precarious early life. His fitness was enhanced not only by playing rugby, but also by working part time jobs in farming, as a leather factory packer and security guard, but probably not helped, for a short time, selling ice cream! His professional working life was spent as a Metallurgical Engineer, Marketing Manager, Export Sales Manager, Implementation Manager and Managing Director of his own company. Thirty five years spent, apparently in a creative desert, raising a family, pursuing a career and helping to pay the bills, probably enriched his experience, because his renaissance, on retirement, realised a hidden creative talent as a writer of prose and poetry. He also enjoys music, with a piano and a fifty-two year old Yamaha FG140 acoustic guitar. He sings bass in three a cappella harmony groups: as a founding member of a mixed voice chamber choir, Fox Valley Voices and barbershop quartets. He is also a member of one of the top barbershop choruses in the UK, Hallmark of Harmony (stage name of the Sheffield Barbershop Harmony Club), who, for the eighth time in 41 years, became UK Champions in 2019. He is also a would be (once upon a time or 'has been') photographer with drawers full of his own history, and an occasional, but lapsed 'film' maker. In his other life, he doubles as a Husband, Father, Grandfather, Brother, Uncle, Cousin, Friend and Family man. What he writes is sometimes autobiographical, often political, sometimes dark and frequently pins his colours to the mast of climate change and how a few humans are trashing the Earth. In 2013, he published an anthology of the poetry (including his own) of an international group of poets, who met on Twitter in 2011. He produced, edited and steered the product of this work, "Petrichor Rising", to publication by Aquillrelle. His sort of strap-line reads: “ iWrite iSing iDance iChi iVolunteer ”

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