SIXTY YEARS

I have given speeches all my entire life but never given one as I am givng you tonight.

Sixty years have I lived on this earth and dedicated myself to the scientific advancement of mankind.  Unlike others before me, I am not a maker of gadgets but pure in my experimentation of the mind.

A man can be at the very height of his career in his sixtieth year and yet it can take only a single moment of indiscretion to cause his fall from grace.

Sincerely friends, if it can happen to me, then it can surely happen to you too.

In another five years on a cold Good Friday morning in the north London parish of Highgate, I swear Iwill draw my last breath and the world at large will come to wonder of my legacy both then and for years thereafter, as you might wonder now.

You might visit St. Michaels Church in the city of St. Albans and look at both my statue and the crypt where I shall be supposedly be laid to rest.

You might visit the country estate in the environs of St.  Albans where I shall shortly go to write up my memoirs and the substance of my legacy.

I am a man of royal blood, of that I am absolutely certain, and I was born to be a king.

By the same token, I am the Queen’s bastard, conceived by a noble woman who would produce no natural heir to the throne of England and by her lover, Robert Dudley, a beast of a man who would stop at nothing to get his way.

What dastardly thing did the Queen contrive in the summer of 1571 so that no rightful successor such as I could ever be allowed to fulfil his destiny according to God.

Contrived by the Queen’s conjurer-in-chief, William Cecil, later his son Robert, who made things happen as only they could..

I cannot put to words how I felt when my foster mother, Anne Bacon, a relation of the Cecils, let it slip that we shared no common blood but in truth that I had always known,

My few years to serve as asssistant ambassador in France as soon as I completed my scholarship at Trinity College Cambridge ought to have been recognition and deserving credit of a mother’s pride for a son as well as providing training for his future regal role.

Alas, nothing could be further from the reality as she set about distancing herself from me as a mother and embarking on a sham which stills mocks me to this day as it did then and will continue to mock me beyond this night.

France and the ambassadorial travels I made across the European continent were a whole episode in my life which I cannot and I do not regret.

I would not have met Queen Marguerite of Dubois and experienced the youthful exuberance of infatuation and love.

I would not have written the 154 Sonnets – was it really that many? – that gave testimony to true love and which I kept preciously secret until a trusted housekeeper came upon them in my absence and saw opportunity to financially benefit from their publication in 1609.

If I did not go to France, perhaps I might not have been inspired to provide the source, the material and at times the collaboration to many of the theatrical plays which many of you here tonight have enjoyed in all their gore and glory by the Shakespeare name.

If my dear beloved mother Elizabeth Tudor had not seen fit to refuse her consent to my intended marriage to Marguerite, how I might wonder how different my life would and could have been.

My Queen Marguerite, and she will always be such in my heart, was the most gracious and ingraciating woman I have ever  known.

It matters not to me one iota that she was a catholic and would have  had to divorce her King in order to be my partner before God and challenge  the constitution of the English state which I always felt,  it was my duty to rule.

Marguerite ultimately chose exile and lived out the remaining years of her life from a quaint, modest hostel on the banks of the Seine, as I shall live out mine with equal modesty in St. Albans when this speech is done and dusted and the consequences of it have been addressed.

It be a little less than six years since her mortal demise and I miss her dearly, my dearest marigold now resting peacefully in the garden of her eden.

My foster father, Nicholas, the Queen’s senior legal adviser and keeper by another name, a man quick to get the bottle, passed away while I was amidst the French commission and I was hastily withdrawn back to England.

My foster brother, Anthony, forever a confidante, was always supportive, even when the news broke that I would inherit nothing from Nicholas Bacon’s estate.

If fortune favours the brave, then I would suggest that I was always at least one stop short of the grant of the favour, for whatever reason.

Debt has plagued me almost all my life, yet I have enjoyed economic privilege, been educated well and I am not a man without means.  I am possessed by a need to give away what I have and I must admit it is a need which I do not know how to control.

My thanks to Anthony for more than once coming to my rescue and securing my release from a debtor’s gaol, a shaming but humbling experience for any man, whatever his status and station in life.

Of course, the plague of debt  had an impact on my second attempt at romance and to get married, inevitably so.

It is true that I was very much interested for the hand in marriage of Elizabeth Cecil, grand-daughter of William Cecil, niece to Robert, widowed at 20 by Sir William Hatton and snatched from my eternal grasp by Sir Edward Coke, a rival in all aspects of life ever since we first crossed swords..

A few years later, a couple after the passing of Queen Elizabeth and on the persuasion of your majesty King James, I did eventually marry, Alice Barnham, the fourteen year old daughter of a London councillor..

Our marriage has produced no children, through no fault of mine or hers.  It may just be an indisputable fact that I prefer bedfellows but I dare anyone to say I have ever solicited rent-boys or been homosexual by nature.

Dear brethren before me, I am at heart a humble man and it has been my lifelong project to establish an intelectual community dedicated to the discovery of scientific knowledge for the use and benfit of all mankind.

Those who know me just a little know that knowledge is my province.

I am probably done as a lawyer, counseller, politician.  As Lord Chanceller, I have surely reached the highest station in life to which God is allowing me to aspire.

I vow to spend my remaining years devoted to the literary, scientific and philosophical cultural legacy destined to bless the modern world.

Edward Coke, I hold no grudge against you over the affair with Elizabeth or indeed the political humiliation you have had me endure for best part of twenty odd years.

Allow no man to challenge where my loyalty lies as I stand before you now and to deny that royal prerogative is superior to common law.

And yes, there is blood on my hands from the duties I have carried out.  I have played my part according to law to execute two people who were once good friends and who shared their genius so readily at the Good Pens Meeting I hosted back in Twickenham in 1596.

Richard Devereux, Earl of Essex, and more recently Walter Raleigh,

These sixty years, I have learnt to be vocal in so many different ways.  If I had been King on my mothers death, then certainly the name of William Shakespeare would not be up there in neon-flashy lights, if one day they ever exist.

Because I could not have devoted time to inspiring the Bard to write the plays and Ben Jonson, Earl Pembroke, to mention but two, would not be in the final stages of putting together a fantastic collection of the plays in one volume.

Yes brethren, good people, I am one just like you.

I have been a scholar.

I have been a lawyer,

I have been a politician.

I have been a diplomat.

I have been a scientist.

I have been a crytologist.

I have been a philosopher.

I have been a writer.

It is I, John Barclay, pseudonomously speaking.

It is I, Francis Bacon.  It is I.  Thank you very much.  And good night..

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DELIVERANCE

I have no idea who E.S. Whipple is but I stumbled upon his quote in a school library. It was he who said that ‘a book is a lighthouse erected in the great sea of time’.

It is that quote which has inspired this poem.

Put a book into the palm of my hand

And I will be its reader.

Without any limitation to what I can readily understand

Or the fodder of the feeder.

 

Once just a thought, then written down, later published

To a waiting world not yet suspecting.

But in a thousand years could it ever be wished

That the prize of knowledge is worth collecting?

 

Books are, after all, the cradle of our knowledge,

If not a lighthouse erected in the great sea of time.

They are the benevolence of our cultured college,

Leading us to where we’re surely goin’

 

Without you, Book, as some part of my life,

I would be despondent and distinctly destitute.

Can there ever be a failing of mankind to permit such suffering and such outright strife

When the force and power of literature is absolute.

 

Gosh, I still remember that delirious day

When first as a young child, I could read.

How the blessing and good fortune of Gods grace came my way

And showed me difference between greed and need..

 

Books have an uncanny way of saying things

To you no human being ever can.

Deliverance is simply sourced from eternal springs

To every able-bodied man.

 

I see the lighthouse over yonder

As I stroll along the beach.

This is a moment to wonder

And feel a sense of destiny within my reach.

 

What if all the words ever written

Are no more than an inglorious monsoon?

Let rip the sudden storm,  unrestrained and unforbidden.

On this October afternoon.

 

The words have found me, as they will find you too,

So be gladdened and  heartily contented.

A poet must do what a poet must surely do,

Write passionate poetry unlamented.

 

And so I come to express my greatest gratitude

To that lighthouse erected in the great sea of time.

God has willed from me this mystical and marvellous mood

As I have put pen to paper and words to rhyme.

 

As I stroll further, I’m enveloped by a mist

But the shadow outline of the lighthouse remains.

I have written this poem now.  I have reminisced

And Deliverance reigns.

NEED A FRIEND

I need a friend who listens

And pays me due attention.

I need a friend who reasons

The rationale of my comprehension.

I need a friend.

 

I need a friend who reaches out

In every possible dimension.

I need a friend who is all about

The measure of my extension.

I need such a friend.

 

I need a friend who’s ears and eyes

To everything that I do.

I need a friend who can spring that element of surprise

And yet be so totally true.

I need that kind of friend.

 

I need a friend who laughs and cries

And on whom I can definitely depend.

I need a friend who is wonderful and worldly-wise,

I need that faithful friend.

 

I need a friend who sees what I see

And hears what I hear.

I need a friend who is everything to me,

Who’s honest, humble and sincere.

I need that friend.

 

I need a friend who’s the very fabric of my existence

And the essence of who I am within.

I need a friend who has zero resistance

To the gravity of my sin.

I need that friend.

 

I need a friend who touches a nerve

And feels as I do indeed.

I need a friend who’s possessed of veritable verve

To be my one true friend in need.

Oh how I need that friend.

 

I need a friend who represents an ideal

Of life itself on earth.

I need a friend who is not just real

But the calculation of my life’s worth.

I need a friend.

 

I need a friend who drives and motivates

As a spiritual pioneer.

I need a friend who thrives and necessitates

I need you now dear.

Friend, I need you dear.

 

 

 

FOREVER AND A DAY

Listen to the beat of the distant drum

As the morning message seeps through.

Phillippe Coutinho, EF KP, Lady Diana, my dear Mum,

This passionate piece of poetry is for you.

 

Every one of you will be mournfully missed

More than you will ever know.

So much is given; so much more is promised

But all that’s left is the evening echo.

 

Some things are perhaps best left unsaid

Because saying them so sorely pains.

Look up to the heavens instead

And pray let go of the reigns.

 

A heart can be broken into a thousand pieces

But the soul does not concede.

The wheel of fortune chances but never decreases

The measure of human need.

 

Go on, call me a sentimental old fool

Who am I to question it?  It might be true.

No more a poet than a simple scholar of the old school.

Phillippe Coutinho, EF KP, Lady Diana, my dear Mum, how can I forget you?

 

 

The pernicious poignancy with which

This deliverance is expressed

Calls upon the mortal maid who first submits

And then applies the logic of the test.

 

 

And so it is that 31st August is Forever and a Day,

The grasslands of my eternal grief.

I call on Fate to lend a hand and help me find a way.

It’s quite simply a matter of belief.

DESCRIBE AN AUCTION

This is a two minute talk for IELTS or TOEFL to talk about an Auction.

The keywords of the talk are highlighted in bold.

An auction is a great place to go and hunt for a bargain.

You can buy anything and everything at an auction and often at a very cheap price.

Unlike a shop, there is no fixed price and things are sold by a bidding process.

The Auction is conducted by an auctioneer.

Every item for sale has a Lot Number and Lots can be previewed beforehand.

To bid for something you want to buy, you should either raise your hand or use a paddle with a specific number given to you prior to the auction starting.

An auction is competitive and many other people will be bidding for the Lot just like you.

Quite often, there is a reserve price on the item being sold, so if that reserved price is notr reached, the item will be withdrawn from the sale.

The price usually goes higher and the item is sold to the highest bidder when the auctioneer says ‘final offer’ and ‘going going gone’.

Paintings, old furniture, televisions, mobile household ornaments, bric-a-brac, books, records and even a love letter collection from a famous person can be sold at an auction.

I once bought a 1927 nokia cellphone for next to nothing.  Can you believe that?

The rule of thumb is that something is considered antique if it is more than one hundred years old but these days, anything from yesteryear might be considered antique.

There are also auctions for vintage cars, second hand cars, houses and land.

Don’t forget to raise your hand if you want to bid for something and don’t raise your hand (or paddle) if you don’t intend to bid for something.

Otherwise, the auctioneer might accept your bid and it will be ‘going going gone’

Keep an eye out for things which are valuable and collectable but be careful not to buy something which might not be the genuine article and is completely worthless.

You do not want to waste your money!

Good luck!

MICHELLE SELLS SEASHELLS

This is an adapted and revised version of a famous English Tongue Twister.

Practice it slow, medium an fast to improve your English speaking fluency.

 

Michelle sells seashells by the seashore,

The shells Michelle sells are the cells of the seas

Surely only Michelle sees

So if Michelle sells shells

She sees by the seashore

I’m sure Michelle sells seashore shells

 

It is important to understand the following word spelling and pronunciation

Sea                  See

Sure                 Shore               Saw

Sell                  Shell

Sell                  Cell

Shell                Michelle

 

A good English speaker knows how to ‘chunk’ his word and phrases.

Practice ‘chunking’ the tongue twister.

Like this.  There will be a short pause between each word or phrase

 

Michelle sells seashells

(pause) By the seashore

(pause) The shells

(pause) Michelle sells

(pause) are the cells of the seas

(pause) surely

(pause) only Michelle sees

(pause) So

(pause) if Michelle sells shells

(pause) she sees by the seashore

(pause) I’m sure

(pause) Michelle sells

(pause) seashore shells

 

Some further comments about the tongue twister.

The word ‘saw’ does not appear but the tongue twister could be rewritten again to include the line:

‘I’m sure I saw Michelle on the seashore’

The phrase ‘sea-saw’ is common in nursery rhyme English but has nothing to do with shells on the seashore.

The tongue twister could be adapted even more.

Hyphenation.

Most people would put a hyphen between sea and saw to make ‘sea-saw’.  ‘Sea-Saw;, when spoken, could easily be mistaken for ‘sea-shore’

So is it seashore without a hyphen or sea-shore with a hyphen?

Look it up and you decide!

Finally, I have used the phrase ‘cells of the seas’ in the tongue twister.

‘cell’ has the same sound as ‘sell’ and can mean a jail or what is in our body as a science form or in our mobile phones.

In this context, ‘cell’ is taken to mean the life form (the shells) which exists in the oceans of the world Michelle finds on the shores of the seas.

I hope you understand.

 

Enjoy the Tongue Twister and good luck with improving your English speaking fluency.

PORTRAIT PAINTING OR INSTANT PHOTO

This is an essay which takes a reflective look at the transition to digital photography from portrait painting.

We must first pose the question – has the instant photo replaced the portrait painting forever?

The keywords of the lesson are highlighted.

The modern trend of taking a selfie brings into sharp focus how much we all enjoy taking photos and capturing memories to share with others.

The digital camera is part of all our lives in the modern world and instant photos are taken at the press of a button.

They are then immediately transmitted to friends and family by social media, smartphone apps, stored in digital photo albums or in remote clouds.

Very few are printed and displayed around our home.  We try to be selective of the best ones taken.

Long before photography was ever invented, people had to be content with portrait paintings comissioned from professional artists.

The subject of the portrait would be expected to sit for long periods of time while the artist made sketches or painted directly onto canvass.  This all took time.

The invention of the first camera prototype by Frenchman Louis Daguerre in 1837 was the first step in the eventual transition away from portrait painting to photography.

Significantly, not only was the concept available to the public masses but it was affordable.

We would all come, in time, to know how to use the zoom lens, shutter, flash and tripod with relative ease.

Our grattitude is extended in American George Eastman who founded his Kodak company and heralded a new era in photography.

We must also be thankful to Englishman Edward Muybridge who conducted a galloping horse experiment with pictures that captured the simple stride of a horse in twelve sequential moments.

The world was about to embrace moving pictures as a concept or movies as we call them today and my dear Mum (my Grandmother too in fact) would talk of a night out at the Picture House.

Remarkably perhaps, this modern era of the instant photo has not killed the portrait painting stone-dead but rather given us the opportunity to reproduce imagery with new skills developed in photo-editing software with a sense of surrealism and novelty.

Not only that but we have come to respect and value the capture of an image by an artist of a subject either in cartoon lampooning or in caricature.

Hands up who has not contemplated or had a sketch done by a street artist or looked for the personal touch of a ‘togetherness’ picture for your wedding day to be hung in the hallway for guests to see?

The old saying that a picture paints a thousand words is never more true than today.

The ultimate irony is that we are using the technology of today to create the memories of yesteryear and also of the future.

Photography moves with the times.

As we move with the times, there is a place for the commissioned portrait painting to exist alongside the instant digital photo in the capture of a memory.