FRIDAY THE 13TH
Friday the 13th was a lovely day,
despite my vague sense
of trepidation and worry beforehand.
My mother is superstitious.
I blame her for creating
this irrational fear that I have,
for the negative thoughts inside my head
that serve no purpose
and I have no use for.
I can only imagine
I unwittingly inherited
some of her superstition,
at least to a small degree.
Yet I neednÕt have apparently.
Friday the 13th passed
without incident and was good.
A particularly successful game of football,
scoring a hatful of goals,
was followed by a pleasant
and leisurely lunch
with an old friend.
In the evening I enjoyed
a relaxing drink before bed.
I donÕt know what I was worried about.
All was fine and as it should be.
Saturday the 14th was
by contrast a terrible day.
My nine-year-old daughter
had a two hour tantrum in the morning.
My wife threatened to leave me.
It wasnÕt a good day at all.
Perhaps wires were crossed,
days mixed up.
I wonÕt fear Friday the 13th again.
IÕll beware the day that follows it,
when almost everything that could
seemed to go wrong.
THE ROMANCE OF FAILURE
IÕm drawn to the romance of failure.
IÕd like to be remembered as someone
who followed their passions
and did their own thing,
even when it wasnÕt easy
and wasnÕt working,
when it didnÕt turn out
as well as it might have done.
I refused to be deterred or to compromise.
I kept to my plan.
I had my own agenda, my own routine,
my own way of doing things,
that flew in the face of convention,
of popular conceptions
of how things should be undertaken,
of right and wrong even.
I shunned obvious career moves.
I didnÕt conform.
Nine to five in a stuffy office
was a path for others.
I never saved for a mortgage.
I didnÕt buy a new car.
I couldnÕt afford a house.
Yes I was drawn to the romance of failure.
Success has its own limitations.
Imagine if my poems, stories or novels
had ever been popular.
Imagine if IÕd been recognised in the street,
as I went about my business.
ItÕs a terrifying thought,
IÕm not wholly comfortable with.
I preferred to perform gigs
to half empty rooms than packed auditoriums.
I took low paid jobs.
I made choices and sacrifices,
sometimes the wrong ones.
I was unconventional.
I didnÕt fulfil my parentsÕ
hopes, ambitions and expectations.
I was a failure,
but I failed on my own terms.
For that I deserve a degree of respect,
a modicum of grudging praise
at least perhaps.
It turns out perhaps
my lifeÕs work isnÕt what I thought.
It is instead a collection
of rare and valuable football and rugby shirts,
collected lovingly over thirty years
and presently gathering dust
in the darkness of the bedroom
in my rented home.
In time I maybe remembered for that
and not the many books IÕve written
and music IÕve recorded.
IÕm leaving behind sports memorabilia
thatÕs worth much more
and will probably be admired more highly
than any of my wayward artistic efforts
have been so far.
TheyÕve fallen flat.
TheyÕve failed to hit the mark.
They werenÕt what people wanted.
They were ordinary at best.
My collection of shirts, however,
is remarkable, more so than I am.
As a writer I was average.
As a collector I was exquisite,
almost special, one of the best.
IÕd have preferred it the other way round
and I might now be making a living
selling books, not the football and rugby shirts
that I am making money from,
that keeps the wolf from the door,
the drowning man from sinking.
The world wasnÕt ready for
a new, angst-ridden poet.
It didnÕt need another outpouring of grief.
People wanted laughter and entertainment;
poets as stand-up comics,
not observers of real life.
I didnÕt understand the enormity of my task,
the let-downs and disappointments
that would lie ahead.
I was in denial.
I was eighteen years old.
I thought my assignment was clear,
my path a well-trodden one
by poets and artists before.
They didnÕt appreciate
what I had to offer.
I wasnÕt the new voice
the literary establishment was after.
I was branded narcissistic,
my poems insignificant, confessional and trivial,
of little interest to anyone at all.
I was only partially put off.
I stuck at it,
kept to my principles
and continued to write,
what I felt moved to write,
poetry that was irrelevant and pointless
for another 30 years at least.
Bio: Andy Botterill was born in Newent, Gloucestershire, and attended Exmouth Community College. He graduated with a history degree from Swansea University before studying journalism at Cardiff Metropolitan University. He worked as a journalist for a number of years before moving into arts administration, and has worked variously at an arts centre, arthouse cinema and theatre. His poetry and short stories have appeared widely in the small presses in this country and abroad, and he has published a number of minor collections of poetry. As a musician he has released six solo studio albums, available on iTunes, and many more with bands, as well as running the independent record label, Pastime Records. Five of his earlier novels and a play are available on Kindle. Andy Botterill is married with two children.