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The Opposite of Love is not Hate

Maybe hate is not the opposite of love. Both love and hate require passion, fire and obsession. Maybe the opposite of love is something else. This is a poem about screwing up and not seeing the consequences. It is not taken from personal experience.

The opposite of love is not hate


When she calls you a bastard and points to the stain

Then flushes your love letters down the drain

And pummels your chest and screams she’s a whore

And you’re dying inside and you hope above all


The opposite of love is not hate


She smashes the picture of when you were wed

And snatches the suitcase from under the bed

She trashes the bedroom, to grab what she needs

And you beg her to stay, then pray as she leaves


The opposite of love is not hate


She bashes the baggage to fit on the seat

And scatters your garbage all over the street

She sticks up two fingers, and slams the car door

But it can’t be the end, you’ve heard, you are sure,


The opposite of love is not hate


She quietly returns to collect her fair share

No picture, no keepsake, She just doesn’t care

There’s no fire, no passion no anger, no fight

Then you know it is true, you know they were right


The opposite of love is not hate


The opposite of love… is indifference


An extract from The Boy and the Briefcase and the Moose

Author Andrew Batty. Copyright 2021 all rights reserved.


Winston was:
A kid
A big kid
A big black kid
And he was strong
Maybe the strongest
No one really knew. He
Never fought
Never punched
Never got punched.

It’s not that he was chicken
It’s not that we were scared
It’s just
No one had a gripe
No one had a grudge
No one had a good reason to punch Winston.

It would be fair to say he was not an obvious target.
He wasn’t: girly, stupid or weak; nervous, timid or shy; creepy, slimy or strange.
He didn’t have: pizza pox, pig smell or a twitch; weird hair, a funny voice or annoying habits.
He was sound.
He was normal.
He was not an obvious target.

But then again, neither was I, or so I thought, but I still got into scraps, I still got beaten up.

I annoyed.

I needled.

I pushed.

Eventually, someone’s gonna push back.


Winston wasn’t like that.
He didn’t wind people up.
He got on with everyone.
He always said the right thing.


If someone pushed in front of him in the dinner queue, he wouldn’t say, ‘Get back, d**khead,’ like I did. He would say something clever. The kid would happily go back to his place in the line, and everything would be okay. No threats, no aggravation, no fight after school. No being beaten to a pulp before the RE teacher found me and broke it up. I wasn’t wary enough.

Not that anyone would have dared to push in front of Winston. He was after all a big, strong kid. Big, strong and black, although I don’t think being black made you more, or less, likely to get into a scrap at my school. I never noticed any aggravation between black and white. We seemed to get along just fine. There was just one incident I remember, one incident everyone remembered.

The school had its own black role model. Janet Johnson was head girl. She was tall and athletic with a smile full of teeth. I guess she was good-looking, maybe great-looking, but to a fourth year like me, she was just scary. Occasionally we’d see her, on her own, training on the playing field. One day she’d be in the Olympics, but at school she was really known for being a black belt in karate. Once, when we were queuing for dinner, Janet came down the corridor. ‘Hey,’ a kid shouted out, ‘he called you a “black b*****d”.’ She put her hand on the back of the offender’s neck and he crumpled to the floor, crying like a baby. I never heard anybody call anyone anything after that.

For me, Winston was well on the way to being the next Janet Johnson. He wasn’t a saint; no halo, no prayers, no eyes turned to heaven. That would have been weird, even if the school was Church of England. He wasn’t perfect; he was just good. He never fought, never even threw a punch. We really wanted him to. We wanted to see the piledriver those big shoulders could pound; to see the other guy after being hit by that. We never thought it would happen.

Winston did have one quirk, one oddity that set him apart. He carried a leather briefcase. A good- quality leather briefcase. The sort with a clasp at the top. You popped the clasp and the top popped open. This was at a time when the only school bag was a sports bag, with a zip. Adidas was the big name, and the three stripes were everywhere. A briefcase was unheard of. Any other kid who came to school with a briefcase would have left without it. But somehow, with Winston, it added dignity, and a certain authority. I don’t know why he had a briefcase; I never asked.


An extract from The Boy and the Briefcase and the Moose
Author Andrew Batty. Copyright 2021 all rights reserved.


Gradually, the plates emptied, and attention turned to dessert.

‘Is Manchester tart a real thing?’ Quinlan asked.

‘Of course it is a real thing. It is there, on the plate, in front of you,’ Tarquin replied, looking at Quinlan somewhat bewildered.

‘I know it is there, on the plate. But does it exist outside this school?’ Quinlan clarified.

‘It won’t explode if you take it outside the gates,’ I said, nonplussed.

‘How do you know? Have you tried?’ Winston enquired.

‘I mean, outside this school, would anyone recognise a Manchester tart?’ Quinlan asked.

‘Ask the people of Manchester,’ Winston said.

‘Ask a tart,’ I chipped in, unfortunately whilst looking at Josephine.

‘Ask a twat,’ Josephine said, looking at me.

‘You know what I mean, like a Bakewell tart, or a Chelsea bun,’ Quinlan explained further.

‘Or an Eccles cake,’ Tarquin added.

‘Or a Rugby bun,’ I proposed.

‘Rugby buns are not a thing,’ Winston said.

‘Yes, they are,’ I stated.

‘No, they are not,’ Tarquin replied.

‘You buy ’em at the baker’s in the centre,’ I said. ‘They've got a rugby ball on the top.’

‘That is the game not the town,’ Quinlan said.

‘Oh, we’re doing towns, are we?’ I asked.

‘Yes, we’re doing towns,’ Quinlan confirmed.

‘So, Eccles is a town?’

‘Of course it’s a town. What did you think it was?’ Winston said.

‘I thought eccles were small freckles,’ I said honestly.

‘Small freckles? Why small freckles?’ Quinlan asked.

‘You know… icky bicky freckles… eccles,’ I explained. ‘The currants are like little freckles.’

‘You’re nuts. You don’t get buns named after mad things,’ Josephine stated.

‘What about Bath buns?’ Winston said.

‘What about them?’ Quinlan asked.

‘They’re named after a bath,’ Winston said smugly.

‘No, they’re not,’ Tarquin said.

‘They’re just a bun made in a bath, aren’t they?’ I queried.

‘Why the hell would you make a bun in a bath?’ Josephine said.

‘No mixing bowls? I dunno,’ I said, shrugging.

‘A Bath bun is a bun, made in a place called Bath,’ Quinlan stated.

‘There’s a place called Bath?’ I asked.

‘Yeah,’ Tarquin advised.

‘Weird,’ I replied.

‘Anyway, I was just saying, this school is the only place in the whole wide world I have ever seen a Manchester tart,’ Quinlan proclaimed.

‘Have you ever been to Manchester?’ Winston asked.

‘No,’ Quinlan admitted.

‘Maybe that’s where you should look first,’ Winston suggested sensibly.

‘Is this it?’ Josephine asked.

‘What?’ I said.

‘Is this what I’ve been missing?’ she asked.

‘What do you mean?’ I asked, dumbfounded.

‘Is this what boys talk about?’ she said, looking sorry for us.

‘Cake? Yeah, mostly,’ I confessed.

‘Cake and ponies and knitting and dollies and make-up,’ Winston added.

‘And the latest fashions,’ I chipped in on theme.

‘Latest fashions? Really? And where’s the evidence?’ she responded sharply.


Author: Andrew Batty - Copyright 2021 - All Rights Reserved


 I was a fledgling on the ledge

Gripping tightly to the edge

Wondering as I looked down,

Will I fly or hit the ground.


Mummy bird said don’t you fret

Pretend you are a jumbo jet

Or a big hot air balloon

Floating up towards the moon


A flying pig with hairy knees

An autumn leaf upon the breeze

A fluffy cloud up in the sky

Or a comet zooming by


But mum these are the strangest things

Surely I should flap my wings

Flap them very, very, fast

Leap off the ledge and fly at last.


Son it’s good to have a dream

To go where we have never been

But flying is a crazy whim

We are penguins and penguins swim.

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