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Saint Lawrence

Saint Lawrence

Lawrence, according to Wikipedia, originally came from Valencia in Spain. He was a young deacon in Rome under Pope Sixtus II, before Christianity became the established religion, at the time when the Emperor Valerian launched a persecution against the early church. In 258 Sixtus was beheaded while celebrating the liturgy and Lawrence was ordered to hand over the church’s treasured possessions. He asked for three days to gather them, over which time he distributed the precious things amongst the community before presenting himself with a delegation of marginalised and disabled people.

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Not Bad for a Village Team

Tranmere –
The name suggests a crossing of the waters,
A ferry across the Mersey,
A crossing of the River Rubicon,
Or for us, the River Thames –
On the 9.55 Football Poets Special,
Speeding through the Golden Valley,
Past Swindon’s railway works,
The Vale of the White Horse,
Then on through Sonning Cutting,
Sequestered Berkshire,
Suburban Middlesex,
Old Oak Common,
To Paddington.

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Bunyan, Blake, Wordsworth and Forest Green

Blake, Bunyan, Wordsworth and Forest Green

And lo, it came to pass that when the Forest Green fans sang
‘Stand up for the Forest Green’,
All fans throughout the ground and stands,
Stood up.
And when the Forest Green fans sang
‘Sit down for the Forest Green’,
All fans throughout the ground and stands,
Sat down.

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Rowcroft Railway Bridge

The Wall beneath Rowcroft Railway Bridge

I love the railway bridge over Rowcroft in Stroud,
I love the way it continues the lengthy viaduct that straddles the A46,
I love that Dirty Old Town industrial revolution-
Collectivist working class feeling,
When dreaming underneath the arches,
And I love travelling over the bridge and viaduct too,
Whether it’s to Paddington or Cheltenham,
And I love walking the Up-platform,
To gaze down at the edgelands below,
The rebarbative railing and the obligatory supermarket trolley,
The litter, the detritus, the security signage …
But I have to confess,
When I walk under Rowcroft railway bridge,
Whether to or from Stroud town,
I usually scurry through,
Tbh,
Trying to avoid the congregations of pigeons,
And consequent widespread excrement,
As well as the fag smoke, vaping and sputum –
I usually keep my eyes to the ground,
Trying to keep my shoes clean,
And am oblivious of anything above or beyond the pavement.

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Emigration from Stroudwater in the 1830s and 40s: Prologue

Emigration from Stroudwater in the 1830s and 40s

Foreword

My emigrant’s passage started in Bisley

Along a snowdropped Sunday footpath to the church;

The service had just ended –

I sauntered in through the open door,

And there to my surprise, in a glass case,

Lay a nineteenth century list of parish accounts,

With an italicised card:

cost to the Parish of Bisley of ‘emigrating’ 68 persons from the parish’,

Together with a bible open to the fronts-piece:

The Bible which was presented by the Reverend Thomas Keble who was the Vicar of Bisley when they and 66 others emigrated to Sydney, Australia in August 1837 [The Bible has been rebound].

Two other information cards lay partially hidden beneath the bible, I could pick out a few words, however:

hoped they might have a more prosperous life. They were equipped with clothes, transport and food to Bristol and Thomas Keble also presented each family with a Bible and a Prayer Book.’

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Edward Thomas and the Snake’s Head Fritillary

The local Swindon paper’s obituary for Edward Thomas
Commented on his love for the country around the town –
And William Cobbett’s hated rotten borough,
‘The place by the river’, was just six miles or so
From his grandmother’s house near the railway works;
Did he, I wonder, ever make an Easter visit
To the Lammas Meadows at Cricklade,
From Swindon’s Old Town station,
After talking with Alfred Williams,
‘The hammer man poet’,
Glimpsing the ‘Other man’ in the Anglo-Saxon fields,
Or near where a vengeful King Canute crossed the Thames,
And did those memories flit through his mind
On that fateful Easter Monday in 1917,
Recalling some of the ‘Other names’
Of the snake’s head fritillary,
Such as bloody warrior or widow’s wall.

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