Captain Swing in Gloucestershire

‘And lo and behold! Here I am!’

It was a perfect autumn day for a bike ride,
Mournful golds and russets and crimsons,
Sun dappled and splashed as I climbed the wolds,
To leave the pastoral valleys behind,
And so reach the wide, open, brown-ploughed fields,
Up above Avening, on the high, back lanes
Around Chavenage and Cherington and Beverstone,
On my cyclo-geographical trip to the Troubled House inn;

Back in the winter of 1830,
These lanes were thronged with anxious farm hands:
Families were hungry with bread prices high,
With wages low, and winter indigence
Threatened by these new threshing machines;
And so the Captain Swing riots had made their way
From Wiltshire to Gloucestershire –
Smashing threshing machines, burning hay ricks,
Penning threatening letters to farmers, signed by
The half-mythologised gentleman on a white horse,
The impossibly ubiquitous Captain Swing:
“this is to inform you what you have to undergo gentelemen if providing you Don’t pull down your meshenes and rise the poor mens wages the married men give tow and sixpence a day the single tow shillings or we will burn down your barns and you in them this is the last notis
From Swing”

‘And lo and behold! Here I am!’

It was a perfect autumn day for a bike ride,
Mournful golds and russets and crimsons,
Sun dappled and splashed as I climbed the wolds,
To leave the pastoral valleys behind,
And so reach the wide, open, brown-ploughed fields,
Up above Avening, on the high, back lanes
Around Chavenage and Cherington and Beverstone,
On my cyclo-geographical trip to the Troubled House inn;

Back in the winter of 1830,
These lanes were thronged with anxious farm hands:
Families were hungry with bread prices high,
With wages low, and winter indigence
Threatened by these new threshing machines;
And so the Captain Swing riots had made their way
From Wiltshire to Gloucestershire –
Smashing threshing machines, burning hay ricks,
Penning threatening letters to farmers, signed by
The half-mythologised gentleman on a white horse,
The impossibly ubiquitous Captain Swing:
“this is to inform you what you have to undergo gentelemen if providing you Don’t pull down your meshenes and rise the poor mens wages the married men give tow and sixpence a day the single tow shillings or we will burn down your barns and you in them this is the last notis
From Swing”

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The Burial Chamber

It stands at the end of a street
(Bungalows, cars, caravans, camper vans,
Children playing in the road and on the driveways),
There, behind a gate and beyond the signposts.

A six thousand year old burial chamber,
One giant stone forty-five degrees athwart
Another four, in a suburban enclosure,
Precarious yet adamantine-firm;

Cremated bones were found here.

It stands at the end of a street
(Bungalows, cars, caravans, camper vans,
Children playing in the road and on the driveways),
There, behind a gate and beyond the signposts.

A six thousand year old burial chamber,
One giant stone forty-five degrees athwart
Another four, in a suburban enclosure,
Precarious yet adamantine-firm;

Cremated bones were found here.

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Nevern, near Newport, Pembs

Faith, Time and Tide

We wandered windfall pilgrims’ paths,
Past hedgerows bright with sloe and crimson haw,
Swallows, too, following their autumnal call,
While murmurations of starlings,
And flocks of melancholy geese,
Patterned a darkening estuarine sky,

The ghost-church at Cwm-yr-Eglwys
Tolled an ancient knell of parting day,
A sea-storm squall shifted drowned sailors’ bones,

But we slipped past circles of stone,
Past Carn Ingli – the Hill of Angels -,
To seek penance and resurrection,

Faith, Time and Tide

We wandered windfall pilgrims’ paths,
Past hedgerows bright with sloe and crimson haw,
Swallows, too, following their autumnal call,
While murmurations of starlings,
And flocks of melancholy geese,
Patterned a darkening estuarine sky,

The ghost-church at Cwm-yr-Eglwys
Tolled an ancient knell of parting day,
A sea-storm squall shifted drowned sailors’ bones,

But we slipped past circles of stone,
Past Carn Ingli – the Hill of Angels -,
To seek penance and resurrection,

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Stroud And The Inuit

Stuart

We are off on holiday soon so wanted to share the information
I was relating this info whilst stewarding at Landsdown gallery on the weekend.

I am Canadian living in the UK and while doing the Diploma in stitched textiles at East Berkshire college many years ago, used the Art and caribou skin clothing of the Inuit in Baker Lake as my main theme of research and work.

I had read in an article in Piecework magazine from the USA about the women in Baker Lake using what was described as a wool/felt material called Stroud to make their colourful naive wallhangings that are still being made today.

The co-operative was set up in the 70’s by the Canada Council to encourage Inuit women to continue sewing (the nomadic families were being brought into communities in the 1950’s, 60’s because of severe winters, education for children and malnutrition).

There was a concern that they would stop sewing the caribou skin clothes (for hunter husbands) and lose sewing skills (which were evident in the applique and beadwork on their amauti coats.)  They thought they would be more attracted to modern winter wear.
This did not happen because man made cloth garments were not warm enough.

Stuart

We are off on holiday soon so wanted to share the information
I was relating this info whilst stewarding at Landsdown gallery on the weekend.

I am Canadian living in the UK and while doing the Diploma in stitched textiles at East Berkshire college many years ago, used the Art and caribou skin clothing of the Inuit in Baker Lake as my main theme of research and work.

I had read in an article in Piecework magazine from the USA about the women in Baker Lake using what was described as a wool/felt material called Stroud to make their colourful naive wallhangings that are still being made today.

The co-operative was set up in the 70's by the Canada Council to encourage Inuit women to continue sewing (the nomadic families were being brought into communities in the 1950's, 60's because of severe winters, education for children and malnutrition).

There was a concern that they would stop sewing the caribou skin clothes (for hunter husbands) and lose sewing skills (which were evident in the applique and beadwork on their amauti coats.)  They thought they would be more attracted to modern winter wear.
This did not happen because man made cloth garments were not warm enough. read more

God Save Great Thomas Paine

Why, sirrah, and why, madam, hast thou not read thy Tom Paine?

‘Kings succeed each other not as rationals but as animals …
an hereditary governor is as inconsistent as an hereditary author.’

And you needn’t visit Paris in this, the year of our Lord,
Seventeen Hundred and Ninety Two,
To witness republican enthusiasm,
You could travel on the turnpike to Sheffield instead,
And witness the 5,000 cutler ‘republican levelers’,
The ‘Sheffield sans-culottes’ with their Angel of Peace
Proffering Tom Paine’s Rights of Man to Britannia,
While across the land, parodies of the national anthem are sung:
God Save Great Thomas Paine,
While
AT THE FEDERATION THEATRE IN EQUALITY SQUARE,
On Thursday
Will be Performed
A new and entertaining Farce, called LA GUILLOTINE!
Or GEORGE’S HEAD IN THE BASKET!
Dramatis Personae: Numpy the Third …
Tight Rope Dancing from The Lamp-post,
By Messrs. CANTERBURY, YORK, DURHAM &.
And
Pamphlets such as King Killing;
The Happy Reign of King George the Last;
100, 000 people meeting at Copenhagen Fields, Islington;
The King’s carriage attacked:
‘No War! No King! No Pitt!’
The following sung to the tune of ‘God Save the King’
At Drury Lane Theatre:
‘And when George’s Poll
Shall in the basket roll,
Let mercy then control
The Guillotine’

Why, sirrah, and why, madam, hast thou not read thy Tom Paine?

‘Kings succeed each other not as rationals but as animals …
an hereditary governor is as inconsistent as an hereditary author.’

And you needn’t visit Paris in this, the year of our Lord,
Seventeen Hundred and Ninety Two,
To witness republican enthusiasm,
You could travel on the turnpike to Sheffield instead,
And witness the 5,000 cutler ‘republican levelers’,
The ‘Sheffield sans-culottes’ with their Angel of Peace
Proffering Tom Paine’s Rights of Man to Britannia,
While across the land, parodies of the national anthem are sung:
God Save Great Thomas Paine,
While
AT THE FEDERATION THEATRE IN EQUALITY SQUARE,
On Thursday
Will be Performed
A new and entertaining Farce, called LA GUILLOTINE!
Or GEORGE’S HEAD IN THE BASKET!
Dramatis Personae: Numpy the Third …
Tight Rope Dancing from The Lamp-post,
By Messrs. CANTERBURY, YORK, DURHAM &.
And
Pamphlets such as King Killing;
The Happy Reign of King George the Last;
100, 000 people meeting at Copenhagen Fields, Islington;
The King’s carriage attacked:
‘No War! No King! No Pitt!’
The following sung to the tune of ‘God Save the King’
At Drury Lane Theatre:
‘And when George’s Poll
Shall in the basket roll,
Let mercy then control
The Guillotine’

read more

Collecting Football Autographs

Do you remember collecting autographs,
When the football specials steamed back west,
When the last faint gleams of terrace street sun
Slipped behind the shadows of the stands,
And the ground went abruptly quiet and numb,
When the crowd made its hot chocolate way home
And the terraces and streets were suddenly empty;
And do you remember the mayhem outside the players’ entrance –
Crowds of kids, scrap books and pens thrust upwards,
Huddled together by the red and white fence,
Hoping for names of star centre forwards,
Like me with my scrapbook with pictures stuck in
With flour paste, from all the Sunday papers,
Of players, arms aloft with toothless grins,
In wintry darkness, mud, mist, rain and vapours.

Do you remember collecting autographs,
When the football specials steamed back west,
When the last faint gleams of terrace street sun
Slipped behind the shadows of the stands,
And the ground went abruptly quiet and numb,
When the crowd made its hot chocolate way home
And the terraces and streets were suddenly empty;
And do you remember the mayhem outside the players’ entrance –
Crowds of kids, scrap books and pens thrust upwards,
Huddled together by the red and white fence,
Hoping for names of star centre forwards,
Like me with my scrapbook with pictures stuck in
With flour paste, from all the Sunday papers,
Of players, arms aloft with toothless grins,
In wintry darkness, mud, mist, rain and vapours. read more

The Best Goal I Ever Scored

Alas! George Bowling and George Orwell’s Coming Up For Air: the spot where I scored my best ever goal is now a housing estate.

The Best Goal I Ever Scored

It must have been 1965,
We were having a lunchtime kick-about.
‘It’s Good News Week’ by Hedgehoppers’ Anonymous
Was playing on someone’s transistor
Just behind the goal nearest the school,
Phil Vine was puffing out on the wing,
And crossed hopefully towards the edge of the box,
Where I had strayed, and where I stood,
Predicting the precise path of the ball.

Alas! George Bowling and George Orwell’s Coming Up For Air: the spot where I scored my best ever goal is now a housing estate.

The Best Goal I Ever Scored

It must have been 1965,
We were having a lunchtime kick-about.
‘It’s Good News Week’ by Hedgehoppers’ Anonymous
Was playing on someone’s transistor
Just behind the goal nearest the school,
Phil Vine was puffing out on the wing,
And crossed hopefully towards the edge of the box,
Where I had strayed, and where I stood,
Predicting the precise path of the ball. read more

Woodchester Roman Villa

Boudonus a servant in the Villa Magni Widinis speaks:

‘My family have always been servants to the Great Family whose own ancestors had the villa built in the valley made with stone from the hills around; they were the Great Family before the Dobunni became part of the Roman Empire. My father said as his own father told him that the Roman men were very clever because they left our tribes as they were. In Britain we had our kings, priests and warriors, craftsmen and farmers; we had rich lands feeding our cows, sheep and growing grain. The Roman men left this because they could see it worked and all they had to do was make our noble men willing clients. Only they didn’t like our priests, the druids were too political refusing to acknowledge the divine status of the emperor. You know what happened to them’

‘We gave them tax,- yes that meant our grain-kept the peaceyes kept it because we were too busy scraping up enough grain for ourselves to think of disturbing Roman peace-and our nobility were left alone to enjoy the luxuries of the Roman Empire: lots of wine was the main thing and more skin off our hands working to keep the taxes up. At Villa Magni Widinis the Great Family are the richest here in Dobunnic territory and around them gather all their nobles who live in smaller Roman villas around the vale. My family has always been proud to be servants at Villa Magni Widinis.

It is not just a big house, no the villa is a place where there is industry and where the grain and wool from all the villa estate are sorted and made ready for being sold at the market at Glevum. Through the villa gates you will see there are buildings for pottery, iron working, brewing, baking, carpentry and weaving. They are done by families like mine who live inside the villa walls. It is the shepherds and field labourers who live outside and they are the poorest, but even they have to come to the villa to be paid in grain, beer, salt and wool.

Boudonus a servant in the Villa Magni Widinis speaks:

‘My family have always been servants to the Great Family whose own ancestors had the villa built in the valley made with stone from the hills around; they were the Great Family before the Dobunni became part of the Roman Empire. My father said as his own father told him that the Roman men were very clever because they left our tribes as they were. In Britain we had our kings, priests and warriors, craftsmen and farmers; we had rich lands feeding our cows, sheep and growing grain. The Roman men left this because they could see it worked and all they had to do was make our noble men willing clients. Only they didn't like our priests, the druids were too political refusing to acknowledge the divine status of the emperor. You know what happened to them'

'We gave them tax,- yes that meant our grain-kept the peace-yes kept it because we were too busy scraping up enough grain for ourselves to think of disturbing Roman peace-and our nobility were left alone to enjoy the luxuries of the Roman Empire: lots of wine was the main thing and more skin off our hands working to keep the taxes up. At Villa Magni Widinis the Great Family are the richest here in Dobunnic territory and around them gather all their nobles who live in smaller Roman villas around the vale. My family has always been proud to be servants at Villa Magni Widinis.

It is not just a big house, no the villa is a place where there is industry and where the grain and wool from all the villa estate are sorted and made ready for being sold at the market at Glevum. Through the villa gates you will see there are buildings for pottery, iron working, brewing, baking, carpentry and weaving. They are done by families like mine who live inside the villa walls. It is the shepherds and field labourers who live outside and they are the poorest, but even they have to come to the villa to be paid in grain, beer, salt and wool.

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Take my Hand, I’m a Stranger in Paradise

It’s hard to imagine the orchards of Heathrow,
Abundant as the orchards of Herefordshire,
Down there, by John Betjeman’s hated Slough:
‘Come friendly bombs’;
Hard to imagine windfalls in these
William Blake ‘chartered streets’:
‘One World: One Account’,
‘The future is exciting!
Get ready!’
But I shall be flying over gramp’s
Great War battlefields,
Towards dad’s Chindit warfare,
Via dystopian Dubai airport:
‘Dubai has transformed from a humble fishing village
to one of the most cosmopolitan and innovative cities in the world …
Jump on the metro, catch an amazing view from the world’s tallest building …
shop within The Dubai Mall Metropolis,
take a selfie in front of the famous Dubai Fountain …
All you have to do is get off a plane.’

But what of Kerala?
In the words of Stroud’s Rick Vick:
‘Apparently, a functioning, flourishing and fully communist state’,

It's hard to imagine the orchards of Heathrow,
Abundant as the orchards of Herefordshire,
Down there, by John Betjeman's hated Slough:
'Come friendly bombs';
Hard to imagine windfalls in these
William Blake 'chartered streets':
'One World: One Account',
'The future is exciting!
Get ready!'
But I shall be flying over gramp's
Great War battlefields,
Towards dad's Chindit warfare,
Via dystopian Dubai airport:
'Dubai has transformed from a humble fishing village
to one of the most cosmopolitan and innovative cities in the world ...
Jump on the metro, catch an amazing view from the world's tallest building ...
shop within The Dubai Mall Metropolis,
take a selfie in front of the famous Dubai Fountain ...
All you have to do is get off a plane.'

But what of Kerala?
In the words of Stroud's Rick Vick:
'Apparently, a functioning, flourishing and fully communist state',

read more

Kindertransport

Remembering

You were a deep mid-winter baby, Harry,
Born in Vienna, the home of art and culture,
Just two years after Hitler’s Beer Hall Putsch.

But there was nothing to worry about
In those early years before memory,
When your mum and dad held you in their arms,
In mid-winter afternoon twilight –

Until the Wall Street Crash and depression
Meant the resurgence of fascism,
Militarism, the Third Reich,
Lebensraum, and a Greater Germany,
With a visit to Vienna from Hitler
(The city-birth of his fascism),
After Anschluss in 1938;

Remembering

You were a deep mid-winter baby, Harry,
Born in Vienna, the home of art and culture,
Just two years after Hitler’s Beer Hall Putsch.

But there was nothing to worry about
In those early years before memory,
When your mum and dad held you in their arms,
In mid-winter afternoon twilight –

Until the Wall Street Crash and depression
Meant the resurgence of fascism,
Militarism, the Third Reich,
Lebensraum, and a Greater Germany,
With a visit to Vienna from Hitler
(The city-birth of his fascism),
After Anschluss in 1938;

read more