A Swindon Town Remembrance Pilgrimage
We must have numbered a football team,
Umbrellas unfurled at the cenotaph,
Where we spoke of Walter Tull and Spurs,
And Swindon Town and Northampton Town
Footballers who fell in the Great War –
The rain providing a suitably melancholy backdrop,
As we made our hilltop climb to Christ Church,
A welcoming peal rather than a knell
Resonating across the Old Town sky,
While we gathered, inside, by the war memorial,
Inscribing George Bathe’s name on a remembrance cross,
George Bathe, STFC, KIA 1915,
A memento mori for all to share,
Carried by George’s great-nephew, Phil,
Before we made our blue plaque way to Radnor Street,
To talk of Freddie Wheatcroft, star Swindon striker,
Killed in Action,
And Alfred Williams, the Railway Poet,
And the writer Edward Thomas who loved Swindon so much,
Killed in Action.
It was May the 12th, 2018,
Synchronised walking was happening all over the globe
Via a shared urban score:
‘Cities tend to start in the middle and spread outwards, thinning as they go…
a familiar phenomenology … in the middle of things.
But where is that exactly, and how can we be sure?
…you are unlikely to encounter a sign telling you that you have arrived.
This is, of course, one of the surest indications …
that you are back in the middle of things:
the signs pointing the way will have dried up.’
But we were in the country,
Far away from the City of London;
How could we see, hear, touch, taste and smell
The space-time of a city, out here in the shires,
Far away from Jeremy Corbyn and the TUC Rally,
Far away from William Blake and London:read more
With thanks to Bob Fry for the prologue and Robin Treefellow for his stream of consciousness imagery.
Dusty spikes of blue Bugle
Hemlock Water Dropwort.
Cow Parsley and May Blossom, shining white in the green hedgerows, everywhere.
Early swallows skimming the air above the buttercup meadows (where Robin recited his poems)
The Dream of Nailsworth
The waters’ intonation
washed in Nailsworth.
Before the cloth mills,
before the cars brought their disquiet
the waters sang among alders.
The world was a flicker of a fish
hiding from the heron.
Nailsworth knew nothing of Egypt’s pyramids
or the fall of Carthage.
Softly persisting to go where its water went,
Nailsworth bred dreams and spawned thousands of little worlds in marshy meadows.
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,
AT THE FEDERATION THEATRE IN EQUALITY SQUARE,
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 &.
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
This anniversary coincides with the 11th Prince Albert Beer & Music Festival, Thursday 3rd – Monday 7th May
Real ale, cider and perry. Food available all weekend.
And here are some slogans from Paris, fifty years ago.
You could declaim one or two,
over a pint or two, if you fancy it.
Soyez réalistes, demandez l’impossible.
Be realistic, demand the impossible.
La barricade ferme la rue mais ouvre la voie.
The barricade blocks the street but opens the way.
Refusons le dialogue avec nos matraqueurs.
Let us not dialogue with our persecutors.
On achète ton bonheur. Vole-le.
They buy your happiness. Steal it.
Sous les pavés, la plage !
Beneath the paving stones – the beach!
L’ennui est contre-révolutionnaire.
Boredom is counterrevolutionary.
*Pas de replâtrage, la structure est pourrie.
No re-plastering, the structure is rotten.read more
Two years ago an Alien landed in Nailsworth, unnoticed by the Stroud Valleys folk. Since its arrival after fifty years temporarily rooted on Planet Essex, this strange being has immersed itself in the Gloucestershire soil, attempting to make sense of its move here “for a change, and it ticked more boxes than anywhere else”.
See how a creature far from home has struggled with unfamiliar territory; intensively exploring its new homeland on foot, or by bicycle, guided by its ‘Ordnance Survey Explorer 168’, Gloucestershire ‘Pevsners’, and Wikipedia.
Join a naive explorer for a circular walk, as this being shares with you its Outsider Views on the Stroud Valleys heritage, as it attempts to blend-in with its new people.read more
Words of the day were obvs bound to be
Metaphor, Palimpsest, Serendipitous,
Inscription and Superscription,
On such a walk as this;
A train ride to Stonehouse
And then a walk through what once was Standish Hospital,
Now a Dystopian Derek Jarmanesque seeming film set,
A Victorian mansion built as a temporary home,
Becomes a Great War hospital,
Becomes a sanatorium,
Becomes an NHS hospital,
But now a building site in limbo,
Fencing all around the mouldering mansion,
The once-were stables,
The towering red brick chimney at the boiler house,
The Japanese knotweed infested lakesides,
The art deco sanatorium: its clean air and sunlight,
Long gone the way of all flesh;
We continued past streams and brooks and railway lines and bridges,
Past ridge and furrow and Revenants,
Past round barrows etched on the skyline,
Past churches and graveyards and lost villages
(And Standish, where the body of Edward the Second rested en route
From Berkeley Castle to Gloucester Cathedral),
To see the line of motorway and the cathedral of the Anthropocene: