Past

Oakridge Walk February 23rd 2019

‘When vapours rolling down a valley
Made a lonely scene more lonesome’,
Wrote Wordsworth in The Prelude
Well, we weren’t lonely, a group of ten
Walking through early morning mists and fog,
Discussing enclosure of Oakridge common land,
A death-threatening letter for the squire,
Demeaning shouts of ‘Who stole the donkey’s dinner?’
Loud following him on his daily rounds
Past Lilyhorn Farm and Bournes Green.

A watery sun shone vaporous
As we stopped at a spectral crossroads,
Cogitating upon the Roman villa,
Down in the nearby fields of Bakers Farm,
Then processing Neolithic track-ways,
Past a field of sheep and hidden long barrow,
The sun now silvering the streams that run
Down to the Frome and thence to the Severn.

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Stonehouse, Standish and Haresfield Walk

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:

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The Yin And Yang Of Football

It has been said that football is a religion. It is true that for many, attending a match can seem like a religious experience. The blind faith that one day your team will reach the promised land (of the Premiership), the sense of belonging, the passion and the weird attire all replicate that of many religions. Even the killing of the opposition supporters has been known to happen, but thankfully not to Inquisition style proportions.

I suggest that the links to religion don’t stop there.

I have been reading a book recently by the psychologist Jordan Peterson and in his opening chapter he makes the comment “Chaos and order are two of the most fundamental elements of lived experience”. We order our lives in a way that can cope with the chaos that life throws at us, whether it is health issues, financial problems or the elements of nature that are doing their best to make life difficult.

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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.

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Inprint Eulogy

The Inprint shop and building in the High Street in Stroud,
Resembles nothing so much as something out of Dickens,
An Old Curiosity Shop,
Defying straight lines of logic:
A seeming hexagonal structure,
With Wemmick-like turrets at the top;
The shop doorway on the corner at an angle,
With a fading palimpsest gable end advertisement
For something delicious and ‘home made’,
And a mysterious door numbered 31a,
That might – or might not- take us up flights of stairs,
Past so many Great Expectations,
And so to Mr. Wemmick’s castle up on high.

But far better than such an ascension,
Let us examine the shop windows:
Displays that follow the high ideals of public broadcasting,
Spectacles of books and comics and posters and maps,
All artfully and painstakingly arranged,
A tableau of colour and half-remembered past time,
A street mis en scene that arrests the eye,
And one which informs, educates and entertains,
A business that improves the mind of the passer-by,
As well as tempting the bibliophile;

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Fractal Light Show at St. Laurence’s

They met by a sacred oak tree:
The Celtic-British church delegates,
And Laurence and Augustine from Rome;

A sacred oak near to a great river near here:
At Cricklade on the River Thames perhaps,
Or Arlingham on the River Severn;

The wind soughed through the branches
Silver light stippled the water,
A coracle cast its steady shadow,
In the year of our Lord,
603.

A millennium and more later,
A scintillant refulgence,
A dazzle of artful light;

There, in Saint Laurence’s in Stroud,
Fractals of illumination,
Stained glass manuscripts;

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Terminalia Festival February 23rd 2018

Well that was a walk, that was,
For we explored boundaries,
Spatial, temporal, linguistic, social, spiritual, rational,
By exploring Jon Seagrave’s Stroud map of the subjective,
Of the emotional and the affective,
Rather than the conventional topography:
The boundary between landscape and experience;

We explored the archaeology of industry:
Rusting capstans and a forgotten railway turntable,
John Seagrave was talking of how the turntable
Could accommodate one wagon at a time only,
For the winch down to the gasworks,
And, oddly, in true time-shift fashion,
I noticed a notelet recently dropped
On the ground nearby:
‘DO NOT DOUBLE STACK’;

Pleased by this coincidence of time and space,
This damp leaf typescript revenant,
Our quickening pace took us back
To 1920s guides to London walking,
Gordon Maxwell and HV Morton;
We planned a Captain Swing memorial walk,
Along the old Tetbury branch line,
To the Trouble House Inn;
We talked of walking the 1839 Newport Rising.

We dropped down Time’s wormholes n so many ways
At the Roman villa at Woodchester,
Where Robin Treefellow transported us
With his fictive account of a servant’s life there,
Druid mistletoe shrouding the lime trees;

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