Past

A Swindon Town Great War Pilgrimage

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.

Read More

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.

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.

read more

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;

read more

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;

read more

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;

read more

North and South

There, on the one hand, St. Pancras and Paris;
And there, on the other, Kings Cross:
Gateway to the LNER,
And night mails crossing the border,

And gateway to a world we have lost:
Pit heads and winding gear, tram-roads and collieries,
And curling smoke chimney stacks:
The world of the North,

The canvas telling the truth,
Up there in the Mining Art Gallery,
At Bishop Auckland:

A terrible beauty down there in the dark depths,
And a beautiful harmony up there in the streets
And homes and chapels and clubs and pubs:
The stippled mist-light of the pit village,
The twisted sinews in the eighteen inch seam,
Ears keening with the creak of each pit prop,
The mind tracking the echo of dripping water,
And the whisper of each rock –

read more