The fine weather is here at last, and happy people are driving around with their windows open and their impressive sound system impressing everyone.
us all our trespasses’
Is now the common trend;
To ‘trespass’ is an ancient crime
Yet people will pretend
That trespassing on land’s O K
Despite the flattened crops -
Be it by
ramblers, or the Hunt,
Or rowdy picnic stops.
And trespassing on private time
Is much the modern game
With double glaze, or Timeshare calls
And many more the same.
But out of all the trespasses
There’s one which most repels -
Intrusive music, played all day
At a million decibels.
‘Forgive us all our trespasses’
Is often in our prayers;
But as for noise polluters - well,
I shan’t forgive
More Poems for Places.
Back to the Cotswolds. The Cotswold way traverses the whole of the Cotswoldsand passes through some oddly named places. It can be quite hard
The Cotswold Way
We planned to walk the Cotswold Way, and started out from Bath
With rucksacks, boots and anoraks to try
the Cotswold path;
With sprightly steps and happy hearts we felt we’d never tire
As we left the ease of Avon and crossed into Gloucestershire.
Up Wortley Hill and down again
To Nanny Farmer’s Bottom,
Through Blackquarries, we took the lane
And swaggered into Wotton;
We climbed the top of Wotton Hill,
And, though that took its toll,
We all, enthusiastic still,
Pressed on to Nibley Knoll.
The pleasures of the Cotswold views
demand we stand and stare -
At Drakestone Point and Tubb’s seat we drank the Cotswold air;
More slowly now, down Stinchcombe Hill, through Dursley, up CamPeak
Our limbs were aching, feet were sore, and joints began to creak
The path, however, onward sails,
Our hearts began to pump
At views of BerkleyCastle, Wales,
And Hetty Pegler’s Tump;
Past Nymphsfield, Coaley, Edge - and soon
We saw, from BirdlipPeak,
A very welcome Air Balloon*,
The best sight of the week.
*A well-known hostelry on the Cotswold Way
The last lap of the Cotswold way we finished in a haze;
Cleeve Hill was steep, the church at Hailes had seen far better days.
into Broadway, climbed past Dover’s Hill half dead -
We’d walked the Cotswold Way, but spent the next two days in bed.
used to blight my life
And ruin all my fun,
Indeed, if I’d not had my wife,
Then nothing would get done.
At last we reached a compromise –
I’d make the major choices,
And leave the lesser
ones to her.
We speak with equal voices –
She chooses all our holidays
And what the kids will wear,
And where we live, and what we eat,
And if we’ve cash to spare.
choose if we should lose the pound
And join the EEC,
And if the world is really round
And the date of World War Three.
I used to hate to make a choice
But suffer that no more –
My indecision was
(but now I’m not so sure).
Well-known poems always get parodied. This is no exception, though it is important to use as much as possible of the famous form and words to produce something which is in
total contrast to to original.
I thought I would dedicate this to Justin Rose!
JOIN THE CLUB
I wandered mostly with a crowd
That drifted over gorse and greens,
be heard to curse aloud
At random stops in woodland scenes;
Or, when our luck was really tough,
We spent a morning in the Rough.
As frequent as the many stops
To manducate a Milky Bar,
wildly executed chops
And not a score approaching par.
Some, playing through, acquired the habit
Of pointedly exclaiming, “Rabbit!”
We sought instruction from the best -
on the golfing scene -
And could not help but be impressed
By such advice at Hole Nineteen;
We drank - and drank - but little thought
Accompanied the Scotch we bought.
But sometimes, by a winter fire,
In vacant or expansive mood,
Their recalled words once more inspire -
That is the curse of turpitude:
And thus is resolution found
To go and have another round.
Silly Verse for Sensible Kids (it's nearly Summer Holidays)
Dance in the Deep
On a beautiful sunshiney summery day
A family went for
And Father was Nelson, in charge of the ship,
While his Daughter scrubbed decks with a pail
And Mother, as usual, was fully employed
In the Galley, preparing the food
While their son was bored totally
out of his mind
And was thus in a very bad mood –
So he turned on his radio walkman, and played
His favourite tunes at full bore,
Till his Father said, “SHUT IT! We’ve had quite enough
As I often have told you before.”
Then he snatched up the walkman and threw it away
So it fell with a splash in the sea;
It continued to play, but had somehow changed bands
To Ballet, on Radio Three.
Now, the fishes around there could hear every note
For undersea sound travels fast;
They had never heard anything like it before
And one said, “Some Music – at last!
Such a sound makes me feel I could
The whole way from England to France,
So get with it, you lot, and join in with me
And we’ll all have an Undersea Dance.”
They began with the Dance of the Four Little Skates:
Then the Snook Flakes were equally good,
While the Flying Fish Fairy received much applause
Together with Red Herring Hood.
The music then stopped, which allowed all the fishes
Some time for a chat and a rest;
But, after a breather, they all quite agreed
That the Sugar Plum Dolphin was best.
Now, most of the Sailors were quite unaware
Of the fun they’d caused under the spray,
For Father was tight-lipped, and Mother
While their Son sulked for England all day.
But their Daughter had seen all the fun going on
And said, “I know just what to do -
The NEXT time we sail, as well as Tchaikovsky,
I’ll throw in some Offenbach, too.”
I was intrigued to see an article that suggested employees in bookshops never had any time to read. What a shame!
Dear Sir, I’m paid to sell your books
To earn an honest penny,
But I don’t have the time to spend
I cannot access any book
By process of osmosis,
And lugging them around just leads
I therefore beg you to arrange
By managerial power
To let employees all enjoy
A literacy hour.
I might then encounter Heathcliff
Or consult the wise Parsee
Who helped the Rhino get his Skin –
I might even chat up Darcy
Or other heroes of Romance;
But I know,
within my bones,
Without this hour, my life’s bereft.
Yours truly, Bridget Jones.
The nest is now completed, and
Protection work is done;
The larvae have all hatched – so I
Can idle in the sun.
I’m thinking what I’ll do before
Cold Autumn strikes me dead –
Or something else instead?
To hell with being purposeful
Or useful! I, for one,
just decided I should be
Entitled to some fun.
I’ll make a point of buzzing into
Half drunk cola tins,
And, with my friends, ensure that folk
Won’t dare use litter bins.
I’ll do the rounds of fruiterers
And feast on ripened
Or hide amongst the seedless grapes
To sting unwitting thumbs.
I’ll also hope to terrorise
Those picnicking al fresco,
Or eating packaged sandwiches
From Sainsbury’s or Tesco.
Then, as my life draws to a close,
Declining with the sun,
I’ll sting a few more people for
A final bit of fun.
But do not judge me harshly, since
Your Government, it’s said,
Stings more of you than I do – and
It never ends up dead.
More Silly Verse for Sensible Kids
4 The Dinosaurs’ Dilemma
The Dinosaurs were really cross
As cross as anything –
didn’t like one little bit
The beast who was their king.
Their King, of course, was always called
For Rex (a Latin
word) means king
(But this you know, I ’spects).
Well, anyhow, Tryannosaur
Was not top of their pops;
He’d eat up poor Iguanadon
And crunch Triceratops –
He’d gobble up Diplodocus
And then come back for more - as
Soon as he had finished him
start on Brontosaurus.
The Dinosaurs all met to think
How they could lose their fear,
When one of them at last thought up
A Brilliant Idea.
“He is too fierce for all of us
And no-one could be meaner.
We’ll sack him, and appoint instead
A QUEEN would be more gentle and
Might leave us all alone.”
This was agreed. T Rex was sacked,
His wife put on the throne.
hoped that she would nibble leaves
And feed off tender shoots
And share with them their fruit and greens
And help them dig for roots.
The Dinosaurs were shocked,
And then began to curse –
For though their king was really bad
Their Queen was EVEN WORSE!
only did she chase them all
And eat them without pause,
She taught the same behaviour to
The young Tyrannosaurs
Who ate up all that they could
Till NONE were left. No doubt
That this is why the Dinosaurs -
AND Tryannosaurs – died out.
Cloud Cuckoo Land
Imagination is a wondrous thing
It lifts our sights above reality
And lets us enter realms of peace and hope
And out of usual day to day banality.
We can imagine what
our lives might be
If crude reality would disappear;
But crude reality, insistently,
Says, “That’s cloud cuckoo land,” with knowing sneer.
But what if this reality was wrong?
Perhaps we should
begin to make a stand
And all promote the general benefit
Of better living in cloud cuckoo land.
The Edge of Insanity
The writing of poetry once was considered
A sublime and significant art
When a thought or a sentiment, feeling of mood,
Could be captured, in whole or in part.
The Greeks would use poems to back up a point,
Believing that poems were true –
That poets had thought long and hard about life
Before deigning to offer a view.
For subsequent cultures the process evolved,
Until finally, sanctioned by time,
was judged by its grace of expression,
It’s metre, its scansion and rhyme.
One modern day trend sets all this by the board ;
There’s no form - jot down any inanity,
Throw in some obsenities, lose any sense,
And then fall off the edge of insanity.
I wrote this poem about twenty years ago. It is, of course, based on Goldsmith's 'Deserted Village', and I try to convey some of the same anger
and disillusion that he does when considering a system that knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing - where the only things that are valued are those that can be bureaucratically processed and filed, and qualities such as originality, co-operation
and happiness find no place. (Where, for instance,in the assessment of Literacy Hour, does it bother to find out if a pupil enjoyed a book? For all Officialdom knows, the experience might have put the child off reading for life).
Has anything changed? Has it hell. Why is there STILL a shortage of qualified Teachers, as opposed to qualified bureaucrats, applying for Headships? Why are so many children STILL leaving school barely literate or numerate?
THE DESERTED SCHOOL
Beside the narrow road, cupressus cool,
There stands a building which was once a school.
The village children well recalled the Head,
Respected him, and did just what he said.
A learned man he was, with good degree
love of learning was so great that he
Determined that the lettered world he knew
Should best be spread beyond the learned few -
The benefit of learning ought to reach
Throughout society. He loved to teach.
The rural school
he taught in liked his ways
And parents of all classes sang his praise -
He’d time for every child, he knew each name,
And treated them as people, all the same;
He understood their problems, calmed their fears,
ambition, wiped away their tears.
And ruffians, who’d former lessons spurn,
Remained with him, and even liked to learn.
Everything they sought to ask he knew;
He found the time to teach them football, too.
The Head began to find his natural skill
Diverted to accommodate the will
Of wooden-headed bureaucrats, who needed
To try to prove their dogmas had succeeded -
Forms must be filled, and boxes ticked or crossed,
(those inconvenient, lost),
Time and resources spent on mass production
Of glossy brochures, and the introduction
Of scheme and practice, any old device,
Which formed the Chief Inspector’s prejudice.
For months the Head had struggled with the task,
Attempting to supply what they might ask.
Night after night he scaled the paper mound
And often, at the end of it, he found
He had no time to mark a pupil’s book
the trouble that he erstwhile took.
His work became a grind to find a way
To pay for the essential, day to day
Equipment for his school. The final straw
Came when he wrote an application for
A mortgage on a house.
The news was grim -
No mortgages for low-paid folk like him.
He left the happy school he’d served as Head
And re-trained in Accountancy instead.
He was replaced by one less qualified -
the only person who applied.
(The Governors were mortified to find
That so few people nowdays felt inclined
To teach. The stress and poor reward
Was greater than most people could afford.)
filled in forms, but she
Could not conceal a ‘C’ Maths GCE.
The school declined in numbers, as it would,
And soon the Council shut it down for good.
The former Head,
a few years later on,
Acquired the building for a modest sum
And, having gentrified the house and grounds,
Then sold it on for half a million pounds.
His sons are entered - he has thought it best -
To ‘muck in’
down at Eton with the rest.
Ill fares society, ill fares the nation,
Which starves much of its youth of education.
In education, everything is lost
If seen, not as investment, but as cost.
It was all rather dramatic.
A twenty minute impromptu exercise.
We decided to spring-clean our family home
So we tidied and hoovered the floors
And we wiped round the edges of windows
And dusted the tops of the doors -
So we finished up all good and early
And thought we would start
on the attic;
But we were not prepared for the chaos we found –
It was all rather dramatic.
There was pile upon pile of mortified flies
And boxes of children’s old toys
And mountains of files from
And daughters’ old photos of boys,
And sections of carpet all done up in rolls
Which, when opened, all crackled with static,
And off-cuts of lino and curtains and fans –
It was all rather dramatic.
We surveyed the piles of useless old stuff
Which admittedly once we thought treasure,
But seen in this light we clearly now thought
We should dump the whole lot at our leisure.
Then we shifted things round, though
I’m bound to agree
That our overall plan was erratic,
So we shut up the loft and left things as they were –
To move them was far too traumatic.