Apologies there was no Poetry and Music blog last week, you never know maybe no one noticed!!
I am going to show some Poems from a lovely sweet Gentleman. Unfortunately, no longer with us but they can’t be many who have not heard of him and smiled and laughed at his works. His name, SIR JOHN BETJEMAN – Poet, Writer, Broadcaster.
Sir John Betjeman CBE – Born August 28, 1906, Parliament Hill Mansions, Gospel Oak, London. – Died MAY 19, 1984 aged 77 years. Trebetherick, Cornwall, England.
By the shot tower near the chimneys,
Off the road to Waterloo,
Stands the cottage of “The Aged”
As in eighteen-forty-two,
Over brickwork, brownish brickwork,
Lilac hangs in London sun,
And by light fantastic clockwork
Moves the drawbridge, sounds the gun.
When the sunset in the side streets
Brought the breezes up the tide,
Floated bits of daily journals,
Stable smells and silverside,
And the gaslight, yellow gaslight,
Flaring in its wiry cage,
Like the Prison Scene in Norval
On the old Olympic stage,
Lit the archway as the thunder,
And the rumble and the roll,
Heralded a little handcart,
And “The Aged” selling coal
FIVE O’CLOCK SHADOW
This is the time of day when we in the Men’s Ward
Think “One more surge of the pain and I give up the fight.”
When he who struggles for breath can struggle less strongly;
This is the time of day which is worse than night.
A haze of thunder hangs on the hospital rose-beds,
A doctors’ foursome out on the links is played,
Safe in her sitting room Sister is putting her feet up;
This is the time of day when we feel betrayed.
Below the windows, loads of loving relations
Rev in the car park, changing gear at the bend,
Making for home and a nice big tea and the telly;
“Well, we’ve done what we can. It can’t be long till the end.”
This is the time of day when the weight of bedclothes
Is harder to bear than a sharp incision of steel,
The endless anonymous croak of a cheap transistor
Intensified the lonely terror I feel.
THE SMALL TOWNS OF IRELAND
Public houses in Irish country towns are very often general merchants as well. You drink at a counter with bacon on it. Brooms and plastic dustpans hang from the ceiling. Loaves of new bread are stacked on top of fuse wire and, over all, there is a deep, delicious silence that can be found only in Ireland, in the midlands of Ireland in particular – the least touristed and profoundest part of the whole sad, beautiful country. Much that is native and traditional goes on, including the printing of ballads in metres derived from the Celts via Tom Moore. These ballads are called hedge poetry and their authors are the last descendants of the Gaelic bards.
As a Child who would spend their school holidays “back home” at Nana’s and Grandad’s Cottage in West Cork, the above is so true. How well I remember shops like this, the Post Office where women would be buying stamps and men sat there drinking Guinness and Whiskey.
Both my Parents were from Southern Ireland, my Father was not a typical Irishman he never drank but like the Irish he smoked too much. He was very reserved, but an honest decent hardworking man, whose life was work, his home his Family – somehow I would scream inside that I wanted more than that. My Mother on the other hand loved all the attention she could get, she was so proud of her large bosoms, always much to my embarrassment she would show them off. She was so strict with me I had no Freedom, but Freedom came those Summer weeks “back home” in Ireland. My Father’s Parents died just after he Married my Mother, his Parents died within a few weeks of each other. So it was to my Mother’s Parents we would visit. Nana was very quiet, rarely smiled when she did it was beautiful, her hair was silvery white and so long, I loved to watch her brush her hair and twist it and twist until she had a plat over the top of her head. Nana was always working, she married at 18 years of age, had to look after her Husband Thomas, “Tommy” Tringle and her parents and Grandad’s parents and the babies that came along so quickly, all in this small cottage in West Cork. I always cried when she said she never saw the Sea, she very rarely went to Town which was Dunmanway and as for Cork City that happened maybe twice until she ended up living there where she died, I always felt her heart broke when Grandad Died and when she had to leave her little home.
Grandad was a tall strapping man, such broad shoulders with a beard and moustache. I never knew my Grandad other than Blind, it was before I was born he was kicked in the forehead by his Horse and lost his sight immediately. He was bedridden by the time I came along, but he had these large strong powerful hands and these broad shoulders and firm chest with white hair, I have always had a thing about men’s chests, odd. I never ever heard him once complain and when my Mother would call my Father by the name Jack, Grandad would insist John which of course was my Father’s name. I would spend all the time I could talking to listening to Grandad, feeding him. He was so wise so lovely and the nicest Gentleman I have ever known. Even to this day, writing this the tears are falling for him, I still miss him and love him so. When I’m quiet and think of him or listen to Country and Western music, I can hear Grandad singing away its still there the happiest time of my life.
Sir John Betjeman’s description of the shops brings back so many memories, going into Dunmanway and my Father buying sugar and flour and tea and Wooden Dresser for Nana, stocking up for Nana. My Father never minded what he did for Nana and Grandad, he would buy things for them because he loved them. He never left Nana on our departure for England (which I hated and cried and cried) but he would put money in her hand and tell her “now don’t give that to anyone else, its for you”. The smell of the grocery department and the smell of ironmongery and field tools, the smell of vegetables fresh dug, the smell of the bread, everything Irish that I loved thats the old Ireland. When the Celtic Tiger came, greed came and Ireland changed not for the better. I know we have to move on, we can’t stay in the past but more and more these days I hear people say “it was all so much better years ago”.
For me, my Heart is in Ireland, my Grandad told me when I was young “pick up some soil hold it close in your hand, thats Ireland it will forever be with you” and it is. The acres, the Donkeys, the greenery, the lakes, the rain, the old Ladies in their Black Cloaks, the Fairy Rings, the history oh dear the history one can’t avoid. Ireland is magic and it reaches deep into you.
THE LAST LAUGH
I made hay while the sun shone,
My work sold,
Now, if the harvest is over
And the World cold,
Give me the bonus of laughter
and I lose hold.
Time for some OSCAR WILDE
“I think that God, in creating Man, somewhat overestimated his ability”.
“Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much”.
“Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go”.
“True friends stab you in the front”.
“I like men who have a future and women who have a past”
I hope you enjoy the music below, not Classical this week. Have a great Weekend and as I always say, Stay Safe.
How I loved Roger Miller singing this, I would sing along. Roger Miller King Of The Road.
The Great Kenny Rogers – She Believes In Me 1979