So was it all worthwhile then? Was it all worthwhile?
Spending all that time, travelling on the train?
Was it all worthwhile, waiting in the waiting rooms,
Penning these lines at 4 o’ clock in the morning
On an empty rainswept station in Exeter?
Was it worth the while then ? Was it time well spent?
Leaving John Betjeman’s sepia tinted seaside haunts,
And leafy, sleepy, hollow lane Devon,
All Thomas Hardy and double cream teas,
And eavesdropped carriage conversations about
“ It’s so dark in that village with all they trees”.
Was it worthwhile to rock and roll
Through the rolling chalk downlands of Wiltshire,
Past the etched white horses and ancient tumuli
Of that ridgewayed stone age landscape,
Before abruptly reaching Betjeman’s modernist Slough
And the great western suburbs of Cobbet’s Great Wen.
Was it worthwhile to travel east and underground
To mysterious watery Shadwell,
Walking under Gustav Dore steam smoked viaducts,
And past Spitalfields weavers’ combinations
And the Brick Lane kaleidoscope of modern London,
A city of 300 languages and countless faiths
And a multitude of tapestries of meaning.
Was it all worthwhile to break my holiday
And play my part by playing a part,
In helping build a new Football Nation,
A Football Nation that has Pride without Prejudice,
Pride without Prejudice in the old iron works,
That is now the Cafe Kick in Shoreditch High Street,
Where a St. George’s Night Special found a packed room
Listening to presentations and song and debate,
About reclaiming the Cross of St. George from the racist right,
So that tomorrow is not for them, but for us,
And where past tradition and future opportunity
Are stitched together in a flag of inclusivity –
So was it all worthwhile to swop Devon’s hollow ways
For London’s mean and chartered streets,
And a Blakean vision of Liberty through Diversity?
By George, it was, for see the angels in the trees,
And see how the flag shines in the dismal rain and cloud,
Its warp and weft weaving a new rainbow island story;
Those Spitalfield handloom artisans and Shoreditch ironworkers
Would be as proud of us as we are proud of them,
As we go back to the future together
And make the future worthwhile.
Many thanks to all at Philosophy Football and especially Mark Perryman for putting on such a great night.