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In The Sepia Vibe / Looking at an Old School Photo

1 Leave a comment on verse 1 0 it’s turned quite brown now
my old school team photograph
but there I am with long lost mates
whose names still linger
together In the sepia vibe

2 Leave a comment on verse 2 0 can this be me at fourteen?
another person then – fresh faced naive
but on that old leather ball with laces that stung and cut
heavy and wet on school match mornings
etched in chalk
Sloane Grammar Under Fifteens 1962-63

3 Leave a comment on verse 3 0 oh but I was some winger then… you should have seen me
my football future before me (apparently)
back on days when seven still meant outside right
and my left foot like Daniel Day Lewis
un-stoppable un-compromising
smacking them in from ev’ry angle
more often than not against that old flat crossbar
how wide they were then!

4 Leave a comment on verse 4 0 but when it came to the school team
not quite good enough to make the grade
but decent enough for reserve
and so it was week in week out you’d find me
misty Saturdays on boggy playing fields
Tulse Hill to Westminster

5 Leave a comment on verse 5 0 carrying kit bags offering oranges
and filling in for way-laid linesman
until that one sweet day our winger went a.w.o.l
and euphoria – I was in!

6 Leave a comment on verse 6 0 the game itself a blur
a welcome to nig time ..(in my head)
when suddenly out of the blue
this perfect ball flew over waist height to me
and right there – bang on the edge of the box
I just let fly-. let it rip
like some great fart in a rowdy dressing room
and bingo – euphoria

7 Leave a comment on verse 7 0 to be truthful
with three mates screaming “pass”
it could have gone anywhere
but no it hit the net deliciously
in a hello Roy Of The Rovers
are you watching Harry Kane
freeze frame of synchronicity

8 Leave a comment on verse 8 0 I learned something profound that day
sometimes you have to be selfish and greedy
in this football game we call life
but I still like to think – in a humble way
that greed and passion took over
and me and my left foot
we did it just the two of us- for the team
allegedly!

9 Leave a comment on verse 9 0 and that was it – game over – acceptance
they carried me to a man that day to the centre circle
no school rag back then – but if there had been
it would have proclaimed loudly
“Thomas Scorcher Sinks St.Cuthbert’s ”

10 Leave a comment on verse 10 0 and to this day I’m convinced
It was that pivotal moment – that decision
which secured my place in the side
but more importantly still
given my wild off-field school behaviour
that goal
probably saved me from expulsion…
but hey……. that’s another poem!

12

Notes

(Notes added during Covid-19 Lockdown (easing?!) in July 2020.)
In ’59, having miraculously passed my Eleven Plus exam, I entered the ominous world of Billy Bunter-esque black-gowned teachers and canings at Sloane Grammar School.

A fine old red and yellow-bricked building built in 1908, it housed 500 boys and stood on the corner of Hortensia Road and Fulham Road. Overlooking Stamford Bridge, home of Chelsea FC, (don’t get me started!) it was also situated opposite the beautiful and haunting Brompton Cemetery, where I spent many a silent and thoughtful lunch-hour pondering the meaning of life and girls.

Amazingly the Rolling Stones, still barely known, lived at the bottom of the street on Edith Grove, and there were regular playground tales of strange behaviour and early morning ‘nicked’ milk bottles. Possibly inspired by Mick and Keef, I too was pretty wild as a teen, always up for a laugh in class and a total maverick. This, when even throwing a beautifully hand-crafted paper aeroplane to your best mate during the horrors of Latin, afforded three of the best and instant detention from the notorious serial-disciplinarian headmaster and Hitler-lookalike Doctor Henry. Undeterred, I developed a bizarre penchant back then for irritating a certain hard of hearing Chemistry teacher, which involved precariously hiding behind the ancient wooden blackboard and knocking discreetly during the class, as you do.

Playing for the school team however, if achieved, offered a viable lifeline to profile-raising and better still : recognition in assembly when school results were read out. Once attained, given my off-field behaviour, it doubtless accounted for my not getting expelled!

Football aside, I battled on with my studies, but in ’63, having just experienced my first ever live gig with the Beatles at the Albert Hall, Rock ’n Roll, Hush Puppies, Motown, R&B and the opposite sex took over my life. As a result, many a Maths class was spent longing dreamily for weekends that promised Saturdays searching for parties and Sundays with Downliners Sect at Studio 51 in Leicester Square… or The Yardbirds at The Crawdaddy in Richmond.

Nevertheless, despite the musical distractions that were to become my life and eventual career, I somehow defied logic and ended up with 5 GCE’s : Art, English , English Lit, French and History. The practical and financial chances, (in pre-grant days) of going on to college/university however were to prove sadly dashed as full-time work at fifteen beckoned.

Source: http://footballpoets.org/poems/in-the-sepia-vibe/