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Remember when the Likely Lads
Wanted to avoid the final score?
Well, this was the exact opposite:
A twenty first century digital version
Where we expect constant updates and news.
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For alas! There is no signal at all
At twelfth century Llanthony Priory;
And just a fleeting momentary contact
High up in the hills by Offa’s Dyke,
Where you gaze upon blue remembered hills,
And a faint silver gleam in the east:
The River Severn, and the Cotswold hills of home.
But what good is that when you want to know the score?
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We climbed some more.
And reached two box trees,
The remnant, Bill thought, of a box hedge,
Where once a cottage stood,
Where once, Bill thought, slates and shingles were cut,
By some Wordsworthian revenant;
And there, a few yards further on,
A crumbled wall; once, perhaps,
The enclosure for the slater’s cow,
And a once tended vegetable patch:
A Wordsworthian moment, it’s true.
But an imagined solitary
From a reimagined Lyrical Ballads
Could not provide me with the score
From the end of the 18th century,
And nor could the next group of wayfarers.
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But the next trio offered hope.
Walkers in red Welsh shirts.
I talked of the recent Wales v Switzerland match,
And, duty done, I thought I could broach the topic:
‘I don’t suppose you know how England are getting on?’
‘Well. Do you know. Up there I had a funny feeling.
I felt that Sterling had scored.’
His mate called out: ‘But that was before they’d kicked off.’
I checked my watch. 3.25.
Are they having me on or not?
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We carried on climbing. Phone running low.
A momentary signal and message:
‘Ooh ah Roonata’;
I knew that Charlotte Rooney had drawn
England in the sweepstake. So, this was good news.
But was it a delayed celebration of a goal?
Late coming through? Or the result?
But battery low and signal lost,
I was none the wiser in the heather,
The cotton grass and the billberries.
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We carried on climbing.
To reach a cairn high up on Offa’s Dyke.
And here I exhausted my phone with a message to Charlotte
And here I sat, exhausted, with joy and relief:
Her reply: ‘One nil to us.’
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Bill, who has no interest in football,
But who enjoys football cliches,
Wondered if I would like more context,
And read, verbatim, the words of the players,
In an old school Private Eye,
Ashen-faced Ron Knee Mockney accent.
It was a signal moment:
Gammon, as it were, declaiming
The words of a new England,
And the new England silencing the boo boys.
This is the new ‘Us’.
Football’s Coming to a new Home.
To a new Us.
That’s how it felt by the cairn, high up on Offa’s Dyke.
I crossed my fingers.
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And we came home to Llanthony Priory
For a couple of celebratory pints;
I stood where the monks once sat penitent,
And asked a young man if he knew the result –
He looked as though he might want to know.
‘Old school,’ he said. ‘No signal.
I had to use a pay phone down the road.’
Bill started to sing:
‘Memories are made of this.’
¶ 12 Leave a comment on verse 12 0 http://www.standuptoracism.org.uk/statement-signed-by-politicians-union-leaders-and-campaigners-opposing-the-booing-of-players-taketheknee-government-failure-to-act/15