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Two Cultures

1 Leave a comment on verse 1 0 I’ve always worn boots since becoming bourgeois,
To try and pretend I’ve still got working class roots, I suppose;
But what with the heat-wave,
The relentless style attack from wife and daughters,
And the incipient holiday to fashionable Corsica,
I finally sold out and joined the sandal brigade.
So there I was,
Under a DIY edict from my erstwhile Presbyterian wife,
(Who cannot always forget her Ulster Protestant upbringing,
And likes to find jobs for me to do in the summer holidays,
On the half hidden belief that reading and writing
Are sinful, idle and useless)
In the shed, in sandals not boots,
Looking for a pair of pliers,
Which I couldn’t find because the shed was such a bloody mess,
And I was just about to give up, when I saw,
Half buried on the floor,
The plane of my great-grandfather,
Charles William Butler, born 4th. December 1863,
22 Lonsdale Road, Kensington.
He was a coach builder who moved to Swindon
With the opening of the Carriage and Wagon Works,
Back in the days of the broad gauge Great Western Railway;
But this piece of wood and metal from the age of steam was electric,
And far more interesting than the forgotten pliers
And I was away with the fairies!
I felt his hands on the plane, and my granddad’s and my dad’s too,
I could feel their hands on mine
And feel their pleasure in how I had turned out,
Four generations in unison;
And now here was the plane with me,
The symbolic talismanic heirloom
Passed on by carpenters and footballers and railwaymen and soldiers,
To the man who wasn’t allowed in the shed as a boy,
Because books were the thing for him,
And, anyway, he was bloody useless at woodwork,
He got 8% at school,
The lowest ever recorded mark for a boy, ever.
But what saved me from ridicule at junior school
Were the other things they passed onto me,
A quick wit and a quick sense of sociable humour
And the fact that I was captain of the school football team;
Amazing Grace! Generous Dispensation and Favour from the Fates!
The boffin who couldn’t fight his way out of a paper bag
Or hammer a nail or saw a plank of wood,
Could make a crossbar shudder from 20 yards;
A soft summer rain started to fall and woke me from my reverie,
The front door bell rang,
It was Simon, the odd job man,
Trish will never know it wasn’t me who mended the side gate.
And you won’t tell will you?

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Source: http://footballpoets.org/poems/two-cultures/