It’s been a good start to the New Year so far, what with the Observer’s sports magazine giving us further media recognition and then there’s Dave’s planning and Crispin’s ideas for 2002 too. Very exciting – but discretion prevents my revealing these – but we think you’ll like them. More revelations as the winter turns to snowdrops and as the snowdrops give over to the crocus. In addition, we have more and more schools pursuing us for workshops – the problem is fitting these into an already busy schedule, as the nearly Americans say. Talking of which, I am off to Vancouver in February to look at Canadian social inclusion policies; we will be taking 2 framed poems from the site as gifts – The Human Race and “Come on England”. These appeared for Refugee Week last June/July – so look for them there if you are interested or on my page. Finally, good luck everyone and thanks again for making this site the unique phenomenon that it is.
Yours in a rushed and busy Friday night housework sort of start to the week-end, Stuart x.
New Year View, 2002.
The view from the pub window was interesting –
A traditional Mrs. Miniver Cotswold village film set,
Upstaged by a technicolour turncoat house at the end of the lane,
All four walls completely covered with new money Christmas lights,
Like some festive 2 fingers to the rest of the sequestered vale.
With a scene like that, what could you do, but give in?
So I went modern mall shopping the next Sunday,
But got fed up after 5 minutes, and started reading the football scores,
While leaning against the doorway of an M and S Outlet Store,
“I hate shopping, don’t you?” said the man opposite,
On the other side of the doorway, also reading the football scores,
And I smiled my agreement, but I didn’t know what was coming,
For with the wife playing extra time, and visiting as many away grounds as possible,
I clocked up 3 hours in the mall, until I could carry not a parcel more,
And scraped out underneath the sign “Open on Boxing Day!”
I stared in disbelief and disgust, and took out my copy of “ A Christmas Carol”,
Even Bob Cratchett had Boxing Day off – has progress come to this?
Tiny Tim would be well up the creek today,
No presents, dad at work on holidays, on the lump, NHS queues for an op.,
Oh brave new world that has such billboards in it!
(But even that doleful sign was better than the mall’s opening first,
Which celebrated the closure of the Railway Works with the legend
“To the Golden Age of Shopping from the Golden Age of Steam”).
We drove home past a house whose yuletide burnished windows
Were covered with transfer pictures of Santa and “Merry Christmas” greetings,
While by the doorway was the picture of a slavering dog, labelled “I live here”;
Back in Stroud, snow was falling as I bought a copy of the Morning Star,
Before buying my wife a surprise present, a Victorian fire guard,
And I walked home along the disused railway line,
Reflecting on how Bob Cratchett’s working class hearth
Has become embourgeoisified and commodified
To the tune of £60 out of Tiny Tim’s pocket,
The parallel with football is too obvious to labour.
The Sunday before Christmas saw Basil* delivering Christmas cards,
And we walked through the churchyard, reading the names of lost sons
Killed at Ypres, one of whose dads was a member of the church choir,
Unlike my dad, who would spend Christmas Eve afternoon in the pub,
After knocking off early from his railway shift
Before coming home every year with a chain of sausages around his neck,
Drunk as a lord and loudly declaring that he was the mayor of Swindon –
It’s amazing what beer and a string of sausages can do –
And that’s the wonder of Christmas,
It gives us a glimpse of the power of ordinary women and men,
A glimpse of their power to run their own lives and turn the world upside down,
Like in a manger or with a mayor, or like giant killers in the next round of the cup.
I wish it could be Christmas every day. Don’t you?
* Editors’ note – for newcomers to the site – Basil is the official mascot of this site. The
Westie who swaps shirts with Shakespeare. See his full story and how he almost became England manager in the archive section.