Saturday, 5 November 2011


Walk don’t run. The polished floor in Primary School security. The flowing frocks like they wore in those days. Eye sockets in a skull.
The mad professor’s spectacles. Cuts and cruel government remedies.
Sheffield stainless steel. The Full Monty. Denim jacket rivet.
Planting a note in a pretty girl’s coat pocket supposedly penned by
the boy she fancies, bitter words that taste like aspirin. Iron
tank radiators. Filling a hand basin with water, drinking it like a horse
at a trough. The frightening red shadow of a klaxon horn.
Red blades in the bottle green machine to keep the lawn shorn.
Daisies survive the cull. The giant contact lens of a magnifying
glass, training a shaft of white light until the chestnut brown of
your shoe starts to smoke. Trading lines from Laurel and Hardy. I
was Stan Laurel, scratching my head and beaming like a goof
provoking the severe teacher to lose her temper. The teacher with
the cancer husband. Losing her mask, the tears flowing when we tried
to do arithmetic. Sorry children, she said. Years later I heard she
re-married to an alcoholic. I met her at the school gate and she asked
me to hold a carton of cream. Don’t drop it, she said. It slipped,
still fridge cool through my fingers to splat on the fondant pink
paving slab. The same slabs that would freeze, wear a skin of ice
in winter and leave me stranded like a baby duck. The dry chuckle of
the Headmaster who came back to find me. Oh Mr Hunsley, what
40 years dead? How alive you still are in the school of my memory.
He threw the lime-green tennis ball high in the hall in a perfect
trajectory for it to travel straight back to his hand without leaving
his chair. Pounded his chest with his fist so that the boom echoed
around the hall bouncing off the walls mapped with the red shaded
territories that were still our Empire. Pipe smoking Deputy, Mr Deer.
We were all very scared of you. A fierce man with a bite as bad as
his bark. Paper men, paper scissors. Hold them by the blade.
Always walk, don’t run. Time to go now children. You stupid boy.
How are you going to do your coat up with your gloves on? 

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