John Curry - Innsbruk 1976 - A Dedication

Dark, curly hair with slow, shy smile, he enters the arena
And takes position on the ice, slim, elegant. We’ve seen a
Change in style with him, all high athletic leaps forsaken,
Rather, graceful movements, with interpretation newly taken
To a different level, art replacing physical exertion,
And now he stands, the crowds are stilled in tense anticipation.

Arms raised, awaiting opening bars of music to commence,
Simple one-piece black jump suit defining elegance.
Silence. Then at sudden burst of orchestration, he
Begins with sideways step to start this programme of his free
Skating technique, balletic in its content, smoothly flowing
To leap, light as a feather, turning thrice, true talent showing.

The crowd erupt, this superlative skating exhibition
Brings ecstatic cheers, as, on their feet they watch precision
Matched with supple artistry as music swells and fades,
As, gliding, skimming o’er the icy sheen, he dips and sways,
Interpreting the long, slow, deep glissando notes that fill
This great expanse, extraordinary long remembered thrill.

A change of tempo now approaching, briskly syncopated,
He spins and turns in perfect line, toe loops all demonstrated
Almost poetic movement shows his masterly control,
This disciplined, precisely choreographed, perfected role.
It is a masterclass of grace and style, proof of decision
Of one young man’s desire to reach, attain supreme precision.

And now the end approaches as the music swells and soars,
As he leans into a great arc to the cheering and the roars
Of the crowd as he flings wide his arms, spread-eagled, face aglow,
A double-axel leap completes a superb, winning show.
Then scores of flowers cascade on the ice, in fond appreciation
Of a shy young man who stole the hearts of people of all nations
With his vision and his talent, there for all to see,
And who earned his rightful place in the Olympics history.


Flying Over Africa - Dedication to John Barry

Soaring strings, mellifluous horns, John Barry, composer supreme,
Superimposed over African landscapes, almost a surrealist dream.
The backdrop of mountains with rivers cascading as, sparkling, they fall into space
Can almost bring tears to the eye while detecting those plaintive heartbreaking displays
Of glorious sweeping, towering arpeggios, descriptive perfection is heard
To compliment exquisite, vast panoramas, as if through the eye of a bird.

That imposing, solitary, breathtaking beauty as wings traverse over the plain,
Enhanced by the glorious expansive melodic cadences in perfect refrain,
Give all who encountered this maestro's artistry a genuine sense of emotion,
Which always enhances, increases the pleasure experienced beyond all proportion.
And though he is gone, his music lives on in our memories, always to treasure,
For which we give thanks to this Yorkshire lad whose genius has given such pleasure.


Moments in Time 

It lay on the shelf amid cobwebs and dust,
And slowly my vision began to adjust
To the half light which filtered through partly drawn drapes,
In that neglected room, emphasizing the shapes
Of things half remembered from days now long gone,
And the dreams of adventures in life still to come. 

Brushing off layers of accumulative years
And straining to see, a small label appears.
On the corner, two words can be barely discerned,
They read “Kodak Brownie” - thoughts instantly turned
To the days when this box captured life in it’s prime,
And imprisoned forever, those moments in time. 

For, as this small box with its one eye could see,
Death’s threat was now gone; no more mortality,
They’re there, just as young and as fair as before,
Laughing and joking, some sat on the floor,
Or standing in groups, all self consciously smiling,
Old men and young ladies, so sweet and beguiling. 

“F” stops, shutter speeds? Of course, there were none!
You just made sure you stood with your back to the sun!
That was the one rule that the people obeyed,
And mostly it worked, despite sun and the shade
Throwing shadows, or causing the subjects to squint,
Unaware of it then,( till they looked at the prints!) 

Those prints now are cracked, some are sepia with age,
But the images on them, still smiling, unchanged,
Are looking out to the world, just as they were,
Ageless, and always to gaze without care,
Defying life’s changes, still laughing, sublime,
Forever to live in that moment of time. 

The brides stay as fresh as the day they were wed,
The babes, never age lying, cute, on their bed,
The soldiers, so solemn, in full uniform
Some destined to fall in war’s mad, futile storm,
But here, in this image, of war there’s no sign,
Life captured again, in this moment of time. 

We all will live on, thanks to this little box,
Or it’s modern successors, recording life’s knocks
And delights, glad occasions and for those yet to come,
We’ll look out at the world, though we may be long gone,
Immortalized, smiling; composed and benign,
Taking our place in our moments of time.




Down Memory Lane

I think that I will need my shoes resoled and heeled again,
They’re wearing out so often as I walk down memory lane.
Along the hedgerows of familiar places that I’ve been,
And flanked by all the well remembered faces that I’ve seen,
I find a sort of comfort in that world of yesteryear,
A world recalling happy times - and the occasional tear.

I see a street with children, and some stumps chalked on a wall,
Excited shouts and laughter as they chased a strange shaped ball
Made of some crumpled paper with hoops cut from inner tubes
Which, stretched about and built around until it bounced and moved
In some sort of semblance of the crude cricket ball desired,
With bat shaped from a piece of planking that had been acquired.

And quiet. No sound intruding childish chatter in that street,
No traffic to disturb their game, and Bobbies on their beat
Would dismount from their bikes (with capes tied to the handlebars)
And join in for a moment for a sly kick, amid cheers,
Before continuing on their way with friendly wave goodbye,
And nodding to the Mums, hanging their washing out to dry.

The early mornings. Silence, broken only by the sound
Of clinking bottles, as the milkman made his daily round,
Accompanied by the clip-clops of his old and faithful horse
As it pulled the dray along its well known worn familiar course.
And in its wake, the steaming heaps, detected by the noses
Of those who were possessors of the finest neighbourhood roses!

The pubs on Sunday lunch times were something to behold,
Hard to see through hazy smoke screen, there would sit the old
Regulars all playing crib or dominoes and darts,
And drinking brown and mild or stout and always taking part
In all the social gatherings that bound their neighbourhood,
Like outings, parties for the kids, expected, understood.

The classrooms with the desks aligned and numbered tier on tier,
And children hushed, attentive as they lent a careful ear
To their schoolteacher, speaking out with quiet authority,
Learning their times-tables, all by heart, repetitively;
And woe betide those contemplating to disrupt this scene,
A swift stroke of the cane soon reinstated this routine!

All in all, a gentler time, well disciplined and fair,
Where people, bound by hardship of that time, were unaware,
For they could not envisage the society to come,
Where affluence bred selfishness and fearfulness for some.
They went about their daily lives in expectation that
Times passage would elapse and still further enrich their lot.

Alas, it seems to me that this is not what they expected,
And if they could return they would be appalled and quite dejected,
Our quality of life is not a patch on what we had,
Something that makes me angry, and also rather sad,
And I must say I do enjoy these memory lane excursions,
For mostly, I invariably meet a better class of person!



I Confess 

I’ve finally made a decision, I’ve decided its time to come out,
I’m going to shed inhibitions and now from the rooftops I’ll shout.
No more of the guilty excuses, the shame which is so hard to bear,
After all these long years, I’ll abandon the tears, for I really don’t honestly care. 

I know that I’ll maybe regret it when my friends turn their backs in dismay,
But if it’s the price of not being so nice, I’ll face it when I have to say –
“I love watching black and white movies! I know that you think it’s a crime,
But I can’t get enough of this old fashioned stuff, it beats modern day flicks every time!” 

I love it when cowboys and injuns keep shooting each other, of course,
And although they fall down by the hundred, no-one ever has injured a horse!
The goodies wore hats white as snowflakes while the baddies wore black, and again,
No one expected the special effects to be really so special back then. 

And I’ll watch those old flicks with my Granny or the vicar if he stops awhile,
For I know that they won’t be embarrassed by language that’s nasty and vile.
Also, when they get showing some smooching, and a clinch is required in a scene,
There’s none of this chewing and buttons undoing that we get today on the screen. 

And there’s something else that I realised, at least, for old fuddies like me,
When I watch I return to those days when I learned about this world where I loved to be,
Where all stories had real happy endings, and the ladies were just so sublime,
And recall where I saw it the first time, and whom I was with at the time. 

The flickering beams in the darkness, the clouds of tobacco smoke there,
And sound track that boomed, usherettes who would loom into sight with the ice cream to share
With the girl who you’d got in the back row in the hope of some passion, no doubt,
And coming away some time later, all hopes dashed, cos you didn’t get nowt! 

So I’m happy to stand and be counted, yes, an old dinosaur I suppose,
But I wouldn’t trade it for a second with the up-to-date version of those
Classics which took us away from our rather dull, lacklustre lives,
Transporting us to distant places, which still, in our memories, survives. 

You can keep your computerised gizmos and special effects so diverse,
I still prefer things nice and simple, and I think that for better or worse,
The innocence that films engendered in those early days when we were young,
Showed what things were like far way from our lives, and giving us inspiration. 

That’s my confession completed, and I hope that you’ll all understand
My reason for giving this lie I’ve been living so long and I know I’ll be banned
Where film buffs meet in congregation, and my name will be mud, so defiled,
So I’ll leave whence I came with my head hung in shame, disgraced and forever reviled! 



Retirement, the Crossroads

All through his life he steered a course, and true to his beliefs,

He stood, steadfast, with brave resource, despite life’s rocks and reefs.

But, when at last, safe haven gained, and sheltered in the lee,

He fretted, for he felt restrained, unable there, to see

That his life’s voyages were done, the years pronounced the end

Of hard-lived days, now almost gone. The time had come to bend

To the inevitable truth which he must face at last,

That age must ultimately bow to youth, despite the cost.


Yet, even so, he felt alone on unfamiliar seas,

Adrift and rudderless. Alone. Unwanted flotsam, he.

His wisdom and experience seemed not to matter now,

The lessons learned o’er many years seemed not to count, somehow.

The deference and respect he earned were distant memories,

Usurped by anonymity that advanced years decree.

With spirits low, and hurt, confused, he knew not what to do,

This, he could not comprehend, it seemed his life was through.


But no! This was the choice of freedom that he’d been denied,

A turning point, for pastures new, the crest of a new tide,

A change of course, a chance to do the things he’d left undone,

New sense of purpose and new challenges were yet to come.

Throughout his life he’d sought to serve and give aid where he could,

His time committed solely to the furtherance of good.

But now he felt the old excitement coursing through his veins,

A new horizon waiting for discovery once again!



The ‘Little’ Ships 


A seaside beach. The children play midst sandy dunes while parents lay,

Absorbing welcome warming sun, relaxing chatter, air of fun.

How far away the mists of fate which rolled along this very place

Seem now, three score and fifteen years long gone, when all that happened here

Was seen with dreadful fascination, seeming death throes of a nation’s

Army, in its futile flight from vast, oncoming armoured might. 


These same sand dunes still lying there, were then the meagre shelter where

Men crouched, avoiding bomb and shell as best they could in this pure hell

Of acrid smoke, constant explosions, a world to shred stoutest emotions,

As screams of injured filled the air, some fated too, to perish there,

While at the water’s edge they strayed, in forlorn hope to get away,

To leave this nightmare place behind to any refuge they could find. 


Yet, when it seemed that all was lost, a fleet, a veritable host

Of boats appeared, all shapes and sizes, mostly small, and to surprised

And grateful soldiers standing, cold, in waist-deep water, new and old

Boats, being small with shallow draft, shuttled to the larger craft

Which were in deeper water moored, so thankful soldiers climbed aboard

Watching these fine and dauntless men return to save more yet again. 


Though now most of those who were saved are gone, the story of those brave,

Bold sailors and civilians all, who, answering their country’s call,

Passed into legendary fame, “The Dunkirk Spirit” giving name

To those who, braving shot and shell, advanced by sea into a hell

Of death, destruction, souls torment, still ventured out and bravely went,

To join our country’s hero’s ranks, and earn a grateful Nation’s thanks.


What’s in a Name?

One thing I learned from the days of my youth,
Was that one absolute, indisputable truth
Meant that whatever your parents had thought, for your name,...
Once you’d signed on that line it was never the same
That the vicar had proclaimed to all gathered there,
As he watered your head at the font with great care.

No, the moment you stepped over that fateful step,
You relinquished the name that you’d come to accept,
And inherited something, a sort of description,
A name to which you would respond without question,
Insulting, affectionate or maybe truncated,
That name was the one for which you were then fated.

Of course, if your surname was something like ‘Miller’,
Then you became ‘Dusty’, and then if a feller
Arrived with handle - for instance – of ‘White’,
Then ‘Chalky’ or ‘Snowy’ would fit them alright,
While someone who rejoiced in the name of ‘Brown’
Might find ‘Topper’ or ‘Hovis’ the one to live down.

Old favourites were chosen, like, say, ‘Nobby‘ Clark,
And that favourite ‘Tug‘ Wilson, all made their mark,
To follow those military customs of old,
Sort of ‘welcoming’ all the young lads to the fold,
Affectionate, bawdy, some downright obscene,
(Though you had to know what they exactly would mean!)

Some names took a while before they would append,
Like ‘Harpic’ to somebody half round the bend,
Or ‘Ticker’ to someone who was always whinging,
While ‘Gannet’ was one who was constantly binging
On anything that they could possibly eat,
It mattered not if it was veggie or meat!

But it should be remembered that these names were earned,
For when joining a privileged club, rules are learned,
To constantly keep British Military mystique,
In the manner and customs – the way that they speak,
Though it sometimes is crude, maybe unprepossessing,
It well serves its purpose, keeping Civilians guessing!