January 30, 2021

January 30, Humpty Dumpty and The Siege of Lynn













The nursery rhyme "Humpty Dumpty" is said to be a concise folk account of the English Civil War. In some interpretations Humpty Dumpty is that fallen would-be Absolute Monarch (Charles I) himself, whom all his cavalry and men couldn't restore. In others it is a piece of fallen royalist artillery on the walls of Colchester during the siege of 1648. We wonder if the rhyme immortalised the moment when the Humpy Dumpty of Absolute Monarchy was forever broken in these islands as not even the Restoration of 1660 could put Humpty together again or prevent him developing back into the Parliamentary model.

January 30 1649 was the day Englishmen took the rather un-English step of chopping off a Head of State ("Chop off his head with the crown upon it," as Cromwell put it) and January 30 1661 was the day the only English republic was symbolically beheaded in the posthumous exhumation and beheading of Cromwell's corpse, until then honourably buried in Henry VII's tomb.  (Cromwell's head now resides secretly in Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, the college he himself attended but had to leave on his father's death.) So it seems a fitting day to release our gothic musical comedy about a decisive early action in the Civil War, the Siege of Lynn of 1643.

It makes a nice tourist-story to suggest Lynn was a valiant Royalist town holding back the tide but in fact the backwoods Cavaliers who stormed and held it for a month had as much legitimacy as the thugs who stormed the Capitol in the last days of Trump. The royalist coup, against the two legitimately elected Parliamentarian MPs and a Parliamentary mayor, was led by a Sir Hamon Le Strange of Hunstanton Hall (a large painting of him still has pride of place in the elegant Town Hall) anxious for his large but precarious personal fortune if the Parliamentarians won the war and started to address corruption. He was right to be anxious. His, and his son Roger's, passionate Royalism was indistinguishable from their financial self-interest and the deaths, destruction and terror their month-long coup brought down upon the strategically vital port were ultimately in that very cavalier and not very noble cause.

It's also important to remember that the King was not the constitutional monarchy of today, which most of the Parliamentarians would have fought for themselves, but a deluded tyrant. It would be a much better heritage story to explain that in 1643 a key victory for the future progression of Britain was fought and won across the great Ouse between West Lynn and Lynn. Parliament would never have won the War without its naval supremacy and the port of Lynn, along with its supply route into London and ten counties, was essential to retaining this at the start. Once Lynn was re-secured, the War could be fought on other frontiers. But if Lynn had remained in the hands of unelected cavaliers long enough for the royalist Duke of Newcastle to relieve the town, the whole course of the war might have been different.

Credits:

A Phezant's Tail-John Charlton composition.
(Words and bridge: The Phezant's Tail
Melody on the verses and chorus: John Charlton)
Produced by The Phezant's Tail

We are indebted to John Charlton for his work on this track, the first in a two way collaboration between us. His melody helped us marry those mutual exclusives: poetry sung and poetry acted (a long ambition of ours). He also sang with us and played acoustic and bass on the chorus and verse. And a very good time was had by all.

Pic of Lynn from West Lynn by Bhas Allan, taken in January 2019.  Cromwell's Parliamentary artillery bombarded Lynn from this side while its navy blockaded from the Wash. The stained glass (west) window 'shot all to hell' was in the double towered church pictured (St Margaret's, Lynn Minster) and happened on September 3, a spookily recurring date in Cromwell's career. (The date of his three decisive victories in Ireland, Scotland and England 1649-1651 and the day he died in 1658.)

December 30, 2020

The Covid Case (Who Killed Cock Robin?)


For digital downloads, three free listens, full notes and pics.



For unlimited free listening go to 




A Norfolk Noir alt rock/ storytelling concept album. The tiny Norfolk village of Little England in the Styx, peopled by English figures from Cluedo board, folklore and fiction, attempts to solve the global 2020 pandemic. …. The Cock Hall Murder Scene is at first completely locked down then hysterically re-opened to pandemic-fevered Breck’s Isle holiday homers chasing the Norfolk Paradise up the traditionally gridlocked Boudicca Trail. These self-escape pilgrims are drawn instead by the spirit of the age; their own demons - and a wish to escape the queue - down the B666 to Dis. 

The global investigation is led by local UEA-educated detective Ken Hill; ‘aided’/replaced by Agatha Christ-Eyed intertextual detective duo (or copyright fraud depending on how postmodern we are) Poirot & Marple; along with some unspecified ‘contributions’ from American Chlorinated Intelligence Agent Frank and Mark Adams (working out of Room 101A in Cock Hall.) Dead Author’s brilliant Vision of the Murder vies with DI Ken’s Critical Theory, read against the grain of the text, the impasse allowing Colonel Mustard to counterplot a trumped up Fake News Story against the Murder genre itself, replacing it with an advert for his business. 

The baffled Privatised Eyes work through a recalcitrant list of suspects; a postmodern gossip of competing narratives and motives and several family-sized Pandora tissue-boxes of lies. As the Last Trump of their combined effort subsides, we hear the late Squire’s unhinged prophesy of another global virus to come – love - which will spread from heart to heart; embrace the whole world and redeem humanity. 

The setting 

Cock Hall 
The locally abbreviated name for ‘Peacock Hall.’ Its long history, “Saxon foundation, Civil War change of hands” Walpole-Townshend Enlightenment graces (paid for by African slaves); Room 101A “full of Death Kites from China” (now infiltrated by the CIA); Krishna’s Eyes in its Peacock Tail (stolen like Wilkie Collins’ Moonstone, from fabulous India) - not to mention its extensive grounds embracing a Bronze Age to First World War excavation site; a Boudicca Trail, a ‘Hereward’ Fen and a 14C “Canon Bullfinch Rook-Lark” Church of Little England - embody the whole of English history and pre-history. Cock Hall is England as a haunted house with a closet full of skeletons; a Brown Lady in the attic and a Blak in the cellar. The mad wife roams freely in the Peacock grounds. 

Little England in the Styx











 















The Victims 

Squire Robin Peacock of Cock Hall, the chief landowner of Little England In The Styx and a recent convert to Green farming and politics. An amateur author positioned as a Robin Hood of Loxley Hall on the side of the common man, he has lately become a patron of visionaries and authors on his Estate, and of a world-famous archaeological dig on his land. His great economic and political rival in village affairs is Colonel Mustard. 

Dr Blak, a Blakean-visionary author and outsider, found dead on the cellar steps before the story begins, nevertheless accused of his own murder (and the Squire’s) by Mrs Wight on the basis of his colour. Appears with the Brown Lady as a headless ghost. 

The murder weapon Corona (‘crown’, ‘halo’; ‘the dome of body parts like those of the head or penis’; ‘the luminous envelope of concentric white light around the sun’) virus. A serial global murder weapon with the terrified world in its clutches throughout the story. 

The Interro-Gated Community (Suspects)

Eve Lady Peacock, wife of the Squire. A High Tory Royalist and a Clytemnestra of expensive and indulgent appetites. Her definition of Love as “a public stage for private parts” was removed from the Dis on Sea Argus by a threat of legal action but remains hidden among Author’s spiral notepads on his desk in his cottage shrine ‘Jerusalem.’Her name connects her to Juno and Argus, whose all-seeing prying Eye was banished to the Peacock’s tail. Opposes the Squire’s vision for Cock Hall; his patronising of dreamers; and his plan to marry their daughter to a Green but as she already ‘wears the jodhpurs’ in their relationship may not feel the need to kill him. Linked to Mrs Wight by ‘snow’. Seems to favour- 

Colonel Norman ‘D (Lightful D Leerious D) Mustard, a Trumpian entrepreneur; the Huntin’ Shootin’ and Hangin’ Tory millionaire chairman of Mustard’s Holiday Hearths who has privatised Bombadil Common and has aggressive designs on the Cock Hall Estate including (the Squire believes) on Lady Peacock. He represents Little England’s Tourist as opposed to Farming interest. Provides Holiday Homes, Holiday Hunts and ‘Authentic Hysterical Torcs’ along the ‘Boudicca Trail.’

Mrs Self-Island Wight, Housekeeper of Cock Hall, a refugee from a Home Counties ‘invaded by outsiders’ in love with Colonel Mustard and hostile to the Squire’s growing old-liberalism. Huntin’, Shootin’ and Hangin’ without the fortune to finance it. Self -appointed representative of the village’s “semi-detached bourgeois realist plot in-my-beginning is-my-Middle-England-ever-after revenge narrative planetary-extinction-with-farm-views cul de sac.” Believes There is No Society except private life and no business except her nose up everyone else’s. Flies a Union flag whenever Her Majesty is in residence at nearby Sandringham. Devoted to her ‘Snow White’ Queen Lady Peacock. Identifies with – and (her doctor notes) increasingly as - her. 

Jack Green, an ethical farmer and Radical, who ‘would kill to Green the Cock Hall Estate’; fiancĂ© (lately estranged) of Miss Scarlet. A child of nature and very much in tune with the woods, seasons and the albums Jethro Tull was making in the late 70s. Miss Scarlet daughter of the Squire and Lady Peacock and heir to the Estate. Shares Jack Green’s Radical passions though recently seduced by Plumski’s more violent revolutions. Runs a ‘Radical’ Bistro in Burnham Up Market. 

Professor Plumski, an Old Stalinist, running armed underground campaigns from the Gun Room of Cock Hall under the Squire’s ‘eccentric’ patronage but hurt by the Squire’s recent preference for the utopian ‘New Jerusalem’ of Dr Blak. 

Dick Sparrow, a retired Superhead, now retraining the House Guides for Colonel Mustard’s Cock Hall Murder Weekend. Has invested his nest egg (derived from getting other people to do his job for him) in an English Language School/Chinese Money Laundering Business in Hubei Province and divides his time between the two. 

A Statement from the Sparrow Family. “We live in the grotto in Dead Author’s garden and like most sparrows never do anyone any harm, least of all robin. On the contrary, we live in terror of Ebony, Author’s cat. Our cheerful Christmas single “Sparrows in the grotto” was even left off the Covid album because of our alleged association with Dick Sparrow, a puffed up little show-off who disowned us all long ago. He turfed several of his siblings out of the nest to feather his own ambitions. If he dunit, we wouldn’t be surprised.” 

‘Dr Blak’ Author’s avatar in his Murder Story. (Blak is Author’s foreignized-English pen name, a self-identification with outsiders, the oppressed, the unrepresented - art giving a voice to those who don’t have one in society, as with the many female protagonists in Greek Tragedy - and the original murder victim in Cluedo.) When accused of the Squire’s Murder, maintains that he “wasn’t there”, he was “on the cellar steps, the victim of a previous crime.” His name and cottage-name also connect him with William Blake, Radical visionary and author of ‘Jerusalem, (from Blake’s ‘Milton’) the revolutionary New England fought for by the Parliamentary side in the English Civil War.

The Detectives 

DI Ken Hill, a rooted local (fast-tracked after a Critical Theory degree at UEA) and very protective of his area. His still waters run deep and very much faster than his surface appears. On another level he is the spirit of place; in this case, of the story’s haunted Norfolk setting (‘Icenia’) and a personification of Ken Hill, whose wooded hill and Wash shoreline was associated with Bronze and Iron Age religious practices. Also linked to ‘Kenning Hall’, lost palace of dead Saxon Kings; absent Norfolk Dukes, and divining knowledge. Has hidden depths, of buried Celtic gold. 

DS Len Wade Ken’s faithful Broadland Sergeant, worried about their lack of progress in solving the Coronavirus Murder. His name means ‘slow moving stream’ and links with Great Witchingham, site of the last duel in Norfolk in 1698, its squire slain by the squire of Blickling Hall. 

DS Lynn Ken’s Lynn-based reinforcement, a veteran of mean streets and mean drug crime and charmed by her holiday homicide among the North Norfolk ponces. Wants to be Miss Scarlet and thinks everyone else does too.

Poirot from Belgium ie an emblem of Britain in Europe, an embattled ally whose neutrality Britain guarded by treaty and action since 1839; and more recently, via Brussels, of the EU. Poirot is an English institution, the genius Holmes to the wounded Watson soldier-hero friend/ami Captain Hastings. And yet utterly foreign, a continental bachelor-dandy cartoon of cuisine, couture and cosmopolitanism. Like Marple, makes Hastings (and many ‘macho’ English detectives) look much more of an idiot than Holmes ever did Watson which makes its own point about continental theory over English pragmatism/ public school twitism/ English patriarchy. Where his beloved friend is a romantic fool where women are concerned, has instead a genuine empathy for the female. His razor-sharp intelligence (egg shaped head) and justified cynicism is warmed (again like Marple) by a protectiveness towards young love and an ability to judiciously forgive. 

Jane Marple (‘Jane Austen’?) An Anglican, One Nation, Tory apotheosis of Old Village England. Viz, a Great Power engaged in World Wars with wounded young Captains and got-rich-quick colonials returning to loved home shores only to miss the wide open spaces, enterprise and derring do of Empire. In short a Great not a Little Briton. An Old Maid sympathetic to Young Lovers. Broadened by travel but sees the World in her Village and her Village in the World. Identifies universals like Evil or Lucifer as her foe. Too realistic about fallen humanity to be a Liberal but too good-hearted (and genuinely Christian) to be a Neoliberal. 

Chlorinated Intelligence Agent Frank and Mark Adams, “Government contracted on a private number.” A private double agent working out of a secret room in Cock Hall (Room 101A) on a contract for Colonel Mustard but also probably for American interests in Cock Hall. Attempt to solve the Covid case in classic “Big Sleep’ tough-talking Philip (or possibly Christopher) Marlow deflated by a 2020 Trumpian tendency to foul hot air. Private-eyesed by an equation of any public health enterprise against the Covid crisis with Reds under the Hospital Beds. On a theory that might help the common good, Frank declares “I can’t share it, man. It’s Mark’s.” 

PC Plot PC Plod’s political correction. 

WPC Plot For those who assume PC Plot is a man. She may be but ‘assume’ makes an ass out of you and me. 

Chief Constable (John) Melton brings in Agatha Christ Eyes (Poirot and Marple) from AC/OCD to help/replace the existing team led by Ken Hill, at the behest of: 

Superintendent “Market’ Law of Bourgeois Realist Plod 

NHS Pathologist dies on the front line of the pandemic and vital DNA evidence is lost with him. 

Author Ransome, the anti-social socialist surrealist. Believes there is a Society just not the one he attacks in Little England in the Styx. Self-isolated with his wife long before Covid, though longing to be loved, catches Covid, dies surrounded by all who understood him (none) after which he is furloughed as a ghost-writer by the Clued Ouija Board. The shadow of his former self is ‘Dr Blak’, the visionary outsider. 

Mrs Ransome, his long-suffering wife and semi-detached cottage narrator. The sane wife in the lockdown rather than the mad wife in the attic. When she also perishes in the pandemic, her ‘reliable’ narrative voice is replaced by the visions of Dr Blak, Ken Hill, Marple and Poirot. 

Post-man Pat. A postmodern man arrested in pursuit of his public duty by private vigilantes for trespassing on private property. Public hospitalised by Covid and, when in NHS Care, leads a public protest at the privatised shops selling quack medicines, virus-transmitting ‘PPE’ kits; obesity drinks; heart attack crisps and stroke sweets: and generally acting like he owned the place. 

Butler He didn’t do it (but did he see it?) 

A Welsh mountain family seeking their Iceni roots in Cockley Cley (their holiday home there is called ‘Llanfairpwllgwyn gyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch’.) They fetch up at Cock Hall by mistake. They can cope with the rolling Boudiccan hill and the sheep but are traumatised by the fens. 

Chef ‘Gammon’ Wight Mrs Wight’s nepotism-promoted son. His signature dish – replacing before the Squire is even cold the previously favoured Peacock Au Vin - is Snobside of Brexit and, at Christmas, Castrated Cock. 

The Brown Lady The ghost of Dorothy Walpole Townshend; wife of ‘Turnip’ Townshend; sister of Sir Robert Walpole, and the heart that joined them when that family firm was thriving and ruling 18C Britain and its incipient Empire. Now a heritage asset but will not haunt to order; a browned up Mrs Wight often substitutes. 

hanks to Nancy the Cat for her impassioned, frequently unscripted but brilliantly timed performance as Ebony (check out her trumpet solo on Who Killed Cock Robin? Nice.) 

Dis. Hell in classical literature The music: Just drum and bass. A dark backdrop against which the comedy may shine. 

The heroes: the NHS.

December 19, 2020

Phezant's Tail on BBC Upload

 


Tune in to between 6 and 7 pm tonight for our uplifting 15C "The Only Gift (A Lynn Carol)" soaring across Norfolk into your 21C devices (at a safe social distance!)

Whet your appetite with youtu.be/R1xdN1QynoQ 


And check out "Who Killed Cock Robin, the Covid Case" our new double concept murder mystery album released today. https://phezants-tail.bandcamp.com

November 14, 2020

The Only Gift (A Lynn Carol) by the Phezant's Tail - Christmas single

The Phezant's Tail used to sing carols around the village on Christmas Eve, including this one, and the idea is that you open the door on hearing the Book of Margery Kempe (early 15C) at the start and these carol singers' voices float in on the night air. 
Since its publication as the final ballad in Gareth Calway’s “Doin Different, New Ballads from the East of England” (Poppyland, December 2012) The Only Gift has been set and recorded by no less than five different composers and enjoyed performances all over East Anglia, including a 50 voice rendition in Lynn Minster in 2018. The carol is as much about music and where it comes from as it is a celebration of Lynn mystic Margery Kempe, whose visions were auditory as well as visual and who writes compellingly in her Book about the music she heard in heaven. On this album, The Phezant's Tail sing, play and arrange the carol themselves, adding new musical material to folk musician Andy Wall’s score to confront “A Covid Christmas on the cards.” In the process, the duo reference the message and meaning of Christmas as an enduring hope amid trial, bereavement and despair from 1420 to the present. Coronavirus - corona meaning 'crown' - has certainly contextualised the mortality in the first verse, with its the opening line "A crown of thorns to freeze your breath." But it doesn't get the last word.

lyrics

"This creature had various tokens in her hearing. One was a kind of sound as if it were a pair of bellows blowing in her ear. She – being dismayed at this – was warned in her soul to have no fear, for it was the sound of the Holy Ghost. And then our Lord turned it into the voice of a dove, and afterwards he turned it into the voice of a little bird which is called a redbreast, that often sang very merrily in her right ear." (From the 'Book of Margery Kempe', early 15C) 

‘A crown of thorns to freeze your breath 
The berried holly brings; 
Through snowing sunlight chaste as death 
The silent barn-owl wings 

But now the ghostly holy dove 
That bellows in your ear 
Is tuned to robin-song by love 
And cheerfully made clear.’ 

The only gift left on the shelf 
That nothing else can rise above 
Includes all treasure, lasts forever, 
And grows when shared with others: love. 

Now starry angels on the tree 
Grow larger in the dusk 
To heaven-blue and Eden-green 
And gold and reindeer-musk. 

And what was heard by Margery, 
The Visionary of Lynn, 
Rings out on tills for checkout girls 
Who hear that robin sing. 

The only gift left on the shelf, 
That nothing else can rise above, 
Includes all treasures, lasts forever, 
And grows when shared with others: love. 

A sacred Ouse of honeyed sound 
Above her dreaming bed, 
She wakes as one in paradise 
And leaps as from the dead. 

A thrilling robin in her ear, 
A rose that’s heaven scent, 
A man divine to earthly eye, 
All music from Him lent. 

The only gift left on the shelf, 
That nothing else can rise above, 
Includes all treasures, lasts forever, 
And grows when shared with others: love. 

God coughs; the Cosmos catches cold; it's Marge upon our Holy Bread. 
A Covid Christmas on the cards to feed our emptiness. 

Love!

credits

released November 13, 2020 
Main ballad lyric © Gareth Calway first published in 'Doin Different' (Poppyland, 2015)  
garethcalway.blogspot.co.uk/p/doin-different.html 
credits 
Additional words © Gareth Calway 2020. And from the Book of Margery Kempe, early 15C. 
Main ballad melody composed by Andy Wall with harmonies written by Vanessa Wood-Davies. 
Arranged, performed and with additional music composed by the Phezant's Tail (Gareth and Melanie Calway). 
Twinned with  phezants-tail.bandcamp.com/track/the-mortification-of-mr-margery-2

license

all rights reserved

March 04, 2020

BBC Upload, BBC Radio Norfolk Interview and Norfolk on Film (tumblr)

Great to see our bicentenary commemoration of the 1819 Thunderstorm and the tragic story of Susan Nobes now has a permanent home here on BBC Norfolk.

As featured on https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0832p98 (exactly one hour in) 

For those who have come to this blog from those links, here is some extra information from last summer. I particularly recommend this 12 minute extravaganza a one off dramatic representation of the 1819 storm and its accounts  

BICENTENARY EVENTS COMMEMORATING THE 1819 THUNDERSTORM

A small group of historians and creative artists will on Friday July 5 2019 mark the bicentenary of the Thunderstorm That Took Place In Sedgeford in the County of Norfolk on Fifth July 1819” a storm so violent it was recorded in the Register of World News blasting a yardwide hole in the Church tower and taking the life of Susan Nobes, a 14 year old village girl. There are 2 events planned.
  1. At the Ladywell, a memorial for Susan hosted by village historian Tim Snelling. Sedgeford residents poet Gareth Calway and harpist Vanessa Wood-Davies will share their "Ballad of Susan Nobes" (https://soundcloud.com/gaz29-1/the-ballad-of-susan-nobes-performed-loveheartsredwine) along with Gareth's reading of Janet Hammond's distinctive verses about the tragedy and the Ladywell boulder. Finally, Andy Wall and Gareth will sing and play their new especially composed "Elegy for Susan Nobes."  All of this event will be filmed and be made publicly available online.
  2. At the Boneyard Field, in starting at 7.30 pm, in a showcase evening Gareth Calway, Melanie Calway, Vanessa Wood-Davies and Andy Wall and will perform an evening of musical histories. The centre piece of this evening event will be  a one off dramatic representation of the 1819 storm and its accounts at 9 pm (online films of much of this are also available) 
During the dreadful thunderstorm on the Evening of July 5th the electric fluid struck the top of Sedgeford Church Steeple on the West Side, and precipitated to the ground several stones of considerable magnitude making a breach in the wall of about a yard square. The lightning also passed through the Church entering in at a window near the porch on the South side; and after crossing in a North East direction, it made its escape at two places in an upper window near the Chancel on the North side". (as reported in the Times, the Ipswich Journal and the Register of World News 1819-20)
"Come the evening, folk were going about their daily tasks, working in the fields while birds sweetly sang. The teacher sat in the porch waiting for the schoolmaster to appear before Bible reading class could begin, meanwhile the attending children happily played, running up and down the churchyard, little knowing the impending doom that was to befall them. The schoolmaster duly arrived, readings began and when done was followed with a final hymn, 'Oh let me, heavenly Lord extend, My view to life's approaching end... . "(Religious tract 1819, probably by the then Curate of Sedgeford.) 

February 29, 2020

The Book of Margery Kempe of Lynn

The Book of Margery Kempe is believed to be the first autobiography in the English language. In this new Poppyland pamphlet by Gareth Calway the author examines the history of the book itself and the manuscript that emerged in 1934. He explores its content and explains why it was such a pioneering work, the places that are still associated with Kempe and its influence on modern day writers, historians and dramatists. A selection from the full Bhas Allan photoshoot (see below) supporting the text is also included in the pamphlet.

The anchorhold in All Saint's, South Lynn, Lynn's oldest church.




Lynn Minster, whose foundation deed as St Margaret's refers to the building in honour of St Mary Magdalen, St Margaret and all holy virgins. Perhaps, as a tribute to its pioneering parishioner, Margery, independent wives should be added to that roll!




Fourteenth century brasses from St Margaret's, showing the Mayor and his wives. Margery's father was Mayor and MP a generation later.



St Margaret's from the south.



St Margaret's tower - with a sense of Margery's visionary eye.



The Whitefriars Gate, the only survival of a building in which the illiterate Margery is believed to have dictated her Book to a scribe. With a plaque containing at least two howlers addressed in the pamphlet.




Lynn mediaeval waterfront, from West Lynn. Margery's merchant father and burgess husband worked here and Margery sailed from a point somewhere in the middle of this view, which would have been marked then by a large pilgrims' cross. However, she sailed on her most famous pilgrimage to the Holy Land from Great Yarmouth (whose plaque - also reproduced in the pamphlet - accurately describes Margery as the author of her own Book.)




Richard Castre, Vicar of Sedgeford, and later of St Stephens in Norwich, was a friend and supporter of Margery.  She certainly needed support against some very powerful opponents, including the Archbishop of York (and the Mayor of Leicester) who charged her with heresy.


Post script. In response to the third comment below, here is the passage in which Margery describes her meeting with Julian in her cell in Norwich. (chapter 18, Book 1)







November 30, 2019

Ruby Wedding; revisiting the scene of the crime


Not ours, my love, the teen-dream green-screen songs
And films n’ soaps n’ mills n' boons n’ ads
Of 'hunters' living with their mums and dads,
The twenty-something dramas, dinging-dongs,
The sizzling catalogues of straps and thongs,
The Darcys, Juliets and golden lads
In modern strip from tales in which the cads
Are sixty-odd like us and cause all wrongs.

Our story didn't end like these above
In frozen celebrations, wedding dress;
We raised a daughter into Phase and Next,
We're grownups grown together, more or less,
Our romance is a realistic text:
A dangerous, married, grail-quest of true love.






Shortly before our 40th wedding anniversary I finally worked out my wedding music, that requiem for the single man. It's embodied in the fourth movement of my 'symphony No 1 in Coal Minor . Why it has taken so long (and so many books - two novels, several volumes of poems, countless albums and a couple of decades of plays and shows) to lay in art the ghost of that 1970s decade or so I was looking for m' lady wife is one of life's mysteries.  If I'd died in the classroom at 50 that life would have been my definitive - in truth only - material. Now it feels like someone else's. (I may even be able to finish my UEA degree now, the one I was awarded in 1979). Anyway, those 'golden years' youth are all there at last and all the better for featuring the lady herself on some rather lovely harmony vocals.




Canon Munt married us on Dec 1 1979, bless him.  We got exactly the same brilliant wintry weather for our revisit to the scene of the crime 40 years later.










Champagne and that glorious wedding sunshine 40 years after in Oliver Cromwell House. 


Above Rubies

(A metaphysical postulation on the occasion of our 40th wedding anniversary)

The price of wisdom is above rubies:
Our love’s transparent red corundum,
Our heart’s-blood oxidised aluminium,
Our mind-reacts-on-mind A2O3s,
Our rock whose mineral battle agrees,
Of very limited distribution
(Volcanic Burma) and weak dispersion,
More cut and polished brilliance than blaze.

A Proverb to God-worsted, broke, sick, Job
Though unknown to his ancient Hebrew scribe,
A mistranslated jewel in wisdom’s praise
And red by virtue of one atom change in five
Thousand (to chromium) yet by love’s deep ways,
Our granite wedding beds his heart-cut globe.



Note: the first line is from AV Job 28:18 and Pro 8:11, the mistranslation ‘rubies’ re-translated in RSV as ‘gems.’ Genuine rubies are only found in bands of crystalline limestone associated with the granitic and gneissic rocks of Upper Burma, northeast of Mandalay, so it is about as unlikely that Job’s Ancient Hebrew scribe would have seen one as that anyone stays (increasingly) married for 40 years.