Germinal: March 21st.

Way, way back in the mists of Time, somewhere between the Age of the Dinosaurs and the Early Beatles Years were the late 1950s when, in response to an English homework, I wrote my first line of poetry:

“Spring is the first season of the year”.

60 years later, I’m still at it.

Germinal: March 21st.

There’s a spring in my step, a sparkle in my eye.

Spare me half a minute and I’ll tell you just why.

I’m not the sort of bloke who yearly goes bonkers

for Autumn’s mellow yellows with chestnuts and conkers.

I might warm to the flame that fresh snow engenders

but it soon turns to slush, so I turn to “East Enders”.

 

I can just about cope with heat waves ‘cos they’re rare,

but not livid pink of that sun-scorched flesh bare.

With that, like today, back to March 21st.

If you’re still bearing with me, you’re over the worst,

for the gleam in my eye and the bounce in my gait

are caused by these wonders I’m about to relate:

 

Spring’s herald, the snow drop, first snaps into focus,

is very soon followed by gaudy, brash crocus.

Then tall, jaunty daff and self-conscious narcissus,

each nods its head skywards in frustrated kisses.

The catkins, precocious, lets dangle lambs’ tails

which toss to and fro in the blustering gales,

 

whilst shy pussy willows its pollen provides

to impoverished bees as they search the hedge-sides.

In neighbouring fields, frisky lambs in their pairs

bleat, run up to suckle once Mum’s checked they are hers.

It’s too soon for the round-bellied cows to give birth,

but it won’t be long now from the size of their girth.

 

The hawthorns are budding. There’s a faint haze of green.

Through the brown of the ploughed fields, winter corns not yet seen.

The dawn chorus is strengthened by migrants’ return,

yet deep in our hearts for the swallows we yearn.

One more week, now Spring’s here, we’ll put forward the clocks

and roll out a green carpet for vernal equinox!

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Thank You, Phil

Stu’s a dab hand with rhyming couplets. Here’s his quick fire response to the above tribute:-

Thank You, Phil

Yes, still batting on, but been dropped twice

(Butterfingers paid the price)

And I’ve survived shouts of “Howzat?”,

Though some were plumb and missed the bat.

I could have been out for a duck,

but we all need a little luck.

That luck has to be wearing thin

and now the weather’s closing in.

So what I intend to do is

pin my hopes on Duckworth Lewis.

Stu’ Betts, Casual Angel*: 75 Not Out

I can’t let my mate, Stuart’s 75th. birthday, slip by unannounced. He sprang the news on me yesterday on my lightning visit to the Shire. Here’s the cheesy, wheezy, easy-peasy, teasy best I could come up with at short notice.

*We played for the Angel Casuals CC way back in the 60s and were exceptional – in that we wore bright yellow caps earning us the nickname of The Buttercups.

Stu’ Betts, Casual Angel: 75 Not Out

We rang and sang that song traditional,

sent birthday wishes unconditional,

then  squeezed in one verse additional.

Here ’tis.

We’ve been mates since our adolescence,

near Sherwood pit tips grey excrescence.

Now we’ve reached Major Oak’s senescence.

There ’tis.

But we’re that kind of Nottingham folk

who laughed a lot as we cracked a joke

which happened near every time we spoke,

that is.

So, our Stu’-pot, who’s tall, distinguished,

never, ever, his roots relinquished,

whose fire and wit can’t be extinguished.

It’s his

BIRTHDAY! MANY HAPPY RETURNS, STUART!

Back Track

I could only make the second half of Jackie Spry’s workshop on rhythm and rhyme, exemplified by WH Auden’s “The Night Mail” and John Betjeman’s “Unmitigated England”. She then asked us to try our hand at a train journey memory after reading Edward Thomas’ “Adlestrop”. My thoughts turned to the rare pre-Beeching, family day trips of the early 1950s which somehow paralleled the chucks Dad’s pigeons had on race days.

Back Track

We were so excited, we didn’t sleep

a wink. Would morning never come and creep

through curtains’ dangling veil, so we could leap

from out constricting sheets and rush downstairs,

pulling on a rumpled shirt and odd sock pairs?

Would rain come spoil it all? Or shine? Our prayers

were answered: a timid sun; a patch of blue.

And Mam organised, unfussed, cried,” Use the loo”.

Time’s hurtling by and I can only find one shoe.

At last we’re ready, frothy little imps

and stare from platform’s edge to catch first glimpse

of steam train’s chuff to head for sand and shrimps.

 

From present day perspective, strange to confess

our day trip out to almost-seaside town, Skegness,

held for us the magic of the Orient Express.