Royhull-ium/The Roy Hull Chemical Society (R-HCS)

Yesterday, at the beautifully situated church of St. Saviour in Wildboarclough, we said our goodbyes to one of heterocyclic chemistry’s essential elements: Royhull-ium. He was a month short of 98 or 7 x 14. That these factors constitute the atomic number and atomic weight of Nitrogen would have been relished by Roy. What an enthusiast and what a great ambassador for chemistry and lifelong advocate for that of the heterocyclic persuasion!
Here’s a poem I wrote for Roy on the occasion of his 95th. birthday on 5th. October, 2014. I have (probably) taken liberties with the practicalities and intricate details of heterocyclic chemistry, but asked for the indulgence of Roy and anyone else who recognised or recognises this. Please don’t try these reactions at home!
Roy Hull of Heild End Farm, Wildboarclough,
b. 5th. October, 1919 / d. 6th. September, 2017

The Roy Hull Chemical Society (R-HCS)

When ICI seemed here to stay
from Frank Rose’ to McKillop’s day,
one man there is was never phased
by complex rings which left us dazed,
who rolled down lab coat sleeves with glee
when time came round for chemistry
of N, S, O heterocycles.
(Some routes used Fischers, others Michaels).

Roy Hull defined without a blink
each bond, substituent and link,
completely unambiguously,
spoke heterocyclic chemistry.
Safe behind protective glasses,
he squirted acids, bubbled gases,
problems foresaw and thus avoided.
Best strategy? That’s what Roy did.

So when he wished to synthesise
some arcane molecule, his eyes
lit up. He rubbed his gloves, reflected,
never once became dejected.
An imidazoquinoline?
Now which isomer did you mean?
“From pyridines I’ll make a start”
He was of course versed in the art.

He relished challenges like these
(though for him it was a breeze).
He’d prise apart those naphthalenes,
smash C-C bonds to smithereens,
insert an ‘N’, an ‘S’ or ‘O’.
Voila a cycle, hetero-.
Diels-Alder, Wittig, Hofmann, Prins?
Hey presto! Thenocoumarins.

Roy Hull, heterocyclotron,
it’s time to fire guns 21
to celebrate you’re 95
still on the ball, still have the drive:
in Heild End Farm in Wildboarclough,
the chemist who can’t get enough,
pied piperidinojethrotull,
the incomparable Roy Hull.

© Phil Poyser, Australia, 29th. September, 2014
PS Happy birthday, Roy. I have great memories of 1965 and my summer vacation training in Exploratory Chemistry with Paddy Mulholland and Bryan Haydock, of your visit to Reims and hearing la nomenclature heterocyclique rattled off en français and of course the years we overlapped at Alderley Park. I particularly treasure your final salvo (i.e Section Meeting) delivered eyeball to eyeball with Tom himself.



Dates: Figure This

Today is “el dieciocho”, the National Day of Chile where I lived for a year and a half from January, 1971 to July, 1972. On 11th. September, 1973, the democratically elected President, Salvador Allende, was killed in Pinochet’s military coup, so “9/11” has a doubly ominous significance for many Chileans. Last Monday was the 16th. anniversary of the 9/11 atrocity and I wrote the following poem a day or so before to mark the occasion.

Dates: Figure This

2 –  4 –  6 –  8 – … – … – … here’s a thought to contemplate:

next in this arithmetic series, what’s the date?

For 1 – 3 – 5 – 7 -… – … – … here’s my answer: Nine Eleven


It’s Tuesday, early afternoon, about 2-ish GMT.

We’re in the office, grafting hard or just passing time, maybe.

On Graham’s desk, he has a screen which all day’s illuminated

and brings hot press the latest news, so he’s constantly updated.


And then he calls me over. Something odd has happened in the States

There’s been a plane crash – “Strangest thing!” – the commentator insinuates.

“It’s flown into the north tower of the World Trade Centre building”.

We take this with a pinch of salt. He’s just the lily gilding.


It must be small, a private jet, and we assume the guy’s insane.

We’re casually dismissive until it happens once again..

Now we really pay attention. What the hell is going on?

Then we can’t believe our senses when we see the south tower’s gone.


A real life drama is unfolding, History’s happening as we gaze.

The whole world is in awe and shock. The whole world’s in a daze.

As we watch, the second tower crumbles like sand castles on the beach

and suffocating clouds of debris come rolling from the breach.


Rubber-necking’s over, spectators scatter, fearing for their lives.

Inside last words are shouted into phones by mothers, husbands, wives.

Some 3000 workers perished and three fifty firemen too.

and all the people on 4 planes, passengers, terrorists and crew.


So is this where it all went pear-shaped, where Apocalypse drew near,

where America and Britain opened Pandora’s box of fear?

Bush and Blair together went Desert Storming through Iraq.

It’s been a downward spiral since and the clock can’t be turned back.


Obama’s been and gone since then and with him common sense.

Trump’s in charge, a dreadful thought. There’s no sitting on the fence.

Bin Laden’s dead and Saddam too, Now Kim Jong-un is raving,

provoking with his missile tests. For an earlier time we’re craving.


So fingers crossed and holding breath, at the slightest straw we clutch.

We yearn to live to tell the tale and say, “Thank you very much”.

The clock approaches midnight when all Life on Earth’s extinct

We so stupidly played chicken! Which of us was it first blinked?


As Hurricane Irma wreaks her unprecedented havoc in the Caribbean, it seems petulant to be brassed off with the shortcomings of the English climate, but it’s difficult to suppress a slight moan as the rain beats down and the sky remains 50 shades of grey. So, to cheer myself up, I’ve trawled the archives and come up with a poem that spans the best and the worst of our insular climate. It was written way back in 2012.


The lido beach was a sun trap,

the sunshine guaranteed.

I drifted off, had a cat nap.

To my sad tale, take heed.


Sun loungers are a beach bum’s boon.

Stretch out and take your ease.

Avoid the hours approaching noon

Or wait to do striptease.


The sun beat down. I nodded off,

No sun block on my skin.

Oh, Worldly Wise, be smug and scoff.

I’ll take it on the chin.


I slowly cooked by ultra V.

My skin turned  infra red,

then reddened more, till visibly,

you might have thought I bled.


I glowed. No tan did I achieve,

shade: lobster thermidor,

Red Flag on chest, as well as sleeve.

It really was so sore.


And now we’re back where skies are grey,

so was the sun a dream?

We do not see a single ray.

I need rain-proofing cream.

Dali’s Moustache

The month of August has sped by and the Muse seems to have been sun-seeking elsewhere. I’ve managed a couple of birthday tributes for friend, Maria (70), and for step-daughter, Estelle (41), otherwise the Microsoft Word document pages have remained blank. Is this because, as in April, the Macclesfield Creative Writing Group has also taken a break, or is it more sinisterly due to the “Bump in the Bath” in March (see the  post “Bang to rights: Mayday, Mayday, Mayday”)? Let’s kick start September with a limerick, which, at the end of July when written, was topical.

Dali’s Moustache

Salvador Dali, surreal artist,

that he’s a genius would always insist,

but is he Dada or Daddy

via an affair that he had? He

gives his Life and moustache one more twist.