23 August 2011 § 13 Comments
The words I seek
Don’t live in my town
But out here,
Shining, sea-wet, in the sand
Flying in skeins
Resting on rocks
Or perched in trees
Half-seen out at sea
Or round sudden bends in the narrow cliff-path.
With the poacher’s patience
And fisherman’s finesse
I can catch them
Hold them for a moment
Before they wriggle free
Leaving only their warmth behind.
And a single juicy one in the bag
Is all it takes to feed me.
21 August 2011 § 9 Comments
Il fait du brouillard
The blinded lighthouse
Calls out in the gloom
Its foghorn telling the misty minutes
Like a doleful speaking clock.
There’s a Hebridean sting of salt
In the sea-smoke wrapped around the headland
Like a scarf; and the summer beaches
Are veiled and secret, empty, Arctic white.
The gulls and waders could tell me
Where I am; beneath the sky-cloak
They chatter heedless, brash and jeering,
Safe in their local knowledge.
Not that I’m asking. A dog, the dunes
And the distant booming of the surf
On the reefs far out are all the signs I need:
I am here. Now. And all is well.
28 July 2011 § 9 Comments
There is a beach –
Long, quiet, silver in the sun –
Where, for a while,
I can be
At summer’s end
To spend three seasons
Where I left
Holidays are upon us, so gonecycling will be – well, gone cycling – very shortly. Thank you all so much for your comments, support and encouragement. Looking forward to catching up with you soon.
26 July 2011 § 4 Comments
I tried so hard to quit:
Did my utmost to hang ‘em up,
Laboured long to let it go,
And strived to make it
I bent my will
To turn a corner
And after ceaseless struggle
Thought I’d found
A different path
And determined to walk it
Without a glance behind.
But everything about
The bike and all the life
That went with it
Just sounded wrong
When put into the perfect tense.
I’ve slipped back into my old ways;
To the hard and fast rules
Of the road.
And I have to say:
Never felt so good.
25 July 2011 § 8 Comments
This sunny Sunday lane
Is our own private
Complete with mimicked Phil-and-Paul
To lend us greater speed:
In the Best Young Rider competition
Makes the move
On the inside –
The gap’s opening up –
And the champion
Must respond to this:
He’s digging deep
Let’s not forget
He’s the oldest man
In the race,
So you’ve got to ask;
Has he got the legs
To counter the attack
And close it down
Or are we about to see
A new era ushered in?”
If I chose
I could go
Straight over the top of her;
But, smiling, I permit
Her cheeky breakaway to succeed
And sit on her wheel;
Training for the big attacks
And moves I cannot answer
In the stages still to come,
Knowing that one day I’ll have to watch her
Head up the road alone.
Written after yesterday’s ride with my 10-year-old daughter, who seems to have inherited my competitive streak on the bike…my fault for encouraging her to watch Le Tour, I guess. For those who haven’t been glued to ITV4 or SKY for the past three weeks, ‘Phil-and-Paul’ are the dynamic commentary duo of Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen, who have been the ‘voices’ of cycling to British fans for over 30 years.
22 July 2011 § 13 Comments
The weary gardener sets aside the spade
Now heavy as the August day is long
And seeks a quiet corner in the shade
To breathe the flowers’ fragrance, hear the song
Of busy birds among the shrubs and trees.
The wren trills in the hedge; the thrush replies
With liquid notes, and carried on the breeze
The shriek of black swifts harvesting the skies.
Then all at once a midnight silence falls
Upon the garden. Nature holds its breath.
No pigeon pipes, no finch or blackbird calls,
And summer shivers at the chill of death
As in the whispering ash beyond the gate
The sparrowhawk alights to watch and wait.
14 July 2011 § 8 Comments
It’s better than it was before.
But it must be exactly right.
Please can we try it just once more?
That’s just what I was hoping for,
You strings; you kept your bowing tight.
Far better than it was before.
Flutes: sorry to be such a bore:
Those quavers must be quick and light.
Please can we try it just once more?
Remember, trumpets: really soar
In bar sixteen – be bold and bright.
Still, better than it was before.
You’ll notice if you check the score
A rallentando – very slight.
Please can we try it just once more?
You’ve worked so long and hard, I’m sure
You’ll sound amazing on the night –
Much better than you did before.
Now: can we try it just once more?
A small tribute to our wonderful Community Orchestra conductor; a gracious lady with infinite patience and nerves of steel who gives her professional experience freely to amateurs possessed of far more enthusiasm than skill. She works us hard, sets high standards and encourages us to play music, not simply the right notes in the right order. For two hours a week, there’s no room in my brain for anything except music. And for that, perhaps above all else, I’m incredibly grateful to her.
11 July 2011 § 10 Comments
Don’t know him –
Never met him. Probably never will.
Just another skinny guy
In shiny shorts and sponsor’s jersey
Getting paid for doing something
The rest of us do for love.
But in a breathless
The car swerves
And Johnny’s spinning off the road
Somersaulting into a barbed-wire fence
At forty miles an hour
While a billion stomachs
Take an express elevator down a hundred floors
And all France is swept
By a mistral of gasps and blasphemy.
I’m right there with him,
A brother in the hit-from-behind nightmare
Those of us who ride the road
Must smother daily;
Each of the three-dozen stitches
In his gouged and shredded skin
A tally-mark for a million times
It didn’t happen;
And a knot tied to remind us
That it can.
A truly horrendous – and unforgiveable – crash on yesterday’s stage of Le Tour, from which the Spanish rider Juan Antonio Flecha and Dutchman Johnny Hoogerland were lucky to escape with their lives:
I won’t post links to the images of Hoogerland caught up in the barbed-wire fence that have appeared on the web this morning; suffice to say they’re not suitable for those of a nervous disposition. It remains to be seen whether he’ll start on Tuesday (today is the Tour’s first rest day, thank goodness) but if he does, it’ll prove yet again just how tough these riders are; and, on a more troubling level, just how all-important Le Tour has become, and the pain and risks riders are now prepared to accept to stay in it.
7 July 2011 § 7 Comments
The long farewell
She never leaves this room
But long months
She has not been here.
The girls with their practised smiles,
Brisk words and time-is-money hands
Come and go; each routine visit
The first time they’ve ever met.
And after sixty years
He’s a stranger, too;
Not to be frightening,
But no longer
The man who wrote her
Two hundred letters from the war,
Gave her three babies
And the happy home her giddy girlhood
Dreams were made of;
Filled and healed her heart
A thousand times for every time
He broke it,
And in their souls’ communion
Washed away the evils
Of the world.
Now she is reborn
Entering anew a world she has never seen
Does not understand
And will not know tomorrow.
A slow, sad unremembering
Until she finally forgets even
5 July 2011 § 11 Comments
If I were a pro
Whose name and logo
Would I be prepared
In exchange for a berth
In the greatest annual
Sporting show on Earth?
A big foreign bank’s?
Thanks, but no thanks.
A car-hire firm’s?
Not on their terms.
Some Big Pharma name?
Spare me the shame.
Liquid gas? Coated steel?
Come on now. Get real.
GPS, smartphone makers?
Sorry. No takers.
Owned by voicemail hackers?
Not my ideal backers.
The national flag?
Not really my bag.
(And, while highly evocative,
The Cross of St George
Might be seen as provocative
Should Le Tour
Ever take in Agincourt).
But since my fate is
I’m free to remain