Saturday, 20 June 2020

In Past Times






In Past Times
This portrait, which depicts me was created  by one Mrs Edna G Simpson in 1969.



And all were gathered, hale and hearty
For the occasion of our sons 10th birthday party
Grand it was to be, for my wife had decreed,
Accordingly, we were tasked to prepare the great ‘feed’
With all haste and fervour, expectations to exceed
Fever pitched yet gleeful, we carried out the deed
Of sweeping and cleaning, painting and preening
Arranging, decorating, garish, un-seeming
All undertaken to sate a boy’s day-dreaming.

Yes, grand it had to be, for my wife had so decreed,
No stone to be unturned for the eldest of her breed!
And all was to be held in the sumptuous Great Hall.
Six decades on, still I see it all.
All the young wolf cubs and school chums, football team too;
Uproarious laughter, such a hullabaloo,
So many games and activities, like chimps in the zoo,
Climbing & hiding, riding and running through
Every room, every corridor, cubby nook and cranny-
The only one not laughing was our children’s nanny!

And so it arrived, that momentous of days,
Preparations completed in all manner of ways.
Last minute details checked and re-checked,
Family and helpers looking rather hen pecked
“Make sure that cake’s properly decorated...”
Shouts my wife, as she fussed and orated
Instructions ticked off, orders primly narrated
Yours truly in the wrong and oft-times berated
“Hands off those mince pies or you’ll go to your shed!”
Eldest son was shining; completely elated.

Three O’ clock sharp and the doors open wide,
Weary mother ushering, glowing with pride;
Tumultuous the boys all crowd inside
And gasp with delight at the treasures they find:
Cakes, sweets and sandwiches of every kind,
Dandelion and burdock, cold fizzy pop,
Boys busy feet scurry ,clippity clop
On highly polished wooden floor boards (that no longer shine)
Seeking out all those delights of the culinary kind.

Brightly coloured parcels all tied up with fancy strings;
Lights, sparklers and crackers and all manner of things,
And Oh, the laughter, how they laughed at their play!
I remember one little chap, had something of a mishap
And was distraught at the sight of his broken favourite toy
But tears of anguish were quickly extinguished
As a parent’s skilful deft fingers restored his joy
Then at last the lights are dulled, all that boyish noise is lulled
With due flourish and fan-fare, not a moment too late,
Hoorah for the arrival of James’s Birthday cake!

Lovingly hand-made in the shape of a train
Of the type the Great Western Railway gained fame.
Up went the boy’s cheers, the noise rose again
And with a hip-hip hooray and the birthday refrain
I stride forward and, without further ado, take
James’s hand and guide him, ten candles to light
Tears well in my eyes, his shine with delight
Then with a huff and a puff and a ‘one-two-three’
The ten lit candles are extinguished with glee
Cake then sliced up, of course there was none remaining for me!

Then at 6PM, the old clock chimed the party’s end
Countless excited but tired little boys home to send.
Clutching party bags in the one hand, coat & cap in the other,
Out into the night into arms of waiting mother,
“Thank you for having him” “Ah he was no bother”
“See you tomorrow James, we had so much fun!”
James’s doe-like eyes elevated to mine and glum
Said”...seems it was over directly it had begun”
“But thanks Mum, Thank you Dad it really was the best of fun”

On then with pyjamas and off to bed
And after another of my stories, he lays down his head,
Off to the land of endless happy dreams
Where hills are great mountains, yet vast oceans mere streams.
At last with the other two similarly despatched
No doubt their own future plans to be hatched
Then mother and father in the lounge are united
Their young son’s birthday wish, fully requited.
The next day of course brought ever more cleaning
Performed, perhaps less enthusiastically, if you follow my meaning.

Sixty summer or more onwards and in the dusk of my days
My memories, now misty support me in some ways
I think of how things were in happier times
Yet ever wistful as the old clock chimes:
Grand and Great-Grandchildren have held me in thrall
Countless weddings, births & christenings, I’ve been to them all
But of all the events I remember most clearly and dearly...was
When all were gathered, hale and hearty
For the occasion of our sons 10th birthday party
And grand it was indeed...for my late wife had so decreed.




Christopher J Green 2011

**  Footnote:

This piece was written entirely from my imagination some Nine years ago and one day, I committed it to paper. It has featured in my Website since 2013. It is written in a  'John Betjeman ' style and would be delivered in a voice of a similar tenor to his own. I resonate with this piece having attended such parties at the Rothwell family, in Halfpenny Lane, Moulsford 50+ years ago. Memories...

Chris Green.



Saturday, 16 May 2020

Utter Futility





It Begins...



A sudden staccato crack of gunfire sears the evening skies
Then a cacophonic chorus of artillery and another baby dies
Warplanes screech across the heavens, bombing all around,
Helicopter gun ships wheel and clatter, strafing the innocents on the ground. For a civil war has erupted without a word of warning, death, fear and avarice herald this day’s dawning.
Soldiers (who once were neighbours) advance firing small arms from their hips.
Slaughters’ hideous laughter punctuated only when changing ammunition clips.
Homes, schools, and churches destroyed, crops in the fields burnt, livestock perish.
Friends, family and loved ones lost, there’s little left to cherish,
Save for the precious few survivors that fortune chose to save
Plucked by providence’s mercy, saved from a communal grave.
Towns and cities set ablaze and laid to total waste,
Scattered belongings strewn around, a testament to the haste
Of the people running wildly, abject fear upon their face
To search in vain for shelter, to find a safer place.
They look on helplessly as their villages are swept aside
Tiny homes, whole communities are crushed as this satanic ride,
The invaders war machine rumbles on scorching all within its path
And no amount of prayers and tears shall assuage its wrath.
But who hears the mournful cries of this beleaguered nation?
Condemned by greed and merciless hatred and war’s savage damnation?
Who’ll halt the invader in his tracks and this entire carnage end?
Who’ll silence NOW the winds of war and love and solace send? 

The Kindly Soldier…

One town’s sole survivor, a little girl under nine
Shuffles around purposelessly, covered in battles grime,
Her thin plain clothes are torn, raven tousled hair unkempt
Thirsty, cold, and hungry but no anger does she vent.
She looks up imploringly through dark and frightened eyes
Utterly lost and hopeless, but not a word she cries
Then, clutching her last possession, a mutilated rag doll
She reaches out her hand in hope and I take it willingly in mine. 

She tightly held my kindly hand and walked slowly by my side
We watched as waves of refugees trudged by, an ever-swelling tide
Though she scarcely took her eyes from mine, she wouldn’t speak a word,
Her experiences so private she’ll not let them be heard.
And though slowly life begins again (as does the singing of the birds)
Lonely flowers reach up for sunlight and in a little while
The little girl without a name permits a fleeting smile.
(But as vivid as those battered flowers she remembers... that vile staccato crack of gunfire searing the evening skies
And the chorus of Satan’s armoury as another baby dies)

Ceasefire…

Envoys come and envoys go, a fragile truce achieved
Now the fight is on for solace, comforting those bereaved
Comforting those whose lives are wrecked, those who know just grief
For those who have lost everything, kind words bring no relief
Aid workers toil for hour upon hour
Through the burnt-out towns and villages, they scour…
Seeking out the injured, the afraid and dour
And bring them to Field Hospitals, a tenuous safe bower.

Now civilian helicopters whirl around
Placing passengers on the ground
Television crews, reporters all the worlds’ press crowd
The remaining vestiges of the victims, short time ago so proud.
Microphones are thrust towards poor bandaged faces
The journalists all demand their stories (no time here for airs and graces)
All the sad tales of loved ones lost, the details of carnage harsh and gory
Revelling in the despondency the press in all their glory
Beam their broadcasts around the world
To a pious public, safe and sound, in front of television curled
As the news of untold horror is dramatically unfurled. 

But for the time being the ceasefire holds firm
Refugees leave their encampments and prepare to return
To their burnt-out piles of rubble that they once called home
Back to ancient homelands they reluctantly roam
Just in time for those winter winds that whistle and moan….

*********************************************************

Very soon the pressmen pack up to leave
Their stories no longer topical (or so they believe)
Hurriedly erected satellite dishes all now disappear
The worlds’ fickle audience no longer lend their ear
For their attention has been so quickly diverted to another tragedy, all too soon forgotten this poor nation’s malady...
Dangerously too is forgotten the evil war lords pledged ambition,
To inflict once more violence, death, and attrition
And soon they make ready and of their own volition
Vampire-like they’ll strike again at a people still stricken
With anguish cold fear, empty hearts, doleful derision.
And so, the conflict continues though its intensity wanes and waxes
The futility of it all never lessens, never relaxes.
And while “allies” continue to supply either side with numerable tools of hate,
No lasting peace shall ever ensue nor shall suffering abate.


 The Kindly Soldier is redeployed…


And so, finally I settle her down with a foster family new
Reluctant at first to leave me but as her confidence grew
She slips her hand away from mine, fresh new adventures to pursue… 

I never saw that child again, I never said goodbye
I never kissed that tender cheek; she never saw me cry… 

I turned and walked away not daring to look back
Wondering if the ever the enemy would return once more to attack….

And then suddenly, a familiar staccato crack of gunfire sears across the sky...
And I think back in abject horror of the child I may have left to die… 


Footnote:

The idea of this piece of work was to create a fictitious civil war through an imaginary microscope and to observe the effects upon a community.

The shorter verses allude to switching to a greater degree of magnification to observe one fragile innocent child and how her private world had been so cruelly destroyed and how indeed in the end her own life may have been lost. I left her fate to the imagination.

I did not intend to focus on any particular theatre of armed operation or specific location however it does have resonance with the Balkans conflict and many people have likened the work to that conflict.

It could of course have been anywhere. Civil wars transcend race, fame and fortune and nationality barriers.

 
Christopher J Green
February 1992

Thursday, 26 March 2020

A Prayer for all Humanity








Lord, as the world's roar is reduced to a whisper
And the pace of living slows from a frenzy to a slowed rhythmic waltz
When each breath of clean spring air and crystal blue sky is an elixir to our tumbling hearts

We pray for humanity

As each day unfolds lord, and we see the emergence of strength and courage in the human spirit, people stepping up in droves to be counted on the shores of adversity, with selfless abandon reaching out to those who suffer, we rejoice empathy, we give thanks for our new type of hero, those with the strength of spirit, and as the day slows to evening

We pray for humanity

As we return to our roots, and basic needs and strip away our requirements for any luxury beyond the desire to live and be loved, and as we are felled, the great and the mighty beside those who have struggled, at last level in our challenges, as we are equal in your eyes Lord.
As we cherish our family and miss in their absence the wonderment of their love and taken for granted warmth

We pray for humanity

As we rediscover time and it's actual meaning, as we slow down tasks and reconnect with our abilities long since forgotten
As we take a longer moment to watch the sun set and the moon rise
As our loved ones pass into the next room and they wait at your side in peace and serenity

We pray for humanity

Lord, you have taught us through many centuries of the cycle of life
That adversity brings change for the better
And, in a world torn apart by many wars
We find ourselves brought together in common purpose, all countries, religions creed and colours, where the world had gone mad, it now finally regains its clarity
And today as one world

We give thanks for humanity

--

By

Sarah Lakin (Mrs)