Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Prince Charles Is Now 60

Prince Charles has been around for a while
Bringing to many people in this country a smile
It’s his 60th birthday today
At which we all say hip hip hurray
He’s going to have an influence on the future of Britain forever
Continually bringing people together
He with the Princes Trust awards came out
Helping change young people’s lives no doubt
Also giving a lot of business and charity support
Showing to many a nice kind thought
He’s going to have an influence on the future of Britain forever
Continually bringing people together
Prince Charles loves time at the Highgrove home
Where he does farming, with others or on his own
He’s interested in Architecture too
As are also quite a few
He’s going to have an influence on the future of Britain forever
Continually bringing people together
From all of Prince Charles we have seen
He’s fully worthy of successing the Queen
But not knowing what the future has to tell
We’re still sure for him everything will go well
He’s going to have an influence on the future of Britain forever
Continually bringing people together
Paul Wilkins

Friday, 19 February 2010

Nobody Inn

McDade Trophy First Place
I’m losing track of the times you’ve been
to study the Perpendicular screen
at quaint little Dunchidoke.
So I followed you down, as I’d secretly planned,
and now I’m beginning to understand,
for here you sit with the country folk
at the Nobody Inn, and I hope you choke
on your Winterman slims and your peppermint crush;
no wonder you fidget, no wonder you blush,
and shuffle about on your bar-stool perch,
for you never went anywhere near the church
at quaint little Dunchidoke.
And unless I’m mistaken, the tower I saw
when I glanced just now through the open door,
is elegant Doddiscombsleigh.
Famed for its fourteenth century glass,
which you’ll hardly match and you can’t surpass
in a British church, you keep telling me,
to excuse your visits, but now I see
that to learn its mystery your only hope
is a seat by the door and a telescope
on elegant Doddiscombsleigh.
Your subterfuge was a tour de force,
so I’m not in the least annoyed of course,
but in future, I’m coming too.
From humble churches we’ll shift our sights
to collegiate, cathedral and abbey heights,
but chosen to be, as your favourites are,
at their most impressive when viewed from afar,
or merely imagined, like Dunchidoke,
(assisted, it seems, by Bacardi and coke,
pommes frites in the basket and café noir,
with yellow Chartreuse and cigars from the bar.)
But I think that a four star (or five) accolade
would more properly fit with the status and grade
of cathedrals and abbeys, I know quite a few
with a splendid cuisine and an excellent view.
You’re flushed with excitement already, I see,
let’s map out tomorrow’s itinerary,
and I’ll show you what I can do.
Exeter – what better place to start,
splendidly Dec in its greater part,
as I think your Pevsner says.
We’ll start at two, for conveniently,
the Clarence Hotel does an afternoon tea
which lasts all day till aperitif time,
when we’ll sit in the bar with a gin and lime
and study the close with a reverent gaze,
admiring the Tudor and Georgian bays,
the iron bridge and the cobbled court,
unaltered in any material sort
since early Victorian days.
We’ll stay for dinner and when that’s done,
with coffee and cognac we’ll watch the sun
dipping below the trees,
and silhouetting the Norman towers –
we’ll order more cognac and sit for hours.
In plush red velvet we’ll take our ease
overlooking the close for as long as we please.
And perhaps we’ll book a room and stay,
and with morning tea at the break of day,
we’ll lie in bed with the curtain raised …
Are you feeling well? Your eyes have glazed,
and your colour has passed through red and green
and finished a sort of ultramarine –
of the kind you find on twenty pound notes.
Better pay the bill while I fetch our coats,
and we’ll get away from the fumes and smoke
and take a stroll down to Dunchidoke.
A hazy sun and a healthy breeze
will clear your head, but one moment please –
I think I could manage before we go,
a gin and Italian, Blackforest gateau,
and a little more Camembert cheese.
Vincent Smith

Wednesday, 17 February 2010


McDade Trophy 2nd Place

The shock when you said,
at fifteen, ‘Sit down,
I’m pregnant, it’s ok;
the arrangements are made;
don’t tell Dad.’
Those long nights awake,
adjusting, then watching
your schoolgirl frame grow tired;
I wrote deceitful notes
to your teacher
to excuse you from dance,
waited in terrified secrecy
for the clinic,
cash payment, and overnight stop,
your first stay away from us.
While the world turned, as it does,
the boyfriend moved on,
and after a time, so did you.
I began to count time,
guilt rising in my gut,
imagining ‘it’ now at 2, 6 and 10,
wondering how our lives might have been.
Fifteen years on
you’re accomplished,
a joy, a dancer, a beauty
with a husband who loves you.
But the pain when
your babies, in quick succession,
abort themselves,
1, 2, 3, 4,
leave us flailing,
our empty wombs wailing,
our mothers’ arms heavy
with wanting.
I see them, you know;
they hang from your skirt,
your coat sleeves,
the ends of your long blond hair.
Your children,
they call you by name.
Dorothy Nelson

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

The Legend of Chalky the Painter

McDade Trophy 3rd Place

He was a painter and decorator, Chalky White,
But his mission lay elsewhere.
In his paint-splattered smock and ratting cap
He spent his days in a snooker shack
Potting balls with assiduous care.
Chalky was tall, energetic with a dark mop of hair,
Nothing that shouted ‘good at the game’.
He’d arrive in the morning with a bob or two
To draw the unwary passing through
Into a friendly ‘low-risk’ frame.
He was no professional, no great hustling man,
More a whirl than a whirlwind in fact,
But his aim was good when the chips were down,
He’d sink a long red and make it count
On pay days when tenners were stacked.
He’d lose the first frame, but the next was backed double,
And he’d raise his game a notch.
A fiver became ten, then twenty or more,
The locals would gather round the floor
And Chalky cleared up while they watched.
There were two flies in the ointment that spoilt this script,
The first was Harry the Snout,
A prison warder from Cardiff Bay
He ground down opponents with his safety play,
Picked up points after they’d hit out.
The first time they met, Chalky gave best to the Snout.
A red was loose near the pack,
But the gap was as tight as a mortise lock
When he chalked his tip with his trusty block,
Sighted low with stun for the black.
The red span round the pocket but stayed out the crack,
Chalky knew he’d made a mistake,
Not fatal, he thought, it was early days –
Lots of players had devious ways –
But the Snout made a frame-winning break.
Next time he played Harry, he was more circumspect,
Potted balls with safety in mind,
The result was a rack that lasted an hour,
Equal they were, and equally dour,
Snooker worriers, two of a kind.
The painter won that game, the warder the next two,
But the hours and days passed by.
The length of the frames led to Chalky’s fall,
His bread and butter work went to the wall
And Rose White wanted to know why.
To the hall of green baize stormed Rose, her temper inflamed,
Chalky had missed five jobs or more.
She was a big woman, Rose, with arms like hams,
Legs like young oaks from pushing prams.
What followed went down into lore.
‘Where’s our Chalky! Where’s our Chalky!’ Twice Rose called,
A giant figure framed in the door.
The ball clicking stopped, cues clunked on the baize,
No-one had seen such an angry gaze,
Chalky ducked, lay prone on the floor.
Rose’s nose twitched like a hound as she looked down the hall,
Took three giant steps inside,
She was on the scent, a whiff of emulsion,
Turpentine, primer, his old caulking gun!
There was no place for Chalky to hide!
‘Where’s our Chalky!’ she growled, menace in every word.
Legends are made of flimsy lore,
But the painter’s escape was pure Robin Hood:
Errol Flynn’s exploits weren’t half as good
As Chalky White’s run from that hall.
He saw Rose’s big toe just two tables away,
Then to his great horror, her face.
Words were not spoken, it was an action scene.
He rose up; his wife did the same.
The mind of the quarry raced.
He looked to the left, the right, beyond and behind.
There was no route out but the door.
Rose edged to the side. ‘You lying crook!’
Chalky’s hand reached down for the hook
That supported the extension cue,
Came up with the pole like a Waterloo lancer,
Took ten steps back to the wall
Then charged full tilt, planted the thick butt end,
Vaulted the table end to end,
Landed on the next, among balls.
Running light-footed over the lamp-lit baize
He leapt from table to table.
Like a fire dancer on stepping stones,
Fred Astaire could not have crossed those zones
Faster than Chalky the Painter.
He didn’t pause at the door, went out like an eel,
Rose followed like a fast moving barge,
But her man was already down the stairs.
‘Come back, Chalky!’ It froze the hairs
On bald men’s heads, but he’d charged
Like El Cid into the sunset, on, on, out of sight,
The legendary vaulter, Chalky White.
Martin Domleo


Jackie Hayes 1936-2009

I see her clearly
In the Secretary’s chair.
She has been
Through the minutes
With her usual quiet dignity
(No rowdy comments
From the floor
At this Society’s meetings).
She reminds us
That it is to be an evening
Of members’ poems.
We are seated in a three-
Quarter circle,
Faces lifted, attentive.
Jackie reads ‘Slow Dusk Fading’,
Perfect diction
For a perfect poem
And quietly, so quietly;
Unbullied we listen.
She sweetens the words
With tincture of honey.
The fit is perfect,
Polished and even
Like the granite blocks
Of the ancients.
Past the last word we listen
Into silence
Into warm and distant echoes.
Jackie could bring a stone to faith.

Martin Domleo

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Winter Newsletter Online

You can now view the Winter Newsletter Online. This features all the news articles. The poetry will feature on this site as indiviual articles.

Click to launch the full edition in a new window