This is how it was
[For Fred Davies]
This is how it was, I said, a long time ago
when I lived in Heol Nanteos in Penparcau next door
to the man who played outside left for Aberystwyth Town,
and Fred had the name then on the tip of his brain
and soon came up with ‘Teddy Thomas',
and I said, ‘There was a tall dark centre forward’,
and Fred said, ‘Eddie Ellis’, and started to name then
the whole team: Teddy Bevan, Stuart Griffiths,
Gareth Hopkins, Jackie Johnson,….
I said I sang in the St Michael’s church choir
and Fred said he did, too – about four or five years
before me – W.R.Allen the choirmaster ‘was strict,’ but I said
I remembered him as benign.
‘Remember Ernie Morgan, the Wintle brothers,
Michael Lewis - big in music in America now, he is’,
and when the name clicked into place I said,
‘I was an altar server with him at St Anne’s, Penparcau’.
‘Remember we got paid 6d for funerals and weddings?
And we had to take our surplice home to be washed.'
I’d not remembered the names of the boats:
Pride of the Midlands (owned by Ben White),
City of Birmingham (‘Spanny’) –
and me now most of my life in that city –
and I said I carried the Scout flag
in the Remembrance Day procession, Fred said he played
in the British Legion band, and so did
Will Nell in the Workhouse (where Bronglais now is,
and a part of the old building still used),
‘and do you remember Happy Agnes with her shopping trolley?’
I didn’t, but when we got on to Ardwyn School
a mixed bag of memories: Mr Ellis the Headmaster –
two Mr Ellises one after the other? - Roy James, Mr Beynon,
Mrs – or was it Miss? – Mainwairing,….
Oh some of that still hurts.
I said I remember playing marbles in the gutter with Dai Young,
and in the yard of his father’s garage – ‘Gwalia’, said Fred,
'below the Infirmary,' I said (where my father worked),
and in between where I went to junior school, North Road,
all three gone now: Hospital, School, Garage,
and not a gutter these days you could play marbles in.
Chapels are closing, too. One, Fred tells me, is a pub,
but the singing continues. Fred sings and with the local choir
has sung in Toronto, Stratford (Ontario),
Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Brittany, Cologne,….
This is a poem you, reader, perhaps, can continue,
the poem me and Fred began, with a chance meeting.
[David Hart: from Running Out (Five Seasons Press 2006]
- David Hart
- Born Aberystwyth. Student London and Wells;in Birmingham U chaplain, theatre critic, arts administrator, as a poet pt posts at Warwick (Writing Programme) and Birmingham U (Lifelong Learning) U; residencies at poetry festivals, in psychiatric and general hospitals and at Worcester Cathedral; Birmingham Poet Laureate 1997-98, has won 1st and 2nd in National Poetry Comp.. My Running out, Five Seasons Press is a collecting together of work since Setting the poem to words (1998) and Crag Inspector (2002). My ancestry is in London, mainly the East End (and South Essex), where people I can trace came from across the country in the late 18th to mid-19thC. Names include on my father's side: Hart, Restell, Lewis, Yelverton, Copeland, Wrenn,. And on my mother's side: Cole, Brown, Stanley, Pond, Bradley. I am an elected Member of the Welsh Academy. Titanic Cafe poem booklet 2009 and Misky (Flarestack). 2012-13 Library of Birmingham Poet. Library Inspector or The One Book Library (Nine Arches, 2015). Currently working on poems.Email djhart11(at)mac.com.