Tuesday, 28 April 2015

FGR vs Bristol Rovers

Not Sherwood FOREST
Nor  Lincoln   GREEN,
Not Robin Hood and Little John,
But Dale Vince and David Drew;
Not outlaws and poachers,
But leftwingers and goal poachers;
Not the pollution of ‘The Gas’,
But the clean power of the wind;
Not the lawlessness of ‘The Pirates’,
But the traditions of the handloom weavers and spinners;
Not the slaving profits of Bristol,
But the anti-slavery arch of Archway:
COYFGR Levellers and Diggers,
Let’s try to turn the world upside down.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Forest Green v Dover Athletic

My seat was down the front, right by the pitch,
With a view right out to open fields, new leaf trees,
Scudding clouds, a grand sky horizon, and two billboards
That tried to send their message down to the New Lawn:
‘Neil Carmichael, A Better and More Secure Future’,
But David Drew was oblivious to this as he walked around the pitch,
As was Dale Vince, applauding the manager at the end,
After the news came through that Macclesfield had only drawn,
And so this team from the little market town of Nailsworth,
Was definitely through to the play-offs.
The afternoon was a great reminder of why football still counts:
The awards to the women’s team denoting some equality of status,
The name Ecotricity, the union jacks in green,
The banner referencing Martin Luther King,
The ground on a street called Another Way,
The vegetarian cuisine in a meat free zone,
The minute’s silence remembering the fire at Bradford City,
Broken only by the sound of a solitary aircraft flying high above,
The boys walking around, rattling their buckets:
‘Any spare change for the youth teams?’
When it’s like this, I can like football again.
See you Wednesday.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Echoes in Enamel, by Sue Brown, at Stroud Museum

Home Front
(From the Kitchen to the Factory)

Decorated spoons hanging on the wall,
Like so many enamel medals;
Spanners turned to ornaments,
Like so many swords to ploughshares;
The world of home and war juxtaposed
In a museum cabinet of domestic remembrance:
A sewing machine, a cup and saucer,
A register of Daniels’ munition girls
(Like so many schoolgirls in a school logbook),
Sepia pictures of their phossy war work -
Kitchen sink linked to trench sump:
‘Sister Susie’s sewing shirts for soldiers’
(The family gathered round the kitchen table,
The vacant chair at its head),
The telegram boy at the front door,
The tears in the tea cup,
‘And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds’.

Echoes in Enamel, by Sue Brown, is an exhibition about munitions workers at Daniels in Stroud. Get to Stroud Museum soon – I think it finishes on April 26th.

Monday, 20 April 2015

WITHDRAWN: An exhibition by Luke Jerram, Leigh Woods, 18th April – 6th September

‘Informed by conversations’ with seafarers, scientists and marine specialists, ‘Luke Jerram has created a new engaging installation for Leigh Woods’, so as to provoke questions about climate change.
‘Visitors will discover a flotilla of fishing boats which have mysteriously arrived in a woodland setting high above Avon Gorge … The scene immediately prompts questions – how did the boats arrive here and what previous voyages have they been on?’

I am especially looking forward to seeing The Tempest there, staged by the Butterfly Theatre, July 11th – 17th.

Walking through Leigh Woods, on a blossom bluebell Sunday,
Along a primrose path from Paradise Bottom to Davy Jones’s locker,
We discovered five beached boats within the coppiced forest:
Gloria Jean, Joanne Marie, Martha, Seahorse and Grey Gull,
All marooned on the bone dry, tinderbox, cracked earth of a covert
(Like so many Anthropocene marine fossils),
Vessels that once rode the foam flecked tides of time,
Far beyond the confines of the Avon Gorge,
Wheel and rudder high above Bronze Age sunken forests,
Writing a wake for each Great Flood’s chronicle,
With a spring tide song of the sea, a siren song in the leaves,
A maritime threnody, recounting long lost worlds:
A shingle-shape of submerged churches, merchants’ houses,
Quays, wharves, inns, alehouses, pilgrims’ paths, abbeys,
Cowled ghosts, cursing sailors and bleached bones,
A tidal daily meal for ravenous crabs and eels.

And over there, amongst the hearts of oak, flies Ariel:

Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes
Nothing of him that doth fade,

But doth suffer a sea-change

Into something rich and strange.
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell:


Hark! Now I hear them — Ding-dong, bell.”

And there, amongst the forget-me-nots, stands Prospero:

“The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Ye all which it inherit, shall dissolve  

And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff

As dreams are made on, and our little life

Is rounded with a sleep.”

Friday, 17 April 2015

Cornhill, M and S, John Clare, Captain Swing and Stroud Farmers' Market

If you build a Marks and Spencer,
Springs might rise up from the pavement,
Drown Cornhill’s imagination,
Drive ditches through your anxious brow.

If you build a Marks and Spencer,
Captain Swing will wander through your dreams,
Destroy your threshing machines,
Stretch your nightmares out on tenterhooks,
Turn your eyes a sleepless Stroud Scarlet.

If you build a Marks and Spencer
And talk of modernization and consumer choice,
Then don’t be surprised if Stroud’s Genius Loci
Boycotts a misplaced innovation,
And remembers Karl Marx rather than Herbert Spencer.

If you build a Marks and Spencer
Grass will grow in your pockets,
Celandine in your bank vaults,
Weeds in your account books.

But if you leave things as they are,
Then money will rain upon your heads,
Goodness will grow within your heart,
Generosity within your soul,
And John Clare will write you a poem from the grave.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Swing and Clare Walk Recollections

I walked down to Stroud Valley Arts through Rodborough Fields,
Medieval ridge and furrow still just visible in the April evening light,
Cracked earth and shallow stream talking to me with John Clare’s voice,
Lamenting the past and fearful of the future -
And so along the industrial archaeological edgelands of Stroud,
To John Street: ‘Where its only bondage was the circling sky’.

Twenty or so of us gathered here, to discourse on Captain Swing,
Mechanisation, new technology, loss of jobs in the here and now
(As well as the autumn and winter of 1830),
Blandscape, enclosure, the poetical legacy of John Clare,
All the while listening to the ska sound of ‘The Guns of Navarone’,
In a typically Stroud post-modernist mashup.

We then processed to the Swing/Clare film at the Brunel Goods Shed,
Thence to the River Frome, via blue-brick Midlands Railway,
Discussing Clare’s anthropomorphising of landscape,
Pondering on the palimpsest implications of wood anemones,
Until Captain Swing letters were left by Capel’s Mill,
And the sky blazed red in Sussex in the winter of 1830
(Whilst all the while the dogs frolicked cheerfully in the water).

Readings of Clare were collectively shared, hedgerows were dated,
Tolpuddle’s legacy was juxtaposed with that of Captain Swing,
The history of allotments and common land was pursued,
Until we ascended to the peak of Rodborough Common,
Where Clare’s incarceration within the asylum,
And the possible causes of his madness were portrayed
Through presentations, performance and readings,
As the sun set red across the tide full River Severn.

Dogs played, toddlers played,
As the red light silhouette shift
Changed us all to a band of gypsies,
At Helpstone, in 1830,
While John Clare read to us,
Gilded by the glowing sun.

And the tricks we played with time.