Where to start..?

The Dee estuary from Caldy Hill

Starting is such sweet sorrow! (Applause.)
Startling? Sic. Stet. So, we wheedle away.
Progress up the Hill Difficulty
is to be (or not to be, I know) hoped for.
Headshaking, hobbling bunioned, footsore,
Pilgrim pulls his boots on nonetheless;
tightens his laces, to stamp hard on the face
of Giant Despair the uncompromising print of a
commando soul. Caldy Hill’s no Pisgah:
the Clwyds no promised land; but flowing with Swn y
Mor
, much more to my taste than milk, or honey.
Here’s a hilly landscape, come and see
Welsh undressers- (groans and boos) mae bronnau
bert da hi
!- (shame! Boobs?) Moel Famau, the Denbigh
Moors. What is it with Wales? It’s worth remembering.
First furtive fag in a field in Cilcain, camping,
in for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award
(Bronze). It’s over there, across the broad
(Mary, call the cattle home, my dear)
estuary of the silted River Dee.

Smoking in Cilcain, 1966

Starting is such sweet sorrow. (You’ve done this- Ed.)
Painful to remember the past, unless
A journey, in, into that wilderness,
might bring redemption of a sort.
There are precedents, after all.
Moses; Jesus; Pilgrim; Bilbo Baggins.
An exploration of the interior landscape,
the curious artefacts of the creative mind,
is not in itself to be condemned.
When I was young, I read psychology.
(Laughter, pun intended.) Now I am old,
I find I’ve failed to put away childish things.
When Keith Davies got kicked in the balls
they bore him from the field and laid him on
the teacher’s table: awestruck, we gathered round;
pale and still as a marble knight on a tomb he was,
eyes closed, hands clutching his crotch like a rosary.
Start here? As good a place as any; a stunned boy’s world
shrunk to his nuts in the palm of his hand, throbbing. Painful.
Start where you are; you have no choice in that.
What then? Eliot’s advice is to take the route
you would be likely to take. A leisurely tour of minor roads,
or a white-knuckled race on the M6, M53. Or take the train
and change at Liverpool Lime Street, ears ringing
with Merseyside’s mere seaside Beatlevoices,
onto the Wirral line, or set sail under the Liver Birds’
stony gaze on a ferry to Birkenhead. Gawain
made his way on horseback through North Wales,
crossing the Dee at Holy Well; you can’t
do that now, even if you can find a horse.

Gentlemen and Ladies; I hope you will be
entertained by this little Sapphic intro-
please don’t think it odious (joke!) Ah well, you’ve
got to start somewhere.

You could, you know, just write it. Notes, note form.
Take note of that, form I mean, form is all.

Call form duration, patterns of durations rather.
Duration the primary parameter. Colour, yes,
but of what and for how long experienced?
This shifts into that. Exempla grata
the journey commences, and describes itself,
its route, the journey is the form of the journey,
is the form of the story of the journey.
Does that make sense? I would not have you lag behind.
Or jump ahead too far- wait for me!
Why can’t we tread the pavements together, in
a dead patrol or something wasn’t it?
From lamppost to lamppost advancing,
we praise thee, ancient and modern together,
in step, arm in arm maybe, if that isn’t a bit too intimate.
Advance along the night-time prom, tiddley-om-pom-pom,
from one pool of dim orange light to the next, wind in our hair,
Wales winking at us from across the estuary.
Let us sit here and ruminate, chew on
words of reflection, of memories blinking in the lamplight.
Look at their little faces as they come out into consciousness!
Don’t be shy. I’ll do the blushing for you;
no-one can see me anyway as I erubesce, to Latinise.
It’s too cold to sit here. Moving on,
we come to the end of the prom.

…to the end of the prom

This is the sailing club.
All shut up for the night now, of course-
no Babychams in the clubhouse for you! But Listen!
Hear the rigging rattle on the yachts! An eternal
rattling of disposable income- they’ve got a boat!
How wealthy they must be!

Just up the road, the next day please, we need daylight now,
thank you, sunshine and showers, warmth, petricor (sub. pls. check)
look how lovely the church is.
If we lift the little latch, may we go in?
Here is the place where he used to sing.
Up on the painted chancel arch, angels swing golden censers.
Holy, holy, et cetera. Nothing holy about the thoughts that
oh, come now! Precisely. Listen… Hark
the sound of sinful voices sweeps across the glassy sea.
Chew on that. Sweep your harps and pour the lay, smirk.
Erubesco. Iterum. In those days
it was not possible to learn Latin; no-one
knew anything about it at home;
it was as you might say, not a thing.
Neither of course was music, except
as a kind of vaguely spiritual hobby.

…look how lovely the church is

I could weep.
There is no story yet.
Parting is such sour joy.
Put the end at the beginning, then, as a reassurance that
there is a point to all this. Great endings, number one:
a sadder and a wiser man he rose the morrow morn.
Transformed by experience: the classic novel in a nutshell,
or scrotum. Clasp it (loosely!) in your hand, no,
pick it up with questing fingers and turn it about- ouch!-
like a small chunk of quartz conglomerate
freshly freed by freeze-thaw action from the top of Cefyn Bryn.
See how it sparkles in the summer sun!

Story. Ending.
He returned the way he came,
but slower on the road, burdened.
Not with spoils of war, not with souvenirs,
still less with a de-stressed damsel on his lap.
With a…? Oh, you mean young Gawain.
Yes. He, Gawain, could be our protagonist.
But, you might protest, he never existed
outside the imagination of the romancers!
So much the better. Does the ball-bashed Keith?
Does T S Eliot? Toilest thou to remember
Little Gidding? Little Nell? Bingo Little?
Bah, humbug. Tell the tale!
What tale? That of Gawain, and the Green Knight?

Queen takes green knight, King looks on suspiciously

Dressed up as reminiscence? An allegory?
C S Lewis, the Allegory of Love. You know it?
And please don’t say, no, I haven’t an inkling,
because it’s just not funny. But we’ve had Bilbo Baggins
and all kinds of other ridiculous characters
from other people’s prosing… what’s the problem?
Where to start. With a boy’s aching ballsack,
I thought that was good enough. On the teacher’s desk.
Like a knight’s effigy, pale as marble, still.
Imagine Gawain like that, monumentalised,
marmorialised, so to speak;
his story carved out of the living rock.
It’s started to rain.

Thank you for reading so far! Do please click on the links below to have a look at my novels, and, dare I ask, perhaps even buy one? Ebook or paperback :

Þe Wyldrenesse of Wyrale 

Anthropocene Park 

Peter and Paul

Tristan and the Dragon Girl: An Easter Story

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