Eleven-Eleven-Eighteen

My great-grandfather’s leaders took England to war,
They’d subdued the Zulu, Sepoys and the Boer,
Plucky Belgians frustrated Von Schlieffen for weeks,
Time enough to recruit and to shake an iron fist,
Backed up by those men fit enough to enlist.

Balkan intrigues threw a spark in the dry, dry tinder…

All be over by Christmas, that is what was said,
Four years later it ended and so many were dead,
Those whose wounds did not kill them contracted the Flu,
Which spread to schools, homes and factories too.
As if the War to End All Wars was not enough…

The Four Horsemen were busy in those days.

Claiming the souls of the weak and the strong,
The talented, gifted, Muse and mundane
The rich and the poor; Death took them all.
So we had The Great Flu and we had the Great War.

Never again, never again, never… until the next time.

Ben A Harvey

August 2018

(C) Gogwit’s Blog, all rights Reserved

Araucaria, A New Poem.

…The Chile Pine put down its roots and grew;
The Monkey Puzzle watches; and is growing still.

Araucaria


You were there when my mother was a child,
In the horsey people’s forecourt up the hill.
She looked at you and
Wondered what you were,
Where you came from and
What you were doing here.

While it is very plain
To see you are a tree,
You are a tree unlike
The others all around.
So very tall and straight,
Your branches at the crown,
Not meant for kids to climb
Unlike the others in the town.

You were there when I was a little boy.
Outside the maisonette block up the hill.
I looked at you and
I wondered why
You were called a Chile Pine,
Araucaria, the Monkey Puzzle Tree.

Maybe it was just a saying,
Or a legend.
Or the exotic, twisted seed pods – not cones,
More like those finger traps
Of fakirs and magicians,
Perplexing monkeys
In the far off forests where
Your ancestors had grown.

You were there, a novelty in the garden of the gentry,
Before my mother ever saw you, as a child.
You were there outside the flats
Where that garden had once been,
As I walked up that hill to school,
A boy in grey serge shorts forty summers on.

No horsey lady, now, rings in the New Year.
In her smock at 12 o’clock with her handbell.
Marching up and down the hill
With her tidings of goodwill,
Bringing merriment and cheer
For the twelve-month yet to come.
The Chile Pine put down its roots and grew;
The Monkey Puzzle watches; and is growing still.

 


Ben A Harvey,

2 November 2018.
(C) Gogwit’s Blog (Ben A Harvey), 2018 – all rights reserved.

I’m on my war horse

I’m on my war horse

https://berylkingstonblog.wordpress.com/2018/07/31/im-on-my-war-horse/
— Read on berylkingstonblog.wordpress.com/2018/07/31/im-on-my-war-horse/

I share this without comment beyond saying it is worth the read, and is a worthwhile read.

Place and Time: A New Original Post and Verse.

History, poetry. What more could one wish for?

Gogwit is pleased to share a new piece of original verse.

Actually, several pieces of verse combined into one, continuing my theme of places in my home city set slightly apart from time, from a viewpoint upon which all matters temporal converge.

When, if, the section “The Up Line” is read, it may be helpful to understand that Witton and Aston stations are still in use; Vauxhall and Duddeston station still has two platforms in use and is now called Duddeston. The Vauxhall platforms long abandoned, left derelict and buried below diverse weeds, flowers, shrubs and the fauna they support.

Nechells and Bloomsbury opened and closed in Victorian times and, look as I might, I have never satisfactorily seen trace of it.

Lawley Street was a later Victorian commuter station for a town – the city of 1000 trades – which grew voraciously enough to require the infrastructures of a city, which it eventually became in 1889. Lawley Street station is long, long since gone.

Curzon Street station, Banbury Street Ticket Platform and the Southern Approaches bear witness to the grand boom years of Victorian railway expansion. Of Curzon Street and Banbury Street all that remains is the elegant Booking Hall, due to receive a new lease of life when the HS2 high speed line runs there in the 2020s.

The Southern Approaches had narrow platforms set like refuges, between the insanely complex track and track junction pathways into the main station; all travellers into Birmingham New Street, formerly Grand Central Station, will have rattled, squealed, screeched, lurched and rattled over a million sets of points, between brick arches, walls and pillars, through pitch-black tunnels: The lasting legacy of the Southern Approaches.

Grand Central lives on as the name of the shopping and leisure mall built atop the main station recently, replacing the 60s concrete version. Now trains arrive and depart Birmingham New Street; up at street level the trams arrive and depart Grand Central.

That was the history lesson. Here is the verse.


Place and Time.

A38(M) – Aston Expressway.

I looked out from the highway
To the distance, on the right,
For a place, a school,
Where I had used to work.
Where was it now,
Where had it used to be?
Along the railway line –
Follow the railway line, of course.
Composite cladded steel obscured my view,
Yet a little further onward found
The building which I sought
Where it had always been
Since the beginning of its time.

Yew Tree Road, Witton B6.

In the playground of the school –
That school, where I had been
So happy in the dappled light filled
Grounds beneath the trees,
I looked out across the open fields
And Victorian terrace houses
To the place where was being built,
In concrete and in steel,
The elevated highway from horizon to horizon.
And In that instant locking eyes,
Over rooftops, distance, time;
Intuition left no doubt
That the eye beams were both mine.

Aston Railway Junction.

Between that school and the stilted concrete ribbon,
Beyond the Victorian terrace houses and the rails;
The weathered, time-stained rails of the railway line,
That railway line – which had always to be followed.
Radius curve merged with main line track of the up line,
Which ran always into Town, into Birmingham.

The Up Line.

“Witton, Aston,
Vauxhall and Duddeston,
Bloomsbury and Nechells, Lawley Street;
Curzon Street, Banbury Street, Southern Approaches,
Grand Central Station – All change! Alight here!
Change please at New Street for all onbound journeys.”

Birmingham, New Street Station.

Change here for everywhere, any place and any time –
For every destination that will take you far from here;
Board the express, or the stopping train, to promised time and place:
The remainder of your season until you return to clay.

Here, Now, Always.

But I digress; forgive the musings of mortal man
Who has looked across the rooftops, space and time
And locked gazes with
His younger self,
His older self;
Both time past and time future, perpetually now.


Ben A Harvey,

31 May 2018.
(C) Gogwit’s Blog (Ben A Harvey), 2018 – all rights reserved.

The image of Birmingham’s LNWR station, 1 June 1854, reproduced from The Illustrated London News of 3 June 1854 and is public domain, used here with gratitude.
In great appreciation of TS Eliot.
With great love to ….

Beltane, 2018.

img_0543EVE OF MAY DAY, 30 April/1 May is, by some, called Beltane.

I have written this new, original verse in its honour; four previous pieces of verse, dating from 2012-2014, celebrate other observances within the Wheel of the Year and there are yet three more to be written.

I hope you will feel that this verse was worth reading.

BELTANE, 2018

Oak, Rowan, Birch and Hawthorn,
Power and strength, growth and glory,
Rebirth, renewal and generation;
Protection from the Faerie Fae,
Womb quickening with new life.

In and out the wooded glade
Up and down the land
In the woods and hills and meadows;
As the sun begins to show
As the sun is on the rise
See them joined by clasping hands.

Beltane sunrise until moonset,
Joyful couplings abound,
All are freed from obligations;
Solemn vows are set aside,
When the Oak King and his court preside.

In and out the wooded glade
Up and down the land
In the village, towns and hamlets;
As the moon sinks low
As the moon goes down
See them clasping hands no longer.

Tulip, coltsfoot, dill and balm,
Tranquility and peace and power,
New found love and second sight;
Faerie tricks and fecund magick,
Around the Maypole and every charm.

Ben A Harvey,
April 2018.

(C) 2018, Gogwit.
All Rights Reserved.

Continue reading “Beltane, 2018.”

Wilnecote’s World War 2 Bomb

AN INTERESTING STORY, to me a very accessible one. I have watched as houses expand into hitherto under-utilised spaces, and roads, and the M42, and the Toll Road, and soon the HS2.

Folk will argue over details but these projects march on.

As for the bomb; a new generation of midlanders are awakening to the reality of what the city of a thousand trades, and it’s environs, endured during the bombing of the Second World War. Played down for many years a considerable toll of death and destruction was visited on this conurbation which provisioned the war effort; from tyres for Spitfires and Hurricanes to the munitions and explosives to automotive components, trucks and tanks.

Around the city and wider environs, UXBs are unearthed from time to time and, decades after their deployment, bring chaos to road and rail.

Of course the counter to this is that this, or that, device was uncovered during renovation or development; not a situation the Luftwaffe had in mind when they dropped their payload!

Attempts were made to place false waypoints for the bombers. Fields flooded and sheds filled with searchlights to encourage pilots and navigators to believe they were bombing factories along the Tame, not fields in Tamworth, Minworth or Shenstone.

Thank you for this enjoyable read, which I am sharing on Gogwit’s Blog.

Site Title

One morning in the spring of 1984 the wooden windows of Tamworth’s newly built Manor Hill estate were rattled by the sound of an explosion. It was ten past eight on a Saturday morning and my wife and I, who had been up most of night with our four month old baby, looked at each other in horror.

“What on earth was that?” we said.

In those pre internet days we had to wait until the following Friday, when the Tamworth Herald arrived to find out. There, on the front page was the explanation to our mystery explosion. The men constructing the M 42 had unearthed a German WW2 bomb right where the bridge at the junction of Trinity Road and Overwoods Road was being built. It reported, workmen had discovered an unexploded bomb at around lunchtime on the Friday and immediately sent for the army engineers while construction work…

View original post 399 more words

Rally Against School Cuts, Birmingham.

The venue is Victoria Square, the date and time: 1pm, Saturday 28 April 2018.

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“Schools in this country are under threat. Across the West Midlands, 1,887 schools are still facing Government cuts. This is simply not acceptable. Together we need to create a noise so loud that no one can ignore what’s happening to our schools and children’s education.

Join parents and teachers coming together on 28th April to rally against school cuts in the heart of Birmingham. We’ll be dropping a massive banner to showing the schools facing cuts. Rally and speeches will follow.

Speakers confirmed:
Jack Dromey, MP for Birmingham Erdington
Ian Ward, Leader of Birmingham City Council

Other speakers TBC. Bring banners, your home-made signs, and tell every parent you know in our community. This is a family-friendly event. Everyone welcome!

This action is organised in collaboration with Save Our Schools West Midlands.”

The above text was reproduced from the Facebook Event page.

This rally is set within the context of growing popular disquiet spilling over into activism – increasingly from people with no history of engagement – targeting the attacks upon our system of universal educational provision by the state, whether this be though savage cuts which force schools to shed subjects, resources and loyal, loved and well-regarded members of staff; or perhaps being subject to cherry picking, asset stripped by rapacious multi academy trusts.

Yet others are withdrawing children from stressful and meaningless key stage testing, or questioning the need to baseline pupils from their first day in school.

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Gogwit is going, if you are thereabouts on Saturday why not come along.  Whatever you do, please wish for warm, sunny weather!

Links of Relevance:

Event Facebook Page

School Cuts

SOS – Save Our Schools

Let Our Kids Be Kids