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 ….

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…

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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

Sajeda & Ashiq

I reblog this piece, by Injeanious, on Gogwit’s Blog because I enjoyed reading it and I was intrigued by it.
So many threads and so many layers.
Our lives are like baskets woven from sticks rooted in our many experiences; some touch directly, some tangentially and others connect but tenuously. All contribute to the integrity of the basket.
Perhaps we could all bear closer analysis of our motivations.
Or, perhaps not.

Injeanious

It’s Saturday morning.  Sajeda and I are lying on our backs in the front room.    I’m demonstrating some simple exercises to strengthen her core.   These had been given to me by my trusty physiotherapist just four weeks ago, when my back was so sore I could hardly move.    I’m sharing them with Sajeda this morning – hoping that by modelling the process with her it will help.   So I’m  demonstrating the leg slide and trying to explain the importance of tightening up her core muscles as I’m doing it.   So to explain further I kneel up beside her and feel her either side of her pelvis, deep into her muscle.  This isn’t too easy because Sajeda is rather on the large side.  Small and round.  I explain that she has to tighten her muscles and keep feeling until she does this.   Good, I praise her – she smiles.  I place…

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St Paul’s Square, B3.

This is the first sustained creative work I have delivered since 2015, I believe.

It came to life on the X14 bus on my way to visit my dentist, Dr Jalif, and was finalised on my return journey, by train, from Selly Oak to Sutton Coldfield.

I hope that you enjoy reading this work. I enjoyed writing it.

St Paul’s Square, B3.

Open field hemmed in by buildings
Workshops, forges, manufactories.
Parts of these turned into houses
For the owners wealth and riches,
For the craftsmen leather breeches,
Tools and ale and most of all
A bed and roof over their head.

Simple people with religion
Men and women all of God.
They raised a splendid place of worship
Visible from house and workshop,
Visible from home and tavern,
Reminding them of place and duty
By then the open field was gone.

Wooden box pews, songs of praise
Hymns ancient and modern.
Blight and blitz and times of plenty
Baptise, confirm, marry, bury,
Offices of life and death,
The churchyard is a garden now
To take the place of field and heath.

Ben A Harvey
24 March 2018

(C) 2018, All rights reserved.

The Council plans closures of Children’s Centres and Nurseries – Have your say at the consultation meetings

An opportunity for concerned parents, professionals and Council Tax payers in Birmingham to lend their voices to the children of Birmingham.
While the Council may have sparse room for manoeuvre, they can register the displeasure and dissatisfaction of the people of Birmingham.
It is true that children cannot vote; however, the adult population can, at parish, municipal, regional and national level; and in Birmingham there was elected a council opposed, in principle, to cuts of this nature that are being enforced by a divisive and hostile UK Government.
The Education, Health and Welfare provision of the United Kingdom only work when predicated on an understanding that the economy serves society, not the other way round.

Birmingham Against The Cuts

They say:

The way that we deliver children’s centres, health visiting services and parenting support services in Birmingham is changing. Have your say on our proposals for a new service model that will bring these services together, for you, in your local area.

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22/7/14: The Day in Trojan Horses.

The ‘Report into allegations concerning Birmingham schools arising from the ‘Trojan Horse’ letter’ authored by Peter Clarke CVO OBE QPM was published today, Tuesday 22 July 2014, and can be found here.

Also published today on this theme:

• Trojan horse: teachers may face misconduct hearings, says Morgan (The Guardian, 22/07/14)

• Trojan Horse probe shows ‘clear evidence’ of ‘deliberate action’ to introduce ‘intolerant and aggressive Islamic ethos’ (Birmingham Mail, 22/07/14)

• Watch: Oldknow Academy principal: ‘I was forced out by Trojan Horse plotters’ (Birmingham Mail, 22/07/14)

• Trojan Horse: Undercover report reveals school governor was racist bigot (Birmingham Mail, 22/07/14)

• ‘Disturbing’ Trojan Inquiry Findings (BBC News, 22/07/14)

I am grateful to The Guardian for their live online coverage of the Statement by Nicky Morgan on the Trojan Horse Letter debated in the House of Commons today, Tuesday 22 July 2014. The Telegraph and The Sunday Times, neither of which would sit on gogwit’s coffee table, should also be mentioned for running this story when it was being written off as right wing, Islamophobic, racist fiction.

I have used the local press as a source of many stories offered today on Gogwit’s Blog, I make no apology for this.
Local parliamentarians have spoken out on the “Trojan Horse” issue today Birmingham Hodge Hill (Birmingham schools ‘feel like the Balkans’ – The Guardian, 22/07/14) and yesterday Birmingham Perry Barr (Stop pretending Trojan Horse plot is fake, urges Birmingham MP – Birmingham Mail, 21/07/14).

The output from three news sources on one sunny July day. The content requires no further comment from gogwit at this time.

Other local news: Today many students are graduating from local universities and many local school children have begun their summer break. I wish them all the very best.