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.

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.”

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

Sad Little England.

GOGWIT IS FEELING annoyed and downbeat today, this brief blog is the substance of what is getting under my skin.

I was born 10 minutes walk from the centre of Birmingham. I have never driven and my passport expired in the early 90s, I did not replace it, there seemed no need.

Fortunately I have my birth certificate.

Even so, a growing number of situations require production of valid photo ID and it is then that we encounter the true meaning of the “insolence of office” which is stressful in the extreme and which pushes me – yes, me – to the verge of losing my temper – which would be unfortunate, embarrassing and rather unpleasant.

But at least I do not have to prove, in addition, my residence status over several decades, failure to comply potentially resulting in losing employment, being detained or even being deported.

Compared to the trials being experienced by the so called “Windrush Generation” my problems seem insignificant.
They do not seem so when some functionary is required to tick boxes for documents I do not possess.

There is so much that is good about this country to be proud of and to rejoice in and celebrate.

However, the way this country has, in recent years, treated so many of its subjects of Commonwealth and New Commonwealth heritage is not among those matters for celebration. It is a matter for shame, it is a blemish and it summarises, most succinctly, where we are wrong and could do so much better.

Today, our Prime Minister apologised publicly to Commonwealth Heads of Governments for this outrageous state of affairs, until recent days UK Home Office policy. The current Home Secretary has already had to backtrack, in Parliament, on this toxic legacy from the days when the current Prime Minister was the then Home Secretary.

Fine words are, well, fine words but alone they butter few parsnips. Harm has already been done and action is required to make amends and to resolve this issue. There were fine words issued after the Manchester concert bombing.
There was an outpouring of fine words following the Grenfell Tower fire, so dreadful that one only need say “Grenfell” and everyone knows exactly what one is talking about; vanishingly few of the issues have been addressed and resolved, few of the promises have been delivered.

We often hear the call to “make a bonfire of the red tape” by which is commonly meant the checks, balances, safeguards and protocols that protect us from unscrupulous exposure to unsound and dangerous processes.

I would like to call for a bonfire of the red tape used to discriminate, deter and debar those resident in this land from living and thriving in productive and happy lives.

Gogwit.

April 2018, (c)

This is an opinion piece; it represents my views and was created as a sole enterprise.

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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Thoughts from a retired headteacher…

I reblog this with sadness. Sadness that a headteacher should feel motivated to write in this vein; sadness that the argument of this piece is essentially true. The keyword here is, I think, sadness.

Let Our Kids Be Kids

Teachers, headteachers, parents… use your power!

“I daily thank god that I am a retired teacher and headteacher. I simply could not ask my staff to persecute children with never ending ‘tests’ that do nothing to further any child’s education or ability to make sense of the world. I simply would have refused to cooperate with the idiots charged with designing our so-called education system.

Teaching used to be a joyous profession. Happy children, staff who didn’t dread walking daily through the school gates and heads who were left to manage their schools without the constant interference of people who couldn’t do the job themselves.

I used to be described as formidable by LEA officers, advisors alike. Yes I was. Formidable in my determination to do the very best I could for the young people in my charge.

Schools used to be about opportunities for social mobility- a chance…

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