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 ….

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.

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.

Head Teachers’ Association joins Teaching Unions in Declaring ‘No Confidence’ in Current UK Education Policy.

The National Association of Head Teachers’ annual conference in Birmingham over the weekend of 18/19 May 2013 displayed little warmth or confidence in the education policies of a government which claims to be giving school leaders greater freedom and flexibility in the management of their schools.

The Education Secretary was visibly taken aback by the angry and derisive response from head teachers in a question and answer session on the Saturday.  Ahead of the conference he had been likened to a “fanatical personal trainer” who urges schools to jump higher and run faster…(paying) no heed to “the damage he is causing to the body or the system”.

Faced with this, Mr Gove fell back on the lament that he was striving for higher standards in schools. Told of the stress caused to the profession by current policy initiatives, including the inspection system, his response was: 

If you think Ofsted is causing you fear I am grateful for your candour, but we are going to have to part company.

 

Russell Hobby of the NAHT has gone on the record to draw worrying parallels between colossal and damaging failures due to similar policies already in place in the NHS, notably the Mid-Staffordshire NHS Trust scandal, warning:

of the dangers of management by data, we need only turn to the more human tragedy of the Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust, where patient care was sacrificed to meet the targets.

The same forces are rising within education. The effects will be more subtle but equally devastating.

This comes at a time when the current government’s preferred system for the delivery of education to school age students, academies and free schools, are under fire, losing credibility, and subject to calls for tighter scrutiny amid concerns of financial irregularities by certain leading providers.