An unexpected email arrived from journalist and poet Lavinia Collodel, an art historian living in Rome. She was writing about green spaces for an Italian magazine and included Postman’s Park in London. Apparently she had discovered my blog and a podcast of my poems and wanted to include ‘A formal Lawn’ in her article. A real highlight in my day.
Il prato rasato
Sebastian misura, meticoloso
la rete arancione acceso
come un artista con la sua tela.
Pieno di arnesi
una carriola in piedi
forche, vanghe, spazzole e paletti.
Il suo compagno e in ginocchio all’angolo
setacciando terra, spatolando bordi, con cura
il capo chino, intento alla perfezione.
The formal lawn
Sebastian methodically measures
bright orange netting like an artist
marking out his canvas
Full of tools
one wheelbarrow stands
forks spades brushes stakes
His mate kneels at one corner
carefully sifting soil, trowelling edges
his head bent, intent on perfection.
A third man brings in a barrow
rich green turf, all three
in harmony, finely tuned
I was glad Lavinia had chosen that poem as I wrote it as soon as I walked through the gates and watched Sebastian, the gardener, laying the lawn.
Postman’s Park is well known for the plaques that were put up by George Frederick Watts, painter and sculptor, in memory of ordinary people who had died undertaking heroic deeds such as saving someone from drowning or rescuing them from a burning building.
A wonderful bee and wild garden lady that came from Manchester with a display said we were Yes people and made things happen! Like to think that is true.
In May popped down to Kent to visit my eldest son’s cottage and there it was, a vast natural bluebell wood right opposite, vast swathes of blue, the birds singing.
The roses have been prolific but I’m growing a lot more veg. in an ancient greenhouse and mix artichokes and runner beans in flower beds.
Lockdown and uncertainty for twelve months have given me time to unearth boxes of papers that I had not unpacked since we moved here twelve years ago. A small pile of air letters to my mother, tied in a bow, sent by a young man serving overseas during the Second World War. I read some of them and believe they must have loved one another. He was killed in action.
There were programmes and band parts in my father’s file and information about his service in the Royal Signals in North Africa and Italy. We all knew he started a successful band to entertain the troops and that he fell in love with a French girl who sang with the band. His band was featured on Radio Milan every week. I have written poems about some of this in the past. ‘Music from another room’.
He had been posted overseas when we were babies and came back when my sister was five and I was six. It must have been a shock to return to the austerity of post war Britain.
So plenty to ponder and perhaps becoming marionette makers, make believe and comedy was my parents’ way of coping with life after the war. Much later when I was about seventeen touring in Variety my father produced similar band parts to the ones I have just found for the orchestra pit as it was called
Back to Brighton
I was waiting for my campervan last week and wrote the following piece on the spur of the moment and popped it on my facebook page, so I’ll leave you with this thought!
Ann was sitting on a bank when the last caterpillar in Moulsecoomb crawled close by her. “Excuse me” said Ann ” do you know why they are turning this part of Brighton into a huge wall of concrete?” The caterpillar paused “Everyone knows that, they are building hundreds of homes for students.” “Oh!” said Ann “what will they be studying?” “Politics, poetry and saving the environment”, drawled the caterpillar …”But before he could say any more the last blackbird in Brighton flew down and bit off his head.