25th August 1981 – count Up

on the 25th August 1981 two young, gawky people, who were very much youngly in love, got married gawky in Leicester Registry Office after having just met and romanced together during the three months previously; roll-of-eyes and awkward were the elders and war-survivors “act yer bloody age!”, but we knew we were different, even if we didn’t really know how, so we did it all differently, although we still didn’t really know what made it different; naïveté has kept us together even when we were sure we knew what we were doing; coming up to 35 years together, we are not sure how it happens; but it has, and it does, and it continues to find ever-new waves

in the three months up to our marriage we listened quietly to the few cassette tapes we had to play on the tape machine we owned: UB40’s ‘Signing Off’ and Bob Dylan’s ‘Desire’; here are most of the UB40 pieces tracking our love and environment growing up in Leicester – something I’d like to share with the world, if I might not be too naïve – (‘Desire’ will have to wait, plenty of time …),

       ________\\~~~ “C&M” ~~~//___________________________


                      seven floors up
                           with irritated eyes
                      I smelt the neck
                           of a walk home
                      and the hibiscrub
                           of a day’s work
                      on the wards

                      we walked the streets of redbrick and
                           polished-brick highlight
                      to the cornershop hand in hand
                           the quest:
                      a slim bar of Bournville dark

            to share

       ________\\~~~ “C&M” ~~~//___________________________


                                “King …”

                                hand in hand across
                                the wide-open-green park

                                the evening colours
                                of cars coming home

                                to park and the sun
                                through the poplars and elms

                                at the edges
                                “… where are your people now?”

       ________\\~~~ “C&M” ~~~//___________________________

                                                      (12 Bar)

                           how high
                     can plethora mount
                     and bridge the shop front

                           blue writing
                     on white, will we find what we
                     look for in there, shall we go in or wait
                           now we

                     where to find it? dust in the streets
                     and alleys blows against
                           our ankles

       ________\\~~~ “C&M” ~~~//___________________________

                                                      (Burden of Shame)

                           public benches
                      amid municipal plants

                      the long windows high-
                      to reflect only the sky
                      allaround people and
                      pattern whirl and blur
                           in stop-
                      motion agony of choice and deliverance

       ________\\~~~ “C&M” ~~~//___________________________


                                               at the bridge

                                               we stood by a bridge
                                  and smelt the weedy scent
                                               of the unspoilt waste ground
                                               and looked for miles around
                                  at the skyline
                    of the evenings

       ________\\~~~ “C&M” ~~~//___________________________

                (I Think It’s Going to Rain Today)

                                the tight-buttoned strength
                                of the nurse’s uniform

                                the swirl and fall of the
                                cheesecloth Indian dress

                bell-tinkling blue and
                                bare tanned feet
                                              in Leicester market

       ________\\~~~ “C&M” ~~~//___________________________


                      come alive in the evening
                      after the work is done
                      and the shops have closed
                      and while the cars queue home

                      up the long long road rising
                      pleasantly to the mauve sunset
                      and the motorways reaching

                                in all direction

       ________\\~~~ “C&M” ~~~//___________________________

                                                    (Food for Thought)

                      in the university library
                           Jung’s synchronicity opened
                      deep through the pages to Dali’s
                           paranoiac criticism opening the eye
                      to Blofeld’s lone hymning of the goddess Tara
                           beguiled by Belmer’s illustrations –

                           the working through of karma?
                      all while the plants outside wafted their spore
                           through the high open windows
                      which caught behind my glasses as the sun
                           started its purple descent
                      when I could renew the strange mauve relief of
                           this burgundy-gritty encounter

       ________\\~~~ “C&M” ~~~//___________________________

                                                                      (Little by Little)

birches planted perfect in little squares
hand by step
scent by skin

high-wall factories standing silent with buddleia
Augustine by Anne
blue-petal by blush

the earth smell of vegetables before the riot of fabric
undercover from the evening
starch by wind-chime
logic by naïveté

       ________\\~~~ “C&M” ~~~//___________________________

                                              (Signing Off)

                                spilled out of the nurses’
                                quarters early in the morning
                                by some fire alarm

                                we stood by the bus stops
                                on the edge of the park
                                so quick I’d left my glasses

                                “early shift?” said the ‘shit,
                                it is a policeman’ when close
                                enough, “uh, yeah” … “yeah”

                                while I wondered where we’d live

       ________\\~~~ “C&M” ~~~//___________________________

                      (Reefer Madness)

                      from seven floors up
                      down through the
                      terraced streets we
                      approached the park
                      hand in hand

                                               and if
                      you look carefully now
                      we still stroll there

       ________\\~~~ “C&M” ~~~//___________________________


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