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The motorway cuts through it. It was always

a proper Cheshire country lane with

ditches and hedgerows of may and oak

but it remained an unpaved track subject

to the weathers. Travellers or Roma –

though ‘Gypsies’ or ‘Irish Tinkers’ we called them

then – with grass for their hirsute ponies,

their caravans obscured by the hedges

and their shy kids safe from the odd car,

would camp there. We would try to explore,

to find where it led, hoping for some mansion

occupied by GIs with their comics

and gum. But, each time we tried, one of the men,

the same one always – wiry, dark haired, sharp eyed –

would send us packing with a raised fist

and a curse. One summer, near dusk, we crept

as close as we dared. The man was seated,

on a stool, playing a guitar. Somewhere,

out of sight, a woman was singing.


We got a telling off, home after dark,

and my spinster aunt sang, unbidden,

‘I’m away wi’ the raggle taggle gypsy-o!’


I drive by what remains of the lane often

and always, out of the corner of my eye,

look – as if there were something to see

other than grass and weeds.




© Copyright David Selzer
2 Responses
  • Ian Craine
    May 25, 2014

    This really takes me back. Apart from the quality of your work I can also enjoy reading of the shared locations of our youth. I too have been on such a walk. I know exactly what are you writing about though I might struggle a little to find that lane now. Somewhere above the Ring Road, somewhere beyond the Zoo.

    Always the gypsies – though they roam the earth in a way we have stopped doing they, like us, are fiercely territorial when they stop somewhere for a while.

    And the sense of exploration, the imagined mansion at the end- my mind drifts between images of Hoole Bank and Alain-Fournier’s magic reveries of childhood in “Le Grand Meaulnes”.

    • David Selzer
      May 25, 2014

      Yes, you know the place. I would imagine it would be difficult to get to it on foot now – too many fields to cross and hedges to force one’s way through.

      Yes, again, you know the place or places – Hoole Bank and ‘Le Grand Meaulnes’, the latter a favourite of both Sylvia and I, and one we studied for French A level a little time ago!

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