THE LAST OF BRITAIN

The when, where, why of the last of Britain

is not easy to pinpoint exactly.

 

Perhaps it was Dudley Moore, the comic actor

and skilful musician, drunk, approaching

Princess Margaret at some exclusive do

and slurring, “Good evening, your royal highness.

I suppose a blow job is out of the question?”

 

Or the woman herself choosing not to be buried

with her peers, but cremated in Slough.

 

Possibly it was the Queen and her consort,

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OCCAM’S RAZOR…

…a maxim named for a Franciscan friar,

William of Ockham, from the Surrey village –

and from London, Oxford, Avignon,

Munich – Pope’s enemy, Emperor’s friend,

dying just as the Black Death was scourging.

 

It is a metaphor, not logic chopping –

best summarised, perhaps, as ‘less is more’,

‘don’t over-egg the pudding’, even

‘fine words butter no parsnips’. He was

the radical philosopher of his age,

a nominalist – words are words, ideas

ideas,

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MONKS AND TOURISTS

Sheltering from a summer shower

beneath the portico of the Tunsgate Arch,

Guildford, I looked down the steep High Street

towards the bridge over the River Wey

and saw three bespectacled Buddhist Monks

emerge from Dolland & Aitchison and,

lifting their saffron robes, run to Jigsaw.

 

Enjoying my pan fried sea bass and Guinness

in The Faulkner, Hoole, and watching the rain

trickle down the Walker Street Co-op’s facade,

my view was suddenly blocked by a coach

from which a party of middle aged

Japanese tourists descended and,

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AS GOOD AS IT GETS

After we have booked our whale watching trip,

we spend the afternoon at Yoko Ono’s

‘Imagine Peace’ in the Hafnarhús

gallery, where we put peace stickers

on maps of the world and our grand daughter

writes on her label to hang on the peace tree

‘I wish I could have lovelyness for ever

and ever and ever and ever’ – then she

and I play the war game chess. Later

we have fish and chips – battered in spelt

and oven roasted respectively –

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A WINTER’S JOURNEY

Driving northwards, driving homewards, we pass

inundated pasture – mercurial

in shape and colour – its sheen reflecting

the late morning’s rare roseate sky.

Bared trees and bushes are a dull amber.

 

In time, cloud cover becomes leaden –

then snow falls: the downy flakes like weightless

seeds, which the windscreen wipers flail clear

again and again. The empty fields fill,

remorselessly, as early evening comes.

 

Miles on, the snow no longer falls. It has

settled.

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A SHROPSHIRE LAD…

…is the first book of poetry I owned –

a breast pocket sized hardback, slightly foxing.

It was my father’s: his name neatly

in capitals on the inside cover

in indelible pencil – a Londoner,

the son of immigrants. When I was ten

my mother gave it me. I liked the first line

‘From Clee to heaven the beacon burns’,

imagining it set to music.

 

Following his death on active service, the book

was sent back with all his other things.

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