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Driving on education business to Crewe,

a quarter of a century ago,

I stopped for petrol on the Nantwich Road,

and there in a rack with Blur, Celine Dion

and Bon Jovi was Fred Astaire, Volume 2.

How my life changed! So many favourites

on one disc! I put the CD in the slot,

drove off the forecourt, and pressed the switch.

‘Heaven, I’m in heaven, And my heart beats

so that I can hardly speak, And I seem

to find the happiness I seek When

we’re out together dancing, cheek to cheek…’

and the track finished with his immortal feet

tap dancing in my company car.


I thought of Israel Beilin – as I parked

at the college to provide advice

on pedagogical strategies –

leaving school at eight to sell the New York

Daily News on the Lower East Side,

plugging songs at eighteen in Tin Pan Alley,

becoming Irving Berlin, auto-didact,

maestro of the music and the lyrics,

making witty, eclectic American

art from those spirited, Yiddisher streets.


When I drove away the car filled again

with Astaire’s light, pellucid voice: ‘Before

the fiddlers have fled Before they ask us

to pay the bill And while we still have that chance

Let’s face the music and dance.’




© Copyright David Selzer
2 Responses
  • Keith Johnson
    October 30, 2020

    Ah – I was born in a house on the Nantwich Road at Wells Green [near the birthplace of Betty Mynshull, Milton’s third wife] – Paradise Lost!

  • John Huddart
    October 30, 2020

    That list of three that precedes Fred Vol 2 [and in no way comes after him!] is so cleverly inserted. A hint of poverty in a field and poem of riches. Let’s face the music…….Indeed.

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