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Tag Archives Chester

OTHER PEOPLE’S FLOWERS Tricia Durdey: Writer

I first met David and Sylvia Selzer – www.sylviaselzer.com – many years ago when, as a child, I would go to watch my parents rehearsing plays at Chester Little Theatre. At first I saw them as newcomers (if younger) joining a group of eccentric and opaque would-be-actors, producers, and set designers, who were also surrogate aunties and uncles to my sister and me. Gradually, as I grew up, I became more aware of their vitality, curiosity and creative urgency, and I no longer thought of them merely as two in a crowd, but as my own special friends.

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SERMON ON THE MOUNT

The plaque has been placed high onto the front wall

of a terraced house in the street next to ours –

and is, in effect, a terracotta tile,

roughly a foot-and-a half by a foot,

with a raised border, and lettering

and numerals probably executed

by a gravestone mason, who maybe lived there.

The date inscribed is 1872 –

the words, first in English and then in Welsh,

‘Blessed are the meek. Matthew V.v’.

 

When the railways came in the 1850s

bringing the London-Holyhead line,

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AT CHESTER CROSS

I am standing near the loud evangelists

by the medieval sandstone cross that marks

the centre of this erstwhile Roman camp,

Castra Deva, base for two centuries

of the Twentieth, Valeria Victrix

streets south and west to the Dee, east to forests

and the lush plain, north to sandstone outcrops.

 

The Presbyterian rhetoric

of Damnation and Sweet Jesus keeps

other spectators away, gives me

a clear view of the midsummer,

pagan parade –

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LEVITICUS

As we travelled back from a London weekend

in the Quiet Zone on the afternoon express

three very young, head scarved mothers nursed

their newborns and chattered softly all the way.

At Chester they headed for the North Wales train.

 

Not far from the Great Orme Tramway Station,

Church Walks, Llandudno, and near St Georges,

is a three storey detached house whose ground floor

has been a synagogue for a century

and more. Lubavitch rabbis officiate.

Above the shul,

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ENGLISH JOURNEY

I have made my English journey – by rail,

Chester to Euston return – maybe,

on average, three times a year since I was four.

 

It is like revisiting a ragged

museum of serendipitous

keepsakes: Canada Geese on Cheshire ponds;

GEC become Alstom in Stafford:

wind turbines and mobile phone towers

jostling radio masts near Rugby;

concrete cows in Milton Keynes; Ovaltine

in Kings Langley; Watford’s mosques;

and, anywhere, marshalling yards of

derelict rolling stock,

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THE RED SHOES

Ten minutes or so into a performance

of Mathew Bourne’s ballet at Sadler’s Wells,

with the principal alone spot lit en pointe,

there was a muffled shout off stage right

and a clatter as if a metal ladder

had been toppled. (Professional dance –

that always seems heartbreakingly effortless –

is always on the cusp of injury).

The music stopped suddenly, the curtains closed

– and, as the house lights came on, we were asked

to remain seated,

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AT CHESTER CROSS

I am standing near the loud evangelists

by the medieval sandstone cross that marks

the centre of this erstwhile Roman camp,

Castra Deva, base for two centuries

of the Twentieth, Valeria Victrix

streets south and west to the Dee, east to forests

and the lush plain, north to sandstone outcrops.

 

The Presbyterian rhetoric

of Damnation and Sweet Jesus keeps

other spectators away, gives me

a clear view of the midsummer,

pagan parade –

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FOLLOWING THE CHAIN

The photograph could have been taken anywhere

they forged the Royal Navy’s anchor chains –

Dudley, Newcastle, Ponypridd or here

in Saltney, Chester, reclaimed marshland

near the river. Wherever the Sea Lords chose

to give the contract the chain makers

and their families moved – like funfair folk

or circus people – if they were able.

 

There are thirteen men in the picture – a shift

about to go on judging by the spotless

faces, arms and hands.

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THE HEREDITARY PRINCIPLE

Hugh d’Avranches, one of the Conqueror’s henchmen,

with him at Hastings, got the Saxon earldom

of Chester and the palatine of Cheshire,

with its forests of deer and boar, as reward.

His nicknames were ‘Lupus’ and ‘Gros Veneur’

because he ravened the Welsh like a wolf

and he was a hunter and a glutton.

 

His descendant, Gerald Grosvenor, His Grace,

the late, sad 6th Duke of Westminster – holder

of twenty eight appointments, decorations,

medals, orders and titles,

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A PUBLIC MAN

i.m. David Robinson

 

At the celebration of his life –

in an erstwhile garrison church now

educational centre – there was music,

applause, laughter, sadness, his cardboard coffin

with red roses and his panama hat.

And it was as if he were there – as he was,

for sure, in the gathered memories

of the many present and the many,

in absentia, who had written.

The order of service commanded

‘All Sing The Red Flag’,

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