It was a Grundig, I think, and pretty battered. I used to make my own tapes of stuff like Jon Foxx and Fun Boy Three and put labels and stickers all over them. I sat in a box-room bedroom and stared out at suburbia towards the M6 and escape. I made the place pretty comfortable: there was a wall carpet showing a bear being slaughtered by cossacks (something my RAF Auntie dragged back from a Hamburg flea market), a 14″ black-and-white TV and a cluster of white melamine, scarlet-edged units. My tiny bookcase was stacked with Dylan Thomas and Douglas Dunn and The Mersey Poets. Ian McCulloch belted out lyrics from Porcupine on the tinny Grundig while Mum competed with ‘that noise’ by battering the base of my bedroom door with her Hoover. Happy days.
I found a stash of yellowing, brittle papers from my GCSE/A-level days. In keeping with the honesty of this blog – I’ll share it all – I’m going to post some adolescent poetry. I make no apologies…..it’s a stage we all went through.
The thick, cattle-trodden mud, that guided the last
Few apologising souls
Still led the way to the farm without workers
Next to the chapel, down the track, where Time stood still
And the trees surrendered to salt-fresh gales
Pointing eastwards for mercy.
Two proud lions stand in Gothic defiance
Guarding a house no one enters or leaves.
The Welsh dresser in the window hides the darkness inside.
Three more houses huddle, pebble-dashed, their windows opaque with salt.
Someone had stacked fertiliser sacks and gravestones against the lichen rock.
Over a weathered slate stile, across a field abandoned by moles and cows
Is the chapel. Walled, surrounded, thorny, to keep out and bramble-tear
Those who don’t visit. Leaded windows damp for the millionth time
Reveal benches and sills, choked with dust and birds’ feathers
And a scatter of parched books in the Bible-black interior.
Fear of God lies in the starch, embalming atmosphere.
An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.