Sunday, 5 September 2010

Road to Nowhere - a Compo

Idle lay in his bath this morning, listening to his 'Desert Island' playlist on his iPod speakers. About five songs in, up came 'Road to Nowhere' by the estimable Talking Heads.

Later on, in the car, someone mentioned Kensal Green on Radio 4. I have never been to Kensal Green, but I know about the cemetery, it being the closing destination in that utterly fabulous paean to England's unstraight roads by GK Chesterton. For those who don't know it, here it is (and it's no hardship for those who do know it):

The Rolling English Road

Before the Roman came to Rye or out to Severn strode,
The rolling English drunkard made the rolling English road.
A reeling road, a rolling road, that rambles round the shire,
And after him the parson ran, the sexton and the squire;
A merry road, a mazy road, and such as we did tread
The night we went to Birmingham by way of Beachy Head.

I knew no harm of Bonaparte and plenty of the Squire,
And for to fight the Frenchman I did not much desire;
But I did bash their baggonets because they came arrayed
To straighten out the crooked road an English drunkard made,
Where you and I went down the lane with ale-mugs in our hands,
The night we went to Glastonbury by way of Goodwin Sands.

His sins they were forgiven him; or why do flowers run
Behind him; and the hedges all strengthening in the sun?
The wild thing went from left to right and knew not which was which,
But the wild rose was above him when they found him in the ditch.
God pardon us, nor harden us; we did not see so clear
The night we went to Bannockburn by way of Brighton Pier.

My friends, we will not go again or ape an ancient rage,
Or stretch the folly of our youth to be the shame of age,
But walk with clearer eyes and ears this path that wandereth,
And see undrugged in evening light the decent inn of death;
For there is good news yet to hear and fine things to be seen,
Before we go to Paradise by way of Kensal Green.

GK Chesterton

So, my requirement for the compo subject was finally revealed: I want geography, or topography, or directions, or sign posts, or being lost. Or found, perhaps. Thoroughfares, byways, dead ends and tracks that peter out. But I don't want travel, per se, nor do I want modes of transport. Chesterton didn't spoil his masterpiece by talk of cars or trains and I don't see whay you lot should either.

Clerihews probably don't spring to mind for this one, but be my guest if you want. Epics, limericks, sonnets, haikus. There is room for them all.

You have a week at least. Tell your friends, not so much because I want traffic on this blog, more because a big entry will make it more amusing for all of us. There will be a prize.


apricotfox said...

first of many ( entrants and entries from me, that is...
'The way to Bridport?
Well, I would not start from here.'
A local's advice.

Tuscan Tony said...

Somerset and Tuscany
Grain and grape
Degrees of separation.

I'd already decided to do a Haiku before I saw the above excellent first entry, honest!

Apols for the paucity of visits to the idle blog by the way, this failure is now corrected.

Alan Douglas said...


On this last day of summertime we take
a trip to coast, by way of jumble sale;
enjoying one the other's company,
we gain, as others tidy out their lives.

Ice cream despite the cold, licked perfectly
at parapet of bridge. Below ducks, swans
cavort, win crumbs of cones tossed carelessly
to Arun flowing ever darkly by.

On then to Bosham, reeking history -
smells too of tide when out, sea food and weed.
Tea shared, scones, and jam, and cream, all savoured
and devoured. Conversation ebbs and glows.

Evening stroll, evening our lives, to church,
reflect on ancient stones and serried pews.
Starlings gather, competing for best spots
on tower's vane, as end draws ever near.

Standing by shore, we watch as sun dips low,
and lower still, then more. These last moments
we hold hands. Giant sphere sinks, era slips
imperceptibly over edge of world, til gone.

We're close, and thrill to varied pastels viewed,
we point to painted vistas, shades and hues;
reflect on magic, embers settle, and go cold,
the night the light went out - of our love.

Alan McAlpine Douglas

Scrobs... said...

As far as the Scrobs camp is concerned, no travel compo would be complete without the story of John Gilpin.

The first three verses are : -

"JOHN GILPIN was a citizen
Of credit and renown,
A train-band captain eke was he
Of famous London town.

John Gilpin’s spouse said to her dear,‘Though wedded we have been
These twice ten tedious years, yet we No holiday have seen.

‘To-morrow is our wedding-day,
And we will then repair
Unto the Bell at Edmonton,
All in a chaise and pair."

The full version is here, and I'd like you to know that I had to preform this epic, in front of the whole school in 1960, in the open air theatre we'd just built.

Nomad said...

A Journey

Some time ago I toured the planet
Looking for my daughter, Janet.
“I’ve gone to Moscow” said her letter.
Should I follow? I think I’d better.

I finally came into Red Square,
But all too late. She wasn’t there.
“She’s head south”, a young man says.
“Suggest you go and look in Fez”.

I arrived at last in Fez medina,
But alas alack, no one had seen her.
A donkey rider, burnished brown
Said “Jan’s gone off to see Cape Town”.

I headed south – but all in vain
She’d left for Sydney on the plane.
She wants to feed the kangaroos.
So what to do? Follow on – no time to lose.

At harbourside I bought a shandy
From a chap whose name was Andy.
He said that Jan was in (that’s handy!)
But now was headed north to Nadi**.

Still I trailed her, made a check
And found she’d left to see Lautrec.
Now, Tahiti is a place I adore.
Perhaps I’ll catch her by the shore.

But lo, again I was too late
She’d taken passage for Frisco’s Gate.
I hastened there, but again too slow.
She’d gone to see a Vegas show.

I hurried on with worried frown
And watched the gamblers going down.
But from me they’d get no pity –
My girl had gone to New York city.

At last I found her, hale and hearty
At a famous film star’s party
We caught the late flight (00.03)
That got us home in time for tea.

(** Nadi, Fiji’s international airport, is pronounced “Nandi”)

lilith said...

Well, the standards here are impossibly high.

William Gruff said...

Sorry Idle but I cannot resist lowering the tone:

Some years ago, while I lived within the walls at Berwick-upon-Tweed, I was minding my business, as one does in England, while walking down the street, when a car pulled up beside me and an American voice enquired loudly from within, and without introduction, apology, a by your leave or an excuse me, 'How do I get to A1?' Peering into the car I noticed two very fat, elderly and red faced people, one male and one female. The enquiry had come from the male and before I could reply the female added, presumably to confirm the destination in my simple English mind, 'AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA Wuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuun.'. Naturally I explained that they could not easily find the A1 if they continued as they had and needed to alter course if they were to regain the road.

That notwithstanding:

TT that is not a haiku, and shame on you for offering it as such.

Haiku writ large
The Poet's spirit wills
Though flesh be weak.

apricotfox: to brid port one must first catch one's port. Sadly, however, the bridding of port is a long last art (and one which did not require the barbaric sacrifice of a perfectly good truckle of Stilton).

Apologies to our host. Nice to see you back.

Memo to self: Stop blogging while drinking.

idle said...

Never consider the bar too high, lil; I am the judge and jury here and just because I have a lunch with the poet Drew coming up doesn't mean that I buy him his pie and pint as the prize.

Good show so far. My own humble entry is being polished before being committed here.

Tuscan Tony said...

Not a traditional haiku in the 5-7-5 form WGbut the Haiku Society of America does allow variations:

If you will indulge me but allowing the submission of something at variance from the normally acceptable...?

Elby The Berserk said...

If you went somewhere else
You wouldn't be
Where once you were.

This has been a Public Service Announcement

Tuscan Tony said...

The Leith
Dismisseth Us.

I was forced to recite this ditty to demonstrate sobriety to the Memsahib so that the homestead's drawbridge would be lowered and I could seek my bed after a late evening.

Nomad said...

Since it is pouring with rain and I have nothing better to do at the moment and multiple entries seem to be permitted for this travel compo…..

Picture this:

The newly built Roman amphitheatre just north of Londinium is filled to capacity for the finals of the international “Orators R Us” competition. All the programmes, popcorn and ice cream have long been sold out. The expectant crowd awaits the entry of the very last contestant.

Finally, the Master of Ceremonies, the renowned centurion, Titus Aduxas, stands and raises his hand for silence. The crowd obeys. Silence – no one dares drop a pin for fear of shattering the mood. The excitement mounts inexorably.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, our final contestant tonight comes from the Barbarian lands beyond Hadrian’s Wall where the Pictish hordes still roam wild and unwashed. He is a famous author of many tomes and witticisms which have made their way into our language. He has promised tonight to sweep you all off your feet, so without further delay allow me to introduce Biggus McTittus.

Biggus appears from the darkness of one the arches in the wall of the amphitheatre, lightly acknowledging the boos and/or cheers of the spectators. Clad in Roman warrior finery his short leather skirt clinks as he walks slowly but purposefully towards the designated spot marked on the ground. His battle-weary sandals leave scuff marks in the sand. He stops, places one foot slightly ahead of the other, left hand on left hip, and extends his right arm, head thrown slightly back, fingers pointing towards a handsome blonde youth in Row Z.

He adjusts his stance slightly, flicks his hair lightly and peers more carefully at the youth in Row Z, but his thoughts remain private. He raises a delicate hand to his lips to clear his throat. Ahem ahem.. He takes a deep meaningful breath and begins in a deep bass sonorous voice:

“Friends, Romans and Immigrants lend me your ears and listen carefully to this heroic tale of courage (about which know a thing or two, I can tell you), valour and indescribable bravery. You’ve heard of the travels of Jason and his Argonauts? Pah, a mere breeze in comparison. Hannibal leading his elephants over the Alps? Not much more than a stroll in the country really. No, this is the story of a real hero. Now pay attention!” Ahem, ahem:

“ THE GOD OF WAR [pause for effect]
Rode out one day
Upon his favourite filly”
“I’m THOR”, he cried.
His horse replied: “You forgot your thaddle, thilly”.

Regrettably, history does not record whether Biggus was successful in this compo or not. You, the jury, must decide.

- - - - - - - - - -

Fast forward some 2000 years to a physics lab in Headcorn where a harried teacher is trying to instill the concept of a journey made at the speed of light into his reluctant students.

”Put it like this”, he said:

There was a young fellow named Bright
Who travelled much faster than light.
He went out one day in a relative way,
And arrived home the previous night.

{Exit stage left (where the door is) to make a up of tea and await the arrival of the usual five quid book token}.

Nomad said...

Oh rats!! While typing that last message Blogger has posted yet a third copy. I really am not tring to hog the limelight! Honest. Please tidy it up.

Nick Drew said...

directions, lost, found ...

Stephen Hawking is Lost

Stephen Hawking is admirable.
Following Einstein’s directions
- though hobbled by cruel intervention of fate -
to a unified theory of all.
Man undefeated by matter
Spirit undaunted by fate

Working out of his wheelchair
Talking out of his voice-box -
Stephen Hawking roams free !

A glorious paradox here -
confinement of flesh giving birth
to unlimited worlds of ideas.
Eleven dimensions of space-time-whatever
in which Stephen Hawking roams free !

Oh, Stephen Hawking is smart.
From a world of mathematics where few men can follow
M-theoretic pronouncements
that fall on our ignorant ears.
How to attract our attention ?
How to deliver the word …?
God’s always good for a headline …
Stephen (unlike Tony Blair)
Stephen Hawking Does God.

Yes, Stephen Hawking is clear:
no place for God in eleven dimensions,
no need for God in his worlds

Stephen needs only his wheelchair
Stephen needs only his voice-box
Only the bank of computers
Only the team of assistants
Only the miracles of medicine
Only the round-the-clock care.
Man undefeated by matter
Spirit undaunted by fate

At the mere relaxation of spirit - or care -
Stephen Hawking is lost

No need for God in His worlds ?
Talking out of his voice-box
Talking out of his arse.
Stephen Hawking is lost

Dust to the dust! but the pure spirit shall flow
Back to the burning fountain whence it came

Nick Drew 2010

apricotfox said...

The Friday Night Commute to Dorset in a series of Hailku

Bumper to bumper.
The sun sinks behind Stonehenge.
A303 hell.

The Archers over,
Front Row also long finished.
Question Time complete.

Desperate for home
The 'Yeovil fifty miles ' sign
Lifts a weary heart.

The last ghastliness
Of caravan-crammed highway
Yields to winding lanes

As you swing into
The darkened, tree-lined driveway
You feel peace at last.

apricotfox said...

Sorry...I meant to give this some serious time and effort but have been wiped out by migraine so last was very off the cuff.

Tuscan Tony said...

ON a point of order idle I think Nick Drew should only be permitted to enter if he has both eyeballs tied behind his back.

idle said...

Having had the pleasure of lunch with Drew yesterday, Tuscan, I have to report that his eyes face front, and the eyeballs do not bulge or swivel in their sockets. No sign of early stage dementia or the onset of anything else likely to handicap him for a while yet.

You may be right; fishing line and pure spirit alcohol as a local anaesthetic are needed, and an acquiescent Drew as well, of course.

apricotfox said...

Please amend 2nd 'stanza' to read 'Any Questions' rather than 'Question Time'....even tho' it's a poor offering, I cannot let such a fundamental error go uncorrected!

Elby The Berserk said...


My beloved L, as a practitioner of Acupuncture, would tell you to seek the needle for migraine relief. She has had some huge successes with migraine sufferers. It's a nasty affliction for sure.

apricotfox said...

Way back, I had very successful acupuncture treatment for a bad I wd certainly give it a go..Thank you for thinking of me.

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