That’s what the future archaeologists will say about my fireplace.
Once, fire was the centre of the house and the centre of our lives. We tamed it, trained it and built chimneys take the smoke away. We celebrated our achievements and decorated the place of the fire, or fireplace, with a mantelpiece. Now the fire has gone and the mantelpiece becomes the place of the TV, rather like Roman temples replaced Neolithic sacred places and were later replaced themselves by Christian churches. TV is the centre of the household now. Praise be to TV.
And now, after the TV has gone, there just remains a bracket bolted to the wall. It is the clue but not the reason, the tantalising glimpse into what was. The archaeologists will say it was ‘ritual’, why else would we have suspended something above our very special fireplaces?
“She would die or him, despite the fact he would arrive late at her funeral, if at all” – Nick Lovell
She would try for him, despite the fact he clearly wasn’t interested, or even very tall,
She would lie for him, despite the fact he would be the first to shout ‘Perjury!’ at her trial, if called,
She would buy for him, despite the fact he would ignore her beautifully wrapped gift of John Lewis smalls,
She would sigh for him, despite the fact he couldn’t hear her slow exhalations of air through the bathroom stall,
She would cry for him, despite the fact he would ignore her gin-soaked prone form propped against ns the kitchen wall.
The inspiration for this – whatever it is – came from the one line quoted at the top from Swindon based poet Nick Lovell.
Nick Lovell is a part time van driver, full time romantic, half arsed anarchist, eternal optimist and sometime poet. He currently holds 4 poetry slam titles from Nantwich to Hereford and enjoys writing for both page and performance!
Doombar, get in the van, drive to Rock, see what’s there. The sea crashing waves over there. The field, green grass. Tent, van, boiling potatoes. Chick peas soaking, hummus for supper. Where next? Drive down the road. New site, new sounds new places, new faces. The summer invites me and together we roll by.
Hands like spiders he preys on his plate
Sitting in silence she waits on her fate
Forking through the pasta
Won’t make time go faster
Sometimes you’ve just got to wait
Interview With The Gloucester Poetry Society
What is your name?
James Laurie aka Shadow The Poet
Can you give a unique fact about yourself?
I swam in the River Sow on Christmas Day and the Usk on New Years Day.
When did you start writing poetry?
What kind of poetry do you like to write?
I just like to write about life, either in a free verse or prose style stream of consciousness type of thing. I also like to dabble in Haikus and other syllable counting styles.
What are your inspirations?
Anything at all, although looking at the stuff Ive written it majors on personal themes, divorce, death, depression that sort of thing.
Who are your favourite poets / artists?
I love music and could tell you hundreds of bands I enjoy, some of the most influential in my work include the driving rhythms of Johnny Cash and the storytelling of Martha Tilston. Closer to home I enjoy Dave Dunwell’s poems and wish I could write like him, Hannah Teasdale, Tim Vosper, Tim King, Robert Garnham and Luke Wright are definitely worth seeing if you can.
What makes you smile?
Seeing the Malverns, the Welsh Mountains, walking into the woods and jumping in rivers.
Sometimes Saturdays are for doing, and somedays Saturdays are for watching and waiting, ooh, and anticipating…..
“An old man sees better behind himself than a young man sees in front of himself.” – Czech Proverb
The salmon is destined for one purpose and one purpose only and that is to return to its birthplace and spawn a new generation. One purpose from its birth, to reproduce. And what if it fails in that purpose? Is that a life wasted? Do we go to a symphony recital to wait for and listen to the last note, or do we enjoy the whole with the ending as important as the start or the middle. Each note is its own, its own existence, its own life, its own measure of importance.
This salmon lived its life to its full extent, it spawned, it travelled the treacherous trail to the sea and lived and grew and made its return journey upstream. It negotiated the Bristol Channel and ploughed upstream into the Wye and one hundred miles of downward flow and weirs and waterfalls until one day it stopped and just died. Here on my doorstep, on my beach. Exhausted in the struggle against the relentless flow of the Wye, it just died and now it lays in the water, a shallow grave.
What is a life if it is lived unfulfilled? Who gets to judge fulfilment or unfulfilment?
How will you live this one precious life?
Air Temp: 11 oC Water Temp: 11 oC
Slightly foggy, a mist had descended during the day, but a day sat at the table was too much and the river was calling with its soft call.
And I knew it was cold outside and I knew the water would be cold.
No, not cold, but invigorating, bracing, alive!
And so down to the river I head.
I run, I figure better to be warm on the outside than to stand and shiver at the edge.
Boats, coming downstream, a change of plan and up to the rope swing and I pause.
And wait again.
And finally I climb down and in.
Feet, calves, knees, thighs, trunks and I just stand there.
It’s not that cold.
But the mind is loud and the fear of cold is strong, even though I’m standing there in it.
I draw back, then advance slowly.
Millimetre by millimetre and one centimetre later I am still in the same place.
And then I swim.
Yes, it’s cold, and no, it’s not cold.
Not like ice, I’m not shivering, it’s just cold.
And I swim upstream a bit and downstream a bit and repeat.
And then it’s time to climb out and relish the warmer air before trotting back to the caravan, pausing only to pull a top on before exiting the wood and heading back.
It’s midnight, give or take, and a man walks into my bar. I’m on the laptop doing something or other, just using the wifi really, never expected anyone to show up at this time of night. Well, maybe I did, we have 30 or 40 members of a Polish sailing club camped out in the top woods drinking vodka and singing sea-shanties. We have a stag party and a hen party down in the Tipis. I thought maybe someone might show up, and in rolled Aaron and Rhodri. Aaron and Rhodri were staying at the B&B but had had their night curtailed when the landlord of the pub their little party was drinking in called last orders.
“Another round landlord”, he cried.
“It’s last orders but not for you” replied the landlord.
And with that their little group retired to bed, except for Aaron who could smell campfires and wandered down into the unknown world of campfires, forests and Squires Bar. Rhodri could barely stand but made a bee line for the piano.
“Play something”, he called to Aaron as he thrust a guitar at him. “Play something.”
“What?” replied Aaron
“Anything! A ‘C’!”
Aaron obliged with a ‘C’ chord and the two of them jammed for a while, occasionally ordering more drinks and Rhodri occasionally interspersing the jam with plaintive wails in the style of Adam Sandler in ‘The Wedding Singer’ in his greatest breakdown. Only Billy Idol showing up could have made the scene any more surreal.
I see you drawing. You’re sitting on a rock, on a beach looking out to sea. You don’t know I’m there, maybe you feel me in your mind but when you turn there’s just rock and the wind. I see you drawing, sketching the sea, a groyne, some rocks, a seagull, maybe a dolphin. I can’t draw, I have to write what I see. Write what you see. How would you describe what you sketch, would it match what I write? How can you express feelings in art? I can draw you in, explain the detail, you can only show the big picture; hope the viewer can see your intention. Can you make me feel the wind, smell the seaweed, the salt? Can you feel the rock you are sitting on? Is it cold, do you draw your coat tight around you? Do you feel me now holding you tight, one arm across your chest? We stare into the distance, the North Sea, the wind blowing in our faces. The moment lasts forever then it is gone, a gull cries, there’s no-one there. You sketch.
The memory is still so strong, years later I can remember the phone call, of how you told of running into the sea into those November waves and experiencing the thrill of the power of the waves and the overwhelming coldness of the North Sea for perhaps just a short minute or two before retreating to your brother’s house overlooking the seafront. And now you were talking to me, drinking wine and wearing that jumper, warming up and buzzing ecstatically with excitement. And though my heart ached for you, and I wished I was there to share it with you, I also knew you would never be mine. Your spirit was too free or perhaps you just didn’t love me enough, in the right way, to make it work.