Tuesday, 18 July 2006


Recollections from the past seem to be coming thick and fast, just now. Maybe, the approaching 6-0 is freeing-up my long-term memory, just as the short-term version seems to be freezing-up!


Sitting on a shady bench in the park the other day as a school Sports Day hopped-skipped-and-jumped through an otherwise idyllic afternoon, a truly terrible remembrance crept out of the Mists That Time Forgot and sat down suddenly and coldly on my heart.

I was six-years-old again and had been picked to run in the three-legged-race attached to Robert L---, who had even less of the sporting spirit than I…

BANG! goes the starting pistol!

All the other duos start cooperatively hobbling across the sun-bleached grass towards the far-off chalky line. But, before I can taken even a single step, Robert L--- instantly sits down and starts rolling around, giggling…

I hear cruel snickering laughter mingling with the honest open-throated cheers of the onlookers as I struggle to undo the school-tie that binds our ankles together, whilst unsuccessfully attempting to keep my balance…

The ignominy! The shame!

That, I think, was the day when I first knew that I would never run for England…


Scrooge said...

But how many of those kids today are still running the race Mr S ? We've all participated but do we ever meet anyone who won anything on those days. I think we all share a communal memory of defeat.

Sports Day

To be sixteen again
And know everything
But nothing at all;

To line up,
Long, baggy,
Borrowed shorts,
Just making up numbers.

“GO !”
they said,
And off I went;
I ran
And I ran
And when they all passed me,
When my teachers taunts
Stuttered hoarsely
From the sidelines,
As I crushed new-mown grass
Under foot until
It bled into my eyes
And teased my nose,
Still I ran;

I ran to the holidays,
For memories of rope swings
And worn tyres,
Of long days
Exploding with life and plans.

Then I ran
To the unknown distance,
To age, to experience,
To the summits and the valleys
Of life itself;

And when they stopped,
Red-faced and panting
At the winning tape,
I saw only roof tops of houses
Shimmering in early summer
And beyond that,
The everlasting sky
Stretching out before me
Like a sea

And I ran on
And I kept running.

Brian Sibley said...

Thanks for reminding me of Nick Clark's terrific poem, Mr Scrooge...

Readers might care to know that there's more verse by Nick and other poets to be found at Poetic Hours