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Note:Francis Bennion sadly died on 28 January 2015.

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Text of book

Part Three (continued)

Social Life

Start of page 79 in the book

Christmas Music


Joyfully sing Noel, Noel!
for those who dwell in harmony
joyfully sing Noel, Noel!
and make a musical Christmas Day


Greenest leaves
whitest snow
berries red
firelight glow
set the stage
for its ancient show


Happily peal the Christmas bells
on those who dwell in harmony
happily peal the Christmas bells
and make a musical Christmas day

Carols old
voices new
faithful friends
lovers true
sing in tune
all Christmas through


Joyfully sing Noel, Noel!
for those who dwell in harmony
joyfully sing Noel, Noel!
and make a musical Christmas Day


Start of page 80 in the book

Christmas of a Lonesome Ex


Seasonable icicles
glitter at the sun
warmth from the pipes and the pinelog blaze
doesn’t get through to Jim


Kiss-and-coloured tissues
clothe the shapes on the tree
wrapped in excitement and tied with love
but little of that for Jim


Rows of shiny bottles
filled with fellowship
the pudding’s steamed and the goose is cooked
none of it’s for Jim


Jim stands in the snowdrift
nose pressed to the pane
they’re drinking a toast to the spirit of love
they don’t notice him


Start of page 81 in the book

Any Old Railway Line


Edgar is carried away
by any old railway line - as long as it's really old;
he's an otherwise sensible man
so I wondered why.


Edgar says well you see
on any old railway line - as long as it's really old
I can wander free
yet still feel confined.


He understands, does Edgar,
that any old railway line - as long as it's really old -
though laid across grass
has the city's shine.


The city exerts its rule
all over the countryside;
but Edgar loves the old way - as long as it's really old -
the old way - the railway.


I think I see what he means
as I lounge in the dale by the track - really old:
the grass and the hills are green -
but city folk prevail.


Edgar goes striding on
walking the railway track - as long as it's really old.
Though it goes to the city and back
it still feels countryfied.


He even walks the tracks
where the rails have been removed - really old
and the trains no longer run.
Edgar is a funny one.


Start of page 82 in the book

The Albion


Why then does our Jack want the Albion to win
so badly? Every week he's there
as religiously as our Mabel goes to Chapel
standing and peering, next an eight-foot mesh
put in last summer to protect the turf
from bovver boots or worse


Why does Alf want the Albion to win
in every contest, even the cupties?
the superstar whose name he chants today
last week played in the opposing team
and earns Alf's annual wage (plus bonuses)
in just one day


Years ago their Dad stood on those terraces
shouting and jeering, just like Jack or Alf
but other things were different in those days
no fences caged you out, the players' names
stayed very much the same from season's start
until its end


All local lads, in shorts below the knee
made up the Albion team in old Dad's day
glad of the maximum wage (eight pounds a week)
they didn't hug and kiss a boy who scored
or think a soccer player's highest skill
the professional foul


To Jack and Alf that doesn't matter much
on weekdays life is flat, come the weekend
they join the monster on the terraces
that shouts with its ten thousand throats as one
and feels in all of its ten thousand hearts
a single throb


Start of page 83 in the book


That's why each wants the Albion to win
their win is his, meaning he has not fought
the weekday foe entirely in vain
each wins with every match the Albion win
their victory is his, but sadly when they lose
so's the defeat


Start of page 84 in the book

Coffee-coloured World


In the long run
it's a coffee-coloured world.


A planet fated to be populated
by people intermixed.


Humans whose small cultures
must be swamped by a swelling tide.


Or rescued as curiosities -
to be hung out and dried.


Whites losing their cherished whiteness
blacks no longer ebony.


All folks forced to acknowledge
that in the long, long run


we will all live happily together
in our mixed-up coffee-coloured world.


Start of page 85 in the book

Crime Resisters




Jack is glad his newspaper is filled with exploits:
say a man in his sixties exploiting a girl of eleven.
Jack pays Murdoch hard cash to be exploited;
a man in his sixties permitting himself indirectly to indulge.


Indirectly Jack indulges bright yearning for young girls:
a man of 64, having no business directly to exploit,
Jack's waning lust is still directed at innocent children;
but for the few years left he intends to go on resisting.




Dear Alice would love the good life, knowledgeable as she is;
telling Rembrandt from Picasso, the Dordogne from the Auvergne.
Doris, her little sister, knows nothing of all this;
a simple soul, she nevertheless deserves a break.


Good-life yearning Alice, brighter than each one of her bosses,
spots a foolproof way of cheating, a surefire treat for Doris -
no office person would find out, so that must make it all right.
Alice shrugs, and goes back to her embroidery of Windsor Castle.




Muther Glod is gruesome,
sweats his glaumy paws,
longs to clutch, gruesomely
what hangs in Billy's drawers.


Muther Glod holds honour
high above desire:
honours Billy's growing,
banks down his fire.


Start of page 86 in the book

The Cemetery at Bassan, in the Languedoc




Dead, we here now inhabit smaller but grander houses
chiselled (when our heirs could afford it)
from the local stone.


As in our living village
this dead facade imposes most.
The privileged among us boast
Concession á perpetuité.




The youngest amongst we dead,
not having known maturity,
remember this child.


Like any clumsy adult
you tearfully watched him die,
then smoothly engraved the cry
Ici repose un ange.




Through the peeping eyes of eternalized photographs
between vitrified petals in alarming colours
we scan the names of strange territories.


Henri we see,
who ought to be here with us,
is one of many on Death's bus
Parti au ciel.


Start of page 87 in the book



Stoically we dead endure our sanctioned overcrowding
giving us no room to turn over
even a new leaf.


As to cheques confidently drawn on posterity -
we ask who among the unborn will be constrained to feel
a sentiment commanded by one not of his weal
Regrets eternal.




Oh, Mort pour la France is moving
Priez pour eux moving too
Que ton repos soit doux
comme ton coeur fut bon

a sentiment sweet if untrue.




Perhaps keep stone for living houses, since
only the remembering living,
among their lively preoccupations,
and if they have been given sufficient cause,
will truly mourn the dead
in this or any Cemetery
in the Languedoc or elsewhere.