Trying to avoid the gloomy autumnal view through my sitting room window, and looking through folders for something which remains lost, I found a piece I wrote in the depths of despair whilst living in Cornwall a few desperate winters ago. It goes without saying that I am not a poet. Nonetheless, it’s a timely reminder of the joys of living in Dorset:
Those were not the days of our lives.
Neither were they days like these. They were THE DARK DAYS:
Stumbling around the back of that angel infested graveyard on the way to
The Seven Stars, Stithians!
My saving grace; the light of my night,
Where sea shanties were sung to celebrate
St Pirran who had arrived on a stone,
Cast upon the wasteland of poor excuses for roads.
The coldest place in the universe where,
Like Wesley, I had fallen off the map.
Afraid to venture further than third gear in case I met
OR someone with a number of Labradors
OR skidded on ice
OR a pile of shit
OR worse still, arrived at my destination with water running down its walls
And chickens in the kitchen leaving behind
Another pile of shit
OR snow that stopped me escaping to Tremough
On a hill where the rain waited to seep into my bones on what was supposed to have been
A literary adventure.
I took tea with Mollie.
I listened to Josh sat on his damp bed
Playing his acoustic guitar.
I cooked aubergines and averted my eyes from the man
Strapped to cylinders of oxygen in the front room and thought
My life might not be as bad as his.
I craved the A30. I resorted to pasties and chocolate raisins.
I stood by a gate smoking and looked at the best of night skies holding
Too many stars that hung over a disaster called
Talk about poverty. Talk about desolation.
A woman purporting to be a gypsy
Accosted me in the car park on my way to look for
Otherwise unheard of tapestries that reflected
CULTURE (in a place where no-one had heard of the word).
Buy my shell she said.
I’ve spent my last two pounds parking the car in
A place I don’t want to stay in I said.
I see you in a cottage she said
Is it in Cornwall? I said
Yes, she said thinking
That would be worth three quid.
I didn’t go to the beach.
(I prefer the beach in Dorset; it can’t be beaten.
No choughs though.
But buzzards floating on air currents and mingling with hang gliders.)
I went to the Falmouth Beach Hotel
To swim and it burnt down.
Good job too and
I went on the mine trails and it was as near to beautiful as
Cornwall can manage if you’re stuck there and
I went to the Seven Stars, Stithians! again and again and
I claimed my free Sunday lunch with
Lindsay and Ian and Josh; it was small compensation.
I searched, desperately, for
Some redeeming features and there were none because
Cornwall is a poetic and artistic
Take St. Ives, for example.
Please take it,
Away, along with its galleries full of dismal pictures and its
Sculptures and its men dragging boats and its men
Swearing at bus stops.
You want to be a lifeboat man he said
Then you’d know what Cornwall’s about.
He got away with pushing in front of the queue being,
As he was, on business of the highest importance.
You don’t argue with a man with RNLI
On his jumper even if he’s
Waiting for a bus and not running for a boat.
And now they’ve told the folk of Helston to leave.
They say it’s because of
If I lived in Helston you wouldn’t have to evacuate me.
I’d have left when the sun was still shining.