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Snooker Champion

Gavin Ewart, 21 December 1989

... Open your mouths! Dinna keep them shut like a row of clams! But use them for shouting and for downing wee drams! For Stephen Hendry, the Pride of Scotland, has beaten that bounder, That horrible Thatcherite Sassenach wi’ a face like a flounder! ...

A Victorian Cemetery

Gavin Ewart, 17 December 1981

... Bony skeletons in coffinwood, some of them bad, some of them good, all of them silent, stretched out straight, hope to get in at Heaven’s Gate. Some had breasts to drive men wild or (more important) to feed a child; some had redhead cocks, to crow; now they lie there, row by row. Everything soft has drained away, hard and simple till Judgment Day they lie still in their mouldered shrouds, under the sun and rain and clouds ...

On the Surrey/Hampshire Border

Gavin Ewart, 1 May 1980

... Why on earth ever did (I wonder) Shaw and Wells so much like Grayshott, and Conan Doyle, at Hindhead, build ‘Undershaw’ – when they might have got away, shot of all those dark and dismal conifers, those larches, spruces, pines, fishboney firs, and gone on down Southwards, right on to the clear sea and sun of Sussex and the traditional naughti ...

An old person reflects on love

Gavin Ewart, 18 August 1983

... Those who said that they loved us are terribly dead                  or not quite right in the head or they went missing thirty years after the last passionate kissing, gone, with no phone calls or letters; with other mates;            you could say they were now dates only in history, vanished so far that they’re not even a mystery ...

The Mischievous Boy

Gavin Ewart, 18 November 1982

... Love jumped on us before we knew his name, twisted our arms at prep schools, hid up our mothers’ skirts, oh! we were bent by knitted bosoms and that ladylike scent! Love was a tyrant in his belted shorts, was good at games and comely just as the Bible said, behind the scrum a hardworked angel – no wicked words like bum. Love came, not physical ...

The Novels of Beryl Bainbridge

Gavin Ewart, 22 February 1990

... If you’re a man in a book by Beryl, believe me, you’re in very great peril! Unsure of purpose, weak and wobbly, or stern and strong, small bum, knees knobbly, Accidental-On-Purpose Death before the end will stop your breath! You’ll find it’s a girl who’s the great Prime Mover when your Fate sucks you in like a ghastly Hoover. Wolves are around in girl-sheep apparel (just one girl once ended up in a barrel ...
... My old eyes tell me they are offering claret!What a most marvellous, unheard-of prize!Alas! dementia sapiens non caret*Poetic fame in such a Bacchic guise!Much money too! A poet in a garretno longer needs to starve, as cold he lies!Who wins? A Browning? Or a hot Miss Barrett?… that is beyond our wildest wild surmise!£5,000! For sure, the lucky w ...

‘Family in Terror of an Evil Spirit’

Gavin Ewart, 10 December 1987

... Evening News, Edited, Printed and Published in Scotland’s Capital City, Saturday, 15 August 1987 There’s a wee Evil Spirit abroad in a wee West Lothian family, a wee Invisible Force has attacked, with a knife, a girl lodger – slashed the wee girl with a knife, causing terror and turmoil in Dedridge! Along with her three wee sons, Mrs Avril Perkins is frightened ...

Tallness is all

Gavin Ewart, 17 October 1985

... Pope and Keats were nothings, only two feet high – all the enormous Sitwells were towering to the sky. Edith once told Bottrall physical size was all – miniature masterpieces weren’t on, by anybody small! All long, or little, poems by Thwaite or Taner Baybars are bound to be a waste of time and, you might say, lost labours. No chance for midget madrigals – the Muse abhors dwarf dwellings ...

Three Poems

Gavin Ewart, 3 September 1981

... Black Spring Spring brings the joys of love to me and you. It stimulates the young child-murderer too. Bad News in April 1981 Robert Garioch, the best poet in Scotland, is dead. The wit stops coming from that remarkable singing head. A Rough Ballad of Old Chicago Hemingway was a Wound-and-the-Bow writer but his mother thought he was a low writer an ...

Two Poems

Gavin Ewart, 23 May 1991

... A Place in the Hierarchy Anybody can easily see that Auden is cleverer than me, and likewise Professor Dodds or even Joseph Brods-                                       ky! And the talents that the Fates once handed out to Yeats must make me seem a wimp and very lowgrade simp-                                           ly! High Art is not quite my scene, I am more a might-have-been, a sow’s ear, not a silk, and far below great Rilk-                                           e! I’m flatter, some think, than a quiche but still I have my own small niche; and, with luck, I can bend your ear like Stephen Spend-                                                 er! The Function of Pets In many households the pets are the only things they talk about, holding the family together so that the husband doesn’t go walkabout ...

Dickens and I*

Gavin Ewart, 20 November 1980

... After a reading in a Derbyshire school, the fifteens and the sixteen-year-olds are clustering round me (no fool like an old fool), the clevers, the athletics, the shys, the bolds, for me to sign their poem-photostats; I write ‘Best wishes to Clare; John; Clive; Maureen.’ These are their souvenirs – Bard Rock, Hippocrene beer mats – xeroxed to help them sort out what I mean, like worksheets ...

Two Poems

Gavin Ewart, 21 May 1981

... Violent Passions The mouth can be quite nasty in a bite The lover’s pinch can be malicious too Legs kick, as well as tangle, in a bed Words can be harsh and not console or rhyme Fighting is also love’s especial food Hands can enlace with hands or round a neck The tools that pierce can be unyielding steel Attractive nails can score, like claws, the face Fingers can spread on cheeks, harmful and strong Hair can be pulled in war, that’s stroked in peace The fighting female differs from the male The spitting cat attacks the barking dog Traditional: Nuisance Value The cat jumps onto my desk as I write this, he jogs my arm ...

Two Thomas Hardy Poems

Gavin Ewart, 26 September 1991

... 1. Marty South’s Letter to Edred Fitzpiers (Thomas Hardy: The Woodlanders, end of Chapter XXXIV) Deer Mister Fitzpiers A’m writen to thee now to tell thee what may lie heavy on thy belly! Yon hiair that Barber Percomb took that wer my hiair, by t’Holy Book, a zold it to’m – an’ all to deck proud Mistress Charmond’s hiead an’ neck! Zo what thou stroak’st in’t hers but mine, zo pirty, vrom a maid divine it might a’ come! A girt injustice ’tis now to me, vor wheer they lust is theer might a’ been some love o’ me! Zigned: Marty South, o’ low degree ...

‘John Betjeman: A Life in Pictures’

Gavin Ewart, 6 December 1984

... When I see yet another work of hagiography concerning Sir John Betjeman, it makes me want to vomit! Show me, I want to say, please, the ‘geography’ of the house!1 But Betjeman wasn’t nasty, in fact very far from it. It’s probably the Murrays who are such penny-turners (Byron’s one was a Philistine). John’s an important asset, one of the few real genuine poetic earners,2 man not mouse, in many a crowd-pulling, wide, populist facet ...

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