There ought to be a better way of living To find catharsis in these twilight years, But I am no misanthrope, My dreams can give me hope And help to wipe away my tensions and my tears.
So let me lead you now into my dreamworld, A land where vanished wishes can come true. Where life and love and pleasure, And all those things we treasure, Will follow from our final rendezvous.
A land where angels sing glad songs of romance, Where the bells remember chimes they’d long forgot; Where they now forever ring, And with those angels sing, And we at last are happy with our lot.
For my frequent dream is one of youth recurring; A new start in life to live it once again. To eliminate the stress, To start again afresh, And live my life devoid of stifling pain.
But the place where dreams are stored is fast receding, A library of books once felt and read. Now they will never come to life Before they meet the pruning knife, And all those thoughts they bred remain unsaid.
I wrote these rather pompous verses when I thought I was old; Old enough to give advice to those younger than me. I am now twice as old as when I first wrote this; I am neither wiser nor more capable of giving advice now than I was then; Believe me or not – it’s YOUR CHOICE!
CHOICES, or ‘Advice To The Young’
Every second in a life can be a turning point; Chosen or unconscious it is there, Make a choice – it’s up to you, Why not try out something new? But never ever say that you don’t care.
You cannot stop your life from moving forward; Time rolls on despite your efforts to stand still. You can’t take a backward view, Nor can you jump the queue. You have to stay in line and climb life’s hill.
But life’s direction you can set about to change; Tweek it here, a twist just there, you can try out. The choice that you then make, With a little give and take, May well be something you can’t do without.
For when all is said and done, young man, you’re learning To find a path in life that holds for you. Just hold to your endeavour, Never ever say “for ever”, And keep your choices open to what’s new.
Late autumn evening treading wet leaves on the broad embankment beside the dark river; starry sky and the pavement spotted with lights dark pools between those balustrade sentries the eighty year old yablochkov candles (the country’s very first electric street lights) still throwing the trees’ shadows across the road to Victoria’s gardens.
Perhaps memory twists my tale; mike, dave, wally, ray, with me five of us, fresh lads freshers too up from the far country to study to see the big city to re-start a life men now together soliciting knowledge tempting experience.
Interned for a Chelsea month, then the anticipated incursion, our first excursion into the great city set for new challenges no plan just exploration; for the moment nothing cerebral just life in the moment awaiting a happening neophytic greenhorns.
Walking where Victoria walked, or did she ever really enjoy her gardens by the river? thrilling evening walking that promenade, drinking the sights eating the sounds devouring the smells and tastes soaking up the river and the beer, Victoria’s Embankment Gardens.
We didn’t know it then nor did any of us suspect it was to be ray’s swan song sweet Thames run softly and be his swan song.
Turned up Villiers Street, Kipling’s and Evelyn’s street, tumbled into The Trafalgar, seedy then, well, rare student prices, waitress in black and white I remember the white cap with lace and black band the tiny white apron on black dress alluringly short wiping her hands by rubbing them seductively on her aproned thighs, “what can I get you lads?” … ribaldry … ray “what time do you finish?” … her answer no more than a half-smile;
After the spam fritters and the glorious knickerbockers and more small pink hands attentive hands rubbed clean on lacy white apron, ray’s eyes never taken off them then drinks nothing heavy.
Ray fell must have done from a great height smitten I would say to his adam’s apple core, eyes only for a pretty face and those lacy edges.
Conversation ricocheted across the tables voices spurted out their verbiage as those yablochkov candles expended their light, more raucous than uncouth.
Then the attempt to close to dispense with customers we head for the street ray stays in his seat “’bye chaps, I’ll see you.”
… But he never did.
Nor we him. Ever again.
The Thames Embankment is a work of 19th Century civil engineering which reclaimed marshy land next to the River Thames in central London. It follows the North Bank of the river from Westminster Bridge to Blackfriars Bridge.
The Victoria Embankment Gardens , built also in the latter part of the 19th Century, separate the embankment and the road running alongside from the buildings on the south side of Whitehall, Trafalgar Square and The Strand.
Villiers Street is a short connecting thoroughfare, now mainly pedestrianised, running from the Thames Embankment and Charing Cross underground Station uphill to the Strand, Charing Cross Mainline Railway Station and Trafalgar Square. It contains many restaurants and eating establishments. The Trafalgar Cafe, however, can no longer be found there.
Poem by WHB and re-published in memory of Dave and Mike – now passed on to where all memories are filed and all mysteries are resolved.
You are what might have been on that alternative path, my abandoned way re-discovered.
But what is now is salient; you make me an offer, propose to me a future that will not arise unless hope turns to reality before Time tires.
When life was fast dissolving, when my world was being wrenched apart, then, supporting your own cross, you came from nowhere to reach out, to connect, to take my hope and cherish it.
What I am left with is no longer despair, but the veiled thrill of tomorrow’s augury.
You could resolve my need, bring me that accord, of touch, of feel, of senses, of minds in tune.
What you do – for me, now, is to engender lust, that lust of my youth, for life, for certitude, which can repel my languor, now sequestered by age, and bring a new intensity, revivify that spark which once embellished all.
No longer my past innocence, but a considered offering, a last grasp at time’s hold on me.
Delight and joy radiant-coloured youth ignorant of innocence and centred on life with due delight in present days radiating their found-freedom in carefree games amongst the summer trees
Unheeding days unmelted moments to be segued in due time into the concerns of age until at length and in their history’s dusk appears that second coming a new oblivion second innocence
Now untainted by the warts of knowledge life-worn futures yet unknown the pains of caring hidden from their vibrant view again sensing nature in its infancy hell-bent heaven sent unfractured youth presaging the oblivion of age reflecting only the here the now present joy shielding what once was caring since faded from life’s reality by-passing tensions never now to be revealed
Once upon a sublime time when daylight lingered long into night’s advance shadows crept from silent space wrapping themselves around the foothills of my youth their clutch clinging to my burgeoning hopes with silky snake embrace promising to smother all ills to suck the poison from my advance and still the waves that beat upon my summer shore
But now with time progressed and prospects passed with what avails me slipped away that promised land the unproven myth shown for what it is have I learnt nothing from my dreams has expectation become ash youth’s promise proven pallid yet stubbornly remaining to bolster what is left to me of life and give me strength to persist and hope for glory yet