It is a game they play on their days off, sick days, half-days, early closing days in the long light evenings when everything has stopped working. The boys pretend to be men. They go out. The girls sing lovelovelove and rock the babies. The boys come back. They pass the babies round the circle When the music stops whoever is left holding the baby is naked and everyone falls down. In the old days when men worked underground they would take a cagebird down the shaft and as long as it went on singing they would know they were alive. Now in the shopping malls do you notice babies in little wheeled cages with plastic covers? The women push them about and sometimes the babies seem to be asleep. We will finish with dancing. This is how it goes --- hold hands in a circle, one step forwards two steps back. Mark time. Now the men walk away from the women, the women walk away from the children and the children walk away from the old people and the old people are left shuffling in their cages. Are they still singing?
My name is Joseph Henderson. My brother's name is Matthew Henderson. The pig's name is MacDonald. I was called after my father. Matthew was called after our uncle. The pig was called after the hamburgers. I weigh twelve and a half stone. Matthew weighs thirteen odd. We haven't weighed the pig yet. I am forty-six years old. Matthew is forty-four. The pig is ten months. I am wearing wellies, working trousers, jacket, cap. Matthew is wearing boots, waistcoat, no jacket. The pig is naked. I am standing on the left, Matthew is standing on the right. The pig is upside down in the middle. I am smiling. Matthew is smiling. The pig is not smiling.
Perhaps we could all agree to avoid the word filigree. Do any of you still remember those pierced silver dishes filled with Turkish Delight, grapes or nuts set among folded napery (and that word too should be avoided). What would we lose if that image was no longer available? How do we feel about stipple? Are we happy with pock? Patina? Lambent? These words are under threat, their future uncertain but how would we describe the interlocking rings of raindrops on water? The distant sound of tennis on summer evenings? The richly weathered surface of garden bronzes? I would like to apply for a licence for pock stipple, shard, patina, lambent, filigree. I feel under an obligation to keep them alive when so much is endangered. Could they be recycled? Tigree, stippent, lampard, shopple, filipat. It might be kinder to let them go quietly. Faraway a pock-a-pock-a and the evening sky stippled, lambent. The long high note of filigree screams thinly for the last time gree!gree! and falls apart and the fragments go fluttering across the moon. Ock lam ipp ent bage sha...sha... sha... whispering into the silence.
If you had your time again what would you choose? If we were playing Oranges and Lemons would you pick oranges? Lemons? Would you pick me? If you picked me would I be your better half? If there was only half of me would that be better? Would you take left or right? If there was only one left would you take it? Would you see me right? If I couldn't take it would you give me the other? If you were the other would I be the one? Would I be all right? Or would I be left? If it's half-time do you feel like a right lemon? When you have sucked the juice will there be anything left? How much of this can you take? How much time have you left? If you had your time over again do you think you would get it right?
At Seascale our shoes were full of sand. Daddy emptied them out in the front porch and we went up the stairs like good girls and pulled the quilts over our heads as the rocks dragged the darksilk sea back over the wet ridged sand again and again and the sea was lovely really. Mother said, It's not cold really, you'll get used to it but I was frightened. Daddy said, She'll go in when she's ready. He found a hollow in the sand and something sweet in his pocket. I wouldn't have chosen to grow up quite this way, to be quite so far out, to become so used to the cold that now I can even lie down in the snow and imagine it is warm, imagine I am in the warm sand in the shadow of my father.
Fee fi fo fum and look at the plunge in Grimma's Arden. watch the slips! They're a bit properly. Cold my grand. The gag won't hurt you, he's a blood moggy. Flat him. Bently! He won't fight, he's only breaking. A gnashy noise. Brown, Pincer, Brown! The brass is blush and clamp. The bones are green. See the clash? Under the breeds? Goldsplishes and polyglots. Frigs. All lippery. Mutes under the leavings. It's all crud at the bottom. Woeful! Be woeful, brawling, don't want to brumble you'll get all brat! Grimma's mouse smells molish and purey the more's lippery. What's in the hubbub? Names! SAcks of pards, bluedo and pelicans. When you are colder Grimma will play with you, snappy fumblies, widdley tinks, necks and sadders. You can go worst because you are longest. The cock kicks. Grimma minds up the cock with her big clay. She finds and finds. The cock goes knick, knock and the time goes bong. Meet your tickys up. Link up your silk. It's in your very grown hug with the habits on. How many habits? Gone. Who. Me! Oh suck at all those hums, all heat and sidy. Up in the pilchard there are asps at the blindfold mopples, huzzing in the blowers, wipe moreberries under the knotting. This one's all dead, Meet it up, bawling, and a mother! Look how star you can be from here! Proud arrows boating over the sills and alleys, folds and goods, bright out to the freeside across the way. Roamtime now. Say butterfly to Grimma, wailing. Grieve her a miss, grieve her a shrug. Sun again moon! She bends by the floor and braves. She braves and braves as Maggy thrives away.