Rick Green

'And So All Pass' - Poem by Rick Green

No newspaper
Nor monthly periodical
cared to publish
the obituary of
a certain bourgeois gentilhomme
Major Neville Peterson.

He was christened after a prime minister
who later failed to pass muster.
The name fell out of favour
so plain Major, for Peterson,
it became.

He had had a wife, Mrs Peterson,
Agnes to her friend
Neville called her ‘Mother’
and Agnes called him, 'Major',
until she waltzed off with a wordsmith
who nicknamed her Chucklebum
and squeezed her bottom and made her giggle,

'Ooh you are a caution! '

Bum squeezing?
Raucous laughter? In public?

Antics the Major could never condone

He knew more about timetables than any man reasonably should
And knocking a tunnel through an attic partition wall
assembled a double O gauge lay out of the
Cockermouth, Keswick and Penrith
for his son, Gervaise,

(who was named after an ever present 'uncle' who vanished after the birth)

Gervaise dismissed the train set
“A childish folly”
and followed Chucklebum
and the lover
from Peterson’s life.

Fastidious to a degree arguably ‘excessive’
the Major ground fresh mustard daily
from seed in a pestle and mortar.

Each morning before nine
he conscientiously read
a fresh pressed breakfast “Telegraph”
and after a second lapsang suchong
indulged his private predilection -
a partiality for a madelaine.

And dunking a Hobnob or two
but that,
only on Sundays
before Communion

Slender, your man, with a hint of a limp
courtesy of shrapnel taken at Onjŏng-Unsan,
(he had been honorably discharged after a 'good Korea')
and a discreet cough
from a chronic lung condition
that he bore with dignity and fortitude.

He took to rambling country bridleways,
daily constitutionals
for the good of his failing health.

Wearing Joseph Cheaney ‘Monk’ brogues,
Argyle socks,
A Harris Tweed suit
With a fresh picked red rose
in his buttonhole
and a panama hat
or a deerstalker
and lambskin gloves
(when the elements were inclement)
purchased on account
from Austin Reed,
103 Regent Street,

and flourishing a bog oak walking stick
he cut a fine dash.

Wednesday afternoon, in Leeds
pressing against the commuter flow,
the crush of those whom death had undone
his lapel rose broken – only the stem remained.
An elephant weariness settled upon him
like snowfall on a Yorkshire dales farmstead roof
He needed the solace of wilderness
and the release of sleep.

He had on his back
A vintage Boy Scout knapsack
holding grease proof paper wrapped
cheese and cress sandwiches,
a flask of gunpowder green tea
and in a secret pocket,
a four hundred and sixty sixer
pickled conker
(the pride of his boyhood,)
a Swiss army knife
a quarter of barley sugars
a length of string
and half a crown.

He took the Carlisle train
alighting at Ribblehead
at 19: 25 p.m. precisely.

At 19: 37 p.m. precisely
According to his rail man's pocket watch
Major Neville Peterson
late of Alexandra, Princess of Wales's Own Yorkshire Regiment
The Green Howards
laid his knapsack on the viaduct rail
and his head upon the canvas bag
seeing comrades' faces in passing clouds
and noting with quiet satisfaction
the rattling hum
the punctual passing
Of the Fellsman
Heading to Leeds.

Topic(s) of this poem: nostalgia

Form: Blank Verse

Poet's Notes about The Poem

The end of old school, old values, old ways, march of progress and its casualties

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Poem Submitted: Friday, November 6, 2015

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