Friday, 18 December 2009

Imprecations on the A120

I have always loved the poems of John Betjeman. Even as a child, the Englishness of his work and the underlying humour in many of his poems captivated me. I remember seeing Sir John at Oxford Circus back in the late sixties or early seventies. I was wandering aimlessly round the west end shops (as was my wont), when I happened to notice the great man, wearing his trademark trilby and a rather shabby raincoat, making his way through the crowds with an other-worldy expression on his face. I like to think that I was the only one who noticed him.

I speculated here on the type of poem dear Sir John, were he alive today, might have written about our reliance on computers. But there are huge swathes of 21st century life -"reality" TV, recession, fears of global warming - that might well prompt him to put pen to paper. However, as I recently bought my first "satnav", I thought that ought to be the poet's next topic. It is loosely based upon Meditation on the A30, and I have attempted, as far as possible, to keep the original rhyme scheme. It is entitled Imprecations on the A120. I hope it will amuse!

A man on his own in a car
Is creating a terrible stink
His effing and blinding’s a product of finding
His satnav has gone on the blink

“She’s stopped telling me where to go,
She should have said ‘left’ at that fork!
This journey is going too slow,
I think I’ll just get out and walk

“Why can’t you just give me directions?
It is your damned job, after all.
My wife said today she’s been playing away
With Derek from near Coggeshall.

“If I had a Garmin, let’s say
Or Tom Tom ‘Go’ with Lane Assist
I’d find Derek’s lair straight away
And introduce him to my fist.

“This satnav is trash, and a waste of my cash, and
I will bin you, God knows I will!”
As he pokes at the screen, he hasn’t yet seen
The DAF truck closing in for the kill.


Derrick said...

Hi Chris,

Most entertaining, as ever. It all seems so easy when reading but I know otherwise! Don't have satnav myself.

chris hale said...

Thanks Derrick. It's really not that easy to keep to a rhyme scheme and try to capture the feeling of the original work. I do hope Sir John would take it in the spirit in which I intended it!

Madame DeFarge said...

Very droll indeed. I loathe our sat nav, but it saves domestic traumas over maps. I enjoyed this enormously - we need you to blog more.

chris hale said...

MDF - You are most kind! In an ideal world, I'd like to write an entire anthology of Betjeman style poems, and, indeed, to blog more often! I'm hoping to hit the century before the turn of the year...stay tuned.