RIP Alf by Trevor Plumbly


Alfred Lord Tennyson, poet laureate during the reign of Queen Victoria

The Moving Finger Writes…

Tennyson was the pick of the romantics; he always seemed to be able to chuck a bit of mythology and tragedy in the pot and knock up a winner. It’s not generally known to my selective pool of readers, but, as a lad, I did pen the odd verse. Not your dead Sheila’s regatta stuff, more gut wrenching angst.

I wasn’t published so those rummaging through second hand bookshops, hoping to stumble across a copy of these gems, are doomed to disappointment. I regarded these early outpourings as far too insightful for mass consumption and, in a fit of artistic spite, I burnt every page except one. Approaching dotage is causing me some concern that this literary time bomb might be still ‘out there’. Let’s face it, they’re always discovering hitherto unknown stuff by the famous, why not a signed Plumbly sonnet?

And Having Writ…

young woman reading

Young girl reading

Moves on. And I did; leaving the literary world somewhat poorer perhaps, I pursued the more mundane, but memory and reflection being the bullies of advancing years, I can’t help but wonder if that sheet of school exercise book paper still exists, folded perhaps in a treasured scrapbook. The recipient of this outpouring of mine was Carol: she was, I suppose, what Tennyson would have called a ‘sprite’. Being the only girl in class without serious skin blemishes and weight problems, she was pursued by, and subsequently rejected, one and all, including yours truly. Physical stature and an aversion to pain prevented me from impressing her with sporting prowess, but being overburdened with romantic sensitivity, spiced with a fair bit of cunning, I penned a few verses of anguished entreaties, which, once handed over, I felt would elevate me above the pack. Carol, however, was unmoved and totally ignored me from that point on.

Old Lady Reading by Cowan Dobson

Old woman reading

Gone but Not Forgotten

In those days, such stuff was hand written and when completed it had personal value; when that value no longer applied, all you needed for disposal was a box of matches. Unlike today’s ‘delete’ button, it was a guaranteed method of getting rid of redundant emotions and future embarrassment. With that in mind, the whereabouts of the ode continues to plague my imagination. I’m not really concerned by what life dished up for Carol, but unless she embraced later suitors more warmly than me, I doubt she’ll be mourned like one of old Alf’s posh birds. It’s the verse that bothers me; does she constantly unfold the sheet with arthritic but gentle fingers, softly and tearfully murmuring the lines to console the memory of lost opportunity? Or did the cold-hearted little cow burn the bloody thing? I tell you folks, for minor poets…. Life sucks!



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