XTC versus Adam Ant


Haunted heroes huddled in council houses.
Homes for heroes in
Street names that they would prefer to forget.
Montgomery, Pound, Wavell.
Cunningham, Tedder, Portal.
Alanbrooke, Harris
And Wingate.


Children tiptoe around unpredictable parents,
No one knowing about PTSD.
Only the effects.


A literary diet of Arthur Mee’s Childrens’ Encyclopaedia,
Ten red bound volumes,
Containing knowledge and pictures.
Daring your brother to close the book
With his hand in the page with snakes and crocodiles.
Gaining an admirable knowledge that was general,
In streets named after generals and admirals.


Supplemented by the library’s
Children’s section at the Circle.
But more so by the Eagle and Rover.
Pictures with words,
Not pictures from words.


Dan Dare and faithful Digby
Conquered Treens, allegorical Communists.
Alf Tupper was a working-class hero.
Catching imagination, long before
John Lennon was to “Imagine”
His b side “Working class hero”.


Alf beating all odds
To conquer “toffs”.
Running in his working boots.
Eating chips as he walked home.


Grammar school trying to make us toffs.
Caps and gowns, beatings.
“Yarooh”, said Bunter.
“Bugger you”, thought Butler.
Making knowledge specific not general.
Memory over understanding.


A glimmer of light at eleven years old.
Miss Jacob teaches “The song of Hiawatha”.
“By the shores of Gitche Gumee”.
Fascinated by the rhythm
The lack of rhyme.


Insight to different culture,
Not Little Plum and Big Uggy.
Not Roy Rogers and Trigger,
But Minnehaha and Hiawatha.
Marrying outside their tribes.


And I could have learned to
“Love the sunshine of the meadow
Love the shadows of the Forest”
The alliteration of palisades of pine trees.
Of love and loss and grief.


Instead taught that it was Trochaic tetrameter,
Contrasted with Iambic pentameter.


XTC versus Adam Ant?
Content versus form.
The words were stationary on the stationery
When they could have moved me.
But that was probably a lesson in homophones.