The Long Game
The town where I grew up,
Well, the nearest town I guess,
Though still a dozen miles away –
But I digress…
It’s a pretty sleepy town
That I left as quickly as I could,
But in a funny way, I just
Can’t quit for good.
I’ve still got family living round,
And school-friends I still see,
So even though I left the town,
It won’t leave me.
Like when that sleepy town had raised
A minor personality,
A DJ with a surname that was known
By the likes of me.
Ah yes, I remembered
That the same was borne by a kid at school –
In my year, though I hardly knew him,
Hardly spoke, as a rule.
Nothing against him, but separate streams,
A single mutual friend was all,
And I hadn’t even seen him since,
And could only just recall…
Now he wasn’t the DJ (who was a she),
But maybe his sister was…?
My school-mates and family nodded, and set
The rumour-mill a-buzz.
Not that they knew him any better,
But they do still live there, it’s true…
And she’s only three or four years older,
So maybe…? It’ll do.
It was a tale for dinner parties,
An anecdote around the club,
Or for singing for our supper,
Down the pub.
So then, a decade after school,
A short-term job and an idle boast
When she came on the office radio
As the lunchtime host.
She must have just played Ace of Spades
With stuff to give away,
When a co-working Swede saw a chance
To make my bragging pay –
“My colleague went to school with your brother”
Her email to the station read,
“So can I have a ticket please
For Motörhead ?”
In half an hour, the DJ responded,
“I have no brother by that name !”
By email – not on the air, thank god –
But all the same…
Well, I was in the doghouse for a bit,
Though no harm done –
But then that surname came around again,
And far less fun…
A few years back, an incident
Brought unexpected high renown,
And all the national news in packs
To that sleepy town.
Strange to see its familiar face,
The scrap of grass where we used to lark
That the sombre bulletins insist
On calling a ‘park’.
Two names leapt out – one victim
With a last-name of a teacher I had,
So of course I got to wondering,
Was Sir his dad ?
But the other…the other was a woman,
A right-aged woman, a woman with a name.
(She wasn’t the DJ, who wasn’t even mentioned,
They clearly weren’t the same.)
The grapevine rustled, the gossipers gabbed,
With the same conclusion as before –
I was wary, but I felt the weight
Of local lore.
My own connection, even if correct,
Is incredibly slight
It feels wrong to be probing it –
Rather gruesome, certainly trite.
But growing up in a sleepy town,
There’s precious little going on –
So ev’ry little chance at something more
Is seized upon.
And that kid, that brother, who won’t recall me,
Now has a strange kind of fame –
For I’m sure I’ll always remember him,
Or at least, his name.
The Long Game