Hounslow Fast & Hounslow Slow

Early 20th Century views of Hounslow High Street


Hounslow Fast & Hounslow Slow

All the stages came through Hounslow,
All the coaches heading West:
Driving on to Staines and Windsor,
Bristol, Plymouth, and the rest.
All the coaches came through Hounslow,
From each Western vale and down,
Stretching legs and changing horses
For the final push to town.

They all knew Hounslow then:
The drovers, grooms and highwaymen.
But nothing stays the same –
And so one day the railway came.

Only three miles north of Hounslow,
Yet those three miles meant a lot:
Steaming on to Slough and Reading,
Faster than a horse can trot.
All the West once came through Hounslow,
Then the bypass passed you by –
And little mark is left to show
From when this High Street lived so high.

There’s nobody to blame,
For nothing ever stays the same –
The world still comes your way,
But now they do not leave, and so they stay.



Where the Hounds Lie Low



Where the Hounds Lie Low

All dogs come to Hounslow:
The Saxon mound of all the hounds,
From far and near, they gather here
Where no-one herds them into pounds.

You’ll find all breeds in Hounslow:
From native bulldogs, collies, setters,
Goldies, skyes, of ev’ry size,
A mix of strays and game go-getters

Exotics, too, in Hounslow:
Poodles, spitz and borzoi breeds.
Dalmatians, pomeranians –
They’re free of collars, free of leads.

A thousand woofs in Hounslow,
And coats of ev’ry length and hue:
From lab to husky, pale or dusky –
Snouts and builds are varied, too.

They all feel safe in Hounslow:
The afghans, dingos and pariahs –
They fear no more the dogs of war,
And tails are safe from dockers’ pliers.

All dogs are free in Hounslow,
Where jack russell and king charles meet,
With great danes cheek by jowl with pekes,
And mutts and corgis share the street.

A better life in Hounslow,
Where they’re at peace to chase their sticks.
All dogs, they say, shall have their day
To raise the pups and learn new tricks.

All dogs come to Hounslow,
The mound where hounds find all they need –
And from each guest we’ll gain their best
To raise a stronger, mongrel breed.

The Talk of far-off Forums


top view photography of buildings and trees beside large body of water
Photo by Chedi Tanabene on Pexels.com


The Talk of far-off Forums

Some cities were built on solid rock,
Some cities were built on marsh,
Some cities were built on shifting sands,
Or fault-lines sleeping in filigree strands –
And some cities brought their own earthshock
By building themselves in wilderness harsh,
Or building themselves on the very lands
That other tribes sought in their conquering hands.
But no matter how long ago,
And no matter how brute their overthrow,
And no matter how the northwinds blow –
Not all their dust shall dissipate
Upon the breezes’ sarabands –
For all a city’s kiss-of-fate,
A glimpse remains, a trace withstands.
Through their footings bared and carvings old,
Through their buried pot and coins of gold,
And through their ev’ry mention in the tellers’ tales still told.

Some cities were held in high esteem,
Some cities were held in spite,
Some cities were held as shining states
To journeymen seeking their golden gates –
And some cities gave a lustrous gleam
That prophets implored their gods to smite,
That preachers condemned with envious hates
As other men praised for their glorious freights.
Ambition or apocalypse,
Each name upon their distant lips
As the place where sin and fortune grips –
The place, the home of orgies grand,
The nest of countless sirens’ baits,
Where ev’ry taste it must command,
As ev’ry thirst it satiates.
Through their legends past and heroes bold,
Through their poets’ songs and glamours sold,
And still their very mention breathes them life that we behold.



For England & St George

St George
Saint George & The Dragon by the Salviati Workshop, Woolwich Garrison church


For England & St George

Up in Heaven-on-the-Clouds
You works on our behalf,
Pushing through the saintly crowds
To bat for Halifax and Bath,
And bring to Lynn and Dale of Borrow
Sun today and jam tomorrow.

Working hard in Upper Eden,
Pushing England’s cause.
You wouldn’t get the saint of Sweden
Cheering on so many wars.
Rule Britannia, Hope & Glory –
Welcome to the national story.

Tea and crumpets, trains and cricket,
Stratford to South Shields.
There you lurk, on moor and thicket,
Anglicising foreign fields.
Who needs Alban, Bede or Swithun ?
Give us Bowie, Dench and Niven !

But wait, I hear the Genoese
Have hired your service too –
And Catalans, and Portuguese,
And Greek and Germans join the queue –
The Georgian and the Muscovite
Are proud to sport your red and white.

And soldiers, archers, and the Scouts,
Equestrians and knights,
And farmers rearing sheep and sprouts
Are likewise firmly in your sights.
I do hope, George, with all this lot
That England’s voice won’t be forgot.

And then there’s leprosy and plague,
And syphilis to boot,
But here your role is rather vague
On how you earn your extra loot –
Helping patients come to terms ?
Or do you represent the germs ?

And back home in your country seat,
Its lord is rarely seen –
In ancient times, your sandalled feet
Came nowhere near our mountains green.
But hey, who cares from where you’ve strayed –
For Englishmen aren’t born, but made.

You spend your days in Greater Blighty,
Meeting with the Boss –
Asking him to make us mighty,
From Land’s End to Gerrard’s Cross
You always done us proud, our George,
When lobbying for Cheddar Gorge.



Penwith Smith

The Minack Theatre


Penwith Smith

As I was heading to Saint Ives,
I passed a troupe with many lives,
With many plays and songs and dance,
As I was heading to Penzance.

As I was heading to Saint Just,
They played for me, as well they must,
And bid me “Come and join us, Friend !”
As I was heading to Land’s End.



This piece of nonsense was inspired by the famous nursery rhyme, even though that probably refers to a different St Ives (who’d have thought there’d be two saints named Ive ?)  The town in this poem is the Cornish seaside resort on the Penwith peninsula, which is also home to the Minack open-air theatre.



The Cester Slur


The Cester Slur

Launceston is an English town
Which stubs its name and hacks it down.
And likewise Leominster says it strange,
While Foway and Wymondham short our change,
And Cholmondeley too is slave to fashion,
Following the -cester ration –

Alcester, Bicester: trochees truly,
Frocester, Gloucester: spelled unruly,
Leicester, Rocester: letters wasted,
Saucy Worcester: under-tasted,
Towcester: always worth a snigger –
Spoken short, but written bigger.

Then there’s stuck-up Cirencester –
Siren, maybe, but no jester.
She’s no sissy, she’s no sister.
Strong like -caster, long like -chester –
Who’d have guessed her lack of slur ?
For she’s all -cester, not a -ster !

I should point out that the towns menstioned are pronounced Laun-ston, Lem-ster, Foy, Wind-ham and Chum-ley. All of the rest are xxx-ster (except Cirencester, obviously, which has all four syllables). Oh, and Towcester is said as Toaster.