Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Brain Stain

Were you a member of the SPAB,
And they were marks on a wall,
In some ancient hall,
You would imagine their cause,
As originating behind the plaster,
Perhaps in the tannin of an old oak beam,
Golden brown among the cream,
And would ascribe their appearance,
To levels of humidity in the atmosphere,
And would not dream of interference,
They would indicate age,
And the porous, breathability of lime,
You would not regard them as a disaster,
You might think their mottled look charming,
And of ‘Glory Be to God for Dappled Things’,
You might even hold them dear.

But on a forehead, it would seem,
Though melanin might be tannin’s twin,
It is not regarded with such reverence,
Though it indicates age and the passage of time,
Its stippled appearance is alarming.

And your options seem clear:
Make the marks disappear,
Buy L’Oreal,
BB Luminize Cream,
‘Enriched with liquid Light,’
Which ‘illuminates the skin’,
As if with radiance from within,
While keeping blotches out of sight,
By ‘reducing the appearance of irregular pigmentation,
With a perfectly nude and luminous finish,
And a weightless, bare-skin sensation'.

Or, you could imagine them brain stains,
Left by the tide
Of age;
The marks of a sage,
A dot to dot,
Which, when joined up,
Become an abstract, pointilliste portrait of wisdom.

Thursday, 25 July 2013


Airmyn Hall, ballroom, Tolly, copyright Paul Houston

I’ve just been pointlessly browsing the antiques on ebayagain, which reminded me of this poem I wrote last year.  After buying a little table I discovered was cobbled together from a square piano.

In answer to a question no-one’s asked me,
Namely what’s that table doing under there?
Then here’s the answer, truly stated,
That I know it’s odd but I don’t care!
Though only cellarettes go under sideboards,
On occasion one just has to break the rules,
The space beneath is really too inviting,
Just made for log baskets and little stools,
And the fluting goes so well with the gadrooning,
And it fits so very nicely underneath,
And the rosewood frieze contrasts with the brass beading,
And the sunswirl paterae (or are they floral?)
Both such archetypal regency motifs,
And I know deep in my heart that it’s immoral,
Spending money I myself have never earned,
On a thing I must confess was once a piano,
And I wouldn’t really want to start a quarrel,
But that concave drawer, so typical of Gillows,
The eb’ny knobs, concentric rings so nicely turned,
They just called to me through cyberspace on ebay,
One day when my resistance was quite low,
And though I turned and hid my face within the pillows,
I just wanted it I could not let it go!

So here it sits, so prettily ‘neath the sideboard,
A mahogany pedestal to either side,
Serving as reminder lest I need it,
Things aren’t always what they seem when first espied,
But the fluting goes so well with the gadrooning,
And the brass bead lends a military air,
And one shouldn’t miss the chance to rhyme dragooning,
When it’s handed to one fair and square.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

On the Day After The Birth of The Prince Of Cambridge.

Today the plain
At Ging gang Goolia parva
Looked beautiful in the rain;
The turbines
In lines,
Each cooling towers',
Great girth,
Dwarfed by the closer flowers,
Brighter after showers,
Everything still
No cacophony of bells,
Just peculiar smells,
Emanating from long dry soil
Newly wet,
And yet,
It was different,
Each furrow and ridge,
Of chocolate plough,
Where there had been peas,
Was slaking its thirst,
And at the wheat field's margins,
Were seas,
Of borage, looking purple at first,
Only blue on closer inspection,
And the reeds
At the edges
Of the irrigation dykes,
Were verdant,
A perfect foil,
For the willow herb spikes,
And each reflection,
Was marred by oil,
Which made rainbow distortions,
Among the pond weed,
And the giant proportions,
Of man's creations,
In this flat landscape,
Were slightly reduced by the haze,
So that hogweed,
Brown, and gone to seed,
Was tall as the glass works at Glews Hollow
And close where phacelia merged
with the last of the oil seed rape,
(A very modern colour scheme)
One's gaze,
Might follow,
A path from the tower of St John's in town,
Back down
To rest on his bright yellow wort,
And as if in a dream,
Salt and Pepper rise up,
Behind a creamy froth of Fillipendula,
And just as suddenly vanish
In the fog,
Like last night's almost full moon,
Behind storm clouds.

Sunday, 21 July 2013


All Saints, Holme-upon-Spalding Moor, Yorkshire, copyright Paul Houston

Sunday morning in the high church yard,
At Holme on Spalding Moor above the wold,
The organ sounding out, not too impaired,
By sealed in years of damp, decay and mould,
A spreading cedar tree guarding the graves,
Its blue-grey-green contrasting with the yews,
The hymns resound in warm contralto waves,
From farmers wives on regimented pews,
And I am here refreshed by summer’s breeze,
Moved by ancient forces and impelled,
To stop and wait and listen to the trees,
And know that here all human time is held,
As nothing next to this resistless calm,
Immune to hours, elder scented balm.

Sunday, 7 July 2013


Kiftsgate rose up the Wellingtonia tree,
I sometimes wonder if you’re in a nark,
Your long, cruel thorns, have pierced the soft brown bark,
And you’ve scratched my face for everyone to see.
Kiftsgate rose up the giant seqoia tree,
The other day I heard your mean remark,
As your soft pale blooms, iridescent in the dark
Dripped their scented disappointment down on me,
You said I was a short arse and a fatty,
That I would never soar as you have soared,
You said that in all truth I was quite batty,
A small and feeble thing to be ignored,
I went back to the house to get the shears,
Feeling hurt and sad and desolate and low,
Thinking back through all the days and months and years,
When I’d nurtured and encouraged you to grow,
Then I hacked you up into little bits,
And it served you right for getting on my tits.