A gold Limit Silhouette watch leather strap hardly worn A dress watch for a man who never dressed always working Most times he didn’t carry a watch as it would be get damaged or snagged whilst working..too dangerous…
A man who cheated death twice..first a burst duodenal ulcer I remember him being taken in the ambulance It was touch and go. The Radcliffe saved him..the surgeon told him later he found carrots before cutting him to save him. Convalescence in Didcot Hospital..now housing..long gone
Later a wall collapsed on him he was two feet away from death Was catapulted out of the way just in time..battered and bruised He joked about it later..even the Lotus Elan that smashed into him Or the spinning car in the rainstorm that missed him and Uncle John
Neither made a dent but then his luck ran out at 70 A soreness in his stomach was scanned..revealed pancreatic cancer Too advanced for surgery..he grew greyer and weaker..could no longer Get into the garden..chemo making him vomit black bile He died in the extension we built in that last year defying the odds
to the end..he died on a bed in that building…almost perfect
like that watch stopped at 9.05 but hardly used
He died at 7.10 a.m.
The time he left for work every morning rain or shine
I am currently working on a project called ‘My Father’ s Things’ which is a series of drawings I did last year to stay sane amidst the chaos of my life then..don’t ask…the chaos has departed and is now far away.
This is the first draft of the first poem that I plan to attach to the drawing above. The entire sequence will eventually be published in a pamphlet hopefully through the Carousel as a riso printed publication.
The sequence of drawings and writings will be exhibited in September as part of Castle Ruins III at the King Billy Pub Nottingham.
Gun metal grey-green, heavy in the palm My father’s optical level The metal worn through use, a record of my father’s presence as is the smell of leather case and faint aroma of tarmac as if his hands sunburnt and grimy with tar still waved at me on thsoe frosty mornings I helped him set levels somewhere below the downs. A ritual since the age of 14 as I earned pocket money holding the levelling rods, red and white striped icy cold that stuck to my fingers as I held them straight waiting for the hand raised, a signal that he had the reading. Then another wave to move back up the slope and start again tied together by the upside down image of cross hairs rising and falling on my hand then the rod like a bomb aimer looking for a target
One morning we are out early. Steam rising from the power staton cooling towers. Stood in early morning sun on a former airfield at Harwell. The airfield the Dakotas lifted off from before dawn on D-Day. Carrying the last memories of men destined to fall caught in the cross hairs of German gunners. The rattle of munitions cascading from a thousand guns blurring the coastline and making the earth move.
Turning the world upside down.
Like the poor pilot spinning out of control trying to bring things back to a level.
I stare through that old telescope and call to him.
Right, right..back a bit.
That’s it we’re level now.
Roll out the string and mark the foundations. Knock in the pegs and start to build again. A nation fit for heroes on a sunlit morning when the smoke had cleared.
Shaun Belcher was born Oxford, England in 1959 and brought up on a down-land farm before moving to a council estate in the small town of Didcot in 1966 just as England won the world cup..
He studied fine art at Hornsey College of Art, London from 1979–81 where he sat under a tree with Adrian Mitchell.
Began writing poetry in the mid 1980s and subsequently has been published in a number of small magazines and a poem 'The Ice Horses' was used as the title of the Second Shore Poets Anthology in 1996.(Scottish Cultural Press).
He now lives in Nottingham, England after two years in Edinburgh studying folk culture and several years in the city of expiring dreams working as a minion at the University of Oxford.
He is currently enjoying retirement from 20 years of teaching and hopes to write something on a regular basis again. He has been involved in various literary projects including delivering creative writing workshops in Nottingham prison for the ‘Inside Out’ project.
He supports Arsenal football club.
Favourite colours therefore red and green like his politics.
We have not won the world cup again since 1966 and Shaun Belcher is not as famous as Simon Armitage although his songs are better.