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Chains of Events

Through my foggy inattention
He emerged, in Bradford tea-time tales:
Son of a musical man from Ireland
One of a brood of six

As “Boy with the Golden Voice”
Is chosen at St George’s Hall
By diva Adelina Patti (called Madame)
To be a pageboy at her castle down in Wales

Mother, father, both say
And so

He stays, and sells the programmes
Sees and hears the great Rachmaninov
Learns to play the tenor-horn
In father’s smart and shiny Silver Band

Then war, French front, and young recruit
Is caught in cloud of mustard-gas
And invalided free, to wed, have children
Blow that horn once more

But Golden Voice is broken now
By German gas and British bacca

Here’s his own best tea-time tale:
How he packs his wife and six
Into a (Bradford’s) Jowett Seven
Cost a fiver, bought unseen
And drives ’em all to Brid

I have the photo, black and white
Ready for off at Bradford Moor
Little ’uns packed in dicky seat
And off they chug up Garrowby Hill
(Now Hocknified in stunning colour
Framed on Boston gallery wall)
Past overheated top-range travellers
Wafters, coughers, cursing
At a screaming steaming bonnet

Day of triumph

Had he not coughed in mustard-gas
I’d not be writing this

As one of yet another
Bradford six.

From new collection "Lifelines"

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