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Monday, 25 June 2012

The Chimney Sweep

A narrow path connected our road and
mysterious Love Lane - the road that bragged
thee claims to fame and glory: first of all,
it was the home of Death himself. (My best
friend's name was Death - De'ath, of course,
but no one called him that. To all our friends
and neighbours, my best friend was Death.)
But more: Love Lane possessed the residence
of Grim, the local chimney sweep. There too,
the brooding, dark, and  lovely-to-some, but
to the rest, the reeking, foul, exhaling gas works.

But the sweep was the great star of stars. He sat
outside his cottage, face encrusted black,
his eyes pure white, like headlamps in the night,
his small clay pipe a fury of red sparks,
he blowing miracles of smoke from every pore.
(The gas works at full blast could not compete.)
You had to brave the fumes to book his call.
He'd write you in his diary in cultured hand.

His visit was the highlight of the week - with me
dispatched to sit beneath the apple tree
to wait for the appearance of his broom -
and to report the same tout de suite. And did
I see the soot that he shook from it? And
how much soot, a great deal or a little?
And then the bag of soot that he he'd collected 
from our chimney, he would try to sell to mum
or gran: God's own for the garden missus!
he would say, but never made the sale that I recall.


This is #11 in my Suburban Village Series.


14 comments:

Elisabeth said...

Trips down memory lane, Dave, into the life of a chimney sweep, seem apt at this time with our need to reduce our coal consumption and stop creating all that soot, whether it's good for the garden or not.

Brian Miller said...

what an interesting character...write you in his journal had to be pretty magical as a kid...no chimney sweeps really now so this one also carries a bit of nostalgia...

Daydreamertoo said...

haha... I remember our chimney caught fire once through the soot. Had the fire brigade out, the lot.
My mum used to get the chimney sweep in after that!
Yes, the soot... LOL
Nicely told memories Dave. Jogged some of my own :)

ds said...

Lovely slice of the life that was...thank you for this. Very interesting character (and what of the best friend, De'ath?)

Carl said...

Love Lane home of Death and Grim the chimney sweep. Absolute perfection. You write whole novels in just a few lines.

Steve E said...

There is a chimney sweep in Naples, Florida--but not that many chimneys. So no competition. He wears a 'stovepipe' hat, probably stolen from your mum or gran' stove--grin!

You write with amazing sense of timing, creating suspense where I'd not suspect it.

Will be back.
PEACE!

Tommaso Gervasutti said...

Great picture.
"his small clay pipe a fury of red sparks". Vivid.

While I am still rereading "full body scan"....
"Imprimaturing
the unprintable,
unpennable
that will be penned,
unfaceable
that will be faced."

Powerful.

cloudia charters said...

When asked his longevity secrets this week, 95 year old Kirk Douglas advised:
"Don't look ahead - look backward; there's good stuff there. . . "



Have a GREAT Week

Aloha from Honolulu,
Comfort Spiral
> < } } ( ° >

Mary said...

Another worthy tale. Have never seen a chimney sweep. I wonder if they ever existed this side of the Atlantic.

manicddaily said...

Just love these. Really wonderful - vivid, and you adopt a cadence that is so well suited. Really lovely. k.

Muhammad Israr said...

i wonder who could have Death as a best friend...but then Dave King can do anything. poems about anything and he wouldnt spare even Death :)

Mishi said...

I exactly was thinking the same while reading this as Israr has explained it..beautiful as usual Dave:)

Dave King said...

Elisabeth
Memory Lane, indeed - a sign, I suppose, that I don't get out enough! And yes, an apt time perhaps - I never did know whether it really was good for the garden or not. Certainly, we never used it.

Brian
Was magical, yes. Looking back what was really interesting was his "cultured" (read "joined-up")
handwriting.

Daydreamerto
Yes, ours caught fire once. Sparks. Fireworks. Justafter the sweep had been. There was hell to pay! No fire brigade, though, alas!

ds
Ah, I actually have blogged on him in the past, but may do so again. He was an interesting guy - well, I would say that, wouldn't I?

Carl
Thanks for this Carl. Just what the doctor ordered!

Steve
Hi to you and a warm welcome. Lovely to have your comment. Thanks for. I do believe my grandad had a stove pipe hat or something very like - I remember seeing a photograph.

Tommaso
Very many thanks for both of these, but particularly the latter. All comments there - positive or not - gratefully received.

Cloudia
I didn't hear that, but thanks for telling. I think I agree. Interesting...

Mary
Fascinating question. I don't know, but there must be people out there who do. Did you burn coal in your fires?

manicddaily
Much thanks for your comments. They have done much to motivate me to continue the series.

Muhammad
True, I wouldn't spare Death, though I must confess I did worry a little about the name back then.

Mishi
So good to have your response and to know you've visited. Thanks for. You are most welcome.

Jenny Woolf said...

A remarkable character, strikingly conveyed. I can still imagine his pipe. And the touch about the cultured hand - I love it.