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Sunday, 16 December 2012

Carols and Flashing Blue Lights

Brian Miller at dVerse Poets Pub Poetics suggests we go for detail
Turn off the road, careful now,
and through the narrow opening,
brick piers on either side.
Sharp left, avoid the (totally
pointless) bollards left and right.
The curving drive has opened up
before me - quite invisible till now.
I curse -- I always curse --
its traffic calming bumps.
Pretentiousness to call them that.
What traffic are they calming, eh?
Unnecessary. Totally
distracting -- and I hate to be
distracted here. There's always some-
thing taking place, something to see,
to muse upon, an idea to take back
with me... this morning now,
a small giraffe lopes leisurely
across the lawn. It's followed by
a hippo with a barrow full of holly.
Kerrrrrumph! Kerrrrrrrrrumph! Two
for the price of one - the bumps again.
Distracted, see? Aha! A parking space.
I reverse in, then walk back to the entrance.
The door creaks open then slams shut.
Navigate the cardboard Bethlehem and
papier-mâché meercat costumes --
complete with mistletoe -- that fill
the vestibule, past the empty desk...
and why no Joan this morning? Turn
the corner by the stairs - and there he is.

Door wide open as it ever was. Tom
working on this morning's Carol Service.
A small red headed girl arrives. Could he
please check her poem for the service?
Miss isn't sure... he reads it through
and hands it back. It's absolutely fine. 
it's very Miltonesque! She skips away.
She stops. Looks back. It's very what, sir?
It's very Miltonesque! Ah, thanks!
Tom's P.A. is sorry to intrude, but did
he mean the double oven for Domestic 
Science? No, didn't. He wants the one
they talked about. She'll sort it out.
The order number's wrong. He gathers up
his papers, checks his visual aids... when
through the window behind him flashes 
a blue light. Very bright. Very intense.

Second by second it sweeps round,
bathes the room in its uncanny hue
before returning it to normal. It
reminds me of a lighthouse beam -
if I ignore the colour. Tom ignores it.
Carries on regardless. Curses softly -- 
Not the boys in blue again?
No, I say: a lorry. Lorry? but before
either of us speaks again:  Begging
your pardon, sir, Headmaster... The man
at the door is doffing his cap. Tom still
does not look up. Motorway Services
Repair and Mend Operative. In the area...
Half a load of asphalt over... Couldn't fail
to see the parlous state of your driveway.
Can't think what a state come a hard winter!
He quotes a perfectly ridiculous figure.
Tom refuses. They haggle for a bit. Okay!
(Tom as he flies off to the Carol Service.)

I spend a brlliant day with Tom, his staff
and kids. When we regain his study
so does the Motorway Repair Man -- with
a bill, that judging by Tom's violent 
expression, might fund the next moon shot.
You quoted £97! Man doffs his cap.
Correct, Headmaster. £97 per cubic yard --
plus labour, naturally!  They argue, but
eventually, Tom coughs up - and when 
the man has gone, says confidentially:
of course, I thought him genuine --
with his blue light and all! But it's a poor-
ish sort of cock-up that brings no benefit.
The traffic calming bumps have disappeared.
Thank you, thank you God, for sending us
thick asphalt! Merry Christmas
and a wonderful New Year!

18 comments:

The Elephant's Child said...

Traffic calming, driver infuriating.

And a Merry Christmas to you and yours.

Tabor said...

An entire poem about holiday asphalt. Who knew?

Ygraine said...

Asphalt for Christmas? Oh how unique is that? A wonderful take on the spirit of 'giving'...and receiving!!
All the very best Season's Greetings to You and Yours, Dave.
xxx

Claudia said...

asphalt for christmas...just a reminder how wonderfully creative god is..isn't he...ha..happy christmas!! that was a real treat dave

Daydreamertoo said...

LOL
We used to call those speed bumps 'sleeping policemen'when they first introduced them. I don't know who called the calming, that, they certain;y aren't. Here, they call them 'rumble strips' and they are about 10 deep grooves cut into the road which are about 3 feet wide, so your car shakes, rattles and, rolls as you drive over them and, I', always convinced they will shake some part right off the car. Dreadful things.
Loved your story again... yay..for no more bumps!

Brian Miller said...

ha you got the details dave....smiles....asphalt for christmas...well if it got rid of traffic calming bumps, i am all for it...smiles..nice jaunt sir...and merry christmas to all and to all a good night....smiles.

Sabio Lantz said...

"a hippo with a barrow full of holly.
Kerrrrrumph! Kerrrrrrrrrumph! "

LOL

Laurie Kolp said...

Enjoyed this, Dave. Merry Christmas!

Grace said...

I hate those traffic bumps ~

This is a lovely retelling Dave with all the conversations and preparations ~

A pleasure to read this morning ~

Optimistic Existentialist said...

Asphalt for Christmas is definitely a unique holiday gift idea :)

Mary said...

Definitely rich with details and characters, Dave. I think you have made your feelings well known about traffic calming bumps. Ha ha.

A Cuban In London said...

Beautiful. I agree with your about the traffic calming bumps. A bit of an oxymoron, if you ask me. :-)

Greetings from London.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

An interesting read, though the giraffe and hippo made me wonder what kind of establishment this was...hee hee. You told a great tale here and aced it with the great details!

Carl said...

Dave - you did it again! a thoroughly enjoyable tale. It was a great little read at the end of a long day of cleaning and unpacking.

manicddaily said...

Super charming poem, Dave. k.

haricot said...

Fortunately I don't drive a car, though I can guess the bumps woulld be effective...noisy public world and inner silence...Merry Christmas for you!

Fred Rutherford said...

this was fun. Dave, really have a way with infusing a great sense of humor into your poetry. The Who are they distracting anyway line had me nodding in agreement, and that line really set the tone for me going forward. Oh, the miltonesque was very nice as well. Thanks

Dave King said...

The Elephant's Child
Agreed - and a merry Christmas to you and yours.

Tabor
Always difficult, thinking up original presents.

Ygraine
Thank you so much - and have a wonderful Christmas yourself and loved ones.

Claudia
Thank you. He knows our needs alright!

Daydreamer too
Yes, we call them sleeping policemen, but their other name fitted the needs of the rhythm.
We seem agreed on their reprehensible nature.

Brian
It certainly did get rid of them - there was no sign of them.

Sabio
Thanks.

Laurie
Thanks. Have a great Christmas.

Grace
Thank you for your kind words.

Optimistic Existentialist
Well, why not?

Mary
Well, I did keep to the polite version of my feelings!

A Cuban in London
Oxymoron? Yes, I agree. That's exactly what they are.

Sherry Blue Sky
It was the sort of establishment that makes you wonder what sort of establishment it is!

Carl
Thanks. Hope it's all going well for everyone!

Manicddaily
Thanks so much.

haricot
They not only damage the car, they can damage nearby buildings!

Fred
Thanks so much for this Fred. It's great to have such feedback.