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Saturday 15 December 2012

Happy Christmas, Ethel!

Ethel was my friend and I was proud to know him.
His mother called him Jud, 
the name she'd given at his Christening,
but no one else could call him that.
The last to try still carried a black eye.
No, Ethel was his chosen name --
or rather, Ethelred, although the red
had quickly fallen out of use.
Why Ethel/Ethelred? Why that?
His second name was Mudd!

He was a proud man and his chest would swell
whenever -- and they sometimes did -- his friends
would rattle off his full address: 
Ethel Mudd
          Furnace Man,
                    The Gasworks
                              Love Lane
                                        Tadnam --
where, as it happened, I'd been sent
to see what I could paint. That's how we met.

He watched me for a bit, then asked
if I would draw him at his fire.
Of course, I said I would -- and he went wild,
as if his team had won the cup. He asked:
And with that charcoal you were using, eh?
"Certainly," I said. 
I'm off to wash me face!
"You're not, you know! Just don't you dare!"
and then explained, as best I could
the soot was part of him and what he did.
Gave character. He didn't understand,
but did agree -- and liked the Portrait when
I'd finished it. And in your paintin' Guvnor,
show me at my fire? "Well no....

I drew you yesterday..." showed him again
the drawing that would go into the work.
"You're doing up your bootlace... you recall?"
Oh, he recalled alright, but floundered
when he tried to understand...
Why would I rather have him doing that
than stoking up his fire?

I pointed on the drawing to the way
his muscles tensed and shaped the back and legs,
the lines of stress that ran down through his form,
how figures in the background echoed this --
as did the open furnace door, its shadow
and the flames.... And I can do all that,
he gasped  by tying up my boot! -- I must
be quite a special man, at that!
"Ethel," I said, "You are, you surely are!"

We sent each other Christmas cards for years.


Elephant's Child said...

And painted by another special man. Happy Christmas Ethel, happy Christmas Dave.

kaykuala said...

Great friends can start from being great models. How nice, Dave! Chuckles! You have that special knack of extending wit in your poem. I just love it!


The Weaver of Grass said...

Oh Dave - this brought tears to my eyes - you painted such a picture of a special man.

Claudia said...

very very cool...just love how you capture him dave

Brian Miller said...

smiles....very cool capture...i like how you chose to draw him tying his shoe and how youwere able to show him how even doing that made the moment special

Carl said...

Dave- a wonderful portrait both in your drawing and in your post. Thank you for sharing this.


haricot said...

Interesting writing that you were painting the man and you also show the drawing by description, as we can see the man through a lenze of photographer who captures the scene.

Mary said...

A very touching portrait of this man, Dave! Well drawn.....

Grace said...

You drew him very well, specially with details of the last stanza ~

I'm always awed by your work Dave ~

Cheers ~

Daydreamertoo said...

He sounds like quite a guy.
Amazing capture in your poetry Dave.

Cloudia said...

YOU are a most wonderful person, D

Weekend Aloha from Honolulu
Comfort Spiral
~ > < } } ( ° >
> < } } ( ° >

Unknown said...


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Helen said...

Through the eyes of the artist .. only you, Dave.

Tabor said...

what a great example of how two very different people touch each others' lives and come away far richer.

Dave King said...

The Elephant's Child
Much thanks -- and a very Happy Christmas to you and yours.

You've said it!

The Weaver of Grass
Touching comment. Thank you very much.

Thank you for saying so.

I think what really nailed it was me pointing out that he would be the foreground figure - larger then all the rest!

Thank you so much for this comment.

And an interesting observation. You've set me thinking. Much thanks.

Thank you so much.

It's always good to hear your thoughts. Thanks very much.

Daydreamer too
He was quite a guy. A rare mixture - maybe that's what drew me to him.

Most kind comment. Thank you very much.

You are most welcome. Thanks for your visit.

Really kind remark. I'm very touched by it. Thank you.

Yes, I think I'd have to agree that by any criteria we were chalk and cheese. It didn't seem to matter. Thank you.

Ygraine said...

Moved me to tears, Dave.
How you captured this special man in your very special way will remain etched into my memory forever!
So touching :)

Anonymous said...

Dave, every time i come here, i look forward to reading something special.
you never disappoint.
you've got such talent, such a keen eye for detail, for vividness... you know how to shape words and bring them to life inside your readers.

this is marvelous... yet again. loved how you captured him, what a great poem.
thank you.

A Cuban In London said...

What a wonderful poem about friendship the place each of us occupies on earth. Many thanks.

Greetings from London.