# Childhood

The Wicked Cahoots of Bedford Park

When he made

his first personal appearance

in the dirty alley

on someone else’s rusty bike,

screaming along

in a cloud of dust,

it rendered us all

speechless and motionless.

But I was amazed

that despite his grey-faced surliness,

he was very affable with us...

the bully with a naive

and sentimental heart.

He was so happy

to hear that I liked his dad,

or that my mum liked him,

and he was welcome

to come to tea

with us at five twenty five...

Our adventures were spectacular:

chasing after other bikesters,

screaming at the top

of our lungs

into blocks of flats,

and then running

as our echoed waves of terror

blended with incoherent threats...

“I’ll call the Police, I’ll...”

Wicked cahoots.



Author's Notes/Comments: 

The Wicked Cahoots of Bedford Park has its origins in an unfinished story written around the age of 21 about my childhood in the Bedford Park area of West London, which first saw the light of day in versified form in 2006 as Wicked Cahoots.

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There Once Was a Long Vanished England

There once was a long vanished England;

Of well-spoken presenters

Of the BBC Home Service,

Light Service, and Children’s Favourites,

Of coppers and tanners, and ten bob notes;

And jolly shopkeepers, and window cleaners.


I remember my beloved Wolf Cub pack,

How I loved those Wednesday evenings,

The games, the pomp and seriousness of the camps,

The different coloured scarves, sweaters and hair

During the mass meetings,

The solemnity of my enrolment,


Being helped up a tree by an older boy,

Baloo, or Kim, or someone,

To win my Athletics badge,

Winning my first star, my two year badge,

And my swimming badge

With its frog symbol, the kindness of the older boys.

Author's Notes/Comments: 

 There Once Was a Long Vanished England originated partly in the early 2000s as some kind of unfinished short story which was subsequently versified, and partly as an earlier short story, begun when I was 21.

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You fled from me as the hypnotic charm did from February that year

That year, still amongst the age of fluffiness and lush green gardens

I see you with marbles in your hand and true happiness in your eyes

I hear you clinging to the crochet wood calling to me

Always calling to me; sweetly, softly


With bare feet you were veiled under the falling leaves

Without a word, without as much as a black and white ending

A bleeding heart and a single tear behind the moving glass

Left with the marble in my hand and a montage flickering behind my eyes

Always calling to me; rudely, harshly


An empty swing, an empty house beyond the fence

The plentiful garden was dwindling as the shimmering filter was removed

True sight came to the young blind, as mature mouths remained shut

Left with the marble which did not cushion the hurt to my eyes

Always calling to me; nightly, daily


Our mouths must be thrust ajar, one must relinquish

The pricking, solitary cold compelled me to surrender and take pen to paper

With the marble in one hand and thawed snowflakes upon my rosy cheeks

I spill to you

“Where did you go?”

“Remember you would call to me, always call to me; sweetly, softly?”

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