Beeching, Cumbria, Federation of the World, iron mining, Lake District, Lakeside and Haverthwaite, Peter Rabbit, Pleiades, plutonium, railways, steelmaking, technological change, The Plough, turbines, Wordsworth
(Lakeside and Haverthwaite railway station
Photo: mattbuck 7/7/2013 Wikipedia)
Once that head of steam was up, rails were laid
and Wordsworth’s wooed wilderness converged upon,
prelude to trucks toting plutonium,
criss-crossing the land; scouring surfaces
as deeply as glacial striation.
Then Beeching came and railed against the lines.
Coal, iron mining ceased; steelmaking shot.
Peter Rabbit quaking in his burrow,
anticipates fracking with timid twitch.
Turbines wave their arms quixotically
at those on muddied foot and cycle paths,
attempting to revolutionise health.
The golden keys open every barred door.
Geology is sacrificed to greed;
the hills afforested with money trees;
the night sky, filled with commerce, blinds poets
to The Plough, Pleiades, meteor showers.
We cannot hear the curlew’s stony cry
and now The Federation of the World
will never float the European flag,
but, ruled by those profit-hungry traders,
will talk us through its groovy projections;
will take us on economic projections;
leave us in a mistaken metaphor,
in a siding, instead of skimming on
to an optimistic mainline station.
Science no longer moves slowly, slowly.
Evolution morphs to revolution.
Wordsworth, proud of his skill to reach a point
rowed, unswerving to his destination,
dipping his oars into a silent lake,
before the ringing grooves of change arrived,
with consequent unknown modes of being,
bringing a blank desertion and darkness
to a landscape loved by the choicest minds.
Castor and Pollux, the twins, burst into the kitchen where their mother,
Brassica, was arranging some after-school snacks.
Can Andy be trained as our school’s therapet?
Yes, mum- you know, a pet that boys can stroke and pat before their
exams. It helps with nerves, elucidated Castor.
How does it work? asked Brassie.
Well, Caligula– ( Brassie gave Pollux a warning look)- emmm,
Mr Milford-Haven, told us that if pupils talk to a therapet, it can calm
their nerves before an exam.
Yeah, you still have to revise, though, admitted Castor.
Pollux jumped in: It releases endolphins.
Do you mean endorphins, love? said Brassie.
Whatever, said Pollux, without thinking. His mother had banned that
particular word. Now he would have to pay a fine of ten pence.
Castor took up the thread: There is a dog called Audrey, up north, who
helps children with their reading. It is an Italian Spinone.
Yes, said Pollux, and there is one called Holly, the collie. Sometimes they
set a good example to scruffy children and show them how nice it is to brush
their teeth, or to be groomed.
I thought grooming was a bad thing that strangers do to you, said Castor.
No, that kind is okay, isn’t it , Mum? Pollux looked to his mother for
The thing is, boys, Andy is rather excitable. He is a bright and bouncy Border,
but I wouldn’t say that he was particularly calming.
Brassie thought about his, frankly delinquent behaviour. She couldn’t see him
in a role as canine ambassador for deportment and emotional stability.
Anyway, boys, she added, some children are allergic to dogs, so they might
develop an asthma attack and then the school and the dog owner might be
Nowadays, litigation was an omnipresent threat.
Oh, faltered the twins. What about goldfish? We could take Jaws in.
They knew how much of a nuisance he was. There was always an argument
about whose turn it was to clean out his bowl.
Hey, Jaws, listen to my poem- the one I have to recite in front of the class
next week. Castor placed the bowl on the kitchen worktop, but Jaws seemed
Andy jumped over the restrictive toddler stairgate and frantically licked both
Down, boy! Pollux commanded. Andy ignored him. He knocked over the
Oh Andy! shouted Brassie, scooping Jaws up as best she could. She did not
feel calm at all.
Castor began to recite his poem: I wandered lonely as a clod..
Cloud, corrected Pollux.
Oh, yeah, cloud..
Andy was sitting up, totally mesmerised and completely calm.
That floats on high.. Castor continued.
Well, look at that, said Brassie, amazed at the effect that Wordworth’s
emotion recollected in tranquillity was having on their anarchic pet.
She gave him a doggy treat and passed the boys a blueberry slice that
she had bought for them from Costamuchamoulah.
Orpheus had tamed brute beasts through music, so maybe metrical
regularity was having the same effect on her wild animal.
Never mind the children being tranquillised, there was something
in the art of poesie that might be a cheaper alternative to dog training
classes. If she patented the technique, she might make a fortune and
could subsidise the school fees. Wait till she demonstrated the effect to
But, where was Jaws?