Ledbury memories 2

Sunday 1st July 2012

“WE’LL have to wait and see, but I’m optimistic.”

The woman on the ‘poetry express’ was pleased by Blair’s election victory, the previous day. I recited a poem to her daughter. Further down the carriage, Mike Read was being interviewed by the press. The train from Hereford only takes fifteen minutes.

To herald the forthcoming first Ledbury Poetry Festival, it was decided to hold an event by the Market House on Saturday 3rd May, which also happened to be the final day of the football season.

“Ah yes… there have been a few distractions,” John explained when I pointed out the police vans outside the station.

Supporters of Brighton & Hove Albion were in town, prior to the game against Hereford United: of huge significance, for the losers would be relegated from the Football League. Fans from the south coast club were regarded as hard core hooligans, with shops and pubs closed to ward off the invaders. Many, seeking other nearby watering holes, had descended upon Ledbury.

I can’t remember what connection Mike Read had with Brighton: perhaps he’d lived or worked there.

Today, however, the popular radio presenter is in Ledbury as an admirer of poetry, especially the works of Rupert Brooke, who lived near here when one of the ‘Dymock Poets’ set.

Mike and I are to join a party of children for the launch of balloons, each with a poem attached, when the town clock strikes noon.

The festival organisers are a canny crew. They’ve approached the local Morgan Motor Company and asked (or persuaded or paid) them to provide two vintage, open-topped sports cars – in bright red and green, with drivers in matching livery – which wait on the forecourt, ready to convey us from railway station to market-place.

Bloomin’ ’eck! This is all rather unexpected.

If I should die think only this of me:
Seen once, was I, as a celebrity.

Slowly, we motor down Homend. From the pavement outside The Seven Stars, drinkers wearing blue-white scarves greet our small cavalcade with cries of:

“Seagulls! Seagulls!






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