I don't have very good regionally macho qualifications, about where I came from, which is on the Kent-Surrey border, and my father was a prep-school master, and my mother was the matron, and we lived in a flat above the school, and it was actually pretty soft; but I have since found myself living for quite long periods in places like Liverpool that have very good qualifications of that kind, so I tried to describe my upbringing as if it had been other than soft. I sort of couched this in gunslinger language, and the poem's called 'How the Wild South East was Lost'.

How the Wild South East Was Lost

See, I was raised on the wild side, border country,
Kent’n’Surrey, a spit from the county line,
An’ they bring me up in a prep school over the canyon:
Weren’t no irregular verb I couldn’t call mine.

Them days, I seen oldtimers set in the ranch-house
(Talkin’ ’bout J. ‘Boy’ Hobbs and Pat C. Hendren)
Blow a man clean away with a Greek optative,
Scripture test, or a sprig o’ that rho-do-dendron.

Hard pedallin’ country, stranger, flint ‘n’ chalkface,
Evergreen needles, acorns an’ beechmast shells,
But atop that old lone pine you could squint clean over
To the dome o’ the Chamber o’ Commerce in Tunbridge Wells.

Yep, I was raised in them changeable weather conditions:
I seen ’em, afternoon of a sunny dawn,
Clack up the deck chairs, bolt for the back French windows
When they bin drinkin’ that strong tea on the lawn.

In a cloud o’ pipesmoke rollin’ there over the canyon,
Book-larned me up that Minor Scholarship stuff:
Bent my back to that in-between innings light roller
And life weren’t easy. And that’s why I’m so tough.

from Hoping it Might be So (Leviathan, 2000), copyright Kit Wright 2000, used by permission of the author

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