for November, 2020
My mentor Basil Coleman, who would have been 104 years old today, shared his birthday with the composer Benjamin Britten.
Basil directed many of the world premieres of Britten’s operas…
Here he is in a gondola in Venice with Ben Britten, Peter Pears and their friends the Steins.
Follow this link to read my obituary for Basil Coleman on The Guardian website:
Sonnet: Away from the Flock
(with apologies to Damien Hirst)
I met the vicar locking up the church
As I began my evening walk alone
She asked me how I was? I had to search
For something non-committal to atone
Unanswered emails since my father’s death.
I soon escaped and trudged my way again
To where the boats are moored, but on my breath
Unholy curses, heathen psalms of pain
That both my parents died within a year.
Across the water, sheep were grazing grass
And, nothing knowing, showed no spark of fear
That we might kill and eat them. All things pass.
The village priest sees sheepfolds in the sky
But I, like any beast, was born to die.
Auto da Fe
When the car is mended
I’ll go and fetch my Dad.
He’s just a box of ashes now.
He used to drive me pensive places
“Penny for ’em, Son!” he’d say.
I’d slam the door and pull impatient faces,
I’m at the ‘Daddy’s Taxi’ stage myself,
The kids are still too young to drive,
Though time has chained their darling ankles, yet
The sexton’s dug the grave again,
We’ll bury Dad with Mum.
Two boxes, same cold slot of earth:
The motor’s been away awhile,
They’ll fix it at some cost,
My parents languish, past repair
Lost, lost, lost.