Rollasons All

My contribution to an anthology of writing from one of the writer’s groups I am part of entitles ‘Memento’ by the members of Pens of Erdington


As both a writer, and a Rollason,
my interest was curiously pricked,
after moving to Erdington
from way out in the countryside sticks
where for reasons that don’t matter here,
our family held some sway,
here in the big city I was just another resident
going about their business, day by day by day.

But I soon saw my name on signs,
here and there so then I thought
I would consider looking into these curious things
and maybe, dish some dirt,
but really to find out some historical things,
that might be interesting to share
if nothing more than a name in common and dare I say it,
perhaps, some kind of flare.

So, there I found this man, Able Rollason,
it seemed an industrialist of some local note
who settled here in Erdington
and without really needing to gloat,
built a successful business in steel, wire and metal,
fired by wood, coal and coke.
He also delivered a family of 5 children,
which I’m sure took hard work and acumen to cope.

He grew broad in social stature
and took the City Council to London’s High Court
for not clearing the drains of detritus and dead dogs
in the water he sought
to run, not just his business but,
the many others around him, growing rapidly
and because of his persistence,
diverse industry thrived to greater and greater capacity.

He also looked at the local community
and helped where he could, here and there,
so the good and the great of the township
named a road for him, just to show that, they care.
In both work and philanthropy so well did they do,
Able, Rachel and their family a plenty,
they moved to the Hall at Pype Hayes with its grounds,
now the park enjoyed, by so many.

At an earlier point they lived in a slightly less big house,
but still nice, at Shepherd’s Green,
only a short walk from where I lived,
which was what had originally made me so keen
to find out more of our wider genealogy,
but sadly, there was no apparent easy link and
any thoughts of industrial wealth coming along,
were sadly lacking, not that I really did think.

Anyway, I’m sure that there could be some branch in a tree,
maybe if only a tenuously and thin one
that could link me to him if I did enough digging and delving,
perhaps it might even be fun.
But somehow it’s just nice to know that you share,
a little of something with a minor local hero
if only a family name, seeing it on signs and buildings gives one,
dare I say it, a warm kind of glow.


The collection is about the places and people in and around Erdington, an interesting suburb of Birmingham in the UK. The book is available online at the link here.

memento-cover-low-res

 

The power of sorrow

After a loss, we look for ways to cope, to grieve, to consolidate and continue. This I write after the loss of my mother.


Words type easy

Sentiment flows swiftly

But when the two collide?

Heartache and longing.

So, you write the former

Dip your toe in the latter

Try to avoid the stabbing hurt in the sucking morass of your loss

Will time soften?

You hope at least

That words you’ve offered oh so many times

Will ring true

Here

Now

For you.

Home Grown Refugee

This is a piece written about taking my Nigerian girlfriend to the remote and very ‘English’ village where I lived back in 1979


Home Grown Refugee

In a place where white is historically the norm
face of colour was brought although still born…
in the same country, here she was delivered,
to a place where faces frowned and sentiments shivered.

Feelings hidden, forced smiles slice forward
while onlookers take an all too obvious step backward,
Although people are just that, just people,
She finds herself excluded, a social cripple.

Faces stare showing gross disappointment,
and sensitivity falls well short of warmth or compliment.
Only one stands up for this wrongly excluded,
And tries to point out the pain of hate to the deluded.

Forced to justify her race, her colour and even creed,
It’s like a trial, you cringe, and your ears almost bleed.
It’s hard to believe this face of colour could be so cast down,
Not quite cast out but a refugee still, only home-grown here born.

Can we ever see past skins of a different pallor?
What does it matter, the faith of the wearer?
Who is so much better to make a discriminatory judgment?
Where can this terrifying difference find positive evolvement?

Eventually accepted, she in general, but not specific,
Life is tolerable, maybe acceptable, but somehow peripatetic,
Often referred to as the dark one, ha, sometimes the chocolate beauty,
But underlying the smiles still her difference, sits awkward and acutely.

David Rollason
April 2016

 

Consequence of loss

The shock of the cold weather is something we should be used too after living all these years, why does it never feel that way?


icey-windows

The ice-cold air stings ears

Its whistle stimulates tears

You only popped to the shops

But it’s as though they’re lopped

Off. Push cycle peddles harder

If colder but it’s faster

Ignore the hood of your hoodie

It’s not cool, youthful but shoddy

This will teach you a must

As off the bus too late you cussed

That favourite warm hat gone

It’s too late for looking wan

It’s an age degrading mind

That finds many things left behind

The ice-cold air stings ears

It whistles, not calming those deeper fears.

 

Inside the Walls

This is a piece that should be self-explanatory, for some anyway….


From a quiet without peace
in a box without exits,
sky barred from the inside,
in a world with no light.
Hard bedding, hard seating,
hard walls, floors and ceiling,
hard luck for your freedom
locked safely away.

A pad mate that you had
no choice in selecting,
nice boy or some nut case,
you just hope for some care.
Try making some new friends
take note in the choosing,
you may get a little
more man than you need.

Blue jeans and thin sweat shirt
give no man one quarter,
ill fitting and shapeless,
it’s wear it or freeze.
In cell or out yard side,
time passes but no speed,
your term locked around
you will take its own pace.

With smart shirt and black shoes,
tie clipped at the bull neck,
young warder or old hack
takes pleasure in pain.
Not always the hard kind
but inside your psyche,
they hold all that keeps you
from knowing your name.

With hard times ev’n good times,
the choice is no longer
the one, maybe once
was all yours to command.
Just sit out your sentence,
the loss of your loved ones,
all memories and fancies,
locked safely away.

HMP

Love off the rails

Commuting by train can be such a bore but who of us hasn’t played harmless games to pass the time?


The rocking of the train’s worn out velveteen seat
relaxing where it fits for tired head and hot pulsating feet,
no longer a nostalgic rhythm clickerty-clack, clickerty-clack,
just a quieter comfort from the featureless seamless track.

Images and colour change to quickly for appreciation,
soundless tannoy’s speak of each fleeting, nameless station.
Reflections flash past but too many to clearly view,
the attractions they feed in thankfully, limited to a few.

Amongst the crushed static travellers, few are familiar
although one or two stir up something more vascular
and you hope for a look or even a glance,
but features remain aloof, romance, no, not a chance.

Focused thoughts then seem to raise an attraction,
if only in a mirrored windows dark streaked reflection,
their eyes look deeper into yours, synaptic layers mingle,
you wonder just why they are so obviously single.

Sharp the thorns of rejection stick hard in your eyes,
with such overheated attention, is it such a surprise,
only you can’t give it up and these looks continue,
when you do find a smile, it steps past with ne’er an adieu.

Your station sequels in, the crush carries you in its sweep,
eyes open at what was a pat surely, on your one bottom cheek,
you reach back to find the as yet unseen set of warm digits
they clasp at your reaching and together you and they fidget
but hold on as you move to the freshness of the platform
where smile accepted you stroll, life partners, thankfully home.

paris-men-holding-hands

Winter

Withseasons8Winter the weather turning decidedly cold and wet, I though it time to bring out a few observations on the last of the seasons; hope you enjoy them


 

White wastelands glisten from chocolate box tops,
for most, these are things of memory where the fantasy we hope for stops.
Autumn’s detritus soaked by dew and more often frost,
means that the coldest of seasons has the years kindness, for now at least, lost.

Modern trends help make shorter days, normal days,
and with cold air less of a problem most can still relax and laze,
in the comfort of automated centrally governed heat,
steamed up windows belie the balmy temperature of your pampered and rather toasty feet.

The suns lower path is something only natural,
but you have no advantage and rearrange you diary try to make it more or less compatible,
car share mums dictate the drama of the daily school run,
with many trying to fit in work, it doesn’t take much weather not to get everything done.

But when we can, we make the most of the time,
start to plan for the seasons one great event, not too early but through pre Christmas sales you still do climb,
hold back? no sir, throughout every department the temptation’s ever there,
but you can always hide those secret presents somewhere, perhaps under the stair.

Distract from the practical to enjoy more of the theme,
a winter’s wonderland, you may even get to watch your local football team,
or rugby as they plunder the balls across ever muddied grass,
you cheer and whistle, scream ‘Wot, Ref’ when your favourite player has been dumped on his ass.

Snow lovers in current divergent climates have many a doubt,
and now have to plan ahead to get piste, just one or two if they can on an Alp,
those who stay home, take brief advantage, and hopefully some more,
of the odd days of white stuff done more safely with less risk of avalanche horror.

Others dust off the sled, that’s been hung in the shed,
find a slope, push, scream, bounce bang crash, you’re glad of the helmet on your head,
drag only slightly damaged yourself back home and a piping hot bath,
perhaps stick to the track now but at least you created a memory and had something of a laugh.

Then Christmas is here, at last, its been just too long,
excitement bursts from every corner, bright, baubley bounty, even the odd festive song,
‘Its not the same as it was’, that’s the usual comment my Gran’
who remembers nuts in your stocking and rare treats only seen at this time, of the white bearded man.

Festivals fly fast and then, oh dear they’re all done and gone,
New Year sees your decorations packed, the world looks rather plain and perhaps just a little wan,
They say its the lack of sunshine, nature’s natural, vitamin D,
all I know is that its just a matter of time as the world spins, and what will be, will be.