The Bard No. 2


Strewn out before you
As you cruise toward Cape Town
From your aeroplane bed
Not to concern you
On your way to nirvana
Past a zone of the dead.
Bill and coo
Your lover beside you
Economic apartheid
Just some words you have read.
Now it’s behind you
Dread township of conscience
Buried deep in your head.


Walrus roars into the Arctic twilight
And dread creeps again over my world
Fur-lined figures of misery toil in the gloom
Prisoners of their ice-cracked, broken hearts 
and snowbound slaves to eternal doom
For the brutal Tusked King rules here....
Here on The Oligarch Archipelago
For I am the Bard of the Damned
Banished to frozen Butlerhood 
and shaken hope that is stirred no more, by desire for more:
I bring the huge Beast his Martini chilled to minus fifty
With black, taunting eyes afix-ed on me he drains the draft
And the glass is crushed at once under his gargantuan paw
As he has crushed before all light, and love, and Law.


Pharmaceutical Giant
Enforcer in tow
Bloodless coup takeover
How in hell could I know?
Tootbrush Magnate
Scrubbing me off
Stealing my keepers’ gloves
Treated like plaque – decay & scoff
Quozone Peculiar
Hip shot to bits
Smashing 80’s in boundaries
While I tumble down the batting list
New Black Knight
Taking over my life
Bryan Ferry replaced
By fear, loathing and cricketing strife
Sponsoring Fiend, one thing I beg:
Give my Poodle back
He once buttled for me
Strip off his blazer  - tell him he’s sacked
Oz-scape Nightmare
You’ve taken my team
Black Knight / Pink Heat
Burning through my Currymen dreams

Mantra of The Beast

3 balls inside the mind of VCC’s record-breaking batsman

Not this one
Not this one
He’s turning to start his run up
Empty your mind
Not this one
Empty words
Meaning nothing, meaning everything
In the moments to come.
Empty your mind
Not this one
Not this one
He begins, 30 yards away now
‘Ladyboy!’ they called me today
…Banish banter!!
Banish all thoughts
Empty your mind
for the ball to come
Not this one
Not this one
Not this one
Not this one
Drifting now
in a timeless sporting Zen
Suddenly though: 
Not… “a bottler”!
Out of my head, Jonty!!
I could step away, but force the thought away
Bowler’s arm beginning
its pre-jump curl 
Not this one
Not this one
No thoughts intruding now
No memory of the two thousand runs before
No worry of those to come
The moment is everything
And nothing at all
Not this one
Not this one
Blessed peace – and
His release
Not this one
Not this…..
Weight forward
then straight violent flashing, into slightly rising 
All in one blissful driven moment
that is everything - and yet somehow, strangely 
nothing at all.
Two screaming bounces and 
another boundary.
Am I Beast…or priest, retreating
modestly again to my eternal mantra?
A meditative breath, disguised in the glove-knocking as half-grin and 
the cycle re-starts.
As they add a 
fourth man to the farthest rope
Not this one
Not this one
Like Beckham’s OCD
how many times
should I repeat?
Empty your mind!
No thoughts, no memory, no worry:
Technique will triumph
if uncluttered by thought,
soaring down the time tunnel
from freshly-mown school playing fields.
But now he’s turning again
So, Not that one
Not this one
Not these moments to come
And, such is my state, I may as well be
levitating above a Thai beach:
Poised to defend
or strike
(I only check the huge follow through
when my bat extends high 
and straight above my body
like a cathedral spire
looming above the Saxon plain)
Whatever the game
As the moment demands
As my mantra calms me
Not this,
Not this one
Then beyond a point 
I have yet to reach
The mantra may surpass the man
And the runs run into the universe
Fifty, a hundred, one-twenty, one-forty pass
As if in a dream, 
controlled by the words alone. 
Endless prayer. 
Not this one
Not this one
And now other thoughts can float
like soft clouds in my mantra’s epic sky:
Ting-Sha Tibetan chimes sound.
Madness calls aloud, down the dormitory
corridor from years before.
I am twelve, seventeen, twenty-nine?
In Currymen whites or burnished Buddhist red.
The drama of the match is a dream 
I now control
Not this one
Not this one
has now become a mantra I dictate
to all around.
And as I wait for the desperate bowler to turn yet again
the only sound
on earth
is in my brain
Not this one
Not this one
Not this one.

Inspired by Rik Barker’s 128 not out for VCC vs Hawridge & Cholesbury, Buckinghamshire June 15th, 2008


“You’ve let us DOWWWN!”
Shock waves shudder
Chop sticks stutter-click
And the Oriental evening
Is shattered from the West
Cowering Tailor shrinks
And cuff-links spin
Like terrified pale moons 
on their axis, fleeing orbit
From a demon sun
No Feng Shui Saint,
Mughal Majesty or Metal Hammer
Can deter the ghastly Tusk attack
Staring and ferocious still
In it’s grotesque, glowering afterburn
Persuaded down Porn Alley at last 
Past Chungking Mansions 
And away on Star Ferry,
The Roar of The Walrus echoes still 
Over Hong Kong Harbour.

New Heroes beware...


We, who have each served The VCC for nearly a quarter of a century, are no longer prepared to be treated as washed-up bit-part players, gradually being eased into the margins of the team as part a dastardly cricketing make-over by the treacherous Lord Oz of Tott: We made him…and we can break him too. Let all of Sussex be our judge.

One for all and all for One!

Nobody escapes the AXIS OF EVIL