I Remember : A Palette of Words
Tony Gadd was ‘poet in residence’ throughout the Norman Cornish Centenary. Later this month an Anthology of works created during the Centenary workshops at each of the exhibition venues will be published via this website. Participants will be receiving personal copies in due course.
Poetry is a powerful medium which also has the capacity to evoke memories and trigger emotions. Many people have a favourite poem.
I Remember (title) takes the reader on a journey through Tony’s early years and is a constantly evolving poem initially inspired by Cornish’s paintings and drawings. It was warmly received as an introduction at a number of Centenary lectures, and is published here for the first time. Tony has personally selected the images to accompany this poem in recognition of the inspiration they provided.
Tony plans to publish his personal Anthology in the near future and it seemed appropriate to share his palette of words as a taster of things to come.
I remember Colour TV in the 1960s laid on the floor, elbows on cushion, chin on hand s watching Stingray, Captain Scarlet, Thunderbirds and Joe 90 fantastical tales, all filmed in ‘Supermarionation’
I remember Swooning and cooing over Aqua Marina a mute, tail-less mermaid with Bridgette Bardot lips and silicon polished eyes
I remember Wondering if she would ever choose me over Troy wondering what the hell was ‘Supermarionation’ ?
I remember Thinking all baddies had thick necks, shiny bald heads with thick bushy eyebrows over menacing eyes and devilish grins
I remember Sitting in the barbers shop with me Granda I screamed as the barber set fire to a mans head watched as he then waxed and polished it brushed the collar of his ever expanding neck transfixed, my eyes bulged as he turned and smiled
I remember Running out the barbers, thinking me Granda must be a real gangster as he new lots of baddies
I remember Me mam typing quicker than I could speak writing in hieroglyphics, she said it was ‘short hand’, but it looked pretty long to me
I remember Going to the Odeon cinema in 1969, aged 7, to see me first ever film, 2001 A Space Odyssey two and a half hours of my life i’d never get back wondering what the hell was it all about hypnotic visuals, discordant sounds, assaulting my senses few words, lots of space, space, space and no ending
I remember Months later being nonplussed, as Apollo 11 landed on the moon all black, white and grainy, no invisible ‘HAL’ to talk me through it
I remember Fifty years later realising, why the 7 year old me didn’t get it with its themes of existentialism, human evolution, AI, and extra terrestrial life, still not sure I get it now, still never watched that film again
I remember Getting drunk on cadburys old Jamaica chocolate, 9 pence for a 3 and 3/8 ounce bar a burnt orange sleeve, with gold foil cover feasting square by square on a pirates treasure, followed by a palate cleanser of 2 hubbly bubbly or some golden nugget chut
I remember Tripe, liver and onions, leek suet pudding boiled in a cloth, penacalty, fish finger stotties, bacon grill and pressed ox tongue in a pyrex bowl, which doubled up on Sundays for a 10 bob swirl of Mr Whippy. ice cream. Beef’n’drippin, spam fritters, faggots in gravy, fray bentos pies, and a spare key kept in a draw just in case, to open tins of corned beef
I remember Sunday lunches, huge roast joints that would last all week Yorkshire puddings the size of your plate pressure cooker veg fresh from the allotment all doused in grandmas secret recipe mint sauce skin on rice pudding served out of huge enamel tins all cooked in Council Rayburn, the commoners AGA
I remember Scraping the ice off the inside of me metal framed single glazed window, to see if it had snowed overnight, then dressing in front of the open fire, the only heating we ever had Then shovelling snow to get out of the house, to get to school, which never, ever, ever, shut for the weather
I remember Frozen wet feet from ill fitting rubber wellies soggy woollen mittens, strung through duffel coat arms the tingle in finger and toe tips as they quickly began to thaw much like the coal dust speckled snowman i’d spent hours creating
I remember The smell of rubber plimmies, hanging in bags from cloakroom hooks doing PE in my pants and vest and those slip on jabs or sand shoes third of a pint bottles of milk served at school morning breaks prunes and custard, discarded stones balanced on edges of bowls ‘Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor’ ringing out around the hall those who reached thief often missed afternoon classes spending their time instead on the bog
I remember School days, playing ‘spot’ with a brown leather casey against crumbling sandstone outside bog walls adjacent allotments with owld gadgees in diamond patterned cardies, who pass freshly picked tomatoes from grubby hands, through diamond patterned fence, halved with a penknife used for grafting plants, whittling stakes and sharpening stubby pencils, just big enough to fit a’hind their ever growing lugs
I remember Drawing the short straw and being sent in to buy beer, under age, at the off-sales window of the Colpitts Pub, two bottles of Samuel Smiths bitter all we could afford, shared between ten, more spit than beer, how bitter sweet it was
I remember Coal fired chippy’s serving up, fish lots, dab and chips, and a bag of scraps or scrapings’ wrapped in yesterdays newsprint, nee forks, fingers arnly, discount given for yesterdays news
I remember Using my great grandfathers shoe last, to feed the soul Sutton Street cobbler with kiwi polish and buffed leather smells provides horseshoe heels, a pound of blakey rounds and quarter tip segs to feed the soles, to stamp my feet, to make some noise to parade, drill and pass out
I remember Pit heap, pit head, pit wheel and gantry landscapes Huge pylons, aerial tubs and telegraph pole skylines, The smell and taste of an autumn days smog, and the phosphorus orange glow from the pit yard lights.
I remember Coal deliveries, dropped in back lanes, menfolk still on shift, women at h’ame left to handball frem lane to shed on return frem shift, the pitmen diarise, the quality of load delivered
I remember Pitmen tewing the’ pluck oot, blue tattoos, chiseled into hands and face scars hewn from years spent at the seam, flat cap, hides many more tokens, from time underground as they speak, the only thing visible, butt ends of broken, rotten teeth
I remember Them haakin’ an coughin’ the black spit up deep roond pullie eyes, hide any notion of emotion, foot-rot ’n gout, huge spots all ower the feet and hands burnt off by blue lotion issued from the infirmary stag, frem lack of light, isolate them frem life ootside ralloused, with caisson disease, dust, and anthracosis, pneumo and skumfish, all of them explained away as bronchitis have em all at h’ame, reaching for oxygen, hauled roond, on a cast iron trolley
I remember The first time seeing Norman Cornish’s paintings browt a tear to me eye, as I saw aa’l me family that had gone befower aa’l the memories of that life lang gone. now I use a palette of words to explain our heritage, our community. our hopes for the future, our destiny, our ‘ Slice of Life’, our ‘Sense of Place’, in this landscape, we call h’ame
Throughout the centenary year, an interesting range of themed exhibitions is planned in order to commemorate Norman’s life and to celebrate his work.
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