Doff your cap, Toe the line, Do a good job, Know your place, Speak when spoken to, Don’t talk back, keep mum, Be reliable Hold your knife properly, Don’t leave the table until told to, Watch your step, March in time, Defer to your betters, Salute the flag, Be punctual, Do a good job, Never argue, Be polite, Bow, Scrape, Be invisible.
If you do not do as you are told you have…
A chip on your shoulder, Are bitter, Difficult A maverick A born troublemaker An outsider A thief Or worse Political
June 1783 a balloon of hot air made of paper is launched then a test of silk and hydrogen that travels 15 miles before crashing into the minds of two peasants who attack the monster despite the authorities appeal not to be scared of these globes ‘which resemble the moon turned dark’
Next a sheep, a cockerel, a duck are swung into orbit like Laika Tethered to another hydrogen sphere to test the air at altitude They survive crashing back to earth and are examined by Pilatre de Rozier Who in October 1783 becomes the first man to leave the earth The blue and gold balloon rising in a shower of burning straw
The 7th January 1785 and Blanchard and Jefferies attempt the first sea crossing leaving Dover they head for Calais rising and falling dangerously all weighty objects jettisoned they finally threw their clothes into the sea and make landfall at Blanc-Nez where Blanchard throws letters into the wind the final weight they let go are bladders containing their own urine
13th June 1784 and Pilatre attempts a sea crossing in the opposite direction twenty-seven minutes later it is seen drifting back over land the two aeronauts observed frantically trying to keep the vessel aloft The hydrogen ignites sending the two men to their deaths Pilatre leaves behind the first matches, gas masks and a museum of science
The means to start fires, protect and survive and a mausoleum of ideas.
13th June 2021 fires burn bright in the woods near Calais at night Sea crossings are planned and wind and sea watched for calmer nights Eyes turn upwards at the leviathans in the channel the monsters in the air Some cross easily others fall to earth or drift on currents back to land The best nights are those when the moon turns dark and the fires are out
We test the limits of our survival from Paris to Mars, seek safe harbour But the straw burning under our feet both lifts us and destroys our world. Under the blue and gold backdrop of the live television pictures two men Dump what they can into the sea, pray that the fires will keep them afloat But can see the moon turned dark, the sea turned black, the world on fire.
A sheep, a cockerel, a duck Float on across the burnt forests, the flooded fields, drowning in hot air.
Shaun Belcher was born Oxford, England in 1959 and brought up on a down-land farm before moving to a council estate in the small town of Didcot in 1966 just as England won the world cup..
He studied fine art at Hornsey College of Art, London from 1979–81 where he sat under a tree with Adrian Mitchell.
Began writing poetry in the mid 1980s and subsequently has been published in a number of small magazines and a poem 'The Ice Horses' was used as the title of the Second Shore Poets Anthology in 1996.(Scottish Cultural Press).
He now lives in Nottingham, England after two years in Edinburgh studying folk culture and several years in the city of expiring dreams working as a minion at the University of Oxford.
He is currently enjoying retirement from 20 years of teaching and hopes to write something on a regular basis again. He has been involved in various literary projects including delivering creative writing workshops in Nottingham prison for the ‘Inside Out’ project.
He supports Arsenal football club.
Favourite colours therefore red and green like his politics.
We have not won the world cup again since 1966 and Shaun Belcher is not as famous as Simon Armitage although his songs are better.