The Bard of Belsize

The Bard of Belsize : An Appreciation

Founder of The Horn School of Poets, Martin Stockman read English at Canterbury where he combined acting with fronting an entirely fictional punk-rock group, The Vice Captains. Upon graduating, it was in the VCC cricket team, a rampantly un-fulfilled love life and his adoring obsession with the svelte crooner Bryan Ferry, that the future Bard finally found his muses.

Mischievous sexuality mixes with an urbane alienation in much of The Bard’s best work. Like many unsung greats, Stockman is searching, never finding: The hypnotized frustration of the batsman in ‘Leather Taunter’, for example, is a brilliant analogy of a man hopelessly bewitched by love. ‘Beneath The Chiltern Hills’ – where Betjeman meets Bruce Springsteen – is another of The Bard’s finest, revealing a sad, wry, wit. And for years, at rare readings, poetry buffs across North London have rejoiced when joining in with ‘Vortex’ s tragi-tropical climax of “Your sobs of satisfaction, my lonely reward.”

Imitation may well be the best form of flattery and Bard 2 - the absurdist Chalk Farm Cheesecake – now regularly spoofs The Horn’s unique style, while Bard 3 Barker more sensibly sticks to classic cricketing prose. But neither of these rival Currymen acts can hope to surpass the first and true BARD OF BELSIZE.


Stock on the plinth

Lord Nelson and Martin Stockman help support Townshiphelp at Trafalgar Square in London

Martin Stockman from The VCC Cricket Club in London (www.thevcc.com) took part in the famous UK Sculptor Antony Gormley’s “One & Other” living monument on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square.

This space is normally reserved for statues of Kings and Generals, in an image of themselves. Whilst Martin recited a repertoire of his poetry written over many years he also highlighted the involvement of The VCC Cricket Club and the support it offers towards Townshiphelp (www.townshiphelp.com).

Dressed in striking VCC Blazer and perched some 60ft up on the plinth, friends and crowds assembled to listen for an hour of prose & poetry between 3pm to 4pm. A special poem was written titled “GU GU” by Tim Graham in connection specifically with one of the ongoing projects at Liwa Primary School in Gugulethu & Nyanga Township near Cape Town (www.liwaprimaryschool.com)

View photographs of Stocko on the plinth here


Baldon Mistral

Baldon mistral
Swirling through my heart
Bails can’t hold,
Marsh gale tearing me apart
Strollers’ hats 
Infect my feeble soul
(That hateful fearscape
At the timbered Mole)
Cherwell windstorm, 
Encircle the Green
Rioja mamouna
The pre-credits scene
Red kites hover o’er 
Wind strewn twenty-two yards
Nuclear stormscape
Failure writ in the cards
Capricious tornado
Crazy paving heart
Sandon Simeon
Fire your crimson dart
Whirlwind lushlife
As Reality looms
The cherry pops 
And I am doomed

© MS Cuddesdon Sep06


Vortex

Head held hard by an invisible hand, 
I welter in that fertile hothouse again.
In the musty whirlpool where rivers meet
An eclipse of thigh my only friend,
Your torso trembles to the lizard flick
Your supine lust the scented garden I tend.
A jack-knifed duvet my mosquito net
Excluding notions of love and time
But way beyond clichés and sauvignon sweat
There’s a reason I lap to your selfish cries;
Angels somewhere applaud my Amazon effort
(Replanting the rainforest for a missionary cause,)
Your heart – the horror, the horror – at journey’s end,
Your sobs of satisfaction my lonely reward.

The Cobra

Oh flannelled fool, bequiffed and bewildered,
Marooned at square leg,  unused,  unconsidered,
In an island of fag butts you wait for the call,
A glance at the captain as their opener stonewalls,
And then a brief nod and the cobra unfurls
A jaunty skip run up, a few practice hurls,
Huttonesque jaw-line square-on to the pitch,
The old school-tie waistband you give a last hitch
Then an elegant back arch,  time standing still,
The cherry unleashed,  the bitterest pill,
A shimmering parabola fizzing to its destiny
A puff of dust,  oh blessed turn,  the rest is history.
And now sunkissed Currymen swoop and caress
The Cobra’s taught sinews,  oh up against him they press,
No longer recalling his half-hour scoring zero,
No longer a luxury tweaker,  but the fragrant hero.

Marine Dreams

How I treasure these morose moments
The sulk of a wounded man
A churlish bedside vigil
The bedside manners of the damned. 
And so few souvenirs,
(Skin the shade of sand,
Freesias by the flesh,
A fascination for my hand.) 
Now I drive these rainy streets
And, smirking, recall your first lesson,
The lip service of the future, 
A midnight telephone session.

Exile On Penn Street

The Cobra’s out of his basket 
Fuchsia stripes adorn his shirt
Vermillion blood at the tip of fang
Preying mantis ready to spurt.
The Walrus waddles to his catamite
“Marvellous kit design old boy”
But his email told a different story,
And at the AGM became strangely coy.
But Cobra’s a clever snake
And charms the ring with charcoal caps,
And Curryman crest like a wedding cake,
Oh vile confection, Oh hideous lapse, 
The deed is done, the elders gasp,
At Cobra’s chutzpah, his rape of the brand,
Tarnishing a great legacy with
A casual flick of his fragrant hand....

Beneath the Chiltern Hills

There’s  a darkness on the edge of the square
No ploughman’s  in the bar,  just a publican’s glare
No thatched pavilion or patchwork quilt green
In the Buckinghamshire badlands it’s always number thirteen
In the darkness on the edge of the square
Dave surveys the averages, rifles his hair
We’re beyond the Hoover Factory, where the Downs begin,
Where the highway ends, Don unloads the coffin…
Here’s a pink plastic abdominal protector
Worn by ringers carrying sexual infection,
Well-thumbed scorecards tell a tale
Of serial failure and the menopausal male,
Of splintered willow and left hand gloves,
A hundred hangovers and a million lost loves
There’s a darkness on the edge of the square
No ploughman’s  in the bar,  just a publican’s glare
No thatched pavilion or patchwork quilt green
In the Buckinghamshire badlands it’s always number thirteen
The opposition arrive in their sensible cars,
With their sensible wives, their miniature cigars
The butchers, the bakers, the forex market makers
Encircle me now; they’re all wicket takers
On the scorebox sits a solitary magpie,
One for all my sorrows, (let sleeping dogs lie),
In comes the paceman,  he’s nineteen years old,
Around his bull neck hangs a chain of gold,
And I can’t even remember my last cover driven four,
My last sober laughter,  my last decent score.
And the pavilion behind like a dark satanic mill,
In brooding April darkness beneath the Chiltern Hills.

November 2002


Baldon Mistral version 2

Baldon mistral
Swirling through my heart
Bails can’t hold
Marsh gale tearing me apart
Strollers’ hats 
Infect my feeble soul
(That hateful fearscape
At the timbered Mole)
Rioja mamouna,
The money-shot scene,
Cherwell windstorm 
Encircle the Green
Nuclear stormscape
Failure writ in the cards
Red kites hover o’er 
Wind strewn twenty-two yards
Capricious tornado
Crazy paving heart
Sandon Simeon
Fire your crimson dart
Whirlwind marshlife
The Monday Reality looms
The cherry pops 
And I am doomed, doomed, doomed.