David Lewis Paget
I was wandering through the Nursing Home
In the town of Morton Rise,
Seeking an old and weathered face
That I'd known in another guise,
For Richard Spratt was my father's friend
That I hadn't seen for years,
I was going to let him know his friend
Had taken a turn for the worse.
The eyes that stared from the armchairs there
Were blank, and devoid of pain,
They'd taken the pills that dulled them down
So they wouldn't be restrained,
The nurses treated them all as fools
This gross humanity,
Whose only sin was they'd given in
To age, and infirmity.
It was all so very depressing, I
Imagined my future there,
Staring in immobility
From the prison of one of their chairs,
Waiting my turn to be spoon-fed
By a very impatient nurse,
Who shovelled the food all over my chin
As I sat, and inwardly cursed.
I wandered the home there, room by room
In search of his friendly face,
This Richard Spratt in a cricketer's hat
I remembered from Ambergate,
He'd batted a decent fifty, while
My father polished the ball,
And took five wickets alone that day
In his bowling, over all.
It was nigh on forty years before
That I'd watched them play as a child,
Out on the green at Ambergate
With the weather, warm and mild,
But the years dismay as they pass away
And my father grew so old,
Now he lay in bed in a kind of dread
As the bell of his lifetime tolled.
I said that I'd find his friend for him
And let him know, at the last,
That he was remembered, thick and thin
For a friendship, forged in the past,
There were days when they both had sunny skies
And met each day with a grin,
But time drew shrouds like storm-filled clouds
And the end was looking grim.
I heard a shout from a private room
And went to investigate,
Quite a commotion in the gloom,
I hoped I wasn't too late,
And there was a nurse stood over him
In a wheelchair, Richard Spratt,
He'd thrown his meds all over the room
And sat in his cricketer's hat.
‘You know what to do with your pills, you witch, '
He shouted, and turned to see
Just who was stood in the doorway, I
Was grinning from ear to ear,
‘Well I'll be… You can get out of here! '
He said to the wayward nurse,
Who said, ‘If you're going to be like that…'
And left the room, with a curse.
I told the news of my father then
And I swear, he sat and cried,
Just a couple of tears escaped
That he hid, he still had pride,
‘Life is a trail of sorrow, son,
But we're all on the same long train,
Your dad and I in the tunnel, while
Your carriage is still on the plain.'
‘What do you value of life the most? '
I saw the pain in his eyes,
‘Youth was that great and precious thing
That with age, you realise!
I'd give it all for an hour to spend
In the glow of my lady's eyes,
The touch of her skin and a hint of sin
But the thing that we love, it dies! '
‘I've often thought of those balmy days
On the green in our cricket whites,
And think I hear the crack of the ball
On the willow of sweet delight,
I remember your father's terse ‘Howzat! '
When he scattered another's bails,
Now I sit in this prisoning wheelchair, here
And all I can hear are wails.'
‘Wails from the ones who want to die,
Wails that they want to live,
The future is lost to the best of us
We have but the past to give.
You'd like to know how I feel right now,
Like a leopard, caught in a cage,
If only I could be young once more…
But all that I feel is rage! '
4 October 2012
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(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967)
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
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(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886)
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(28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827)
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