All other poems entered by adults in Headington Poetry Competition 2003


Headington 2003

Headington is changing day by day –
For better for worse? Who’s to say?

Some people think charity shops a bore,
But most have good books and bargains galore.

And now we can trip the light fantastic –
To the recycling skips and dump our plastic!

We even have a regular “Big Issue” seller,
Who shelters his dog ’neath a big umbrella.

Sadly still, there’s a fair bit of crime –
We need police presence more of the time.

But wonderful folks have planned a Funday
So we’ll all make this a memorable Sunday.

Headington Hill

Headington Hill is a magical hill,
A mountain to climb, when you are small;
And then, to cycle all the way up
Is an accomplishment indeed to recall.
It is a hill of various, changing moods
When shrouded in fog, mysterious and strange
The bridge looms up as you near the top
Like a huge fortress, secure and still.
When snow falls, the hill is spectacular
Fairyland beckons, a sight to behold
The bare branches, white and sparkling
Display nature’s glorious transformation
Breathtaking cobwebs of pure delight
Tracing a pattern, delicate and bright.
When springtime and summer creep up on the hill
The lovely trees blossom with lush, leafy joy
Giving shade to the weary who cycle or walk
This much-loved wonderful Headington Hill.
I have travelled this hill for many years now
On the low road and high.
It never fails to thrill, as I journey on up
This beautiful hill, majestic, compelling
Yes! This is my mountain, that I love to climb
And as I arrive at the summit once more
My heart gives thanks for Headington Hill.

Headington: Beyond Recall

Headington, past times, a faraway place,
Which to a small child was on a large hill –
Could not be Sweden, nor yet even Thrace.
Once taken along, when just slightly ill,
To Quarry for tea, with mother’s old friends,
Lucy and Ella, and their brother Fred,
In quite far-off days of less violent trends –
For our neighbourhood, then taken as read.
There plenty of shops, with kind men to tend,
Gave help to their clients, oft acting as friend.

Growing some older I cycled abroad:
Up tree-lined bridged hill — so cool, so hazy;
Transforming the scene, which then never bored,
Exploring bye-ways — secretly, lazy.
Local folk’s accents with slight changing hue,
Even when saying, ”It looks nice today,”
Sometimes spoke purple, and sometimes dark blue –
And band in the park was oft heard to play.
Of Mummers and Fairs we’ve memories again;
Quarry-bound secrets are our ancient gain.

Always life changes, for better some say.
Critics are chastised and oft made to hide:
Yet who say “better” receive someone’s pay.
The gulf we have crossed is now very wide:
Perhaps some are left, responding life’s call;
Others the gauntlet may pick up in time,
But have they courage to give of their all?
As forebears buried with fey uncouth rhyme.
Fripperies greatly, like distractions cull,
Listen: Quarry ghosts voice an echo dull.

Homeless in Headington

I’m sitting on the street,
I cannot feel my feet,
I’m cold and wet,
Sometimes I cry but no one’s helped me yet.

I beg for money
I feel so lonely,
People pretend that they can’t see me,
All I want is £1 for a biscuit and a cup of tea.

I don’t drink,
I just sit here and think,
About all the things in my old life,
About all the trouble and all the strife.

I caught the train down to London,
But it was too rough there, so I moved to Headington,
I wanted a small flat,
But I didn’t have enough money for that.

So I sit here and beg instead,
It’s OK because I’ve got a ’bed’,
It’s a doorway in Windmill Road,
It keeps me dry even though it’s cold.

You’ve gotta be tough out there,
In the open air,
I don’t have any mates
Because on the streets there’s too much hate.

You can’t let anyone close,
To everyone else you’re a ghost,
You don’t wanna get into a fight,
Cos if you do you might not last the night.

I want a wife!
I want a life!
I want a home that is shiny and clean,
But just right now it’s all a wonderful dream.


Sick suburb of Oxford,
Suffering now from Creeping Brookes Disease
And swarming with nurses and doctors,
Is Headington a lost cause?
Diagnosis is difficult, treatment unsure.

Oxford United’s pitch has been excised,
Taken and grafted on to Greater Leys.
In its place, yet another hospital
Casts a shadow over the bowling green.

Not the Moulin Rouge is Not a Cinema
With only the diving shark across the road
To call to mind the ultimate picture show:
Cinema Paradiso.

Deserted by ex-foxtrotting bingo fans,
The gaunt art deco dance-hall has declined
And echoes dully to the skeletal clack
Of snooker balls that cannon in the gloom.

A rash of glitzy guest houses has spread
Along the constipated London Road
Where the milestone opposite Bury Knowle
Seems to mark a residential home
For car drivers who in despair surrendered
On seeing there engraved II miles to Oxford.

A gaily painted underpass brings hope.
Everywhere you look there is charity
And food from countries all around the globe.
The Co-op store has turned itself around
And now looks proudly out across the park
Where leaves glow red and gold as nights close in.

And snowflakes soon will sparkle in the dark
Lit by those who have faith in Headington.

The Mystery of Morse’s Missing Motor

In days of old when football was played on the Manor ground,
Inspector Morse and Lewis could be spotted in the crowd.
After one evening’s victory over Swindon Town I think,
They popped into the Black Boy for a celebratory drink.

Lewis was re-living each goal again with glee,
And feeling pleased that Oxford stuffed the old arch-enemy.
But poor old Morse was troubled as he stood there at the bar,
Another drink might clear his head and he’d remember where he left the car.

He thought long, he thought hard and he thought once again.
Alas, no inspiration came unto his musty brain.
“What we’ve got to do,” he said “Lewis, my old son,
Is re-trace our footsteps all around Headington.”

So they checked outside the Quarry Gate, the White Hart, the White Horse.
Just then Sergeant Lewis said to Inspector Morse;
“Didn’t we have a barney sir, about noisy car alarms
Over a pint of London Pride at the Butcher’s Arms?”

But they had no luck at the Butcher’s Arms, I’m afraid to say.
Nor even The Britannia, which they called at on the way.
By now they had checked out almost everywhere they’d been,
And poor old Morse’s trusty wheels were nowhere to be seen.

“There’s nothing for it Lewis,” said Inspector Morse at last,
“We’ll have to go to Cowley and report a stolen car;
Those jokers at the station are sure to have a laugh,
So before we do we’ll pop into the Standard for a half.”

Meanwhile on the Barton Estate, screaming tyres did burn,
And crowds came out to watch an ace display of handbrake turns.
The neighbourhood watch co-ordinator, she was on the phone,
Informing the control room as to what was going on.

The cops chased a red Jaguar (Inspector Morse’s pride)
Off towards Wood Farm with four spotty youths inside.
The helicopter meant that they could run but not hide,
In the car they stole that evening from the Thornhill Park & Ride.

Headington Blues

Our local Co-op has put me in a terrible state,
Wondering what will happen to its future fate.
To find out more, I’m off to get my pension,
Talking in the queue will help relieve the tension.

Every week I collect my “Government Dowry”
Standing in line, a still-life ”L.S.Lowry”
Oh shock horror, what a terrible surprise,
To find myself discussing the Co-op demise.

The rain’s coming down and I am getting wet,
They say Ladbrookes is dry but I can’t afford a bet.
Well if I do get a sniffle or a touch of gout,
Lloyds or Boots the chemist will help me out.

The weather has cleared and it’s time for a treat,
So the Café Bonjour beckons for a bite to eat.
Maybe I’ll linger outside the Queen of Hearts,
For a lovely free whiff of their apple tarts.

Nearby Time & Elegance is where I always stand,
Where one day I will buy a special gold band.
But if I cannot afford a diamond-cluster ring,
Home Supplies or Clovers can provide me with anything.

I am on a mini-marathon round the charity shops,
To buy some recycled shoes and a couple of tops.
I stroll into Peacocks just to look at their frocks,
And end up buying a pair of woolly socks.

After shopping round Headington in need of a rest,
I am starting to flag and I don’t feel my best.
So I pop into Somerfields to just use their loo,
To finish my library book which is long overdue.

A final call at Budgens to buy an Oxford Mail,
With thoughts of the Co-op I turn quite pale.
As I pass the pet shop I’m over the moon,
To find that my Co-op is reopening soon.

The Headington Poetry Competition

(or A Suburban Love-Song, with apologies to
John Betjeman and Miss Joan Hunter-Dunn)

The poetry contest continues to run
Furnish’d and burnish’d by Headington sun
What strenuous jingles we penn’d after tea
All in the tournament — you against me.

From mansion and cottage the entries emerge
What starts as a trickle ends up as a surge.
How mad with delight we would be if we won;
We are weak from your loveliness, o Headington.

Around us are hospitals near and afar
(The euonymus felled to make room for the car)
The dance-hall has vanished, the lanes are now wide,
The car park is full, and the woodland has died.

But the subway is lauded, the park is ador’d
(The parking and litter and crime are ignor’d).
Oh! Headington twilight! Oh! shape of the shark,
What strange inspiration you give in the dark.

Now the closing date’s near and the words are all said
And the ominous, ominous, judging’s ahead;
We sat writing verses till twenty to one
Pack’d full of praise of our own Headington.

What Are They Doing to the Co-op?

Hello, Gladys. Listen, love,
Don’t you think it’s strange,
What’s happening at the Co-op?
Why’s it got to change?

I heard it’s coming up to date.
You know, the modern age,
Space and toxicology
They think it’s all the rage.

Hello, Maud. You’ll never guess
What Gladys thinks they’re doing
The Co-op’s now a space station.
There must be trouble brewing.

Good gracious, Hilda! Yes, you’re right.
It’s just the way I feared.
That hoarding’s hiding something,
Prob’ly nuclear and weird.

Hello, Edna. Listen, dear,
The Co-op’s being done.
There’ll be a war, like in Iraq
We may not win this one.

Oh my goodness! Are you sure?
It may be Saddam’s hide-out
Come on Bill. We’re going home.
I need to find the black-out.

Hello, Ivy. That your stick?
Don’t stand there leaning on it.
The Co-op isn’t safe. Go on.
Before the U.S. bomb it!

The Co-op?! Hilda, don’t be daft!
It’s opening. Look. Brand new.
I’ll see you at the Fruit and Veg,
And get some tablets too!

Where Have All The Children Gone?

I’m a Headington Quarry Swift,
If you get my drift;
And I’ll miss the kids next year,
For they’ve closed the school,
Now that’s not cool –
’cause the kids I love to hear.

No more play-ground screams,
No childhood dreams,
History, maths or written word;
And I can tell,
That the Assembly bell
Will never again be heard!

For so many years
My cousins and peers,
From Africa they have flown;
And as a general rule,
We fly to Quarry School –
The place that we call home.

Though I wax and wane,
It’ll never be the same
Without those little tots.
I know some mothers cried
When the old School died,
Me, I’ll miss them lots!

Eight seasonal HAIKUs dedicated to Bury Knowle Park

(The following HAIKUs consist of three lines of five, seven, and five syllables)


A delicacy
Enchantingly picturesque
So soporific

Floral tentacles
Reaching searching for sunlight
Then bursting of blooms


Spotlighting beauty
Rays through luscious canopies
Of green foliage

Black, pot-bellied clouds
Hitting home with lightning strikes
Spewing loaded guts


Leaves of brown abound
Stark against the clear blue sky
Contrasting colours

The scattered leaves lay
A lush carpet of colour
Summer is sleepy


Gorgeous panoply
So much Christmas tree clinquant
But so fugacious

A Halcyon day
With picturesque bravura
Contentment doth reign


Headington is so full of beauty
With the subway
Standing out in vibrant glory;
There’s lots of shops to go into,
Some so interesting it inspires you:
Full of class and elegance
Is Headington true.

I love to have a good old browse
And then go into Bury Knowle Park
For a picnic tea, and afterwards
I then pop down to Blockbusters
To get a thrilling movie:
There seems to be lots to choose from
As I look around in store, see
I find what I’m looking for and make exit
To go home and watch my movie.

But before I do, I go to Smarts
For my fish & chip supper,
And as I walk through Headington
Admiring the elegant scenery along the way
I pop into B2
For my daily paper too.
Then I have to say Headington
You’re simply the best, true.

May Day in Oxford in 1934

Six o’clock on a fine May morning
First real summer day is dawning.
Lazy folk don’t lie in bed
Hurry to the bridge instead.
Children have been up an hour
Gathering every kind of flower.
Haste! Or you will miss the singing
Of choir boys with voices ringing
Heralding the sun’s bright rays
Bringing warmth to summer days.
Morris Dancers clap and shout
Twinkling feet dart in and out.
Drum & pipe are brought to play
To welcome in the 1st of May.

Felicia Roper (16 years of age at the time)

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