Headington Poetry
Competition 2004:
Other Adult Entries


Headington embedded links

Quite astounding the traffic abounding
In Headington
Rounding the roundabout, pounding the tarmac,
All hours of the day,
Confounding commuters from nearish-type places (sounding)
That no longer are.

Headington’s Healthville.
Another one’s coming,
Filling the ground where footballs once were.
Soothing tones, muffled moans
Replacing the roars and the sprawls in the mud.
A flash of white gown, and echoing down
The spanking new walkways
The ghost of a kick.

Goodbye Church

(on the demolition of Headington Baptist Church)

G ood-bye School.
I’ve learnt so much from sermons, talks and prayers,
From smiles and winks, hugs and silence.
Volumes have been written into me.

Good-bye Parade ground.
I’ve been drilled and drained.
The hard knocks of Kingdom service
Sculpting me into shape.

Good-bye Playground.
What fun there’s been.
Games and laughter, jokes and grins
And countless, special, life-long friends.

Good-bye Battlefield.
Yes, sadly, there were times
When precious souls were scarred and injured here
And God hid his face in sadness and shame.
It hurt so much to stand and watch
And how I’ve prayed my thoughtless words never threw a stone.

Good-bye Oasis.
You’ve been a place of safety,
A refreshment, a seat in the back of the boat
Amid the storm of life.

Good-bye Launch pad.
Lifting me in worship, praise and faith,
Firing me into heaven’s orbit,
Touching His throne on planet Grace.

Good-bye Home.
Acceptance. Relaxation. No threat. No fear.
The place where I belong.
Good-bye Church.

Seven nursery rhymes for Headington today

Jack and Jill went up the hill
To fetch a pail of water
The Headington drains were blocked again
So they got more than they ought’er.

Mary, Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With parking lots, and office slots,
And key-worker flats in a row.

Little Ms Muffet
Sat on a tuffet
Eating her curds and whey;
The Mail sent Jo Duckles
To drum up some chuckles
On Headington’s tenth take-away.

Little Polly Flinders
Sat among the cinders,
Ignoring the smokeless zone.
Her mother came and caught her,
And whipped her little daughter
For spoiling the Headington ozone.

Sing a song of Headington, suburb full of style,
Four and twenty hospitals, all in one square mile
When the Manor opened, the birds began to sing,
You can get fast treatment there, if you are a king.

S ee-saw, Margery Daw
Safety is now the new master;
Bury Knowle Park is so very dull
Because nothing can go any faster.

Polystyrene on the fence
Polystyrene in the park
Polystyrene by the road
Brookes has had its tea.

Flight Path

(Subtitled: what a mess)

“Oh what a mess”, I bet we all say
When we’re walking through
Headington on a sunny, warm day.

The cooing, the courting,
The mess and the food.
They do what they like, whatever their mood.

They’re flying here,
They’re flapping there.
Pigeons swooping everywhere.

They fly to the left.
They fly to the right.
Then they head straight for you; they must have bad sight.

Outside Iceland,
By the Co-op,
Into Bury Knowle Park they occasionally pop.

On Buckell and Ballard
They sometimes will perch.
I’ve seen them outside Lime Walk Methodist Church.

But wouldn’t we miss them
If they upped and went
As we amble ’round Headington, money all spent?

It wouldn’t be the same
Without them around,
Some in the sky, most on the ground.

Watch out for those birds.
You’ll see where they’ve been.
They do what they like. If you know what I mean!

Thoughts on a bus lane

Oxford’s a tourist attraction
Much to the traders’ delight.
It gives them great satisfaction
As tourists roll in, day and night.

But those thundering coaches,
Long-distance, tourist, express
Cause most terrible fusses
To Headington folk, and distress.

Red ones, blue ones and green ones
Blunder and thunder along
Spreading their fuming diesel
Amid the cowering throng.

We like the coaches which speed us
To Gatwick and Heathrow
And rush us to the Capital
For work, museum, or show.

And we love our local buses
Taking us all over the place
But now Headington has a bus lane
It wears a different face.

Cyclists who speed on the pavement
The skater who whizzes by
We’ve learned to cope with such hazards
And seldom blink an eye.

Coaches are very important
To a Transport Policy Plan;
But do we have to have so many?
It’s beyond the wisdom of Man.

Nostalgia – at its best

In memory of Bill Hebborn (ex-paratrooper at D-day and Showman)

This poem can be sung to the tune of ‘A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square’ (with credits to Eric Maschwitz and Manning Sherwin, 1940)

That certain day, the day we met,
There was magic abroad in the air
And knowingly you smiled at me,
For a roundabout turned in Templars Square.

I may be right, I may be wrong,
But I’m, perfectly willing to swear
That as they turned, and smiled at me,
The Ladybirds sang in Templars Square.

But Hemingway has said they have to go,
A bitter blow, we loved them so.
Now all the children wear a puzzled frown,
Their whole darn world is upside down.

The magic’s gone, the crowds are gone,
Taking their custom elsewhere,
To Tesco and to Heyford Hill,
For the roundabout’s gone from Templars Square.

I know ’cause I was there
Those days in Templars Square.

Tuesday 11 September 2001

A morning warm, with clear sky azure
Its greeting tender with loving care.
A distant drone is heard this day
Then the shattering nightmare!

Terror came and awoke a Nation
A frantic search is on for information,
For all America needs an answer
To this catastrophic annihilation.

Two ridged fingers, a victory sign
Came crashing to the floor.
This sign of hope and glory
Lay shattered and is no more!

The death knell of the reaper
Scythed through New York City.
Now its people with shock and horror
Must mourn the dead and show courageous pity

Do not despair of a dastardly act,
For time will heal and you’ll be back.
A defiant monument will grow from the ashes
And all America will rejoice, rejoice!

The above was written the day after the event and I feel is quite relevant with the news of a new structure to be built at Ground Zero.


I live with my wife, our kids having flown.
They’re living with ‘partners’, no longer at home;
We missed them at first, but then we were smitten,
When we saw in the Sanctuary, a beautiful kitten!

We named her Pippin, and do you know why?
It’s because she’s the apple of everyone’s eye.
With white hair and black hair and gold hair, you see,
She keeps it well groomed, as clean as can be.

We call her our baby, our good-girl, our friend.
She doesn’t respond much, she doesn’t pretend.
She just needs to be fed, and somewhere to sleep,
Two basic requirements, the rest you can keep.

She doesn’t eat cat meat, but tuna is fine,
And a saucer of milk at round about nine.
Science Diet is a must for dinner-time meal
And once in a blue moon, a mouse will appeal.

She doesn’t say much: her miaow is quite rare.
It’s ever so faint, is it really there?
Her tail tells you more of what she wants to do.
And when she rolls over, she’s submitting to you.

When I tickle her white ‘bib’, just under her chin,
It’s the nearest she gets to a smile or a grin.
But beware of her claws, they’re as sharp as can be:
She needs them to fight and to run up a tree.

She sleeps on a stool, she sleeps anywhere,
And like most cats I know, she hasn’t a care,
Except when a tomcat comes into her space:
Then she’ll run for her cat-flap, but that’s no disgrace.

She’s part of the family, and though growing old,
She’s worth so much more than her weight in gold.
When she ‘goes’, we’ll say, ‘No more cats we’ll have in.
How could we replace our gorgeous Pippin?

Headington’s History Past True

Headington, Headington
Is full of historic tales, and enchanting stories to tell,
The Headington Hill is the place to go,
And if you daringly see,
Late at night, on the stroke of midnight,
On the spooky scary bridge,
The headless Horseman, and his horse plus carriage too,
Surpassingly lying waiting
In the moon-lightened cloudy dark Headington skies.
But then I have to ask for Who?
Maybe me, or maybe you, or if not, Who?
Only he knows true, but don’t worry:
He’s part of the past of history
And really protecting his beloved Headington,
So give a wave and just smile, and whisper softly,
“I understand why you’re passing through,
Because once you loved Headington too.”

Headington’s Blossoming

Queen of Hearts Bakery, Clovers too,
With Budgen’s around the corner, just for you,
But now we have a new Sainsbury’s,
Petrol station attached and all,
Oh how great it is, TRUE!
I browse in store to get
A lovely sweet chocolate bar for me.

The I walk towards the vibrant artistic subway,
And just pause for a moment and think,
My goodness, what class, elegance,
And absolute outstanding radiant beauty.
Then as I continue on my way,
I glance around and think:
Wow, how lucky to be living in Headington,
With all its history and beauty for me, them, and you,
Not forgetting Mr Bill Heine’s shark rooftop house
In a nice little side-street,
Wishing it was a dolphin instead, maybe:
We’ll just have to wait and see.

But my favourite shop in our Headington has to be
Definitely Time and Elegance for me:
As I walk in, a warm friendly kind voice
Says to thee, “Good morning, sir, can I help you please?”
With a vibrant friendly smile etched on their face.
In reply, I just say, “I’m OK, thanking you,
I’m admiring the beauty and elegance that I see.”
Then as I leave the store, I say “Goodbye
And thank you, Sir and Madam too.”
Then I truly know that Headington and the people who live there too
Will be proud of our blossoming beautiful community, TRUE!

Headington the Best

Walking in Headington is great you see,
It keeps us all healthy, fit,
And de-stresses most definitely.
The fresh air and beautiful views along our way
As we gently walk in Bury Knowle Park,
Taking in the views too,
It’s inspiring to do more,
Which is a sport for all, in our historic breathtaking beauty,
Which is Headington without a doubt true.
Headington, walking around you is an honour and pleasure too.
I enjoy living here, being part of elegance with class and style,
And feeling proud springs to mind.
Don’t change for anyone, because you are the best
The way Headington is. See, open your eyes:
You’ll also be drawn to
And taking in by
Loving Headington too.

A Welcome at Ruskin Hall

From my Journal notes: October 2003

Old Headington, St Andrew’s way,
I took a stroll one day,
And chose a piney scented path
To watch the squirrels play.

They scampered, leapt, and foraged so,
Raised tiny hands to eat,
I stopped, a curly question mark
His tail so quick, so neat.

I gathered silky chestnuts three
Awaiting there for me,
As robin sang his autumn hymn
I listened joyously.

And later, under thinning trees
Beneath Marsmoon I lay,
I heard the wood of bonfire crack
As mem’ry came to stay.

Christmas in Headington

What a busy time this is,
People rushing here and there
To Iceland for the turkey,
To Queenie’s for the cake,
The charity shops for Christmas cards,
So much to think about.
The children are excited:
What will Father Christmas bring?
Mum and Dad are tired out:
What is all this costing?
Have they remembered everything
To help them celebrate?
Please, stop and think again,
What is this all about?
A baby born in Bethlehem
Is what we celebrate,
A baby boy named Jesus
In a stable long ago
Sent by God to teach us
How to live our lives below.
So in quiet contemplation
Let us really celebrate
The real meaning of Christmas:
Peace on earth, goodwill to men.

Christ Church Meadow

Autumn is an intimate scene, disrobing
Summer at the end of an evening, shedding
August limp with sweat, littering
Floor and river with remains of the party:
Coffee grounds and shreds of lemon,
Wrinkled olives and wilting salad.
Browning apple and claret creeper lingering on the wall,
The stain of spilt wine. The earth smokes
In gathered heaps, two lovers huddle
And dogs prod, beneath the watery carpet
Of scattered foliage. The pale sun caresses the land, teasing out
The soft sweep of the river, and glow of light
Refracted in a misty pall; blue on ochre.
The trees glow. The land glows. Walls stretch
Fetching ancient horizons in stone,
Enfolding space and small boys, who fumble
Over ball and each other, to a modest clamour
Of parental support, lining the touch.

This personal autumn, this laying down
Of all that we have been, the unmasking
Of all that we amount to: the exposing
Of bare skeleton of trunk and branch; the reaching
Of naked, unfulfilled ambition; the gaping
Of vistas, once hidden behind eloquent foliage of bluff
And rank and symbol. This us. This now. This we find appalling.
Not for us the quiet dignity of autumnal demise,
In time, appropriately, each tree in time with the other,
A commodious dance of colour and light.
Instead the festering disappointment and bitter resent
Of falling short. And all that can be has been
And all that was hoped for slips quietly away
As night falls early and the private season draws the curtains.

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