No More Heroes

Entry by: Nicholas Gill

23rd June 2017
Gone Fishin' -
memories of an un-heroic lock keeper

He had remarkably blue eyes,
The lock-keeper of Godstow
And I see him clearly
Legs splayed concave,
Peaked captain's cap a-slant.

Hear his rustic voice
Pronouncing on river politics of the day -
His catch-phrase “What I carn't understand is...”
Was mimicked by colleagues and some
Fun was made of his Eternal Vexations.

No winner resulting from lock-side disputes,
He'd scoff at the end of the farce,
“'I carn't tell if that shit's from 'is mouth or 'is arse!”

In high 1980s summer with the Stranglers playing
And bikini bodies on the pleasure boats laying
He's puzzle to himself
“Now why ain't I got a woman like those?”
Shake his head and shrug -
“Not enough money I suppose.”

He'd lonely pace his exercise yard
Two fidgety jack russels in tow,
Until later two daughters and wife
Would return from work
And in neolithic fag-bonding ease
Send collective thoughts on daily matters
Smokily out on the river's breeze.

His lock-side sentence ran out a little early -
A brain tumour ending the stream of his life.
Many boats passed through his gates
But I do not think he knew them well,
(“It would be a good job if it weren't for the boats!”)
Those smug owners of fibre-glass shells.

I see him on days off
Not storming the barricades,
Nor challenging Thatcher,
Or striding out on CND parades
But clambering with rod into his little skiff
To see what the river god might give.

See him looking eternally down stream,
Bored to heaven by the boats
With those remarkably blue eyes.