For Paul Francis
on his retirement as Secretary of Border Poets
You and I come from the same stock, David. What changedyour life? Geoffrey asked. For me it was the 11-plus. Not so for David, who’d fallen down the stairs the week before the exam. And the 13-plus only took him to Aylesbury Tech, chosen by his parents over the Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe, because Aylesbury was where they did their shopping. What changed David’s life was getting a job in the local bookshop after he’d left school at sixteen.
And so they chatted, the policeman’s son and the bricklayer’s son, at the Reception at the Palace for Fifty British Poets. You and I were not among them, Paul. But I remember the passion with which you spoke of the vision that led your generation to teach in comprehensive schools, the sense that change was there for the making – the chance you took again with the Border Poets, to catch the undertones
in the landscape, the lives lived almost out of earshot.
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