I didn’t have much to put down… He said,
‘You wouldn’t get much with that.’
I’d wanted to buy a cottage while
The housing market was flat.
With prices as low as they’d ever been
I thought I’d be in with a chance,
‘Unless you go to that rustic show
The village of Experance.’
‘The place has been empty for thirty years
With cottages up for a song,
There is no power, no place for a shower,’
But I thought I couldn’t go wrong.
He drove me out to the village green,
Each garden was choked with weeds,
I’d buy most anything, sight unseen,''
As long as it suited my needs.
I picked one out with the roof intact
And the walls preserved with lime,
Some of the window panes were cracked,
I could fix them anytime.
The rooms were small, but overall
It would suit me down to a ’T’,
I didn’t have anyone in my life
I was single, young and free.
I brought what furniture I had left
And settled it down inside,
Then spent a week with a cleaning brush
It was just a question of pride.
I finally had my home sweet home
But lit with a paraffin lamp,
The water I drew from a well out back,
The walls were a trifle damp.
There wasn’t another soul to be seen
They’d all moved away, or died,
I felt a little bit lonely there
But I walked the countryside.
I checked each cottage, the ancient hall
And the church, way down in the dell,
Someone had painted a cross on the door
And underlined it with ‘Hell’.
One night I listened and heard a step
Out there on the path outside,
Got up and walked to the window, and
Out there was a beautiful bride.
She stood uncertain, unveiled her face
Her make-up was streaked with tears,
But when I opened the cottage door
The woman had disappeared.
I saw the groom on the following day
He stood by the next cottage down,
I waved, and thought he would look my way
But all that he did was frown.
He turned and entered the cottage door
But it didn’t creak, or slam,
And when I looked, the weeds on the floor
Said empty, no sign of the man.
One night, I heard a sound in the hall
Like music and shuffling feet,
So wandered down, and stood by the wall
While lights shone out in the street,
But when I entered, the place was grim
And shrouded in silence and gloom,
I stood there shivering, on my own,
It felt like the depths of a tomb.
At night, I finally started to dream
And I saw the bride in her lace,
She came and tapped on my window pane
With tears streaming down her face,
‘You have to come, a man with a gun,
Has shattered my wedding dream,’
I tossed and turned, until I awoke
Then pondered on what I’d seen.
One Sunday late, and fully awake
I wandered down to the church,
And by the time that I stood outside
I could hear the wedding march.
I pushed the door and it swung out wide
As I entered there in the gloom,
Then heard the sound of a pistol shot
That echoed across that room.
And just for a moment, they were there,
The spectres of what had been,
The wedding party standing in shock
As I looked at that terrible scene.
A shape ran past me, out at the door
As the bride let out a cry,
And there the groom, lay dead on the floor
With blood running out of his eye.
It faded then, and I was alone
In this dreadful church in the dell,
Where someone had painted a bright red cross
And underlined it with ‘Hell’.
A curse must have come on the village that night
When the villagers all had cried,
For all that was left were the ghosts of death
From the night that the bridegroom died.
David Lewis Paget
He sat in the Bell & Lantern with
His pipe and with his beer,
The streets were wet on a misty night
With the pub, the only cheer,
He’d only married the month before
To a girl, not half his age,
And laid it out like a written law,
‘You must make a living wage.’
He said that he’d been disabled by
A burst of cannon shot,
Unleashed by one of the Frenchmen
On his sloop, ‘The Camelot’
He said that he’d done his duty by
His country and the King,
So she would have to support them both
By doing anything.
She wondered what he had meant at first
But soon was disabused,
When he ripped open her bodice, saying
‘What you’ve got, you’ll use.
There’s sailors down at the docks each night
Who’ve been at sea too long,
They’ll pay for a bit of comfort, girl,
I want you to be strong.’
He chose the most of her wardrobe and
He threw away her drawers,
He said, ‘Whenever you greet one, you say,
‘What is mine, is yours.’
He chose a long cotton dress, he said
Was much more like a shift,
‘You have to be more than available,
It’s easier to lift.’
He wouldn’t be moved by the tears she shed,
How much she would implore,
His eyes were hard as her feelings bled,
His word would be the law,
He sent her out as the moon rose up
With its faint reflected light,
‘Make sure you bring all the money back
When you’re finished for the night.’
She wandered along dark alleyways
And she saw their shadow shapes,
Standing by darkened buildings, some
With caps and some with capes,
Their eyes would follow her down the lanes
Until just one would shout,
‘Now there’s the prettiest dolly bird,
What are you doing out?’
She’d soon get used to the smell of them,
Tobacco, gin and beer,
They’d come in close for a feel of her,
She’d try to hide her fear,
They’d ask how much for a little touch
She would say a shilling down,
If they were more of a gentleman
She would ask for half a crown.
Most of them took her standing up
With her dress up to her waist,
Or bent her over a barrel, it
Depended all on taste,
She’d work right through to the midnight hour
It depended on the trade,
He’d ask in the Bell & Lantern just
How often she’d been laid.
A good night, often she’d bring a pound
That he’d put down on the bar,
And pay for a round of drinks for mates
And for her, a pot or jar,
She’d blush and sit in the corner while
They’d leer and peer and joke,
The bolder ones would approach him, ask
‘How much for a friendly poke?’
He’d say, ‘She’s my little money box,
It will cost you half a quid,
But you must be nice, she’s sugar and spice
And she’ll tell me what you did.’
Then one might lay his money down, say
I’m feeling like a ride,
While he would laugh at his other half,
‘You can take the girl outside.’
One night when out on the dockyard she
Looked bleakly up at the stars,
And saw the Moon through the mist and gloom
Sitting right next to Mars,
So back at the Bell & Lantern she
Picked up and shattered a glass,
Lunged up, and thrust it into his face,
With Mars in her eyes, at last.
David Lewis Paget
I went for a walk in a farmer’s field
That once was a village street,
The cobbles were buried under the weeds
And scattering ears of wheat,
I wondered what had become of them,
Had they just faded away,
And left the buildings to tumble down
In disrepair and dismay?
Here the occasional chimney stood
Its flu still blackened with soot,
That once had shone with a rosy glow
Reflected by someone’s foot.
And there the remains of a hearth still lay
Where mother had cooked the food,
And once there had been a child at play
Outside, where a swing had stood.
I found the remains of an old stone slab
Worn down by the passage of feet,
The entranceway to the Inn they had
In the days when life was sweet,
But something had come to sweep it away
To level it all to the ground,
And I was struck by the silence there,
Marked by the absence of sound.
I finally came to the cemetery
That sat alongside a wood,
A pitiful forest of standing stones
Each marked with a name, but crude,
And in the middle a pitch black stone
That sat at odds with the rest,
‘Here lie the remains of the Witch of Crone,
May she burn in Hell, Bad Cess!’
It seemed then that the villagers had
Their taste of evil ways,
Before some force had hurried along
To see each building razed,
For then I stumbled across a stone
That lay, each shattered piece,
As if it was struck by lightning there
When he was just deceased.
I began to gather the pieces
Like a puzzle in that field,
And started to put it together,
See what secrets it would yield,
‘Here lies the Village Witch Finder,’ said
The sorry tale at last,
His name, ‘Nathaniel Binder’, carved
Before that final blast.
Then once that the tale was there to tell
I could hear a distant growl,
Deep in the wooded trees nearby
Like some grim and ancient howl,
And the black stone in that cemetery
Began to glow so bright,
As smoke poured off from its surface then,
Making me weak with fright.
I never went back to that farmer’s field,
Or that vast, unholy ground,
But I passed just once the village pond,
A hole, and not to be found,
The earth had opened, swallowed it up
In a time of great despair,
And there by the edge of that ancient pond
The remains of the ducking chair.
David Lewis Paget
That wild energy that’s the muse of the sea
When I loiter the beach in a storm,
Will always reflect all your features to me
As I dwell on the shape of your form.
I think of you striding knee deep in the swell
As the foam swirls and leaps at your thighs,
Above you the stars that will add to your spell
And reflect in the depth of your eyes.
For nature has laid some perfection on you
From the curl of your hair to your heels,
While I am caught up with an outsider’s view
Of what nature’s perfection reveals.
You’re way beyond beauty, and way beyond touch
As your hair reflects acres of corn,
Your skin has a fragrance that’s almost too much
From the moment perfection was born.
Your smile has a radiance hard to describe
As it peers down on me from above,
Its essence the finest of wines to imbibe
In its warmth, and the presence of love.
Beware of the man who has death in his soul
And the winter set deep in his eyes,
He’ll court and he’ll chaff you, until he can have you
Then tear you apart with his lies.
If I could but charm you, I’d never alarm you
But gaze on you rapt from afar,
Your love would be taken, but never forsaken
I’d worship you just as you are.
David Lewis Paget
I’ve long been pondering suicide,
My life is such a mess,
I thought to try on the other side,
It couldn’t be worse than this,
I’d always been such a coward though
My pain threshold is low,
I wondered how I could kill myself
With just one simple blow.
I didn’t fancy to cut my throat
There’s such a lot of blood,
And somebody has to clean it up
They’d curse me, as they should,
A gunshot straight to the head would put
My brains all over the wall,
And everything would be grey and red
With a blood-spray in the hall.
So I considered a poison pill
And a quart of Mister Beam,
That might just happen to fit the bill
For a death, both quick and clean,
But where would I get a poison pill
To accelerate my death?
I’d hate to die when I’m feeling ill,
Fighting for every breath.
I’d pondered on it so very long
That it quite obsessed my mind,
And I began to see shapes and figures
From some other time,
The ghosts of others who’d gone ahead
And done the evil deed,
Were poisoned, shot, or their throats were cut
When their own lives were in need.
They seemed to come when the clock struck twelve
Just on the midnight hour,
That’s when the demons that rot in hell
Can demonstrate their power,
They kept on coming to egg me on
To get on that fatal bus,
‘You need to do it, it isn’t wrong,
You can join with all of us!’
They almost had me convinced that I
Could drown myself in the sea,
Or pick my favourite river then,
One that appealed to me,
They said to drown was a pleasant death
I’d drift away in a dream,
And none would know that I’d killed myself,
It’s an ‘accidental’ theme.
The next night there came a stranger to
This ghostly neighbourhood,
Trailing festoons of river weed
And covered in clods of mud,
His face was twisted in anguish and
Such pain, that now I see,
Why I have suddenly changed my mind,
That freak-out ghost, was me!
David Lewis Paget
‘It’s coming in every night,’ she said,
‘And creeping across the floor,
It gives me an awful fright,’ she said,
‘Though I’m sure to lock the door.
I hear it shuffle, and then the creak
As it starts to climb the stair,
It stops outside on the landing then
And listens for me out there.’
‘And I’m aware of my breathing then
As it’s rattling in my throat,
I’m hiding under the covers when
I scream, in a long high note,
But still it’s there and it tries the door
For the handle slowly turns,
Then I hear a ‘pop’ as my heart will stop,
As my face and my forehead burns.
‘The door will creak on its hinges then
As it swings, and opens wide,
And I see a shadow dim and black
As it slowly comes inside,
I can’t make out any features though
I think that it wears a cloak,
And a velvet mask of a black damask
As the scream dies in my throat.’
‘It’s like the Devil has come for me
Though it’s way before my time,
I feel I’m starting to suffocate
In a coffin, filled with lime.
Oh why, Oh why don’t you come for me
When I’m screaming in the gloom,
You’re only just down the hallway
And asleep in another room.’
I sit by her and I pat her hand
And I make some soothing sounds,
I know why I’m never there for her
I’m coming in from the grounds,
I slide the key in the outer door
That she thinks I haven’t got,
And creep on slowly up the stairs,
Whether she sleeps, or not.
I know that I’m mentioned in the will
That is under lock and key,
The house and all of its acres will
One day, devolve on me,
So I sit and soothe, and hold her hand
And I pat her on the back,
For one day soon, it won’t be long
She’ll die of a heart attack.
David Lewis Paget
How on earth did I arrive here
In this dark and dismal place,
When it all began with love, but
Of that love there’s not a trace,
When you first began to spell me
I was helpless in your clutch,
Like an oak, you tried to fell me,
One who didn’t matter much.
You would praise me up and raise me
When it suited you to play
With my juvenile emotions
You could have had me any day,
Though you never looked much further
Than the day that you would tire
Of your plaything, or the way things
Would consume me in your fire.
I was not more than a bangle or
A bracelet for your wrist,
You would get me so entangled that
I never could resist,
Then you tossed me in your tempests
Left me battling your storms,
Till you had me question love and
What it was, in all its forms.
Then you plunged me into darkness
Black as pitch, without a light,
And I wondered at this starkness
When you failed to say goodnight,
I have stumbled on your pathway
In my folly, now it seems,
But have missed the open gateway
In my search for love and dreams.
David Lewis Paget