Down in the village where I grew up
That sat on the eastern shore,
Viking marauders had once shown up
To raze, to pillage and more.
They cut a swathe through the countryside
And the least that they did was rape,
To leave descendants with flame red hair
From Skorn, to the Widnes Cape.
You’ll see the genes they left in our eyes
That startle you when we stare,
A brighter blue than the summer skies
Will follow you everywhere.
Then some had come to settle and thrive
While the local folk would cower,
They left their mark in the village park
By building a Norman Tower.
I don’t know when they added the clock
It must have been later times,
I only know that as I grew up
I lived my life by its chimes.
It boomed on out through the countryside
Would even sound through the night,
We found it safer to stay inside
Than risk a dying in fright.
The strangest things had happened at night
That seem aligned to its chimes,
When ghostly shapes would gather and fight
Drawn back from previous times.
And men were found by the Norman Tower
Their faces twisted in fear,
Their bodies hacked, stabbed in the back
But the swords were never there.
It almost always happened at ten
And just when the chimes rang out,
I’d lie abed, counting the chimes
And hear a desperate shout.
It got so bad that a friend and I
Decided to hide and see,
We climbed at nine to the top of the tower
To check on the mystery.
We hung on over the parapet
That, castellated in stone,
Would let us view, if anything new
Appeared at the final tone.
The vicar rode outside on his bike
Just as the clock struck ten,
And suddenly there, in front and behind,
An army of fighting men.
They knocked the vicar clean off his bike,
And sliced a sword though his head,
Then hacked and thrust through his mortal dust
To leave him lying there, dead.
My friend cried out, on seeing the blood,
He couldn’t disguise his fear,
While I shrank back, with them looking up,
I said, ‘They’re coming up here.’
He made a dash for the tower stair
Intent on getting back down,
They must have met at the halfway mark,
I found him dead on the ground.
The coroner said that he simply fell,
He wouldn’t listen to me,
He ruled the vicar was murdered in
What seemed was a mystery.
But someone must have listened to me
For shortly, up in the clock,
Somebody wedged the workings tight
With a huge old hickory block.
There hasn’t been but a single chime
From the tower clock since then,
Those ancient hands still stand in a line
At just one minute to ten.
David Lewis Paget