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I remember my old den,
1 I had at 7 or was it 10,
anyway back when I were a lad,
sugar-rush-subsisting on Blackjacks ‘n’ Fruit Salads...
O I wanna desert the unticked boxes of women and taxmen,
live more simply thru emotional regression,
sprint like a prepubescent in plimsols back to th'ol den.
To my oldest den, givvus a seaty or a crossy
on a time-machine,
t'where the doorman's dividend
was a sticky-fingered Panini sticker.
 
Now, I'm no cod-bucolic evoker
of lost rustic youth 
bittersweetly down the zeit-chute
à la A.E.Housman - th'ol den weren't that sylvan.
Suffice to say, those were the days
when a Snickers bar was known as 'Marathon'
- th'athlete's choice of choc, if said athlete's an arrers man! 

Has the old den been forgotten by Hooknose Horan,
him and his cretinue of foetal footie hooligans?
Child hoodlums long before hoodies 
became the in-thing for politicians,
Horan and his henchkids were budding
hootball fooligans,
such bittle lastards that years later their victims
sic spoonerisms on th'abhorrent children, already rotten,
who routinely trashed our den (tho’ to be fair,
was bit doddery in mint condition).

But gaps prechavs gratuitously bashed
me and my gang as routinely rethatched.
The two wooden pallet 'walls'  we'd propped
'pon oldden modcon burl or jutting chaparral
the Council left to feral fallow;  these we stood up again, 
insulated anew with brushwood, with rubbishwood,
deadgetation and also vegetal vandal fistifulls, fascicles
of thicket and false-oat-grass.
Proper little humans,
we had whatever we could uproot and dismember
from derelict plot copse, from crumbs of rus in urbe
only brats and cats might deem dead ringer for Nature,
being of sufficiently small stature.

A child's a cherished imbecile,
whose thinking, mistaken, magical,
is that 10ft sq. woods of wasteland weeds,
a weedland waste of public space
be playground pastoral. All summerhols,
we urchin woodsmen
terraformed ‘n’ pleasuredomed
a strip of bric-a-bracken and hairy brome,
but olddenners got older soon after,
and each went their separate ways
(on solo scavenger hunts for bongo bushes,
by same preteen pangs presaged).

Been sc'autumns since then,
and tho' th'old den survived Hooknose,
 obsolescence and yobsolescence
spent out in 80-odd changes of season
is certain demolition. But I'm gonna bivouac
at the old den site tonight,
like a big kidiot/ noble savage/ *****/
***-offender Akela on the lam.
Just hope a phone-mast ha'nt been mount
atop the old den's old spot,
the green green grass of home
radioactively sallowed into a sickly straw,
unfit but for feedbag of Pestilence's fleabag steed.

Kids are flids indeed: I assumed I'd grow up a whitebread
hero, a debonair dibble and worldfamous nonsmoker,
married to merry widow, Queen Di,
 but I'm ghettoised, Aldi-Lidl-and-Nettoised, in a bedsit
the National Trust wou'nt even bother to blacklist,
injecting ephemera into peepers that don't even feel
the lidl prik of TVquik. Yeah, when Time's simpleton in short pants, I took it as given I'd court the Lord Mayor's daughter,
and rake in billions doodling for the Beano,
but now I'm a man, my masculinity's in doubt
coz I don't care whether Worthie let Greeno
go, or Fergie Keano...Waitabout,
my manhood had fell into disrepute
even as a boy: at th'86 boomerang campaign
of Browny's Canaries, dint go ****-a-hoop
and hoop-a-**** and back again,
nor all handwringy when Stringy whammed Steve the Bruce
on transferlist  (no snip, but future Sir Hairdryer bungdabung,
topflight travail and tired'n'emotionals yet t'turn Fergie's phiz
tomatone as 'is Red Devs' kit). But I desist... 

Those were the days when we called Starburst 'Opal Fruits',
when I could file manhood under 'Future Point, Moot'.
O Mum, give me my tetanus then drop me off
by bitty boscage on Notridge Road, and into Bowthorpe
undergrowth will I redelve
- I'm rebuildin'! Given it a few decades,
but I don't fit in. More my own master then,
waybackwhena olddenner,
more my own master when I was looked after,
when it was de rigueur that I be looked after,
coz kids can be feeble leeching dreamers
without blame. Arduously unshed crying shame
adults unlearn easy option of crying away shame,
coz conscience as constant culpability corrupts,
till, as if our own conks, we cut out our ducts!
Why earth of our ubiquitous probation's scorched!
Mischief moist in the eyes of our early days, decried
dries out into short sight - the right ice, left drought
- that sees sere any throat whose cold comforting's croaking
the croaked commandment all ears hear first,
'Thou Must Play Nicely'. O I can't adjust
to everyone else's loss of innocence, so backta th'ol den
I'll rebeat Lil'-sander's track.

From the Big Boys' world I abstain: growing up's a ****'s game.
You’ve left us in a world that’s **** and cold
Filled with pain that won’t be assuaged.
Alone in a place with no compassion or grace,
We wait for your sons to come of age.

Our only hope of ever seeing you again
Is hidden deep in William’s smile.
Perhaps he can share all the love that we bear
And make all the sorrow worthwhile.

The profiteers have crawled out of the woodwork-
They infest every conceivable nook.
Hawking Diana-clothes and Queen-of-Hearts prose
Their avarice bleats everywhere you might look.

Am I any different, wanting my words
And those of my peers to be placed on your grave.
As I yield to the tears that will haunt me for years
I mustn’t be one taking more than you gave.

It’s curious watching what was known would occur
Actually unfolding before our eyes.
Any piece of the action gives such satisfaction
That we become subjects to drama and lies.

But we turn our backs on the items they sell
And refuse to play ball with the vultures
Who will not go away thought we weep with dismay
And wonder what happened to culture.

All the words from our pens are no match for our loss
And cannot diminish our sadness
As we plod through the days stretching into the haze,
Searching for some bit of sustainable gladness.

How can you possibly be not in our world?
What’s to become of us now that you’re gone?
Where are we, after the loss of our laughter
And how will we manage to just carry on.

We need your feeling, your beauty, and soul.
We need to share in your living.
You made us better by breaking the fetter
That taught us the value of compassionate giving,

You were the teacher and we avid pupils.
Sometimes we were slow, but eventually learned
That life is for caring and happiness-sharing -
Gifts received are greater returned.

You were the gift of the twentieth century
To a world undeserving of such
With red, weeping eyes, that world now decries
The loss of your magical touch.
ljm
I wrote this (and many more) 20 years ago when Princess Diana died/was murdered. (I'm not sure)  I was fortunate enough to deliver that slim volume to her memorial at Althorp in England.  I'll never forget it.

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