(A Tribute to Ted Slade - poet, 1937-2004)
This new friendship. This journey on which we were just setting out.
How will we work it now you've...well...gone?
It was going so well. That's the way I saw it anyhow.
It had only been a year - we two - back in each other's circle...
Same planet - different orbit. Though I'll never know now what your thoughts might have been..
This 52 year gap in our 'acquaintance', for that's all you'd ever say it was
it closed at dad's (your Uncle Bud's) funeral - as he leapt 'on-flame' to the ether.
He didn't half want to go..."Why don't they just let me slip away?"
And then it was you I wanted to know amongst those finger buffet scoffers.
Those ribboned aces never knew that Bud just kick-started their Lancasters and 'Spits' at Leconfield and Liberia.
Bud's morphine muted passing proved positive, and thankfully at last -
(he might remember now) - he helped kick-start too this belated kinship between us.
Jack would have been pleased about that...(Bud too I know)
"a good trade" he'd have called it. "I'm knackered anyway".
I was always curious about our respective dads - they only ever sent Christmas cards...no letters. No love.
Bud gave me a book before he swapped "heaven's hopper" for the "take & bake".
"Eer-yar" he wheezed...this is more up your street than mine..."
"Yer what?..."Poetry?...No... I can't make head nor tail of it. Like Shakespeare...Where's me glasses?"
and, with that ,the "Last Arm Pointing" welded that closing gap between us tight shut.
I read 'Mystery Tour' to Bud...about Jack's 'motorised passing' and he cried. So, it was up his street. after all.
Your words filled me in on distant memories...made solid.
Missing chunks I'd seen but never written down
Of Withernsea and its winter isolation
of Jack, his life - and how it intertwined with yours.
I've not found too much yet about Phyllis. Is there a darker story there? Who'll tell me now?
Your final work, tireless as ever, from your New Malden 'crow's nest'...
was steering your second collection to print...and then...
Your literally-literal Mugs and Sweats - flying off the shelves of a California warehouse.
Disabled? Pah! Why should they ever know the what & why behind the who and when?
Your 'disability'...would only 'publicly' let you down if your trike sustained a puncture in Richmond Park.
"Hi Cuz...Where do I go to get mugs and sweat shirts printed?"
And then, whilst I was looking through directories & old invoices,
you whizzed across the earth on the wings of your laser guided mouse.
By the time I'd got the phone numbers of long distance, half remembered contacts -
you had designs submitted, distribution and royalty deals sorted and were planning the next big thing.
Your freehold on the planet was the web...your very own super-short cut.
Who needs invalid cars when you can 'fly digital'?
You were a lover of the dub-dub-dub which loved you back in floods.
Now, even when your body has deserted you - it still throws us pages and pages - of you - and about you.
The Noddy Holders and Wes the Western Gun-slinger, pale by comparison, they'd envy your PR knack.
Instead of trying to phone, (these heavenly BT - or is it ET-connections often end in wrong numbers)...
and, because a lot of the time talking took it out of you, I'll keep writing like I did before.
Replies would be good. But I often used to write out of turn anyway.
So yes, things could get a bit one sided...forgive me if I 'go on', and... you don't!
But I'll keep writing to [email protected]
and read the answers in your books and old e-mails of the family's past.
Cheers Ted...Lots of love Chris (Cuz) Slade.
Ted Slade was a published poet with (for a sufferer of severe kyphoscoliosis) a stellar career. Only started school at age 12... Qualified for Uni at 16. A metalurgist at Filingdales after graduation (so, a real 'propellor head')... He switched to Head of Marketing for the Portuguese Tourist Authority (as you do)...An Atheist and Communist, his last job before dedicating to poetry was as PC Network specialist at Kingston University...On retirement he turned his attention full time to Poetry and founded www.poetrykit.org We lost touch big-time and only met again in our 60s (mental) and found we had so much in common... except I was and never will be a propellor head!