I’ve hung around small airfields, since I was just a lad,
A hangar rat, an air cadet, just aviation mad,
Sent solo in a sailplane, when I was just sixteen,
Soaring over English fields, a quilt of gold and green.
Sweeping out the hangars, polishing the props,
Cleaning all their windshields, hanging round in ops,
Topping up the tanks and tyres, mowing taxiway and strip,
Befriending all the pilots, to see if I could blag a trip.
I worked hard at my day job, slaving nine till’ five,
Then pumping gas, and cleaning, to keep the dream alive,
When I wasn’t working, I was studying my craft,
Funny how quickly, the months and years flash past
As I got older, I got bigger, and the airfields did the same,
And I was thrilled to hang around, much bigger aeroplanes,
Still in operations, briefing crews and planning flights
Working out performance, a blur of days and nights.
Then one day, the time arrived, when I had to say goodbye,
To the mighty ships that plied their trade, so high up in the sky,
I left the airport on that final day, without once looking back,
Already thinking of my former self, and could I get him back?
So I wandered up the airstrip as the sun climbed the clear blue sky,
Pulled my little airplane out, I prepared myself to fly,
Turning round, I saw him, overalls, broom and cap,
Young, fresh-faced, teenager, My replacement Hangar Rat
So I took him flying….
Its a funny old world.
Ever since I was a child, I have loved music – in particular, any song that tells a full story. It seems that the only genres left that adequately do this consistently are country music and country rock. I could be wrong though, as my music taste has become more and more discrimnatory and selective over the years. I could be unfairly judging modern music, but, hey, I’m a product of my generation…
I havent listen to a “pop” station for decades, prefering the wider range of genres presented by (dare I say it ) Radio 2, I also listen to Union Jack Radio which plays all British artists and when I’m feeling nostalgic, Eagle 80s. If you’re interested, both of these staions broadcast on DAB and over the internet, so no excuse not to give them a try…
Anyhow, back to musical story-telling…
Now, love him or hate him, who can forget Kenny Rogers telling the story of The Coward of the County, or The Gambler?
Maybe listen to the Eagles, and let them sing the sad story of the love-lorn woman and her uncaring husband in Lyin’ Eyes.
If you like a little humour in your music, listen to the late, great Johhny Cash telling the story of the Boy Named Sue.
Love of music must be an almost genetic thing though.
My Father was a musician. He couldn’t read a word of music, but he was a competent guitarist, and played banjo in a Jazz band. He could also busk it with a trombone, and the harmonica.
Sometimes he would arrive home with a new instrument – purchased just because the mood took him. I seem to recall him coming home one evening with a ukelele and within a few hours of tinkering he could bash out a reasonable number of recognisable tunes.
My Mother on the other hand does not have a musical bone in her body, and couldn’t carry a tune if her life depended on it. But she does have a lot of poetic ability, some of which I think I must have inherited from her.
So, over the years, I have written reams of lyrics and poems, none of which had seen the light of day – mainly because as I am unable to read music or play an instrument, I have been unable to marry the words with a suitable musical vehicle.
That changed when I went to work for the Civil Aviation Authority. It turned out that one of my fellow managers was a skilled guitarist, and played in a band, and spent the rest of his free time either as a Johnny Cash Tribute artiste, or playing in a duo called Loki.
Discussing my problem with him, he said that if I sent him a lyric, he would see what he could do with it.
With a little trepidation, I passed over some lyrics that I had written in the early 1990s,
A few weeks later, and it was finished. In a quiet side room at work, Kevin played me the embryonic song – which sounded weird – hearing words that I had written melded with music.
After a little tweaking, Kevin treated the number to a full studio workout, and the result was intriguing. I think it works very well, but I guess I’m a bit biased.
So, here it is.
Yesterday You Told Me It Was Over (Lyrics Mark Charlwood, Music by Kevin Russell)
Kevin appears regularly on the music circuit, and plays pretty much throughout the South East. One of his regular gigs is at the Sharpthorne Organic Cafe in Sharpthorne, West Sussex – so visit for a relaxed and mellow Sunday lunch whilst being entertained.
He may even play this song, if you ask him nicely…
Mark Charlwood© January 2020
You’re a beautiful, talented woman,
With a mind that’s clever and keen,
But you whine that Your body clock’s ticking
You forget that You’re only nineteen
You constantly fret that you’re boring,
You say You’re a bit of a mess,
You constantly talk about diets,
And does your bum look too big in this dress?
You go to the clubs and the parties,
Where you hang out with your friends and your mates,
You discuss with them all in great detail,
About you’re failure to hook men and get dates,
You’ve probably tried make up and fashion,
Smart Hairdos, maybe leather and lace,
You go to the trendiest places, You wear all the latest gear,
But I’ll tell you how to pull men, girl,
JUST COME NAKED, BRING BEER!
So now you’ve landed your feller,
And you want him to be faithful and true,
The lesson to learn is quite simple,
And now I’ll explain it to you
Be a domestic god-dess in the kitchen,
Cooking meals that would be fit for the Queen,
You can whizz round the house with the Hoover,
Keep the home spotlessly clean,
You can be his constant companion,
You can go to the football and cheer,
You can wash, and iron his clothing,
But to keep your man in contentment,
SIMPLY TURN UP NAKED – BRING BEER!
Mark Charlwood 2017
Black ribbons of tarmac, shimmering heat,
Rolling green pastures, tall golden wheat,
The hum of the engine, the smell of warm oil,
Hot wind in my face, and I’m starting to boil,
Road curving ahead, sweeping round in a loop,
Ahead are four Harleys, all part of my group,
In my mirrors, two bikers, both riding too fast,
Engines screaming like banshees, – hurtling past,
They pass our Harleys, disappear from my view,
And I slowly catch up with the rest of my crew,
Traffic still flowing, in fast, disciplined lanes,
Cars in the distance like passenger trains,
Tail lights now flaring, deep cherry red, glowing,
I squeeze on the brakes, traffic rapidly slowing,
Come to a stop, cars bumper to bumper,
So I don’t overheat, I turn off the old thumper,
Sitting and waiting, No longer plain sailing,
On the hard shoulder, the sirens are wailing,
For an age we just sit there, then comes the chopper,
It looks very bad, someone’s come a real cropper
Cars up ahead, now starting to drive,
Engines starting, bikers starting to ride,
Slowly passing the accident site,
Viewing the debris that once was a bike,
Ride on,…. Ride on, hide your tears with a frown,
Spare a prayer for the departed,
The biker who’s down………
Mark Charlwood 2017©️
Tail lights vanishing into a darkening sky,
A symbol of your leaving,
An intermittent spark of fading cherry red,
Dwarfed, and made miniscule by the vastness of night,
The lonely silver disc of the moon, bathes the landscape with surreal intensity,
In it’s unfeeling spotlight, for an unknown reason, I feel desolate,
You, speeding across the roof of the world, chasing the eastern mystic dawn,
I gaze at the last seductive blink of light, yet distance and darkness conspire,
The universe wins, and defeated, I stand alone,
I trudge to the car park, wearing shoes of lead,
Having nowhere to go, yet no reason to stay,
Out! Out! onto the highway, My reality here,
Yet My spirit soars east, chasing, never catching,
Radio taunts, me, romantic songs,
I turn south, and briefly look up,
I see another, red, winking, vanishing into a darkening sky
Mark Charlwood© 1989
My Rural Pub
Balmy evening, sun not set, sky is azure blue,
As I set off to the pub, to sink a pint or two,
I stroll along the leafy lane, and cross a rotting stile,
It’s not a gruelling journey, just barely half a mile
The woods I have now passed through, and either side are crops,
And over in the distance, is the village church and shops
On my left is golden wheat, to the right is yellow rape,
And my friend, the lonesome horse, stands waiting by his gate
I walk into the village, up round past the church,
Up cobbled lane, my local, The Robber and the Birch
Rural English tavern, horse brasses, and oaken beam,
Weather-beaten whitewashed walls, slowly turning green
Ducking to protect my head, I push the creaky door,
Entering the alehouse, where footpads drunk before,
All the chequered history, of my ancestors lie here,
You can smell it in the woodwork, and taste it in the beer
Minstrels, Monks and Robbers, perhaps a Prince or two,
Have stopped to quaff a jug of ale, as they were passing through,
Relaxing by the window, I slowly sip my beers,
With the sounds of Merrie England, still ringing in my ears
The cricket teams’ just entered, a very happy crowd,
I think that they’ve just won their match, and feeling very proud,
The clink of cheerful glasses, loud celebrating toasts,
With giant plates of sandwiches, provided by our hosts
It’s time to go, I nod goodbye to the old man by the door,
Glancing round my local pub, it’s English to the core,
I wander back, round past the church, and down the dusky lane,
Down through the fields, and past the horse, away, to home again.
Mark CharlwoodÓ 2018
The Guardian of the Skies
The Pilot has a trusty friend, who’s heard, but never seen,
Who issues forth instructions, in a never ending stream,
The calming voice, in times of stress, our anchor to the ground,
The measured tones, in hours of need, a truly welcome sound
When we’re “uncertain of position” or have a crisis in the air,
It’s good to know you have a friend, who’s always waiting there,
When fuel is low, and met is poor, you’re losing V.M.C.,
That’s when you’ll really value, the folk in A.T.C.,
It’s easy for us pilots, to infringe somebodies zone,
A moments inattention in the hurry to get home,
Then we get admonished by the ATCO, we’ve unhinged,
Who curtly, politely, tells us, his airspace we’ve infringed
When things are getting busy, near an airports cluttered skies,
Our invisible supporter, lends another pair of eyes,
On flying a tricky clearance, your jangled nerves she’ll settle,
As she vectors you quite safely, amongst the heavy metal
Next time you go aloft, spare a moment for the chap,
Who commands the little lines of blue, upon your half mil map,
Don’t gripe about the airspace, that in the UKs rife,
Or curse the ATCOs down below, one day they’ll save your life
As its Christmas…….
My Mum has always told me, that I must eat my greens,
And for many years I’ve done so, as disgusting as it seems,
But of all the veg I’ve eaten, there’s one that gives me doubts,
Those nasty, bloody, tasteless things, the dreaded Brussles Sprouts
I blame it on the Belgians,they named the filthy things,
I also blame the EU and and all the nonsense that it brings,
Boil them, roast them, fry them, bake them on a griddle,
How to stop them going soft, that really is the riddle
And now we come to Christmas, the season of good cheer,
We cook our Christmas turkeys, and drink our wine and beer,
And after lunch, we watch the Queen, full up lads and lasses,
Then the sprout’s take their revenge, with farts and squeaks and gasses
This work is the intellectual Property of Mark Charlwood © and may not be published, copied or used with out written permission. If you want to use it, please contact me.
I wrote this after visiting the WW1 graves at Ypres, and West Flanders. Having looked at the names and ages on the simple white headstones, following the Battle of Passchendaele. There were numerous graves of 16 year olds. I also attended the Last Post at the Menin Gate. It was one of the most moving military ceremonies I have ever seen. When I looked around, virtually everyone, men, women, children, me. We all had tears on our faces.
I hope I’ve done these men justice in the following words.
Don’t tell em I’m only sixteen, Mum,
Or they won’t let me go the the front,
I’ve been issued a Lewis machine gun,
Which I clean as I sit on my bunk
I’ve heard there’s a big push tomorrow,
The barrage is starting at dawn,
The sky’s grey and dark with Gods sorrow,
The Poppy’s stand limp and forlorn
We stand in the mud of the gloomy old trench,
Waiting silent for daybreak to come,
Backing us up are Belgians and French,
All shaking from fear of the Hun
Some lonely boy in a dugout, is playing a gramophone now,
A sweet image of crisp sheets and home,
With my girl at the Theatre, to see Chu Chin Chow,
Surrounded by men in a close crowded trench, I’m alone
Don’t tell ’em I’m only sixteen Mum,
Or they won’t let me go over the top
I’m no longer a schoolboy, so,I must go and battle the Hun,
I’ll make you proud, Mum, and I promise I won’t get the chop
The Suns golden fingers, are now probing the top of my trench,
A whistle is blown, the ground starts to shake, my ears filled with brimstone and noise,
Dawn’s freshness corrupt, by explosions, the smoke with a cordite stench,
A shout, and the smell of fresh mud hits my face, as I climb up the steps with the boys
The barbed wire fence is in tatters, like a snakes skin just freshly sloughed,
The whipcrack of bullets buzz by my head, like like so many furious bees,
We slowly move into the maelstrom, friends falling like rain from the clouds
Away to my left is Sid from the village, chest Crimson, he sinks to his knees
Through the smoke I see a small crump hole, half filled with my comrades, and mud
I look back to the trench that was home, about fifty yards I would guess
I crouch and hobble to safety, and see Charlie, who’s covered in blood,
I held his hand as he died in the green slimy mud, I cry, “My God, what a mess”
Don’t tell them I’m only sixteen Mum, I’m really just doing my bit,
If the Captain finds out that I’m under age, they’ll send me home in disgrace,
It’s just that I’m so very scared Mum, that on the next push, I’ll get hit,
Then it’s back to the factory, white feathers, and old ladies who spit in my face
Don’t tell them I’m only sixteen Mum….