Ah, my dear Uncle Archie. I may not have mentioned my multi-billionaire commodity-trading relative in these columns before, perhaps the blog has never adequately intersected with his ever-eventful life. Suffice it to say, Archie is one of the most callous, vicious, reprehensible, cut-throat, sell-your-own-grandmother Captains of British Industry you will ever come across, and as result he has always been enormously popular down at the club.
Our paths would normally rarely cross, being limited to the annual Christmas family food fight, if it were not for a strange course of events. To tell the tale: In return for a little service I was able to provide for the Chairman of The Old Actonians, I am lucky enough to be have been given free rein to use the nets and whack a few past the boundary any time I please. My stroll to the grounds takes me past number 37 Gunnersbury Avenue, which is strangely enough, the home from peaceful home of the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea. One sunny morning as I was passing number 37 I just happened to bump into a genial gentleman pruning the roses, and as roses are a passion of mine, we got talking.
Whenever I strolled past the Embassy in my pads on my way to the nets, the gentleman was there and I came to look forward to stopping and hearing his tales of life in the golden land North of the 38th Parallel. As my readers know, I insist on adopting a strictly neutral stance upon all things political and tend to look down my nose at any form of philosophical extremity. However, over the course of a few happenstance meetings the kindly gentleman made me aware that despite being a Socialist Worker’s Paradise where every man was his brother’s equal, the democratic people of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea were not without plight. Central to this plight was the shortage of medical supplies caused by unfair treatment from the International Community. The genial gentleman was always insistent that he could not burden me with this plight, but I pressed him for more gen. He told me that countless medical conditions, such as the broken bones suffered by both democratic people and the democratic peoples’ beloved pets were going undiagnosed, since despite having many modern, shiny X-Ray machines in the clean, well-equipped hospitals and veterinary surgeries with which the country is blessed, they are so many shiny, useless pieces of furniture due to the chronic lack of fresh uranium.
As a victim of the International Community myself, I could sympathise and insisted to the Korean gentleman that as a person in my position there simply must be something I could do. When pressed he reluctantly suggested that perhaps there was an outside chance that I was aware of a Commodity Trader willing to obtain a few measly tons of fresh uranium and get it shipped to Pyonyang, preferably under the cover of darkness and with no questions asked. I immediately thought of Uncle Archie.
Turning, as we must to this week’s Workshop, questions were asked, but none of them about uranium. Martin Choules brought a poem we suspected was from his redraft pile about a poem in his redraft pile. Peter Francis has been thinking about those who are leaving, specifically leaving Sligo, whether or not they are aiming for the 38th Parallel. Daphne Gloag brought back a piece concerning the end of time, we felt just in time. Pat Francis brought us a piece about a violent storm at sea that had us concerned for the plight of the gulls. Alan Chambers brought back an oldie-but-goodie, recalling the semi-militant squads of Christian Angels who used to patrol our Tube Trains to protect us from violence, much to our disgust. Nayna Kumari is wondering whether she can bring herself to go to a family wedding. Owen Gallagher also brought back a classic of his, about a boy who dreams of swimming. Finally, like Pat, Nick Barth has been thinking about a storm, a tropical hurricane with Mole Poblano thrown in.
Even my most loyal readers must be wondering what possible connection my rambling story of the democratic people’s plight can have to do with the Poets of Pitshanger. I admit, the events I describe began some years ago. The genial gentleman still has his roses, the democratic people now have working X-Ray machines and no one can help but be hugely impressed by the hugely impressive parades that the healthy, democratic people are delighted to put on, year after year. Mysteriously, Uncle Archie has not been seen at his club for some time and appears not to be answering his emails. My point in telling this rambling story, if you must insist on me having one, is that we are open to all-comers at our Workshop. We are aware that the brother of the democratic people’s glorious leader Kim Jong Un, being the honoured Kim Jong Chull, is a fan of the cultural milieu of London and has taken up residence in its leafy suburbs. We can but hope that one Tuesday evening in the not too distant future he chooses to start making the short journey from the Embassy on Gunnersbury Avenue to Questor’s Theatre on Mattock Lane to join us in our humble, weekly celebration of the poetic arts. We may not be able to immediately rise to the high standards expected, nay deserved, by Kim Jong Un’s beloved brother, but in this increasingly perilous world, with its Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles and Staged Thermonuclear Warheads it will be nice to know that we are attending one of the very safest poetry workshops on the planet.
If you have been, thank you for reading.