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Colin Fletcher

I am rendered hopeless when writing a biography. Who was I? What am I now? How much is always in shadow?

The framework is that of a national refugee (moved , like my forefathers, for work) with a career in retrospect(from social sciences to management, health, community power, community education and –with great joy- to practitioner research in ‘early years’).

Born 1944, in Birkenhead. Since married, 9 homes, mostly not far from motorway junctions, 10 university jobs, ‘retired’ by the last one at 54. I still can’t say’ professor ‘ without being embarrassed by the claim to some special glory.

Living and working on an organic smallholding in the Clun Valley. “Don’t get around much anymore”. Love being a parent and grandparent.

Writing poems and self publishing since 1969. ‘Windows’ in 1978, then ‘Out of Doors’ in 1988 and ‘Colours of England’ when eldest son at the age of 16, asked “what’s good about  being English?” Do ask for a copy, soon.

Making time for three ‘suites’ of poems now. ‘Quilt’ about family feelings. ‘Walk under the trees you have planted’ – reflections on a homily from Voltaire, ‘Clunbury Hill Cycle’ a poem or more on each month from looking at hill  above our home–“from whence comes my understanding”

Border Poets has boosted me so much. The tough, kindly- put criticism and the exemplars of so many styles, the topics that, when shared, encourage – literally. There’s courage all round.

‘Bryn’s Barn was printed in Roundyhouse 37, January 2013.


For the new mountain-bike trail turn right at Bryn’s barn.
Its rafters have been blackened by the elements,
boards have fallen, railway signals streaked with rusty tears.
Can’t miss it , especially now,so busy for Bryn’s retirement auction. 

A summer’s day thunder from over the mountains
joins the bobbling of engines in two venerable tractors.
The white-coated bell ringer calls upon the overalls , caps and wellies
to leave the catering wagon with their butties and fruit cake in hand.

The auctioneer claims a sunny spot, his lads bring the lots from inside. 
“Usual conditions of sale. Useful items and bygones. Come by boys, 
Nothing that’s past an oiling or a lick of paint”
Then a call of, “Lady’s bid!” to alert the gaggles of gossips.

She edges forward to shield the pitchfork,
flicks her catalogue, hears only her own thoughts.
“It was there, that day when we loved.
I looked through its sweeping curve, traced its beauty in my body.”

Another bidder snaps in, speeds the price
He is tanned, tough, compact, an accent too.
“Maybe that’s granddad’s favourite, or the palm-polished shears.  
Something smaller, that can be put in the hold for going home”.
 Bryn sees the likeness, the violet eyes of his mother’s side.
There had been a falling out, hatred. He never knew why.
His eyes draw back to the grey tractor, down on its rims,
Exhaust bent on an apple bough, worn patches of bare steel.

The auctioneer’s lads go in deeper.Cow chains,
The  scuffler that tore up cauliflowers, leaving a harvest of dandelions.
The tangle from what his Jennie had called the “I’ll bite you” corner.
Barbed wire, chain harrows clinging and clanging with yelps from the lads.

Bryn raises his hand, all knuckles and veins,
In fear, hearing a voice from a deeper darkness.
“The straw hat where the robin nested one year.
 Not for sale, not mine, key to the door I could not find”.

The hand tools all gone, field nearly empty
Bryn shoves his cap above the sunburn line.
His pension is secure now, so briskly away, 
ditching spade in one hand, straw hat in the other.

He smiles at the check-shirted man holding shears,
passes the fork handle poking out of a small blue car.
 Lastly by the auctioneer reporting into his mobile phone
“Only the barn left, it’s a ruin, firewood”.

Colin Fletcher July 19th 2012