• sootallures

Ye Grande Yuletide Rodborough Inquisition

Good morrow, good friends, pray tarry a while

Forget the business of modernity’s style,

And list to my questions about this fair parish,

Try to gain points, and memory to cherish -

So let us begin and commence this day’s sport,

Let the game be well judged, and fairly fought.

So raise your hand, please do not shout out,

This is a quiz, not a rabble-rout.

Question one:

A turnpike once climbed over Rodborough Hill,

What is the evidence that stands there still?

Question two:

A picture doth swing in the morning sun,

Of who, who died in 1861?

Question three:

The great poet Wordsworth ne’er visited here,

But where is a reference to his life so clear?

Question four:

I carry no sword, pikestaff, nor lance,

But where round the corner is a reference to France?

Question five:

A film was once made whose start’s on the Common,

With Ricky Gervaise; is the title forgotten?

Question six:

Which village nearby was once known by its suffix,

But we now define by its short sounding prefix?

Question seven:

Three pubs in the parish serve its residents well,

But which would be for Oliver Cromwell?

(And a bonus award for a successful try

At telling me some strange reason why.)

So by my troth, this is question eight,

Imagine thou art on the common dark late,

You are searching for bears, not the dancing kind,

How many are seen with the naked eye?

Now question nine, I search for an old shop,

Where is the one that once was the Co-op?

The final round: a dog of some calibre,

Who nearly became the England manager?

Ye grande post-script bonus rounde: From which play doth this extracte derive?

Some say that ever ‘gainst that season comes Wherein our Saviour’s birth is celebrated, The bird of dawning singeth all night long: And then, they say, no spirit dare stir abroad; The nights are wholesome; then no planets strike, No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm, So hallowed and so gracious is the time.”

Our revels are ended - the game has been won,

Tis time to swap shirts before the day’s run,

I swap mine with Shakespeare, with a poem sublime,

Tis all about football, in memory’s rhyme:

The victor shall hold a ball in his hand,

And recite the following in a style that is grand,

Overblown, pompous, and slightly unnerving,

In a style reminiscent of Sir Henry Irving:

‘Sphere! Leather sphere!

See how I kick the muddied orb

High into the vaulted azure sky,

Far above Rodborough’s smoke and soot,

Until it doth descend,

When I trap it with my boot.

Then have I ambition mundane,

One terrestrial aim:


To advance upon the opposition goalie,

To score with a shot oh so sublime,

That doth transcend reason and rhyme;

Receive applause as offered from some votary,

Far more art and artifice in that

Than in writing this preposterous poetry.’

Later in the Winterval festivities, perhaps on Twelfth Night when the world is turned upside down, you might care to walk the Common on a stormy late afternoon, gaze at the silver line of the Severn, and declaim the following:


Come on, sir; here's the place: stand still. How fearful

And dizzy 'tis, to cast one's eyes so low!

The crows and choughs that wing the midway air

Show scarce so gross as beetles: half way down

Hangs one that gathers samphire, dreadful trade!

Methinks he seems no bigger than his head:

The fishermen, that walk upon the beach,

Appear like mice; and yond tall anchoring bark,

Diminish'd to her cock; her cock, a buoy

Almost too small for sight: the murmuring surge,

That on the unnumber'd idle pebbles chafes,

Cannot be heard so high. I'll look no more;

Lest my brain turn, and the deficient sight

Topple down headlong.


Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!

You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout

Till you have drench'd our steeples, drown'd the cocks!

You sulphurous and thought-executing fires,

Vaunt-couriers to oak-cleaving thunderbolts,

Singe my white head! And thou, all-shaking thunder,

Smite flat the thick rotundity o' the world!

Crack nature's moulds, an germens spill at once,

That make ingrateful man!

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