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The Incomplete Cacophony


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 The Incomplete Cacophony 

 The Incomplete Cacophony

Ed Hooke
(except words in line 11 & first half of line 12
 - by John Lennon 1967)

Date of Composition:
September 2010

Date of Recording/Copyright:

Gorses and grasses and grazes and glasses

Discards of carpet, iron, secret abode

Willow-tree wasteland we wandered with wonder

November firelight.  We watched it explode.

Light the sky.

Forget the hour.

Fireworks shower.

A year goes by.

Working wild words with a wish to weave wisdom

Scribbling songs about sunlight and dregs

Suddenly someone is there at the turnstyle

- the girl with the short skirt and silky brown legs.

Melted heart

but frozen tongue.

Song unsung.

Shy shame.  We part.

Decades dispose dusty deincarnations

Meaningless memories, Mungo & Midge.

 Carelessly clocking the quickening countdown.

Tomorrow's waters downstream from the bridge.

Where Brick Fields Lay

Between Copsewood Road and Dimond Road in Bitterne Park, Southampton, England, in the 1960s and early 1970s, lay an area of waste ground, the size of maybe 8 football pitches.  Presumably a brick factory had previously occupied all or part of it, since it was known as "The Brick Fields". When brick production ceased there, I know not. In my childhood, it was overgrown, the only evidence of its industrial past being a couple of so-called "bombed buildings", collections of large concrete blocks (possibly factory/kiln remnants?) and a tapering asphalted track from Dimond Road, almost opposite Ashtree Road, towards one of them. That track was the site of the local community's bonfire every 5th November (a date, celebrated as "Guy Fawkes' Night" in the UK).  The gorse bushes, the "bombed buildings", the glades of trees, the beaten paths, the soggy marshy areas, the stinging nettles, the overgrowth & undergrowth, the clearings and the steep slope up towards the secondary school formed a natural adventure playground - punctuated occasionally, it's true, with broken glass. With sheets of discarded corrugated iron and bits of carpet we built our secret dens amongst the willow trees and the bushes.  We roamed, we played, we injured ourselves, we survived, we grew.  Then the school claimed the area.  The diggers moved in, uprooting the trees, clearing away the bushes and the concrete, churning up dunes of soil before the land was eventually flattened to form a barren, characterless and rather stony sports playing field.  Fences were erected to keep people out. We grew up, we moved on, we parted.

Light the sky. Forget the hour.

I am indebted to Guy and the Bitterne Park website, its readers and contributors for filling in some of the gaps in my knowledge about the Brickfields.

Terry Grant, who lived at 107 Ashtree Road in the 1940s & 1950s, remembers the Brickfields before the school was built.  He tells of the 150-200 foot chimney that stood in the middle and the various aeroplanes which flew over "almost constantly" on their way to the airport at Eastleigh, including the Silver City Bristol freighters, Dakotas, De Havilland Rapides and Auster monoplanes.  "The Bristol freighters came in so low that we were able to hit them with 'pug' from our pug sticks", pug being the blue clay found in abundance on the small cliffs.  "We would hit the low flying planes and cycle like mad to the airport and onto the runway, where there was absolutely no security, and admire our handiwork on the fuselage."

From the chimney, a railway track crossed to the base of the small cliffs, where metal coal-mine type bogeys that had formerly run along the track were left abandoned.  Every year sand martins came to burrow and nest in the "big cliffs".  About 30 yards up Dimond Road from Ashtree Road was the entrance into the fields of the builders yard of Bratcher's the Builders.  The builder's family lived just opposite Terry's home.  Jazz trumpeter, bandleader, vocalist & mellophonist Nat Gonella lived in Copsewood Road, while Southampton footballer Frank Dudley was another Ashtree Road resident.

Frayed away

Fate's future face.

Erased the place

where brick fields lay.

Light the sky.

Forget the hour.

Fireworks shower.

A year goes by.


Robert Bailey, a few years my junior, remembers the last days of the Brickfields.  "I think I was about 8 years old when the Brickies was flattened, and all I really remember about it was we (Chris Hammerton, Keith Busson, Eric Stone, Gary White, and all the other local kids) had a den at the base of a tree" which was just behind my parents' house.   He has vivid memories of climbing over the bulldozers & spoil heaps along with the other local kids, during the course of the works.

I am grateful to both Terry & Robert for sharing their memories.