No one informed the Yorkshire Post
of the death of
a certain bourgeois gentilhomme
Major Neville Peterson
The name never caught on
He was Major when he married Mrs Peterson,
Agnes to her friend
Neville called her ‘Mother'
and Mother called him, "Major".
Mother waltzed off with the Major's brother, Arden,
Who called her Chucklebottom
and squeezed her bum
raising more than a dirty giggle,
"Ooh, Arden. You are a caution!"
Dirty laughing? In company?
Antics the Major could never condone,
He knew more Bradshaw by heart than any reasonable man should.
An O-O gauge lay out of the Cockermouth, Keswick and Penrith
Covered attic floors via a tunnel the Major dug through the wall.
Until at Uncle's behest Arden jr trashed it
Calling it "a pile of crap”.
Fastidious to excess perhaps
the Major ground fresh mustard daily
from seed in a pestle and mortar.
Each morning before nine
he read his fresh pressed breakfast “Telegraph”
and into his second lapsang suchong
indulged himself dunking a madelaine.
Slender, the Major, with a hint of a limp
From shrapnel taken at OnjÅng-Unsan,
(he had a 'good Korea')
and a discreet cough from a terminal lung
he bore with dignity and fortitude.
In his deerstalker,
White rose buttonholed Donegal Tweeds.
From Austin Reed's catalogue
Brown brogues, Argyle socks,
lambskin gloves and bog oak stick
he cut a fine dash, rambling bridleways,
to spite declining health
Wednesday afternoon, in Leeds
pressing against the commuter crush,
the flood of those whom death had undone
his button hole rose dead headed.
An elephant weariness settled on him
like snowfall blizzarding farmhouse slates.
He craved the solace of wilderness
the release of sleep.
His vintage Boy Scout knapsack
held a flask of gunpowder green tea
cheese and cress sandwiches,
(grease proof paper wrapped)
and a slab of Kendal Mint cake
in a secret pocket with
a sixty sixer pickled conker
Swiss Army knife
a quarter pound of barley sugars
an emergency length of string
and half a crown.
At 19:25 p.m. on the dot
The Carlisle train got to Ribblehead.
At 19:37 p.m. precisely
Major Neville Peterson
late of Alexandra, Princess of Wales's Own Yorkshires,
the Green Howards
laid his knapsack on the viaduct rail
and his head upon the canvas bag
past comrades smiled from overhead clouds
as he noted with quiet satisfaction,
“Dead on time,”
the rattling rail announcing
the Fellsman heading to Leeds.