Young Man

Young Man, poem  read by Liam Brayd at the opening of Paintings by Richard Young, The View, Gostins on 24 January 1999 (above).

Walton- My Walton
This Walton as the sun sets
This Walton in the morning
This Walton my birth place
The yawning and dawning of day
Shepherd’s warning as he sets fire to the hay with a stray woodbine
No sooner had the star settled over that little house
No sooner had the three wild men parked their ships of the desert
On the waste ground opposite the Black Bull
Which is now of course the Aldi car park
No sooner had that infant boy
Barely walking- Barely talking
Barely learned how to roll those really thin tight rollies what he always rolls
Than its time to leave
No time to grieve the leaving of Liverpool

Young Dick the child unwitting
Unwillingly must away to London town
Dragged by family ties he wears a frown
As he waves good-bye to the old front door
In that place known effectionately as Walton L4
Young Dick unwitting to London is taken
But young Dick unwitting who is taken to London
Should not be mistaken
For the other young Dick Wittington who went to London
And became Lord Mayor
Two entirely different Dicks
One had a cat- the other a dog
Its just as well they didn’t both co-own the dog
Otherwise it would have been a dog with two Dicks

His time in London was brief
Barely time to cut his milk teeth before a return to Walton
Then away again- The belching train of steam rail beast
A trail of smoke to the north east of England
To become a young man here
Acquire a taste for women- wine and beer
Occasionally swimmin’ in the Tyne and Weir
A period of manhood free from hassle
Building ships in old Newcastle
HMS King George the 5th
Built with his own fair hands
Down the ale house getting pithed
Necking the Black’n Tans – Oh those one night stands

But then- 1943
Aged 22 went to sea
A  radio operator for the merchant navy
Oh you should have seen us
Aboard the good ship Venus
From left and right they pounded our bows
F’rom port to starboard we stuck to our vows and plied the sea
Despite the enemy
But- amidst the sinkings, wrecks and burning  hulls
The cry of the widows – the screech of the gulls
A young man’s dreams survive – so its back to London in ’45

The Euston road- The Rising Sun Pub
The ale was good and they served cheap grub
But living on the pool was only half pay
So life was lived from day to day
But he saved a few bob to buy a new suit
A bespoke tailored whistle and flute
He owned that suit for 54 years
Never once tearing it
It cost him four pound seven and ten
And the tight old bugger’s still wearing it

The lights of London lost their lustre
And from the seamen’s pool Dick was getting hassle
So he packed his bags – bought ten fags
And hitched a lift back to Newcastle

The shipyards again – The same old haunts
The dockland pubs – The same old whores
The gambling – The rambling
The vice and crime
The drinking the stinking
The half-light world of hard men and hard women
Common – horror – slime – fear
The Sodom and Gomarra of Tyne and Weir
At 33 mount Calvary’s shadow bore
And Dick left Newcastle by the back door

The 1950’s and back to Liverpool but Dick was no Teddy Boy
No – he saw the light when he switched from bitter to brown ale
The artist will find his salvation in the manipulation of his medium
Dick Young – 10 whole years ahead of his time
Became the first mod (the suit came back into fashion)
From this point on and on through the confusing 60’s
Dick would achieve some of his best and greatest
Weird and most avant-garde’acious – incredibly outrageous
And – on at least one occasion mildly contagious- sexual successes
God – Mickey Mouse – smoking hash in the green house
Going to college – Doing the rounds – Get a degree – Count the £s
The Belvedere – The Crack- Peter Kavanagh’s – The Blackburn Arms
Everyman Bistro – The Casablanca – The Flute and Ferkin
Sunnyland Slim’s Slammers Bar
And now here- Gostin’s – The View- Sixth floor- T0p of world
Richard Icarus Young – This is your Life

The Opening (In the Bar)

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