For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move. ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

Thursday, 4 October 2007

Norfolk Poets, Norfolk Property

This by Helen Ivory from the Poetry Society's website:

There's something about Norfolk - the coastline, the marshes, the pace of life - that seeps under the skin. It is relatively inexpensive here, which, added to the romance, is probably why it has become a byway for poets. Edwin Brock and George Barker were long-term residents and wrote of the region. Anthony Thwaite has lived here since the seventies, Peter Scupham and George Szirtes since the nineties, and Kevin Crossley-Holland has the north-Norfolk tides running in his veins.

Not as inexpensive now as it used to be, Helen. House prices have shot up here over the past few years. As everywhere. However, I suppose you can still live relatively cheaply if you need to. There's just not so much to spend your money on. Except the delicatessen at Cley, of course! Myself, though, given the choice, I'd rather live in France or Spain - or Scotland or Wales - for quality of life and value for money. Norfolk, like Suffolk and many other desirable areas, has a mass of holiday lets and second homes; and increasing property prices are preventing many young people from buying locally.

All of which has very little to do with this poem by Norfolk poet Edwin Brock:

Five Ways to Kill a Man

There are many cumbersome ways to kill a man.
You can make him carry a plank of wood
to the top of a hill and nail him to it. To do this
properly you require a crowd of people
wearing sandals, a cock that crows, a cloak
to dissect, a sponge, some vinegar and one
man to hammer the nails home.

Or you can take a length of steel,
shaped and chased in a traditional way,
and attempt to pierce the metal cage he wears.
But for this you need white horses,
English trees, men with bows and arrows,
at least two flags, a prince, and a
castle to hold your banquet in.

Dispensing with nobility, you may, if the wind
allows, blow gas at him. But then you need
a mile of mud sliced through with ditches,
not to mention black boots, bomb craters,
more mud, a plague of rats, a dozen songs
and some round hats made of steel.

In an age of aeroplanes, you may fly
miles above your victim and dispose of him by
pressing one small switch. All you then
require is an ocean to separate you, two
systems of government, a nation's scientists,
several factories, a psychopath and
land that no-one needs for several years.

These are, as I began, cumbersome ways
to kill a man. Simpler, direct, and much more neat
is to see that he is living somewhere in the middle
of the twentieth century, and leave him there.

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