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Stanley Cook

Posted 11-28-2010 at 10:42 AM by Steve Bucknell
As I cycle along the velocity of the heavy traffic sends leaves whirling around me. Sun dances through the trees and I feel as if I am flying. By the time I get to Langsett Barn my heart is pounding. When I get off the bike I feel dizzy. I walk down an icy white path to the side of Langsett reservoir where my dad’s bench is. “Fred Bucknell loved these moors” it reads.

I sit down and look across the water to the summit of Pike Low. The sun gradually unclenches my cold face. I have a few moments of peace and reflection, like the surface of the reservoir. When I get up to go I feel my dad’s wry smile on my face. I miss him.

When I think about father-figures I remember Stanley Cook and the evenings spent with him as a member of the Sheffield Author’s Club. Upstairs in the Central Library we would sit round a boardroom table reading poems and stories. Minutes would be taken. It was formal, old-fashioned and funny. The highlight for me was always Mr.Cook reading something he had just written, or commenting on a poem of mine. He liked my work and accepted a poem of mine when he was editor of Poetry Nottingham.

I remember him reading this, feeling excited to hear it for the first time:


Here in the North, often at the end
Of an uphill road the houses open out
To a view, like finding a hole in the roof.
Some attic or chimney pot is silhouetted
Marking the final foothold on the sky.
The wind combs out grey tugs of cloud
And as the threatened snow descends,
Blanking the view,sometimes you hear yourself
Resume for a word or two the conversation
That ended unhappily years ago
And whose unhappiness you know you had better bear.

From Woods Beyond a Cornfield. Collected Poems. Smith/Doorstop Books.1995.

The ice window is still intact in the hawthorn hedge. The news talks about “the coldest November night in some parts of Britain for many years.” I have to rescue The Book of Wonders from the holly where it has slipped from its lectern. I take it inside and it falls open at page 129:

Out of this passage-way you must dress in it
If you venture down the corridors
And in the high chamber beyond the cross-passages

To approach the glittering at corridor’s end.
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