The road to Martyr's Green

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Vagabond
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Joined: 15 Jun 2020, 11:44am

The road to Martyr's Green

Postby Vagabond » 15 Jun 2020, 12:47pm

My dad (Geoff Clarke) wrote this poem some years ago, which some of you might enjoy. He is no longer with us but used to ride with SW London DA. I wonder if anyone still alive knows exactly where Poplar Cottage was or anything about it. Below the poem is a photo of my dad getting full "enjoyment" from his favourite road!

I’ve known this road for forty years that runs through Martyrs Green.
I’ve always liked it best of all the roads I’ve ever seen,
For memories come flooding back of cycle rides of old,
Of club runs on a summer eve or in the winter’s cold.

I rode it first alongside Bill. We rode it many times
And very soon I came to love its twists, its dips and climbs,
Its low-cut hedges, dappled woods and cottages of brick;
Of all the roads that I had known this had to be the pick.

We used it as a through route on the Section’s Sunday runs
When one often rode with Harold and his never-ending puns
Or perhaps with little Jimmy who would keep us in a roar
With his fund of funny stories of his service in the war.

There was Harold Two, a quiet man who s-s-stuttered now and then
And Dick, a grizzled veteran of three score years and ten
But all the riders, young and old, when feeling tired and worn
Would stop at Poplar Cottage and have tea upon the lawn.

And that’s how I remember them a happy, hungry bunch,
Demolishing the tea as if they’d not had any lunch,
With talk of gears, or racing, or of someone’s new machine,
All revelling in the sunshine, on the grass at Martyrs Green.

I cycled home that way tonight and came down Hungry Hill –
A lovely summer’s evening with the air so warm and still
And thought of all the forty years that now have rolled between
And all the many changes that have come upon the scene.

For Maurice bought himself a car and joined the other side
And Bill retired to Sussex and the Wealden countryside
And John gave up, for cycling didn’t suit his other half
And Sid is dead, and how I miss his loud and cheerful laugh.

And Sid is dead – aye, there’s the rub, for so, alas, is youth
For very few of us are left and all are long in tooth.
With Poplar Cottage long since closed the road alone remains;
That forty years has passed it by, this loveliest of lanes.

So that is why I’ll ride this road until the very end,
For memories I hold in trust for every long-lost friend
And many of the happiest hours that I have ever seen
Were cycling with the club along the road to Martyrs Green.

img003.jpg

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fausto copy
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Joined: 14 Dec 2008, 6:51pm
Location: Pembrokeshire

Re: The road to Martyr's Green

Postby fausto copy » 15 Jun 2020, 1:41pm

Brilliant and so evocative of days gone by.
Thank you for sharing,
fausto.

Cyril Haearn
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Joined: 30 Nov 2013, 11:26am
Location: Between the woods and the water

Re: The road to Martyr's Green

Postby Cyril Haearn » 15 Jun 2020, 1:46pm

A happy hungry bunch
Demolishing their tea as if they had not had no lunch :wink:

Very good, +1!
Last edited by Cyril Haearn on 16 Jun 2020, 9:35am, edited 1 time in total.
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francovendee
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Joined: 5 May 2009, 6:32am

Re: The road to Martyr's Green

Postby francovendee » 16 Jun 2020, 9:33am

What a nice thing to have from your Dad, it brought a lump to my throat.
Simpler and maybe happier times gone by.

ANTONISH
Posts: 1803
Joined: 26 Mar 2009, 9:49am

Re: The road to Martyr's Green

Postby ANTONISH » 17 Jun 2020, 9:27am

The all day Sunday club run seems to have all but died out.
Elevenses, lunch, tea - looking back down the years - the characters encountered.
That poem certainly captures it.

mercalia
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Joined: 22 Sep 2013, 10:03pm
Location: london South

Re: The road to Martyr's Green

Postby mercalia » 17 Jun 2020, 10:44am

thanks for sharing