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Poetry at St. Peter’s

July 6, 2017

On Tuesday afternoon, Maureen and I did a joint reading that will stand out in our memories as an especially enjoyable and satisfying one.

We’d been invited by Flintshire County Council to do a twenty minute poetry reading at ‘Living Well & Enjoying Life’, a fun day for sheltered housing residents held at St. Peter’s Church in Holywell, a market town west of the Dee Estuary in North Wales.

St. Peter’s is a lovely modern church, very bright and airy, which doubles as a community centre during the week, and we found everyone – Council staff, residents and other guests – very friendly and chatty.

Of course, for me, being a former social housing manager whose specialisms included sheltered housing, it was great to talk shop with staff. Maureen read her newly written poem ‘After the Inferno’ to representatives of the Fire and Rescue Service and they were pleased to be given a copy to take back to the Station.

Just being together on stage was wonderful for Maureen and I. We did ten minutes each then finished with our joint somonka.  And what a lovely, appreciative audience the residents were.  It truly was a most heartwarming experience for us.

Thank you, Flintshire County Council.

One of the poems I read was inspired by a painting in the Lady Lever Art Gallery at Port Sunlight on the Wirral. Here it is…




Two Boys in a Boat,

they could have been us, Bro,

the boys we were so long ago,

they could have been us.


In their boat ELIZA,

they gaze out to sea,

the standing boy in white shirt,

trousers rolled, me;

the seated boy in floppy hat,

oar hung over stern, you.

Aye, they could have been us, Bro,

could have been us.


I’d have been looking out

for gannets and skuas,

you for passing ships,

but the far horizon

would have drawn our joint attention

as we pondered the unknowable future,

brothers true,

best friends too.

Never would we have dreamt

of anything coming between us:

never, no, would we have dreamt it, Bro,

never back then.


So close all our lives

until now,

I’d bring you here if I could

to view this oil on canvas

by George Percy Jacomb-Hood,

Two Boys in a Boat.

Aye, they could have been us, Bro,

the boys we were so long ago,

they could have been us,

could have been us.


Paul Beech


(First published in Sunlight Poems, Cestrian Press, May 2016. Subsequently included in my collection Twin Dakotas: poetry and prose, Cestrian Press, August 2016.)


Copyright © Paul Beech 2017



From → General, Poetry

  1. Beautiful, Paul. Brings to my mind the imagery, but, the feeling of sadness in the end,

    • Thanks Pat. It was a wet, wintry afternoon in January last year that I visited Port Sunlight with Maureen for the first time. And despite the weather, I was charmed by this beautiful garden village founded in 1888 by William Hesketh Lever for the workers at his Sunlight Soap factory.

      Closing time was approaching at the Lady Lever Art Gallery when we came upon Jacomb-Hood’s painting ‘Two Boys in a Boat’, but I was transfixed…

      Fond regards,


  2. maureen Weldon permalink

    It was a joy to read our poems to such a wonderful and enthusiastic audience, and to share with Paul, our twenty minute reading.
    from, Maureen W. xx

    • Thank you, my darling Maureen. A joy it was indeed, and lovely to walk through the town afterwards, our first time there together. Popping into the little shops, there was such a delightful air of times past somehow, wasn’t there? I know we’ll both treasure the Winnie-the-Pooh books we bought in that second-hand bookshop.

      We must visit the holy well itself soon – St. Winefride’s Well. And Basingwerk Abbey of course.


      Paul xxx

  3. Paul, I enjoyed your poem very much. Sounds like you and Maureen had a delightful reading together!

    • Thank you, Betty, so glad you like my poem.

      Maureen and I were delighted to play a part in this fun day for sheltered housing residents. There was a really good turn-out with around 55 residents present, getting on in years, perhaps, but lively still. And how heart-warming it was to feel so welcomed and appreciated with smiling faces all around and much enthusiastic applause.

      Our reading at St. Peter’s was certainly one we’ll look back on with a glow of pleasure.

      My very best,


  4. Sounds like you both had a really enjoyable reading. And yes, you must visit St Winifred’s Well. Maureen and I visited it 2 or 3 years ago on a sweltering hot day in July. I hope that Maureen’s rib is healing well. Love to you both, Morella

    • Thank you, dear Morella.

      It’s been quite a week for us poetrywise with the Poetry Breakfast at Beatons Tearooms (Chester) last Monday, St Peter’s Church (Holywell) on Tuesday and the Festival of Firsts (West Kirby) yesterday, Sunday – all good stuff. But a big surprise lay in store, and this was best of all…

      When we arrived home from the Wirral and powered up our computers last night, Maureen found that she’d won Poem of the Month for June 2017 in Second Light Live with ‘Midnight Robin’. The issue judge Hylda Sims considered it “Truly a small gem of a poem!” So how fantastic is that!!

      As for Maureen’s cracked rib, three weeks on now it’s getting a lot better, thank goodness, though she’s still having to be very careful of course. We walked along the front at West Kirby yesterday with no ill effects.

      Hope all’s going well for you north of the border.

      Love from us both,

      Paul x

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