Writing Away – October 2017

Monthly Column from author and poet Sue Gerrard

In the wake of National Poetry Day which was celebrated on 28th September it is time to celebrate the work of St. Helens poet Len Saunders, who sadly died this year. Len gave these poems to read earlier this year and I am pleased to be able to share them with you.


Thirty pieces of silver

Thirty horses charge

On high grey hill

As from Whitechapel ramparts

Uncrowned victors plot ruin

Want to pick the bones

Of a strike.

Broken and smashed

By hammers forged

In the blood of power, corruptions

Family torn asunder to time

Stormed as fallen trees

Never stand against the maelstrom

No such thing as society’

Division, hunger, pain, pride

Surrended to the rattle call

Of soup kitchens comfort

As comfort rives, in a last death thro

Voices that once spoke as one

Are lost to the victors will

As defeat is played out

To the marching step of the collier

As still Judas coat hangs heavy

On those who could not share the cost

Government or mob rule.’

The coal miner, the coal hole cavalry ride on!

Against the ebb of an economic social tide

A new generation knows they walk tall

That their courage and pride do not make them fall

Orgreave, will reflect a truth of unbroken men.

Len Saunders aka Len Banana©

Please don’t forget that there will a special Len Banana Day on December 7th (Len’s Birthday) at Lucem House Community Cinema.  This will be a celebration of Len’s life and legacy.


Halloween is on the horizon and on the night itself, Tuesday 31st October, I will be presenting an evening of ‘Tales to Chill’ which includes some local ghost stories. This is at St. Mark’s Lodge, Victoria Park from 7pm to 8.30pm. It is £5 including tea and biscuits; booking is essential by ringing 07985556539.

Here is a poem to get you in the mood



Men in swirling capes and top hats

Roamed the park like the wildest bats;

Ladies in deep black mourning veils

Accompanied these sinister males.

Children in Victorian dress

Followed them causing much distress

To all those who did not belong

To this Halloween Party throng.

Today’s modern park had been made

To turn back time for this parade

Of Jack O’ Lanterns and witches

In search of all these souls’ riches.

Victoriana ruled supreme

And fun was here, so it would seem.

But close by Murdoch stood afraid

Time was up on the deal he’d made.

This was the night to pay his debt

Of his soul, how could he forget

His loan to devil’s soldier,

For which he’d asked to be bolder,

Richer, better than those around

Whose lives he wanted to confound

With vengeful pestilence and woe,

So, they would have nowhere to go

Only the path to sad self-harm

Where demons wait to kill with charm.

Now amid the fun and laughter

He was waiting his new chapter.

As the devil’s unwilling slave

Twenty years ago, did crave

To be an almighty winner,

Now he was only a sinner.

On this night twenty years ago

He had been on suicide’s shore

When Fleet, the devil’s man, had crept

Upon him lakeside, as he wept.

Sinister Fleet had offered all,

Invited him to life’s great ball.

No more envy or wretched strife,

He could have his full perfect life,

Just by signing his soul away

He could have treasures every day.

For a naive youth on death’s brink

He did not even stop to think.

He slashed his wrist, the blood ran red,

He signed the deed, nothing was said.

He thought the time would never go

But days became years and so

Here he was and Fleet was about

To claim his soul there was no doubt.

Moonlight spun a milky trap for

Him to step into, as he saw

Fleet approach, yellow skin glowing,

Black eyes and tombstone teeth showing;

Mouth salivating at the thought

Of claiming the soul, he had bought.

There was nothing more to be said

As sad Murdoch bowed his head.

He thought that Fleet would strike him dead

All he could see was blood so red.

No, my friend you shall not die

But lonely roam the park as I

Have done these past years until you

Can claim a soul and have them do

What you have done, then you can take

Their life’s riches make no mistake.

For this is what I claim as mine

Now that you have run out of time.

I thank you for the life I claim

I shall enjoy it just the same

As you and while I’m living on

I shall think long about the one,

Sad soul whose place I have taken

While you wander so forsaken.

Murdoch, you should have kept the life

You had and not troubled such strife,

As I have brought upon this night

For you must wander out of sight

Every dismal Halloween Eve

Till you find a soul to believe

As you did all those years ago,

But now as I leave, you must know

How heavy this long curse will be;

I thank you, you set me free

To do the devil’s work worldwide

And leave you here to be my guide.


Burnley Literature Festival

Writer Ash Nugent will be taking part in the Burnley Literary Festival on Sunday October 8th. He will be talking about his novel ‘Locks.’ Further details and ticket bookings at www.burnleyliteraryfestival.co.uk

An Exhibition in Two Halves

My solo exhibition runs until Monday 30th October at Shevington Village Art Gallery. Full details available from Shevington Library.

St Helens Creative hub

If you’re involved in the Creative sector and live, work or study in St Helens, join the St Helens Creative Hub https://www.facebook.com/groups/127034061273125




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