By Janet Reedman from Northampton
Cooper squatted on the pile of rubble in Gregory's Lane, staring
down at his pale white hands. Moonlight flooding down from on high
made an incorporeal blue blur of hair and face and ragged shirt
as he huddled amidst the ruined buildings that bordered the deserted
carpark. He raised his head as an old drunken derelict stumbled
by, his tangled silver beard outthrust like a wizard's beneath a
battered hat, his wine-hot breath steaming in the chill air.
He didn't see Thomas...no... Tom was an insignificant as a piece
of rubbish, a pallid form hanging timidly in the shadows of a sun
bleached brick wall. Thomas stared up at the alien wall, its surface
scored by years of exposure. On its uppermost outcrop, a rusty iron
door without a room to go to opened like a mouth onto the starless
night. The wind sighed mournfully though the doors' emptiness. It
scared Tom, the night and the wind and the bleak surroundings. He
closed his eyes, tried to think.
At one time there had been a church on this site, a friendly welcoming
chuch built of warm stone that glowed like embers in the noonday
sun and like fairy silver beneath beneath the moon. It had a door
carved with chevrons and gargoyle round the roof, and inside, past
the ornate rood screen with its golden traceries, was an ancient
relic, the Holy Rood in the Wall, where pilgrims came to pray. Thomas
opened his eyes again. Stupid dreamer. That church and its relic
was long gone, the church in ruins beneath the scabrous Victorian
building he stood in, its relic smashed into a thousand shards by
Everything was ugly and desecrated, even the graves that had stretched
down to the edge of Gregory's Lane and up to Horsemarket, the bones
tossed out or taken away by learned men for observation. Thomas
bowed his head He felt sad here, so sad and lost...maybe it was
time to move on, go away, find another place.A place where he could
be at peace, not troubled in mind and body.
Silently he wandered toward Marefair street, passing a young couple
kissing and groping between mouthfuls of a rancid kebab. They did
not even glance at him though the girl plucked at her short skirt
and squealed 'Wind's got me skirt, you can see my knickers!'
Crossing the road at the traffic lights, Tom stood in front of a
huge cinema complex, lit up like a massive torch, its ultra modern
roofline poking the dark like a huge beak. He entered the sliding
doors, wandering upstairs through theechoing halls lit by a eerie
Looking from side to side at the smooth walls,a faint smiled tugged
his pale lips.
place was like a sepulchre. A tomb.
place of rest.
Thomas felt much happier now. He lowered himself onto the floor
and crouched down in foetal position, knees drawn to chest, hands
folded piously. He began to think of sunny days in a far distant
past - the busy bustle of Marefair and all its sights and smells,
the little church with its sacred cross, reputedly to be the very
heart of England....
At that moment another young couple exiting a late night movie rushed
towards his crouched form, gabbling exitedly to each other as they
discussed the film they'd seen. Their moving feet skimmed empty
air...but then both glanced at each other, fell suddenly silent,
the Cooper, young tradesman of St Gregory's parish, Northampton,
in 1199, who had died at 22 and whose grave had been disturbed by
modern industry, had found a new resting place above the old.
abound on the littered street
clothes peel from fat bodies in the heat
red sun dies weltering above the town
like the fire that once brought great walls down.
the market square twilight's curtain
enfolds one all--and nothing's certain;
whether lost souls are the nightly drunks
or the fleeting shades of long dead monks
cloisters of an ancient abbey
under the shopping mall,tawdry, shabby
Amid acrid fumes in Greyfriar's station
chants drown beneath drunks' ululation.