Aidan Baker

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THE WALL AND THE STABLE DRIVE AND THE LANE AND THE NEXT VILLAGE

I learned biking late, and later still
heard how aged six, not understanding brakes,
I’d crashed against a wall. Eleven years,
while that unlearn eluded memory,
cycling balance eluded me too, made
bicycles a phobia. But –

“Rode Hugh’s moped” is in my diary.
Not why, or who came up with that idea.
A stable drive was long enough for me,
longer than any pushbike I could fear.

For months, I risked no balancing on wheels.
Urged to a Christmas job some roads away,
too far for bus or walk, and to these skills,
I tried my sister’s bike on Boxing Day.

The moped ride had not been fluke or fake.
I whizzed to the next village down the lane.
Uphill I found was harder. It would take
longer and the straight line was extra strain.

My ageing feet now say “Walk bad, bike good.”
The prequel crash continues to elude.

GRINGLEY ON THE HILL – CREATIVE JOURNEY

I admit I didn’t do things quite in the order described in the project brief. For me, the project concept pointed almost immediately to a specific memory, and I made the map around that. I salted the decision down and kept the writing and mapping for a creative burst near the deadline. The word count suggested the memoir’s form: a sonnet with blank verse to fill the gap. It seemed better to begin with the blank verse than risk seeming to have run out of rhymes. I checked my 1974 diary; checked also that Hugh was happy to be named.

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