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HugMonster
4th Jul 2001, 19:35
Night Mail (Apologies to W.H. Auden)

I

This is the Night Mail, crossing the border,
Bringing the summons and the maintenance order,

Cheques for the rich, bills for the poor,
The pub at the corner, the bookie next door.

Trent Three Delta, a steady climb,
Did you note that delay code? Can we make up time?

The heating’s gone tech – it’s got much colder;
The spring just broke on my Approach Chart holder.

The skipper’s lost his half-moon glasses;
Just wait for the tirade against the lower classes.

Captains shake their heads at my approaches;
“Could you make a good living from driving coaches?”

“Due traffic” we’re vectored way off course
We lumber on when cleared across.

With a grunt and a yawn the Captain wakes
Whilst the mug in the right seat shudders and shakes.

II

Aids idented. The flight’s near done.
Down past Talla she descends,
Towards the beacon trying to knock sense into my brains,
Towards the field, the com-box or headset
Makes the tower sound like Lloyd Grossman.
All Skynet waits for us
In hi-vis vests beside low-vis vans,
Loadies long to go home.

III

Bags under nets, bags of debts,
Parcels with toys for girls (or boys)
Paperwork now, fuel declarations,
Phone calls back to Operations,
Further load sheet calculations,
Roster changes – commiserations.
Reports confidential on my command potential,
Deferred defects we know we can hack,
Tech logs with load figures scrawled on the back.
The headsets are DC’s – thank God no more Telex
The Apron is full with Zaps, Gill and ChanEx,
Gemstone, Nitro, Midland and RapEx
Where’s that dispatcher? This loadsheet won’t do!
As the loadies get off telling jokes crude and blue.
It’s cold and windy and the rain is now pouring
(That I’ve still got the walk-round to do I’m ignoring)
When you’re tired, filling the brief takes far too long,
Scrubbed out, then tippexed, then added up wrong

IV

At last home to sleep,
Dreaming of gorgeous hosties
And a quick shag after the landing in Ibiza or Palma:
Asleep in hateful Heathrow, asleep in bloody Bristol,
Asleep in creepy Castle Don,
We continue our dreams.
But we’ll wake soon and hope for Stand-By
And hope not to hear the rosterer’s call
That causes a sinking of the heart;
For who can hope to feel himself forgotten?

-------------------------------------------

The original:-

Night Mail

I

This is the Night Mail crossing the Border,
Bringing the cheque and the postal order,

Letters for the rich, letters for the poor,
The shop at the corner, the girld next door.

Pulling up Beattock, a steady climb:
The gradient’s against her, but she’s on time.

Past cotton-grass and moorland boulder,
Shovelling white steam over her shoulder

Snorting noisily, she passes
Silent miles of wind-bent grasses.

Birds turn their heads as she approaches,
Stare from bushes at her blank-faced coaches.

Sheep-dogs cannot turn her course;
The slumber on with paws across.

In the farm she passes no one wakes,
But a jug in a bedroom gently shakes.

II

Dawn freshens Her climb is done.
Down towards Glasgow she descends,
Towards the steam tugs yelping down a glade of cranes,
Towards the fields of apparatus, the furnaces
Set on the dark plain like gigantic chessmen.
All Scotland waits for her:
In dark glens, beside pale-green lochs,
Men long for news.

III

Letters of thanks, letters from banks,
Letters of joy from girl and boy,
Receipted bills and invitations
To inspect stock or to visit relations,
And applications for situations,
And timid lovers’ declarations,
And gossip, gossip from all the nations,
News circumstantial, news financial,
Letters with holidays snaps to enlarge in,
Letters with faces scrawled on the margin,
Letters from uncles, cousins and aunts,
Letters to Scotlans from the South of France,
Letters of condolence to Highlands and Lowlands,
Written on paper of every hue,
The pink, the violet, the white and the lue,
That chatty, the catty, the oring, the adoring,
The cold and official and the heart’s outpouring,
Clever, stupid, short and long,
The types and the printed and the spelt all wrong.

IV

Thousands are still asleep,
Dreaming of terrifying monsters
Or a friendly tea beside the band in Cranston’s or Crawford’s:
Asleep in working Glasgow, asleep in well-set Edinburgh,
Asleep in granite Aberdeen,
They continue their dreams,
But shall wake soon and hope for letters,
And none will hear the postman’s knock
Without a quickening heart.
For who can bear to feel himself forgotten?


------------------
Breeding Per Dementia Unto Something Jolly Big, Toodle-pip

Mac the Knife
4th Jul 2001, 22:44
Yo Hug! I was wondering when you were going to finish it! Eat your heart out Wystan..

10/10

Did you get chance to look at that link with that wierdly prescient Kipling aeronautical story?

http://www.heliograph.com/ff/game/ff1/night.htm

HugMonster
4th Jul 2001, 22:54
Thanks, Mac! :)

Just seen it - haven't read it yet, but love the adverts at the bottom of the page!

Tinstaafl
5th Jul 2001, 02:44
Brilliant Huggy!