The first really hot day for quite a while. Fierce sun in a cloudless blue sky. The sort of day when one’s thoughts – well, mine, anyway – turn to chilling-out with a cool, refreshing glass or two of beer – or cider.
I have a fondness for cider, born from many years of familiarity – despite the occasional unfortunate experience like the one described at the start of my “Cider” poem. I prefer to drink good quality, “real” cider, as opposed to the white, fizzy liquid contained in large plastic bottles. Most of the cheap white stuff has no known connection to cider apples; even so, I must admit that I have been know to imbibe it, in times of penury.
The names of a number of different varieties of cider apple are strewn throughout my “Cider” poem. This was an idea I got from Carol Ann Duffy’s poem “John Barleycorn”, where the names of different public houses occur on almost every line. I may not have used this device as dextrously as Carol Ann – but, then again, she is our Poet Laureate.
Somerset Redstreak flashing
into me, wreaking havoc.
Leaving me sprawled, insensate,
on a Bristol tavern floor.
My first encounter. Too near
to its raw, cloudy,
unfiltered source? I had asked,
in my innocence,
for “A pint of Scrumpy”.
I learned to approach the Fair
Maid of Devon more courteously.
Years passed. Stembridge Clusters. Such
pleasures. Such flavours. Breakwell’s
Seedling. Slack-Ma-Girdle! Bad
times, making do. Ersatz
fizzy white excrescence. Plastic
bottle. Better times. Broxwood
Foxwhelp. Kingston Black.
Pure, fierce fruitiness
bursting from its core.