A Walk to Wales

Northwood Hills 1963
Felix Dennis
July 22, 2002
Mandalay, Mustique
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My lover’s father whisked her off
  To Tenby by the sea;
She’d slipped a note inside my coat
  To tell me where they’d be —
       But what were miles to me?

I’d hitch and hike my way to Wales,
  Though not for Wales to see,
My love waxed hot — who cared a jot
  For sun or sand or sea?
       And what was Wales to me?

From Northwood Hills I rode to Slough
  Where Betjeman made his plea,
Then lost the thread at Maidenhead
  And slept at Newbury —
       Though what was sleep to me?

I climbed the Horse at Uffington,
  (My map had lost its key),
My compass gone, I struggled on
  And made for Malmsbury —
       For what were maps to me?

I stowed aboard an early train
  To ease my odyssey,
But then I slept and could have wept
  To wake up in Torquay —
       Yet what were trains to me?

Two long and weary nights I trudged,
  (It rained incessantly),
Nights full of howls, the screech of owls,
  And eyes in every tree —
       But what were eyes to me?

At last I breasted Offa’s Dyke
  A half-mad refugee,
I’d gone astray at Colwyn Bay
  By way of Tetbury —
       Though what were hills to me?

I crossed a ford in flood, barefoot,
  Barbed wire had cut my knee,
I slipped and fell and in the swell,
  A shoe swept out to sea —
       But what were shoes to me?        

A rat-faced farmer packed me off,
  (And not in charity):
“Oi’ll fix yer hash, yer tinker trash.
  Oi’ll set me dogs on thee!”—
       But what were threats to me?

Upon a crutch, in blood-stiff rags,
  Nigh on an amputee,
I staggered down to Tenby town
  My lovely Jane to see —
       For what were wounds to me?

Her father laughed, her mother smirked,
  They fed me cakes and tea:
“Jane’s got engaged!” I wept and raged
  And cursed the powers that be —
       For what was life to me?

He drove me back to Northwood Hills,
  Shook hands: “Goodbye,” says he;
Her letter sat upon the mat,
  She wrote most courteously —
       But what were words to me?

Well, it’s a true (if somewhat embellished) saga, except that Jane did not marry her fiancee and we went on seeing each other for some time afterwards.  I believe she was flattered at the effort despite my total balls-up of a simple 200 mile trip.  The bleeding feet probably helped!  I must say her father was a decent stick.  That was a long drive for him in the middle of a family vacation and the first ride I ever had in a posh car — a Mercedes with a speedometer that rose and fell like a thermometer.  Odd, the things that stick in the memory.