Simon Williams

You Couldn’t Write It

You always remember your first Shakespeare,
the unconvention of a coach trip to Stratford,
dozens of different uniforms for a school matinee
and a thrilling performance of Richard III.

Except it wasn’t one of the Histories,
so that rules out 10 or more, depending
on whether you include the Roman plays.
We’d have enjoyed the blood of Julius Caesar.

Up in the circle, next to a girls’ school
in mauve blazers, we watched the traitors
put the daggers in. Except, I’m sure they
would have made a bigger impression.

Perhaps it was As You Like It and we didn’t,
struggling with street slang of the 1590s,
when we were Carnaby wannabes
at each weekend. It wasn’t the Tempest,

we’d have remembered Arial and Caliban,
Prospero too, like a big-time David Nixon.
On the road home, it’s just come back,
an accident on a roundabout near Oxford.

A plank of wood came through the side
of the coach and pinned our English Master’s
tweed jacket to the seat. It just missed
his left hip. Still, all’s well that ends well.

Simon was born in London, grew up in the home counties and trained as a production engineer, gaining a degree from Loughborough University. In 1979 he married fellow poet Susan Taylor. They live in a hamlet on the southern edge of Dartmoor.