The Rayburn

by K.J. Petrie

© K.J. Petrie 2006. The right of K.J. Petrie to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 Sections 77 and 78.

In my country kitchen sitting,
As the twilight fell before,
I fell to musing on the newsing
Of the test at Bangalore,
Tactics extolling, batting, bowling
In the test at Bangalore.
I wondered in the darkening kitchen
How I might find out the score;
The score, the score, and nothing more.

When Marconi first had harnessed
Hertzian waves by natural law,
There were no parts to be assembled
Round the bare transformer core,
Yet the waves were sent and savoured
Shore to ship, and ship to shore –
Tap-tap, tap-tap, and no one wavered –
Ship to ship, and shore to shore
By a strange but natural law.

Now we have the thermionic
Valve, I.C. and transistor.
Electric power aids our hearing
Of the signal – Ooh-la-lor.
Never now our senses, sensing
Sensitive spots to explore,
Seek to listen to the faintness
In our headphones, as of yore.
Silence! Listen! As of yore.

Yet I have heard lonely tales
From time to time in wondered lore
Of sheds with iron roofs which rattle
When the wind is still and sure,
Sheds which rattle to the music
Far and faint, and even more
Of garden sheds where tools play tunes
When iron rake rests on a saw;
Tunes where rake lies on a saw.

So I, dark in my kitchen sitting,
Thinking of the cricket score
Drew closer to my Rayburn cooker
Scraping chair across the floor,
And underneath the logs a-crackling,
Underneath the fire’s roar,
I thought I heard a faint voice cackling
Commentary from Bangalore,
But could not catch the words for sure.

Could this be true? Could I be dreaming
Of the words from Bangalore,
Or was it just imagination
Of a faint voice in the roar?
Could the chimney be an arial
Or the poker on the floor
Demodulate the sounds ethereal
By its stance by oven door?
The Rayburn, with its oven door.

I saw the wind outside the window
Rock branches ’gainst the evening sky.
I heard the wind within the chimney
Draw the fire up bright and high,
And realised, in the gath’ring darkness,
What a fool I’d been before
To think I heard sense in the nonsense
Of the draught across the floor.
It was the wind, and nothing more.

I settled then before the window,
Relaxed within the chair for sure,
To think I fancied hearing voices
In the wind and fire’s roar,
And I was satisfied and sated
By this knowledge clear and sure,
To think I had mistaken crackling
Wood for voices just before,
When said the Rayburn, “Radio Four!”

I was startled, truly startled
T’be addressed thus by a stove.
Never had I heard such doings,
Even from the match at Hove.
I heard them talk of tea and fruit cake,
Birds and trains and things they saw
When looking out across the outfield
On and on for evermore,
And never once would give the score.

I heard them talk of tea and seagulls
Flown in from a distant shore,
Heard them talk and heard them mutter
Details of the games of yore,
But not once in all their mutt’ring
Did I hear them give the score
And so, now anxious, now with tutt’ring
Began to find them quite a bore,
When said the Rayburn, “That’s a four!”

Who had scored, or who was batting
I had no idea before,
And so I said, I asked the Rayburn,
“What is it you do this for,
To talk about the scenes peripheral
And never give the central core?
When will you, if for me, and if for all,
When will you give me the score?”
The Rayburn answered, “Tea at four!”

I sat there, waiting for the hour,
Daring not to sleep nor snore,
Watching, waiting for the hour,
Watched the hands upon their tour.
When it came, my heart beat quickly
Thinking I would learn the score,
When fell among the Rayburn’s ashes
A final ember to the floor,
Whereon I heard the voice no more.

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