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U3A Writing: The Modern Merlin

Vera Sanderson pays tribute to a marvellous Yorkshireman.

In loving memory of William H. Senior MBE.

Where would we go
If there were no more
Thursday afternoons
If we could not get gather to admire
This marvellous Yorkshireman
weaving his tales of shires
since time began?
We assemble sharp at two within
It buzzes like a beehive
until the fall of footsteps
as this slender, sprightly man
softly, swiftly gains the podium.
The silence!
You could hear a pin drop on the floor.
All await this riveting raconteur.
A cordial greeting,
then the lights go dim.
All is ready .
Now the show begins.
In quick succession images are flashed,
A history of the dark and distant past of Yorkshire.
A knight in armour suddenly appears.
“Sharpen it a little, please.”
The picture clears.
Yorvik’s Vikings, Saxon enclaves,
Ancient barrows, Celtic graves,
Mediaeval tombs and arches by the score.
Norman fonts
And chapels perpendicular.
Mass dials on outside walls,
Intricate carving on the chancel stalls,
Piscinas, hatchments,
A sanctuary knocker and a chair at Sprotborough.
It’s all there for us to see.
And now he tells the tale of Richard Three,
the last Plantagenet,
Our last true English king
who spoke the Yorkshire tongue,
A son of York, doomed to die in battle
‘fore the day was done on Bosworth Field.
His warriors slain like cattle,
They would not yield.
“My Kingdom for a horse,” he cried.
No one replied!
Just a golden circlet on a thorn
In the dawn.
And as this modern Merlin holds us in his thrall
With words and magic lantern on the wall
He casts his spell
And weaves the rich, rare tapestry of days gone by,
And dreary days of winter fly.
The lucky few
Go on a trip to view the scenes they dream of
all the winter through,
superbly organised by Mrs P.
We stop at posh hotels
for morning coffee and high tea.
Then northward through the Dales
to Richmond and High Hawes.
We tour round castles, houses, churches without pause.
Thoroughly exhausted, like children on a treat,
we stumble back into the coach,
and all fall fast asleep,
hoping for another year
to make the most of our Yorkshire.
Yes indeed! Where would we go
if ever there were no more Thursday afternoons?
Where would we be without this gifted man
and all his guests and helpers too,
who stack the chairs and serve the tea
and count the cash and check in all the queue?
Thank Heaven for the U3A.
May its golden thread of friendship never fray,
our lifeline to the world of yesterday.

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