The Ashes (A tribute to Nelson Mandela)

6 Dec

I was thinking of the Ashes. Cricket you know.

Michael Clarke, the Aussie skipper, was strapping on his pads,

Last night. He would go on to score a century.

He would put England to the sword.

In Adelaide.


In Sutton we were watching a programme about the late Lionel Bart.

Just before 10 o’clock. Last night.

Li (to his friends) sparked so briefly, so brilliantly. Oliver. Food Glorious Food.

As Long as He Needs Me. Then the booze took over Li.


Along the bottom of the screen, text appeared.

‘Breaking news on BBC1…’

Lionel’s friends were talking of two bottles of vodka a day.

So we switched channels.


And the eyes of the world were on a house in Johannesburg.

And Madiba (although I have never called him that) had died.

And the words were not enough. Jacob Zuma did well: they all

Did their best. But they couldn’t, quite, do it.


Facebook came alive with tributes.

A media frenzy.

I remember Kennedy. ’63. This seemed more

Important. Somehow.


Nelson Mandela was the Phoenix rising..

From the Ashes of Apartheid. The fledgling South Africa,

On his back. It was His wings which struggled

To gain height when the weight of

Oppression would have kept most mortals down.

But he flew.Forgave. Transformed.

Inspired. A century? A song? Not a flash but

A flame that burned long on Robben Island

And still had strength and warmth –

Twenty seven years on – to light our world.


Ashes to ashes.

Fings aint wot they used to be.

Ever again.

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