You need to know about Norway Square rather than Cybermen to understand this poem which is a tribute to a man who has created something special in his home town of St Ives (‘that’s Cornwall, not the one in Cambridgeshire’). St Ives hosts two arts festivals every year. There is the Literature Festival which takes place for a week in mid-May and the September Arts Festival which spans two weeks in that month. During these three weeks there is a coming together of artists of all kinds in Norway Square at half past twelve every day. The procession of performers is supposed to finish at two o’clock…but it never does.
Before it can start there is the ritual of assembling the chairs in the square which are carried from the crypt of the nearby Society of Artists building (a former chapel) by audience and performers alike. When the chairs are all set out then the ceremony begins…the aforementioned Bob Devereux (accomplished poet, artist, librettist and curator of the St Ives Arts Club) begins with two or three poems (usually accompanied by one or two of the many willing musicians) and we’re off as a litany of visiting performing artists, all eager to play/perform and make use of the opportunity to publicise the events they are appearing around the town. Music and Poetry in the Square has existed since 1980 and it is because of the energy and determinedness of Bob Devereux.
I never fail to take delight in this event…usually in the glorious sunshine of a St Ives day (the event is not stopped by rain as the ‘elsewhere when wet’ card is played and we are all grateful to the accommodating Society of Artists Gallery just across the way when the elements start throwing their weight about) and I remember my first appearance there a few years ago with some fondness.
I guess I wanted to pay tribute to Bob and the other regular performers (you know who you are) who make this such a wonderful happening.
The title of the poem is a misnomer if you are hoping to find out something new about Dr Who’s enduring enemy. The poem is more about the all-encompassing welcome you get in the St Ives sunshine whether performer or audience. You should make most of it. For Cyberman…I guess it could have been Everyman or Everywoman.
(original photo by Stephen Jones features the wonderful David Matthews on ukulele)
A CYBERMAN SANG IN NORWAY SQUARE
“Look, there’s a crowd!” said the younger of two,
Keen-eyed hungry gulls that circled the Square.
“It’s starving artists, mate!” sighed the elder,
“You’ve not got a chance of anything there!”
Below them a sanctum, a low-walled court
Adorned with palm trees and blue hydrangea.
It’s festival time, Norway Square, St Ives
(That’s Cornwall, not the one in Cambridgeshire).
As with all spiritual gatherings
There are sacred texts and rites to prepare.
This community comes together as
Each one takes the sacrament of the chair.
There are fellows well-met since the last time,
As each passes with the grace of Astaire;
‘Til seats fill all the available space,
With the hope there’ll be one or two spare.
“Do you think that the sky could be turquoise?”
Says one, as she wrestles a folding chair.
“Cerulean Blue”, smiles her knowing friend
“…with a small splash of Viridian there.”
This granite binnacle encompasses
Performers from all points…everywhere!
Its uneven flags support all nations,
Whether you’ve come by bus or Ryanair.
And there’s our Bob, raconteur, bob vivant,
Venerated compére beyond compare;
The audience rapt in his twinkling eyes…
A veritable beachside Baudelaire.
This barker delivers his courting call;
Bobbing and flapping as passers-by stare.
He’s got them hooked and reels them in before
They’ve managed to pass through the thoroughfare.
Musicians, bards and the tellers of tales;
Artistes paint their pictures in the plain air.
All of us made up with stars in our eyes;
Each of us loving our Vanity Fair.
And then it’s time for me to take the stage;
A silhouette ‘neath the sun’s gaudy glare,
Takes a nervous glance at his audience
And hopes they won’t mind too much when I swear.
But everyone wants to play their part…
A Triumph Bonneville off up to Ayr,
Whose bassline drowns out the virgin poet;
Who’ll wait for it passing next time he’s there.
And deep down he knows he’ll be there again
As he joins in the communal prayer.
We were “In The Morris Room together…”
In the sunlight…on a teetering chair.
All dues are paid and respect is given
And I am perfectly willing to swear…
Not even a falling pin could be heard
When a Cyberman sang in Norway Square.