Yodeling on The South Downs
My pal Nick (currently suffering with a bad back – commiserations mate) turned me onto the prog rock madness that is Dutch band Focus and especially their barmy, riff-tastic song Hocus Pocus that helped yodeling make a return to the charts in the early 70s. They truly must be seen and heard to be believed. It’s Roy Rodgers meets Megadeth.
He was introduced to them in turn by his Uncle Barry, who took him for wild car rides across the South Downs with the music blaring from his Rover 90, complete with its odd inner opening doors.
I’ve composed this tribute to Nick, his bad back, Uncle Barry, the Rover 90 and the laughing Dutchmen. Surely there can’t be too many poems like this.
Uncle Barry, what visions I have of you,
still skimming the South Downs in your Rover 90,
your bonnet like a streak of grey cloud.
With me at your side, eyes as bright and wide
as your steel hubcaps, the doors opened inwards,
like something from Dan Dare.
On b-roads we flew into England’s horizon,
past fields of poppies and pools of light,
pub signs whirring like football rattles in our ears.
Under the dash you kept an eight track,
that blew Focus from road; we scared the cows
with Sylvia and Hocus Pocus.
We yodeled together like a sorcerer
and his apprentice, while the car filled with smoke
like a genie’s lamp as if we’d captured a cloud.
What hours and what sounds as we chased
the tail of the runaway kite, you the crimson king
of the chalk road, me the boy in your spell.
We snaked down ancient hills, blasting blues at the sky,
to Brighton, where I left you, going up and over
the Western Pier, wheels spinning into the heavens.