the weekly


At Christmas, moving towards an open grave,
you think of childhood: the snows that rarely were,

and visiting your parents’ parents
on a Sunday, and the rituals of the year, month, week,

the clockwork ones. And one of them,
the time when adult and child were parked together,

were somehow coalesced, was Grandstand.
More and more, I think of being five,

and how the television ruled the room –
I was one of the first in the TV age, never much

of a wireless addict. And when it came
to the teleprinter chuffing up its numbers and names,

a strange, alien typewriter filling the screen
with a yackety soundtrack, the voice you heard

was Coleman’s, moving the teams a place or three
up and down the order, adjusting, calibrating,

his patter as slick as his hair. You could
say he suited monochrome. He did. The later years,

dressed in the fleecy jacket, with the hat
jammed on his head, were in colour, were weird.

So, no, give me the small screen, the dodgy signal,
the flakes, the zig-zag lines, and behind them all

his voice, unflappable, statistic-crazy. The obits say
he was a tyrant, bore grudges, was mean. Who

cares? He did the job. Every death demeans us,
prepares us, but still, it’s better to celebrate –

I mean, we’re most of us still here, those of us
who waited for half past four, for the settling scores.


Read the BBC article here

Click here to buy Bill’s poetry collection Ringers

Click here to follow Bill’s New Statesman research


David Coleman died at the age of 87.

25 December 2013


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