A Pint of Thwaite’s Gold for Allen Alfred Freiesleben


(10th November 1933 – 28th April 2024)

Allen on the roof garden of The Dove, Hammersmith, 10th London Walk, 21st August 2002.



Torrisholme, heavy rain

searching the reduced shelf in One Stop, an island of buckets collects

a constant watery tribute . . . to what?

Broken thoughts of votive candles interrupt . . .

the mushrooming wick, blackening, split,

the charring of time, the duty dereliction of ornate chimney pots brought down to earth

I’ll keep holding on

(How much you would have loathed this weather, Allen).



In The George, where the giant monarch covers the ceiling

(you were 2 when he pegged it)

Simply Red reverses the years: I’ll keep holding on . . .

but damp walls and insistent televisions

(silent cheering as Ravichandran Ashwin takes another Royal Challengers wicket)

cannot impede a blooming vision of your lost Mediterranean fantasy –

an elsewhere that was merely stress relief,

a glass of ouzo to blot out your teaching day

a hope briefly held in the 70s – but entirely reliant on ART

and the apparent ease of artists

enjoying post-War release on the Côte d’Azur

(you went there once, with Ginger in an old van, but didn’t linger).



In truth, you soon preferred never to leave these shores

yet your desire for SUN as LIGHT as well as WARMTH

is a universal quest.

Hesitation and familiarity instead, governed your personality –

born perhaps from London’s doodlebugs, gas masks and the horror

of being bombed out twice?

I always understood your fervent wish to be back in the 1950s,

for the ideal of artist’s colonies and the freer life

even if it was never in your temperament.

Such ideals became to me both inspiration and stumbling block

I’ll keep holding on.



So where are we now in the crumble of time?

Can it all still be dismissed by those who stand outside it?

In breaks on our London walks before and just after the turn of the Millenium

you’d pause at street corners to ponder

to regard 30s semis as old as you, at happy gardens and unusual lampposts

puff another roll-up

to process thoughts and atmospheres

not wanting to talk or analyse

often only to regret

or to shake your head in bittersweet tenderness.

Is this where we differed?

though not as much as my optimistic will likes to suggest

I’ll keep holding on.



                                                *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *



A coda from Maze End:


As reform and change has affected us all at Eastern Electricity,

it has fallen on me, as part of the Culture and Poetic Atmospheres directive,

to offer you the post of Indefinable Atmospheres Manager.

You can work for as few hours as you wish – depending on mood and weather.

Should fine weather beckon, or returning children decide to visit,

we would naturally expect your hours of work to lengthen.

The salary is more than any ponderer of indefinables could reasonably expect

and comes with a vital expenses allowance, covering tobacco and essential wayside inns.

We’ve tried to obtain for the post, complete exemption from all statute drink-driving laws,

but sadly, this was beyond our powers.




© Lawrence Freiesleben

Torrisholme and Heysham, May 2023

Maze End extract, 2013

[email protected]




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