Small, pigeon toed,
and buck-toothed as a donkey,
my parents thought I didn't stand a chance,
my Brummie accent the last straw.

How now brown cow,
how now brown cow,
the mantra of my youth
as Mrs Sadler
rounded my vowels,
tightened my consonants
with elocution.

How now brown cow,
how now brown cow.
Over and over.
Do you remember an Inn,
Do you remember an Inn?
Dirty British coaster with its salt-caked smoke stack. 
Do you remember an Inn?

Now with my accent polished ‘Radio 4’,
Quinquireme of Nineveh from distant la-de-da,
with a cargo of cut glass, apes and plums,
I miss that Brummie coaster with its salt-caked smoke stack
butting down the channel
of those long-gone days
with its cargo of ‘our kid’, ‘pikelets’, ‘lamping’,
‘tarar a bit’, ‘blarting’
round and round the Wrekin
and back to me.

© Chyrs Salt, MBE

Brummie slang: our kid – my brother/sister, pikelet – crumpet, tarar a bit – goodbye for a while, blarting – crying, round the Wrekin – taking the long way round, a serious detour.

How now brown cow – a mantra used in elocution teaching to demonstrate ‘Queen’s English’ vowel sounds. Do you remember an Inn Miranda (from Tarantella by Hilaire Belloc), Dirty British Coaster and Quinquireme of Nineveh (from Cargoes by John Masefield) – both poems were used in elocution as memory exercises and to sharpen consonants.

can you see me


All week I’ve lived
in a house of brass
and blue glass. I’ve sat
at a bare table,
my back to the sea,
watching swallows
post themselves
between the door tips
and the rippling red roofs
of four old outhouses.
Come inky evening
I’ve turned to catch
three fishing boats
fan out over a softly
barrelling sea. Beak,
prow or pencil tip –
whose journey
is not blessed
with necessity
and hope?

© Tom Pow


“But in moments like this, we are called upon to see ourselves in others, because we were all once strangers.

If you weren’t a stranger, your grandparents were strangers. Your great-grandparents were strangers. They didn’t all have their papers ready. ….

At some point, somewhere, your family was an outsider. So the mothers, the fathers, the children we see today—they’re us. We can’t forsake them.” —President Obama speaking at the Canadian Parliament

This is a video of a family reunion and a speech from a family member