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Two Landlords

by Mickey 

Posted: 13 July 2018
Word Count: 167
Summary: I was inspired to write this piece after reading Joanie’s poem on the memorials on park benches (which has since disappeared, so I can’t comment on it). Jacob Grist (1827-1895) and Joshua Jones (1833-1892) were landlords of inns at either end of the dead straight road (no pun intended) that forms the principal route through my home town of Haywards Heath.

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This is the story of Jacob Grist
asleep beneath St.Wilfrid’s turf
who, by the town, was sorely missed
when laid below that holy earth.
A member of the Local Board,
and later of the UDC,
when Jacob went to meet his Lord
the loss was felt enormously.
Jacob’s widow had to leave
the local farm that he had leased,
and moved back into town to grieve
her dear, late husband now deceased.
Jacob kept ‘The Volunteer’
but died when only sixty-eight.
His customers all shed a tear
when Jacob knocked on Heaven’s gate.
Now lying too, not very far
and also long reduced to bones,
the young innkeeper of ‘The Star’
the much-lamented Joshua Jones.
‘The Star’ stood at the other end
of the village street to Jacob Grist’s
with St.Wilfrid’s churchyard in between
where both would go for Eucharist.
I wonder, as they plied their trade
these long forgotten licenced friends,
if they once thought they’d end up laid
so close when both had reached their ends?

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Comments by other Members

James Graham at 20:25 on 14 July 2018  Report this post
Turning to your new poem, Mike, I was expecting something in your usual style – very funny, full of good jokes – but soon realised this is different. There is a joke – jokes about death are perfectly admissible of course – in the fact that the two landlords kept pubs at opposite ends of the village, bookending the village, but ended up near neighbours in the churchyard. It’s a joke to make us smile rather than laugh, which is as it should be.
What you succeed in doing pretty well is to tell this joke in a context that doesn’t lose touch with the serious side of the story, the genuine sadness (though it was a long time ago) that was felt in the village. You hit the right tone, quite light and humorous up to a point but serious too. There are nice touches on both the serious and the lighter sides: for example, the verse about Jacob’s widow is sad but the one about Jacob and Joshua both going to church is lighter, as it contains the idea that the church too is sandwiched between the two pubs. (Some clergymen might warn against over-indulgence in Jacob’s and Joshua’s commodities.) Though it’s very different, in its tone this poem reminds me of your excellent ‘Santa Claus’ poem.
One line needs attention.
her dear, late husband now deceased
Well, if he’s late, we already know he’s deceased. You can’t really change ‘deceased’ because of the rhyme, but maybe another adjective instead of ‘late’? Praising his character?
Finally, just a suggestion. Perhaps add another verse about Joshua? We know quite a lot about Jacob (‘A member of the Local Board’, etc, and we know about his farm and his widow) but very little about Joshua. Was there anything he was known for besides being landlord of the Star?

joanie at 22:29 on 14 July 2018  Report this post
Hi Mike.  So glad I inspired you!!  You can still read my poem if you go to Joanie and my work. It isn't on 'Flash' anymore because I posted something else.

Yes, very interesting.  I do like the names of the pubs and the landlords.  I feel like I need to go and check them out! 

Following on from James's comment about dead and deceased, I was thinking:

'her stalwart husband, now deceased'

Just a thought!

Great read!


Mickey at 18:23 on 16 July 2018  Report this post
I have recently written a short fifty-odd page book chronicling the origins of my town’s football club of which I am a trustee. Judging from the comments in this group, I would guess that not many of you ever have cause or reason to look at a football matchday programme, but I can assure you that the club histories they all contain are mind-bogglingly boring. 
Rather than the usual chronological listing of league positions, promotions, cup-wins etc. I decided to write an account based on contemporary match reports and sports editorials interspersed with historical background information about the town itself and of the individual characters and early players that helped create the club back in the 1890s.
As a result of my research, I discovered that ‘The Star’ hotel was the embryonic football club’s first headquarters and learned of the almost insurmountable problems that the club encountered trying to find somewhere to play in those early years.  I also encountered the name of Jacob Grist, landlord of ‘The Volunteer’
A regular pedestrian route runs through St.Wilfrid’s graveyard from the road running parallel to the church on the north side, to the main shopping road on the south.  I regularly use this path and have always been delighted by the grave of Jacob which sits just off the path.  What an almost unbelievably Dickensian moniker!
I thought Joanie’s poem contemplating the people behind the names remembered on park benches was inspired, and I thought I’d kind of ‘steal’ the idea and apply it to gravestones in the parish churchyard.  I therefore went up and photographed about fifteen whose occupants had interesting names like Ebeneezer or Jacob and came across that of Joshua Jones who I recognised from my football research.  My initial intention was to just compose a piece about as many of these long-lost residents as possible, but I was intrigued by the opportunity to relate the two landlords in one reverential (I hope) poem.
As for the result, there was plenty of information available on Jacob, but not very much on Joshua.  I consulted census returns of the period but could find nothing to beef up the piece that could respectfully add to my account.  Jacob’s widow, Lucy, placed an advertisement in the local paper after his death inviting offers on his agricultural effects, but I could find nothing more on poor old Joshua.
With regard to James’ comment on my ‘duff’ line, I don’t agree.  The intention was to suggest that Lucy had relocated into the village from the farm once Jacob had died, and the line was supposed to be understood as if he had just died, not looking back over a century later.  I could use ‘once’ rather than ‘now’ I suppose, but I don’t think that conveys what I was trying to say.
In view of the lack of balancing information on Joshua, it might be better ‘poetically’ to leave the third stanza out completely.  However, since the piece seems to have been seen as a light-hearted joke, I’m not sure that I feel happy about having written it at all as it was intended as a tribute to two men who have contributed more to their community than I ever could by writing silly poems.

James Graham at 21:26 on 16 July 2018  Report this post
Hi Mike – I’m sorry if I gave the impression that I thought this poem was a light-hearted joke. The serious aspect of it is uppermost, and it comes across clearly that it’s a tribute to these two men. It’s a respectful memorial to them. If I saw some sort of ‘joke’ in it, I suppose it’s like when someone delivers a eulogy at a funeral – things can be mentioned that make us smile, though the overall tone of course is one of respect for the deceased.
If there’s no information about Joshua Jones, I don’t think it would harm the poem at all to leave out the second stanza. You convey the feeling of the community eloquently in the first stanza:
who, by the town, was sorely missed
when laid below that holy earth.
The second stanza just more or less repeats this, in ‘when Jacob went to meet his Lord/ the loss was felt enormously’.  As for his membership of the Local Board etc, I think we know from the rest of your account of him how highly respected he was. The omission of St 2 would create a better balance.

Thank you for posting such a detailed account of the background to this poem. It reinforces both its seriousness and the historical reality. Even if we didn't know all the details, though, I think the poem would still speak for itself as a tribute to Jacob and Joshua.

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