What Great Speed In Guernsey by Alun Robert

First published in 2015 in 'Slow Things' edited by Rachel Piercey and Emma Wright (Emma Press)

Haven’t moved forward
for two whole minutes,
maybe three, when driving
into St Martin village
en route to St Peter Port
on the eastern seaboard.

Of course it’s a Saturday,
fine morning in mid summer
with tourists in profusion
driving aimlessly – hence
today’s traffic is slow,
even much slower.

Still haven’t reached
the refurbished Queen’s Inn
or the adjacent
Co-op Grand Marché
selling cut-price fuel
should you have spent
more cash in the store
than ever you intended.

And a road works sign
without accompanying workers
now straddles the pavement
to inconvenience walkers,
the frail, the infirm
and those on Zimmer frames.

So why are there road works?
Why is the route blocked?
Where are the workers -
perhaps on a go slow?
For there’s no warning on radio
no mention of delays
just tales of lost cats
near Petit Bot Bay as

a green airport bus
squeezes past, laden
with four exiting passengers,
cases and chattels
zooming at great speed,
possibly over twenty.

Ahead a golden palomino
in a tractor-drawn horse box
masticates steadily
on a mouthful of straw
as the red Massey-Ferguson
grinds to a gentle halt
to avoid tourists meandering
in search of the sun.

When an Aurigny turboprop
emerges the cumulus
from Gatwick or Bristol
or even Southampton
purring close overhead
so that touch seems feasible.

And of course it’s mid summer
(how can I forget?)
here on the island
Bailiwick of Guernsey
where the greatest speed
is forever slow.


Alun Robert was born in Scotland of Irish ancestry. He is a prolific creator of lyrical verse achieving success in poetry competitions. His work has been published in British and North American literary magazines, anthologies and the web. During visits to the Channel Islands, he has written a number of poems. “What Great Speed In Guernsey” was created after a slow journey into St Peter Port. A version was first published in the “Slow Things” 2015 anthology from Emma Press.

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