A few strong pints of ale's not good
For men who can't agree -
They tend to get aggressive
And argue constantly
Especially when there's pride at stake
And the issue can be solved
By a quick and easy contest
To get the gripe resolved.
And so it was with Bushy Tom
And Alec Smith the ace
Who set up competition
To run a mile long race
In the blistering heat of summer
To see who would prevail
And win the prize of a fiver
And fifteen pints of ale.
The scene is set in Higher Ince -
A place they both knew well
Right at the top of Belle Green lane
Outside the Bush Hotel
In the blistering heat of summer
On a Sunday afternoon
When normal folk who tried to run
Would surely faint and swoon,
But these two headstrong combatants
Would rather die than fail...
But wait !!! I've said too much already
So listen to my tale!

The landlord's hands were never still for he had much to do,
When local drinkers swamped his bar to taste his potent brew.
The Sunday lunchtime thirst was great - the heatwave was severe,
And soon the rowdy Bush was full and freely flowed the beer.
The vault was bursting at the seems - the doors were open flung -
The singing room was in full throng and hearty strains were sung
The buzzing snug had much to say but little could be heard,
As laughter soared from lobby stools and drowned her every word..
The lively click of dominoes - the arrow's muffled thud -
The games room was erupting and losers called for blood
Outside the fiery sun beat down and the temperature did soar
As the old piano rattled on behind the green door.
All was normal at the Bush but close near by that day,
Action brewed on Hemfield mount, a hundred yards away.
A big event was due to start - the long-awaited clash,
Of Bushy Tom and Alec Smith - two men of lightening dash.
Two burly athletes known to all - a proud and able pair,
The one renowned for youth and speed, the other devil-dare,
Stood side by side in sprinting style like hounds raring to go,
Each confident to take the prize and steal the winning show.
A main attraction of the day this contest soon became,
To visitors who crossed the fields to locals on the lane.
People fought for elbow room and jostled for a place,
And folk who came to make inquiries stayed to watch the race
Close up to the starting line the urging crowd was pressed
And keen spectators mounted steps to view the sporting test.
Busy betting circled round among the plungers ring,
And odds of favour even out before the crucial fling.
Side by side the rivals stood, in statue stillness hushed,
A call was made, a shout rang out and off the racers pushed.
The toiling mile at last begun, a steady pace was set,
And as they left the urban scene the crowd was cheering yet.
Cautiously the race began with cagey tit for tat
As Alec sported tauntingly to Bushy at the back
But Bushy Tom was struggling hard behind the playful smile -
In all his wild athletic days he'd never run a mile.
While Alec was a distance man - a champion for the Lock
And knew how well to pace himself and run against the clock
So Bushy had his work cut out - the murderous course to stay
To be the victorious once again and hero of the day.
Of gambling men who drank the Bush, old Bushy was the ace -
Few could match his lion strength - few his boots could lace,
But on that day the ale he drank had sent his legs askew -
And Alec Smith the Top Lock king was striving hard and true.
Such fine condition he was in that Bushy took a jolt,
When half way round the golf links he shot off like a bolt.
The unexpected spurt sustained - new energies to find,
Left Tom struggling on the flat some fifty yards behind.
From sightings high on Rabbit Rock the news came swiftly down,
And faster than the race itself reports went back to town.
The latest upset roused concern among the Bush support,
While partials at the Top Lock Inn at last found cause to gloat.
They came out in their dozens as the news came filtering through
And waited on the bank side to see if it was true
While down the road across the fields the locals did the same
And gathered round the millpond at the top of Belle Green lane.
Between the two extremes once more a thrilling change of mood -
The lagging leader fought in vain to find his strength renewed.
A smiling Alec turned to frown when glancing to commend,
To see instead the phantom Tom come coasting round the bend
Determined not to be outrun and see his name disgraced,
Hard by Bluebell's clumpy crest the beaten prospect chased.
Spurred by thoughts of grim defeat which fighting pride refutes,
And glory in his sights once more - old Bushy beat his boots.
The mammoth gap of fifty yards was now reduced to five
And only one more furlong left - the race was fresh alive.
Rustic ramblers fled the path - their efforts to escape
While down the road the frantic townsfolk clustered round the tape.
From Berry Brook to Primrose Pit the verge was luscious still,
And sweetly sang the cheery lark on high o'er Liptrot Hill,
But few remained to stroll that way - the splendid sights to see,
For all were drawn to Boundary Road to see the final spree,
Where tension gripped with every stride - the passing neutral smiled -
The Bush contingent yelled for Tom - the ranting Lock went wild.
On towards the finishing line the panting duo tried -
Bushy gave it all he could but Alec still defied.
Neck and neck in fusing strain beneath the scorching sun,
With vigour seldom seen before, the clinching dash was run.
Across the line the racers hurled - the long and grueling test
Saw Tom triumphant once again by the inches of his chest!

Copyright 2018 Kevin Holcroft