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Poem: Christmas Meccano

Books & Poetry

Before there was Lego, there was Meccano. In this week’s Poet’s Corner, David Harris looks at Christmas presents past and a turning point in life.

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Christmas Meccano

My Christmas presents always fell
in one of three divisions –
Useless: (clothes aren’t presents!)
Acceptable: books, perhaps, if
documentary or adventure.
But there was one, and only one,
I put on Santa’s list (and got) each year –
Meccano!

I don’t recall my very first Meccano set.
It must have been quite small,
but taught me basic stuff, like how
to tighten nuts (that’s clockwise, son)
and how to fit the parts together.
I quickly learned to read the manuals.
Useful stuff, not fairy stories!
Until, when I was eight or nine,
there wasn’t much within the books
I couldn’t make – on Christmas day.

My Grandpa died when I was nine,
and in the clearing of his house
my Dad unearthed a treasure trove –
Meccano sets he had received.
With feelings only Dad and I
could really understand, we took
the precious parts out of their box.
Their quality was quite superb,
and colours, too, were different.

I made a few more models, but
the gift of old Meccano also marked
a turning point in life, the end
of youngest childhood and the start
of a more serious phase.
The loss of Grandpa, and the gift
that I saw as his last to me;
More serious school,
we moved house too,
Life now took on a different path,
and I was growing up.

David Harris is a retired engineer born in Perth and living in the Adelaide Hills. He flew Vampire and Meteor turbojet aircraft for the RAAF during the 1950s, the “golden age of flying … no guided weapons, no electronics, no radar”. He has kept up his flying, and today owns a Czech light aircraft, dividing his time between flying, Celtic folk music and poetry. His first published poem was in a school magazine. From occasional poems and song lyrics over the years, he became a Friendly Street Poets Mentored Poet in 2011, and took up poetry more seriously. Today’s poem is from his first full-length collection, ‘In a Subjunctive Mood’, released in October last year. Another poem from the book will be featured in Poet’s Corner at the end of this month.

Readers’ original and unpublished poems of up to 40 lines can be emailed, with postal address, to poetscorner@solsticemedia.com.au. Submissions should be in the body of the email, not as attachments. A poetry book will be awarded to each accepted contributor.

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