As a boy I lived in Northampton - Kingsthorpe to be more precise. Among the friends I had at the time was a boy who lived in the next street, Bembridge Drive, called Trevor Hold. I liked Trevor but he wasn't a member of the street urchin group to which I belonged. It wasn't that he was stand-offish, but when he was younger Trevor had been afflicted with polio and this limited his activities in terms of games and so on. Am I mistaken here? I don't believe so and yet, in a poem composed in 1983, he writes:
Playing with friends on a building-site
among the bricks and rubble,
the hot sun beating down on the dust
and the sweet smell of the pineapple weed,
playing with friends on a building-site
a nausea fills my eyes and throat:
I crave for meadows and blue skies.
"Illness" from Mermaids and Nightingales.
The polio had affected his left arm and, as therapy, his parents had encouraged him to play the piano. To say that this was effective is an understatement. I was present when Trevor's playing led him to win a local talent competition and, to cut a long story short, he went on to eventually become a lecturer in music at Liverpool University (picking up a DMus on the way) and begin composing. His output includes a piano concerto, a symphony and a host of song cycles and other compositions with many, such as his overture 'My Uncle Silas', having a distinct Northamptonshire element (H.E.Bates, author of the "Uncle Silas" stories, came from Rushden).
As a poet he took many of his ideas from the landscape and wildlife of Northamptonshire - much as did one of his heroes, John Clare. As I wander through the fields and woodlands around Byfield I feel an ever-increasing affinity with Trevor who, like me, loved our gentle, unassuming landscape where
Skylarks fly up like brown clods from the ploughland,
Twigs break into chaffinches,
Hedges chant with blackbird and wren
And from a pinetop sprouts a goldcrest song.
"A Song in April" from Caught in Amber
Trevor died tragically young in 2004, aged 64.