Young man about town Karlson Stead, 19, photographed in 1953 by Fred Foulds.

Part two of CK Stead’s series of poems on Sunday


After six decades an overseas call from

Fred Foulds misses me.  ‘No worries’ he tells Kay,

he’d ‘only wanted to know Stead wasn’t dead’.

Fred was our national chess champ whose Kodak caught

my younger self in Fair Isle smoking a pipe.

I could have told him that Jean and Les were dead,

and last month Barry, another of our group

Google tells me that Thelma our chestnut Scot

teacher of French (retired) has died in Portsmouth.

Back then I listened to her seventy-eights

of Stephen Spender poems and took her dancing

at the Civic Wintergarden Cabaret.

We were Travolta and Thurman, Torvill and Dean –

the ease, the grace that gives to music a body.

Thelma and I didn’t ‘make love’. We danced.

Next Sunday’s poem by CK Stead: “A sonnet for Peter Wells”

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