Postcards From Malthusia DAY EIGHTY-NINE: David Callin

On Douglas promenade, in a time of pestilence


“Where Cumbria looms a geographic ghost” …

one of my favourite lines from T. E. Brown,

and here’s the thing itself, the famous coast

where Lakeland sighs and lets its waters down.


The hills are quiet now. The glamorous stars

of one of Nature’s longest-running shows

must go without their chorus of hurrahs,

poetical effusions and bravos.


“There’s silence still on Carraghyn, thank God!”

More Brown. There’s silence now on all the hills,

both here and there, a silence that is odd

and deadly. Talk about an air that kills.


The sun lies on the listless promenade.

A few stray cars go by. The Gaiety

is closed. (Great metaphor.) The gadding crowd

has vanished, like sandcastles in the sea.


“A garden is a lovesome thing, God wot!”

Don’t laugh,but one of his most mocked-at lines

Is right. We labour in this little plot,

and dream of Carraghyn’s silence, and Helvellyn’s.



David Callin was born in and grew up in the Isle of Man. In his 20s he ran away to join the outside world, but was recaptured and brought back. He lives there still, with his wife and a gardening to-do list.


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