A Poetic Tribute to John Hemming

At his funeral on 5th July, John Hemming’s daughter Karen gave a wonderful tribute to her father in the form of a poem.  John had been an intelligent and kind man who would have loved the words Karen wrote for him, having a similar way with words that her dad had.  I am very grateful to Karen for allowing me to publish this poem in recognition of a very special person.



……….Fragments……sandcastles, moats and the smell of ambre solaire…..



The size of dinner plates

Playing dabbers on the kitchen table.

Strong shoulders

A fireman’s lift “up the wooden hill “to bed.

I snatch a dancing trophy

From the pelmet board

At ceiling height.

Step, step, cha cha cha on the yellow and white kitchen tiles.




You loved living in Denton.

You told me when you moved in

Stan Lockey said to you:

“It’s so quiet here John you can hear the carrots grow”

At Cuddesdon church fete you sat guarding the entrance gate.

The “Poppy Man” shaking his tin.

A man of the parish.

Many an hour spent in the Bat and Ball

You liked a pint

or two. (You liked to chat)

1,2,3    1,2,3     1,2,3……..


Fragments………sandcastles, moats and the smell of ambre solaire.


You were a man of routines

Bird feeding, dog walking, runner bean growing routines.

I planted six conkers in your runner bean patch.

You dug up six horse chestnut trees.


You said I had green fingers.

One memorable bonfire night

You sent a rocket flying

from our bathroom taps

to light our expectant bonfire doused in petrol

You kept fruit gums for the grandchildren in “Grampy’s magic draw”

Amongst the book of lists and mum’s neatly folded tea towels.

You loved mum

Rock and Roll

And a good cappuccino


….sandcastles, moats and the smell of ambre solaire….


You were a man of nature

A childhood spent outside in the spinneys of Stanton St John

Storing apples in the rafters

Working the land.

Finches, pheasants and roe deer

Regular visitors to your

Wildlife garden.

In Bury Knowle Park you planted 100 roses

For the Queen Mother

A dove of peace in memory of Hiroshima

And tended the flower beds

For Britain in Bloom.

Quick, Quick, Slow

You were never in a rush

Full of advice:

learn to slow down

Sit Down

Write it down. Clear your head.

I didn’t really listen to my Zen master




We closed the curtains

To keep out the scorching

Mid-day sun

But storm clouds were gathering

A gust shot through the house and toppled the vase

The petals fell to the ground

But the scent remained, carried in the air.

I like to think you fell into the arms of Morpheus

at home.

Your last conscious memory



In your memory

I will tend your roses

Prune back to the fifth leaf

and admire their beauty

I will say the Latin names of trees out loud

Quercus robur, Pinus sylvestris, Picea abies

I will eat licorique allsorts

every Christmas

We have lost our North

and our East

but we will find our way

as you would so wish


fragments…………..sandcastles, moats and the smell of ambre solaire…


and a baby cries

and a dog barks and

a marching band plays on….



A poem written for Dad. 

Karen Hemming.  5th July 2017