Petra Banks

Petra Banks adopted green
always pretty forever seen

This short rhyme was written in green chalk on a wooden noticeboard leading to the garden of the allotments

It had been added to the noticeboard many years previously

For reasons unknown it never aged or was washed away

Even during the wettest of foul winters

At first this caused amusement within the town but the interest soon faded and the rhyme became accepted

I was exploring the streets of Marlborough

I had been many years away

A youth of no more that nineteen years was boasting of his conquests in front of a group of girls

Petra Banks everybody had Petra Banks she did not disappoint

I looked at the hill that overlooked the town

The ruddy Bedwyn girl’s country aged before their time whose white bottoms shone like beacons above the town

Oh the pain of my delightful years

The youth looked at me

What did you say your voice was lost in the breeze?

I was just reminiscing

I come from near here although I have been away for many years

The youth turned to the girls again

It were er who wrote on the sign no-one else

The girls giggled

Be gone and do not take the piss  

The youth let the girls walk a few hundred yards down the path and then followed them

I was alone

Red tiled rooves that sigh with pleasure as you once did in the bright summer sun

But it was autumn and although the early month threatened late warmth there was a quiet bleakness to the sky

Vivid colours were promised but I was not in the position to share them

I was sitting on an iron seat that was set on a small hill next to the church

The road below was noisy and threatened my peace

A market town between two churches

Set in a valley

The home of a great school

Set between Salisbury and Swindon

Salisbury direct a grand cathedral town

Petra was standing in front of me

It is nice to see you again it has been quite a while

It has been decades

How are you?


And you?

I cannot complain

Where have you been?

To many countries I cannot name them all

I have not left Marlborough for more than a day

Why have you never left Marlborough?

I had no reason to leave the town for all I want is here

A lorry heavy laden with beer barrels rumbled by and caught my attention for a second

When I looked up

Petra had gone

I waited a while and made my way back into the town

It was Wednesday and the market was busy

I purchased a bag of rosy red apples and ate one as walked towards the college

Within minutes I was standing on the bridge that separated the town from the hill that led to Salisbury

She were the masters daughter you know

Simon Sweet Simon Sweet
a handsome chap with very large feet

I walked up the hill and before long found myself looking out over the town

The college and the two churches were easily seen

Behind me cut into the hill was a small factory which had been built on the site of the allotments

I crossed the road and walked down the lane towards the androgynous building

Are you looking for someone Simon?

No I was just thinking about the old allotments

They have been gone for many a year

The factory was empty and up for sale

The access was poor you know not right for lorries

We could not expand

One wonders why they rid the town of the allotments in the first place

In a corner of the disused car park I could see rock partially hidden by undergrowth

It was originally a quarry

Damn silly place to put a quarry

I pulled back the undergrowth and looked at the hidden graffiti which had been carved into the soft rock

The were declarations of love and intimate descriptions of local girls much faded

Petra Banks adopted green
always pretty forever seen

It is still there you know they burnt my sign many years ago but missed the rhyme   

Petra was standing next to me

She put her hand on my shoulder

See that is all that is left of me

A half hidden rhyme

Which will vanish given time

I looked into Petra’s sea green eyes which moved rapidly behind her prescription glasses

You still wear glasses I see

Only when I want to

They suit you

They never suited me

A pigeon broke cover from a tree and flew erratically into the air

Silly bugger they are used to the silence

I looked down the lane at the road

It is not as quiet as it was

Why did you return?

Why did you not come back sooner?


Did you miss me?

I always missed you

Did you grieve?

I thought of you every day

But did you grieve?

I was younger and I have seen much since I left

I do not know if I ever learned to grieve

Petra smiled

I do not come back to the town as often as I like

I try to but there is a vacancy

I cannot explain it

Perhaps you are retreating


For a while we did not say anything to each other and just stood there holding hands like the young lovers we once were

Are you staying in Marlborough?


How long for?

A couple of nights

On business

Yes I am always on business

Turn your head I do not want you to see me fade

Will I see you again?

Depends on you

Turn your head

I released Petra’s hand and faced one of the factory outbuildings

I waited for a minute before I turned around

Petra had gone

I suppose I did not expect to see her

I walked along the lane towards the road

A policeman was watching me

Have you any business there sir?

None I was due to meet someone but they did not show up

If you do not mind me saying so sir it is a rather strange place to meet

I agree but I had no intent

There used to be allotments there but it has been a factory for as long as I can remember

Yes I remember it as allotments

Did you have one?

No need my parents had a large garden

I am from Salisbury far

How long have you been in Marlborough?

For ten years but my dad was a copper here for many years

I used to know a girl who used to hang around the allotments

That is the real purpose of my visit

Her name was written on the signpost that once stood over there

I doubt if you can remember it

Before my time sir but my dad spoke about it

A short rhyme written in the lightest of chalk which never seemed to wash away no matter the weather

Petra Banks adopted green
always pretty forever seen

Was that the rhyme?

Yes I knew the girl who added it to the signpost

She was the one that was killed on the green bicycle

It upset my dad proper that one

He saw much during his years in the force

But he always remembered that accident

She was the prettiest girl in Marlborough

So he said

The master’s daughter at the college

The policeman’s radio sprung into life

I must be off now sir

Traffic in the town

Give my regards to your father

What is your name?

Simon Sweet your father would have known me

I watched as the policeman walked down the hill eventually leaving my sight

How long are you staying Simon Sweet?

For as long as you want me to stay

Then be off with you


I can see you but you cannot see me

Are you fading?


Just return on this exact day next year do not be anywhere else in the world but here and I will see you again

But your fade?

Just be here Simon Sweet

Although the traffic coming down the hill was busy for a while it stopped and a silence developed

As I looked up the hill a girl on a green bicycle passed me at speed

I saw your knickers Petra Banks

No you didn’t Simon Sweet
a handsome boy with very large feet