Several times I have mentioned
, in Staffordshire, where I spent my teenage years. It really was quite a magical place, with the grand house, Alton , hidden among the trees, and the Castle, towering over the valley. But there were other, lesser, atmospheric delights. Alton Towers
'Tootle Rock' was one of them.
The photograph depicts a canon such as the Roundheads used, during the Civil War.
They called it 'Tootle Rock' for the words slipped off the tongue,
But it was known as Toot Hill in the days when the world was young.
A flat rock jutted out above the valley far below,
In a way that urged me to take a stone and give it a mighty throw!
I listened for the falling, and, finally came the thud,
As it landed far below me, 'plop!', down in the river's mud.
I pretended I was Icarus, though I didn't dare to fly!
I felt so poised, so elevated, free and young and high.
They told me of the legend that added to its charms;
How Oliver Cromwell came there in the days when he took up arms.
How the Roundheads perched their canon exactly where I sat,
Above the river on a rock that was firm and table-flat.
Someone showed me indentations that, surely, the canon made,
And I felt I heard the warlike cries and I saw a flash of blade!
What a way to learn of history! Even if the tale were false?
It was the 'feel' that mattered, more than any history course.