The Death & Life of the Hippodrome

My inspiration for these poems is this photograph, captured by Jeff Bentley-Astor of Sussex Darkside of a dark figure in the 'Gods' looking down on the stage at the Royal Hippodrome Theatre, Eastbourne. I know it is real, because I was with him and three others on the stage when it was taken. There was nobody else in the building at the time.


Below are extracts from just three of the nine poems that make up the promenade-theatre style Ghost Tour.


Welcome to the Hippodrome [extract]


Most welcome, dear guests to our old Hippodrome

Where ghosts of the stage are reputed to roam

Where drama and tears and the heady love trysts

Are performed for the show, then cease to exist.

Except for those actors, who make it their home

Forever entombed in this old Hippodrome

You might spot them tonight - as we tour this place

And you may even meet a ghost, face-to-face,

But there’s nothing to fear, if spooks are unreal

Decide for yourself as our tales are revealed…

Bob the Flyman [extract]


It was commonly known that sailors in need

Of earning some money, were sure to succeed

To gain a small income from pulling the ropes

At local playhouses, not far from their boats

These sailors-come fly men with knowledge of knots

Were charged with the up and down scenery drops

The hemp ropes were hefty, with no counterweights

Entanglement risks were a constant headache

Many a keen sailor was killed on the job

And one of those deaths was a flyman named Bob

Who in between working would like to stay fit

Installing these hoops as gymnasium kit

But sadly one evening the ropes caught him tight

Bob the-flyman took flight at a lofty height

With no axe to save him by cutting the ropes

The poor man was hanging without any hope

He now haunts the flyfloor before every play

You’ll know that he’s here when his hoops start to sway....

The Stage-Hand


Alone in the darkness, one terrible day

A stage hand was lost in a most horrid way

Indeed his whole body departed this earth

But the cause of his death could cause little mirth

You see, he was shifting some scenery down

His hand got caught up and he hung off the ground

Then slowly and painfully, screaming for aid

His hand got detached and he couldn’t be saved

All poems copyright © Diny van Kleeff 2019
Not to be used or reproduced without written permission from the author

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