Simon Williams




From Pewsey to Didcot by Mouse-Hearse

Get yourself a free-rolling hearse;
a Daimler or a big Ford. You won’t require speed,
a good walking pace will do.
You’ll need a bedroll and a sleeping bag for night,
something to insulate against the metal of the runners,
but space won’t be a problem, you can lie out full length.

Breed your mice from the best stock;
weak, white lab specimens aren’t born to dray work.
You’ll save the cost of peaked caps for their pink eyes.
Give them motivation through inspirational talks,
remember chocolate is more attractive than cheese.
Allow five hours to harness them each morning.

It is your job to apply the brakes quickly,
should a cat or other predator break cover
and scatter your team. Many previous expeditions
have been cut short by losing stock
to the wheels of vehicles or early sledges.
Mice do not respond to whip-cracks.

At the end of each day, attend to the needs
of your mice before your own. Feed and water them.
Make sure they have plenty of fluff for nesting.
The route is mainly flat; there are no major hills
(don’t contemplate the Hexham expedition).
Give your mice recuperation time. Avoid Newbury.




 Simon Williams has five published collections, the latest being A Place Where Odd Animals Stand (Oversteps Books, 2012) and He|She (Itinerant Press, 2013). He was elected The Bard of Exeter in 2013 and founded the large-format magazine, The Broadsheet ( He makes a living as a journalist.

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