Town-boy meets Square-boy. The inner-city meets the suburbs. Town is an exploration of the conflicting mentalities of the country and the city. It's a compelling tale of love, ambition and class. It's a study in English suburban misery and an indictment of a divisive education system. It's an epic poem about failure in loving, failure in living.
Town inviting town town of night light togetherness and nature as humankind has made it town our home our undwelling new primeval forest this loom–transformed hilltopped town smiling to a hilltopped boy dipping dizzily to the dirty river and up up in a weepless sweep to the dirty lovely town. And this is where I came to make my life a corner plot a hedge a lawn a house four–bedroomed bigger than the common three and married to a man whose brains I thought should take him far should let him climb and shine we fell below my hopes which I let fall on my three offspring well–spring of my pride the last conceived in beer and oh be damned an accidental boy in every way low oxygen at birth to be the cause of his slow mind in all my saving tales how else to face that this was born of me this poor–brained fool set sure to fail my hopes oh had I known my womb could grow such shame I would have crushed his tiny new–born head or drowned him in a bucket like a runt this lump this blob this living lack of worth this carthorse born of me a thoroughbred no better than the low that live in town and slave in factories as their birth dictates and all my signs of better undermined by this one fact this ever–present mark this blot upon election's pristine page my son town–brained street–gened not one of us. And how did I the dirty low town–boy come to the clear clean suburb is nothing safe or sacred 1955 my dockside dad ten years demobbed got money as the poor always do by graft or gift or luck chance chucked my terraced urchin's chin plucked me from the mean and treeless streets into this paradise of space and grass into this hell of snobs and he the son my age of a sniffy town–free mother mismatch of the take–it–as–it–comes back–alley kid and unloved prove–me–worthy cup–on–the–mantlepiece scion so in that clash of class and attitude ignored for friendship's sake (for what mad child will freeze a friend if lonely playfulness like dead eternity is else) a had–its–day past met a breech birth future in groves made monied by the dirty work of the lovely dirty town. And I was an insurance man her man I knew the fine print and the patter how to cover your wife (but earth is all I would have covered my own wife with) your life your death your ill health and your good health your children and your wealth and your children's wealth and your children's children's wealth your house its contents and the contents of its contents insured against all loss theft and perdition insured to hell like a prayer to heaven and heaven was a woman half my age who had a leisure in her way and voice that calmed my blood and cooled my poor head's fever pain that rose from my tight gripping neck when her sharp voice a jagged–toothed whistling saw whirred through my nerves her will to argument a million vicious volts arrowing through my arteries the poor trapped bird of my heart flapping for release one policy I should have taken out against a bitter woman so sweet the spent–out hours working day but oh the loving night April sun on frozen snow of my iglooed marriage this primrose in the brambles this lick of ice in desert's midday parch how did she know just this she said to me that she just knew the quiet in me my blood's slow fuse at her goad of command (my hard yet hard enough and at her bid perfunctory detached unminded) and found us out one afternoon lasered from pub to pub each café scoured for signs together like a simple pair of kids as if her bed unhusbanded and mine unwifed. We'll move. I had to leave to stand one final happiness with her on the dry flat shore by the distant quiet sea one last peak of heart's–peace before the grey expanse of lovelessness encircled me as far as hope could see and all I'd ever gaze on the dry unflowered landscape blown over by the dusty winds of blank recrimination. So we came to the big square house on the hill big square couple couple in the big square house with our big square minds and our four square children four sides of our big square world six sides of the blank cube of our getting–on existence and we were getting on up here on the pleasant hill in the big square house with the big square garage for our big square car and the big square school with all the requisites of big square status (the Latin motto buggery and rugger) and so I mowed the big square lawn and smiled the smile that showed my big square teeth and laughed my big square laugh and when I lost my angled temper hit my eldest with my big square hands and in the whole round world the infinitely circular back–upon–itself universe nothing was so square as our arena the straight lines in which we talked and thought our parallelogrammic love the right–angles of our sharp opinions the clear diagonals of our geometric ambitions. If one ambition gnawed me it was to see her in her cask to see the brass screws tighten like the squeeze of money to see the trite equipment trundle her through the comme il faut curtains to eternity. As if eternity might serve time's servant (town–boy my wisdom was the stars aren't ours and separate here cast up by causes blind as we to them unanchored to our origins we're a breath, a breeze, a rustle in the midnight treetops heard an unsung second gone into the black silence of was once) a transience to treasure the quick flow and swing of life bred for the bike the brook the book left for its time tight in the hallway case limbed for the lovely moment my brainlinks on fire with being's simple interestingness dead to dead time time of the factory's metronome the schoolroom's regulated hours ambition's heart–defeating dullness life sacrificed to life to come that never comes the ever–postponement of the moment's fullness for lucre–lure statue–status corseted petty despotism success–sick worth–proving warmed–over Calvinism vicious creed of prim credulous mindsuburbs trimmed as neat as hedges electric shears of snobbery slicing each stray leaf long–handled snip of sniffiness nipping the tip of each lush sappy shaft of grass. A winter morning bright sharp blue and each touched blade taut with painted frost the skidding ball and the steaming breath and glow–cheeked panting into class thirty unsure futures Parisian ambassador or Dorman Smith dogsbody engineer of piston precision or lifetime prison prowler husbanded housewife whose wishes waft with her whites or world–wise money–whore whose innocence sinks as her bonuses soar. Two miles out of town neighbour–wooded fielded for the swooping summer swifts my town–boy's happiness was here winging ball–footed in a couldn't–care–less–who–wins sweet sensuousness of white–line bounded strict–ruled play running mud–soled the rhododendroned woods walking green befriended miles idyll of dawdling idleness.
'courageous, exciting and challenging'
'a dark work which unflinchingly confronts the threat to our essential humanity posed by the society in which we live. Dent's language crackles with the rugged energy of the Anglo-Saxon scop, his unrhymed and largely unpunctuated verse heavily alliterative, dense and powerful... In our sound-bite culture, it is refreshing to read such a passionate, committed, yet controlled epic.'
'brave, unflinching and true'
'the voice of the concerned man adrift a hostile world'
'subtle intelligence in every line... every word counts'
'risk-taking excitement, with a sense of verbal energy'