Gentleman Jim

This is a poem for a good friend and erstwhile colleague, Jim MacDonald, who died recently. It was written on the day of his funeral, a startlingly beautiful May day.

Jim was a huge fan of Southampton FC, and he and I and a bunch of friends went, over the course of several years, to see various stages of Le Tour de France.

The poem is for Jim, for his children, Elizabeth and Daniel, the family and all his friends…, in particular, for ‘the gentlemen of Le Tour’ and other friends from ROCC days.

The May tree is snow white, pink flushed, startling

the sycamore, bobby dazzling in a sapphire stained, swallow diving sky.

As we await your presence,

For that one last trip

 I take the sun, the heat


(fierce today, aslip over this bittersweet spring of ours

with it’s malevolent harvest darkening the way )

Daydreaming  of French roadside cafes,

Belgian bars,

Saddlebags stuffed with cheese, bread and wine.

One less now

to effortlessly charm the women in the boulangerie,

make short work of a cold beer

To sip strong coffee elegantly.

You were kindness, nonchalance,

Good humoured grace

As the Peliton flashed by,

The sibilant hiss of tyres on hot baked asphalt

A glimpse of Indurain’s tour bus.

Never one to make much fuss.

The celebrant noted that

“memories and stories

Don’t just stop…

You are but a breath away”

Yes, even as

The Saints go marching in.

The strange thing

About death

The world continues to spin

Whilst we, the grieving



Normality, temporarily


Sad to say, for

“The gentlemen of Le Tour”

One set of wheels

Turn no more.

But yes,

From Orkney to Pompey

Exultant memories prevail

The road still rises

The sunset pale.


Across French fields and roads,

The hill climbs will still be there

The stages, time trials,


Good companion to


Le Tour is our collective

Treasure house of joy.

Remembering him

Our gentleman Jim.


2 Comments on “Gentleman Jim”

  1. Richard Barnett says:

    Elegant and beautifully moving – thank you Marc and a bientot Jim


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