Maurice House resident Graham Fearn publishes poetry book charting life from London to the Royal Navy and beyond

Graham's book signing and, inset, as a young man in the Royal Navy Photo Tony Withers

A book of poetry charting a life from wartime London, to the Isle of Scilly, running away to join the Navy, family and teaching young people in Dover borstal has been published by Maurice House resident Graham Fearn.

The 82-year-old, who has been living at the Broadstairs residential home for one year launched Poetry And Me at an event at the home on Thursday (March 14).

Each of the 26 poems contained is accompanied by a prologue explaining the context , meaning and events behind the verses.

Graham said: “It begins when I begin, when I am a child. It explains in the first half my progress from wartime London to the Isles of Scilly – a complete contrast from dirty London to a beautiful place. It continues with my education at Cambourne Technical College to running away to join the Royal Navy when I was 15 – following my father’s footsteps.”

Graham’s poems then examine his 12 years in the Royal Navy, including nine years in the submarine service, after joining up in 1957.

He said: “I started on an aircraft carrier, I was 16 by the time I had done my training, and spent 18 month on carrier HMS Sensor. I went as far as Australia and the Far East, east of Suez where all the terrible trouble in the world is now.

“It was a bit of a rough ride because when we arrived in Sydney at Christmas I was rushed to hospital with appendicitis. I had my appendix removed and spent two weeks in the hospital, a long way from home for a 16 year old with no mum there to cry to.

“When they discharged me  and sent me back to the ship, it had moved from Sydney to Brisbane – 560 miles away. When I had been admitted to hospital I had been in my underpants and that’s all so they issued me with shorts, a T shirt, flip flops and a bag of fruit and told me to take the train. That was 18 hours on a train after my operation. And then when I got back to the aircraft carrier I went straight to the sick bay because I had pleurisy.”

Following that less than comfortable start to his military career Graham went to the submarine service for a further nine years and ended up on the Resolution which was the first British ballistic missile sub with 16 Polaris missiles onboard.

Training took Graham to Scotland and then onto America and New Mexico to test the missiles.

Graham added: “We then took it to sea on patrol during the Cold War with Russia (1967-69).”

When Graham left the Royal Navy he went into the prison service and spent 14 years working at Dover Borstal with his main duties involving education for the younger boys, aged 14 to 16.

He said: “In my own way I think I was doing some good. I think a child going through prison at that early age is completely out of their depth. Most were not educated and had trouble reading and writing so there was a lot of remedial work to be done.”

Graham also had a family with two daughters, Emma and Julie, and now also has four grandsons and two great-grandsons.

Graham, who has used a wheelchair since an operation on his spine in 2009 which damaged nerves in his lower body, lived in Surrey but came to Maurice House after a spell in hospital.

With family in Eastry, Hythe and Dover he says: “For the first time in my life I have been repatriated and have family nearby.”

Graham has woven all those life details into his poetry and has had the first run of 40 books published with the option of printing more.

He said the reason for the prologues to each poem is to help people understand the background, adding: “A lot of people do not read poetry because it looks like a lot of words someone has just put together but poetry is far deeper than that. It shows your inner self, you give to the writing and the poem something you would not give in real life. You give words and imagination and explain things in a way you wouldn’t in normal life.”

Poetry And Me is now due to be issued an ISBN number.

Anyone interested in obtaining a copy can email [email protected]