Britpop Poetry (1999)

Hancock’s Half Hour

My favourite Carry On gag
is when, just before the infamous back-stab,
Kenneth Williams as Julius Caesar camps it up, mock-hysterically;
Infamy! Infamy! They’ve all got it in for me!
Sid James and the gang, however, in for a butchers, ham act;
Cloak‘n’dagger when the clapper-board claps
as Up Pompeii, Frankie Howard gets smutty.
His music hall turn to do the dirty.

Cut to peak-time viewing Saturday family entertainment land
where Eric Morecambe at Blackpool sands,
having almost kicked the bucket,
sings Bring Me Sunshine with little Ern trying not to make a song and dance of it.
Reginald Perrin, though, can’t take it anymore
as he strips off his commuter belt on a South Coast Shore.
Bored out of his tiny Tennyson Avenue mind
he leaves his mother-in-law’s hippopotamus backside behind.

Black humour and despair
rule the radio waves, on and off the air,
with Spike Milligan, suffering from his latest depression,
gooning around with his madcap microphone to alleviate the tension.
Equally highly-strung, Basil Fawlty
goes berserk on the box, down Torquay;
Jumping with joy, he can hardly believe what will be his short-lived luck;
For once in my life, I’m up! I’m up!

Going forth, over the top, in his fourth series,
Black Adder tells Baldrick of his Great War plan to make Blighty his;
Aiming to pull the wool over the eyes of Capt. Darling and Co.
he feigns trench madness with pencils stuck up his nose.
Back home in the home-guard, during Hitler’s War all the while,
Private Fraser in Dad’s Army style
makes light of the sitcom candlelit gloom
Warning the cast; We’re doomed! We’re doomed!

This is the BBC, where TV stars fall
down to their well-scripted, well-rehearsed flaws,
as when, in Some Mothers do ‘ave ‘em, Frank Spencer
emerges gunpowder-faced from the explosion, the penny having dropped; I’m a failure!
Meantime, Peter Sellers, from a classic clip as bungling Inspector Cleuseau,
French courts disaster in a Parisian bistro.
With his put-on fake accent he answers the door;
A beum! Were you expecting one? The staff leap-frog to the floor!

Switching over the Channel, Albert Steptoe in Steptoe and Son
Bawls out ‘Arold to spoil the fun
of Harry H Corbet’s carthorse character
tied to the braces of his rag‘n’bone father
as up the Tyne, Bob loses his rag
with bone-idle Terry smoking a tab.
A Newcastle Brown ale ailing his health
From The Likely Lads to The Lad himself.

In a wireless world of festive vintage comedy,
Hattie Jacques and Bill Kerr can’t wait for the turkey.
But Hancock’s in no mood for crackers or tinsel
Christmas is going to be just like any other day in this house ; Dead miserable!
In his final half hour it must have been like that
when, without Galton and Simpson or his hallmark hat,
he topped himself, having hit rock bottom.
His last adlib; Things seem to go wrong too often.

Whether our East Cheam chum had it right or not
his Stone me! What a life! summed up in one line our lot.
Sunday Afternoon, stirring a cup of tea,
the kettle having boiled in every suburban kitchen round the country.
With the award-winning blood donor from broadcasting’s golden era deserving his badge and biscuits,
the credits start rolling; You have been watching The Best of British
larking around, showing the funny side of the dark side, on camera for our amusement
But now for something completely different!

All At Sea

I’m all at sea
With a woebegone touch of scurvy.
I’m not myself
But I can’t be anyone else.
If you’re wondering what it’s like to be me
Imagine Mr. Christian without the mutiny!
All mouth and no bottle!
Drink and be merry! That’s my motto.
Call me Mr Idealistic
But to accept reality, don’t you have to be thick?
I know that’s not exactly right
But I’m just making waves against my plight.

When I was a kid
I never had to question anything I did.
It was all an infantile voyage of villains and heroes
A world where grown-ups always told children where to go!
Now, I sleep with a map of swashbuckling schemes
But the treasure doesn’t have that Treasure Island gleam.
A Long John Silver “Who’s a Pretty Polly?” on my shoulder
Repeating all the words I could have told her.
Heading for an unknown port of call
I fear I’ll be washed up on some island shore.
A crisis in mid-life
Without having had the family and wife!

I’ve made a mistake 100% proof
Downing in one the bitter truth.
It’s been a blow and I’ve hit the deck
But I’ll get up and over it in retrospect.
Happiness at half-mast, the sails of sadness up.
I raise my glass, hoping it’s a storm in a tea-cup.
Not so much a Jolly Roger
As a black-hearted, miserable little bodger ;
Steering a course, not star but over-board.
A Cape Horn wreck cursed by the Lord!
So, for God’s sake, don’t leave me at the helm, matey!
Land’s not ahoy and I’m all at sea!

Medieval Queen

she poses
showing off her best side
as if on the back of a coin
arms bent outwards at the elbow
knuckles and thumbs
perched on the banquet table

She enters her castle
with the drawbridge down
the portcullis open
looking out on the siege outside
her stone tower still a fortress

her god takes life
with a pinch of salt
and on the battlefield
rubs it into the wounds
of her foot-sore foot-soldiers
fighting horse sword and arrow

she makes up her mind
on the spur of the moment
changing it the next
what makes her tick
is whatever passes the time
on her middle-aged hands

consulting her astrologer
and predicting what he’ll say
she writes her own horoscope
true to his judgement
she decides what to do

spending every sleeping hour
in a surreal garden of earthly delights
her nightmares and visions
walk on water
like swans on stilts
towards her dream interpreter

rival and pretender
her younger sister
conspires to usurp the crown
not content with her hand-me-downs
she jealously pries into
the Regina’s royal wardrobe

as privy to her privy council
the virgin queen stares out
reading her stars
from the star chamber
her lover’s letters
protected in an envelope
rubber-stamped with the throne’s official seal

suitors come
the unsuitables go
as flirting she holds court
courting compliments
another foreign prince’s dynastic ambitions
hanging in the balance
on her every word

her sailors and seafarers
on voyages of discovery
venture into the unknown
the end of the world nigh
they fear falling off
the next and distant horizon

townsfolk and commoners alike
low on their luck
look to her on her wheel of fortune pedestal
feeling as flat as the earth
and before Columbus’ return

they mourn her untimely death
leaving no ally
for her enemies to plot with
and no heir
for her feudal family to feud against.


Everything on a Sunday
Flies slow-motion away.
My flip-flops in quicksand
I puff on my favourite brand
With my head in the clouds
Watching the Cagliaritani crowd
Keeping the waves at bay.

The blood red orange sun
Tied with a string to my thumb
Hovers in the mediterranean blue
Where penguins glide down from a pinpoint out of view.
Green and purple octopus get queasy
And a diver gets the bends in a turbulent sea.
Everything’s looking up for everyone.

Letting myself go like a kite
And hitting the heights
I give the lows a miss
Blowing Belixedda a kiss.
Bright and breezy
When the mood takes me
Everything in the world takes flight.

Song ‘Kitedelic’ by Chicco Fresu (guitar) and me (Voice/drums)


I’m dressed up as Pinocchio
Having naturally already got myself the false nose.
That one-time little boy whose little white lies
Have turned into whoppers, coloured in by numbers, and quadrupling in size.

Half Dr. Jekyll, half Mr Benn
Out of the costume emporium clothes closet again
Where mischievous Piazza Yenne children, sprayed in foam,
Have become bleating lambs being led home.

At Oristano, horsemen with swords make for a silver star
While frowning, furrow-browed farmers at the bar
Make premature predictions about the forthcoming harvest
Going as peasants to the fancy-dress.

Clairvoyants with tarot cards and witches with black cats.
Grim reapers with masks and Draculas with bats.
What I look like isn’t what I’m like
But it all plays a part in my double life.

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