Tuck Shop

Queuing up for a snack
it takes me back
back to the end of the queue
and everything I would still might well can’t do.

My Cup of Tea

Vittorio Emanuele II turns in his grave
at the right royal turnout of riff-raff on his ‘corso’.
A fashion designer’s funeral collection is all the rage
as celebrity paparazzi police ferret out paparazzi lying low.

Obituary page bound,
a favourite 60’s Britpop star has just popped his clogs;
His life was mostly ups crossed by one terrible down.
Your average got lucky, got legless, then lost the use of ‘em Joe Bloggs.

Inside out, the sandwich-board loudspeaker self-publicists
get it off their chests with megamouths to match,
as upside down big-top amateur pavement parachutists
get penalised for having no-one there ready to catch.

Even so, the irate whistle-happy tramp, in his heaven knows how he got it traffic-warden’s uniform,
wastes his breath cautioning all and sundry.
Whereas he’s found his paradise in an inferno of car engines and car horns
that’s not my cup of tea.

*poem written in September 1997

On Its Own/Whistlestop Plumbridge

On Its Own

I woke up to flashes of what I’d dreamt.
They were flashes I fell asleep to in my head.
I woke up to flashes of what I’d dreamt of that night.
Flashes I’d fallen asleep to, snuffing out the candlelight.

You can have success and failure in public
and a failure in private and all alone.
It leaves you cold and bitterly cold
and ready to wrap up for winter.
It keeps your heart on its own.

Whistlestop Plumbridge

birds grip telegraph wires
pigeons lean on ledges
have a name answer to another
sneak off behind hedges
bump into your nextdoor neighbours
and feign a chat on the day’s labours
have your first kiss
and take a drag away from prying eyes
get married and have kids
where something lives
something dies.

1980

State school came to its compulsory conclusion that summer
as I took my ‘O’ Levels and CSEs.
Apart from a U in Biology, anatomically a bummer,
my grades weren’t bad; a B in History,
passes in Maths, French and English Lit,
A CSE grade 1 in French (encore!)
and another in what was civilly called Citizenship.
Grade 2 in Photography, a 3 in Biology and Chemistry a 4.
Add the English Language ‘O’ level I’d got in January
and a considerate employer may well have considered me.

As it was, I went careering down the non-career path
and started Exeter College and Further Education.
I had no idea what I wanted to do apart from learn and laugh
and the world of work seemed a Victorian world of degradation.
The only world that struck a chord was music
and, having started my first part-time job at The Countess Wear Lodge Motel,
at last I had money to afford records. In came The New Romantics
as Punk died a death. But all that was immaterial.
The only group I wanted to splash out on
was The Beatles. The year of John Lennon.

Every two weeks I’d buy two Beatles albums
and play them back to back, on my bed.
Maybe I played air guitar (I certainly hadn’t started playing the drums)
but heading for WH Smiths of a Saturday, something popped in my head.
But what am I writing? Wilfully or not, I’m lying!
I only had the red and blue collections before he was shot!
Everything else I got later in ’81, that’s when I started buying.
Sgt Pepper was the first proper L.P I got
a few days after that dark wintry morning
when Mum woke me up, yawning.

The news she brought was it must have been drugs.
Only when I got to Dave Robinson’s English lesson
did the fact he’d been murdered reach my lugs.
That evening on TV, coverage of his demise was incessant.
I still have the front pages of The Daily Express
(Yellowing and crumpled now) with its Death of a Beatle.
Old enough to understand the previous generation’s shock at Dallas
I recorded, and still have, his interview with Andy Peables.
I was 16 at the time, and despite my being, then, an ‘A’ Level student in History
I hope you’ll pardon this poem being a little out in its chronology.

Televisionary

He wanted it big
in media-ocrity.
Head-on as a wig
and tastefully ugly.

All the presenters
had to be fakes.
Laboratory inventors
would give‘em their breaks.

It had to be global.
They all had to buy it.
Dishes could be local
but cloned viewers would sit.

It would be his brain-child.
No need for any grey matter.
As long as they all smiled
and got on with the patter.

‘Long Live Animals’ farm

Once upon a day
he ate meat
but fell off his feet.
So he stopped eating meat
and got back to his feet.

Cows, pigs and sheep
woke up from their sleep
and heard the good news
that he’d stopped eating meat
for the good of his feet.

Once upon a day
everyone will think on their feet
when they’ll be a front-page headline
from head to toe
and a new no meat sandwich board
will be the line to tow.

Photogenic Fakes

Share moments.
Real moments.
Nice moments.
Natural moments.

But not with them.
Unless you clear it with them.
Only post what compliments them.
Whoever’s snapped in the group, it’s about them.

They look good.
Of course they do.
You’d post it, sure you would
but photogenic fakes aren’t like you.

In the end, what you see
has no currency
because once you’ve seen one great pose
you’ve seen them all, I’d suppose.

Gonna Go Gothic

A ghost came into my dreams
‘Someone’s gonna go
and you’re gonna miss them’

is what it said and went off again.

See how being the life and soul of the party
can leave you in the dark shadows
buried with the roots of a tree.
‘Someone’s gonna go
and you’re gonna miss them’

is what it said and went off again.

The joy of living a charmed life.
The psychedelic colours of daytime.
The sleep of the dead deeper than the living
out for the night from their tomb.
‘Someone’s gonna go
and you’re gonna miss them’

is what it said and went off again.

Making a Name for Yourself

You have a first, middle and surname
but none of them stay the same.
Some get shortened being a mouthful
or get punned right from school.

You lend yourself to nicknames
that you get known by.
Some know you as this, some as that.
Some just get your name wrong and you let it lie.

You even changed it and took on new identities.
So crafty, you can’t even track yourself down.
You become a runaway at large.
Hand yourself in as a missing person.

Years later it all comes back to haunt you
as you call yourself names in the mirror.
And just to think it all started with your birth certificate
which couldn’t have been clearer.