Starting Over

A poem written for a friend's dad who sadly passed away this year:

Car and the kerbside, our permanent goalposts.
Days in the sunshine can't come to a stop.
And in darkened window your dad holds a tea-towel;
Smiles at your overhead kicks. Spion Kop.

There in the kitchen, your biggest supporter,
Watches the game with one eye on the grill.
And though all your dreams be tossed up and blown,
His reflection remains in the window, still.

Still his reflection is there in the window;
Still his heart beats, as the grandchildren play.
He's there in the garden; he's there on the driveway;
He's there for the bedtimes and throughout the day.

And Lennon songs fill up the house with the past.
They ring through the rooms to dispel the pain.
And clasping the photograph forty years on,
You Imagine those two Starting Over again.

Published 28th Jul 2016 | Tributes

Below Par

A poem written for a golfing enthusiast friend:

How straight it flew. How long it flew.
A heaven sent drive on the third.
Past windmill, o’er bridge
Full cresting the ridge
Green eyes gazing on, without word.

Three inches from hole it decided to rest;
Strikes of such style are few.
Casual but sturdy,
With a smile for the birdie,
I caressed it straight home for a two.

On subsequent holes, the same story.
Dream approaches, then in for the kill.
Then a selfie to tweet
‘Cos there's nothing to beat
Crazy golf on the seafront at Rhyl.

Published 1st Aug 2016 | Just for Fun

B&Q Blues

She said,
“Pick a blue, something light
That goes with the blind but not too bright.
Something morning, something cool,
Something hotel swimming pool.
Something simple, something plain,
Like your shirt but not the same.
That colour we looked at once, you know,
In Homes and Gardens years ago.
A touch of aquamarine, no more -
A bit more chic than her’s next door.
Bluish blue - look, it’s time I was gone.
Anything really, you choose one.”

So here I am, in B&Q
Staring at a million types of blue:
Snorkeling Trip, December Solstice,
Blue Bolero- who knows what this is?
Windswept Clouds, Parrot Flight,
Cool Box, Journey into Night,
Coastal Waters, Easy Breeze -
How much are they paid to come up with these?
Frosty Snowcap, Dover Shore,
Summer Rain, Ocean Floor,
Arctic Sunrise, Fairy Cup,
God’s Toothpaste - no, I made that up.
Midnight Magic, Moroccan Sky,
Seize the Day, Flying High.
I'm on a roller now, try stop me.
More shades of blue than types of coffee.
Enough to put you in a trance.
Paint the bathroom? I've got no chance.

So empty-handed I drove home.
Praying that she wouldn't phone
To check on progress, colour, sheen.
A quick update, know what I mean?
I staggered in and made a brew
And surveyed the scene from on the loo.
For me, our bathroom looked alright
Why the change? What's wrong with white?

All afternoon the floor I'm pacing,
Cold sweats while I'm watching racing.
How would it go? What would she say
About my unproductive day?

And then at six: the drive, her car.
My hand flew to my jugular
As she flew up to check the room
And descended stoney-faced too soon.
Her piercing eyes said it all
(I feared I'd end up on the wall.)

“Darling, there were just too many.
I froze, I panicked and didn't choose any.”

She brushed me off with just one stare
And left me standing lonely there.
My colour drained; I started itching
As she summoned me into the kitchen.
By then, my legs were quite unstable
And spread before me on the table
Rows and rows of colour charts.
“This is where your nightmare starts,”
She said without a hint of fun.
“By 3am , we'll have the one.”

So ahead a night of paint fatigue.
No feet up, crisps and Champions League.
I fained interest but she could tell
I wasn't feeling very well.
But then beneath the kitchen light
Bizarrely, no blue card in sight.
She chirped, when asked what did it mean:
“I've changed my mind. We're having green.”

Published 15th Aug 2016 | Just for Fun

Northern Sole

How did you get there oh size 13 Clarks
On the road between Scarborough and York?
From where did you come?
Were you dropped from up high
Were you thrown from a bridge?
Did you walk?

Tell of your journey oh hard shoulder shoes
As I slow to a queue in the lane.
Were you flung from the window?
Or sun-roof ejected?
Was it anger that made
Feet become disconnected?
And now on your side
You're exposed, unprotected.
Outcasts, alone in the rain.

How long will you kick around lost in the gutter
Oh mystical shoes in a pair?
Off duty coach drivers
Time on their hands,
Three abreast workmen
In Volkswagen vans
Children on backseats
Three hours from gran's
Amazed and dumbfounded
At roadside footwear
(Abandoned, rejected,
Resisting repair)
Will mumble the question
That hangs in the air:
How the hell did those size 13 Clarks
End up there?

Published 23rd Aug 2016 | Just for Fun

Bettisfield Remembered

Poem in progress for the forgotten Bettisfield miners of North Wales.

Too long in the dark, too long underground.
No tales from the Bettisfield Pit, no sound
From the deadly black seam or the scene of the blast
To reconnect present with past.

The Blackeyed Boys from the shelves of the Dee,
Under blanketing clouds pulled over the sea,
Took the deafening shaft and plunged from the light
For a lifetime of toil out of sight.

The crutters, the hewers, the trappers, half marrows,
Who mined the black diamonds and loaded the barrows
Were made from the north western earth and the sky
With coal on their skin and flint in their eye.
Scarred arms swung the picks that splintered the stone;
Blisters that cut through the skin and the bone;
For a pittance of pay lost in a raw hand,
They fired and lit up our land.

Pressure for millions of years drew the line
200ft down in the Bettisfield mine.
And their sweat and their blood on the rock left its stain
Where their pained conversations and stories remain.
But in light, no one spoke of the hardship down there:
The straining for breath and the venomous air.
The coated black lungs, desperation for space
Weren't marked on the Welsh miner’s face.

So remember our miners from pits now neglected -
Their images, stories and songs resurrected.
Recall that brave history y glowyr begun
And lift them back into the sun.

Published 25th Aug 2016 | Tributes

A Midsummer's Ice Cream

The course of true love never did run smooth
For Gary and Kaz on the van.
She was the sprinkles on his 99
And he was her ice cream man.

In the towns of the North, they had ruled uncontested
And everyone knew theirs was best.
But things were to change in that long hot July
When their love faced the ultimate test.

Italian vans were always a threat
With their opera and exotic ices.
And expensive shades and smiles from the Med
And frustratingly reasonable prices.

But people round here, they knew what they liked -
Not flash with the money they made.
And this latest Romantic to challenge poor Gaz
Had his eye on more than his trade.

Luigi it was, with his tan and gelato
And eyes that lit up the street.
And try as she might, Kaz fell under his spell
And they quickly made plans to meet.

But no screwball was Gaz, he knew what was what
So he followed them into the forest.
Of her love, he was sure, so he took a detour
And bought her some daffs from the florist.

Then there in a clearing, against the low sun,
In the scent of Italian cologne,
Kaz, in the twilight, stared at her new man
And Luigi held out a cone.

“Don't take that ice cream! He's a trickster,” yelled Gaz,
As he sped through the brambles and trees.
And armed with some lollies, he jumped from the van
As cool as a blue Mr Freeze.

Kaz ran for cover; she knew what came next
As our hero reached for his pocket.
And poised like a fighter, he drew back his arm
And launched his first raspberry rocket.

Luigi just laughed when the second one came,
Amused by the Englishman’s folly.
But Gaz with his pride and some back up munitions,
Took aim with a strawberry lolly.

He caught the italian right on his nose
And knocked him straight onto the floor.
Blood drizzled down his Armani apron
And he staggered in through his van door.

The forest grew still as the sun disappeared.
Had the visitor now met his match?
But the scene burst to life and when Gaz turned to look,
Luigi jumped down through his hatch.

Cornets of every size flew through the air -
A rainbow of Napoli’s best
Limone, pistachio, tiramisu -
Granola, caffe and the rest.

A cider from Gaz with a choc ice to follow,
A blackcurrant Fab and a flake
But Luigi replied with a stracciatella,
And frozen italian cake.

Deep into the night, the warriors fought,
Until both nothing more they could stand.
But Gaz rose to his feet and faced up to his foe
With an icy grenade in his hand.

The Jubbly of Orange. The four-pointed bomb.
The deadliest ice in the van.
The corners of steel and the razor-sharp edges -
Not one you'd take home to your gran.

And in the dawn’s light as the dew kissed the ground
Gaz hurled his last chance at the clown.
Then there in the distance, beyond the trees
He saw the Italian fall down.

Kaz looked at Gaz and Gaz met her eyes
Then they watched ‘til Luigi was gone
Then like fallen ice creams on a street in the sun
They melted together as one.

Published 28th Aug 2016 | Just for Fun

Come to the Farm

Poem for Wellbeing Farm, a wonderfully unique party venue in Edgworth, near Bolton.

A coffee with Jenny, a croissant with Fay
A flick through the photos of your wedding day:
‘Hun, you look lovely’, the ‘oohs’ and the ‘ahhs’
The lush hotel gardens, the flowers, the cars.
And so to your friend’s pics … both of you pause
When you notice her photographs look just like yours!

The silver birch backdrop and manicured lawns.
The board to death aunties, stifling yawns.
The canapés handed around on a tray,
Little ones fed up with nowhere to play.
Lukewarm champagne and over-priced beer,
The Mr Cool DJ that no one can hear.
As Sally pours Co-Op milk in your latte,
You both wish you'd chosen a different party.

So don't be a sheep and follow the flock;
Choose something quirky to start your wedlock.
Come to the farm for your fun times and laughter.
Arrange all the bridesmaids on top of a tractor.
Cuddle a chicken and pose with a llama,
Put a cap on your grandad, pretend he's a farmer.
Dance in our barn to the sound of the band
Or take a long walk through our fields hand in hand.

So if sunsets and romantic scenes float your boat.
If you're not put off by the stare of a goat,
If you want a wedding that's not like the others
That's loved by the kids and adored by the mothers,
Then Wellbeing Farm is your kind of place:
For memories that last and a smile on each face.

Published 1st Sep 2016 | Weddings

Wheelie Trainers

Those Wheelie Trainers

Take my Bowie records and my Star Wars DVDs;
Rip the Berghaus jacket off my back.
Cut my hair, eBay my chair and leave me on my knees
And burn my prized Adidas anorak.

Instant football access in our pockets won't placate us;
Technology ain't what us dads desire.
You can eat my sweets, delete my tweets and detonate my status,
The interweb don't set our hearts on fire.

And don't go to the dads’ shelves when in search of Christmas goodies:
A ninja turtle tie won't bring us laughter.
We're not craving Marks and Spencer’s when we rise on Christmas morning;
It's those trainers with the wheels on that we're after.

As usual, the kids get all the best stuff Christmas Day
While we're left with the jumpers and the socks.
See our jealous faces when we're gathered round the tree
And those wheelie shoes are pulled out of the box.

Just imagine me and Geoff and Dave a-skating to the match
Or sliding round the aisles in Tesco shopping.
The pirouettes and spins would surely help our BMI
And work wonders for our secret body-popping!

So let us at those wheelies children; give us dads a treat.
Rejecting our desires is such a crime.
It was us that gave you skateboards, skateparks, rollerblades and life.
So open up your hearts it's payback time.

Published 14th Feb 2017 | Just for Fun

Alchemy Dad

Alchemy Dad

Our dad was the DIY wizard.
Something to fix? Piece of cake.
When locked in the warmth of his garage,
There was nothing that he couldn't make.

He once made a TV antenna
By bending my sister's hair clip.
He even made grandma’s false teeth
From some plastic he'd found on a skip.

A piece of old carpet from my room
And some biscuits that lay in the larder
Were woven together like magic
And turned into a blue Ford Granada.

A sock and an old tin of peas
Were transformed into Action Man clothes.
And he made us a scarf and some mittens
From the hairs that grew up his nose.

He spent his days fixing and building;
And nothing for dad was too tough.
Like for Xmas he made us a bike each
From four rusty nails and some fluff.

He never was tempted by shopping;
The family had all heard him shout:
‘Why would I spend cash on rubbish
When I can make magic for nowt?’

But the best thing he ever created
As I take a look back through the years
Was that day when I fell on my knees
He made a big smile from my tears.

Published 21st Feb 2017 | Just for Fun

Life in the Fast Lane

Life in the Fast Lane

The man in the farm on the M62
In pyjamas in morning dew, sipping his brew,
What goes through his mind as he takes in the view
Of the sunrise over the M62?

The plans that they drew and the money they threw:
Does the farmer regret not thinking it through?
And after the chaos and hullabaloo,
Does he think that he's bitten more than he chew?

Or, as you're crawling to Leeds in the queue,
To the heat of the office you'll never get to,
Does he smirk at the traffic that trundles askew
Round his triumphant farm on the M62?

So, is it for me? Or is it for you?
If the hard hats came calling out of the blue
And threw down the same issue, what would you do
With your farm in the middle of the M62

Published 8th Apr 2017 | Just for Fun

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