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

For Kim & Chris 2019

For Kim and Chris

The outlook for the day is golden sunshine wall to wall.
No greying clouds are in the sky; no rain’s about to fall.
So while the forecast’s favorable and champagne glasses brim,
Come take a trip with me into the world of Chris and Kim.

It may sound quite the cliche, a poetic heart to heart,
But the problem, put quite simply, is exactly where to start!
A poem of serenity or verse that’s loud and jokey?
Less Chris’ quest for quietude; more Kim on karaoke.

It all began quite awkwardly as friendship turned to romance;
Chris’ friends could be forgiven for thinking he had no chance,
But soon enough, with ring in hand and undeterred expression
He moved towards the living room to hit Kim with the question.

So picture if you will the sunlight streaming through the window,
Our man with sweating palms rehearsing matrimony lingo.
The sparkler poised in fingers; the bended knee manouevre -
But Kim is more preoccupied with brand new Argos Hoover.

If you know Kim, you’ll be aware she likes a bit of cleaning;
A wizard with the Windolene, if no-one’s intervening.
But save a thought for Chris, whose body waited, stalled and trembled
As he stared upon his love’s attempts to get that thing assembled.

So lost inside that vacuum for an hour, maybe more
He contemplated life and thought of what there was in store:
A girl as strong as anyone with eyes and smile bewitching
Who’s a dab hand with a duster and knows how to shine a kitchen.

A scintillating firework with fireworks within
Mainly down to too much Rumtopf, aperol and gin.
And every day for years Kim’s face had occupied his head,
As only she knew how to disengage him from his shed.

Eventually Kim noticed him and quickly turned around,
Refusing though to throw the thing’s instructions to the ground.
And even though she realised how long he’d had to linger,
She held his gaze and grabbed the ring and stuck it on her finger.

So from that day to this, the time has rapidly unfurled:
Chris has spent it locked in shed and Kim at Slimming World,
And now before the lights dim and the music starts to play,
There’s one more stanza from my heart that I would like to say.

It’s easy to be trivial about your quirks and quaintness;
But much more fun to recognise your loveliness and greatness.
For on this day of days when friends and relatives are here
When both your smiles and tenderness ignite the atmosphere.
When magic, dreams and starlight surround us in excess,
We’re proud to call you friends, and wish you every happiness.

Published 25th Sep 2019 | Weddings

For Steve

For Tracey and Stey

So three’s the magic number,
Round at Stey and Tracey’s place,
For each have had a few false starts
In life’s unstable race.
But this time with the stars and planets
Lined up just in case,
We’re here to raise our glasses
As this special pair embrace.

Before the champagne’s quaffed though
And the dance floor overheats;
Or Tracey and her workmates
Have eaten all the sweets,
Or Stey’s come to his senses
And checked all the receipts.
Let’s pause and take a journey
Through their long and winding streets.
Is where those engines started:
A revved-up rocked-up trip
Not for the nervy or fainthearted.
From Facebook likes and screen-swipes
To motorways uncharted.
An open-roaded love affair
Where then and now departed.

Step one, the Starbucks rendezvous:
What could go wrong with that?
Best to have some witnesses,
A well-lit habitat.
Tracey could be bonkers
And Stey could be a rat,
So play-it-safe to start with -
A coffee and a chat.

Another meet on Valentine’s
And Tracey feeling frantic;
A red rose in the morning
From our man, the great romantic.
This stark instant affection,
Without sounding all pedantic,
Was blossoming and turning into
Something quite gigantic.

And what a day of magic that was,
Day out number one:
Glasson Dock for sausage butty,
Devil’s Bridge and gone
To Blackpool for the customary
Ice-cream in the sun
Via Garstang’s finest chippy -
Their affection now begun.

Then time rolled on and Stey and Tracey
Moved beyond mere friends.
Companions with benefits;
Or pals with dividends.
It didn’t take too long
For all of us to comprehend
Just what these two had found
And where this perfect story ends.

Fast forward then to New Year’s Eve
An evening at the Indian -
A place we all have been.
Couples with their naan breads,
Starry-eyed, serene.
But little did they know
That Tracey soon would intervene.

The tables clear, the dance floor set
For northerner congestion
(A sure fire way for Wiganers
To stoke that indigestion.)
Then Tracey at the DJ
Makes a stop-the-show suggestion:
Gets down upon one knee
And only pops the flippin question!

The couples with their gassy beer
All turn around to stare;
The owner, knowing this could make his night,
He says a prayer.
And Stey, when he gets to his feet,
Can sense their steely glare
As Tracey feels the tension
In the sexy spicy air.

However, there is no need
For this northern crowd to stress;
The outcome to this moment
Isn’t difficult to guess.
For Tracey knows that Stey
Is in her corner - more or less
As that smile spreads on our man’s face
And he replies with “Yes.”

And so to plans and plotting
How the big day will work out.
It doesn’t take a genius
To see what they’re about:
A bloody raucous knees up
And an evening with real clout -
With Stelad on the Special Brew
And Tracey on the stou…

But wait, what’s that from Eastern shores
That’s come to halt the jigging?
Like, what d’ya mean the pubs are shut
And we can’t do no swiggin’?
A virus on the rise, you say?
They’re calling it a big ‘un?
We’re more used to a ‘Lock-in’
Than a lockdown up in Wigan.

And well, you all should know the rest
And didn’t need to ask:
Postponement or a social-distanced
Number with a flask?
So wait they did for dance and song
And bottle and for cask.
Who wants a load of pictures
Of the loved ones wearing masks?

And so lift up your glasses
As the vaccine’s almost come.
And get another drink in
Cos this poem’s nearly done.
And like Stey’s Kawasaki,
Their love will run and run
As they lock themselves together
Through all the years to come.

Published 21st Aug 2021 | Weddings

For Hollie

For Hollie

It’s always seemed unfair to me, at weddings I’ve attended,
When Best Man takes the stage and tries to make the groom offended.
You’ve seen him with his sweaty palms and verbal hand grenades
Pint of Fosters, curled up lip and eyeing up a bridesmaid.

The stories that he tells before this turning of the leaf;
The laddish all-night parties and that week in Tenerife.
And parents of the bride, they sit and sip that warm champagne,
Despairing at their hard work disappearing down the drain.

So being as I am, I thought I’d grab the tiger’s tail,
Before this round of shaky-fingered speeches turns all male.
And I thought I’d turn to poetry (and hoping it’s not folly)
I’d take you on a journey to the past of dearest Hollie.

Let’s start with you and Clogsey in the Tiki-Tiki Room -
Dancing round for hours in your blue and red costume.
The singing and the laughing and the pounding of your feet -
Ruining my carpet and annoying half the street.

The years that mum and I would gladly taxi you around;
The happiness provided by this new-found love you’d found.
The joy of all that dancing; the trophies that you won,
And that day I fixed your hair up in that salon-perfect bun.

Indulge me for a moment listener; let us not brush over
The expert way I conjured all that hair from off your shoulders.
The pinnacle of parenthood; I was number one!
And the disbelieving faces of those clearly lesser mums.

Forgive my deviation. I’m not speaking as I oughta,
Let’s get back to our slightly crimson loveliest of daughters.
So dance it was that brought her fun and oodles of success
And took us round the world to Gloucester, London and Skegness.

And school was yet another place that filled our girl with joy.
It’s where she found real happiness; it’s where she found her boy.
The chatter in the common room. The gossiping, the laughs.
The glances in the playground; the daydreaming in maths.

Some of us know what it’s like to gaze across assembly
Hearts a-pounding, eyes fixed, craning necks and legs a-trembly.
A few of us will have those first love tales and how we blew it,
But Ed and Hollie’s love was fixed, but neither of them knew it.

For sixth form at King Charles was where their love began to grow:
A smiling, wide-eyed Juliet and nervy Romeo.
But just as these two loving birds began their courtly dance,
Hollie went to uni and then buggered off to France.

She hid behind the croissants and she ran down all les rues.
Testing, as she was, her Ed to see if he’d pursue.
But over land or sur le train, par avion et al,
Our true determined garcon didn’t give up on his gal.

Those days and nights in Paris when their beating hearts did flutter
Our Ed found out exactly on which side his baguette’s buttered.
For if they were to make it, and not to let their love grow cold,
He discovered that the best way was to do just as he’s told.

So then the day arrived when Edward knocked upon my door.
I’ve been around the block so I knew just what he’d come for.
I looked at him real sternly like, to add to the suspense,
And shook him firmly by the hand and watched that boy commence.

Always quite the gentleman, I knew he felt the heat,
For nestled in his pocket was the ring and the receipt.
“Er, Mr Brookes,” he stammered as the shade fell from his life,
“I wondered if you’d like it if your girl became my wife?”

I stood there like a man and knew that this was a big day.
My daughter getting wings and just about to fly away.
So Mike, I said, this is your time to calm this stormy weather
So I did just what I always do, and checked it out with Heather.

Cut to two days later on a walk in Bevere.
Our man plucked up the courage and then got down on one knee.
And Hollie (having booked the room and planned the wedding dress),
Took a deep breath, grabbed the shining ring and shouted, “Yes!”

So here we are eventually, through lockdowns and the virus
With a couple of life’s good guys sitting here beside us.
It doesn’t take a genius to see their love is true,
And if I have to have a son-in-law, then Ed, you’ll have to do.

Published 21st Aug 2021 | Weddings

For Gina and Andy

For Gina and Andy

The chapel back at Charterhouse, not known for seeds of passion;
More a place of quiet contemplation, of a fashion.
But look beneath the Eucharists and dusty hymn books’ covers
And come with me as we recall the birth of these two lovers.

While classmates slumped in polished pews and teachers stood there yawning;
As hymns and psalms and prayers were all recited on that morning;
Our Andy’s eyes, by now aflame, were growing ever keener
As they gazed across the hallowed space and landed on his Gina.

The brooding Andrew, lost in deep and quiet introspection
In candlelight, did fight to quell his instant, deep affection.
And Gina with her hair and nails was peering at her man,
But really focused on her brand new bottle of fake tan.

And words were few initially when their love began to harden
As Gina spent most afternoons with Liv in Gownboys’ Garden.
And Andy was no angel with his attitude and smirk:
‘Maniacs’ was where the lads and he would often lurk.

A glance or Facebook message was the sparse communication
That passed between these youngsters in their place of education.
However, as is normal when the long school days are through,
A local dingy nightclub did what dingy nightclubs do.

With Avison and Pike in tow, Will Walker and Josh Plummer,
(A tribute act for Westlife, Backstreet Boys or Dumb and Dumber)
They strutted into MNG with swagger, pirouette,
Like a troop of fashionistas, or as close as they could get.

A sea of drunken college kids, a thick haze of Chanel;
A Monday night in Gulidford with its iffy clientele.
But across a crowded dance floor (or so the cliche goes),
Andy’s eyes met Gina’s and obsessiveness arose.

A Jager Bomb or ten, a hundred WKDs,
And things began to pick up pace and, feeling more at ease,
A word became a natter and a smile became a kiss,
And timidity and awkwardness from chapel turned to bliss.

And miles of British motorways and rail tracks couldn’t part them,
In Bristol or in Durham, they refused to be disheartened.
Upon the rig or in The Smoke the days and nights seemed longer
But distance only made this wondrous couple even stronger.

And now with ten years down the road their love is crystallising
But matrimony, as we know, demands some compromising:
For Andy now can see past all those times when Gina’s scatty,
And Gina knows his first love is the Porsche or the Bugati.

So raise a glass of something fizzy high up in the air
And celebrate the future of this extra-special pair.
We hope today’s excitement, joy and wonder never ends -
And from me, I couldn’t wish for two more scrumptious perfect friends.

Published 21st Aug 2021 | Weddings

For Gemma

For Gemma

And now for something different, not really in the script,
That makes a bit more sense the more pints of beer you’ve sipped.
For yes, I have a secret, and not a lot of people know it -
You guessed it everybody: I’ve turned into a writer… poet! I’ve turned into a poet!

Ok, that’s not the best of starts; rhyme really ain’t my business.
I’m up here in the sunshine to pay tribute and bear witness
To our lovely daughter Gemma, as time rolls on too fast.
So let’s enjoy her blushes, as we delve into her past.

We’ll start at the beginning and we’ll end up at the end.
Then let me introduce to you, her imaginary friend.
‘Beg,’ if I recall, was this little creature’s name,
And he took over our lives, but it started as a game.


Published 28th Oct 2022 | Weddings