Thursday, August 16, 2012

It Doesn’t Get Any Better Than This

My wife and I
Are sitting in the evening sunshine
In the Place d’Hotel de Ville, in Loches,
And I’m thinking
Life doesn’t get any better than this.

An Orleans Jazz Band
Is playing on the corner
They are very good indeed
I sip my glass of red and think
Life doesn’t get any better than this.

Then an old friend sits beside us
And she rests her head
On my shoulder
And I get a whiff of Sex with Jennifer (1967)
And I’m thinking
Life doesn’t get any better than this.

And a text comes through
We have a massive win
On the Euromillions
And I’m thinking
Life really doesn’t get any better than this.

The evening sun
The music
And Paul McCartney and Adele
Are strolling past
They see us, come over
And sing us an impromptu duet
Of a song Paul composes
For us, on the spot
And I’m thinking
Life doesn’t get any better than this.

But they have a date
At La Flèche d’Or in Paris
Playing to an intimate gathering
Of the world’s movers and shakers
They leave, with our friend
And I get another text,
The win on the Euromillions
Was only a few Euros after all
Now the band play their last number
And begin to pack away
And we finish the bottle of wine

The last of the sun
Slips from the apricot sky
Darkening the ancient buildings
Of warm stone
And wife and I
Look into one another’s eyes
And kiss
And I’m thinking,
Do you know what?

It really was a great shame about
that text.

Saturday, August 11, 2012


And so, when God
Gave me the task
Of sorting out
Who would be saved
I decided to station a stonkin’
New Orleans Jazz Band
On the corner
And those who stopped
And jigged and laughed
And listened and danced
And clapped and cheered
I sent to Heaven and

To Hell with the others

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Man in a Hat

A man in a hat sits on the platform
Drinking a coffee
And eating an Eccles cake

He is sixty three
But likes to think he looks younger
His thoughts right now
Are a bit mushy
Probably because he has a cold
Although he wonders if it might be
A sinus infection

His hat is dark grey
Not exactly a pork pie hat
Or a Trilby
He doesn’t know its name
He considered dying it black
And tying a colourful ribbon around it
Red or blue
A strong primary colour
But his wife told him
That dying would put it out of shape

He is sitting on a white, metal seat
With rows of small, round, perforations
Everywhere is wet
From the early morning rain
But not the seat
The platform’s awning protects it

He bought the coffee
And the Eccles cake
In the platform café
The coffee is black
And has been delivered
In a cardboard-coloured corrugated cup
It has one sweetener in it
He hasn’t got used to the taste
He wonders what will happen to the English language
When he is dead and gone

The Eccles cake is sweet
It’s a long time since he ate an Eccles cake
How long?
He has no idea. Five years?
Twenty five years?
He remembers the way the granulated sugar
Scatters everywhere
And clings
Like a sticky frost
How he’d have sugar and pastry stuck
All over his dark blue suit.
That was always a problem.
In those dark-blue suit days

His thoughts are mushy.
They are dodging about
All over the place
He is thinking about writing a poem.
This poem, perhaps
He’s also watching
The train arrivals board
And gazing at the track
And wondering why someone doesn’t clean up
All the litter
And he’s thinking about
The taste of the coffee
He’s tasted better
Bitter? Better? Hmmm…
And the lines from a song
Keep interrupting his thoughts
Look out! There’s a monster coming
The song was by the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band.

The cold is a nuisance
Sore nose
Awkward breathing
Background headache
Chills. Lethargy. Aching muscles.
Waves of feeling sorry for himself
Which he tries to rise above
It’s important, he knows,
To be positive

He’s thinking about his visit
To Roehampton University
Where he will talk
To over a hundred students
About their experiences in schools

There are no bins on the platform
And so, momentarily
Leaving his black case where it is,
And hoping that it won’t be spotted
By a porter
And taken to a patch of wasteland
And destroyed,
He takes the Eccles cake wrapper
Back into the little café
And drops it
In the small rubbish receptacle
By the counter

When he returns
His case is where he left it
He thinks that at Victoria Station
They probably have a steel and concrete
Reinforced room
For blowing up the cases and bags
That have been left unattended on the platform
But probably not here
He wonders where they would take it
Is there any wasteland nearby?

He opens his case and finds his notebook
And begins this poem
He writes about himself in the third person
He thinks, Maybe this is more of an account
Than a poem
It’s too long and rambling
He’s reading Marcel Proust’s
A La Recherche du Temps Perdu
In fact he has his copy in his case
He hopes it doesn’t influence his writing
Too much
He’s more a fan of short sentences

The train arrives
Catching the man in the hat

He grabs his case and boards the train

Wednesday, August 01, 2012


1 A reference to Frost’s The Road Less Travelled
2 Elly’s nickname. Josh is unaware of it at this point.
3 Bread and butter.
4 One for the money. From Blue Suede Shoes by Carl Perkins. Made famous by Elvis Presley.
5 Red is considered a lucky colour in China. It is associated with money.
6 The full list is: rose, box, articulated lorry, mirror, gold ring.
7 The Union of Footnote and Appendix Compilers.