Tuesday, 23 December 2014

The Catalan Nativity

The Catalan Nativity
contains an extra character:
the figure of a crouching peasant
doing what peasants do when crouching.

And all I did was comment that
some poor Reception child in Spain
would get the part of ‘Shitting Peasant’
in this year’s school nativity.

And that the film ‘Love Actually’
would be improved beyond all measure
if a Catalan peasant came
on at the end and shat on the stage.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

I Stand Corrected About the Wisdom and Insight of Children

[During typically dismissive conversation between self and spouse about such silly phrases as ‘blue sky thinking’ and ‘thinking outside the box’.]

12-year-old son: “So many people think ‘outside the box’ these days that if you think ‘inside the box’ then you are, in fact, thinking ‘outside the box’ ”.

We had to stop the car so that we could be really modern parents, i.e. worship said child, take a photograph to mark the occasion, blog his comment, and smile beatifically about the wisdom and insight of our genius offspring.

Abnormal service will be resumed shortly.

Conversations with My House

This week, Dr Socrates Meringue-Pie, Emeritus Professor of Musical Chairs at Belgrano College, Oxford, speaks with his spare bedroom about references to icing sugar in Higella Lawsuit’s cokery books.

“I found one!” I exclaimed in what I hoped sounded like a detached, intellectual voice. “Page 15 of How to be Domestic Goddess: Baking and the Art of Running around the Kitchen like a Dangerous Cat. Look at the illustration: icing sugar everywhere!”

My spare bedroom rarely follows tabloid newspapers, but has long since been a huge fan of Nigel Lawson’s book about global warming…

Next week, Dr Meringue-Pie will be analyzing flat-pack furniture with his chimney.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Wrong-footed by Doggerel

‘I am the strings of a guitar!’
A little bit contrived, perhaps?
‘The castles which you build are made of sand.’
Perhaps. It doesn’t scan, though, does it?
One foot too many: five, not four
(it didn’t listen to the ‘Halt!’ command).
But look! Another line of five!
Ironic, is it not?
And that last line was one too short!
And here it suddenly occurs to me
that this particular, poetical endeavour,
would have been, had it rhymed,
a bit more memorable, enjoyable and clever.

Saturday, 13 December 2014


I read my latest poem to
the next door neighbours’ cat. He sits there,
inscrutable as weathered granite.
‘Inscrutable as weathered granite?’
he says in feline disbelief.
‘I simply gave your poem due
consideration while you read it.
And also, I was trying not to laugh.

‘The problem with your poetry
is that it fails to answer any
questions of genuine importance:
what is the most effective way
to kill a mouse?; should rabbits be
allowed as pets?; should voluntary
euthanasia be made compulsory
for dogs? You see where you’ve gone wrong?’

I thank the cat for his advice
then ask if maybe poems
can serve to broaden our horizons,
enabling us to see the world
through others’ eyes: to touch their rainbows;
to hear their music; taste their tears.
‘But what would be the point in that?’
he says, and wanders off in search of death.

Instructions for Life

Sing like you’re John Redwood at the Welsh Conservative Party 
   Conference in 1993.
Love like you’re an awkward teenage boy too shy and inexperienced 
   to ask anyone out.
Laugh like you're retaking A'Level Physics.
Remember every long-held slight and grievance as your thoughts roam 
   like wolves across the Gestapo-notebook of your memory 
   at three in the morning.
Live today like it’s your last, complete with funicular tie, and standing on 
   a soon-to-be-unbalanced wobbly chair.
Oh, yes, and don’t forget… dance like an Englishman.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Time and Season

Time meets with Season every Tuesday
to talk about philosophy
and poetry and opera,
but Season only wants to talk
about celebrities and pop
music and Coronation Street.

‘Although I like the lucid insights
of Bertrand Russell, nothing equals
the wisdom shown by Seneca…’
Season confuses Bertrand Russell
with Russell Brand; the conversation
takes some unexpected detours.

‘I swoon for Byron, Keats and Shelley.
Romantic poets represent
humanity’s apotheosis…’
Season expresses admiration
for Ronan Keating’s amorous
endeavours, and his back catalogue.

‘Where Mozart’s operas play to full
houses, enlightenment can dazzle
even the dullard’s loutish heart…’
Season says Moz’s favourite soap
opera was Coronation Street,
‘Which shows he had at least some taste.’

Time is in love with Season’s presence.
Season is not aware of Time’s
affections. Time understands this.