Essex Lion

Weekday Dad

Howdy all. I’ve been shooting some new videos. Here’s another – Weekday Dad.


An Introduction to the Arts

An Introduction to The Arts

Who wouldn’t want to work the arts?
The daily quest for people’s hearts!
To deal in beauty and sensation!
To do list: give birth to nation.

To know your work will stand for years
to measure out your sweat in tears,
epiphanies and racing pulses,
give tyranny a batch of ulcers.

To be a cog in our machine,
assembling the stuff of dreams!
From Claude Monet to Gary Numan
it’s bloody art what makes us human.

So, join us, we’re defining ‘love’
what’s more we’re doing it down the pub
where, as we all know, art just happens.
What’s that? The unwashed hordes are clapping?

Don’t worry, you’ll get used to that.
Applause, the cross we bear, alack!
But Christ, it’s worth it don’t you think
to live creatively and drink

your weight in thoughts … and booze
to strive and fail, but never loose,
build statues to humanity
come work with us! And work for free.

Yes free … Like freedom. Think … Mandela,
Tibet, or that McCarthy fella.
Free from shabby monetising
the Excel cell that’s always prising

us away from hopes and dreams.
Come on now, let’s meet “the team.”
So over there … I think it’s Tilly
another of our PR fillies.

One part pushy, two parts flirty
and not a penny till she’s thirty!
When, I’m sure she’ll settle down
keep house in some provincial town.

We’ll miss her sure, but hey that’s life
I’m sure she’ll make a super wife.
Y’know I think that’s kind of cool
part arts quango, part finishing school

for girls from upper middle homes.
Now, see that tall chap on the phone
that’s Randolph Churchill-Rhind-Tut-Smee
a very able internee.

Ex-Oxbridge, Eton… well, I think he went …
his mother is the Duke of Kent
or something like that. Aperitif?
He lives with them near Hampstead Heath.

Six days a week, the lad works hard
he bloody earns that Oyster Card.
We’re not a shower of total shits
we pay his travel, well some of it.

Oh here we go. “But food and rent,”
just use your damn inheritance.
You’re not a banker, come on, stop it
money’s such a vulgar topic.

My kids were raised on critical respect
(and a monthly trust fund cheque)
what worth a plate of tasteless gruel
when faced with praise from Brian Sewell.

Besides we’re not all Cornhill-Smiths
our playwright, what a cove he is
poor as pig shit, looks a slob
I hear he has a second job

but bloody hell the writing’s gritty,
full of urban inner city
de-gen, re-gen, me-gen … god knows
ticks the boxes, helps with cash flow.

So that’s us then. You fancy it?
Huh? Do we do apprenticeships?
What, you mean, like, like a plumber?
No, internship. Think post-school summer.

A gap year, but it lasts forever.
Still no. Christ, thought you were clever.
Well, never mind, your loss my love
Come on team – we’re down the pub!

Interviewing The Reverend Richard Coles

Last year I interviewed the Reverend Richard Coles at HOMEWORK, the monthly live literature cabaret I run with Aisle16. Richard hosts BBC Radio 4′s Saturday Live, which I occasionally write poems for. Before his radio career he was in bands like The Communards and The Bronski Beat. He’s also a Anglican priest. When we decided to do a themed HOMEWORK called Chat Show I couldn’t think of anyone I’d rather talk to. Richard was a funny and generous guest and I think this is a lovely bit of tape, have a watch. It cuts out before we finished but you’re only missing the last minute or so.

Dad Reins

Dad Reins
For Sam, aged two

The platform-schlep and keycard-shuffle done
I’m back home again, and of course, there’s change.
New words and habits, but the biggest one:
you’ve ditched your pram, you’re now in baby reins.
No more for us the quick-nip up the shop!
You lunge and circle like a moon-faced dog
as I adjust from back-combed jobbing fop
to paunchy dad. My nightly monologue
of measured, risqué quips swapped for a set
of weary nags and grinning faux amazement.
I’ll step from stage to stage but won’t forget
these sweet staccato wobbles up this pavement.
Roam now my boy, don’t worry, you’ll be fine
I’ll be your tether Sam, because you’re mine.

Kelvedon to Liverpool Street

Kelvedon – Liverpool Street
for John Wright

For thirty years the buzzer went at six.
You’d take you breakfast in the lonely half-light,
your milky tea, your marmalade and burnt toast,
the carbon whiff lingering till we rose
to fill the room with Coco Pops and squabbles.
By then, you were at your desk in Bond Street,
out of sight and largely out of mind,
our lives a giddy whirl of girls or Pogs.

It wasn’t till a summer job at fifteen
that I observed this quiet early ritual:
the briefcase and the brolly (ever cautious),
among the first cars in the station car park
which I believed gave you a sort of status
a short walk to the bridge and Trains to London.
Perpetually ahead of local bods
who went to work in Colchester or Ipswich.

The fat bloke who sold papers and bad coffee
and greeted tourists with a sigh knew you
a brisk nod and your Telegraph appeared.
You always had the right change, which he liked.
Then on the platform: Come Luke, we’ll wait here.
The best place for a good seat.
You were right.
And I believed, as only a son can,
that you, and you alone had cracked the system.

But coming back at half past five was different,
your straight-backed morning dignity was slouched.
You looked a good deal older then, as you
grabbed fitful scraps of sleep – a slow sad lean
towards the aisle, until, before you fell,
some well-worn sense would jolt you back upright.
Sometimes you’d snore, and I’d shoot eye-balled hatred
at flash young things that raised a sarky brow.

Oh Dad, some days you looked as if you’d walked
those tracks. Although it’s only now I know
that this was likely why you’d snip at me.
How flimsy and silly I must have seemed
next to the iron protocol of trains.
I vowed I’d never work that daily rut,
the trains I catch provide me varied views
but when I sleep on them, I dream of you.

A Shinier Britain

A Shinier Britain

Ta-ra then Tarzan, take your mane
we’ll never see your like again
it’s time we let the bald man reign
Give us a shinier Britain

No more gongs for gourmet barbers
or coiffured quiffs, we Brits would rather
give Humpty Dumpty all our ardour
Give us a shiner Britain

The tousled Trump look’s sort of needy
one part crispy, two parts seedy
I want an egg headed man to lead me
Give us a shiner Britain

Boo sucks to broadsheet lifestyle hacks
a leader’s job to lead or tax
not ponce about with gel and wax
Give us a shiner Britain

Yes balls to barnets, down with dos, no more matted men
I want a brut who’s less hirsute to baldy go to number Ten

Part man, part talking snooker ball
who looks like he knows how to brawl
and how it feels to lose it all
Give us a shiner Britain

With baldness comes humility
more oomph, increased virility
less pomade, more policy
Give us a shiner Britain

A man who’s frontal lobes get fried
every time he steps outside
nothing to loose and nowhere to hide
Give us a shiner Britain


Even a stopped clock tells the right time twice a day, and this topical poem is topical again. It concerns Lib Dem peer Lord Rennard who went around groping party members (how very liberal of him) and who has been told by Clegg that he has to “say sorry” before he can have the party whip back again. Clegg’s trying to make himself look all tough, but surely “sorry” doesn’t and shouldn’t cut it in a situation like this.

Lord Grope

Lock up your activists, gag the press
here comes his Royal Fondleness
he’s out to squeeze his pound of flesh
Who’s that then? No, let me guess …
Yes! Lord Grope!

Twenty stone and on a mission
man boobs jiggle, forehead glistens
girls say no, he don’t listen
“I want to form a coalition.”
Sexual frisson Lord Grope!

The lazy peer with busy hands
the ladies just don’t understand
the flames of scandal neatly fanned
by a one track mind and swollen gland
Randy Lord Grope!

Watch him sweat and wheeze and beg
his breath of blend of beer and egg
his sausage fingers on your leg
“It’s alright love, I know Nick Clegg”
it’s the dregs, Lord Grope

And even as their lot unravel
his lib dem pals won’t bang the gavel
“harmless really, only dabbled
not as if he’s jimmy saville”
No, he’s Lord Grope!

He’s Benny Hill in a gold rosette
a master of the heavy pet
just another Clegg regret
is this poem finished yet?
Only if you say sorry!
Lord Grope!

Have a Gong!

Have a Gong!

New Year, hurrah, let’s play Who’s Who
the list please George, let’s keep it blue…
Yes, yes, of course, about time too!
Have a gong, have a gong, have a gong!

Oui Oui a KBE for Arthur
and my sister’s husband’s father
better not forget my barber
Have a gong, have a gong, have a gong!

Do you sport Lucre’s heady scent
and hoover up the wretched’s rent?
A pillock of establishment?
Have a gong, have a gong, have a gong!

Massive wad? Massive liar?
A remnant of our sick empire
come sink yourself in Britain’s mire
(just no one mention Zephaniah!)
Have a gong, have a gong, have a gong!

This fellow here, he sank a bank
and this one gave us cut-price tanks…
Is that for us? You should have, thanks.
Have a gong, have a gong, have a gong!

Famous people, bring your mug,
and with it stardom’s manic fug
come here, give us a tacit plug
Have a gong, have a gong, have a gong!

Is that for me? Lapsang souchong?
Why thank-you dear.
(I say, ding-dong
the tea girl’s nice, let’s stick her on.)
Have a gong, have a gong, have a gong!

Morning ma’am, here’s Rupert Brine
we play squash, his game’s sublime
although I think I’ll win next time
Eh Ru?
Have a gong, have a gong, have a gong!

Angry artist? Full of bile?
we’ll dowse your fire in regal style
well done, you’re in, now hold and smile.
Have a gong, have a gong, have a gong!

Elitist? No! why here’s a nurse
Long on hours, short on purse
so progressive, so diverse.
Have a gong, have a gong, have a gong!

But just a little one …

Not a O.B.E, just a Meh.B.E.
Well done you, I see, I see.
Now move along, yes yes, right, good
I need to give my pal a knighthood!
Good one Geoffrey, well I trust?
Golf next Tuesday? Let’s discuss
your next donation to the tribe.
Thank-you ma’am, yes, much obliged.
Have a gong, have a gong, have a gong!

Scratch my back and sing along
we’ll croon our patriotic song
and dream of when he ruled Hong Kong
it’s tradition – can’t be wrong!
As sure as old Big Ben goes bong
Have a gong, have a gong, have a gong gong gong!

Hip-hip hurrah, yes Britain’s best!
Dulce et decorum est
Etc, I forget the rest
Have a gong, have a gong, have a gong!

And while they’re all discussing it
and getting knickers in a twist
we’ll sink bad news! Yes, up the Brits!
Have a gong, have a gong, have a gong!

The Bastard of Bungay

The Bastard of Bungay

A crate of Merlot, well demolished
one part pickled, one part polished
forlorn since caning was abolished
bend over for the Bastard of Bungay

A tom’s been kicked down Earsham street
on Castle Lane an ear is tweaked.
A week in Borstal? That’s a treat
versus tea with the bastard of Bungay

Britain now? Gone to the dogs!
What happened to the Epilogue?
Nigella who? Huh? What’s a blog?

Get flogged by the Bastard of Bungay

Look sharp you slobs, the Bastard’s here, he’s prowling like the Shuck
but speaking Eton patois with a smattering of FUCK!

Corner table, gout pout on
there man and Harris are at one
Juan you say? What’s wrong with John!?
Conform for the Bastard of Bungay

You’ve never seen such mobile jowls
or smelt such ripe productive bowels
and what the old boy does with vowels ….
The Glarston-berry Fustivowel?
Pow-pow with The Bastard of Bungay

Geoffrey Howe? Yes, very pleasant
I say, that’s truly corking pheasant
Ant and Dec? Contemptible peasants!

The present Bastard of Bungay

A gauche ballet of fumbles and involuntary twitching
I like my women like I like my coffee …In the kitchen

Mental illness? No such thing!
Love? A tussle for a ring!
Elvis Presley? Couldn’t sing!

Tring-tring, it’s the Bastard of Bungay.

Who lumbers like a sodden cow
all buckling cane and dripping brow
Pimp my ride? Oh will you now!
Bow to the Bastard of Bungay

Press red button? Oh will you stop it!
I’m nearly ninety-three, what of it?
Bagging area? What? Come off it?
The Bastard of Bungay

In early evening dappled light he thought he spied his youth
lost somewhere near the bottom of a bottle of vermouth.

His pocket watch a metronome
by which he lives his days alone
An app? What that when it’s at home?
Groan for the Bastard of Bungay

Tory party? Lost their way.
Of late it seems the whole world’s gay!

An endless march of wretched days
laid out for the Bastard of Bungay

The hour’s late, his eyes are bleary
Why’s the weather always dreary?
Elizabeth, I miss you dearly.
Can anybody hear me?
Can anybody hear me?
Can anybody …

BBC Special

A few weeks ago BBC Essex recorded one of my shows. They broadcast highlights (the bits without swearing) on New Year’s Day in BBC Essex and BBC Suffolk. Have a listen here. Or below, which doesn’t have the music.

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