Essex Lion

The Slow Days

Here’s the poem I did for Saturday Live on Radio 4 this morning.

The Slow Days

The slow days down to New Year’s eve arrive,
the sherry fug of Christmas afternoon
is swapped for sodden walks and turkey pie
as flames lick green their wrapping paper feast.

In Bolton, Bungay, Basingstoke and Barrhead
cabin fever seizes naughty boys.
In Colchester, Kirkcaldy, Cowes and Croydon
fathers rip the batteries out of toys.

And life plods on like boiled brussel sprouts,
the papers ration out what news they can,
it’s floods or sales or National Archive scraps
obituaries march sombre to the front.

In Droitwich, Douglas, Dewsbury and Dawlish
the grown-up single children leave for town.
In Falmouth, Fishguard, Fakenham and Frodsham
the tinsel round the bannisters falls down.

And so we turn to retail parks and malls
roam listlessly from shop to shop to shop
half-dazzled in the vast resplendent halls
then join the traffic slowly shunting home.

In Greenock, Glynneath, Glossop, Goole and Gosport
chocolate tins are cellophane and air.
In Halstead, Harrow, Holyhead and Hexham
grandad guffs with gusto in his chair.

But spare a thought for cops and chefs on shifts,
for bellboys on the night bus in the rain,
for grizzly guvnors hauling out the bins,
for Jacks and Widow Twankies everywhere.

In Leighton-Linslade, Letchworth, Looe and Loughor
they roll the metal shop-fronts up at six.
In Mossley, Morpeth, Melksham, Mere and Monmouth
there’s breakfast DJs churning out the hits.

And minutes fall like needles from the tree
as neighbours call round: is it bins tonight?
and relatives on platforms are set free
‘til finally the last hurrah pulls up.

In Narbeth, Nayland, Normanton and Nantwich
they’re counting down, all pints and lily-flesh.
In Potton, Prescot, Portishead and Paignton
they snap the dead year off and start afresh.

1 comment to The Slow Days

  • Fran Brewin

    Wonderful poem! This is my absolute favourite time of year – having done stockings for five, Christmas dinner for 8 and Boxing Day Buffet for 20, I am finally on strike – everyone else can deal with everything for the next four days. But as a child, I remember so clearly the frustration of waiting until the shops opened again after New Year to spend that Boots or WHS token! This poem sums up all of it. Thank you – you made my Saturday!

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