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.