From Lamentation to the Wicked Cahoots: Selected Verse and Lyrics

Introduction

The following are what could be called the cream of the versified pieces I have somehow or other compiled over the course of my writing career, and I refer to them as such, because I consider myself to be a writer of verses or lyrics rather than any kind of poet or writer. I don’t take any of my literary creations all that seriously, even while their source material was for the most part serious enough.

One — Lyrics of Lamentation

Introduction

Lyrics of Lamentation consists of entries created during one of my sporadic ‘glass half full’ periods which come suddenly and depart with equal suddenness, rarely lasting for more than a week or two. On occasion, they might last longer when one such period gives way to another; but they are rare, if intense, occurring approximately three times a year, and centring largely on what I perceive to be past mistakes re. the sentimental and/or professional spheres of my existence.

A Multitude of Woes was based on diary notes dating from 19/3/14, a day that clearly occurred within a spell of double depression, written straight from the heart some months thereafter, although as revisions were made in November 2015, I no longer identified with it in any degree, and couldn’t see myself doing so for some time.

And If My Soul is Crying was torn straight from the soul — sometime in 2015 — during an episode of almost unbearable abyssal sadness

How Sad True Sadness possibly dates from the same tristful period that produced And If My Soul is Crying.

Or Happier At Least was written around 2014 during a bout of intense melancholia, tinged with nostalgic longing, although the depression swiftly lifted. It was ultimately forged into a song lyric.

Soon, I’ll Sleep Again dates from 2017, beginning life as a song which evolved by degrees into the versified piece featured below, and which accurately reflected my state of mind, even while my mood ultimately lifted.

That Infamous Myth almost certainly arose from the same profoundly mournful phase that birthed several other pieces in this section.

Twenty Years to Destroy an Existence also dates from 2017, and was clearly written in the midst of a deeply melancholic mood, although one which is alien to me as of later in the same year of ’17.

A Multitude of Woes

As a young man,

I was always obsessed

By melancholy.

I saw deep sadness,

The quality

That so tormented my heroes,

Such as Arthur Rimbaud,

And Montgomery Clift,

As glamorous and romantic,

But it’s not…

It’s not remotely romantic,

When you yourself are adrift,

And weighed down,

By a multitude of woes.

And If My Soul is Crying

It’s happening again,

Such unbearable pain,

And if my soul is crying

As my heart is breaking, then that’s fine…

I’ve let so many people down,

Lost so many beautiful opportunities

I feel so failed and forlorn,

But is that really such a tragedy?

Perhaps, rather,

It’s a positive thing,

Shouldn’t a true artist be suffering?

At least I’m feeling something…

It’s happening again,

Such unbearable pain,

And if my soul is crying

As my heart is breaking, then that’s fine…

How Sad True Sadness

There was a sadness I revered

But never possessed,

Because there was youth

And hope to spare,

But as youth ebbs,

And hope recedes,

I know that sadness for real,

And how sad true sadness feels.

Or Happier At Least

I was happy,

TV nightly,

As a family,

Simple pleasures,

Any Umbrellas?

Family holidays,

I was happy,

Perhaps the world was happy,

Or happier at least.

Soon, I’ll Sleep Again

Soon, I’ll sleep again,

I will feel no pain,

For a little time,

Peace will be all mine

My mind will seek

Freedom from the past,

I’ll be carefree,

Although it will not last,

Soon, I’ll sleep again,

I will feel no pain.

That Infamous Myth

I was once in thrall to the infamous myth
 Of the artiste souffrant,
 
 But I’ve come ultimately to see it 
 As the cruelest of delusions.
 
 But could it not be said
 That it’s still among us, 
 
 That malefic notion 
 That the artist is a spirit set apart 
 
 For some special purpose,
 Of which pain is an essential component?

Twenty Years to Destroy an Existence

How I try to count my blessings,

They do little to ease my saudade,

I look to the past

For some consolation,

But the past remains resistant,

O woe, where is hope?

I feel so old, and so alone…

Twenty years to destroy an existence,

Is all it took

To steal my contentment,

I look to the past for a glimmer of peace,

To the past for a little release.

O woe, where is hope?

I feel so old, and so alone…

On one level, I feel so blessed,

And I cleave to life

With all my strength,

There is so much to be thankful about,

’Til I sink back into deepest night,

O woe, where is hope?

I feel so old, and so alone…

Two — Verses Forged from Songs

Introduction

All the Rivers of Tears was originally part of the coda of a song called My Former Love, itself part of a long series of songs committed to cassette towards the end of the millennium. It was recently updated as a piece of verse in its own right.

At a Long Lost Party was a lyric I penned in response to listening to a song from Prefab Sprout’s 1985 album Steve McQueen at some point during the evening of the 3rd of June 2017, although the melody I wrote it to has since escaped me. While the preponderance of the song was drafted on the 3rd, minor modifications took place on the 4th, almost certainly between 7 and 8.30 am, and then again on the 6th; while the 16th witnessed the removal of an entire verse to produce the definitive version.

But a Love Now Long Gone was written in late June 2017 as a translation of a song, originally penned in French around 2013, itself based on an earlier — autobiographical — song dating from when I was about 19.

Calf Love Crisis existed in its original form as a song written when I was around 19 in memory of an early love of mine, an especially painful case of young or calf love suffered during swimming classes in West London as I remember it, before being reworked in 2003, and then again in 2015; with a freshly edited — and definitive — version being prepared in June 2017.

Can’t You See That the Summer’s Come dates from 2003, initially as a song, and then also as a piece of verse, although it was subject to further minor revisions in June 2017 before being included in the current collection.

Costa Calida Sun was written and recorded in 2016, with lyrics inspired, as the song clearly states, by ‘Memories of Spain’. It was very nearly left off the collection, but I included it in consequence of it garnering a ‘like’ at an online poetry site.

How Things Turn Out to Be is, as the lyrics make manifestly clear, a song from one of my episodic ‘glass half empty’ periods, this one dating from 2016.

In Hamburg I Loved a Strange Girl was adapted some years ago from a song written when I was 18 years old, and is quite faithful as such. Yet, while it’s true that I took part sea voyage, including several days in Hamburg, at that age, the song itself is entirely fantastical.

In Puerto Rican Skies is based on an autobiographical song I wrote when I was about 18, and actually very close to the original, being definitively recorded in 2015.

In Remembrance of My Lost Angel was written ca. 2016 as a song, having been based on an earlier song with different lyrics, and dating from towards the end of the millennium, although it’s since been modified for aesthetic purposes.

Lament for a Classmate was written, specifically as a song, in 2015 in response to the passing of a classmate whose name had remained with me over the decades, but of whom I had little memory.

Lovelorn in London Town started life as a song written to a friend’s poem sometime in the early 2000s, before I added my own lyric to the original melody in 2003.

My Past in Peace originally constituted the middle 8, written in French, of a song entitled In All Due Time, which I recorded in 2013, possibly the following year, although the main part of the song dates from 2003. Its translation became My Past in Peace.

My Travels dates from 2003, and while the tune itself had been recycled, the semi-autobiographical lyrics were new.

On the Blue Baltic Sea was a song written in around 2014, and while the chorus is more or less meaningless (having been inspired by a cassette of songs I recorded when I was 19 or 20 called Baltic Melody, just as the song itself is based on a tune from that collection), the verses, which are recent, constitute a meditation on the nature of love.

Toilers of the Sea was written as a song in 2003, with lyrics grafted onto a melody — slightly modified for the purpose — dating from 2001, and belonging to an altogether different song. It is a fantastical piece, having been significantly inspired by Les Travailleurs de la mer by Victor Hugo; as well as the song — from the Black and White album — by legendary New Wave band The Stranglers, Toiler on the Sea.

To See You at Every Time of Day began life — in 2003 — as a song lyric, heavily based on one I composed when I was almost certainly 18 years old, and which I originally sang in a voice stolen from an early musical and cultural hero of mine, Bryan Ferry, whom I still admire as a singer-songwriter; and it was his unique version of These Foolish Things by Jack Strachey and Eric Maschwitz, that had initially inspired my own song.

Under Blue Berkshire Skies, aka Stevie B and Me, was written as a song in 2003 in praise of a friendship enjoyed several decades previously as a teenager at college in the eponymous English county.

Who Lives in My Perfect Love is a reasonably faithful translation of a song I wrote — in French — as Mon Parfait Amour when I was about 19; although verse three is a recent addition.

Yes, I Regret was written — and recorded as a song — in 2017, with new, autobiographical lyrics tacked onto a melody sketched out on piano when I was about 24.

Your Beautiful Lethal Life was partly inspired by lyrics freshly around 1992 for a close friend, who’d already written his own lyrics for the song in question, before the latter was recorded at his home in suburban East London.

All the Rivers of Tears

I feel at one with sweethearts

Through the years,

With the wartime lovers

Who went overseas,

All the shattered hearts,

All the rivers of tears,

I feel them all.

Verses of love,

Lovers who must part,

Portraits of love

Worn so very close to the heart,

All the lovers lost,

Loves that never even start,

I feel them all.

At a Long Lost Party

I yearned for another,

Who wasn’t you,

But she wasn’t there,

Unlike you,

At a long lost party

In old Cambridge town.

Did I fall

Just a little for you,

While longing for another,

Who wasn’t you,

At a long lost party

In old Cambridge town.

But A Love Now Long Gone

One summer’s eve in Spain,

I fled through an open window,

Butterflies aflight

In the very pit of me,

And I tramped the streets,

My heart abrim

With such a love,

But a love now long gone.

With my final matches,

I forged a heart

At that maiden’s doorstep;

I was like a thief,

On that torrid night,

My heart abrim

With so much love,

But a love now long gone.

And what of the maiden in azure?

O! What an inferno raged

Within my soul for her,

But that love

Never bloomed beyond a dream,

My heart abrim

With such a love,

But a love now long gone.

Calf Love Crisis

I couldn’t be more sure

Of all the nostalgia I’d endure,

If I were to explore

A calf love crisis

That was so hard to cure,

How your mummy knew mine,

They’d been friends

For a little time,

The time that you explained,

Your first name; it was Jane.

In our local swimming pool,

I swam so close to you,

Did you smirk

To your bob-haired friend,

Between the deep and shallow end?

So I just shyly slinked away,

Feeling such a fool that day,

Pet Clark reinforced

My bitter woe,

Singing My Love on the radio.

Can’t You See That the Summer’s Come?

Where’s your smile?

Don’t be a melancholy child,

Can’t you see

That the summer’s come?

Alone in your room,

With your winter curtains drawn,

While the suburbs

Are all bathed in sun,

No more wintertime lows,

Only joy now because

We can shake off the blues,

There’s no time to lose, my love…

We can go for a cruise

Down the Thames or down the Ouse,

Or just snooze

Under summer sun,

Find a village green,

Watch some cricket, take so tea,

As you please,

Summer’s made for fun,

Get some sweet summer air,

Feel the breeze in your hair,

Forget that sad old romance,

He’s not worth all the tears,

Where’s your smile?

Don’t be a melancholy child,

Can’t you see

That the summer’s come?

Costa Calida Sun
 
 Costa Calida sun,
 I hope we’re reunited,
 Though I can’t say when,
 I may see you again,
 
 Costa Calida sun
 Means memories romantic,
 Of when that I was young,
 Memories of Spain.

How Things Turn Out to Be

When I was young,

I was so carefree,

At least that’s how

It seems to me,

Isn’t it strange,

How things turn out to be?

Full of hope,

Full of passionate dreams,

A thrilling new world

Lay right before me,

Isn’t it strange,

How things turn out to be?

Glass half full,

Then it’s half empty,

My mood can change

So very unpredictably,

Isn’t it strange,

How things turn out to be?

In Hamburg I Loved a Strange Girl

In Hamburg I loved

A strange girl,

She put my whole being

In a whirl,

She spurned everybody

But me,

I made her happy,

In Hamburg.

But if she had

Spurned me,

I’d have looked her in the eye,

And run away,

And in my room,

I would have cried,

I might even have died,

In Hamburg.

In Puerto Rican Skies

Kind faces smiling,

Nodding politely at words

They don’t seem to understand,

Show me pictures

Showing the richness

Of a faraway distant land,

Multicoloured motor cars,

Brown apartments rising high

In Puerto Rican skies.

In Remembrance of My Lost Angel

I feel a deep, deep sorrow,

As life nears its final page,

The hardship that comes with age,

I simply can’t help but rage,

But somehow, there’s a special sorrow,

In tears cried for love long gone,

In remembrance, suffuséd with pain

Of my lost angel.

I feel a deep, deep sorrow,

In promise that’s unfulfilled,

In youth that has been misspent,

In a life with so much regret,

But somehow, there’s a special sorrow,

In tears cried for love long gone,

In remembrance, suffuséd with pain

Of my lost angel.

Angel, I remember you,

I’ve missed you for so long,

Angel, you belong

To memories,

Angel, when I think of you,

I hear sad romantic songs,

Songs that make me long

For yesterday.

I feel a deep, deep sorrow,

As life nears its final page,

The hardship that comes with age,

I simply can’t help but rage,

But somehow, there’s a special sorrow,

In tears cried for love long gone,

In remembrance, suffuséd with pain

Of my lost angel.

Lament for a Classmate

I knew you when you were a child,

I don’t recall you,

Although I tried,

Perhaps you were sweet,

While I was wild,

The precious pet of the classroom kind,

An image of a smiling child,

I beheld your face,

And my soul cried,

I knew you when you were a child,

I don’t recall you,

Although I tried.

Lovelorn in London Town

From morn to friendless night,

He tramps the streets,

Just in case he might

Come across her,

He’s a tragic sight,

But he doesn’t care,

Love gives him might,

He haunts the cafes and the discos

And the bars, so lovelorn.

He knows that he won’t find her,

But he’s got

To keep on trying,

It gives some meaning

To his life,

It gives some substance

To his time,

It is his motive, and his project,

And his plan, so lovelorn.

He only met her once,

But it changed his life,

And it changed

His type, and it changed

His mind, and he

Threw it all up,

As if he’d gone insane,

And he took to the streets,

And another man was born.

They say love comes but

Once for some,

But when it comes,

It’s like a mighty

Atom bomb inside,

A disease that seizes

A gentle soul,

And if it comes for you,

You’d be advised to try and hide.

From morn to friendless night,

He tramps the streets,

Just in case he might

Come across her,

He’s a tragic sight,

But he doesn’t care,

Love gives him might,

He haunts the cafes and the discos

And the bars, so lovelorn.

On the Blue Baltic Sea

Love on the blue Baltic Sea

The love I call

Baltic melody,

Love, there’s a love

That’s hard to seize,

Love carried by the summer breeze,

Love on the blue Baltic Sea

The love I call

Baltic melody,

Love, there’s a love

That’s yours with ease,

And there’s the elusive love that flees,

Love on the blue Baltic sea

The love I call

Baltic melody.

My Past in Peace

One day I’d like to go

In search of my past,

Of the memories

Of a misspent youth.

I cry for my souvenirs,

I dream of a beautiful future,

Where I can atone

For all the follies

Of my existence,

And where I might

Contemplate my past

In peace at long last.

My Travels

My travels start

Right here

Deep in my mind,

My travels take me just where

I please, I don’t have

To leave my warm room.

My travels start,

Sixteen, sun

Beating down,

Sinatra’s crooning Jobim,

And I’m just dreaming of my

Great romance to come.

I don’t need a little ticket,

Tells me I can take the train,

I don’t even to risk it,

There’s no blistering sun,

Or driving rain,

And it’s here that I remain.

My travels end

With a sweet

And peaceful time,

I’ve found such sense deep within,

No more will I feel

The need to go travelling again.

Toilers of the Sea

Come away with me

To toil upon the sea,

Come away and see

How sweet sea life can be,

I’ll sing Bonnie Dundee

Off the coast of

Old Guernsey, you and me

As toilers of the sea, as toilers of the sea.

Help me put that wrecked

Romance away from me,

Help me understand

How it was lost at sea,

It wasn’t destined to be,

She belonged to another not me,

What’ll be will be,

For toilers of the sea, for toilers of the sea.

I can stand it if you’re

There with me,

For the solitary life at sea

Is enough to make you

Sea crazy,

With the whales

And gulls for company,

For toilers of the sea, for toilers of the sea.

We can ponder on

The ocean’s mysteries,

I’ll unveil a few of

My old sea stories,

You’ll see how kind a tar can be,

I promise you’ll be safe with me,

When we’re out at sea

As toilers of the sea, as toilers of the sea.

To See You at Every Time of Day

To see you in the morning,

Be with you in the evening,

To see you here

At every time of day,

Such a simple prayer,

To see you at every time of day.

To hold you when you’re laughing,

Console you when you’re crying,

Take care of you

At every time of day,

Such a simple prayer

To see you at every time of day.

So tell me why you push me away,

When I’ve sworn to be

Forever true,

When I’ve pledged

My pure and simple heart to you?

How can you be so cruel?

To see you in the morning,

Be with you in the evening,

To see you here

At every time of day,

Such a simple prayer,

To see you at every time of day.

Under Blue Berkshire Skies

Stevie, we were free,

Stevie, you and me,

On that golden day,

Was it 68?

The decade’s last few days,

The whole wild world was crazed,

But where we were was peace,

For you and me at least.

If I stop for a moment,

I dream groves and country paths,

Green’s Albatross is playing

In this our past,

Whole empires were falling,

The old ways were fading fast,

Things never last,

But you and I found peace at last.

We weren’t friends for long,

Things began so strong,

We were far from home,

Together less alone,

We drifted far apart,

We grew up oh so fast,

We had so far to fall,

Four years took their toll.

We walked and talked

For many hours,

Safe under blue Berkshire skies.

Who Lives in My Perfect Love

Perhaps she lives

In our dreams alone,

She whose face is

Illumined

By the rays

Of the sun,

While the dansette plays

Some romantic melody,

O how I love

The one

Who lives in my perfect love.

It’s so strange,

The morning comes,

And there are tears in my eyes;

My dream has disappeared,

Lost in the wind of time;

She who looked at me

With such tenderness,

While the dansette played

Some romantic melody,

O how I love the one

Who lives in my perfect love.

Memories leave me in peace,

O my past,

Where did you flee,

My golden youth,

All squandered,

All gone,

My thoughts torment me,

Precious faith, please

Comfort me,

For what is my life

Without you.

Perhaps she lives

In our dreams alone,

She whose face is

Illumined

By the rays

Of the sun,

While the dansette plays

Some romantic melody,

O how I love

The one

Who lives in my perfect love.

Yes, I Regret

Yes, I regret

The scornful dissipation

Of my salad days

When I was strong,

Believe me,

They didn’t last too long,

Believe me,

They didn’t last too long.

Yes, I regret

All that I squandered

O’er the course

Of about fifteen years,

Believe me,

I’ve cried quite a sea of tears,

Believe me,

I’ve cried quite a sea of tears,

Yes, I regret

If I e’er acted cavalierly

Towards any who sought to love me

With a trusting heart,

Believe me,

I’m not so proud of my past,

Believe me,

I’m not so proud of my past.

Three — Verses Forged from Prose Pieces, Earlier Verses, Journal Entries and Missives Unsent

Introduction

An Actor Arrives at the Bristol Old Vic has as its origins the barest elements of a story started — but never finished — in early 1980, while I was working at the Bristol Old Vic, playing the minute part of Mustardseed in a much praised production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Richard Cottrell. It was originally rescued in 2006 from a battered notebook in which I habitually scribbled during spare moments offstage while clad in my costume and covered in blue body make-up and silvery glitter. And while doing so, some of the glitter was transferred from the pages with which they were stained more than a quarter of a century previously onto my hands. It was an eerie experience.

A Cambridge Lamentation centres on my brief stay at a teacher training college contained within the University of Cambridge, with its campus at Hills Road just outside the city centre. A fusion of previously published pieces, it was primarily adapted, some years ago now, from an unfinished and unsent letter, penned just before Christmas 1986, but never sent.

For Something I’d Done was taken from online diary entries made in recollection of a dream, and dating from 15/9/14.

In a Forgotten Field in England was distilled in late 2016 from an autobiographical piece entitled Leitmotifs from an English Pastorale, which, dating from around the turn of the decade, was recently sidelined for being no longer representative of myself as a writer and indeed individual.

Incident in St. Christopher’s Place is also known as A Letter Unsent, because it was based precisely on that, a letter, written to a close friend, almost certainly in the early 1990s, but never sent.

London as the Lieu first existed in prose form in the 1980s as part of an absurd — which is to say entirely fictional — unfinished story.

Lone Birthday Boy Dancing, which was almost certainly drafted as a makeshift journal entry on 8 October 1992, or perhaps a year earlier, serves to evoke a twilight mood, with the birthday boy performing his Dionysian solo dance in defiance of the wholesale ruin of mind, body and soul he is so obviously invoking.

My Life Story was extracted from an email sent to a friend, possibly around 2010, and subsequently versified.

Mi Pueblito Perdito was based on an earlier piece entitled For a Long Lost Espanya, itself based on diary notes dating from the 28th of August 2014, and while it came close to being ejected from this collection twice, as a result of being edited and retitled in both July and August 2017, its inclusion was ensured.

Oblivion in Recession first existed as a series of rough notes scrawled on a piece of scrap paper in the dying days of January 1993, although I can’t for the life of me recall any howlings in my head.

She Dear One Who Followed Me first existed as a series of scrawled notes based on several conversations I engaged in circa 1981 or ’82 with the piece’s eponym, the ‘dear one’ of the title, after she had followed me from Hampstead in north London to nearby Golders Green, where I was resident at the time.

Some Perverse Will dates from about 1980, and how much of it is reflective of my mind in that year I cannot say for sure; but I am convinced I was at least partially straining for a darkness, a depth, that I aspired to, rather than truly possessed.

Some Sad Dark Secret was inspired by words spoken to me by a former tutor and mentor of mine when I was a mature student of about 27 at Westfield College, London, as well as my own reflections on them in the shape of makeshift journal entries.

Strange Coldness Perplexing was forged using notes scrawled onto seven sides of an ancient now coverless notebook, possibly late at night following an evening’s carousal, and in a state of serene intoxication. The original notes were based on experiences I underwent while working as a teacher of English in central London, which I did for around two years between ca. early 1988 and the winter of 1990.

Such a Short Space of Time was based on some kind of confessional piece of writing I briefly worked on sometime in the mid 1990s, but which was never truly realised. It was partly inspired, as I remember it, by playing 10 C.C.’s How Dare You, among other vinyl LPs I had not heard in what may have been at least a decade.

Tales of a Paris Flâneur, consisting of a patchwork of memories and impressions of Paris compiled between autumn 1982 and spring 1983, and possibly partially originating as notes or makeshift journal entries, came close to being rejected as inferior even according to my modest standards of versification, but was ultimately saved in May 2017 by being fused with another Parisian piece, and significantly restructured.

There Once Was a Long-Vanished England was extracted from two lengthy autobiographical pieces, Born on the Goldhawk Road and Snapshots from a Child’s West London, which currently form part of an earlier volume, A Perfectly Foolish Young Man I Wanted, verse one having initially existed, ca. 2002, as some kind of drastically attenuated short story; while verses two to three also began life as a story, but dating from when I was about 21.

The Spark of Youth Long Gone was based on an unfinished story written either in the late 1970s or early ’80s in the affectedly melancholy spirit of a would-be tortured artist.

The Woodville Hall Soul Boys was adapted, via versification from an unfinished story dating from when I was about 23 years old, but looking back to two years previously.

Wicked Cahoots stems from an unfinished story written in my very early twenties, which first saw the light of day in versified form in 2006.

A Cambridge Lamentation

This place is always a little lonely

At the weekends…no noise and life;

I like solitude,

But not in places

Where’s there’s recently been

A lot of people.

Reclusiveness protects you

From nostalgia,

And you can be as nostalgic

In relation to what happened

Half an hour ago,

As half a century ago, in fact more so.

I went to the Xmas party.

I danced,

And generally lived it up.

I went to bed sad though.

Discos exacerbate

My sense of solitude.

My capacity for social warmth,

Excessive social dependence,

And romantic zeal,

Can be practically deranging;

It’s no wonder I feel the need

To escape…

Escape from my own

Drastic social emotivity,

And devastating capacity

For loneliness.

I feel trapped here;

There’s no

Outlet for my talents.

In such a state as this,

I could fall in love with anyone.

The night before last

I went to the ball,

Couples filing out,

I wanted to be half of every one,

But I didn’t want to lose ***.

I’ll get over how I feel now,

And very soon.

Gradually I’ll freeze again,

Even assuming an extra layer of snow.

I have to get out of here.

An Actor Arrives at the Bristol Old Vic

I remember the grey slithers of rain,

The jocular driver

As I boarded the bus

At Temple Meads,

And the friendly lady who told me

When we had arrived at the city centre.

I remember the little pub on King Street,

With its quiet maritime atmosphere.

I remember tramping

Along Park Street,

Whiteladies Road and Blackboy Hill,

My arms and hands aching from my bags,

To the little cottage where I had decided to stay

And relax between rehearsals,

Reading, writing, listening to music.

I remember my landlady, tall, timid and beautiful.

For Something I’d Done

I was in a tawdry bar,

Or public house,

Being threatened,

For something I’d done.

Darting furiously…

Through city streets,

Running, running,

For something I’d done.

My companion hailed,

And stopped a bus,

Its metal doors flew open,

For something I’d done.

Had to get to them,

Had to get through them,

Under furious pursuance,

For something I’d done.

In a Forgotten Field in England

He had no insight into the mysteries

Of the gilded sports

Of the British social elite,

By the time he arrived at his beloved college,

Long, long ago in a long-forgotten England,

And in later years he came to the opinion

That if he possessed a single quality

That might be termed noble

He owed it in part to his education,

And not least the four years he spent there,

And there’d be times when certain pieces

Of quintessentially English pastoral music

Still had the power to evoke his strange and sudden vanishing,

While seeming to him to bespeak a passion

For the Arcadian soul of England that verged on the ecstatic,

And others when he’d dream of a day

He might return to the scene of his flight as if in atonement,

And commune with the soul of his beloved England,

With a passion verging on the ecstatic,

And then put the memory to rest for all time,

And he absconded once…just the once it was…

To avoid being chastised for something foolish he did,

And he finished up wandering, forlornly wandering,

His boots freshly caked with the purest English soil,

Long, long ago in a forgotten field in England.

Incident in St. Christopher’s Place

Dear, I haven’t been in touch

For a long time.

Sorry.

The last time I saw you

Was in St. Christopher’s Place.

It was a lovely evening…

When I knocked that chair over.

I am sorry.

Since then,

I’ve had not a few accidents

Of that kind.

Just three days ago,

I slipped out in a garden

At a friend’s house…

And keeled over, not once,

Not twice, but three times,

Like a log…clonking my nut

So violently that people heard me

In the sitting room.

What’s more,

I can’t remember a single sentence

Spoken all evening. The problem is…

London as the Lieu

Until recently, I had the impression

Of decaying

Along with the moral standards

Of contemporary Europe,

With London as the lieu

To which all Autoroutes lead.

In my room, I was surrounded

By debris

Of my existence,

Lacking the will even to clear

The carpet, whose colour,

Incidentally I came to forget.

I ceaselessly tampered with my hair,

Growing it long,

Having it cropped, hennaing it red,

Dyeing it blue-black, bleaching it near-white;

It fell out in bunches,

Desiccated and exhausted.

My face grew sallow and haggard,

With bloodshot, inflamed,

Glazed, blue-ringed orbs,

And bitten, bloated, ravaged lips.

My body lost its athletic aspect,

And became shapeless and emaciated.

Lone Birthday Boy Dancing

Yesterday for my birthday,

I started off

with a bottle of wine…

I took the train

into town…

I had half a bitter

at the Cafe de Piaf

in Waterloo…

I went to work

for a couple of hours or so;

I had a pint after work;

I went for an audition;

after the audition,

I had another pint

and a half;

I had another half,

before meeting my mates,

for my b’day celebrations;

we had a pint together;

we went into

the night club,

where we had champagne

(I had three glasses);

I had a further

glass of vino,

by which time,

I was so gone

that I drew an audience

of about thirty

by performing a solo

dancing spot

in the middle

of the disco floor…

We all piled off to the pub

after that,

where I had another drink

(I can’t remember

what it was)…

I then made my way home,

took the bus from Surbiton,

but ended up

in the wilds of Surrey;

I took another bus home,

and watched some telly,

and had something to eat

before crashing out…

I really, really enjoyed

the eve, but today,

I’ve been walking around

like a zomb;

I’ve had only one drink today,

an early morning

restorative effort;

I spent the day working,

then I went to a bookshop,

where, like a monk,

I go for a day’s

drying out session…

Drying out is really awful;

you jump at every shadow;

you feel dizzy,

you notice everything;

very often,

I don’t follow through.

My Life Story

my life story

is littered

with the ghosts

of golden

opportunities gone.

Mi Pueblito Perdido

O how

Ruefully I pine

For mi pueblito perdido,

What I wouldn’t give,

To be young again,

And happy as I was back then.

Maria, full of peace,

Do you remember

Francis Albert softly keening

O Amor Em Paz,

And other songs by Jobim,

Happy as you were back then?

O for

That wide-eyed

Impression of yours,

Paquita (la de Murcia),

Of your beloved Mary Lyn,

Happy as you were back then.

O how

Ruefully I pine

For mi pueblito perdido,

What I wouldn’t give,

To be young again,

And happy as I was back then.

Oblivion in Recession

The legs started going,

Howlings

In my head.

Thought I’d go,

Kept awake with water,

Breathing,

Arrogantly telling myself

I’d stay straight.

Drank gin and wine,

Went out,

Tried to buy more,

Unshaven,

Filthy white shorts,

Lost, rolling on lawn,

Somehow got home.

Monday, waiting for offie,

Looked like death,

Fear in eyes

Of passers-by,

Waiting for drink,

Drink relieved me.

Drank all day,

Collapsed, wept;

“Don’t Die on Me.”

Next day,

Double brandy

Just about settled me,

Drank some more,

Thought constantly

I’d collapse;

Then what?

Fit? Coronary?

Insanity? Worse?

Took a Heminevrin,

Paced the house

All night,

Pain in chest,

Weak legs,

Lack of feeling

In extremities,

Visions of darkness.

Drank water

To keep the

Life functions going,

Played devotional music,

Dedicated my life

To God,

Prayed constantly,

Renounced evil.

Next day,

Two Valiums

Helped me sleep.

By eve,

I started to feel better.

Suddenly,

All is clearer,

Taste, sounds,

I feel human again.

I made my choice,

And oblivion has receded,

And shall disappear.

Sense of Me in the Past

I was sad today;

Because you begged me

To think of your good points,

And I never told you any.

Rest assured there are many,

Very many, I would have liked

To have told you them

There and then.

I tell you so much about my past;

Quite a lot of which is conflictive,

As if several mes

Were struggling for supremacy.

Much of the time,

There was a pretty normal me;

Oh don’t get me wrong,

I was always an attention-seeker,

But I really do genuinely struggle

To make sense,

I really do genuinely struggle

To make sense of me in the past.

She Dear One Who Followed Me

It was she, bless her,

who followed me…

she’d been crying…

she’s too good for me,

that’s for sure…

“Your friends

are too good to you…

you don’t really give…

you indulge

in conversation,

but your mind

is always elsewhere,

ticking over.

You are a Don Juan,

so much.

Like him, you have

no desires…

I think you have

deep fears…

There’s something…

in your look.

It’s not that

You’re empty…

but that there is

an omnipresent sadness

about you, a fatality…”

Strange Coldness Perplexing

the catholic nurse

all sensitive

caring noticing

everything

what can she think

of my hot/cold torment

always near blowing it

living in the fast lane

so friendly kind

the girls

dewy eyed

wanda abandoned me

bolton is in my hands

and yet my coldness

hurts

the more emotional

they stay

trying to find a reason

for my ice-like suspicion

fish eyes

coldly indifferent eyes

suspect everything that moves

socialising just to be loud

compensate for cold

lack of essential trust

warmth

i love them

despite myself

my desire to love

is unconscious and gigantesque

i never know

when i’m going to miss someone

strange coldness perplexing

i’ve got to work to get devotion

but once i get it

i really get people on my side

there are my people

who can survive

my shark-like coldness

and there are those

who want something

more personal

i can be very devoted to those

who can stay the course

my soul is aching

for an impartial love of people

i’m at war with myself.

Some Sad Dark Secret

“Temper your enthusiasm,”

She said,

“The extremes of your reactions;

You should have

A more conventional frame

On which to hang

Your unconventionality.”

“Don’t push people,”

She said,

“You make yourself vulnerable.”

She told me not to rhapsodise,

That it would be difficult,

Impossible, perhaps,

For me to harness my dynamism.

The tone of my work,

She said,

Is often a little dubious.

She said

She thought

That there was something wrong.

That I’m hiding

Some sad

Dark secret from the world.

“Temper your enthusiasm,”

She said,

“The extremes of your reactions;

You should have

A more conventional frame

On which to hang

Your unconventionality.”

Some Perverse Will

I’m a restless man

I am never

Still

I’m always spurred on

By some perverse

Will

The grass is never

Green

No peace here

To find

Some demon

Of motion’s

At work within my

Mind

No bed is too soft

That I won’t

Abandon

Its sweet calm

And comfort

For a softer

One

I’m a restless man

I am never

Still

I’m always spurred on

By some perverse will.

Such a Short Space of Time

I love, not just those

I knew back then,

But those

Who were young

Back then,

But who’ve since

Come to grief, who,

Having soared so high,

Found the

Consequent descent

Too dreadful to bear,

With my youth itself,

Which was only

Yesterday,

No, even less time,

A mere moment ago,

How could

Such a short space

Of time

Cause such devastation?

Tales of a Paris Flâneur

My Paris begins with

Those early days

As a conscious fllâneur;

I recall the couple

On the Metro

When I was still innocent

Of its labyrinthine complexities;

Slim pretty white girl,

Clad head to toe

In new blue denim,

Wistfully smiling,

While her muscular black beau

Stared straight through me

With fathomless, fulgorous orbs;

And then one of them spoke

(Almost in a whisper):

“Qu’est-ce que t’en pense?”

Until it dawned on me,

Yes, the slender young Parisienne

With the distant desirous eyes

Was no less male than I.

Being screamed at in Pigalle,

And then howled at again

By some kind

Of wild-eyed wanderer

Who suggested I seek out

The Bois de Boulogne

For what he saw as my destiny;

Cash squandered

On a cheap gold-plated toothbrush,

Portrait sketched at the Place du Tertre,

Paperback books

By Symbolist poets,

Second hand volumes

By Trakl and Delève,

Metro taken to Montparnasse,

Where I slowly sipped

A demi-blonde

In one of those brasseries,

Such as those

Immortalised by Brassai

In the famous photographs.

And where an ancient loup de mer

In a naval officer’s cap,

His table bestrewn

With empty wine bottles

And cigarette butts,

Repeatedly screeched “Phillippe!”

Until a patient young bartender

With patent leather hair,

And an affable half-smile,

Filled his wine glass

Quite to the brim,

With a mock-obsequious:

“Voila, mon Captaine!”

Losing Rory’s address,

Scrawled on a page

Of Musset’s Confession,

Walking the length

And breadth of the Rue St. Denis;

‘What an artists paradise,’

(As A-J once wrote me).

There Once Was a Long Vanished England

There once was a long vanished England;

Of well-spoken presenters

Of the BBC Home Service,

Light Service, and Children’s Favourites,

Of coppers and tanners, and ten bob notes;

And jolly shopkeepers, and window cleaners.

I remember my cherished Wolf Cub pack,

How I loved those Wednesday evenings,

The games, the pomp and seriousness of the camps,

The different coloured scarves, sweaters and hair

During the mass meetings,

The solemnity of my enrolment,

Being helped up a tree by an older boy,

Baloo, or Kim, or someone,

To win my Athletics badge,

Winning my first star, my two year badge,

And my swimming badge

With its frog symbol, the kindness of the older boys.

The Spark of Youth Long Gone

Two days ago, I decided

To realise

Some cherished memories

Of my beloved little pueblo;

So I drank about five glasses

Of Monteviejo

In preparation for

The rediscovery of

The town of my heart.

Firstly, I sat in the bar

Where I used to meet

All my friends,

And was assaulted

By the prices of the drinks,

And the volume of the music.

I searched the place

With my eyes

For the innocence and laughter

Of yesteryear, but in vain.

The young people are forced

Into tight little groups,

So atmosphere

Is ponderous and alienating.

Where is the fun?

The wild and foolish socialising?

The comic local music?

All gone. I could cry.

Oh, these nerves, this living death.

I am so full of fear,

Lethargy and fury,

I can hardly function.

There’s a lack of innocence,

Of simplicity,

And is this change

From deep within me?

The freedom,

The spark of youth

Is gone,

Or have I merely lost it?

Sophistication spoils,

The city ravages,

Senses refined

By knowledge and wine.

The Woodville Hall Soul Boys

Soon after I’d paid

My sixty

Or seventy pence,

I found myself

In what I thought

Was a miniature London.

I saw girls

In chandelier earrings,

In stiletto heels,

Wearing evening

Dresses,

Which contrasted with

The bizarre

Hair colours

They favoured:

Jet black

Or bleach blonde,

With flashes of

Red, purple

Or green.

Some wore large

Bow ties,

Others unceremoniously

Hanged

Their school ties

Round their

Necks.

Eye make-up

Was exaggerated.

The boys all had

Short hair,

Wore mohair sweaters,

Thin ties,

Baggy,

Peg-top trousers

And winklepicker shoes.

A band playing

Raw street rock

At a frantic speed

Came to a sudden,

Violent climax…

Melodic, rhythmic,

Highly dancable

Soul music

Was now beginning

To fill the hall,

With another group

Of short-haired youths…

Smoother, more elegant,

Less menacing

Than the previous ones.

These well-dressed

Street boys

Wore well-pressed pegs

Of red or blue…

They pirouetted

And posed…

Pirouetted and posed.

Wicked Cahoots

When he made

his first personal appearance

in the dirty alley

on someone else’s rusty bike,

screaming along

in a cloud of dust,

it rendered us all

speechless and motionless.

But I was amazed

that despite his grey-faced surliness,

he was very affable with us…

the bully with a naive

and sentimental heart.

He was so happy

to hear that I liked his dad,

or that my mum liked him,

and he was welcome

to come to tea

with us at five twenty five…

Our adventures were spectacular:

chasing after other bikesters,

screaming at the top

of our lungs

into blocks of flats,

and then running

as our echoed waves of terror

blended with incoherent threats…

“I’ll call the Police, I’ll…”

Wicked Cahoots.

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