"I wish you were my Dad"
I thought as he presented
a souffle full of cream,
on our black and white televison set
It was the cravat - a paisley thing around
just like Mr Harvey, the art teacher.
How proud I would be of a father like that;
sophisticated, sauve, debonair.
Laughing in the face of a stiff, cold tie.
He'd drink red wine, and have a cultured
with the cravat sitting snugly at his throat.
He'd have one for every day of the week.
"This is my Dad",
I'd say, my voice thick with pride.
People would look up to him in awe.
Some of this adulation shining onto me,
for being so clever, as to be a daughter
of this amazing, cravat-wearing man.
He'd notice that I was actually there,
he'd have the wit to see the person I
really was underneath.
Then I'd finally have friends,
who would come round and
gaze at him:
"What a wonderful cravat",
"Only the superb and very clever
could wear such a thing as that."
And he'd cook the same souffle in
our shiny kitchen,
straight out of the adverts.
Oh - and we'd have a colour telly too,
- and maybe, carpet.
Oh, Martin Turner, you’re all bloody mouth and no
Cycling by on your paper round, like you’re it
My pulse quickens as you put the Standard through
You weedy fourth year, you.
I get lost in your brown eyes, and
my homework blurs before me as
I think about you touching my skin.
The world suddenly such a clearer
You asking my bra size at the disco,
my platform heels turning to jelly,
longing for you to find out first hand.
But after whispering breathily in your ear,
you just went back to your mates, laughing raucously.
38 D never enticed you back.
You could have had everything –
upstairs, downstairs, the lot.
I wouldn’t have minded
But when you went outside with that bitch, Sarah
Turning your back on someone who could
actually fill a bra?!
My doorstep offering so much more than mere
Now you shout out 38D as you whizz
past on your stupid bike - so do half the town.
You’re a meano, but I’d still let you see for yourself.
Oh Joyce, with your greasy hair, and sebaceous skin
What have you got that I haven’t?
Why did Brian Penn take you in the back of his van?
and not Me?
All it took was a bag of chips, I would have done it for far less!
When he did finally ask me out, we just ended up at the pub.
Talking - for Gods sake!
He suggested dinner! I laughed in his face!
Why piss about with that?!
Besides, I’d just had me tea!
Not one sniff of van action, the stupid pillock!
He didn’t even bring it with him!
Sod your Dad’s car! I said, where’s the van?
We could have been at it and everything!
At the pictures, we never even sat in
the back row!
Not a decent snog or nothing!
He actually watched the film!
The humiliation! And he chatted
about it all the way home!
What did he not take me for? Oh No!
Sod respect! That does not bring you paradise!
Got me Dad to hit him in the end:
“Back of the van not good enough for
my daughter! You bastard!”
Brian legged it, flowers in his hand flying
That’ll learn him to treat a girl properly!
He’s back with you, I hear, Joyce
Your yellow teeth fixed with a
Your piggy eyes glint in triumph
But I did try to be like you, Joyce,
I really did
You appear together, then you’re gone.
Very quickly. And I know where.
And that really should have been Me.
Where are those carrier bags?
No, not those recycled poncy type.
The slaggy ones, a slip of plastic,
with Key Markets or Tesco on the side
Like me Mum had
Throw away ones, which is exactly
what you did.
Shamelessly, without a single qualm.
Plenty more where they came from.
Don't get me wrong. I salute those
tasteful bags for life, and the five
But they're boring! And virtuous.
I long for those unlovely rolls of slag bags,
that took a piece of me with them.
Oh Evelyn, where have you gone?
I miss those teatimes with you,
ripping off your school tie, before you
did the same to my Sindy doll,
putting her to bed with Action Man.
Us, rushing to the Co-op for sherbert
You’d always be mouthy to some
miserable bloke behind the counter.
Then abusive calls to the operator
in the local phone box.
Legging it when threats of tracers were on the line.
Hiding behind the pub, terrified of Borstal.
After tea (chops and chips), you’d
pull my hair, and I’d scratch your face.
My Mum taking you home, us sticking
two fingers up at each other.
What a marvie time we had had
Then, Sindy wasn’t enough for you anymore.
You wanted the real thing with dishy sixth formers.
Your blonde hair stiff with lacquer,
mascaraed up to the eyeballs.
I could only watch at a distance,
from the coldness of the Science block
When your beaus finally cleared off to art college
you worked in the Midland Bank
and got engaged to someone called Ron.
I wished you luck as you filled your bottom drawer –
the loss within me endless:
Childhood friendship buried under white tulle –
it didn’t stand a chance.
Saving up for a mortgage, you said,
no more 2ps spent down the phone box.
No invite to the wedding, no giggly confidences
of doing what Sindy did
In fact, you’re not talking to me at all.
And all I said was:
You could have done so much better
Oh, Evelyn, where have you gone?!
Yes, we’ll be fine, Ta Ta, off you go.
Hey kids, what did your mother look like?!
And why has she bothered?!
No-one’s going to notice her tonight!
Now, where has your Dad hid his drink?
And who wants a puff of me fag?
There’s something really scary on telly,
after I’ve gone through your Mum’s bag.
(Yes, the little one can stay up too.)
I got everything I wanted at your age.
None of this pernickety sharing game
Toys, sweets, the whole bloomin’ lot
And me own kids just the same.
Why don’t you tell that to your parents?
Early tomorrow morning perhaps?
And that that fancy book learning won’t bring happiness
– a complete pile of crap.
My boy never bothered!
We just sat round and drank lemonade
It’s really fun when you get big.
Swearing and smoking. Get up late
(If you bother at all)
My daughter never really got it
And she did all that learning stuff
Slaving over books night and day
Couldn’t get out quick enough
Oh hello, how was your evening? No, good as gold.
Only one was sick. Bedtime was terribly late
Same time, next week? Aw, bless you!
Yes, again, I’ve increased me rate
(The thing is, I seem to be extraordinarily booked up. )
Hated you, Sunday night tea, you were disgusting.
Picking at winkles and whelks, resembling snot,
along with grey gritty shrimps bought from some
terrifying man, shouting his wares.
The strip light overhead exposing the
manky limp salad.
Being forced to eat beetroot, peeled and stood in vinegar,
stinking out the tiny living room, glaring
at me menacingly.
Haunting my dreams.
Sing Something Simple on the radio.
Sweetless, as no shops were open.
The telly, firmly switched off, fearful
of breaking the tedious Sunday silence.
School the next day.
Things were very grim indeed.
My brother’s girlfriend, coy under her false
Auntie Doreen’s stern features
set as stiffly as her boufant hair.
Her lips permanently glued in disapproval,
Her powdered skin, loveless and cold.
Once, my Gran, from the seaside, came round,
and the room lit up in a very different way.
After tea, she gave me a lolly and I sat on her lap,
my stomach growling dangerously.
I was sick all over the mantelpiece.
A silence. My Mum lighting a fag,
auntie Doreen’s face curdling milk,
girlfriend giggling nervously,
Gran reaching for the whisky.
That was the best Sunday night
I had ever had.
And now a school less day to follow.
I warned them about that beetroot!!
Oh dear, pubs, you’re dying off one by one.
taking a hefty part of me with you.
My little nose pressed up at the window,
waiting for my Dad to bring out a lemonade.
Choking on me first half a lager, trying to
impress the local lads.
The rickety cigarette machine that still
owes me money
The old boy sitting under the dartboard.
Your gruelling, unmerciful stench of pale ale
Tobacco stained décor, and sordid
Gastropub then safely unconcieved,
But now menus are stuck under our noses
before we even get in the door.
The very thing that makes me stay home
by the fireside.
And trying to get served!
You always saw to your favourites first,
before they dropped off one by one.
Your era’s gone. The next time I see you, I’ll
be shopping and using the self service.
And as for you, tobacco, you were once
my permanent fixture, coughing on you
behind the playing fields. Trying to be worldly.
Blowing smoke rings on top of the bus.
Sometimes, you were my only friends.
There again, your prices stink, worse than the
lingering smoke on me Mum’s winter coat.
Once you were welcomed at the pub table,
and every living room going.
An ashtray, the most vital must-have.
Now, you have really lost your charm
No longer a glamorous prop, your bright
lights have truly dimmed.
You really have slipped through my nicotined
You’re now a part of my shadowed past,
I’ll have to look for new friends now,
Something else to make me complete, but
I will long to bump into the both of you again.
Please don’t keep skyping me
Shouting at a screen, hair all over the place
We look stupid and ridiculous
Do we really have to look at each other?
Shouldn’t there be some small shroud
of mystery left?
Was it really that wrong to hide behind
Email will do. I keep up to date with
the times, and I know snail mail is a
No Go, and fax machines long gone.
Along with Proper phone calls, where
no-one sees each other at all. Bliss!
Don’t get me wrong, I take wonderful pictures
of the cat on Instagram, I’ve now got 12 followers!
I tweet as best I can, and follow the most incomprehensible
Snapchat so irritating, me best pictures gone in 60 seconds.
Facebook, passé and a bore.
I’ve even joined Watsapp – whatever
the Hell that is, but please please
stop shouting at me!!
I hate you, afternoons, you fill me with inertia,
You always did stink.
Long, long periods, facing out to the front,
fixating on the blackboard.
Hoping to make hometime without the
ruler from Miss Davis.
Later: a pile of homework, before my egg
and chip tea finally called time on you.
Later: the office clock, mocking and unkind,
It’s only twenty to four, it crowed,
the second half of the day is but young.
Later: Long afternoons with pre-school children,
tetchy and climbing, ignoring the potty on
the wet living room floor.
Dreaming of when Sooty would appear on the
My only real friend.
Later: School pick-ups, with the razor sharpness
of the most competitive of mothers.
Walking back deflated, before swimming and
Longing to switch the lamps on at 7 o’clock,
the children’s bedclothes turned down.
Later: Empty nest afternoons, staring at
an immaculate living room, heaving with
The light changing on my Womans Weekly,
counting down to another empty evening.
You are truly loathsome,
I love it when winter dims