An Idea Whose Time has Gone

This poem owes a lot, style-wise, to Sean O’Brien’s ‘Timor Mortis’, and a lot, content-wise to a group of Facebook friends from whom I crowdsourced the ideas.  But I wrote it to support a cause I strongly believe in. The Sun began Page 3 in 1970. Women stripped to the knickers in a ‘family newspaper’ sends poor messages to both men and women.  If you want to understand the sexual intimidation and bullying women still have to put up with, take a look at the Everyday Sexism Project. Then ask yourself whether Page 3 is likely to make the situation A) better or B) worse.

Big in the 70s

Sometimes it’s good to bring to mind
all the naff stuff we left behind;
Fanny Cradock, nylon sheets,
avocado bathroom suites,
Bernard Manning, Love Thy Neighbour,
crinkly Izal toilet paper,
Stylophones and Irish jokes,
‘I mean that most sincerely, folks’,
public payphones, party lines,
crimplene and Rise ‘n’ Shine,
Bob Monkhouse and the Golden Shot,
the decade that all taste forgot,
Checkpoint Charlie, dolly-birds,
Brut and ‘Are You Being Served?’
blacking up for Minstrel shows
how that was normal, no-one knows.
George and Mildred, Benny Hill,
seaside postcards, sleeping pills,
OMO, Gary Glitter, flares,
Kevin Keegan’s curly hair,
incense sticks – patchouli-scented,
all dead, all gone, all unlamented.
Flowery wallpaper, New Faces,
cigarettes in public places,
Stars on Sunday, Uri Geller,
Cinderella Rockefella,
Austin Allegro, Ford Cortina,
Confessions of a Window-Cleaner.
Showaddywaddy, Paper Lace,
all disappeared without a trace,
Dennis Wheatley, Robin Day,
no legal right to equal pay,
Playtex girdles, Dr White’s,
Vesta curries, orange tights,
Inflation, twenty-five percent,
Mrs Thatcher’s government,
the Vietnam War and Watergate,
golliwogs with marmalade.
Tommy Cannon, Bobby Ball,
we didn’t need them after all.
Ali Bongo, Whitbread beer,
the Yorkshire Ripper, Slimcea,
Jimmy Savile, Legs & Co.,
scarletina, polio,
apartheid, birching, Chopper bikes,
the three-day week and all-out strikes;
ideas whose times have come and gone
and almost all of us moved on.
But while there’s knockers on page three
the Sun’s stuck in the Seventies.

So, support the petition, please. No More Page 3.


photo from Tim Ireland’s excellent blog:

Come October

It’s National Cask Ale Week! A perfect time to talk about why so many pubs are closing.  This is one of a series of beer poems I wrote this summer.

The Dog and Duck, Highmoor, Oxfordshire


Come October

we’ll be giving up the lease
on this place; calling time, ladies
and gentlemen, please. No-one drives
these country roads for beer, in case

they’re breathalysed. There’s not much call
for food, and you can’t build a trade
on crisps and nuts and lemonade. I’d say
it’s getting tougher every day.

The Brewery will want to find
another tenant; so they’ll start the rent
real low, but turn the screw
by raising it at each review,
until there isn’t any margin left
however good the management.
It’s no loss to them. They sell their bottled beer
in supermarkets at a higher price

than they can charge you here for draught;
no buildings – and no landlords – to maintain.
You’re right, it makes no sense;
with cask-conditioned ale,
its proper point of sale is in a pub.
Eventually, they’ll kill the licensed trade;
this place will go for Residential,
it’s worth more to the Brewery

dead than alive. The old Red Lion,
the Crown, the Dog and Duck, the Sun,
the Carpenters, the Cherry Tree,
the Fox, the White Horse, the Lamb;
sold off for asset-stripping, one by one.
Why should they care if pubs survive?
The taxman’s duty escalator adds
five pence a year on every pint;

nice that the cocktail-swilling Chancellor
decides what we can all afford to drink
on our nights out. So tell me this;
if they want a Big Society
then where’s it going to meet?
Are we building our communities at home,
when we grab cheap cans of lager from the fridge,
log in to Facebook, watch TV?

And we’ll be looking for another job
come October.

If you care, support CAMRA with their campaign to stop the duty escalator on beer, and preserve the local pub.