I was diligently following a recipe called “How to make the perfect roast potatoes” Thinking, if I can achieve perfection Here in my kitchen That would be really quite major Offsetting all thoughts of career failure.
Like – alright, Macron You might have become President of France At the age of 39 And live in the elysee palace Rather than a 3 bed terrace But have you knocked out perfect roast potatoes Not just exceptional Not just blinding Perfect.
No. No, you haven’t.
So clear in my superiority I knuckled down and followed the recipe Par boiling to the second, Interspersing garlic among the King Edwards and as I sat there oven side, like a midwife I thought to myself I’m alright.
At a wine and snacks gathering
in Canonbury, I was stood with
some adults discussing teaching.
In a despondent bid for attention
I said I had met Michael Gove
and liked him. “How can you say that?”
was followed by “he’s a dreadful man,
and you know it, Richard” at which point
I said he was only trying to raise standards
and what was the harm in that. Although
the party began to peter out
shortly afterwards, I stayed
until the end, insisting on
washing-up the glasses
even though the host twice said
there was no need.
Do you remember when everything was good
those good times, when the good things happened
what were you, six, nine, eleven, fifteen
that age, when only the fun things mattered
like skateboard tricks and scootering
and decisions never got harder than
how many scoops and what type of ice cream
Do you remember, tv was good back then
the good guys were good looking and felt like your friends
friends that were funny, and caring too
and in the movies things exploded but your hero made it through
do you remember when everyone used to make it through?
wouldn’t you like everyone you love to just make it through?
No worries, that’s what I’m standing for
a good future where worries are no more
adults encouraged to play video games
not new ones, the old ones, like we used to play.
Do you know what else I would like to do?
Bring back those bands which spoke to you
when you were that age when music still spoke to you
If that is the safe space you want to return to
there is one little thing you have got to do
one morning, on a Thursday in May
I’ll drop off dvds and your favourite food
you gather your mates and play all day
and keep them away from the voting booth
the next day, there will be a new improved truth
the news will all be good news
or maybe just cartoons
yes, instead of news we’ll just have the funnies
and I promise you this
my friends and I will take care of business
and for you, my friend, there will be no worries
I went to see Prince in concert the other day.
He appeared in high heels, skimpy blouse,
and a manfrock made of velvet and lace,
a suggestive grin all over his face. He was
accompanied by Amazonian dancing girls,
wearing almost nothing bar a pair of roller skates.
I’m not quick to criticise, Mr Garvey, but,
between you and I, it was an absolute disgrace.
His lyrics, meanwhile, were boastful and dishonest
talking about “Purple Rain” and a “Little Red Corvette.”
If only you had helped him, he would have
come up with something decent, more modest
about meeting a slightly pretty divorcee,
at a black pudding stand in Bury market,
and driving her home in a second-hand Corsa
through normal, northern-coloured rain
That wasn’t the worst of it, I’m afraid.
After a costume change, he performed a song which,
if I am not mistaken, was called Soft and Wet,
the dancing girls pawing at his exposed, hairy chest
which display of prurience, I’m sad to say,
gave me a strange swelling between the legs
something which assuredly did not happen
the last time I saw Elbow at Manchester GMEX
I’m telling you, Mr Garvey, by the time that little imp had finished performing I was dangerously aroused when I got back home I had to listen to your entire back catalogue to calm myself down
Mr Garvey. Please show Prince the error of his ways.
Have a word with him, man-to-man, over a packet
of pork scratchings and a pint of real ale. Tell him,
gently, like a portly, northern Gok Wan:
“Prince. If you want to become a man of the people, with a string of solid yet unspectacular albums and, potentially, your own show on BBC 6 Music you need to follow Guy Garvey’s three-step plan.
1. Dress more ordinary, not like a girl but in loose fit jeans and lumber shirts 2. Get rid of that funky afro; replace it with a nice monobrow and pudding bowl 3. Stop performing like an eroticised Cocker Spaniel. Perform sensibly, like me, as if you’re idea of fun is reading a fridge freezer owners’ manual.”
Because watching a pop star on stage should not
undermine anyone of mixed ability. It should
be like watching telly on the sofa, with more
extensive toilet facilities. At the end of a concert,
people should know that all dreams are feasible,
all dance moves achievable, all footwear
comfortable and, something you demonstrate
brilliantly, Mr Garvey, all waistlines expandable.
Yours, dreaming of a more normal, ordinary future,
Yellow daffodil, how uninspired you are
year in, year out
it’s always the same with you, isn’t it?
Always the same gaudy yellow
a colour once bright and joyful
made drab by its predictability
One would think, wouldn’t one
that one could shake things up a bit
a bit of black piping
a few white spots, perhaps
new season is always old season with you
People might say, ‘So nice to see the daffs back again!
I might write a poem about them!’
They would be lying, yellow daffodil
they would be humouring you, with English politeness.
Behind your back they are saying terrible things
terrible, nasty things
comparing you unfavourably to the geranium
lower even than nettles, with their supposed life-giving properties
What do you give, yellow daffodil?
What do you give, apart from a gentle reminder of springtime past
a splash of colour where previously there was none
a glint of sun-like warmth, hinting at the summer to come?
In fact, yellow daffodil, forget we had this conversation.
Carry on, as you always have done.
On your way out, could you leave the door open,
and send the chrysanthemum in?
I need a few choice words with him.
Hovis went in.
Rightly chastised that their Best of Both wasn’t anything of the sort
they have come back.
Hovis Wholemeal Granary is so heavy
your bowels start preparing a rock solid shit while you’re still buttering.
They should have just called it Pandemic, and had done with it.
This bread is some archaic, backdated, prison tattoo on the face-type shit
with no rightful place in this wifi coffee shop world in which we live.
This is bread to threaten your kid with
bread targeted at men who lift Atlas stones and pull locomotives
This bread is the opposite of Drake
equivalent to your Bavarian grandmother’s Christmas cake
whatever density this bread is,
it’s the only loaf you could tie to a dead body and send to the bottom of a lake
This bread is like looking at monumental brutalist architecture and saying you don’t like it. Think it…
Miles Davis is at a dinner hosted by US President Ronald Reagan. He is sat next to a politician’s wife, who says to him:
“What have you done that is so important in your life? Why are you here?”
Miles, in his Autobiography, says:
Now, I just hate shit like this coming from someone who is ignorant but who wants to be hip and has forced you into a situation where you’re talking to them in this manner. She brought this on herself. So then I said, “Well I’ve changed music five or six times, so I guess that’s what I’ve done…Now, tell me what you have done of any importance other than be white, and that ain’t important to me, so tell me what your claim to fame is?”
You have to feel sorry for the poor woman. Invited to a presidential dinner, and forced to sit next to Miles Davis, a man who is not only a jazz musician, but who also believes that jazz music is important and his place within music of great importance. No doubt she went home and spoke with her politician husband and tut-tutted and used the word ‘uppity’ and perhaps some other less delicate words to describe the hurt that she felt at having to share a dinner table with such a hubristic and obnoxious man.
It is a similar hurt that many people, many esteemed people within the world of literature are feeling today with the publication of Morrissey’s Autobiography on the Penguin Classics imprint. This, let us not forget, is the hallowed place where all of the greatest works of literature are published: Homer, Shakespeare, Balzac and Wilde among them.
These writers are all happily dead, and have been, whilst they rest in peace, adjudged and analysed and welcomed into the canon.
And now, a songwriter, who is merely the greatest pop lyricist this country has produced, has the temerity to demand, yes demand, that his autobiography should be published, without anyone from the wider literary establishment reading it, within the realm of Penguin Classics.
Well, isn’t that just like sitting at a presidential dinner and having Miles Davis insult you to your face?
“This isn’t about the redefinition of ‘classic’, but abject surrender. Penguin has with breath-stopping cynicism flogged its crown jewel – a precious place on the roster of the world’s most enduring literary works – to the moody maverick.”
The sound Boyd Tonkin, Literary Editor of the Independent, choking on his soup.
“To package as a classic a book that no one except Morrissey and a handful of fawning acolytes has read is to instantly reduce the worth of all classics”
said someone on the Telegraph who may as well, except to his mother, remain nameless.
Morrissey, just like Miles Davis all those years ago, should have kept quiet, known his place, and slunk off to the obscurity that his songwriting within the horribly besmirched and irrelevant world of pop music deserves.
Because we should listen to the literary editors and the politician’s wives. We should listen to the voices of those who contemporaneously would have said that Shakespeare was too bawdy, Dickens too populist, Beckett too repetitive, Austen too flippant, Proust too long-winded, and that Oscar Wilde deserved his prison term.
Morrissey, like Miles Davis, is revered in many countries across the globe, including England. The English establishment, perhaps taking into account his open and gleeful hatred of the royal family, still views him with disdain.
Those hundreds of thousands of us whose lives have been enriched – some would say saved – by Morrissey’s words, feel sorry for those suffering great hurt today. However, we do this with the archness and irony learnt from our hero as he marches triumphantly into the citadel known as Literary Establishment, and takes his rightful place among the greats.
The only thing you can aspire to growing up in Essex is to be the barrowboy or banker, trading, raking it in, fingerless gloves in Romford market, salmon shirts in the City, it doesn’t matter, you’ve got to be trading, raking it in, making a living, earning your keep, working and working and working away.
But what are you supposed to do if you are a dosser at heart, curtains drawn at seven a.m., George Osborne tutting on the street below, and all you are good at is words, constructing words into insubstantial sandcastles, how do you, as a poet, make a man of yourself?
You’ve got to sell your wares:
Six and ha’penny worth of sonnets, Mrs Springtime?
Do you want some limericks with that?
Will that be open or wrapped?
They say, I’m not sure who they are, but they definitely do say that the poet should not compromise his vision, and I believe that to be true but not true in my case because my vision is already compromised, it is necessarily compromised by my need to fulfil my erstwhile Essex desires. So when TFL came to me and said, Richard, we want you to do positive poems about TFL and etiquette
(Me who listens to dirty, dirty hip hop on tube trains, it’s seediness leaking into the ears of poor uncorrupted children who might otherwise be listening to pure pop sung by cynical teens with perfect hair and an eye on the till)
I said, yeah, alright.
So, I went down to Croydon, well turned out in my blue suit, and I sidled up to the old ladies – they love me, old ladies, and I love them – and delivered my lines about all the evils that other people do and the old ladies nod, and they say, you are quite right, Richard
and it proves that if you rhyme nicely and throw a few puns in along the way, people will believe what you say
and the young people who would like to think they are immune, they are also susceptible, because poetry makes people realise
it makes them realise that life is all right. You can moan and caterwaul all you like, but in our much criticised social democracy where nothing is good enough, if Transport for London have enough courage to pay a few poets some money, some honest cash money, to roam over London spreading goodness, and allow the poet, for a week only, to pretend he is a real life worker, with dignity and all the rest, then it would be churlish to argue too stridently and unrelentingly about our imperfect state of affairs.