Namedropping: a poem

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.

Michael Gove

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The fundamentals are looking good

The fundamentals are still quite good.

Cornish pasties are still being eaten
Office workers still having heavy weekends

Painters and decorators still being paid cash in hand
Ageing Prodigy members still living off the fat of the land

Dad’s still drinking whiskey, talking about fiscal instability
Mum’s still like when he’s like that I make myself a tea and go and watch the telly

Charity workers still doing their bit
South eastern trains still running like shit

Indie kids still wearing skinny ribs and smoking spliffs
England midfielders still got good engines, still lacking width

Renters still paying over the odds for poky digs
Quitters still nipping off for cheeky cigs

Yes, the fundamentals are still quite good.
The fundamentals are looking good.

Literary romance – a poem

I was ostentatiously holding
a novel by Chimamanda
Ngozi Adichie, when the Nigerian
girl I was trying to impress, says

Are you carrying that book
in a half-witted attempt
to impress me?

You know me so well!
I say, which proves, she says,
that happiness and knowledge
are enemies indeed.

Happiness is elusive, I say,
like something you reach for
but cannot grasp.

She sighs loudly and replies,
something you reach for
but cannot grasp
is not like elusive.

It. Is. Elusive.

Perhaps elusiveness
is not so elusive after all,
I say, quick-wittedly,
at which the girl pushes me
into the Regent’s canal

and my head resurfaces
just in time to hear her say,
bloody Englishmen, always thinking
they are funnier than they are…

No worries: a poem

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

no worries

A letter to Guy Garvey, of the popular balladeers Elbow

c/o
The Middle of the Road
Manchester, England

Dear Mr Guy Garvey,

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,

Richard Purnell

Chicken drumsticks or Kievs for dinner? - Guy Garvey has a quiet moment on stage
Drumsticks or Kievs for dinner? – Guy Garvey has a quiet moment on stage
A disgusting, prurient display - Prince in concert
A disgusting, prurient display – Prince in concert

Yes, really, a poem about daffodils in the spring-time

Daffodil-flowers-30709818-1600-1200

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
but no
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 Wholemeal Granary. A poetic assessment

A poem of mine about a particularly weighty issue… Hovis Wholemeal Granary bread

AVERAGE FOOD BLOG


Hovis went in.
Rightly chastised that their Best of Both wasn’t anything of the sort
they have come back.
Hard.

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…

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