Asking for a bag at the checkout in the supermarche in Paris

<div style=”font-size: 10px; color: #cccccc;line-break: anywhere;word-break: normal;overflow: hidden;white-space: nowrap;text-overflow: ellipsis; font-family: Interstate,Lucida Grande,Lucida Sans Unicode,Lucida Sans,Garuda,Verdana,Tahoma,sans-serif;font-weight: 100;”><a href=”https://soundcloud.com/robertdgarnham&#8221; title=”Robert Garnham” target=”_blank” style=”color: #cccccc; text-decoration: none;”>Robert Garnham</a> · <a href=”https://soundcloud.com/robertdgarnham/at-the-supermarche-in-paris&#8221; title=”Daily Poem 30: At the supermarche in Paris” target=”_blank” style=”color: #cccccc; text-decoration: none;”>Daily Poem 30: At the supermarche in Paris</a></div>

Today’s whimsical poem is about asking for a carrier bag in a French supermarket.

An interview with Mary Dickins

When I first started performing I would travel up to London every month or so and perform at open mics. This was a great way to meet new people and see other poets. One of the biggest and noisiest nights was Bang Said the Gun, which took place at the Roebuck pub near Borough, and I would go often, sometimes just to sit and watch, and sometimes to perform.

It was at one such evening that I first saw Mary Dickins. I fell in love with her poetry immediately. Joyous, funny, an delivered in a deadpan that added to the comedy. We would later work together making TV adverts for a certain building society, and at one or two corporate events. Mary’s poetry has a joyful playfulness which masks a serious subtext. Well observed descriptions of every day life combine with a true poetic sense of wonder.

Mary’s book, Happiness FM, has just been published by Burning Eye, and I thought I’d use this as an opportunity to interview her.

How did you get into writing poetry?

I have a distinct memory of writing my first poem when I was four. It was a nonsense poem called “The man wrapped up in a Pin” and it rhymed. I was much more excited about it than the rest of my family. Throughout my life I’ve used poetry and creative writing as a therapeutic outlet but I saw it as more of a hobby and I never thought my work was ‘good’ enough for performance or publication until much later.

I’ve seen you loads of times performing on the London spoken word scene. How did you start performing live?
I have always been interested in the performance aspect of poetry and in my professional life was a conference speaker and lecturer but it wasn’t until I was 60 and attended an Arvon course run by Matt Harvey and Kate Fox that I got the confidence and self-belief to give my poetry a try. This led me to do open mic at the brilliant Bang Said the Gun and for the first time I experienced a really noisy and enthusiastic response. I thought that was wonderful and I wanted more.

Who are your influences as a poet and artist?
My influences are many and varied. I was very taken by the Liverpool poets and the irreverent breath of air that they brought to the poetry establishment in the 60s..  I was an early and devoted fan of John Cooper Clark and John Hegley and also poets such as Maya Angelou and Grace Nicholls. I am now an avid reader of all kinds of poetry and I think I probably take a little bit from everyone I like.

Your collection Happiness FM has a bright, upbeat feel. Was this a conscious decision at the start of the project?
I do feel that the best poetry is usually uplifting in some way so I suppose I do aim for that. I guess this evolved as I thought Happiness FM made a good title poem. My daughter Hannah designed the cover around that and together we aimed for an eye catching joyful feel. I was worried about the irony bringing out  a book with this title at a time when the vast majority of people were feeling singularly unhappy then I thought maybe it could bring a little joy into my readers lives.

You have a wonderful knack at finding the eccentric and the odd beneath everyday reality. How did you develop this quirky worldview?
Is it me that’s quirky? I always think it’s everybody else. I think that feeling excluded while growing up (long story) made me into an acute observer and gave me the ability to step back and view reality objectively. Let’s face it there is plenty about the world that is eccentric and odd so there is no shortage of ideas.

Your poetry can also be deeply serious. Do you think it is a poet’s duty to look at the bigger issues in society and life?
I’m not sure about the word ‘duty’ as this rather saps the enjoyment out of it. Poets describe and interpret the world around them and also chronicle the times they live in so the bigger issues are pretty hard for any of us to avoid. Exploring identity, for example, inevitably leads to us to examine and challenge existing values and systems. Poetry can be a powerful tool for change and personally I do like my poems to contain some kind of social comment however oblique. I think anyone with a public platform has a responsibility to try to make the world a better place and that includes poets. I want the poets I admire to have integrity and be truthful. But they should be allowed to express themselves as they choose.

What is your writing process? Do you have a specific time and place for writing?
I’ve never been very good at keeping to a self-imposed writing schedule although I can be disciplined and dogged if the situation calls for it. A lot of my writing takes place in my head and I find that 2am in the morning is the time when random ideas and solutions suddenly emerge. This means that the kitchen table is often littered with strange and obscure post it notes to self in the morning.  I find poetry courses and writing groups very useful as they give you homework deadlines and a reason to persevere.

What was your best ever gig as a performer?
It has to be when I won the Golden Gun at Bang Said the Gun a few years ago. I performed a somewhat blasphemous poem called “The Richard Dawkins Delusion by God” and Andrew Motion who was Poet Laureate at the time and also performing said how much he liked it. I floated home on the tube that night.

What are you working on at the moment or what will your next project be?
Well this is the rub. At the moment my biggest challenge as someone in a vulnerable category for Coronavirus is how to maintain a poetry presence and promote the book. Luckily there are online opportunities at the moment and I hope these continue as there are a few of us who might be stranded if they don’t. I have a number of new poems up my sleeve so I am looking towards the next collection.

What advice would you give someone who would like to follow on your footsteps and be a poet and a performer?
Don’t wait as long as I did but at the same time it’s never too late to start.

A poem about meditation

Poem

Every now and then I need to chill
Relax and be calm
Or so people say.
But I’m a placid fellow
And I don’t get easily stressed
And if anyone says I do
Then I’ll punch them.

Sometimes though, I get miffed
And I just want to hit a pig
With a tennis racquet
And watch it run off squealing
Through TK Maxx.
But we’ve all felt like that.
Pardon?
Yes!

A mate said I should meditate.
Meditate? Meditate!
Do you mean sit still for a bit?
(No, I mean meditate)
So it’s not just sitting there,
I can do that!
I can do bugger all
I can keep my month shut
If that’s what it is then I can do it
I can sit perfectly still
I can sit perfectly still while standing on me head.
James.
If that is your name.

He said
Concentrate on your place in the world.
I said,
You mean like when you’re queuing for the bus
And someone pushes in?
Oi, what you playing at?
Bastards, aren’t they?
Oooo, I hate it when they do that,
Honestly I do.

He said, no!
Meditate!
Just shut up for five minutes, listen.
I said, do I have to go OOM
He said, you don’t have to go OOM
I said, I went to go OOM
He said, fine, go OOM then,
Jeez, you’re hard work!

Just meditate,
Obscure the hate
Let out a sigh
And hold your head high.
Fall in to the zone
And hold your own.
I said, I’d rather hold someone else’s.
He said, that’s not helping!

Meditate, don’t say you can’t.
Think of a word and make up a chant,
A phrase which brings an instant relief
Now tell me that this chant might be.
And then I said to he:
If it hadn’t been for cotton eye joe,
I’d be married a long time ago.
Where did you come from, where did you go?
Where did you come from, cotton eye joe?
Do do do do do do do do do do!
And he said,
You’re a bastard, aren’t you?

Meditate!
Sit cross legged on the floor.
I said I can’t, the money
Keeps falling from my pockets.
He said, good,
Change must come from within.

Just meditate,
The way to mindfulness
Is to empty your head of all thoughts.
I said, how can it be both simultaneously
Full and empty at the same time?
He said, I know,
Weird isn’t it,
Though in your case
An empty mind won’t take too long.

Meditate, just meditate,
For goodness sake just meditate,
Why don’t you meditate, you
Feckless Bulbous eyed burger chomper,
Just meditate,
Why can’t you do it?
Just close your damn eyes
And bloody meditate!

I said, oooo,
Someone’s a little stressed aren’t they?
Now let’s have a nice cup of tea.

<div style=”font-size: 10px; color: #cccccc;line-break: anywhere;word-break: normal;overflow: hidden;white-space: nowrap;text-overflow: ellipsis; font-family: Interstate,Lucida Grande,Lucida Sans Unicode,Lucida Sans,Garuda,Verdana,Tahoma,sans-serif;font-weight: 100;”><a href=”https://soundcloud.com/robertdgarnham&#8221; title=”Robert Garnham” target=”_blank” style=”color: #cccccc; text-decoration: none;”>Robert Garnham</a> · <a href=”https://soundcloud.com/robertdgarnham/just-meditate-dammit-wav&#8221; title=”Daily Poem 14 : Just meditate, dammit!” target=”_blank” style=”color: #cccccc; text-decoration: none;”>Daily Poem 14 : Just meditate, dammit!</a></div>

The Lighthousekeeper

Today’s poem is about a quite randy lighthousekeeper. This poem is not for the faint hearted!

<div style=”font-size: 10px; color: #cccccc;line-break: anywhere;word-break: normal;overflow: hidden;white-space: nowrap;text-overflow: ellipsis; font-family: Interstate,Lucida Grande,Lucida Sans Unicode,Lucida Sans,Garuda,Verdana,Tahoma,sans-serif;font-weight: 100;”><a href=”https://soundcloud.com/robertdgarnham&#8221; title=”Robert Garnham” target=”_blank” style=”color: #cccccc; text-decoration: none;”>Robert Garnham</a> · <a href=”https://soundcloud.com/robertdgarnham/robert-garnham-poems-trim-trim&#8221; title=”Daily Poem 10: The Lighthouse” target=”_blank” style=”color: #cccccc; text-decoration: none;”>Daily Poem 10: The Lighthouse</a></div>

You can tut all you like

You can tut all you like

You can tut all you like Mr Pinkerton
This queue ain’t moving any faster
Going tut tut tut tut tut tut tut
Ain’t gonna make the queue go faster

He’s an uptight tutter he’s a bread without butter
He’s a mean low thing who lives in the gutter
But he ain’t gonna get any place soon
By going tut tut tut tut tut tut tut

Tut tut tut tut tut tut tut
Tut kyaw tut kyaw tut kyaw tut
Tut tut tut tut tut tut tut
Tut kyaw tut kyaw tut kyaw tut

You can tut all you like Mr Pinkerton
I’m gonna take my own sweet tine
Going tut tut tut tut tut tut tut
I’ll make sure you’re still stood in line

He’s an uptight tutter he’s a bread without butter
He’s talking to himself and the queue can hear him mutter
But he ain’t gonna get any place soon
By going tut tut tut tut tut

Tut tut tut tut tut tut tut
Tut kyaw tut kyaw tut kyaw tut
Tut tut tut tut tut tut tut
Tut kyaw tut kyaw tut kyaw tut

Youuuuuuuuuuuuuu
Can tut all you like Mr Pinkerton
I’m sorry if I disappoint
Going tut tut tut tut tut tut tut
Mind you, he’s got a point.

Hes an uptight tutter he’s a bread without butter
It’s clear we’re in the way and they think we’re just clutter
And we ain’t gonna get any place soon
By going tut tut tut tut tut

Tut tut tut tut tut tut tut
Tut kyaw tut kyaw tut kyaw tut
Tut tut tut tut tut tut tut
Tut kyaw tut kyaw tut kyaw tut

Oh for goodness sake now one of them’s gone to lunch.

A daily poem podcast

From today I have started a daily podcast featuring one poem every day. I’m really looking forward to sharing some of the new poems that I’ve been writing with the wider world.

You can find the podcasts on my Soundcloud page.

Here’s the first episode!

<div style=”font-size: 10px; color: #cccccc;line-break: anywhere;word-break: normal;overflow: hidden;white-space: nowrap;text-overflow: ellipsis; font-family: Interstate,Lucida Grande,Lucida Sans Unicode,Lucida Sans,Garuda,Verdana,Tahoma,sans-serif;font-weight: 100;”><a href=”https://soundcloud.com/robertdgarnham&#8221; title=”Robert Garnham” target=”_blank” style=”color: #cccccc; text-decoration: none;”>Robert Garnham</a> · <a href=”https://soundcloud.com/robertdgarnham/my-mother-is-banksy&#8221; title=”Daily Poem 1 – My Mother is Banksy” target=”_blank” style=”color: #cccccc; text-decoration: none;”>Daily Poem 1 – My Mother is Banksy</a></div>

An ode to darts

Darts.
Nightly pub-sport spectacle.
Like rhinos line astern gripping tungsten spears.
Darts.
Chunky-reaching cheek-wobbling darts.
Beer belly a-quiver overhanging too wide tee shirt unsolicited stomach glimpse darts.
Spherical hysterical measures out in trebles.
Darts.

Thud. Thud. Thud.

Cocky oche-jockeys crafty cockneys dressing sloppy.
Sports-upholding team mate-scolding beer glass-holding.
Carpet shuffling fart-muffling comes away with nothing.

Thud. Thud. Thud.

Double-chaser bullseye-maker opponent-hater third-rather.
Forefinger fling-flourish free-form darts throw panache.
Board-seeker tip bounce wire hitting kerplink.
Unlucky, Trev.

Thud. Thud. Kerplink.

Great big belly-man darts-land Leviathan takes a stand.
Meaty meaty clap-hand (nurses darts like baby chicks),
Arrow-flinging darts board-singing double-trimming
Guess who’s winning?

Thud. Thud. Thud.

Trophy-doting low-score-gloating show-boating local scrote
Boozy-wobbling woozy-toppling lazy darts-fling treble twenty
Bar staff aghast, darts stars laugh, fast darts dance, last chance,
Bust.

Thud. Thud. Thud.

Last game, the same again, self-same blame game.
In the team lean, seeming so keen, trophy a gleam, he’s a darts machine!
No pain no gain, no gain, no fame, oh, the shame!
Sudden-death shoot out, league-topping bullseye-aiming,
Thud, pretty nifty, scores a fifty, mores the pity,
Geddin my son quivering tentative there the dart itself hanging like a
Swan so graceful in its beauteous flight betwixt chubby
Sweating fingers slow-mo revealing the under belly wobble
Suspended in mid air aerodynamic like the philosophic truth
Writ large straight into the exact centre of the board!

Unlucky, Trev.
Unlucky, Trev.
Unlucky, Trev.

See you all next week?

A poem for Andrew Graham-Dixon

Andrew Graham-Dixon
Enthuses
And finds poetry in the raw
Of that which would
Otherwise bore me arseless.

He finds radical politicising
In a small painting
Of a warthog.
It’s all in the tusks,
He says.
He looks a bit like
Bryan Ferry.

The aurora borealis
Also
Bore me arseless.
Andrew Graham-Dixon
Talks about bleakness
With a Norwegian.

Andrew Graham Dixon
Enunciates.
Andrew Graham Dixon
Luxuriates in the last syllable
Of Van Gogh
Andrew Graham Dixon
Is the thinking mans
Maggie Philbin
Andrew Graham Dixon
Finds Pot Noodles
‘Hauntingly eloquent’
Andrew Graham Dixon
Uses exuberant hand gestures
At dull canvases
With a sad horse on it
Andrew Graham Dixon
Doesn’t move his eyebrows much
Andrew Graham Dixon
Would probably do the ordering
For me
In an Italian restaurant.

I turned up at work
With a side parting
And a shirt open
At the collar.
You’ve been watching him again,
My boss said,
Haven’t you?

I murmur something
About the stoicism
Of the early Romantics
And get on with
Things.

Robert Garnham Delivers a Ted (Style) Talk

Welcome to my Ted Talk
(My clicker isn’t working)
Welcome to my Ted Talk
(My clicker isn’t working)

How are we going to solve
Various big big things?
Three golden rules!
(Shame about my clicker)

Coming in to the coffee shop
I’m the bastard looking for
A power socket
Charging up my laptop
Charging up my laptop
Charging power to power my
Power point presentation
I have the power!

If I do this
(:::::::::::::;;;:;;)
You’ve just witnessed me doing it
And that’s an example of
POSITIVE THINKING!
Three golden rules!

1. Achieve the continuous
2. Apply it like a haberdasher
3. Can be split into twenty four subheadings

(This clicker is not working!)

If I put my hand in my pocket
And wander around
It makes me look more relaxed!!!

You’ve got to understand
That people
Always make
The wrong decisions.

Welcome to my Ted Talk!
Smug!
Life hacks!
(Fourteen different subheadings)

You can usually work out EXACTLY where
The bus will stop
And this will save you
TIME and ENERGY

There are eight different things I learned
SMUG BASTARD
When I lost my luggage while backpacking
(This clicker is just not working)

If I do this
(;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;)
It’s an example of sonic dissonance.

Madam, when did you last knowingly
Have spaghetti?

MY BOAT SANK!
And I didn’t even get slightly wet
My life is charged with a new purpose
I learned twelve new things!
Twelve new LIFE HACKS
LIFE HACKS
LIFE HACKS
LIFE SUCKS!

(This clicker is getting on my tits)

1. Technology
2. Murdering people is generally frowned on.
3. The power of positive thinking!
4. This clicker this clicker this clicker this clicker
5. I know six people called Ted and they all talk

Power point presentation validate it
Power point presentation validate jr
Let’s just validate if shall we?
This is an aha moment

Take on me!

You!
You fiend!
You bastard!

It’s a unifies mental model, Mrs McGough
It’s visual interaction.
It’s.
The.
Same.
As.
Every.
Damn.
Ted.
Talk.

This clicker
Definitely
Is not working.

Thank you.

My neighbour’s gone and bought some wind chimes, for goodness sake.

My neighbour’s for some wind chimes
Hanging in his tree
Perhaps he thinks they show the world
He’s a soul that’s wistful and free
But I don’t think he understands
The effect they have on me
They tinkle in the slightest breeze
It’s such a travesty.

Five in the morning
On a muggy muggy night
Five in the morning
The sky is getting bright
Five in the morning
The duvet’s all a tangle
Five in the morning
All I can hear is jingle jangle.

Oh so tinkly tinkly
Like an ideal garden scene
A moss covered rock and pond
In a flowing woodland stream
Oh so tinkly tinkly
They’re really quite obscene
Right next to my bedroom window
They make me want to scream

Perhaps he thinks they’re relaxing,
It helps the anger pass
In fact they’re just the opposite
It really is a farce
A rockery and vegetable patch
And the smell of fresh cut grass
And the bloody tinkle of the wind chimes
I’d like to shove them up his arse.

And he might think they’re relaxing
At the end of a summers day.
But round here we just get rain and wind
Yet they never blown away.
The sound of them is so annoying
And it fills me with dismay,
Tuneless like an orchestra
Who’ve forgotten how to play.

I’d like to reach in with long handled loppers
And cut the bloody things down
And then I’d hear the birds and nature
Which they normally just drown
Beneath a cacophony of tinkle tinkle
Tuneless crappy sound
Soundtrack to my insomnia,
That’s it, I’m going round!