(A poem about our first boat trip together)

My first boat trip

Will I like it?

Never sailed before in my life!

Going through locks must be hard work

Will it be worth the strife?

The sun is shining

It could be good

The trees creating shade.

I think I may enjoy this hobby –

Oh heck! It’s going to rain!

Moor the boat!

Pull up the canopy!

This isn’t a good start!

Rain now dripping from my nose

I doubt I look the part!

Oh well, wet now!

I bet he’s changed his mind.

Make up gone and hairs a mess –

Reckon this trip could be our last time!

Now a lock – god this is hard –

Perhaps he’ll come and help –

Why is he sitting in the dry

While I’m here flogging myself!

Now the lock gates are stuck fast,

What am I going to do?

The gates won’t open fully –

Oh! Maybe he’ll get through!

Oh shit he’s stuck

The boat’s held fast

By gates on either side

Looks like we won’t get too far –

Bet that will hurt his pride!


(We went on to marry the following year and had many more boat trips together – all resulting in some kind of adventure!)


The Tell-Tale Sign of His Jaw


My Dad was a very quiet man
Who rarely lost his rag,
He worked in a gun-making factory,
All he asked was to smoke his fag
Or to read the ‘Sports Argus’
Or listen to the wireless,
He didn’t ask for much in life
Just enough money to provide for us.
Each Friday evening he’d come home
And present Mom with his pay,
She’d take out what she’d need to shop
Then pass pocket money his way.
My Dad was a staunch ‘Labour’ man, Mom a devoted ‘Tory’,
She and her family were ‘a united front’,
I could often hear their war games.
As I snuggled down in my bed at night,
Secretly proud of Dad’s solo fight,
As he argued what he thought was right
Long, long into the night!
Though I knew nothing of their talk
Because he fought alone,
I was always on his side
And his arguments I’d condone.
We visited Grannies each weekend
Gathering round the gramophone
And sang our favourite songs of the day –
But Dad always seemed so alone.
From my hiding place under the table I saw
(As I peeped from under the table cloth)
The tell-tale sign of Dad grinding his jaw
(Something I’d seen many, many times before)
And I willed him and willed him to stop!
Was he intimidated by their united front?
Why wasn’t he comfortable in their home?
Or did he feel inferior because he didn’t fight on the front,
Was that why he felt so alone?
I wish I’d asked him at the time,
It’s only in hindsight we see
That our parents are just ordinary folk,
With their own insecurity.
My Dad has been dead now for many a long year
(Since nineteen eighty four)
Why is it only now that I question
The tell-tale sign of his jaw?