Ninety Minutes

A man dressed as a cup made from baking foil
A groundsman flicks his fag, rakes it in the soil
Fans gather under a corrugated roof
Chanting that the full-back should give it a hoof
‘The Liquidator’ crackles from the speakers
Strikers line up to blast shots at keepers
Raffle tickets are sold. Queues form for the bogs
Bovril is sipped. Fried onions scooped on hot dogs
The whistle blows. Managers roll up their sleeves
For ninety minutes at least, the fans believe

1980s Stuff · Outsiders

Swimming Lessons – part 3

Swimming lessons offered unique opportunities for bullies. Socks were thrown in the little drainage trench in the tiles and carried away. White pants were chucked in the verruca pool and came out dripping with the golden hue of motor oil. Trousers were hidden behind lockers or out of reach, suspended from ceiling fans. Towels were hidden too, or rolled and used as whips. Locker keys of non-swimmers were thrown in the deepest corner of the diving pool.

If you got a verruca, you had to wear a white rubberised sock to cover it up and stop your ‘disease’ from spreading. The cure or rather prevention was the golden sheep dip trench we had to wade through on the way to the pool. It was oily and cold and felt so horrid that most skipped through on tiptoes or arched feet. A few brave and stupid souls inched their way along a tiny tiled shelf, but always fell in.

Outsiders · Poems

Mr Paskin’s Cock










Mr Paskin had a huge cock
In his privet. Around the clock
He’d be snipping it. Daft old git
Round here he was asking for it

Late one night someone clipped its wings
He’s had to practise other things
Lion, tiger. Giraffe. Don’t mock
No more jokes about Paskin’s cock

1980s Stuff · Poems

Photos in a barbershop


Spiky and wet-look and demi-wave
Tight perms and mullets, towel for a shave
Models in chinos wearing white vests
Distant stares, they’re the spit of Go West

Take your pick if you’re in the market
Punk, flat top or a Morten Harket
Framed on the wall, they’re the chosen few
Unloved and unchanged since ‘92

1980s Stuff

Swimming Lessons, part 2


She sat on a set of steps like the ones Mum used to emulsion our ceiling, with a whistle permanently attached to her lips. Beryl was a cruel woman from the world of hard knocks and character building. She failed me on one of the last lengths of my silver lifesaver for alleging my foot had brushed the side of the pool as I’d made the final turn. When I protested she said, ‘There’s no tiles to kick off in the Atlantic is there?’ She was a stickler for timekeeping too. When the session had finished, and floats were being chucked about and non-swimmers dunked or tied to the lane ropes, she had a proven way of clearing the pool. The water was cold and as we were dripping and scampering across those tiles that were no less slippery for being ribbed and dotted, she threw open the fire doors to the car park. We stood, hugging ourselves, goose-pimpled and shivering and teeth-chattering, in tiny Speedos as a Siberian wind gusted in from a car park sparkling with frost.