We Called It Summer – a poem

It’s been amusing (and concerning) to see some of the banter or arguments surrounding this heatwave. Some people see it as simply a lot of fuss about nothing, whereas others see it as a sign of things to come.

What is certain is it’s bloody hot and we’re seeing the kind of temperatures in the Midlands we’d expect to see in north Africa, more Western Sahara than West Bromwich you might say.

A majority of scientists believe global warming is impacting our weather systems. However, expert opinion never seems to stop debate!

What is amusing or depressing, depending on your viewpoint , is the arguments taking place around how hot it is and that there’s a lot of fuss. On social media it’s taken on the air of Python’s Four Yorkshiremen sketch, with tales of stoic sufferance throughout 1976. I was suffering in a 100 per cent Terylene romper suit while Shang-a-Lang played on our Grundig stereo. Anyway, I thought the views of a few might make a few lines…..

A few words seemed to gain traction. ‘Yeah, we’ve had hot weather before….we called it summer’ they kept saying.

We Called It Summer

We had a word for it: We called it Summer

They bred us tough in ‘76

The mercury soared but we knew some tricks

The heatwave that lasted for 15 days

Tarmac was melted, commuters were braised

It topped 90, that’s Fahrenheit

None of your Strasbourg, Celsius shite

Eggs cooked on pavements. Rodents that fried

Never, not once, did we take off our ties

We had a word for it: We called it Summer

Our suits were fashioned from Terylene

Tailored for melting while saluting the Queen

It got hotter. They said we’d be toast

We drank vats of tea, made a Sunday roast

Knitted mittens and tugged on pullies

Emptied our wardrobes for winter woollies

School was tropical, especially our class

The windows were made from magnifying glass

‘We call it Summer’ were the lines that I wrote

Sitting there scribbling in my duffel coat

Doors were left open. We played out all night

Camping under a pylon, while flying our kite

We ate nettles and drank sludge from the creek

And then we threw stones at the limping freak

Rains finally came and we swam in the quarry

We ignored the signs. We weren’t sorry

So, don’t come to us with your two days of heat

Your sick notes and closed schools and empty streets

In that legendary year we knew real pain

(And we’ve barely ever mentioned it again)

Your smartphones and Twitter are making you dumber

It’s hot. We got a word for it. We call it Summer.

Natural Born Worrier – a poem

What do you worry about? It might be work, or fire, or getting to interviews on time. Or it could be food going off or handbrakes being left off, or trains leaving before you get there, or not having the right change to park (yes, there are still cash-only meters).

I wrote a few lines about the things that might keep you awake in the wee hours. Natural Born Worrier.

Natural Born Worrier. I wake up sweating it’s half past four/There’s a creak upon the landing floor/I start another day of worry/There’s things to do I have to hurry/I’ll be stuck in endless traffic jams/I’ll lose my savings in online scams/What if I’m a victim of road rage/Or I’m called to sing upon a stage/ The hob’s on fire, the door’s unlocked/I’ll drop my wallet and the sink is blocked/Doctor, what’s that constant throbbing pain/What platform please for the London train?/My wheelie bin’s not out on time/Statistics say I’ll suffer crime/I’m worrying someone’s come to harm/And I’ll forget the morning clock alarm/I’ll get boxed in and I hate reversing/I’ll be picked for the play and I hate rehearsing/And buying stuff for birthdays, weddings/The wrong toaster, the wrong bedding/I’ll trip headlong in my new sandals/I’ll catch Covid from shop door handles/I’ll fail to parallel park the car/I’ll go and choose that cross-threaded jam jar/I’ll choose the jigsaw with a missing piece/I’ll be late for coffee with Denise/I want black dye, I’ll end up with blue rinse/ I’ll get emails from a Nigerian prince/I’ll transfer dollars and they’ll let him go/He’ll disappear with his Picasso/I’ll forget my name in interview/I’ll catch a train for Brum and I’ll end up in Crewe/The ham is off, but the handbrake’s on/I’ll lose my place, my money’s gone/They tell me I’ve got to sort it out/But if I did what would I worry about?

Dormouse Street – a poem

I’ve written before that about the huge amount of housebuilding going on. We clearly have shortages, but in Stafford the majority of the building takes place on greenfield sites. Hedgerows and trees have been cleared, despite there being an abundance of brownfield, former industrial sites, available across the county.

I wouldn’t want to begrudge anyone a home and I hope the building does something to arrest the ridiculous and escalating cost of housing. However, there are former steelworks and warehouses and factories lying empty right across this county. Perhaps they are just too expensive or toxic to clean up. Perhaps people want to live where Shire horses once trod and farmers ploughed, rather than where factory workers took fag breaks.

It has been observed that these greenfield estates are often named after the things that are uprooted and destroyed to make way for them. A sad triumph of marketing over reality.

The need and desire is often understandable – although the four cars per house and ripping up of turf isn’t – but there is a sadness. And so, Dormouse Street.

Turf Wars – a poem

First of all, apologies for the video quality but when the sun went in it kept me in silhouette and I prefer to see less of me.

This is a poem called Turf Wars. It’s about the modern tendency to rip up grass, either to park cars or avoid mowing. Sometimes it’s necessary or understandable but it’s happening too often. Or at least you’d feel that way if you were a bee or butterfly.

Anyway, a few thoughts…

A Turf War’s going on out there/The bees are lost the worms are scared/The blackbirds starve because some berk/Ripped up his turf to park his Merc/He put in plastic gravel slate/Some cameras on his garden gate/He’s never seen a thrush or crow/He never misses Ocado/We want to build more potting sheds/We want to dig more flower beds/We want to replace slabs with turf/ Dig up the gravel and dump some earth/Grow sunflowers that reach the skies/To fill our streets with butterflies/Grass soaks up rain so we don’t flood/It feeds our insects and binds the mud/It’s between our toes when we play/And above us when we end our days/The secret it’s really not hard/It’s time to care for our own backyard