For Laura, Dec 2014
Gift: A letter writing set with bright red envelopes
On a night like any other, though perhaps a little colder,
The Boy felt an idea arrive, it tapped him on the shoulder.
Its shape was fairly plain,
Almost square to the beholder,
Its colour was champagne,
Almost white, but something older.
With endless possibility, this paper so bereft,
Of any proper marking, the Boy felt he was left
With an incomplete idea;
A landscape with a cleft,
But he felt no pressing fear
For he knew someone quite deft
At filling up a page and leaving it a pearl,
Each glimmering sentence departing with a twirl
Of her wrist, gaining speed,
As the twirl becomes a whirl,
So of course and thus indeed,
The Boy turned to the Girl.
“So this is what I’m thinking,” said the thinker to his friend,
“I’ll take this off-white paper and when at my loosest end,
“I’ll write my thoughts and feelings
“With a story and I’ll send
“Them all to you in these red wrappings
“And on words I shall depend.
“When through your post you rifle and uncover something red,
“You’ll know it’s me who wrote to you and all I ask’s a shred
“Of something of your genius,
“Something funny that you’ve said;
“We’ll be famous letter writers,
“The Boy and Weanus-Head.”
For Harriet, Dec 2014
Gift: The Man with Compound Eyes by Wu Ming-Yi
It came to my attention as I came upon this book,
I know a girl with compound eyes and courage in her look,
A look which looks on everything and never blinks to miss;
A second glance, a double take, another time, “What’s this?”
“What’s this?” perhaps, or, “Was ist das?” She could be anywhere,
Berlin, Bermuda, Banapur, a castle in the air.
She’ll travel all the globe, I know, her stories will inspire,
A sign upon her head, “This travelling writer is for hire.”
I’ll write of home, she’ll write of there, she’ll write of everywhere,
But in my eyes she’s all but won this casual word affair.
For Will, Dec 2014
Gift: Lie To Me Season One DVD
Let me set the scene for you, the plan of my attack,
Eleventh year psychology: to some a bunch of crap.
“But not to me,” my thoughts began as I turned overleaf
The cover sheet upon the desk, and grinning bared my teeth.
“Today we have a DVD to watch, but never fear,
“It’s not made by some nutjob with a cauliflower ear.
“It’s really rather special, not a whiff of BBC,
“And praise the Lord it’s not the Open University.”
I popped the disc into its drive and watched with bated breath,
A series from America (but not with crystal meth!)
I quite enjoyed this programme that I’d never seen before,
I thought you’d like it too, it’s stella stuff so here’s the score:
You can’t lie to this English guy, but criminals still try,
The rest you’ll have to find out from this pseudo-super-spy.
For Laura, April 2015
Gift: A card with a crocodile and an owl on a bike. The crocodile asks the owl, “Where to Alan?” and the owl replies, “Pizza Hut”
I just saw a video of a dancing cockatoo
It made me stroke my chin and then, of course, I thought of you;
Of Weanus-Head, the girl with the imaginary zoo:
The jiving birds; conniving herds of pug and cockapoo;
A complimentary cow; a nan, a billy and their kid,
A parrot who replies to no name other than El Cid;
Once I even came across a masticating squid,
Who claimed a thorough lineage from royals in Madrid;
King Ramesses II’s favourite female wonder-horse;
A geriatric goldfish and a cat who writes in Norse;
A sloth who claims discovery of centrifugal force;
And a pig and sow who just right now have filed for a divorce;
A tubby rooster cannibal, who favours chicken wing;
A small termite who shadow-writes some books for Stephen King;
Aristocratic badgers who just lost their signet ring;
An Elvis Presley lookalike (a mole who likes to sing).
“But wait, what’s this?” I wondered as I chewed a cashew nut,
A brand new pair of creatures, something of a different cut,
I expected some profundity, a clever saying, but
All the croc said to the owl was “Where to Alan?” “Pizza Hut.”
For Emily, June 2015
Gift: A highland cow knitting kit
There’s a cow around these parts and many people call him Fergus,
But unlike any other cow he wouldn’t make good burgers.
He isn’t made of meat, you see, his skin’s a different fabric,
To turn him into chop or steak well that would be most tragic.
Nor will Fergus give you milk – not just ‘cause he’s a boy,
It seems our dear old Fergie-boy is nothing but a toy!
“But wait,” watch out now, here he comes, “I’m so much more than that!
“It’s true, you’ll never cook up decent crackling from my fat,
“Or squeeze me for a glass of milk, or skin me for a hat,
“Or make of me a curry in a town near Gujarat.
“You see, I’ve other qualities, I’m cute and fluffy too,
“The fundamental reason is that I was knit by you!”
For Dad, Dec 2015
Gift: Driving Over Lemons – Chris Stewart
It’s quieting, to lead a life
Whilst driving over lemons,
With nothing but a farm and wife
And unrestricted seconds.
But this is only half a life,
The other spent already,
On the edge of our opinion’s knife
And teetering, unsteady.
It’s difficult to call yourself
A fan of Genesis,
When the continental shelf
Of public taste calls them a miss.
But you must’ve heard the old adage
Of “When life gives you lemons,
Leave behind prog-rock baggage
And live in Spanish penance.”
For Mum, Dec 2015
Gift: Cath Kidson Cake Tins
What greater thing hath Delia done
Than invent the humble all-in-one?
So Nana’s hands and yours and mine
Can bake a cake in double time.
How doth the little busy bee
Like Kidson’s floral remedy,
And how, when opening the box
Will cake knock off his little socks.
The sights! The scents! The chocolate cake!
You made him for his birthday’s sake,
Will make him buzz about with glee,
That lucky little busy bee.
With Delia’s taste sensation
Is a glee-inciting bee-delighting
For Jodie, Dec 2015
Gift: Lithographic printing kit
An old man decided,
All covered in ink,
That he could apply his
Best asset to print.
Mad Mario Max,
With whiskers like fountain
And fountaining facts.
Facts about falling
And flying a kite,
And running and stalling
And Rufus Wainwright.
But facts are for talking
In arrogant tones
And faces for printing:
The skin and the bones.
Mad Mario Max,
A facial print captain,
For coloured syntax.
For Ash, Dec 2015
Gift: Sweater with a sloth on
This here is Jerry,
Often he comes across merry,
Seen at most parties with Mary,
Mary is wary,
‘Cos Jerry can sometimes be scary,
Topped up with sherry,
And ever so slightly too sweary,
But never quite lairy,
So take cary Mary,
But don’t be too wary,
‘Cos Jerry’s a sloth and
-ing to suggest otherwise.