All mammals can swim, Or least, can float, Just paddle each limb And be the boat. It may be slow, And lacking grace, But it lets them row To a dryer place.
Even the elephant, Hedgehog, or bat, Even the fattest Or scardiest cat, Even the kangaroo, Aardvaark, or aye-aye – You know why it’s true ? Cos they’re mammals, that’s why !
All, that is, except for one – The landlubber giraffe. Once evolution had its fun, They’re not safe in the bath. It’s strange the way that they capsize, You’d think they’d learn to cope When possessed of long and mighty thighs, And a built-in periscope.
But on the land They look such gentry, Tall and grand When standing sentry. They are the backlash To the trout, Who make a splash By standing out.
My folks were full of the fear of God, And full of His holy gravity. Music, and dancing, were frivolous wastes And bywords for depravity. And birthdays passed with nary a mention So’s not to lead our thoughts astray – But I was still the lucky one, For I was born on Christmas Day.
I was born in the dark of Winter, In the midst of an Almighty freeze Too far North for much of sunlight, Too bleak for that many trees. But ev’ry year, the town would string up lights As if to lead my way, And hope that it might snow for me – For I was born on Christmas Day.
Ev’rybody wore a smile, And nobody wore grey – Ev’rything was done with style, Right through to Hogmanay ! And my fav’rite animal, the deer, Were ev’rywhere, with a sleigh ! How much I loved this time of year, To be born on Christmas Day !
I was born in ignorance, And thought all this must be for me – The whole of the town would celebrate That time I changed from two to three, They cheered some more when I turned four, At five and six, they cried hooray – My parents couldn’t stop it all, For I was born on Christmas Day.
They may not have given me presents, But they gave me the greatest gift on Earth – I used to think how lucky Jesus was To coincide with my birth. And piously, I’d thank the Lord For far more joy than words can say. And so I grew up loving life – For I was born on Christmas Day
The choirs would sing, The bands would play, The bells would ring, The shops display, And all the world felt good and near, In one long cabaret – How much I love this time of year, To be born on Christmas Day !
It’s always one-nil, for or against, In my memory, Always four-four-two. Grandad would take me, shine or rain, In my memory, Were we the red or the blue ? Half-time pies and always singing, Stripey scarves across the board, And Grandad smiling, regardless of winning In my memory, And oh, his face when we scored !
The thing about trees is, Trees are big, But ev’ry trunk Begins a twig – They’re building height From light and air, Just add a little rain, And there ! They’re springing-up, Each rapid-grower – Mushroom-like, But much, much slower. Eat the sunshine, Drink the breeze – They’re timber-making Factories.
The thing about trees is, Trees are tall, They stretch and tower Over all. But that has made them Litter bugs – With petals, pollen, Seeds, and slugs, It all comes down, And blows about – From fresh air in, To dandruff out. These trees are yobs And carbon thieves ! And come the Autumn, Come the leaves…
The history of trees is that The trees are not a clade – They spring-up from the strangest places, Evolution-made. So beech and birch are boring, All their family are so wooden, But others have the oddest kin And ev’ry one’s a good ’un. They’ve found the same solution Independently, you know – When stretching for the sunlight, well, There’s just one way to go.
So apple trees are strawberries That built a sturdy trunk, Yucca palms are bluebells If a bluebell were a hunk. Acacia trees are runner beans That bolted in their teens, While rubber trees are spurges That have stretched beyond their means. There’s only so much energy, And trees don’t like to share – They’re hungrier when taller, But their mouths are ev’rywhere !
So linden limes are cottons That have fluffed-up in the streets, And oranges are really rue Whose bitterness turned sweet. Finest teak is peppermint, That’s why it smells so nice – And eucalyptus is a clove That added too much spice. The forest is a battleground, And ev’ry plant must fight – So trees is what you always get, If what you get is height.
I’m not very good at identifying plants on sight, but I can thoroughly recommend the app PlantNet. I’m also not very good at identifying crabs, which is hardly surprising.
Ship rat, far from sea, Beached upon the pavement. You do not twitch, you do not flee, So why do you sit still for me ? You’re not too fat, you’re not too thin, You’re not held in enslavement – And yet you crouch beside the bin, And gently tremble in your skin.
Brown rat, are you asleep ? You chose an awkward bed, friend. Have you nowhere else to creep Than on the tarmac in a heap ? Fox or cat will find you prone, And that will surely be your end. Perhaps you’re dying, all alone, Just waiting for your final groan.
Trudy Trusses loves the buses Which she rides to town – Urban-trekkers, double-deckers, Ones that bend around. Some are old and brightly bold, And red or green in colour – Some are new and grey right through, And others even duller.
Trudy Trusses makes such fusses Over diff’rent routes – The stops and times, the sprints and climbs, The stats and attributes. She watches who is in the queue, And who is getting off – The chef, the nun, the doctor’s son, The teacher and the toff.
Trudy Trusses swiftly susses Someone has to drive – The 12, the 3, the 7B, The weekdays 55. When she grows big, she wants that gig !, She wants to sit in front – To swoosh the doors of 24s And make their engines grunt !
Trudy Trusses sees the plusses In a job that moves. There’s folks to meet on ev’ry street, From pensioners to youths. You need a ride ? Then come inside ! There’s plenty room up top. Then home again through wind and rain, Just ring the bell to stop.
This poem isn’t necessarily set in Bournemouth, but I thought they deserved praise for one of the few places outside of London which still insist on the colour of their fleet.
Tag, goes the virus, And suddenly, I’m it, Chasing, and panting, And laughing, and transmit. No rules for no-backsies, It’s free-for-all, all day No sitting this one out, We’re all of us in play. They say this game is older Than ancient Babylon. Now I’ve given you my secret – Pass it on.
Hannelora Helmholtz-Hertzsprung, Eight syllables of Sturm and Drang That trip along a Teuton tongue With a click of the heels from brother Wolfgang. If only Wolf and Hanni tried The Eidelweiss and Extrawurst, But they were born in Merseyside – Less Sachsen, more Anglo-cursed.
Helmholtz-Hertzsprung – what a surname ! H times three and twice Tee-Zed – They’re triply stung, as if to claim A ‘Graf’ and a ‘Von’, and be dubbed ‘the Red’. Her parents gave them the kind of name That only folks in stories give. What chance have they of meek and tame With monikers so transformative ?
They wonder at their German roots, Though mum’s their mum and not their Mutti. And their father’s never worn Prussian boots, And when asked why, he shrugs why should he ? Of the language, they speak no word, And their accents sounds less Saar, more Scouse. So why share names with a yodelling goatherd As if they’d been raised in a gingerbread house ?
Wolfie tries to harden his Double-Yoo, But ev’ryone still calls him a softie – He’s got the wrong voice, where even he struggles to, And sounding far more pretentious than lofty. A pair of Frankensteins lacking a zeitgeist, A Bildungsroman for these misplaced Franks – Their only reminder of whence their genes spliced Is that damn Nachname, upping their angst.
Helmholtz sounds like a planetary ship, While Hertzsprung, like a clockwork core – Or else a springbok, skittish to skip – The poor, poor dears !, emburdened with lore. Their parents gave them the kind of name That only elves and heroes get – But theirs it is, to shun or claim… Could Deutschland be über Alles yet…?
Hannelora Helmholtz-Hertzsprung – The name of a nuclear engineer – With phonemes thoroughly washed and wrung To perfectly balance the Rheinland ear. How can she live with so much hype ?, Precision-polished for wide acclaim. And yes, she knows that’s a stereotype, But verdammt !, so is her whole damn name !
When we were young, before we earned a good wage, Then presents were the thing. Whatever toy was all the rage, We’d write to Santa, page by page, While fully knowing, any age, That parents were the ones who gave the bling.
When we were young, and hoping for the good stuff, Then presents were the thing. We dropped our hints, we played it tough, We wanted this, and sure enough, They’d always get us something duff, From parents clutching hard to apron string.
When we were young, and pocket money spent fast, Then presents were the thing. We’d waited long these six months past, Our only chance was here at last – But no ! Once more we were harassed By suitable and sensible and bettering !
When we were young…but now we’re good and older, And presents are a chore. We pay our own way, we are bolder, We don’t need a toothbrush-holder. What we need’s a crying-shoulder, Not the same old ritual as before.
Now we are old, we buy throughout the year, Yet presents still want more ! What can you get me ? Dear oh dear, I have all that I need right here. Should I hold off acquiring gear To add it to a list you’ll just ignore ?
Now we are old, and hopefully we’re wise, And presents lurk in drawers. Let’s be honest, compromise, And save our gifts for the little guys – Let’s pay it forward, share the prize – Even though we’ll get it wrong, of course…