several gift cards
Photo by Markus Spiske on



Berlin – City of the english Language,
All Thanks to Hollywood and Touristdollars –
With bilingual Signs to ease our Angst and Anguish,
And fluent Secondtonguers and subconscious Scholars.
From Burntborough Square to Prince Elector Way
Welcome to Berlinnington-on-Spray.



White Rose, Red Leicester



White Rose, Red Leicester

A long-dead king is promenading
Before he gets re-buried in state
A tyrant, even if not the monster
That the Tudors tried to create.

But wait –
We’re missing the beauty here,
We’re too consumed with republican hate:
“Take a good look, Liz” we’re so busy gloating,
“Take a good look at ev’ry king’s fate”.

So a long-lost king was dug out of the ground –
So what ?
But how do we know whose bones we have found
Despite some five hundred years of rot ?
That is the beauty we’re missing, I say –
The beauty of DNA !

It shows us just who’s our forebear or grandson –
And surely that’s all worth a king’s ransom !
And where were such secrets first teased from their source ?
Why, right here in Leicester, of course !



Talk Like a Pirate

Long John Silver
Long John Silver by Robert Ingpen


Talk Like a Pirate

Curse ye, Robbie Newton !
Curse your lily-lubbered hide !
For thanks to ye, all pirates be
The yokels o’ the crimson sea !
We used to hail from Luton,
Or from Whitby Bay, or Morningside –
But now it’s said we’re born an’ bred
In Lynmouth, Lyme an’ Lizard Head.

From Foway to Zoyland, thar we blow
From Durdle Door to Westward Ho !

Ye scurvy-livered, timber-shivered blaggard, Robert Newton !
Ye turned us to a joke, to the folk that we be lootin’ !
Ye’d have us be a parody o’ peggy-leg an’ lock-o’-dread
Of parrot-shouldered patchy eyes fore’er a-lookin’ ’skance.
We used-a be the buccaneers o’ Buckin’ham an’ Birkenhead,
But now we’re jus’ the poxy-pillaged pirates o’ Penzance.

From Brizzle Dock to Davey Jones,
We curse your skull an’ cross your bones !



Shall-he Shanty

Jewel of the Amazon by Stephen Jesic


Shall-he Shanty

One man drifts upon a door –
Too far from home, too far from shore,
Without supplies, without an oar.
Or so I’ve heard it told.
Both he and raft, three days ago,
Were languishing upon the deck –
Now all the rest are ten below,
And he by chance escaped the wreck.
Instead, he gets to starve and stare
     At water, water ev’rywhere !
Beneath the fierce, unflinching skies,
He waits his death and hungry flies –
When a shadow crosses salt-caked eyes…
A figurehead in gold !

So weigh the anchor, hitch the stay,
I’ll blow you back to yesterday –
We’re all adrift and outwards bound,
An island’s waiting to be found.
So dance with the carambola,
Come to my isola of the giorno prima,
Ev’ry newborn gleamer.

One man drifts below a prow
Too far from home – but safer now,
If he can only climb somehow…
And so our yarn sets sail.
Up top, he finds no sign of life,
Yet down below are cages crammed
With birds, and beasts, and flowers rife:
As live as he, and just as damned.
A hold to behold !  All brought
     From out the land he sees to port.
But where are they who stocked this store ?
If only he could swim ashore,
To the island of the day before…
Ah, therein hangs a tale…

So drop the anchor, be becalmed,
We’re porpoised, parroted and palmed
In paradise, in distant climes
A long long way from Greenwich times.
So dance with the mola mola,
Come to my isola of the giorno prima,
Ev’ry shipworn dreamer.


This is based on the opening of Umberto Eco’s The Island of the Day Before.



The Rover

spring east
Spring East by Tony Lombardo


The Rover

If you find England is too small, my dear,
Then jump on my boat and I’ll sale you from here !
I’ll sail you to Russia, I’ll sail you to Spain,
I’ll sale you away from her beer and her rain.
But if in a day or a month or a year
You find that you’re missing her rain and her beer,
Well, I won’t be there, dear, to sail you back home –
For I’ll be in Oslo or Cairo or Rome.



Hounslow Fast & Hounslow Slow

Early 20th Century views of Hounslow High Street


Hounslow Fast & Hounslow Slow

All the stages came through Hounslow,
All the coaches heading West:
Driving on to Staines and Windsor,
Bristol, Plymouth, and the rest.
All the coaches came through Hounslow,
From each Western vale and down,
Stretching legs and changing horses
For the final push to town.

They all knew Hounslow then:
The drovers, grooms and highwaymen.
But nothing stays the same –
And so one day the railway came.

Only three miles north of Hounslow,
Yet those three miles meant a lot:
Steaming on to Slough and Reading,
Faster than a horse can trot.
All the West once came through Hounslow,
Then the bypass passed you by –
And little mark is left to show
From when this High Street lived so high.

There’s nobody to blame,
For nothing ever stays the same –
The world still comes your way,
But now they do not leave, and so they stay.