A cup of flour ? How much is that ? An onion, small ? How small ? How closely should I trim the fat ? How round each stuffing ball ? Cooking lacks precision, And quality controls – Explaining my omission Of some toads to fill these holes.
All my honeyed words, I stole, From radio and Hollywood – They showed me how to play my role, And made me think I really could. I practised in the bedroom mirror, Studied glossy magazines – And ev’ry night was one night nearer To my moment on the screen.
All my heartfelt tears, I bought, From sellers with expressive eyes – I took on ev’rything they taught, To help me tell more honest lies. I practised in my dreams each night, With tailored suits and sexy cars – I’ve surely breached their copyright, To fall in love just like the stars.
I’m far too smart to believe in magic, But what the heck have you done to me ? I know what’s what in law and physics, But why can’t my mind just let you be ? I used to scoff at the thought of Hell, Now I’m shaking and sweating under your spell – I’m far too smart to believe in magic, But your bewitching is plain to see.
I feel your beauty cast its glamour, A wave of the hand, and you lead me on. I can’t think straight through all this clamour, I’m a helpless mark for your brazen con. But worst of all, it’s magic by stealth – I’ve set my own spell, and upon myself. I let your beauty cast its glamour And all of my common sense is gone.
The new movie didn’t move me, Latest album didn’t sing, The next novel’s full of waffle, And these jokes have lost their zing – The critics are fawning over themselves Agog at the new direction, So who cares what I like, or not ? This is art, it’s not an election !
The hottest fashion’s lacking passion, Haute cuisine is stale and rank, Their architecture’s just a lecture, And their canvases are blank. The critics are telling me I’m stupid, Blind to the flash of genius. So who cares what I get, or not ? This is art, it’s always a fuss !
And the artists – they’re still having fun, Living it up at number one – They might not last in hindsight’s eyes, But they grab the money and run and run, Quite deaf to my self-appointed cries. So did they sell out, or lose the plot ? Or take their shot to change their scene ? They’re doing what they want to do, So let’s be happy too, and spare the spleen.
They owe us goddam nothing, we the fans, They only owe themselves. And we no doubt are free to try-out Other brands from other shelves. The coming poem, that’ll show ’em ! Maybe. Taste is so bizarre. Perhaps I must bid you goodbye – But thanks for the ride so far !
Colleagues are sort of these halfway-friends – We’re thrown together, not self-selected. In theory, we’re working to similar ends, Or maybe we’re likewise disaffected, But is that enough to ensure a bond ? To safely whinge at the bosses together ? Are workmates our mates ? Or is that too fond, If all we ever discuss is the weather ?
No, some of them, surely, are more than that, Are more than just somebody else they’ve hired. The ones whose desk you find ourself at More often that is strictly required. Someone we might even meet on the outside, Away from the phones and the morning train – Until one of us moves-on or is downsized, And we know we’ll never co-author again.
Colleagues are friends who we see in passing, In the queue to pick-up a photocopy. We snatch a few words, but no time for gassing – Till next time we meet, while making coffee, Or standing around with our cigarettes, To talk about sport, and celebrities’ hair, And the news of our cars and our kids and our pets – Till one day we realise they’re no longer there.
No, some of them, surely, are more than acquaintances, More than just people we spend our days seeing. When our social circle is too large for maintenance, Are these the ties that we won’t be freeing ? So will we continue to meet them to talk with, And not let them just be a face we forget ? What happens to colleagues we no longer work with ?, Our nine-to-five friends, once the long Sun has set.
Please remember to remind me Where I left my keys. I know you know, but will you say ? You do so like to tease… I cannot ask a god I can’t accept, I’m on my own – Just you and me, Subconscious – Be an angel, not a drone.
I know, I know, we two are one, You’re no more than a hunch, And Up There is infinity, That’s swallowed-up my bunch. I cannot ask a god I don’t believe To bring a fix – So all that I can do is prod about Till something clicks.
So please, by all that’s holy, Shine a light upon my ring, And I shall pledge the soul I lack To better processing. I cannot ask a god I‘ve never felt, So I ask you. It’s us against the endless void – Just praying for a clue…
My brolly broke, godammit, Such a useless, shoddy thing – I’d really have to ram it Just to close its wonky spring. Always turning inside-out, And barely waterproof – I reckon, even in a drought, It’s still a leaky roof. I guess it’s better than nothing, And with patience, could be saved – But is it really worth the faffing For each time it misbehaved ? The ratchet isn’t coupling, And the popper won’t hold fast, The flimsy ribs were buckling When I tried to close it last. “Enough !” I roared, “you’ve tested me For the enth and final time ! For far too long you’ve bested me, But vengeance shall be mine !” I shoulda tossed it the day it was bought, But it won’t trouble me again – Until, that is, next time I’m caught In the unprotected rain.
Sometimes, Burns Night falls on the second New Moon, And that marks a brand New Year – So the neeps and the cock-a-leekie share the serving spoon As the beansprouts and riceballs appear. From the docks of Kowloon to the mists of Brigadoon, It all goes in the haggis, and the bamboo pipes the tune – As we all sup together, from Scotland Yard to Scone, In a typhoon of tartan cheer. Now me, I am just a Sassenach poltroon From the billabongs of Perth to the snows of Saskatoon – But a shortbread in my green tea on a global afternoon, And the paddy-fields of glens are very near.
Can I just say what a wonderfully weird experience it is to hear someone read Address to the Haggis in an unapologetically RP accent ?
They sculpted each immortal bust As patient as the coming rust – And when our steel has turned to dust, They’ll still be standing here. They’re made from prehistoric shells, Once crushed in subterranic Hells, Then thrust back up on mantel swells, For millions of years. Their flinty eyes have seen it all, Our mighty kingdoms rise and fall, From city states to urban sprawl, For long as time allows. These statues gaze their stoic stares, Untroubled by our fleeting cares, Just waiting for erosion’s airs To smooth their stony brows.