At the meeting of the streets And the corners of the road, So grows an unexpected copse No seed has ever sowed. It sprouts up overnight Like a fungus on the make – This squatter on the pavement, Brings the Winter in its wake. Its trees have all blown over, And its needles all have shed To the gutters and the breezes, Until even these have fled. Then suddenly one morning We shall find the corner bare, Save the grey of frost and concrete And the chill upon the air.
Office chairs with starfish bases, Wobbly levers, sofa wheels – They never fit quite right, most cases – Either leaving swinging heels, Or bunched-up knees and hunched-down shoulders, Wimpy pistons full of slack. But still, a useful perch for folders Till the backside needs it back.
Think right, say right, Keep it careful, keep it kind – Keep a clean and healthy mind That wants no truck with spite. And yet, that inner voice Who always loves its little games, Who always knows the nasty names, Will whisper up its choice. It knows they’re wrong, and that’s the point, It’s daring us to shout them out Because they’re wrong and still have clout Because they’re out-of-joint. It’s bating us to say the word – It wants to make us take the blame For ev’ry hurtful hateful name We’ve ever heard. But these are not our whole – These shall not define or break us, Just stray thoughts and troublemakers – We are in control. It only loathes itself, infact, But we can still refuse to sink – Let’s judge us not in what we think, But how we act.
I overindulged last month: Had far too many ideas. Now I’m a bloated, empty husk Who’s run right out of tears. My motor’s barely revving now, From weeks of crunching gears. My spark is fused, my wit is blown, I haven’t a thought to call my own.
Come the Twelfth Night and the tinsel comes down – It’s time to de-decorate, if that’s a verb – The fairy lights lodged in a box in the loft, And the tree swiftly shunned to the kerb. But we always leave the poinsettia, She’s always the last to go – We purge the urge to scourge the spurge, As long as she’s on show. For maybe a little of Christmas lives on While her red and her green are in clover – But after a week, so she’ll wither as well, And that’s when the season is over.
Twenty-Twenty – what a blast, The year when the planets kissed ! We were so young and life so vast, With not a moment missed. We met by chance, we met online, When hiding from the flu – That year I tippled too much wine And fell in love with you.
Twenty-Twenty – let it sing, The year we sang our tryst ! The swallows came upon the Spring, And you had taught me whist. From kitchen top or garden bench, Our screens would share the view, That year I learned to speak in French And fell in love with you.
I know, I know, we were the lucky ones, Laughing along with the doomsayers’ chimes – We weren’t the heroes, we were the stuck-at-homes, Making the best of the worst of times. But when I look back on that strange, strange trip, I’m glad that we saw it through – If I ever must face the Apocalypse, Then the end is much better with you.
Twenty-Twenty – whole world shook In the year when we mustn’t move – I tried and failed to write a book, And saw my cakes improve. I spent all day upon the phone, And watched how the garden grew – In the year of my neighbour’s loud trombone, And falling in love with you.
I know, I know, we were the silly ones, Giggling our way through the horror of it all. I know that we felt it, just like the millions, But those aren’t the memories we choose to recall. I’m glad that we were lived with that strange, strange fate, When the world was surreal and new – If I ever must wait such a lonely wait, Then the lonely’s much better with you.
And with that, it is over – The baubles taken down and packed, The tinsel and the fairy lights, The crib stowed with its Israelites, The cards recycled, tree exiled, The wilted wreath is rudely sacked. That time has passed, so let it go – The year moves on, the snowdrops grow.
There came then Wise Men from the East Unto a stable by an inn, And there amid each lowing beast Were sheltered weary folk within – For knelt beside a feeding trough A man and woman vigil kept, As on the hay and woollen cloth A baby lay and softly slept. The elder Magus then addressed The object of their noble quest – Whose sleep was peaceful as the blessed – And unabashed, the old man wept –
“Behold, sweet babe ! There in your cot The future of mankind is held – For you are ev’ry chance we’ve got, With ev’ry hope and fear excelled. We begged the heavens for a sign, And with your birth the gods have smiled – Yet not for any charms divine, But virtues many, unbeguiled. Now all who look upon you see The future of humanity – More precious than a deity, Is each belovèd human child.”
Put away the tinsel and put on a sober tie, It’s time to all resume the working world – Another year has started, another passed us by, So it’s onwards to the future with a brand-new hue-and-cry (While already planning holidays to sunshine in July) And so into the cauldron we are swirled. On the 7:22 with the paper on our thigh, Or page 1 of the diary, with a hope or with a sigh, There’s no escaping progress – tomorrow’s never shy – And so into the New Year we are hurled.