The Battenberg Song

(for a cake-loving birthday boy)

Oh, a Chelsea bun’s not my kind of fun
and even Swiss roll just leaves me cold.
There’s only one cake named after a place
that I want to shove right into my face…

Battenberg! Yes, that’s the fellow,
pastel pink and golden yellow,
like a sunrise on my tongue –
let me gobble every crumb
of its two-tone sponge, and apricot jam
holding that coating of marzipan
wrapped around as a delicate crust,
with some sugar, lightly dusted.
I really feel there’s nothing nicer
than to cut myself a slice – or two!
Don’t think I’m being greedy –
it’s the Battenberg, calling me.
The perfect companion for a cuppa,
it’s guaranteed to cheer you up –
try peeling the marzipan – don’t make a mess!
Slice it finely for a game of cake chess –
and if that’s too hard, well, you can cut those
slices in half and play dominoes –
or chop a whole cake into logs, and then ya
can have a go at Battenberg Jenga!
Yes, it’s the cake that keeps on giving –
hollow one out, so that I can live in
a tiny, shiny, Battenberg palace –
just like something out of Alice
in Wonderland!
Don’t you understand?
Maybe it’s just me –
my Battenberg and I need some privacy…

Battenberg 012

Straight Outta Home Counties

You say life’s filled you with justified anger,
but I ain’t buying you acting all gangsta.
Somehow I’m just distrusting your enunciation –
‘cos when you speak, it’s pure Received Pronunciation.
Rapping ’bout your baby momma, and your bros –
bet yo momma gets you ready meals, straight from Waitrose!
I’m quick to diss this cultural misappropriation –
what’s wrong with the rhymes of your own native nation?
Try some English idioms, me old china –
like Professor Elemental, or the Gentleman Rhymer.
Maybe broaden your vocabulary, just a bit –
every other word doesn’t need to be ‘shit’.
So you think you’re 50 Cent – OK, I understand,
but this is Britain – and you’re more like Poundland.
I’m not impressed by the way you let the mic fall –
sorry, but you’re about as black as Jack Whitehall.
Pose all you want, but when you open your mouth, it’s
clear you’re a wannabe – straight outta home counties.

The Boss Has Watched A Webinar…

The Monday morning meeting,
and my heart is filled with dread.
I’ve got a sinking feeling
that fresh madness lies ahead…

For the boss has watched a webinar
and thinks there’s nothing to it.
“It’ll only take an hour.
It’s not hard – you just do it!”

There’s silence round the table.
The whole team seems dismayed.
I stifle a response about
why real experts get paid…

For the boss has watched a webinar
and thinks he knows it all.
Overnight, a master –
if those facts he can recall.

Useless to point out we lack
resources that we need!
A boss of little knowledge
is a dangerous thing indeed…

For the boss has watched a webinar
and knows just what to do –
I think I liked it better when
he didn’t have a clue!

New Year’s Resolution

Every year we do it –
that resolution’s made.
In every office in the land
“We’re going to lose weight!”

But home’s still full of goodies,
leftover Christmas treats –
so bring them into work, of course,
for someone else to eat!

There’s a bag of chocolate Hobnobs
and a Marks & Spencer cake,
some dodgy Jammie Dodgers
and some knock-off After Eights,

loads of Cadbury’s Roses,
a little pot of jam –
there are Amaretti biscuits
and even Parma ham.

Still it keeps on coming!
The kitchen cupboard’s full.
A Quality Street tin goes rogue,
rolls out into the hall.

But sadly our resolve turns out
to be as soft as putty –
by lunchtime every one of us
succumbs to a chip butty!

Focal

I grew up with two tongues –
for a poet, that’s a bonus.
I knew milk could also be bainne
and quiet could be cuinas.

I love the fact that druid
in Irish means starling, a bird.
But one of my favourites is focal
the Irish word for word.

For it looks like an English word,
focal, ‘of a point of origin’ –
which our words are, forever marking
the place where we begin.

But it doesn’t rhyme with local,
no, we pronounce it ‘phucal‘ –
which sounds like an English expletive,
a little bit near the knuckle.

So, when asked what I’ve written lately,
don’t think me rude or absurd
if I simply smile a cryptic smile
and then say ‘Focal‘ –
word.

The Rail Replacement Bus

Bank holiday travel! Always the same;
a chore – still more if you travel by train.
But we’re British, so we won’t make a fuss
as we board the rail replacement bus.

Surly rail staff in high-vis jackets
won’t give directions or help with baggage.
Pushed in so tightly, we feel like we’re trussed,
crammed into the rail replacement bus.

Along leafy lanes we wend our way,
join the traffic jam on the motorway.
Smug car drivers smirk – they’re laughing at us
poor souls on the rail replacement bus.

(Somehow coming back it’s even worse –
the route seems longer in reverse.
And if you can get a seat, that’s a plus
they’re rare, on the rail replacement bus.)

At last we wearily disembark,
over two hours late, in a damp car park.
Enough to make anyone scream and cuss –
the *expletive deleted* replacement bus!

Shakespeare 400

In London’s Leicester Square a statue stands
of the immortal bard. Upon its head
a city pigeon, grimy sky-rat, lands,
prepares its load of excrement to shed.
To heaven might the statue raise its eyes:
“Dump on me, if you must, but not my words!
An easy thing it is, to criticise
when your sharp quills have never formed a verse.
Please spare the books upon which now I lean –
they prove to all that, once, a man here dwelt
who strove to know the hearts of human beings
and, in his work, to capture how they felt.”
The pigeon voideth not, but flies away.
The statue, unsoiled, smiles. Happy Birthday!

Word Mule

I always seem to catch the eye
of airport security
(for a woman travelling alone
is a drug mule, apparently).

They rummage through my luggage
while I try to act blasé –
once I even had to juggle
to explain some balls away,

had my scissors confiscated
(though they didn’t spot my herbs)
but I never dreamt my poetry
would leave them lost for words…

“Did you write this yourself?” he asks,
eyes moving over the page.
I don’t know what I mumble
as my mind begins to race,

for I’ve packed two poetry notebooks –
the covers both look the same,
but while one is full of nature poems
the other is – well, less tame.

Is he reading of foxes’ footprints,
an egret, still and serene –
or that innocent little haiku
which everyone thinks is obscene?

He licks a finger, turns a page –
is it mist winding round a birch?
Or that rather rude acrostic –
or something even worse?

He can’t be this keen on kestrels!
His face gives nothing away
as he hands my notebook over,
mutely waves me on my way.

As border experiences go,
this one is truly unique –
I half-expected I’d be frisked,
but I feel like I’ve been critiqued!

Easter, Already?

It can’t be Easter already,
New Year’s barely out of the way –
but look – green shoots in my garden!
Must be spring – or else, climate change?

At least my hard work has paid off –
planting bulbs nearly finished me!
Can’t think which ones I planted where –
next week, I’ll be able to see…

And it’s not just in the garden –
on the shelves in my local shop
chocolate eggs are on display,
chocolate bunnies begin to hop.

Who buys for Easter this early?
The eggs could be addled by Lent.
The bunnies will taste quite funny,
their poor ears all broken and bent.

Old hot cross buns become tepid,
stale chocolate, spotted with white.
A symptom, like global warming,
of 21st century life.

All I Want For Christmas

I don’t want a lot for Christmas –
stuff the turkey, crackers, tree!
I am on the naughty list, so
Santa won’t stop here for me.
But there is one other guy
who’s got transport that can fly –
it’s a box so blue…
All I want for Christmas is Who!

Once the festive feasting’s over
(can’t eat any more – today!)
wrapping paper’s been recycled,
kitchen chaos cleared away.
Let me sit before the box
with a pile of Christmas chocs –
I’ll enjoy the view.
All I want for Christmas is Who!