Big ol’ dream

In a broad slouch hat and dungerees
I made my way from Tennessee
to the red and throbbing heart of Big Ol’ World.

I’ve seen the cities and the sights
seen some good folks (and some shights),
but most of all I’ve seen my own reflection.

I should’ve stayed at home in bed,
with Shakespeare, and the rest I’ve read,
who tell me that it’s just a Big Ol’ Dream.



From early childhood, Melvyn Trib suffered from a negative self-image, until by pure chance he met Nyvlem Birt in the Hall of Mirrors, Daytona Beach, on 24 November 1935. The two became fast friends on the instant, and from that day forward, Melvyn and Nyvlem were inseparable. They married on the same day, had a son and daughter each, and both drove a Cadillac. Both enjoyed golf and movies, and agreed that Greta Garbo was over-rated.

Every year on 24 November, Melvyn and Nyvlem got together for dinner at the Peaspod Cafe, just by the Palindrome in Miami. After each annual dinner, they seemed to be energised, re-charged, and for weeks afterwards they regaled their respective wives with stories of amazing coincidences:

— You’ll never guess, Anna, but Mel bites his nails too!.

— You remember that tie you bought me last summer, the green one? Well, Ny’s got a tie too!’

That is, until their wives, acting independently, brought the affair crashing to a halt. Mel’s wife Anna threatened to sue for divorce on the grounds that her husband was ‘self-absorbed’. Ny’s wife Anna was more direct: she questioned their virility, and used some very derogatory terms. In a coda, she impugned the temperature of hell for being inadequate to deal with them.

So Mel and Ny moved in together, and never looked back, though they spent the rest of their lives reflecting.


Daily planner

I must remind old Millipede
that I won’t be here for tea:
I’m dining with the Duchess,
my car arrives at three.

I must remind old Shagpile
to put cushions underneath:
at my age being tossed about
could cost me all my teeth.

I must remind old Catflap
to fill the tyres with air:
at my age being tossed about
could cost me all my hair.

And I must remind the Duchess
I’ll be staying till next week:
at my age being talked about
is all the fun I seek.


Nasty people

They didn’t have exactly what I wanted in Linklater’s, so I travelled all the way to Pickering’s in Snaresbrook. I’d never been there before, but I’d heard good reports of Pickering’s from old Arthur Twilb, who said to me once: ‘If Linklater’s don’t have it, try Pickering’s’. Well, I never trusted Arthur very much, but what choice did I have?

So I ended up taking three trains and two buses to get to Snaresbrook, a journey of nearly two hours. And not a pleasant journey either: there were two teenagers opposite me on the train from Adlington, playing their pop music at full volume, and they had their muddy boots on the seat in front of them. Absolutely no respect for other passengers! Luckily, they got off at Dalston North. Luckily for them.

Anyway, I made it to Snaresbrook, but not in the jauntiest mood, as you can imagine. So now imagine how I felt when I finally found Pickering’s and saw this on their door: CLOSED Aug 26 -Sept 9.

Can you really imagine how I felt? Really?

Just then an old gent approached me, about seventy. He seemed friendly enough, though I’m suspicious of anyone who wears tan shoes with green socks. He said: ‘They’re on holiday the next two weeks. Have you tried Linklater’s?’.

I was very calm, very composed.

‘Yes’, I said, ‘but they only have them in burgundy.’

‘Oh, but burgundy is a beautiful colour. My wife loves burgundy’, said he.

I was still very calm.

I found his carotid artery quite easily, and opened it neatly with my pocket knife. His convulsions were a bit theatrical, so I left him to it, and walked down a side street to the river. I sat there for about an hour, watching the swans. It was very peaceful.

And that was it, really. Not much of a story, I admit, and yet I know that some nasty people will condemn me. The same kind of people who play loud music on public transport, or wear burgundy socks.



Gone are the days when you could apply a stress-proof sealant to your wife and kids, and leave them for months on end with no worries. Back in the day — before “Government Regulation” — I could spend six months a year in Malibu, lying on the beach, and not worry for a second about my family. That was because of ‘Daddygon’, the stress-proof sealant that “feels like a deal as it seals”. I even got a discount for volume over at Zeb’s Hardware.

But like I say, gone are the days. They took ‘Daddygon’ off the market years ago, when some idjit in the government started going on about “paternity” and “responsibility”. Yeah, right.

So now I get back from Malibu and my family is a real mess, I tell ya. Takes me six months to restore them to their natural condition, by which time I’m bound for Malibu again. It’s a vicious circle and a crying shame.


Being earnest

I went to gloomy Père Lachaise
to mingle with the dead,
to ponder all the books they wrote
and that I should have read.

Oscar Wilde is buried there
(I’ve got his Wisdom of).
Molière is also there,
and Herbie (‘Klutz’) Labov.

Lying in their marble vaults
or under leafy sod,
I like to ask them (for a laugh)
‘Any sign of God?’

I do find graveyards funny,
like a cancer with no cure.
It’s hard to be in earnest
when just one thing is sure.

Fit & nimble

Let’s see if Ernest Trimble is still as fit and nimble
as he used to be in nineteen twenty-two:

Ernest, can you raise your arm?
— Not since Adolf bought the farm.

Ernest, can you turn your head?
— Not since Lennon was shot dead.

Ernest, can you bend your knee?
— Not since phones were as big as me.

Ernest, can you tie your shoes?
— Not since they cancelled Hill Street Blues.

Ernest, can you… please your wife… somehow?
— Not since 2 o’clock. What time’s it now?


How weary is the popinjay
who lies awake at night,
fretting over twemlows
and the plexities of life.

How dreary is the poet
who plexifies his lines
with contumacious twemlows
and fretfulacious rhymes.

There is no need to fret or plex:
just cruise the sea of time,
keep it kind and simple,
and then you’ll see the rhyme.