Doing the police in different voices

September 2, 2011

Last night I went to Hammer and Tongue at the Komedia, and because there weren’t enough people to go in the slam, James read out one of my poems as a cover version. I’d never performed the poem before (except in my house to myself) and technically I still haven’t. Not only that, but he managed to score higher than me reading my own poetry. But such is the nature and absurdity of a poetry night that thinks it’s an ice skating match but with more heckling. I quite like the idea of reading poems in different voices – me and Amy used to often use the “mic-on-stage-switched-off, mic-off-stage-switched-on” mime and read technique at Glue Gun ’91, and me and Jimmy always planned to replace his gruff Glaswegian growl with my dulcet Home Counties English, and vice versa, but we never got round to it.

Anyway, here’s the poem that James read – I’ve attempted to re-write and generally mess around with it for the last few weeks, and I reckon there’s nothing more I can do with it and I should just leave it there like I’ve shot a rabbit or something.


Restaurant Critic


Seal Veal

Is possibly the most exciting thing to come out of British Colombia

Since Leonard Cohen’s hot daughter

I couldn’t resist that braying second slice

Annotated with doe-eyed precision


I false-started at the jam cutlet

Pastry crimped and dabbed with three-pronged fork

With trademark sooty fingerprint on the crust

And a surprising jolt from the whole lemon

Concealed in the final mouthful

Service was conspicuous by its absence


The front page bawls

“Cost of living crisis”

But this pate is rich

As any banker you could name


Normally, I’d shovel down the liver and onions

With the delicate silver trowel

They thoughtfully provide


BUT, dear reader

I am the sacrificial lamb

Hungry for tales of adventure

And derring fon-due


Today we’re having char-grilled sea bream

Stuffed inside an unwilling duck

The shape of a grapefruit

That dimpling can’t be genuine

Storming the kitchen

I demand to see the cutting tools

Inspecting each with eyeglass

Before mute sous-chef


Scallops? A pastry cutter!

Sweetbreads? Those are glands, man!

A whole lobster? It’s a squid painted red!

The Titanic is closer to icebergs than this lettuce!


It’s a tradition in certain parts of the East End of London to toast clogs on a peat-backed fire, and to don a jacket of opals and rhinestones before tucking in.


A.  A. Gill?

I once pinned his hand to the table with a serving fork for saying he preferred Burger King to McDonalds.

Never trust a chippie who offers you a whole cod

Never trust a chippie

You can cover yourself in goose grease to swim the channel, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s a frightful waste of goose-grease


Oysters are best consumed in the bath

Free from suds and bubbles

But I do not have this luxury tonight

And sip the decanted gelatinous beings

From carafe


When poached eggs were banned in East Berlin

Me and my friends

After a few dozen brandies

Would scale a watchtower

And gloatingly stuff heaps of them

In full sight of the DDR


You ever clean egg vomit off a watchtower?

That was us.


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