When The Beatles released ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’/Penny Lane, the idea was that they would write an album about Liverpool and their childhoods. I’ve often gone nostalgically back to my childhood, and here are two examples. ‘1964’ is a poem that was read beautifully by Johnny Morris* in a ‘posh Liverpudlian accent’ during a poetry evening in 2008, and one of many poems about my childhood written 2003/2004 to mark my 40th birthday. ‘Rainy Old English Way’ is a poem from 2015 that would bring a softer autobiographical side to the single!
*see other examples of him reading my poems on the blog
The year of my birth.
Space-age infancy, I landed on earth.
I weighed in as a lightweight
With, what the father would state,
The hands of a boxer!
Cassius Clay conquering America.
The Beatles, planning their first U.S. tour,
About to meet him for a photo-call.
The parents had tied the knot
Just five months before I lay in my cot.
The everyday story of every-night flings
And what inexperience usually brings.
She was eighteen, he twenty-two.
Neither, I guess, had much of a clue.
The Swinging Sixties had sort of begun.
I want to hold your hand had hit The States No.1.
One of the earliest photographs shows
Me in my pram, not yet in the know,
In an Oxford garden, giggling away.
A rented room they struggled to pay.
She held the baby, as he worked late
In the catering trade, with a lot on their plate.
I doubt if she noticed Ray Davis happy.
Probably too busy changing my nappy.
Every name under the sun
She’d been called (for what she had done).
Her father had flipped at her deflowering at first.
That the man was a foreigner had made it much worse.
They were in love or so they had said
But a shotgun, for sure, had been at their head.
A far cry from The Social Revolution
They were shouting about on Wilson’s election.
As for his family, what they thought when they knew
Their Catholic boy had one coming too,
Must have been a much bigger shock;
The very first grandchild conceived out of wedlock!
But, as often happens, everyone rallied
And, by the time I was born, everything tallied.
So, I got my chance to live in spite
As Lennon was published In his own Write.
On February 1st, a Saturday
At 11pm or so they say
Out I popped for my first night out
Jaundiced, of course, like a lager lout
In a hospital taking its name from Churchill
Where the embattled mother lay feeling quite ill.
Her war had been won, a special occasion
As the pop world awaited The British Invasion.
RAINY OLD ENGLISH WAY
Waving off grandpa and grandma
from the back of our car
painted pub signs swing
like a wood-creaking wind-wing
as autumnal photos fall-float nostalgia.
Now I’m an adult at the airport
too lazy to get too deep in thought.
Twiggy whistling trees referee
playing-field football posts growing on stilts for rugby
while outside a coach kaleidoscopic window flutter raffle tickets no-one bought.
Back then, the rain was lashing down
on the streets of a splashing town.
Being who you were when you were at home
Gazing at a big cloud in monochrome
Where watery shillings drip-dropped on puddles of half a crown.
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