Grey

At the Day School we had to create a character from a colour who then wrote a letter expressing strong emotion to another character. My character, a 6ft 5 dreadlocked youth, wrote to his mother, a shallow character obsessed with her own appearance, who had abandoned him many years earlier. Later, I decided to rewrite the original letter as a poem.

Mother,

An appellation undeserved.

By now you have another name

One I’ve never known

or heard.

Mother,

I write not in expectation,

For me, you have

nothing

to give.

I write that you will not forget,

nor live in peace

you don’t deserve.

I write to say

that for the stolen years,

you are not forgiven.

Mother,

As I sit here,

in this borrowed room,

upon the bed I stood in line for,

shaken by the passing trains,

and count the change

I begged for,

I know there is no escape.

From this life or you.

Sincerely,

Your unloved son.

sometime in the eighties

Harry’s mate is hosting Eurovision. Think we’ll win? asks mum
The war? asks dad, from behind the sports pages.
Can I play with the music box? I’m told to ask my sister.
Don’t touch, just listen, and she opens the little red case.
The needle moves and the Human League sing along,
to my sister’s rendition of Don’t you want me.

The country’s going to war, led, dad says, by an iron lady with a battleaxe.
While we are going to the south of France, on holiday. Hopefully.
Driving in My Car. Abroad. For the first time.
Ever. Madness.
Mum said we are going on a big fairy,
Shalamar says it will be A Night to Remember.

Scuffed, school shoes shined, hands and faces scrubbed for church.
Keep the soldiers safe, the vicar prays. Amen.
Let us go on holiday, I pray. Amen
My sister prays for an ant. Amen
Mum and Dad stay at home and listen
to Duran Duran’s Save a Prayer. Amen

Chocolate crêpes and ice-cream parlours,
Topless beaches and moonlit discos, the war’s forgot’.
Too young for the disco, I’m left behind
By pubescent teenage girls, singing out of tune
Come on Eileen

Twelve months pass and we return,
Nothing’s changed ‘cept the war’s been won and the ‘vision lost.
But my sister cries
‘Cos I’m no longer to be left behind,
And Dexy’s been forgotten with the help of
Red Red Wine.