Author Archives: teethingwells

Stolen Day

From the 1987 anthology Hard Lines 3, poems chosen by Ian Dury, Fanny Dubes, and Tom Paulin.

Stolen Day

She was too big for the job
too spiritual for the office
She didn’t clock in
She stole away
stole the day
and walked with the stolen sun
along the stolen street
among the stolen cars
breathing unmeasured breaths
living in untimed time

Frances Jessup

Social Security Rules

This poem is from quirky Basildon zine Attitude, number 8, 1985.

Social Security Rules

Tatty plastic sheets and timbers
Make hovel home
Cos the Government’s got its way
And we’ll die in winter

Come back in two weeks
No work now
Ache for yourself
When your fixed in a corner
Demanding charity

But still
Theres plenty of places to stay
Pitsea marshes
Tent village
And we’ll all die in winter

But it’s summer now
And maybe time enough
Please, please no more suicide
Does life have to be
A fate worse than death.

Peter Covey

The Local

Poem from the 1968 anthology It’s World That Makes The Love Go Round. This was made up of poems from Breakthru poetry magazine.

The Local

Middle-aged and paunched
Bespectacled and merry
He perches upon his regular pint
Sized stool withing the Red
Forever flowing Lion and commences to
Pronounce with slurred absurdly confident
Unknown fact upon some subject
About which he knows absolutely nothing;
And attended to by the entire
Entirely sozzled company with
Their ears and hear hears he raises
Once again his glass up to his
Slurping lips, and with it up goes the level
of the world’s prejudice
And slops down upon the under spirit
Floor where ignorance is bliss
’tis folly to be wise,
While outside, the earnest nervous
Trembling truth teller
Is sitting at the door begging
For the unforthcoming money
For a drink
And wasting his young so
Sober wind upon
Their randy brandy breaths.

Nicholas Caulfield

Smiling My Life Away

The fabulous Case, I band I followed aplenty, in Sounds, 26 March, 1983.


There are times when you just know. No ifs or butts or silly haircuts, you know the band on stage are gonna be bigger than Buster Bloodvessel on a Shredded Wheat rampage.
I saw it in Case almost two years ago in the person of singer/sensation Matthew Newman, a wonderful rascal with a chameleon kisser that ch-ch-changes from carnival clown to criminal and back to court jester before your very eyes-ah.
Matthew had star written all the way through him and, for the next eighteen months, I seriously slagged roguish manager Dave Long for his Bernie Rhodes ‘holding back’ policy. But after tonight, all you can hear in the Bushell household is the sound of your humble chewing his own curses, ‘cos months of rehearsals and ruthless recruitment have made Case good enough to back Matthew, and that means very special indeed.
If you want it short and scintillating, sweets, they’re akin to Dexys meet the Ruts with a juicy jot of Manners mania thrown in for good measure. But don’t get the idea they’re stale copyists – this band are refreshingly alive.
Ripe with irresistible dance rhythms, they grin their way through a bonzer beano bonanza stuffed solid with energy and emotion, passion and pop pizazazz, fun and fervour. They’re aggressive without being dumb and intelligent without being dull, and this, you don’t need telling, makes a long overdue change.
Matthew still steals the show. Even his new beard couldn’t dampen the magnetic appeal of that big beaming boat and its battery of moods, and even a silly amount of stage space couldn’t keep him still.
But the band are well worth watching. With haircuts ranging from punk and smoothie to Travolta and rockabilly (as diverse as their appeal), they comprise the usual bass/guitar/drums to-do swelled by a pair of sizzling saxes (Clarence Clemons for herberts?) and everyone of them impresses. When I say they’re tight, I mean they’d make yer average Tory council look generous: I mean, these boys are more together than Siamese twins.
‘Ain’t Gonna Dance’ commences proceedings with big blasts of Manners style horns that surge into a hot ‘n’ heavy soul stomp. Then ‘You’ll Be My Fools’ slows the pace for a more atmospheric cavort suffused with disciplined menace before Case hit top gear again for the belting ‘Let That One Go’.
‘You Know What’s Good For You’ dishes out more dollops of Dexy’s-style passion-punch and finds Matthew at his most Rowland-like – a Croydon soul brother who can crack his face. And by the next number ‘Criminal Ways’, the virgin crowd are going seriously barmy although it’s easily surpassed by the soon-come single ‘Oh’. With its Rutsy rhythm and great blasting brass, it’s a gem of Crown Jewels stature.
And that just leaves ‘I Am The Only People’. the nearest the band come to a ballad, before the sensational set-closer, my favourite number, ‘Smiling My Life Away’ which once again sees the boys coming up with dynamic propulsion of prime Ruts proportions wed to a joyous singalong hookline solid enough to snare Moby Dick hisself.
I’;; tell ya, if I’ve got any doubts about any of these numbers it’s only because the best are so great … aww listen, I’ll get right to the point. I don’t pop my cork for every band I see, but I’d be willing to blow my life savings on a side-bet on Case’s inevitable rise.
I’m not talking Top Thirty or Top Twenty, but Top ten. And not in the another day, another haircut sense, but in terms of those very rare qualities – individuality, ingenuity and real emotion. Ring out the old, ring in the new …

Garry Bushell

Feeling Small

The Sunday Times magazine, 3 August, 1980 has 3 poems selected by Michael Rosen.

Rosen’s Choice
Michael Rosen picks some of your poems about feeling small

Thanks for your small talk about feeling small. Sorry, David Paske, your feeling small poem was too big! To be fair to everyone, Start Here poems should never be longer than postcard size.
I liked these very much:

When I was only about 10
I always wanted to play football with my big brother
and all his big friends.
So he said,
“If you come, and you get hurt,
and come and complain to me
you’ll never come with me again.”
So the next day
I got all my football gear ready
and I went out with my brother
thinking that I looked really good – big.
But when we got there
the size of the other team was frightening –
and I began to get a bit worried.
I felt so big
when I was mouthing around
but when it came to it
I felt so small.

Thomas Ioannou, aged 13

Fuck You

Tom McGrath was a working class Scottish poet (23 October 1940 – 29 April 2009) He was a founding editor of International Times and worked variously with Alexander Trocchi, Billy Connolly, and Jimmy Boyle.
This poem is from Aquarius, No. 6, 1973. This was a Scottish issue.

Fuck You

Fuck you and your public dole that doesn’t have a toilet.

Fuck you and your employment exchange
your dreadful dearth of vacation employment,
why don’t I try the breweries
fuck tedium death on assembly lines

Fuck you and what you’d have me do with summer
sweating over proofs in a publishing house,
or growing green mould selling books for John Smith
sorting through cobwebs in nonpublic libraries

Fuck you and your hardback books
your polite poets who never touch earth
and never are read except by each other
and the withered few they’ve fooled
and brainwashed in the lecture halls

Fuck you and your examination system
and comment present a detailed analysis
of this poem if you like/if you don’t like
fuck you then and your tobacco
your Carlsberg special brews and all you’ve based
your empty empire on, your precious democratic right to vote,
choice between lies and lies, fuck it too

and fuck your newspapers and your television
and all purveyors of human value wilderness
fuck you and your motorcars and what they’ve done
to street and field and fuck your hideous office blocks
your controlled parks and men in uniform

Fuck your uniformity and your void
of blabbing justices, fuck your corrupt screws
and primlipped schoolmarm social workers
fuck your mad psychiatry
trying to train us back
to Pavlov’s dogs

and fuck you and your church and collars
trying to be hip and please the young
trying to be responsible and please their mothers
trying to be revolutionaries and conform

fuck them and fuck you I can reach God my own way fuck your wars
and the blue flowers sprout in my garden and tell me
fuck them and their industrial smoke

their whiskey-steeped reporters
giving accurate distorts

and I say fuck tidying up this poem
and making it more accurate
You know what I mean –

unless you give me the truth
that serves the flesh and feeds the sensibility,
I’m going to have to pounce on you some night
and fuck you fuck you fuck you hard
in cunt and mouth, asshole and nostril
until you scream with it
scream with joy
and shout fuck it!
fuck their images
their skyscrape institutions
fuck the dreary digitry they have reduced us to –
a man’s life is worth so much more than this!

then my sweetie, I will love you too

Tom McGrath

The Miners Are On Strike

From the 1985 collection of writing by the children of striking miners, More Valuable Than Gold put out by Women Against Pit Closures.

The miners are on strike
The miners are on strike because Mrs Thatcher said they can’t do no work under the ground, and the miners got angry. When the miners got angry they wanted some clothes because they were freezing. They needed some food because they were hungry. How can we win? We can win but they need some money. The police hit the miners. I wasn’t surprised. They hit Brian, They arrested the miners. I wasn’t surprised. The police sent Zeynep and Fatih back to Turkey. So I know they arrest people. I think they are never fair. I don’t know why. Some of the miners were in hospital for a very long time and some went to prison. They didn’t do anything wrong. I don’t know why they are in prison – it makes me feel awful. I saw it on television. My mum was sad. My dad was very surprised that the miners were in jail. He said this is a terrible thing to happen just because the miners got cross with Mrs Thatcher.
Dale Bryden, 7, Hackney, London