The Comedians

The Comedians

I haven’t blogged for a while, I have been suffering quite badly from depression among other things, and it’s been hard to get myself to do things. To keep myself going I watch a lot of comedy, and I got thinking about writing a poem about it, about the people that make me laugh, who go back as far as the early days of cinema. I started out by borrowing the title of an Elvis Costello/ Roy Orbison song and eventually wrote the rest in one evening. I’ve also put together a gallery of some of the people I was thinking of, not used this feature before so as usual I’ve gone overboard. Most of the captions from my own recollection from books and DVD extras etc. I hope you like it. To absent friends!

The Comedians

They knew you from an early age,

Working the crowd long before a wage,

Daft kid spoiling the photographs,

It’s all worthwhile if someone laughs,

The hard life of a humourist,

Becomes much harder when no-one’s pissed,

Add sentiment to slapstick games,

They’ll root for you, they feel your pain,

They see you failing your romance,

Disaster strikes down every chance,

But don’t take it all to heart,

That’s the nature of your art,

A smile holds back a thousand tears,

Show your strengths and hide your fears,

That things going right going wrong goes wrong,

That the music ends before the song,

Let all that land on your persona,

But don’t let it usurp it’s owner,

Become the plucky underdog,

This contraption’s most important cog,

Be the creative destructive spark,

The firefly knife that cuts through the dark,

If it works, and you make it big,

Then give it all at every gig,

If it doesn’t, if no-one laughs,

Then dust the death off of your arse,

It happened to them all you know,

Can’t guarantee a perfect show,

Stan and Ollie, Charlie, Eric and Ern,

All of them, they had to learn,

To get there it was going to take patience,

To deal with all of these frustrations,

And many found, even at the top,

The heartache doesn’t really stop,

The struggle to retain success,

To remain yourself amid the stress,

Can tear apart a man inside,

Witness how poor Tony died,

He had an audience millions strong,

But he felt too much had gone wrong,

So if you still want to be a clown,

Kiss the heights, absorb the sound,

Make sure your feet still touch the ground,

If they don’t, it’s such a long way down.


Broken Branches

Here’s another piece from the group, visualising the perspective of something by or of a river. Like many of my others it was partly inspired by the fate of David Oluwale. As such I decided against titling it with a pun such as ‘river sticks’!

I was once of the tree, held up high,

Till a playful child snapped me down.

and carried me from my brethren.

A toy for the moment.

Then roughly thrown,

Into the waters, which took me far

The flow of the current was now my home.

As I travel far, the world frightens me.

Though nothing as much as the thing that is man,

That cast it’s brother aside like a stone.

A River in November

A poem I wrote at the writing group’s last meeting, looking at life and rivers.



The river of life has an uneven flow,

Sometimes deathly calm,

Sometimes violently rough.

I may find myself bilious at the slightest movement

Or cling to the world for a dangerous ride.

Every fork in the waters brings a vital decision,

So many wrong already.

I am far from the place I was looking for

I try to take the right way every time now,

To try and return,

Further down the river that I should be living on.

Writing exercise- River ride

This is from the writing group I attend, and it’s the first time I’ve tried to create an exercise myself. Feel free to try it yourself, or share it , tried to make it pretty open ended so people can put their own spin on it, and would be happy to see anything inspired by it if you’d like to post it here or link to it on your own blog.


Recommended time 15 minutes

Take a journey you have been on in your life, or one that you would like to go on, or worry about going on- either one place to another or metaphorically- one state of being or state of mind to another, and imagine the places being on either end of a river- even if they’re in completely different places.

Now imagine yourself taking that journey along the river.

What is it like? Think about

  • the flow of the water,
  • the weather,
  • what is carrying you? Is it a boat, does it have a name?
  • Do you see anything in the water? Is it in your way, is it difficult to proceed?
  • Is there anyone or anything encouraging on the riverbank?
  • How do you feel as you get further down the river..?
  • How far along the river do you think you are, have you made it to the end or do you still have a way to go? How will you feel if or when you get there?

Describe all this in poem, prose, however it comes to you.

Oluwale and the Ghost

Another piece from a writing group session, about David Oluwale. We read a chapter of the Hounding of David Oluwale focusing on his difficult time in Menston/Highroyds psychiatric hospital. The brief was to write an account of his time there from the perspective of a fictional observer. I chose to apply some artistic licence and create a ‘ghost’ to empathise with him. Spelling and grammar are phonetic and in-character, with a Yorkshire dialect.

I’m here Lad, as I think I always were.

Though yer skin’s t’opposite hue to what I can see of me now,

I know the pain yer going through.

I were there too when I was on that side,

That electric thing- it does yer brain,

How can yer be people when yer tret like that?

Would never o’wanted me old dog to feel that.

Heck, I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, cept them that say it has to happen.

Little letters, long words, they don’t need you to understand.

But you know what they’re sayin,

You learn a word when it’s been done to ya like that.

If my heart still beat it would ache for yer, even bleed.

I’m grateful for the mercy that brought me from this suffering.

But to see it on another is so much worse.

Please lad, let me take your place.

A madhouse don’t need new martyrs.

Get out the door, take your opportunities,

And you can take my share an all.

A thought for Olu

This is a piece I just wrote as part of the writing group I attend- The Baggage Handlers, Leeds, and it is in tribute to a tragic local figure named David Oluwale.

It can take a lifetime to know a man

It can take a moment to try.

People are never beyond repair

But if no-one will help

How can anyone know they are not alone in the world?

They abused because they didn’t understand

They were not raised to

Yet they stood for all that is good

And let a poor man die.



See for details of his case and things that are being done to keep his memory alive.

A meditation on hope

Trapped in a twelve dimensional labyrinth called life,

We often grasp at thin air.

Jump to land on nothing there.

The world is full of everything.

Yet we rely on the invisible, inaudible, intangible.

Inexhaustible-for if you cannot see it running out,

You can always reach for more.

If the genuine thing is out of stock the placebos are even better.

One syllable of hope does the job

better than any amount of oxydroxymoxypropanaline they can prescribe.