(after Horace, Epode V, At, o deorum)
‘Oh God let me go! Please let me go
it wasn’t me, honest.
Whatever it is, it can’t be me you want
so just you get off me right now.
I swear on my mother’s life and on my brother’s,
that I never laid a finger on your precious pal.
In fact, I swear on the new school blazer I got last week,
and on our cat’s life and on the Bible.
Don’t stare at me with those beady eyes, our Sheila,
like you were a mad dog.’
Kenny was getting hysterical
in Sheila’s iron grip.
Over and over he begged his older cousin
to let him go.
But Sheila was having none of it; she had the bit
between her teeth.
Maureen was her best friend. Kenny would have to squirm;
a thump would be too good for him.
This little episode was every cousin’s dream come true,
something to blackmail him with for ages,
something to tell Auntie Nellie later
if he didn’t share his candies,
or better still, hand over every one,
in honour of the girls’ sweet friendship.
But Maureen was circling the two of them,
sprinkling encouragement over Sheila’s resolve.
She looked like some wild half-breed bitch,
or like a snapping terrier.
Without a second thought, little Anne scooped mud
in fistfuls from the common,
threatening to cover him head to foot
and leave him out to dry,
said she’d check on him morning, noon and night,
so he’d better just lie
and take his medicine like a man
while the Trafalgar Street girls
met in Maureen’s yard and decided what to do with him.
His pissing trick could not go unpunished.
Excited they dangled a Bounty before him
not letting him have even the smallest taste.
And Barbara was there from Britannia Street,
she knew all about lads,
well that’s what everyone in Trafalgar Street said,
and below the railway.
Barbara could twist any boy around her little finger
then make him look stupid.
Sheila now, her teeth thoroughly on edge
and chewing at her nails,
what did she have to say? What didn’t she?
‘Anne, Maureen, Barbara, friends forever,
hell’s fire, and you, Mary, of the crackling coal when
the flames throw boy-shadows on your wall,
come from your Prince Street scullery and cast a spell
on my dirty little cousin Kenny,
while curled up on your fender the black cats
rest and stretch and sharpen their claws,
let The Rocket lasses bawl and the lads make fun
of the one who dumped me,
he still has the smell of my Coty –
he’s definitely a sight for sore eyes.
But hang on, it’s no good rubbing him with trotters,
dad said it didn’t work
when Aggie smeared Billy’s neck in The Commercial
to scare his fancy-woman,
instead, she bragged it was the smell of love –
hung onto Billy ‘til he lost his job.
I won’t give up, I’ll root out all I know of our Kenny,
tell his secrets.
It’s his fault Dave and me broke up; he told him I was thick,
no girl will have him by the time we’re done.
I might not be able to get Dave back again
now that he’s in the tight clutches of Patricia,
but Dave, I’ll tell you this, I’ll get the last laugh yet,
not by changing my perfume or lipstick –
that won’t get you back. No, you’ll come to your senses,
you’ll be more frightened of me than your gang,
because I know all your little weaknesses; which bits of you don’t measure up,
I can tempt you with that:
and I’m sure, rather than risk your laddish reputation,
you would turn your world upside down,
ask me out again, tell me you love me,
as Patricia’s eyes turn to green’
Now Kenny stopped his pathetic pleading
with the wild girls,
although he didn’t have a clue what to say,
he blurted out his empty threats:
’You can torture me all you like, two wrongs don’t make a right;
what you lot do, won’t change Dave’s mind.
I won’t forget what you’ve done in a hurry; you’ll regret this;
I can’t forgive you.
Yes I’ll promise not to bully again,
but I’ll haunt you; hide round corners next time.
The threat of my piss will stick in your minds;
long-distance attacks are what we lads are good at.
Soon we will be joining forces,
so let’s see if that turns you on.
We’ll get you in the streets, the alleys, the common
and when our call-up papers come
we’ll go abroad; maybe we’ll have to fight for real;
maybe that will satisfy you.
But think; who’ll date you if we don’t come back?
Our parents will live through that.
1 The Rocket and The Commercial were public houses
2 Coty was a brand of perfume popular with working-class
girls in the 1950’s)