I wrote this poem for Peggy Gell’s birthday six years ago and read it at her funeral last month. She was a wonderful woman and I was lucky to know her – happy birthday Peg x
Its full title is ‘Lines written for Our Pegasus on the occasion of her seventieth’.
Seventy is not so old
When you’re into rock’n’roll:
Rockabilly makes you stronger,
Twist and shouting in Clehonger.
Charlie Bliss and a choc ice,
Wouldn’t a cup of tea be nice?
In rural Tory Hereford
Who’d have thought you’d ever’ve
Met a red-haired rock’n’roller,
Cockney Welfare State extoller,
Poet, jeweller, dreamer, Mum,
Who simply has to get things done?
Blink or slightly turn your head,
She’s painted the whole kitchen red!
Thank God she had that broken leg,
Or there’d be no stopping Peg,
Singing Elvis, popping pills,
Showing off her boogie skills.
A proper Champagne Socialist
Believing we should all insist
On a glass of fizz with lunch,
Or maybe lager, ale or punch:
Equality of booze for all!
A democratic rallying call.
A fan of lifelong education,
Peggy Gell has seen the nation
Go from stuffy RP voices
To PR twats selling choices:
Attlee, Bevan, Callaghan,
Barack Obama: Yes We Can!
Normally it’s those other pricks,
Stealing milk and closing pits,
Hacking phones and country supping,
Hunting foxes, pitch and putting.
Anyway, I am digressing,
Now is not the time for stressing
About the cunts who run the world.
We are here to celebrate
A woman I met at sixty-eight.
It’s a real thing of wonder:
She seems to me two years younger!
All energy and bright young eyes,
Hoeing weeds under summer skies,
Crafting a cascading rockery
And in general making mockery
Of the notion broken limbs
Are any bar to downing Pimm’s,
wielding heavy garden toolery,
general high jinks and tom-foolery,
Or indeed to ever being
What I’ve become used to seeing:
The youthful hostess with the mostess,
A real corker and no less,
Up for a drink and a good time
More than most at twenty-nine.
Peg certainly does cast a spell
And never moans about my smell.
And as this verse comes to a close
I should try and mention those
Dearest to our Peggy Gell
But undulating doggerel
Really does not convey well
Owt too serious, truth to tell
So please forgive my brevity,
And give your drinks some levity
It would take more than seventy
Lines, or years, to do justice to
Such a wonderful woman as YOU.