They Affirm

Peter Sarstedt “Where Do You Go To My Lovely”

Listen to the words of this song, they are extraordinary. It is a story, a poem and a song all in


one. It tells the tale of two people brought up in similar circumstances whose lives turn out very differently. There has been much speculation about who the song was written about and was thought by many to be about Sophia Loren, an actress who was brought up in Naples but Peter always said that this was not the case and he had no one in particular in mind although he had based part of the lyrics on his then girlfriend Anita.
The song owes much of its style to the music of Jacques Brel and it sounds very french (I know Brel was born in Belgium but it still sounds french to me). Peter Sarstedt was born in India but moved to the UK with his parents in 1954.
The lyrics reminds me that fame and fortune do not always bring happiness. A theory poets rarely get to put to the test. Peter died in January of this year aged 75.

I remember the back streets of Naples
Two children begging in rags
Both touched with a burning ambition
To shake off their lowly-borne tags, they try

When people talk about immigration they seem to forget the circumstances that force people to make a new life in a different country. A few years ago I went along to a citizenship celebration at Newcastle Civic Centre. I watched as people from many different cultures and countries declared that they were now British citizens by reading out a declaration of citizenship. It was a very moving experience.
Afterwards, I talked to a few of the new citizens and their stories were as diverse as they were amazing. It seemed to me that these people represented a very positive addition to our country and by welcoming them we enriched not only their lives but ours as well.

They Affirm

From the four corners of the globe they come

Dodging the assassin’s bullet

The dark despair of the political dungeon

Gnawing hunger rising like dust from a parched field

For others, it is new opportunities

Wrought from hard won qualifications

The freedom to hold a partner’s hand in public

To open doors rather than have them slammed in their faces

They affirm that right with a firm handshake

They answer with a grin that begins within

And spreads across their faces

Like a summer sunrise

©Jeff Price March 2018

Goodbye Mary Jane

Panama Red: New Riders of the Purple Sage

This song was a favourite of dope smokers in my younger days. The New Riders of the Purple Sage original line up featured the legendary Jerry Garcia and toured regularly in the early seventies. The video is a later one, when the band were a lot older. If you want

new rider of the purple sage

to watch a version from when they were young click here . Warning. The quality of the video is quite poor.
Some clever lines like “Searching all the joints in town for Panama Red” and “Nobody feels like working because Panama Red is back in Town”. Watch and enjoy as you read the poem. Full lyrics here.

new riders
I don’t think I ever tasted the delights of Panama Red but there were many other varieties with equally exotic names such as Nepalese Temple Balls, Durban Poison, Acapulco Gold and Mary Jane. In those days being a dope smoker made you feel like a rebel and it was also part of the counter-culture I identified with. It was also a reward at the end of a working day when everything was sorted and you could relax with a spliff.
Eventually, I tired of the weed and was also keen to stop smoking the tobacco that also went in to a joint. It is a decision I do not regret except having been through the process of quitting two things became obvious, one it was not the dope I found hard to be without but the tobacco. Secondly, it was the ritual and reward aspects I missed much more than the effect.

Goodbye Mary Jane

Meeting you for the first time
Made my head swim
My heart beat faster
My pulse pound in my veins
At first things were awkward
My teenage fumbling embarrassing
Soon I became an expert at turning you on
My fingers working up an expert rhythm
We would meet at hippy parties
Chilling out with stoned friends
Passed around as casually
As a packet of biscuits
In the end, it was just the two of us
It crept up on us like old age
I was eager to meet you after work
Winding down after the graft of the day
We were settled in our routines
But we weren’t good for each other
After a night in your company
I could feel you in my body
My lungs heavy as a thunder cloud
My mind plagued by paranoid ramblings
When it finally happened
And we parted
I expected that I would miss you
Yearn for you in the still long night
However, it turned out to be a relief
The paranoia passed, I felt better
Walked taller, breathed easier
My only regret is that I didn’t do it earlier
I would have saved myself a fortune

©Jeff Price November 2017


Muddy Waters “Mannish Boy”

What an amazing track, I must have been about fourteen when I first heard it. There is something organic about the rhythm of this track, the way it seems to reach deep inside and still today when I hear the Da De Da guitar refrain I am taken back in time to the

muddy waters

I don’t know where I first heard it. It could have been in the record shops of Newcastle or on Radio Luxembourg but it was probably on a pirate radio station. There were a few of them around and the most famous was Radio Caroline but for us Northerners it was Radio 270. This was a station based on a ship off the North East coast at Bridlington and I could pick up the broadcast on my transistor radio.
It closed down in 1967 when the Labour Government, under Harold Wilson,


banned pirate stations. In August 1967, Radio 270 went off air and the ship came in to Bridlington harbour and myself and a bunch of mates went to welcome it back. We lined the harbour wall as it sailed in and in the evening we had a party on the beach. It was a spontaneous thing, no one in particular organised it, just a lot of young people having the same idea at the same time.
My Facebook pages have been filled recently with people demanding change. The #MeToo campaign has brought down the power brokers of Hollywood. #neveragain after the Florida school shooting became a spontaneous movement of young people demanding changes in the American gun laws. In the UK tens of thousands have been joining the Labour Party to demand changes here. #AboutTimeTo


On the ocean floor, deep beneath the waves
One tectonic plate pushes against another
At first it creaks and splutters unsure of itself
New to the world that sits on top of it
For the casual observer all there is to see
Is a small shift in the surface of the sea
But it is discovering it’s moment
It is gathering strength
It’s power does not dissipate but grows
First as an injustice
Then a hashtag
Then a movement
© Jeff Price February 2018

Daggers Drawn

Dixie Chicks: Travelin’ Soldier

What amazing voices these woman have. Their harmonies give me goose bumps. It was a difficult task picking a Dixie Chicks track and in the end it came down to a toss up between this one and ” Goodbye Earl”. Have a listen yourself to the other choice and let me know what you think, link

dixie-chicks-1999-billboard-1548.jpg Travelin’ Soldier was written by Bruce Robinson and released as a single in 1996. It is another of those story songs I love so much. It tells the tale of a young soldier who strikes up a conversation with a young waitress in an american diner and they become pen pals. It is set in the time of the Vietnam war and gives a voice to the ordinary squaddie.

One Friday night at a football game

The Lord’s prayer said and the anthem sang

A man said “Folks would you bow your heads

For a list of local Vietnam dead” …

One name read and nobody really cared

But a pretty little girl with a bow in her hair

Unless you are some deranged bigot the idea of waging war makes little sense and rarely leads to any resolution, instead it usually increases global tension and creates a generation of embittered and volatile young people who are easy prey to the aforementioned deranged bigots. In the political rhetoric of war the impact on individuals is usually forgotten or simply ignored.
When I was very young maybe seven or eight, I found a box in our house and in it were two daggers. They had very intricately engraved blades with ivory handles. At the top of


the handle was a swastika. Along with a few medals it was my Father’s war booty.
I remember threatening my little brother with one of the daggers and he held up a rubber hot water bottle to protect himself. Unfortunately it was still full of water which then leaked out all over the bedroom floor. When my Mother saw what had happened she was furious.

The box disappeared and I never saw the daggers again. I presume she told my Dad to get rid of them. After my father, died I couldn’t find his medals but did come across a record of his battalion’s part in the Normandy landings and it’s struggle up through France , Belgium and in to Germany. After every encounter with the retreating enemy was a list of casualties and deaths. Every one a shattered life and a family deprived of a loved one. It was very sobering reading.

Daggers Drawn

Along the dusty road are the scattered uniforms of a fleeing army
Soldiers have scoured the homes that lined the road of their retreat
Taking jackets, trousers and coats so they can melt into the countryside
Gone are the goose steps and lines of raised arms, only chaos remains
Their masters have left them hungry, disillusioned and disappointed
They sold them the dream of making Germany great again
But they were only interested in making their profits great again

© Jeff Price February 2018

Farewell to the Jazz Heart

Bob Marley and the Wailers “Jammin”

Reggae Part One

I was always a fan of Reggae music including Bob Marley’s laid back sound. I once had a fantastic bobmarleycollection of 12 inch reggae records including many white label imports. In the 70s I used to run a disco that was mainly used to raise money for left wing causes, named appropriately “The Red Flag Disco”.  I had three versions, a very punky version, a very laid back reggae night and a party big hits night.

I remember doing a night at a farm near Hexham and my friend Mel and I doubled up on the decks. We played Reggae to a bunch of stoned hippies until three in the morning. It was a fabulous night.

After my first daughter was born I gave the equipment and all the records away to a local youth club. Some of those singles would be worth a fortune today.

Reggae Part Two

In September of 2008 I went to see my Doctor and asked him to listen to my heart. Something didn’t feel right. I was quickly diagnosed with Tachycardia and Atrial Fibrillation and rushed into hospital.

What followed was nearly ten years of hospital visits, so many Cardio Versions I have lost count and two heart operations called a Cardiac Ablation. The last one was in December 2016.

A Cardio Version is that scene in a hospital drama when the sick person’s monitor flat lines and the Doctor puts two paddles on a patient’s chest and zaps their heart. You see the body arch and then hopefully the monitor begins it’s reassuring beep. That’s basically a Cardio Version. I like to think of it as the Control Alt Delete thing I do on my computer when it refuses to work properly.

The Cardiac Ablation is a lot more complicated but basically it is a laser blasting the misbehaving bits of your heart from the inside in the hope all will be restored to perfect working order. I am pleased to report that since the last CA in 2016 there have been no more problems. I did a rough calculation based on a price list for a hospital in America and found out if I live in the USA it would have cost me over $700,000 for treatment.

Now you are wondering what is the connection between reggae music and Jeff’s dodgy ticker?

Farewell to the Jazz Heart


My heart had a case of the Heebie-Jeebies

Beating out a scat tune like a jazz guitarist on speed

Shaky fingers rattling out discordant chords


In hospital my heart is wired as a washing machine

As well connected as a coming out debutante

Paparazzi eyes scrutinising its every peculiar pulse


When the Doctor’s drugs don’t do the trick

They charge me up like Frankenstein’s monster

Zapping my chest with a thunderbolt


My Reggae heart returns with its stoned Caribbean rhythm

Marley’s ghost pounding out the Rasta man vibration

Beating out the drums of the rhythm of life


©Jeff Price February 2018

Slipping in the Sun

Paolo Nutini “Candy”

A beautiful love song from Paolo. It has a wonderful poetic quality which I like and also paolo nutinihis voice lends an extra dimension to the song. When I first heard it I assumed he was much older and was surprised when I saw a picture of him for the first time.

I found this article Link from a fan site. There is much debate about the lyrics, Paolo gives two explanations, one was he wrote the song after an argument with his girlfriend and having realised he was in the wrong, wrote the song as an apology.  The second is much darker.

Here is a clip from the article.

It followed a meeting between Paolo and one of his all-time music heroes, US singer-songwriter Rodriguez. Paolo explains: “When we were teenagers, me and one of my friends would listen to him constantly.

“His stuff was very overlooked, we didn’t know where he was or whether he was alive or dead. But when I played in Detroit, his hometown, he came to see me and we did his song Sugar Man together.

“After the show he gave me a DVD of the film Candy, which features Sugar Man on the soundtrack.

“It stars Heath Ledger as a heroin addict. It’s quite a desperate tale about his addiction, very dark but somehow very beautiful and moving too. Watching it got me thinking about the way that love can be an addiction too. You get hooked on somebody so much that, even when you’re away from home – or on tour – something keeps that person at the forefront of your mind.

“The night I wrote the song, I called my girlfriend and I was about to tell her about the film and what it had meant to me when she told me the news that Heath Ledger had just died, [22 Jan 2008] apparently from an overdose. It was a weird coincidence. Very uncanny.”

It reminds me that when you write something, the reader can put their own spin on the words. People tell me things they have read into my poems that I never intended. We all see what we see depending on our point of view. To slightly misquote Paul Simon “A man sees what he wants to see and disregards the rest”. I have sat down with my daughters and discussed some incident from the past and other than the names of the people involved nothing else can be agreed on (even the names can sometimes be in contention).

One incident springs to mind. We were on holiday when the girls were small, in a little fishing village in Spain. We were crossing a seaweed covered concrete slipway that was used by the fishing boats to enter the harbour.  My oldest daughter slipped and fell. The water was only inches deep but as she fell she saw a small shoal of fish that scattered as she entered the water. I  grabbed her hand and immediately pulled her up, she suffered no more damage than a wet sun dress. Now, over thirty years later she still claims she has a fear of fish after being attacked after I pushed her into the sea.


Slipping in the Sun

Along the harbour tattered bunting sways in a soft Mediterranean breeze

Sun shines indiscriminately on holiday makers and fisherman alike

The harbour slipway is festooned in bladderwrack seaweed and dark green algae

An incoming tide has turned the concrete into a greased water-slide

She is four years old and as bold and brave as a firefighter

Striding along mesmerised by the garish colours of the harbour cafes

She steps onto the slipway and slips into the inch deep water

In an instant I grab her arm lifting her up as a dozen silvery fish scatter


Years later she recounts the story of how I pushed her into the harbour

To be attacked by hundreds of hungry man eating fish

She claims she has a fish phobia because of my negligent parenting

I recall how on our way back to the hotel I gave her my t-shirt

To replace the soggy slime covered summer dress she was wearing

I remember thinking how beautiful she was even in a purple man size top  


©    Jeff Price February 2018



The Late Adopter

Queen “Don’t Stop Me Now”

When Queen were at the height of their popularity I didn’t like them. I was into punk and blues. I was tired of over produced and lyrically superficial pop songs.  Later I began to understand the amazing talent of Freddie Mercury and how innovative the band were. It was Queen with “Bohemian Rhapsody” who pioneered the pop video and blurred the lines between pop and opera. Yes, there were some duff ones in the twenty years of recording and they are still not in my favourite band list but despite Freddie’s death in 1991 the band continue to record and tour.freddie mercury

What I like about this track is the sheer exuberance of it. You can not help but feel invigorated by Freddie’s performance and there are a number of Queen tracks that I defy anyone not to want to get up and dance to. 

“Don’t stop me know” makes me realise that life is for living and I just need to get on with it despite the many distractions the world can throw in the way.

On more than one occasion my daughters have enthused about TV programs such as the The Wire, Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad and urged me to watch them. This poem is my response. 

The Late Adopter

Now that the last series of Breaking Bad has finished

I am urged by my daughter to watch this American TV series

I tell her that the five series totalling fifty two episodes

Each lasting fifty minutes will take forty two hours of my life

I am nearly seventy years old and I don’t think I can commit


It isn’t that I am running on empty, yet

But the tank is definitely a lot less than a quarter full

There are no refills, no top ups and no reserve tank

There is a lot of road left to travel, a lot of sights still to see

And no time for long running drug related sagas

No matter how motherfucking good they are


© Jeff Price January 2018



Falling under the wheels

Beach Boys “Wouldn’t it be nice”

A change of pace this week as we celebrate the life and times of Andy Lippincott inspired by the Beach Boys track “Wouldn’t it be nice”.

rs-7132-20120917-beachboys-624x-1347915327I am a great fan of Garry Trudeau’s Doonesbury cartoon strip. I followed it every day in the Guardian Newspaper, it was something I always looked forward to reading.

Of all the characters Gary Trudeau created the one that touched me the most was Andy Lippincott. This was 1990, a time when the spread of HIV AIDS was beginning its relentless march across the world and the press in the UK was full of homophobic rants and religious fundamentalists were calling it the gay plague. Trudeau’s voice was the voice of compassion and understanding and he helped humanise the victims of this terrible illness.

The strip below is the one I read that morning in 1990 and shows Andy’s last moment as he passes away listening to the Beach Boys track “Wouldn’t it be nice”. 



Falling under the wheels


I cried when I opened the Guardian and read about the last moments of your life,

I had followed the last tragic weeks as AIDS overwhelmed you

Even though you fought back, the disease just got stronger

Still you faced it with a stoicism I couldn’t understand.

I would have been angry and railed against the injustice of it all

You quietly passed away listening to the Beach Boys “Wouldn’t it be Nice”.

A lot of real people that I know have died since that day in 1990

Some I expected to lose, like my parents and aged aunties and uncles

Others, I thought too young to die, fell under the wheels of life

Death surprises us even though we know it is as unstoppable as the tide

As unforgiving as a jilted lover and as predictable as a footballer’s glib commentary cliche




©Jeff Price January 2018


Joe Jackson. “It’s Different for Girls”

I remember Joe from the late 70s with this track and “Is she really going out with him”

both show a man who is trying to understand relationships but isn’t having much luck. If thI had the insight my seventy years have given me when I was in my twenties, how different my life would have been. But it is the very act of experiencing and learning that helps us grow up and become the people we are today.

I sometimes wish my children would listen to my sage advice culled from those turbulent years and use it to help make their own lives easier but whilst they are happy to ask me for advice on a recipe or how to fix their computers, their love lives are a closed book and I am not allowed to peek at the pages.

On the other hand living with them, watching them grow and mature has been a never ending joy to me. Watching them bringing up their children makes me feel I must have done something right somewhere along the line.



Whatever goes wrong it is not their fault and whatever goes right is down to them

They always complain about looking their worst when they look their best

No matter how much they earn they are always broke

They always seem to arrive at my house just before a meal is served

All boyfriends will at some point be the most selfish, unspeakable disgusting slime balls in the history of boyfriends

All disagreements will eventually be forgotten and all slights and insults forgiven

They can turn rags into designer dresses and designer dresses into rags

The contents of the fridge are their birthright and they can feed themselves and their friends on its contents at anytime

In a pub they never offer to get the first round in. They never say “just make mine a half”


Sometimes, they make me feel so proud of them that I want to cry


© Jeff Price January 2018




The Cat who Spoke.

Willie Nelson & Lee Ann Womack “Mendocino County Line”

I love this track, Willie Nelson is a legend and Lee Ann Womack has the perfect country voice. The Lyrics talk about a relationship that has failed but still has a pull on the people involved.


I don’t talk to you too much these days
I just thank the lord pictures don’t fade
I spent time with an angel just passing through
Now all that’s left is this image of you

If I have learned anything from the last seventy years it is that relationships come and go. That isn’t a good or a bad thing it is just the way it is.

There is an ebb and flow to life and friends drift apart or they just move. Over Christmas I met up with an old friend for a drink. He was a regular in my life in the 70/80s but he moved back to Canada when his Mother became ill. It was great to catch up and for a couple of hours the years faded away and and we became lost in our joint memories.

Over Christmas I also met up with a friend who died nearly twenty years ago. It was a very vivid dream and for a moment after I woke up I felt that he was still alive.

This week’s poem is inspired by another occasion shortly after he died when I am sure I heard a cat in the street say his name.

The cat who spoke.

A cat peered through the iron railings

He said your name over and over again

I wondered if the cat had a message from you


I did consider striking up a conversation

But there was nothing the cat could have told me

That I didn’t already know

I know you are dead

And that the dead do not come back

And the living miss them

And sometimes in their grief

They hear cats speak

It must have said something like “meow

And instead

In my sorrow I heard 

Brian, Brian, Brian


® Jeff Price January 2018