“Life’s a Gamble” Penetration

Punk music in the 70’s was a breath of fresh air into a music scene that had become stale. Bands were releasing concept albums and were recording with orchestras and choirs. Punk brought it back to basics and made music relevant again.

One of my favourite bands was Penetration fronted by the fantastic Pauline Murray. When this single came out in 1978 I was convinced it would be a big hit and although it got air plays and support from people like John Peel the band never achieved the success they deserved.

Punk also ushered in the first of the performance poets with people like John Cooper Clarke opening for the Clash. Performance poetry has always been considered a lesser art form by the poetry establishment but like punk it has revitalised an art form that seems to have lost its way and no longer considered relevant by most people. It has been the performance poets who have become the voice of the disenfranchised and marginalised and as was shown by Tony Walsh, after the tragic bombing recently in Manchester, it is performance poets who have been able to give a voice to the grieving and a defiant answer to those who would divide us.   




Poetry should  be technocolour graffiti

In five foot high letters on city walls

There for all the world to see

Some people think it should be calligraphy

Neat words written on vellum

Stored in dusty libraries


Poetry should be a rough blanket

Wrapped around the cold and weary

Trailing in the ditch and dirt

Some people think it should be needlepoint

Delicate stitches fashioned in silk

Displayed in forgotten corners of museums


Poetry should have laugh lines and wrinkles

Like a pensioner who has lived life too much

Poetry should have jokes and punch lines

Tears and heart stopping moments

Some people think it should be obscure and oblique

With words garnered from academic textbooks

Only uttered out loud in a monotone drone


Poetry should be punk songs for gobby teenagers

Rebellious anthems for aging socialists

Monday morning and Friday nights

Dirty weekends and muddy festivals

The trouble makers defiance in meter and verse


©Jeff Price July 2017


Le Premier Marché

This is number twenty of the seventy poems I am writing to celebrate my forthcoming seventieth birthday. I am using music to stimulate ideas for my poetry and this week’s poem is inspired by two french troubadours who perform every week at the night market in St Maurin, a small French village in the Lot et Garonne.

Here is the fantastic Louis Armstrong singing “Just a Gigalo” Why this song? All will be revealed…

During the months of July and August many of the small villages in South West France have night markets. The town square will be set up with trestle tables and chairs and local producers will set up stalls selling hot food, wine etc. You pick a table and buy the food and wine and then listen to the entertainment. The village of St Maurin was one of the first to tun the Marche Gormand nights and they have proved to be very successful with about 400 people packing the square on a Wednesday night.

The band is always the same and the opening number is “Just a Gigalo”


It always ends up with dancing, young and old, french and foreign tourists all doing the Madison or the birdie song. It sound terrible, I know, but there is something magical about it all, I that I can’t really explain.

It starts at the beginning of July and the first thing you notice is the arrival of the tourists especially the English. The Lot et Garonne is just below the Dordogne and as the private schools in England break up for their summer holidays before the state schools it’s a certain type of holiday maker that arrives first.

Le Premier Marché



St Maurin buzzes with excitement

In the square are two familiar faces

Dressed in matching shirts

Accordion and guitar in hand

They begin another year

They begin the first Marche

I’m just a gigolo and everywhere I go
People know the part, I’m playin’
Paid for every dance, sellin’ each romance
Ooh, what they’re sayin’

Tables and plastic chairs emerge

Men dress in their faded shirts

Brushing the dust from their clean shorts

Woman press their best dresses

French fresh faced children

Floating kisses across upturned cheeks

Their parents prepare the buffet

Magret, Moules and Malbec

Listening for the first rumble

Of the Chelsea tractors


Just a gigolo, everywhere I go
People know the part I’m playing
Paid for every dance
Selling each romance


Trundling through the countryside

Blinking in the Tarn sunlight

The black beasts return

Disgorging blond children

Recently demobbed from private schools

The summer house has been opened

Cobwebs and floors swept

The pool has been cleaned

The grass has been cut

The fridge has been stocked

The day before they arrived

By that marvellous Portuguese woman

That Jocelyn recommended


Every night some heart betraying
There will come a day
Youth will pass away


Father’s in pressed jeans

Pink polo shirts and a panama hat

Dancing with their estranged children

Darkened teenagers lurch in corners

From around the world they come

From the depths of Surrey

From the flatlands of Holland

From the mountains of Bavaria

They begin another year

They begin the first Marché


Then what will they say about me
When the end comes I know 
They’ll say just a gigolo
As life goes on without me

© Jeff Price July 2017

Lyrics of “Just a Gigalo” by  Irving Caesar

The Word on the Wire


“Bird on the Wire” Leonard Cohen

The wonderful and much missed Leonard Cohen performing one of his classic songs. I thought it would be impossible to pick only one Cohen track and it has proved to be true. I expect he will feature again in the future. MI0003364121

As I have mentioned before my wife has a deep connection to the South West of France. It was here she lived with her late husband Mike and I am also Step-Dad to his two daughters. Although Mike and I have never met, I know him through family stories. In fact, in a strange way that I don’t really understand I feel his presence sometimes and although I have no time for the idea of an afterlife, the dead are dead and don’t come back but they do live on in our memories. This poem followed from a visit from Mike’s sister Judy and an evening of wine induced reminiscence on our terrace.

The Word on the Wire


On the terrace I sit with his sister

And his wife


We talk about his beautiful daughters

And their different lives


He rests under the branches of a nearby tree

And whispers his thoughts in the wind


In the cicada hum of the power lines

And the nod of the nearby sunflowers


I am a guardian of his children

And now his grandchildren


He tells me we are comrades in arms

And he is at peace with the present


But sometimes he can registrar his disapproval

By rustling the leaves of the Linden tree


© Jeff Price July 2017

Pathways to the Past

“Now is the time of your life” Simma

One of the stalwarts of the Northern music scene is the singer songwriter and poet


Anthony Simpson better known to everyone as Simma. He and I have worked together on a number of projects. I published his first book of poetry and we both were involved in “RiverRuns” a show that we wrote with other poets and musicians.

Simma’s music and poetry is rooted in the North East and this track exemplifies the Newcastle spirit of living life to the full. It also reminded me that we have to live with the past and all its consequences. 

My brother sent me a photo recently and I saw in him a resemblance to our Father. It made me realise we all carry with us bits of our past, some good and others more dangerous.

Pathways to the Past


The woodland that winter warmed generations

Is now home to crumbling walls with forgotten secrets

Those who once walked the ancient pathways are gone

Some still survive in fireside tales and familial patterns


He has his great grandfather’s ears and his father’s chin

She has her wayward Auntie’s ethereal air of mystery

The seasonal patterns of the fields are in their blood

We all live in the shadow of our ancestors

The swelling of his prostrate, the dark lump in her breast


© Jeff Price June 2017