Big Boys Don’t Cry

I’m not in love: 10cc

This is a wonderful love song full of understatement and pathos. Love songs don’t have to be sloppy and sentimental. The build up in the song is tremendous and the way they produced with the multi layered voices makes this an absolute classic. If you want to know how it was done check out this video.

One of the lines in the song is a woman’s voice saying “Big Boys don’t cry” which is 10ccrepeated several times. In the video the band explain that they got the receptionist in the studio to come in and say the line. 

We Geordie boys were brought up to be tight lipped and stoical rather than being open about our feelings. I often saw my Father angry in my youth but didn’t see much of his tender side. I was the rebellious teenager and he was the ex-soldier who was used to people obeying his orders. When I was much older and he was in his eighties my Mother was struck down with Motor Neurone Disease and my Father became her carer. She could not speak and her movements were very restricted. He cared for her with great tenderness and affection. I have a very fond memory of the two of them watching TV one night and my Father stretching across to my Mother’s chair and taking her hand. Although this seems like a very slight thing to me, it summed up the over fifty years of their marriage. 

For the poem I took the line “Big Boys Don’t Cry” and imagined that hard northern boy who thinks expressing your emotions is wrong. It is a stereotype that hopefully is dying out.

Big Boys Don’t Cry

Hard as nails me, not some soppy girl like you

You’ve gotta suck it up mate , push it down

What ever you do, don’t let her get under your skin

Once she thinks she’s got you, you’re done

She’ll take you for everything you got, believe me

I’m a lone wolf, no woman tells me what to do

Except me Mother, she’s a diamond, know what I mean

Worked hard all her life, brought me up single handed

Yeah, still living there, she wouldn’t know what to do without me

 

© Jeff Price October 2017

 

The Beer Can of Spring

Parklife Blur

I was never sure if Parklife was a song or a spoken word piece set to music either way it was a wonderful and very original example of Brit Pop at its very best.

360_walkman_0630It was one of the songs I listened to on my Walkman when out with the dog. (For any young people reading and are wondering what a Walkman is… check out this link).

In the eighties my children nagged me into getting a dog with the promise that I would not have to do anything as they would care for it. That promise soon evaporated and like a thousand parents before me, I ended up doing the early morning walk before work. Just around the corner from our house was an inner city park with a bowling green and benches. Near by was a hostel for the homeless and as the mornings got lighter a day would come when some of the residents would be sitting on the benches enjoying their first drink of the day.

It always lightened my mood when I saw them for the first time in spring. The lighter mornings and the warming air would bring them out of their hiding places until the days shortened and winter returned.

It is many years since I lived near the park. The dog is long gone and the children have grown and have lives of their own. Yesterday, coming back from a Sunday morning visit to the town I found myself strolling back through the park. The bowling green has gone and the park now boasts a restaurant and a coffee wagon that dispenses over priced beverages to the joggers and the parents watching their young children play. There was no sign of the drinkers maybe they have moved on or more likely, the hostel has closed.

The Beer Can of Spring

 

My dog and I walk through the city centre park

The air is clear, the wind slight and unassuming

Clocks have turned and the sun is out of bed

Winter’s cold is lifting and the frost has gone

Turning a corner by the bowling green

There crowded around a park bench are

Two men, a boy and a toothless woman

Each one swigging beer and smoking rollies

I am greeted with a “Ya arreet mate?

 

Spring has arrived with the first pull of a ring can

The dog is fascinated by the smells

Giving each one of them a thorough sniffing

“Whatsa dog’s name” I tell them “Todd”

They are content because the first drink is easy

It will steady the hand and blur the brain

When I return for the dog’s evening walk

They will be squabbling and their faces sullen

But on this congenial morning they are happy

And I am grateful for the good fortune of my life

 

© Jeff Price October 2017

 

The Red Wedding

Bridie Jackson and the Arbour “Scarecrow”

Bridie Jackson and the Arbour where the house band for Radikal Words, a night I ran at Northern Stage in Newcastle. Then they became famous and I couldn’t afford  the fee

Bridie-done

they rightly deserved and we parted. I also had the pleasure of working with Bridie on the “RiverRuns” a stage show we wrote and performed with a group of poets, writers and singer songwriters. The song I have chosen is “Scarecrow”. A wonderful haunting song from the pen of Louis Barabbas. Sadly, The Arbour are no more but Bridie continues to perform and record her music’

I have been to and indeed taken part in a few weddings in my time but in that strange way the muse can sometimes take you, as I listened to the track, I was also thinking of the Labour Party (stay with me on this one). In the 1970’s I was a member of the Labour Party Young Socialists and also an enthusiastic supporter of the Militant. The relationship fell apart following the Miners Strike and what I felt was the betrayal  of the Labour leadership and factional politics of the left.

It has taken a long time for the wounds to heal but the revitalised and reinvigorated Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn have got me once again handing out leaflets and knocking on doors. Jeremy stuck with the party rather than going off in a sulk like I did. From the back benches he fought what must at times seemed like a hopeless task but he prevailed. Marriage is a bit like that for it to work you have to work through the tough times as well as enjoying the good ones (there… got there in the end).

The​ ​Red Wedding

 

You dressed in a red flag for our wedding

I was wore faded jeans and a slogan t-shirt

​You​ ​were​ ​older but I loved where you had come from

I​ ​promised​ ​you​ ​my​ ​undying​ ​devotion

You​ ​offered​ ​me​ ​the​ ​full​ ​fruits​ ​of​ ​my​ ​labour

​I​ ​became​ ​more​ ​demanding eager for change

You​ ​slandered​ ​my​ ​friends​ ​and​ ​then​ ​expelled​ ​them

I walked out disillusioned and bitter

You started dressing like a bank manager

I reluctantly supported you at the ballot box

You went to war and rained death on civilians

I cynically sulked on the sidelines

You found a new voice and rediscovered your heart

I want you to give me a second chance

 

© Jeff Price October 2017

 

Train of Thought

1999 Prince

Prince was another of the great talents that we lost too early. He was a trail blazer and his songs all had that unique imprint of genius.

The millennium was a new start for me, my marriage had come to an end and although I didn’t know it in a few short years I was to leave my job in IT and become a student for the first time and with my Master’s degree in Poetry I was to begin a new career as a jobbing writer and a peripatetic poetry tutor. 

Prince’s song took me back to train journey when I was in my early twenties. We had been partying in the coastal town of Tynemouth celebrating the end of the sixties and beginning of a new decade. That night as I got the train home in the wee small hours of the morning, I had no idea that before me was a nearly thirty year relationship and the birth of my daughters.

South_Tyneside_Electric_train_at_Newcastle_Central,_1938,_geograph-4869768-by-Walter-Dendy,-deceased
The old coast train before the modern metro system

There are moments in our lives when we are blissfully unaware that we stand on a threshold of something new and exciting. 

However, even in those days I wrote poetry but I never shared it with anyone, it was a secret I kept to myself. Geordie boys don’t write poetry especially those who can not spell the words they create. In those far off days dyslexia was a word that had not been invented and instead my teachers told me I was stupid and lazy and if I put the effort in then I wouldn’t have a problem. 

It would be many years later when I got a PC and learn’t how to use a software package called WordPerfect with its spell checker that I would finally get the confidence to put those words down on paper and it would be years after that before I had the courage to stand up for the first time on a Sunday night in a smokey bar in Newcastle and speak my words out loud.

Train of thought

 

Wet behind the ears and full of bullshit and speed

In a sweaty basement we bid farewell to the sixties

My mind was on breasts, mini skirts and flirting

Of kissing girls with dark blue eyes and chalk white skin

Always wondering if they would let me in

On an early morning train as the decade turned

We took the party back with us to the clink of beer bottles

The rattle of the rail lines and laughter of the revellers

We sang and danced through the sleepy suburbs

With promises and kisses as we stopped at each station

My school days left behind me leaving only weeping wounds

From words that were spat back at me by disappointed teachers

My poetry always better in my head than on unforgiving paper  

That night I never thought that Geordie boys could dream

Of poetry books and spoken words on international stages

Declaiming In cafes, boozy bars, theatres and urban classrooms

I locked my muddled stories and poems away from the world

It would take me thirty years to find the key

© Jeff Price October 2017