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

Every day can’t be Sunday

Ry Cooder “Trouble you can’t fool me. “

This track is from the fabulous album “Bop till you drop” one of my favourites and it’s hard to find a duff track on the whole album. He combines blues, country and even a 220px-Ry_Cooder_playingsprinkling of gospel in this track. The lyrics say to watch out for trouble coming and that  for a lot of people it can disrupt their lives but we have to press on and not let it stop us.  Look for the positive. 

Well, you know, everyday can’t be Sunday …and you know one thing, behind every silver lining, there isn’t a dark cloud

Listening to this album always makes me feel positive. I love the way music can lift you in much the same way that poetry can. I have met many people over the last seventy years who are like that. They don’t look at the negatives in their lives but the positives. In a contradictory way they are also often the ones with the biggest burdens to bear. It might be because of their background (read Benjamin Zephaniah autobiography) or a disability that rather than hold them back has spurred them on. 

One of the things I have learned from life is that every day can’t be Sunday and that on those days you just have to suck it up and get on with it but also steps backwards can often be just as important as steps forward. You learn more from failure than you do from success.

Every day can’t be Sunday


Weary to work, scraping the Sunday memories from your eyes

Another Monday morning of cold starts and crowded buses

Standing room only for the passengers who bury their faces in screens

Holding the world in the palm of their hands ignoring the world around them


There are shelves to stock, records to update and reports to file

There are boxes to deliver, screws to turn and lines to draw

There are streets to patrol, wounds to heal and children to teach

There are sods to turn, crops to pick and cattle to milk


Count even the smallest victory and keep the losses in perspective

In your blood are generations of survivors, honour their fortitude

Sweet sleep will come when a hard day has been put to bed

No saviour Friday without a treacherous Monday morning


©Jeff Price July 2018



The cheque’s in the post

Kiki Dee “Loving and Free”

Happy New Year and welcome back to Three Score and Ten after our festive break.

To start the new year, a confession and a humorous poem.

Firstly, a little context for those who do not know my story. At the age of 52 I left the

kiki dee
Kiki Dee

computer industry and became a student  at Newcastle University. With my Master’s Degree in Poetry and Creative writing, I became a full-time poet running writing groups, organising poetry events and working as a poetry tutor in schools.

Over the years before I retired, I must have worked with thousands of students in schools all over the North East. I helped them write poetry and also worked on their performance. At some point I would always tell them a story about a night in Newcastle at the Dolce Vita nightclub when I saw Dusty Springfield sing.

I would tell them how I went with friends and how during the whole performance Dusty sang to me. How her eyes never left mine. Afterwards, when I told my friends they were all amazed because they were all convinced that Dusty had performed just for them, how she had never taken her eyes off them. It is a technique used by performers, politicians and every teacher in every classroom around the world.

Now a confession. The story isn’t true, it never happened, at least not with Dusty. I used Dusty’s name because people would have heard of Dusty and even if the school children hadn’t heard of her then the teachers would have and I wanted them to remember the story. I also, as readers of my blog will know,  had a bit of a crush on Dusty.

The singer was Kiki Dee (real name Pauline Mathews) was born in Bradford in 1947 and had a big hit with Elton John “Don’t go breaking my heart,” she was also the first white UK singer to be signed by Tamla Motown. Kiki still tours and over her fifty year career she has released 39 singles, three EPs and 12 albums. 

That feels better, I have set the record straight, I have confessed and I ask forgiveness from all those students I have deceived and forgiveness from Kiki who deserved the limelight that went to Dusty.

My poem this week is about all the lies we tell when the truth in inconvenient.

The Cheque’s in the Post


My phone battery has died, the volume was way down

The taxi is ten minutes away I’m on my way to town

I called you yesterday but no one was at home

We can’t meet up today, I just need to be alone


Santa Claus is real, he lives at the North Pole

It is only those who deserve it, who are on the dole

Brexit will be good for the you, we all know that’s true

Everyone will be happier when their passport’s are blue


Things will get better soon, the economy is on the mend

The NHS is safe in our hands on that you can depend

My Facebook posts are just to inform, I don’t like to boast

I always pay on time and your cheque’s in the post


©Jeff Price January 2018