Menswear collection

Have you always wanted a t-shirt with a big picture of my face on it? Or a pair of Y-fronts with a pattern made up of pages of my scripts? When you heard I had a new website, did you get excited that this may include an online shop, knowing that these delights could soon be yours?

Unfortunately, you're going to have to wait a little longer. In the meantime though, I have taken a brief break from scripts and written a short collection of poetry, under the theme 'menswear', found here for your (free) reading pleasure. These are brand new to anybody who did not see me perform them at Camden's Lock 17 this week.

The main collection is made of three poems: 'Stained Grey Cotton', 'Clark Kent Glasses' and 'Gender-Neutral Boots'. They are a collection in that they were all written over the last month, and they all use blokes' clothing to tell accessible crime stories. (I'd like to reiterate now that these are characters and not my own 'voice').

I then remembered that just before Christmas I had actually written another poem which fits under a menswear grouping - 'Coat'. This one's a bit more personal and not about crime, so consider it a bonus feature. Enjoy!

The 'Menswear' collection of poetry was performed at Lock 17 on 10/05/18. Photo by Alex Varey

Stained Grey Cotton

You wait two hours for your visiting slot
To show me I’ve not been forgotten
And now you’re wearing that top that you know I find hot
While I sit here in stained grey cotton.

And I know you think it’s considerate
To bring me a glimpse of your bosom
But it’s hardly Romeo and Juliet
If her words had him wound up in prison.

What was that? You’re saying I’m wrong?
You said money could fix his condition.
But go on, walk out, flash the top of your thong
I’ll do my best ‘hanging in there’ rendition.

I’ll spare you the gruesomist details
Grit my teeth and ask about work
Dreams of seeing my entrails
are nothing if your boss is a jerk.


…Sorry. Please don’t go.
I’ve been waiting to see you all week.
I do consider him mine you know.
I’m here ‘cause I wanna hear him speak.

So go on, you were saying:
How no one is getting promotions.
Yes, course I care, am I not displaying
Completely authentic emotions?

No, I haven’t dropped any soap yet
But thank you for thinking to ask
My job, instead: hold them down then forget
And so would you to avoid being glassed.

Sorry, I know I sound bitter
I swear I’m not going rotten
Next time, see if you can look even fitter
I’ll wear my very best stained grey cotton.

Clark Kent Glasses

Please can I buy these glasses sir?
Please put them in a nice case.
Please make them plain glass lenses mate
Please don’t remember my face.

Please just stick to the plan lads
Please try not to look shifty.
Please don’t snitch if you get caught
Please say nowt ‘til we’ve all gone fifty.

Please hurry up
Please hurry up
Please don’t see us
Please don’t see us
Please don’t follow
Please don’t follow
Please let me escape
Please let me escape
Please God help me get out of this.

“Please can you face this way sir,
Please look straight down the lens.
Please calm down and stop shouting,
Please tell me the names of your friends.

Please can you take off those glasses sir
Please explain why you have them at all.
Please, you expect me to believe that?
Turn around, put your hands on the wall.”

Gender-Neutral Boots

Boots are for women but who am I kidding
Sometimes it is good to look good.
Particularly if the rain’s ruined your quiff
And your knuckles are covered in blood.

What do you think? Should I go see a shrink?
Is it weird to give a fuck how I look?
Just want him to know I’m not a random hobo
When I deliver each passing right hook.

Boots are for birds and these ones have fur
But it’s inside I’d like to confirm.
I wonder if the stoat, when killed for my comfort,
Screamed like this evil sickening worm.

I bought a furry pair for her a while back,
In fact they looked similar to these.
Was she wearing them this time last week do you know?
Did you hold them as you broke both her knees?

Yes, that’s right. I know who you are.
Deny what you want. Get the fuck in my car.

Boots are for ladies who drive a Mercedes
And spend all their money in Waitrose.
But these ones won’t be out of place where we’re going -
They’ll be hidden, with us, in the shadows.

You’re crying already? Are you taking the piss?
Our evening has barely begun.
Please, continue, I want her to see you,
Hope she’s watching when you try to run.

Boots are for girls with a head full of curls
But you took those away from her too.
If you weren't tied up you would pull at your own
At the pain I’m going to put you through.

Here we are. Get used to the dark
These walls are the last thing you’ll see.
You can beg and plead and accuse all you want
I’m only doing what you’ve done to me:

Isn’t it obvious? You ended my life
When you diced my wife with an IKEA knife.

Two hours on and I’m driving again
Trying to find somewhere to dump you.
Your screams, still ringing, are all I can hear
‘Til the sirens arrive with a flashing bright blue.

Yes officer, no - seen nothing I’m afraid
I work nights, this is my usual route.
“Is that blood on your hand sir? If you don’t mind
I’d like to have a look in your boot.”

There you go mate - that’s animal fur.
It’s the same in the other as well.
Now make this as painless as possible please:
If God hears you yell, he might send me to hell.

Boots are for women but who am I kidding
Sometimes it is good to look good.
These’ll make me stand out to whoever finds
Three men, lying dead in the mud.


You never met me in that coat
Whose collar pointed at my throat
A detail only you’d have seen
When we were at our most serene.

Would you have liked me wearing it:
“Del Boy” or a “classy git”?
But I crave, more importantly
Your thoughts on what it made me be.

Because I was different once I had that jacket
Confident- cocky- a right fucking racket
I planned, I won, I bragged, I swore
I drank, I cried, I drank some more.

You think it was what I was wearing?
Are Moss Bros to blame for all that swearing?
Or have you decided oh-so-smugly
You’re the heart of my puerile poetry?

All because we were best friends
And said our ‘ting would never end
Did you know that wasn’t true
As I exposed my soul to you?

Butternut squash, a painted dragon
Everything not to be on the bandwagon.
Sneaking into a film, fourteen years young
Music I didn’t want to be sung.

That’s where we both know it went wrong
No coat to keep me feeling strong
Had I had it on back then:
“I’m the boss, I won’t tell you again.”

You’d swagger on in bright green laces
Ready to put me through my paces
If I’d had the jacket in those days
Fuck knows what would have been ablaze.

Thank God then it was just politics,
Wielding broken drumsticks
And my pervasive vanity
That wiped away our sanity.

There was just too much thrown our way
For us to start a brand new day:
Jealousy, promises, death and war
I blame myself. I blame you more.

You would once have been my best man
No one holds a room like you can
Or’d sort me out the perfect stag-do
Where I’d have worn my coat for you.

I’ve lost years of chat with ‘the music man’:
A new album out from another coat fan
Tracks 7 and 8 are about you and me
But I think you’d disagree and say 3.

I also wonder, squirming on this chair:
Do you still hate Intensive Care?
Facebook: “what the fuck’s in your ear?”
I don’t even know if your nan’s still here.

My parents say they’ve seen you round
I pretend to text, head to the ground
To everyone I must downplay
How I still miss you more each day.

You’ll never meet me in that coat
Stolen now; feel free to gloat
But even though it is now gone
Just know it kept me stomping on.

So now nostalgia’s changed its ways
And when I’m having empty days
I won’t be wistful over you,
But of that coat.

It was dark blue.


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