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The Warp

More Poems

The Beauty Race

Three attractive girls have been selected to cover a tricky course. Points will be given not only for speed but also for pin-up appearance and general sex appeal.

And there will be no full-scale stops for freshening up.

It’s 10 a.m. Here is your programme for the day’s events.

Sidling up to the starting post now comes Bev. She’s wearing a red and yellow jazzy blazer, teamed with sporty low-heeled shoes.

Carol is our second contestant. As she trips up to the post she’s wearing a white wool sweater and little-heeled white shoes.

What a picture!

But will white keep its pristine looks?

Zandra, our third girl, looks a little harrassed, although attractive, as she arrives.

She’s wearing a slim dress in lined terylene and cool, strappy sandals with high heels.

A useful filly.

However, she’s made one mistake. Her handbag, which has wide horizontal stripes, looks rather heavy.

And indeed it is.

It contains a creased up poplin mac; big hair-spray; false hair-piece; three Bath buns; cosmetic bag crammed with make-up.

Zandra has made a mistake here for this is not meant to be a handicap race.

Well, there’s the line-up, a strong line-up, and as for the winner, well, that could be anyone’s guess, but I would say that Bev is the favourite by a short lead, certainly that’s the message I’ve just received from Randy O’Toole from the paddock.

And now possibly you may just be able to hear the clatter and clump of strappy cool sandals and clippety-clop of little-heeled shoes as they’re under starters orders now, a little trouble for Zandra, Carol holding back a little.


And now at the first secret checkpoint our own on-the-spot commentator is waiting to give you the positions of these three lovely girls.

All have been running well incidentally, and as well as basic point to point and sprinting, this race will also involve a shopping spree, dancing, a visit to a bowling alley, and lunching.

Someone is approaching now. Who is it? Ah, it is Bev.

Bev doesn’t know that we’re hiding at the secret checkpoint and, uh uh! We spot a shoulder strap on display.

Should have been anchored inside dress with a sewn-on tape and press-studs, or safety pin. Lose a mark, Bev.

Carol now comes into view, running well. Wise Carol has coped with the breeze by tying her hair in a bright pink headscarf.

Whoops! Oh dear, a setback! Stocking suspender goes west! She should have checked it before setting out. Lose a mark, Carol.

Zandra has caught her foot in a drain. Quick Zandra, pull it out! But Zandra too has lost a point.

Now the pace quickens, and Bev is really beginning to show her mettle. Stockings splashed from an unexpected puddle, she whisks off marks with a quickie pad. Bonus mark, Bev! This just about wipes out your previous minus mark!

Setback for Carol. Passing a shop, she catches sight of a big glass jar filled with coloured wool balls. Oh no, it can’t be! The silly filly is going to buy it. She’s bought it! How she’s handicapped herself. Not only with the glass jar but also with the loss of four marks, not to speak of the coloured wool balls. Which parcel goes where? There! Now she’s dropped one! On the toe of her little heeled shoe! Lose yet one more mark, Carol!

And where is Zandra? Oh dear, Zandra is nowhere to be seen.

Meanwhile Bev, lunching with Peter, her trainer, chooses a sustaining meal, but not too heavy – an omelette, spinach, no chips. A glass of iced milk. Two bonus marks for Bev.

Carol does badly over lunching. She starts all right – orders a mixed grill, gives her chips to Tom. But then, when his back’s turned, she seizes a meringue ... and cream ... and two minus marks for Carol.

And oh, there’s Zandra! All along she was lunching with David. She’s picked ham and salad, a hunk of cheese and an apple. Nearly a bonus mark here, when suddenly – oh, she’s trying out her new lipstick in front of her escort, and so publicly! Lose a mark, Zandra.

And now there’s quite a crowd gathered round the finishing post, now the girls are beginning to come into the straight for their final stint, bracing themselves for that final sprint out of the long drab reaches of the afternoon and into the lush pastures of the evening, and it’s a wide field now.

The three girls are stretched out, the leading girl will be coming into view any moment now. Who is it? ... Well, of course, it’s Bev coming into the straight now ...

Number two, ah, there’s number two coming into sight. Now who is this? She seems to be carrying a glass jar filled with cotton wool balls, yes it must be Carol!

And now gamely running in third place is Zandra! Zandra is in some trouble I think, she’s swept her flopping hair into a French pleat, but it’s already coming down!

Over now to our special reporter Jock Strap on the straight.

Yes, well, Bev is going very well now, she’s stripped off jacket and top, whisked off make-up with a couple of quickie pads. A wash for face and hands, then on with her make-up ... finished with a blush of powder for quick glow.

And now going well is the second of our lovely contestants, this must be Carol. Carols whisks off her silk blouse, bra off too, she freshens and tones with splashes of cold water. She also uses another quickie to remove those dirty marks from her skirt.

And now I’m scouring the field with powerful binoculars for Zandra. Ah, there she is! Zandra is running badly. Oh dear, she’s not doing well at all. Poor Zandra. Those cool strappy sandals with high heels are holding her up. Poor Zandra.

And now by the winning post their trainers Michael, Brian and Jeremy, are waiting, stop-watches in their hands. The post is growing nearer. Can I hear the sound of triumphal music? Can it be a wedding march? Fifty feet! Forty feet!

And now the sporty low-heeled shoes carry Bev past the winning post! Bev’s the winner!

And what a popular winner! There comes round after round of applause.

In second place! With the flap flap of little heeled white shoes and the bounce bounce bounce of cotton wool balls! Carol is second past the post!

And now, a sporting last, comes Zandra. Zandra carries a rather heavy handbag with wide horizontal stripes. It contains a creased up poplin mac, big hair spray, false hair piece, three Bath buns. And it’s crammed with a whole spectrum of products from the Childe Bride and Dreamgale range of make-up. She must have been quite unable to resist that boutique along the way. Poor Zandra. And those strappy sandals have certainly let her down as well.

These girls look so tired.

I reckon they’re all just about ready for sleepy bye-byes so let’s hope their trainers will soon have them all safely tucked up in bed.

Commercial Break

Brunettes leave me cold’

that’s what he always used to say.

I passed brunettes by until finally I met a girl

who had got something to show me.

Here’s how she put it’

I shampooed new colour excitement

into my hair with Deep Beech. I was radiant

I changed my tune.

I had to’

Later the same man very much took against ginger girls.

Ginger girls terrify me’

That was how he put it.

However one day he met what he took to be a different girl.

I shampooed new colour excitement

into my hair with Autumn Amber

Colour excitement but not the same

colour excitement. Autumn Amber’

It was so easy! Just one shampoo

and my hair was ablaze! Fiery gold!

And the effect on him?

Set me alight too

Just – look at me!’

Next, typical man, he took violently against black hair.

Black hair?’ he said, ‘Doesn’t do much for me’

Dreary’ was another expression he used for it.

But I set to work, and once more

shampooed new colour excitement

into my hair with Raven Jet!

Once more I changed my tune.

I love her!’

Be bewitching, daring, winsome, demure!

Find surprising new adventures

and be the life of the party!

Have it with your hair tinted

blond beige gazelle.

Or if you prefer to be the exotic type

only more so, try Panther Jaguar

All available from Deep Beech Tress

Colour Promotion.

Tomorrow’s sensations come again today.

In the autumn of 1978, Philippa Finnis and I went to the little Mediterranean island of Formentera, just south of Ibiza. We stayed in a small room above a bar in the little village of San Francisco, which is also the island’s capital, and we stayed here and on neighbouring islands for three months.

One reason for being here was that the poets Adrian Henri and Carol Anne Duffy had approached us at the Edinburgh Festival that year and asked us if we would join them in putting on a combined show the following summer, with the basic theme of ‘relationships between men and women’.

The four poems that follow were written on the beaches and in the bars of these pleasant islands, and the foundations were laid for quite a few others.

The first four were first performed at a Pentameters poetry reading, organised by Leonie Scott-Matthews, at the Three Horse Shoes, Hampstead High Street, in February 1979. Adrian Henry was the other ‘half’ of the show and we also did songs by Brecht/Weill and Philippa’s ‘Intimations of Immorality’.

The Country Dashaway Bag’ was also written during this period, though it wasn’t first performed till summer 1980 at the Young Vic.

It’s All Got Much More Complicated Than We Think

News of Some Recent Skirmishes in the Sex War

how’s it going between men and women at kitchen sink level

when it comes to the crunch?

who does the housework, who cooks the lunch?

who takes who to be wined and fed

who gets you-know-who so drunk that he/she ends up in bed?

(I ask you)

who strokes?

who pokes?

who washes up while who pours out the drinks?

it’s all got much more complicated than we think.

who’s the leader, who gets led?

who’s the two-timer and who’s bled?

who gets the morning tea while you-know-who cool

as a cucumber would you believe it just lies there

lazing around reading cosmo spik and clunt

lazy sod in bed?

who wears the high heels, who looks good in pink?

who sorts out the likely talent with a know-it-all wink?

it’s all got much more complicated than we think.

our sexual roles and fondles have been reallocated it seems

who now is the practical one who screams

when he/she sees a silly little mouse?

who’s head is feather-filled, who’s feet are made of lead?

who gets taken home to meet the folks

and ends up getting a pass made at him/her by randy Uncle Fred?

who spends too much of their time in unhealthy bars?

who flashes the credit card, who sports a tiny touch of mink?

who drenches themselves in rauncy pauncy tang of sea salt

sweat-style glu-jo to cover up the stink?

it’s all got much more complicated than we think.

who mends the fuse?

who gets the blues?

who seems to forget who he/she is meant to be going out with

when he/she’s had too much to drink?

who pays for that lovely dinner?

who just sits tight and says sincerely ‘thanks!’?

who finds love wherever they go?

who stays at home and wanks?

who surf rides so high, so high, on life’s ice rink?

who loses their balance and falls into the drink?

it’s all got much more complicated than we think!

Sagittarians Song

pardon, may I career into your parlour?

excuse me, I am only half a horse

so will you wipe up after my hoofprints

dustpan and brush your way after my hoofprints

hoover up the (ahem) unfortunate leavings?

and, oh Mrs Domestic with the face and body of a South Sea


having emptied the dustbins and dimmed the lights

switched on the waste disposal unit and put the flowers

out of the sunlight, and drawn the muslin curtains,

may I be party to your Hawaiian ecstasy

prancing about but within reason?

may I be privy to graze in a meadow hard by your paddock?

I promise not to gallop or kick up too much dust

or make a mess on the lawn or scuffle up the flowerbeds

and I promise not to break many of the china cups

or drink up all the tea.

may I come into your bed?

Oh I know that this is rather sudden and

I know I have four legs

and that some people would say that’s four too many

but I can fold them up under me

and my hooves aren’t that sharp!

and I know I have a whisking tail

which whisks about and sometimes knocks things over

but in my opinion it could be actually useful

really quite useful for

wiping off dusty marks that we don’t like to see

on the furniture

that sort of thing,

and forget what I mentioned that bit about coming to your bed

I got carried away

I didn’t mean it

(I am harmless

O so truly harmless)

and Mrs Domestic

you who have Klene-Eze brushes for eyebrows

brillo pads

for softly gazing eyeballs

cleansing soap in your veins and arteries

and whose body is lithe and warm like a South Sea siren’s

may I career into your tastefully furnished parlour?

I promise not to gallop or take my saddle or bridle off.

excuse me but I really am only

half a horse.

The Contract

turning away from these more general considerations

of woman’s oppression

and the way we’re all degraded

by sexism

to the more particular

here’s something else that interests me.

you said

what do you think;

if a man and a woman should happen

to go to bed together

would that give either one any rights

over the other

except I mean the right to be

in bed with each other at that moment,

or touch each other up

or whatever?


no rights

why do you ask?

and what would you say to the question

if their going to bed with each other

led to consequences such as one or other

falling in love with the other

would either partner be justified in blaming the other

for those consequences?

mm ...

no ...


what if those consequences

were quite unforeseen

quite unforeseen by either party

and ended up entirely

different to what either

of them ever thought they would?

what would you say to that?

could either hold the other to blame?

such things have been known

but it wouldn’t be right!

would you still like to go to bed with me,

like you said on Tuesday?

oh yes


I said it too on Wednesday and Thursday!

you stretched out your hand

took mine

shook it gently once

went out to go to the loo

came back said

on those terms, I accept

next moment all hell heaven and high water broke loose.


How can I just a dish of peaches and cream

tangle locks and tiptoes, shoulders and toes

lead him to the subway where warm waters stream

take the lift down the mineshaft where the passion flower


clinging lovingly

wantonly urgently

wrap all his huskiness

in pink satin bows?

I just a girl with two slender arms

twine him enshrine him with me

bind him eglantine him to me

lingeringly longingly

foolishly fondlingly

drown him in dark oceans

bind him with charms?

How with just only two little tits

how can I be new to him

how get through to him

man that he is

how thrill him to bits

girl that I am

show him I’m not a sham?

How can I radiant in body and soul

how enough admire him

how stoke and fire him

sooner or late

take him for my mate?

Like the crunch of the apple in the mouth of the foal

all suncrushed and gleaming I’ll reach to my goal

and glowing and shining I’ll firm him and raise him

pouring cream over him

smother him in peaches

praise him cascade with him

in my radiance whole!

Here Lies Truth

You lied through your teeth

and concealed it all beneath

mouth salve and

cosmetic toothpaste

and your eyes told me lies

so you disguised

them with eye shadow

and mascara

I came to trust your smile

for a while

those were good times

we lived in style

till the lies became so huge

that I just became your stooge

I couldn’t ignore the falsehoods

that you plastered over with rouge

and so now you’ve dabbed cosmetics

all over your face

your skin feels like cooking oil

but that’s no disgrace

and I know you’ve always been strange

always quite outside my range

but this deviousness properly dressed

isn’t too hard to digest

and I thought you’d managed to paste

over all your spiritual nits

till at breakfast I noticed something

that did rather give me the shits

that you’ve now broken out

in spots all over your tits

The Country Dashaway Bag

O I was glum and I was gloomy

I didn’t seem to have the fun

other girls had

fact is I felt myself getting more and more disorientated

until really almost everything

seemed un utter drag

and then one day quite by chance

my best friend told me

about the jaunty soaraway saucy

Country Dashaway Bag!

only twelve and a half guineas

would you believe it – a snip

from Debenhams

now this Dashaway Bag it’s big, beautiful and super-packable

it’s got a sunny, funny, away-day ‘don’t care’ dash

about it that you can’t help loving

and comes with a jaunty jolly-colour

triptolene ‘look at me’ ‘how’m I doing?’

lime green sash

so very versatile, really it’s

equally at home for fondles in the Ritz

or being chatted up high on a mountain crag

is my Country Dashaway Bag

it came first as a very shrewd offer

from Anthea Logan’s Dremegale range of products

and here’s another thing I’d like to say

about the C.D.B. – it’s certainly shown me the way

to fabulous new freedom in skincare

dewfresh and oh – so – ready for

a tumble in the hay

or whatever you say

I dare you

come what may!

and it was featured in the Observer Colour Mag

was my Country Dashaway Bag.

what do I put in it?

well I really cram it up

with fritzels, cheesi thynges

lo-los, atomiser,

negative ioniser, twigsters and fruities

that way I keep the weight off my tootsies.

also I pack in a cardigan, spare bra,

two shades of stocking, twin-set, Li-let,

sensible shoes, bedroom slippers,

Country Life’, a Mars Bar

and of course my dutch cap and spermicide

and odour-killer for Geoff’s car.

(Geoff’s my boyfriend by the way. He’s such a charmer.

I must get you together one of these days

I’m sure you’d get on like a house on fire!)

never out of place be it lordly or humble

just right for grand grope or midnight fumble

vulnerable and frangible as saucy apple crumble

is my Country Dashaway Bag.

and so here comes Friday and it’s on the train from Paddington

or in Geoff’s convertible down to the shires

and the Dashaway Bag is as button bright as I am,

really it’s a product that never tires

equally at home in dawntime nightboxes

or lounging around by old wood fires

or just picking those droll old-fashioned flowers.

it’s really changed my life

I have to brag

about my Country Dashaway Bag.

so now at any time, from city tripping

to quiet Country Dashaway weekends

I just pick up the Dashaway Bag

and am immediately on my way to visit friends.

now I’m ready for it

but never feel a slag

O it’s a girl’s very best way

to fly the flag

and the flag

says ‘hullo!

look at me!

how’m I doin?

I’m doin fine!

does the saucy







jolly colour

Country Dashaway Bag!

This was premiered at the Academy Club in Liverpool, in December 1978. It was a pre-Christmas party and also was the occasion of the first get-together of Adrian Henri, Carol Ann Duffy, Philippa and me, to discuss the show which was to become known as ‘Boxes of Toys and Creamy Whirls’. All of Liverpool was under a very beautiful thin white powdery snow, and I think I changed the first lines, at the last minutes, to fit the weather.

The thinking behind it was that where Wordsworth had attempted poetry in ‘the language really used by men’, I wanted to do something in ‘the language really used by newspaper men’.

But there were also a lot of other things that interested me, and which I hoped to get into this poem.

The lawcourts as theatre, where everyone is playing a part, from the accused to the judge. I was interested in the way newspapers report court cases; a bit like theatrical performances.

Then I was interested in the moral duplicity of newspapers’ handling of trials, where sex is involved, the way that they condemn while getting an erotic enjoyment from what they report.

And I was interested in the age of consent. Whether the law really has any place in a case of this sort, or, as Bishop Robinson puts it, whether ‘the law has any place in the field of sex’.

What follows is often felt to be a comic poem, or a poem of black comedy. I also feel it to be a deeply tragic poem as well as being funny.

The poem was an important ingredient of our show at the Edinburgh Festival in 1979.

The Schoolgirl Scandal of Mucky Farm

All seemed quiet down at Manor Farm

Outside snow drifted quietly and fluffily into crevices

Edging round the stones with its gentle caress

Snow covered animals mooed baaed and neighed

But inside in a secluded hayloft

Things were not quiet at all as ...

Thirteen schoolgirl Lolitas were selling their bodies to Grandads

And this squalid sex ring when it all came out

Shocked even experienced police officers

To hear that girls so young and

For as little as one hot dog for masturbation

Or a giant cornet, three sarsparilla lollipops and a

neopolitan split with nut chippings

for ‘featherbed treatment’

Were peddling their tender sex to elderly men.

The Judge, Mr Arthur Charles de Van Poer Chenevix Tench,

Had trenchant things to say when the thirteen curvaceous

Schoolgirls romping high breasted lively came before him in court.

To hear of their indulging in what His Worship called

Such an Unusual form of Away from Home work’.

Even journalists, wise and liberal men who’ve seen it all

In many and various parts of the globe

Africa, South America, the Far East even, Aden,

Could hardly put their fingers down straight

On the keys of their typewriters ...

As there flashed through their minds

the hardhitting no nonsense phrase the next day

was to sum it all up;


So now for a line-up of the young ladies in the case,

from Gloria Toiletry our Tellyfun and showfunbiz editor.

Gloria’s outfit for today is shimmering seethrough toile

in puce and grise.

First, Ivette.

Ivette looks chic enough for a sheik, let alone a silly old farmer.

Ivette is wearing black silky lace-trimmed harem panties

and a lace-trimmed jacket at £6.95 a set

available in sizes from 10 to 16, assorted colours,

from Dremegale,

they’re just the outfit to bring a touch of that

old black magic to those long winter nights in the hayloft

and sure to set her partners pulses soaring.

And second, Juliette.

Juliette is wearing a slashed neck peachy babydoll

nightie from Dorothy Perkins (also available in blue, turquoise and cerise).

At £5.99 it’s certainly a snip that’s calculated to create plenty of pillow talk and wideawake admiring glances, even from silly old unemployed farm labourers

Even when he’s sleepy, Juliette’s partner isn’t likely to get tired easily

and that should turn his thoughts away from VAT and dung.

And now Loretta.

Loretta is wearing a dusky pink

Satiny romper suit with jacket to match

at £12.99 a set, also available in jade from Topshop

if you’d like to claim your share of the action

go and get one now!

The Grandads were shown what were described as

naughty books to arouse them, the court heard.

While, in a pigsty, the girls waited

Around for their turn to bounce around in the hay

with Jeremiah Stogett et Al – his brother Al.

Nor was the sexual act the only thing

that could be bought at Mucky Farm.

The schoolgirls also posed in their erotic

nightgear for kinky photographic sessions

with no film in the camera!

Uncovered in January at Framley, near Blogstable,

This sleazy sordid sex ring prompted His Worship

To speak of the many persistent and long standing

fallacies which he felt were rife in these areas

and which should and must be cut down to size and

of the vital importance of keeping us, the public,

constantly reminded that we are daily in danger

of being overwhelmed by an ocean of filth.

Right at the centre of it all, the court was told,

Was burly Jeremiah Stoggett (71) farmer and seed merchant

The schoolgirls took it in turns to fondle him

and turn him on

Then there was partly blind agricultural labourer

David Tupsley (64) of Stillview Cottages, Eastleigh.

He cooked the girls beefburgers in exchange for cuddles

But barred some of them because he found

Their ffing and blinding offensive

and taught them to sing hymns,

himself playing harmonium in Ivington Mission Chapel.

Another man, a disabled miner, Donald Ackers (54)

was first approached outside a supermarket.

Sex games followed in a wood and in a barn at his home,

Tump Farm, Hillside, the court heard.

Butcher Jack Hobbes (65) of Darnleigh Villas, Exleigh,

was also blatantly approached and asked if he would

pay for sex.

After that he left notes pinned to joints outside the

butchers, containing love assignments for the girls.

Al Stoggett, also partly disabled after a mining disaster

was also named and so also was

Pam-Davis (78) an epileptic, mentally subnormal, born

with only three fingers on one hand, the court was told.

Sir Denis Bloxham, Bart, (56) completed the squalid eight.

He has difficulty in walking and remembering who he was

said the Judge, His Worship Arthur Charles de Van Poer

Chenevix Tench, summing up.

He did obscene drawings of the schoolgirls

On House of Lords notepaper

But, he claimed, everyone who knew him

would vouch for it that he was really just a very pleasant

nice old chap.

The elderly eight, whom pressmen dubbed

the mucky monsters of Manor Marsh

pleaded guilty to a total of

four thousand and twenty-six cases of unlawful

intercourse and indecent assault.

And the Judge, Mr Arthur Charles de Van Poer Chenevix Tench

told them;

I am not surprised that you have been reviled

and shunned by all right minded respectable people.’

One’s first reaction,’ said the Judge, ‘is to send

them all to prison, every girl Jack of them.

And I expect that is where most of you expect to go

But, he added, in handing out a swingeing

six month suspended sentence all round,

I’m going to take a more lenient course.

Take me take me oh take me to Mucky Farm.’

Becky Davis, our fashion editor, adds;

Girls used their pocket money to buy make-up and

accessories and in general

were carefully got up,

eyes darkened with eye shadow in

the Dreambridge range of make-up

Peluce, Seduce, Rubarella and Delice predominating.

Shoulders and breasts liberally dashed with oo la la.

Three of them wore naughty Jokey Spanish fleur

picture lace drenched in la odeur de ferme

jock straps

To teaze the men again and yet again ... poor chaps!


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