A Life in The Spotlight

I was born to a wizard with long emerald fingernails
Abracadab-ing it in Salisbury playhouse
Daddy-O jumped with the Jets up in Perth The-a-ter
While his skinny frame could kick it he did Roman Shakespeare
Singing sunshine on the sand, moonlight on the sea
Leicester Haymarket enchanted even Bloody Mary
Down in Ipswich for a darker spell, he wheeled away
As Annie vomited three dinners, FDR held sway
Then a Machiavell, his Ross would scheme and plot
While a Scottish king was done away with, dad was not
Though a Streetcar named Desire strung his Steve along
Dad just waited until dark to get his murder on
Then a brief respite as Ironside in Canterbury
Before landing as the Miller in those tales so merry
Off to India he trumpeted with pachyderms
Telling all ‘Don’t Drink the Water’ ‘cos it might have germs
Back in London the Etcetera was proud to say
Jamie Boy was Gonna Be Alright, (despite the play)
Then Best Actor for the London New Play Festival
Dad as Keith informed us ‘Why Bananas Bend’ y’all
When his feet began a-tapping and his suit was zoot
Rats blew ‘Long About Midnight’ with a brassy toot
‘Fuente Ovejuna’ kicked around his Expo’ tour
With dad’s Torturer and Ortuno beside the door
Then a thirst for British Ale and ‘Images of Tiffin’
At the Old Red Lion, Stanley flashed – alive and kicking
‘Til a retrospective jackboot called for Dad’s best spiv
To revive the hope ‘Peace in Our Time’ might yet let live
Doctor Scott and his Hot Eddie rocked the horror shows
When the English Theater, Frankfurt kept him on his toes
Such a ‘Boon’ behind the camera, the Bill saw red
So dad Whistled down the wind and wore a badge instead
Then Big Daddy (as my father had become in truth)
Played his role like any Kitty on a Hot Tin Roof
Mister Mister rocked the cradle ‘til the cradle fell
Flung his Faust before the philistines in downtown Hell
He sang ‘Anyone Can Whistle’ as he toured and toured
While the greasepaint kept on stinking and the crowd still roared
Such a ‘Sweet Smell of Success’ this business can produce
And the theatre was dad’s life and soul and that’s the truth.

I wrote this in tribute to my father, who passed away on 9th May 2014. By no means a complete list of his acting credits, these were the memorable bits and pieces that helped shape my childhood. He will be missed.

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HarMonica

Why is it the ‘other’ woman
Brings us out in rash hysterics
Howling at the moral failings
Of our politicians? Clerics,

Parents, teachers, doctors, shrinks
All united in their hatred
Of a figure that still stinks
Clad in pot pourri de tabloid

That blue dress, evocative:
Events that should be long forgotten
(Youthful indiscretions hid)
Provocative, with gains ill-gotten

We suspect and we accuse –
Cynical, the cuckold’s friend
And tap out mindless platitudes.
While vain, her struggles to defend

What shreds of reputation, scorched
And tattered to her yet remain;
We gather up our pitch and forks
And stoke the pyre once again

Anticipating further fun
Rough justice for another’s slight
We gather at suggestion
She might escape unhappy flight

Delighted at the sacrifice
Of one more soul to unjust mob
Let he without sin cast the first
(So many more the crowd will lob)

In brave hypocrisy at what
No doubt too many may have done
Themselves and not been hotly caught
Entrapment by ambition

Pilloried or harried hence
Built to take a desperate dive
Fashioned into common, dense
Unfit for consort, Saints alive!

The very thought a woman wronged
Who made a choice that haunts her still
Might be allowed to face the throng
And live down public shaming? Ill

At ease with those she counted on
Whose turncoat ways still cause distress;
We won’t allow her to move on
And rake old muck to make new mess.

What is it we hope to gain
Constructing walls to keep her caged
When influence she held through fame
Is long dissolved and disengaged?

A public life, her sentence stands
With little room for private grief
Unhappy Recognition’s hands
Control where she may find relief.

Now with a cause she would promote
To shame the bullies that still flaunt
A woman’s infamous deep throat
For speaking up for truth not taunt.

I wish our morals stretched as far
Restraining tongues at twitter time
Realpolitiks remain sub par
We’ve little else to do online

Slut-shaming is our dearest trend
As one more hussy kicks herself
For lending hands and more to end
All dignity, career and wealth.

This altar calls for fresher blood
I fear the next will pay a price
The mob is in an ugly mood
With barely-legal sacrifice

Lined up for entertainment here
Soon rubber-necking, righteous louts
Will crowd around to shove and leer
At those who try to tough it out

We’ll see them crawl and cry and squirm
Extracting vengeance from each one
With twerking fervour: all must burn
Up goes the cry – the hunt’s begun.