Thursday, 10 December 2009
The Mersey Sound
At secondary school we studied Chaucer, Wordsworth and Byron. I enjoyed poetry – and we had a brilliant English teacher – Mr Nichols. (His nickname was Old Nick and he did have a whiff of sulphur about him.) And then, in 1967, this book came out and it changed my life. I know – that’s a cliché and a bit glib. But it’s true. I was in a band, and a massive Beatles fan. This was the poetic equivalent of the Beatles. Funny, serious, melancholic, relevant – about girlfriends, supermarkets, fish and chips and the nuclear holocaust that we all felt sure was on the way – accessible and with none of the pretentiousness of other modern poetry. No wonder it went on to sell over half a million copies and became one of the best-selling poetry anthologies of all time. It also made the name of the three poets involved – Roger McGough, Brian Patten and Adrian Henri.
The poems owe much to the Beat Poets and to Pop Art. But this was our British equivalent. The poems still hold up and the poets went on to continuing success although Adrian Henri, is alas, no longer with us. More about them in further dispatches. Meanwhile, if you don’t have a copy, buy the book now. You can find it in second-hand bookshops. And most likely in one of the bigger bookshops. (Although most shops hold a derisory amount of poetry on their shelves.)
Last words to Roger McGough.
There's the moon trying to look romantic
Moon's too old that's her trouble
Aren't we all?
aNOtHEr dIp INtO ThE mAGpIE mEMOrY pOOoL.