Essential Services

Essential services

Are what we need to exist

And Osbourne says

We have too much


Too much clean air

It’s probably bad for you


Let’s do away

With the green initiatives


Too much fresh water

The oceans are overflowing

It’s Global Warming

Of course


Too many green spaces?

Oh, that’s no problem

Let me open the gate up

And we’ll let the builders

Concrete over the New Forrest


Too much food

We are all so fat!

Best ban the food banks

Just to be safe


Too much money

Yes, far too much.

‘We’ are overspending

By the trillions

However much that is?


And what about what our souls need

To exist?

What about our culture?

Our heritage?

Our art and music?


Those have been deemed surplus to requirement.


S J Menary



The Date

Chunky boots, spike-studded and standing before me. She had that waif-like look so popular with girls these days. Spray-on ‘jeggings’ and a glittery top. She wore her hair in meticulously undone curls that were stiff with hairspray, and black spider web eyes.

‘Hi!’ she held out her hand with a little bounce. ‘I’m Ella. Great to meet you! You look so much like your profile picture.’

I grimaced. It was clear to me that ‘Ella’ was not the ‘mature, sophisticated woman with a taste for Avant-garde cinema’ as it said on e-harmony.

‘Err…hi, I’m Peter. Shall we get a seat and some coffees?’

‘Oh, I don’t mind standing at the counter.’

‘Oh…ok then. What can I get for you?’

‘Hmmm… A flat white with a shot of caramel hazelnut? Thanks, you’re a star.’

A star? I was old enough to be her father. But then her profile did say she was looking for a ‘classing older gent to treat me right.’ I brought the coffees and mentally checked the blister on my heel from walking her from the office. It was going to be a long evening.

‘Thanks babe,’ she said.

Dear God. Kill me now.

‘You’re welcome. So…what was it you said you did for a living?’

‘Oh, I haven’t decided yet. I took a gap year a couple of years ago and travelled – I bet you have travelled too, haven’t you?’


‘I have to tell you – Thailand is soooo spiritual, you know? You just have to go there. It makes you just re-evaluate your life choices, you know?’

‘Not really, no.’

‘I mean, it was such a meditative experience. I’d just come out of a long relationship. It was so negative, so I quit. I mean, life is short and I deserve to be happy, right? I mean, my happiness is the most important thing. I needed space to develop into my most authentic self. So I had to go to Thailand to find myself.’

‘Oh, but you came back to England?’

‘Yeah, I’m living in Croydon now. I share a flat. Well, my mum shares with me… And I was working as a receptionist but I just quit that job too. It wasn’t making me happy, after all. And well…wait! Peter! Where are you going?’

‘Bathroom. Back in a moment.’


It wasn’t easy getting out of that bathroom window.


S J Menary


The Conversation

(A play in one act)


Act 1

(Music) Set opens on the comfortable sofas and lit up stage of Parkinson’s Chat show.

PARKINSON:          So, Jack. May I call you Jack? What made you want to come on ‘Parkinson’?

JAMES:                  Please, I prefer James. Well, you know Michael, I just wish to set the record straight on so many things. And it’s been such a long time…

PARKINSON:          Yes it has!

JAMES:                  And I really do feel that I’ve stayed silent long enough.

PARKINSON:          Well, it’s an absolute pleasure to welcome you onto the show tonight, Jack, and I hope we will be able to chat about a few things. The questions I have to ask, as I know many of our viewers tonight will be really quite interested in the answer, is, well, is it really you?! (Audience laughs)

JAMES:                  Oh, Michael! (Laughs) If I had a penny for every time someone asked me that!

PARKINSON:          You’d be a rich man, although I’m not sure how far a penny would get you these days.

JAMES:                  But yes, it is me.

PARKINSON:          What brought you back to England? Because I hear you have been living abroad?

JAMES:                  I’ve been away in America for a long while now, but it’s great to be back in London. And when I heard they had made a wax work of me, well I had to come back and see for myself!

PARKINSON:          Yes, I’ve seen that! It’s not a great likeness, is it?

JAMES:                  No, but then they had very little to go on.

PARKINSON:          No, quite. Well, it’s wonderful to see you in the flesh.

JAMES:                  I’m not so scary in person, am I?

PARKINSON:          No, not at all. Especially without the hat and cape. Do you still have it? The topper?

JAMES:                  My top hat, you mean?

PARKINSON:          Yes, that’s the one. Rather iconic, isn’t it?

JAMES:                  Oh, no, I got rid of that years ago. Not exactly stylish these days.

PARKINSON:          Well, it’s a new look, new century, and I am told there is a new book too?

JAMES:                  Oh, yes, my book is coming out on Wednesday. ‘Confessions: The Truth’.

PARKINSON:          That really is a dramatic title, isn’t it?

JAMES:                  Yes, the publishers picked that. (Amused chuckle)

PARKINSON:          And does it live up to the hype? That’s the million pound question, isn’t it?

JAMES:                  Well, I think so. It covers all the gristly details from 1888 to1891, with more details about what happened in the following years.

PARKINSON:          Yes, and those years were quite eventful, weren’t they?

JAMES:                  Well, after I turned myself in at Broadmoor, most reports you find talk about how I died there.

PARKINSON:          But that wasn’t the case, was it?

JAMES:                  Not quite, (smiles) I’d escaped once, it was child’s play to do it again.

PARKINSON:          And from there you went on to America?

JAMES:                  Yes. I met a nice girl by the name of Carrie Brown, and we carried on the tradition.

PARKINSON:          The tradition?

JAMES:                  Well, it wasn’t until I really started travelling that I found how to get away with it.

PARKINSON:          And you were never caught.

JAMES:                  No, that’s right.

PARKINSON:          Can I take you back for a moment to 1888, for the ones you are really famous for? Tell me, how did it all start?

JAMES:                  I suppose you would have to say it started with my then wife and escalated from there.

PARKINSON:          Is your wife the reason you had a type?

JAMES:                  I never had a type! I was always careful about that! (Getting irate)

PARKINSON:          Well, there was Kelly, of course, she didn’t fit the pattern. No relation?

JAMES:                  (Calming down) No. No relation, although some of my finest work. It’s amazing what you can achieve when you don’t have to work out on the street.

PARKINSON:          Did you pick her deliberately because of her name? I know you liked to send notes to Scotland Yard.

JAMES:                  No, but it’s a nice touch, isn’t it? I thought you’d want to ask me about my letters and…packages. (Smiles)

PARKINSON:          Yes, the ‘From Hell’ letter you wrote had a particularly gruesome accompaniment.

JAMES:                  Well, Cathy wasn’t going to miss it – and it was delicious. (Grins)

PARKINSON:          But that wasn’t the only time you left notes, was it?

JAMES:                  Well, there were my little love scrawls at Goulston Street. I always tried to throw them off a little. Spelling things a bit differently, exaggerating my hand, etcetera. It amused me.

PARKINSON:          Well, I think it amused us all. A real mystery.

JAMES:                  And now solved. After that DNA was released, I knew I had to come back and tell all with my new book. I couldn’t have that little toe rag taking the credit for my work.

PARKINSON:          Well, thank you James ‘Jack the Ripper’ Kelly for coming on the show today. Published by Whitechapel Press, and with a foreword by George Lusk, this is one not to miss. ‘Confessions: The Truth’ is available from all good book stores on Wednesday. I know I’ll be pre-ordering my copy. Next up on the show tonight is Bruce Jenner, who will be telling us all about his life with his American reality TV family The Kardashians and his upcoming gender re-assignment surgery…

(Fade to black)


The House’s Family

I saw them grow around me

The trees and flowers planted there

I saw them build their world

Ingrained in my memory

My walls held teenage tears

A thousand hopes and fears

And then they grew

My walls did too

Lovingly caressed with fresh clean plaster

Bright paint and woodchip paper

I saw them hide their secret treasures

Fluffy’s paw print etched in concrete

When they had outgrown bikes, clothes and childhood done

They left me alone, one by one

And all that remains

Is a glowing echo

Of lives well lived.


Open Mic Poems

Following on from the great success of Rugby Writers Open Mic night last night, as part of the Rugby Festival of Culture, I wanted to share two of the poems I read out.

I have been working for some time on that indispensable skill of public speaking that is so important to poets and authors. I think I am improving, which is great, and finally getting to grips with using a microphone (they make it look so easy on TV). So here are two pieces of spoken word poetry, which I hope you will enjoy:


You are my slaves.

I demand your worship

Build me exotic temples

Of steel and glass

Reaching up into the London sky

You pray for me

Lose sleep over me

Rejoice in my presence!


You weep when I am gone

You paint idols of me

In every home throughout this land

You carry my image with you

A talisman of protection

And some of you

Some fanatical few

Will go to war for me

Die for me

Spill blood to proclaim

That I am the truth

I am the light and

I am the salvation of us all!

But I am traitorous

I am slimy

And when you die…

The Tax Man will find me.

King of the Car Park

I am King of the Car Park

I am the ruler after dark

I am a lucky man

And I reign because I can

My name is Joe Vancamp

But you can just call me ‘Tramp’

People pass by giving me hassle

But they don’t know I’ve got me own castle

Honest, it’s true

Come with me, I’ll show you

Car Parking Structure B

I tell you, that’s home to me

My kingdom condemned

Saved me from a bitter end

Shelter from winter’s bite

Hidden here till spring’s first light

Cardboard is my bed

Better here than dead

Beer cans and mould

I roost here from the cold

With my grey pigeon army

Their gentle coos to calm me

In the hard relentless night

When I start to lose the fight

My concrete warren

My street cat coven

In this silent city-heart

I watch the sunsets rise and depart

From the corrugated rooftops

I sing to moon and raindrops

And I wish that you all understood

The bulldozers waiting outside ain’t good.

Demolish my castle, break my walls,

And with the rubble, my kingdom falls.

Car park

If you want to see what else is happening at the Rugby Festival of Culture, check it out at

The Balwatt

Recently, Rugby Writers, the local writing group I belong to, entered into a competition run by The Londonist. This online article site asked writers to pen a piece that was inspired by all things London. Although I was not successful in winning, I did write a piece which I can now share with you inspired by my favorite gallery in the British Museum. See if you can guess which one:

ONCE upon a time, there was a young boy by the name of Tommy Troffer. He was a spoiled and selfish child, who never did anything nice for anyone. Tommy spent his days playing Candy Crush Saga, and he had just reached level 32. When he did lift his eyes above screen level, Tommy took it upon himself to cause as much chaos as he could. Because if his mother couldn’t be bothered to stop him, why should he even try to behave?

One morning, Tommy arrived at his school fieldtrip to the British Museum. Shoving Mars bars down his throat, he paid no heed to Teacher’s instructions. Teacher handed out the worksheets and explained to the other children what they would be doing, and each child studiously scribbled down their tasks. Tommy blew his nose on the worksheet and crumpled it into a ball, kicking it down the museum steps. As Teacher lead them into the bright lobby shining beneath the latticed skylights, Tommy grabbed a handful of crayons from the information desk. Creeping away from the crowd, he slipped through the stone archway and pried open a wooden door marked ‘Sculpture Gallery: closed for refurbishment’.

Unbeknownst to little Tommy Troffer, a Balwatt did dwell within the Sculpture Gallery. Now, a Balwatt is a majestic creature. It has the head of a lion and the wings of an angel, with sharp talons upon each of its four paws. It has a long and surprisingly fluffy mane, and an even longer swishy tail. Originally from the furthest deserts of the Arabian Peninsula, Balwatts like to lie very still in the sun and are easily mistaken for antiquities.

Whilst the Balwatt is a fearsome looking creature, they are in fact gentle beasts. They love nothing more than a nice scratch behind the ears. Despite their huge size, they are really very timid. They like to sit, just out of the way, gathering dust and watching the people go by. However, when aggravated (and it takes an awful lot to aggravate a Balwatt) they are prone to sudden bouts of uncharacteristic rage.

The particular Balwatt of this story lived on a plinth in the British Museum. He was quite content to see out his retirement resting amongst the treasures of the Sculpture Gallery on the first floor. That was, until the day Tommy Troffer came to the museum.

Tommy smiled with glee as he took in the precarious cases of the gallery and empty aisles that he could run amok in. For a moment he just twirled and twirled, flinging a rainbow spiral of little wax crayon stubs all about him.

‘It’s like Christmas!’ he whispered excitedly to himself. ‘I’m going to have some fun!

And with that proclamation, Tommy set to work. He drew a moustache on the granite face of Pharaoh Ramses. He spat in the sarcophagus of Tuthmosis III, and drew rude pictures on the windows. He frolicked and smeared his greasy fingers upon the Assyrian carvings, and danced with delight as he stuck a pencil up Akhenaten’s nose. He shook the cases until all the pots tumbled, shattering into tiny fragments. And the Balwatt watched in horror as Tommy pulled down his pants and mooned the Rosetta stone.

At last, his energy spent, Tommy threw his chubby arm around the Balwatt’s neck. Taking a slurp from his juice box, he crushed it in his beefy fist and hurled it across the gallery.

‘What do you think of my improvements, doggy?’ Tommy asked the Balwatt. The Balwatt said nothing, his insides shaking with indignation. Tommy gripped the poor Balwatt’s ear and clamoured up on to his back. With a few swift kicks to his sides, Tommy yelled:

‘Yeehah! Giddy up you old nag!’

Tommy did not pause in his merry making to notice the dust falling from the Balwatt’s paws, nor did he see the creature’s eyes snap open and his teeth begin to grind. He did not feel the hairs rising upon the beasts heckles, or hear the saliva dripping from its open jaws.

All at once, the Balwatt leapt from his plinth and reared up into the sky, wings beating furiously.

‘Woah!’ yelled Tommy. ‘Put me down!’

But the Balwatt rose yet higher, bucking and twisting.

‘Teacher!’ Tommy screamed.

The Balwatt turned his blazing eyes upon Tommy.

‘Look!’ he boomed, pointing his claw at the carnage Tommy had wrought upon the exhibits. ‘Look at the devastation you have created!’

Tommy looked, and saw the cases he had turned over, and the willies he had drawn upon the sad Egyptian statues. He saw his trail of sweet wrappers and spit and crayons.

‘These treasures have lain in dignified silence for over 50 years!’ the Balwatt continued, his growling voice echoing around the pillars. ‘Are you not sorry for your offences? Are you not ashamed of your own disrespect towards these relics of history?’

Tommy folded his arms across his chest and said nothing. He fixed the Balwatt with his most stubborn glare.

‘What say you?!’ the Balwatt roared.

‘It’s just a bunch of old crap! Put me down,’ Tommy dug his heels savagely into the Balwatt’s ribs. ‘Put me down now, you flea bag!’

‘If I return you to the ground, will you remove these defacements?’ the Balwatt eyed him suspiciously.

‘No way! Do it yourself!’

The Balwatt was seized with a terrible rage. He threw Tommy high up into the air. The boy screamed in a wide arc as he fell…all the way into the Balwatt’s wide gaping mouth. And as the his jaws clamped down upon Tommy’s soft and yielding fleshy bits, Teacher burst through the door just in time to see the boy’s expensive trainers disappear down the Balwatt’s gullet.

‘Oh, my,’ she said in dismay.

Taking out her phone, she dialled Tommy’s mother.

‘Mrs Troffer? I’m sorry to have to tell you this…but your son has been eaten by one of the exhibits…’