Bestiary of Blighty














1. Beach Café

Geoff is hungry;
it’s no problem.

You know those surf cafés:
English coast; wetsuits; cheap kites;
confusing types of coffee?

You get a food ticket
from a cheery blond
then wait to be called.

But Geoff’s there first.

A beach rat, bites bits
from your panini plus
half the chips are gone.

If you chase him
he’s over the dunes
and far away.

2. Souwester

Entombed in
chrome yellow
water proofs.

He tours the resorts
seeking wet campers
desperate for an end
to this driving rain.

Issuing terrifying
weather warnings
reports of cliff face
collapses, encircling
swarms of jellyfish.

Marriages end in disaster.
Axe attacks in caravans.
Jihadis arrive off shore.

3. Ocean View Care Home

Our Motto:

“It’s kinder
to throw old
puffins off cliffs.”

“The Admiral” runs a tight ship.
Reveille at 06:30. Terrified elders
herded in, exercises, then ritual
humiliation – a daily talent show.

I was fooled by smiles in a photo.

4. Encounters in a Travelodge

Here’s what happened.

The mother pimped her aged fourteen.

Locations were multiplying.

You must have noticed the hotels on link roads, convenient for reps and nearby retail outlets.

Whether from guilt or impending prosecution, the mother hanged herself last week – in the loft of a splendid newbuild.

What a performer I remember at Parents’ Evenings.

Assiduously querying levels.

Forensic on friendship issues, twitter assaults, possible moves to higher groups (“Lily needs stretching”).

What other details can I summon?

The dust as the Travelodges went up, the queues for identical food outlets.

Any morality going with the ring road.

Sleep walking in the midnight hum.

Degrees in Social Policy – and a refusal to judge – meant punters were obviously priapic in the car park.

It’s important this self-expression, and it’s complicated.

I’ve seen them from Year Seven – devastating their joyful enthusiasm.

There’s pizza and white wine when the girls are out – the mother no stranger to it – why not? – surely seeing your child under an acrylic suit or bent over a trouser press – the images – better sex hadn’t been invented –

her only objection, “some were Asian.”

It was all so recent now they’re gone.

So then it gets complicated.

The girl grows up – memories and material.

Surely of use…Creative Writing?

(I have walked my garden in the September dusk,
an English pastoral of suburbia in golden rays.)

Back to this – no judgment – the material is all – youth’s energy to overcome then beget.

I keep her photograph in my classroom.

She looks late-thirties (actually mid-teens).

The local social workers…forming a religion in her name…it was easy to have known her…fantasies of protection…a fist fight seen outside KFC…winding down the window…I almost asked (say that I did)…“Everything ok Charlotte?”…this town has too many roundabouts…we were gone but I saw her…dragged by the hair…I emailed to report it on Monday.

5. In a Doll’s House

In dreams of living with pistols.
We all did, firing at white walls.

A child doll is brought to me:
tiny, dead-eyed, the only colour
blood up its nose. Then cradled,

her body emerging in warmth;
pink-budded life. Too simple.



Paul Sutton, 2015





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