Ode for Georgie and Danny

September 4, 2016

Our elder daughter got married this year. What a great day that was. I’d do it all again if we could. Both of them seemed so relaxed and happy that it infected the day with joy and love and laughter right from the start. Yes there were things we would have done differently -it’s not the norm to have the bride directing the driver using her phone for example, but it seemed to go really well and if the celebrations indicate the likely happiness of the marriage they are off to a bloody good start. They surely know they have a solid back up of friends and family wishing them well.

For most people the thought of public speaking is a near-death experience. But not for the Clarke family. We all spoke at the wedding. Invited or not. By protocol or not. Her brother did a reading during the ceremony, her father the traditional FOTB opener and Georgina herself paid tribute to those not with us in person, and to her new husband who she described as her ‘voice of reason’ and ‘in-house comedian’. What a fabulous balance to have at her side forever.

And he of course had to do the traditional groom’s speech which he delivered from the heart with aplomb – a far cry from the little boy so shy he hid under the table at his own birthday party. Quite a few lines from it appear as the soundtrack to their wedding video , which is five minutes of feelgood footage.  The best men performed a lovely double act which rounded off the afternoon proceedings perfectly.


Georgie and Danny wanted something to acknowledge the evening guests’ arrival – to make them feel they were not simply an ‘add on’, but a real part of proceedings. So after the cutting of the most incredible cake made like a pile of their favourite books:13256182_10207885660151748_2610582959794306566_n

I delivered the inevitable Ode which I reproduce below. But after that came Natalie with a crowd pleasing sing along to a Spice Girls classic which she had rewritten just enough to suit the occasion but not so much we couldn’t instantly learn it and belt it out. Marvellous. How much both my parents would have loved it all.

Ode on the Occasion of Georgie and Danny’s Wedding

We’d like to welcome all new guests,
Reinforcements have arrived!
The ceremony’s over,
And the knot is duly tied.

The speeches were delivered –
And I won’t take up too much time
But I thought a little line or two
Should be spoken out in rhyme.

These lovebirds met when first at school
In Drayton, aged eleven
But despite the evidence here today
It was no match made in heaven.

Georgie didn’t really notice him
He was in to sports and stuff
On the other hand he noticed her
And thought her a bit of rough.

They met again in Birmingham –
Gatecrasher the clubs name,
The first kiss was on that dance floor.
Things would never be the same.

So now Georgie’s on a mission
She tracks Danny’s every move
Be it Fab or any other club
Georgie’s there to get the groove.

He’s hard to compartmentalise
Sporty  but IT geek
Loves board games and the Arsenal
Organised with a creative streak.

He is loyal, he is thoughtful
And of course a technocrat.
No more “the youngest person starts” as
He’s got an app for that!

And  Georgie, our Georgina,
A beauty we can see
But even greater than her stunning looks
Are her brains and empathy.

She’s always thought of others,
Works hard, and gets stuff done
She always likes to be informed and
Takes no shit from anyone.

She likes knowing what is happening
Exactly where she’s at,
And with Danny’s Excel genius
She’s got just the chap for that.

Together they are quite a team
They are tight, they’re strong, they’re true
They liberate each other
To do what they really want to do.

They’re fun, they like to socialise
To eat, to play, to goss
So raise your glasses one more time
For Ms Clarke and Mr Kloss




Christmas Poem from my Father

December 27, 2013

The things that may help you get the jokes are that we must have all been going to my sister’s for Christmas (she has a dog called Bella), and our son was working in Waitrose on fruit and veg. The rest is self explanatory if you know our family.  It will have been delivered as a toast at some point during the meal – so here’s to you all and hoping you are revelling in the festivities as much as he would have done.He will have enjoyed writing this and loved the performance and ensuing applause even more.

We are going to Bella’s for Christmas

With two cats and feral outside.

We’ll be joined by some moorhens and rabbits

And a drake with his beautiful bride.

There might be a fox and his vixen

But for sure a grey squirrel or two

They’ll be all sorts of birds there for Christmas

With an owl with his twit and too-woo.

The hostess the Duchess of Aga

Well known for her dressage of course

Will cook such a meal for those present

That Michelin would gladly endorse

The host with his corkscrew aready

Will serve us with wine that’s first rate

He’ll be aiming to please all our palates

And the Masters of Wine emulate.

Two princesses as well will be present

Both famed for their beauty and style

One princess is known for how quickly

She texts all her friends on mobile

The other princess is noted for acting

And attending general meetings of cast

Then afterwards impersonating old members

In a humorous and kind hearted blast.

An expert on food will be dining

So the hostess to me does allege

He’s acclaimed by the housewives of Ealing

As a darling on fruit and on veg.

It’s known that he straightens cucumbers

And polishes the fruit that’s on show

That he sucks out the juice from pineapples

Is something that Waitrose don’t know.

A couple well known in West Ealing

For the frontage of house fifty seven

Are also acclaimed for their rooftop

And how it got nearer to heaven.

They are also acclaimed for their kitchen

With more cupboards than most it is said

And their garden has impeccable decking

Plus a magnificent green painted shed.

So its a pleasure that all will be dining

And sharing the great festive fare

It makes for a wonderful Christmas

We’ll be ever so pleased to be there

I speak as one ancient old sailor

And for my wife who’s much younger at heart

She’s always so polite and so courteous

But I tend to spit and to….cough.

Rosie on the left. Best buddies.

Rosie on the left. Best buddies.

Loving life

Loving life

Would have could have should have

Today would have been Rosie’s birthday,

(Would have could have should have)

She would have been twenty three

(Would have could have should have)

But that bastard Mother Nature

Said it was not to be

But today is Rosie’s birthday,

In my head and in my heart,

She’s with us still in spirit,

In laughter, fun and art

She’s with us when we party,

She’s with us when we cry,

She’s with us when we celebrate

She’s with us till we die.

So fuck you Mother Nature,

Playing evil games and tricks,

You can’t take Rosie from us

She’s a memory that sticks.

A memory that’s palpable,

A memory that’s strong

And we’ll always celebrate our love for her

Because taking her was wrong.

I don’t believe in God and shit,

But if angels are forever

Then there’s one with sticky fingers

Getting everyone together.

Perhaps we’ll see you one day

At an afterlife event,

But in the meantime here on earth

You never really went.

We think of you and often

When we party hard and long,

When we play games around the table

Or hear a much loved song

We see bits picked out of bowls of food,

CDs not in their case,

And smile with fond remembrance

Of our cherished Rosie Grace

 Another Ode, this time to my sister,  a connoisoeur of doggerel generated by the family.  I think she enjoyed it – she was in tears as is her usual emotional state when anyone says anything nice about her.

It is bizarre how non-tactile we are as family members. I am less likely to kiss her in greeting than an old work colleague. Even the children screamed with amazement the first time we did it (about 10 years ago). But it doesn’t mean we don’t care about each other. Just we weren’t brought up in a household that ever said ‘I love you’ or any other sentimental guff.

We had a turbulent relationship during our teens – she was out there, getting in to trouble with my parents whilst I was a few years behind and getting away with much much more. Oh what luck it is to be the younger child. But since we both left home and didn’t have to live together under the same roof we recognise each others strengths and rely on them. And get on really well.  So, of no interest to anyone who doesn’t know her no doubt, but herewith a tribute to my sibling.

Ode on the Occasion of Kate’s 50th Birthday

And so it is that we are gathered,

On this auspicious date

To celebrate with wine and food,

The youthfulness of Kate

For aging isn’t something

That Kate cares much to do

She gets fitter, better looking

Than she was at twenty two

In childhood she seemed older,

Taking care to be so good,

And organising friends and me

Into a cycling sisterhood

Being sensible was her hallmark,

So she couldn’t believe it when,

She saw the film Pollyanna twice and

The girl broke her leg AGAIN.

From Scotland then we moved toWales,

She went straight to grammar school,

Where slowly but undoubtedly she

Started to be cool

My friends would tell me wide eyed tales

Of my sister’s latest antic

Of boys with bikes or bus or truck

No wonder Mum was frantic.

And moving swiftly on from then,

She left home at seventeen,

A gap year then to Uni

Where her Dad and Nain had been

Although English was her subject

Her forte seems to be

Making friends who’ve lasted through the years

From both home and from Uni

And then the world of work did call

With Marconi her first job

From training into personnel,

Or HR, sorry Rob.

Her loyalty and diligence,

And increasing expertise

Ensured her working life was full

As she moved around with ease.

In her twenties and her thirties

She seemed to have it all,

Enjoying country life indeed

From Kent to Dunstaball

An endless round of social whirls

With friends both far and wide

They spent their time just having fun

And learning how to ride

And of course that’s something she still does

The only family member yet

To win not one but two great big

First place red rosettes

As teens she’d sometimes slap me

“Just because I can”,

But she’s been a rock to lean on

When the s*** has hit the fan.

As an aunt she has been perfect,

Giving time, and love (and gifts)

The children all adore her

(No I’m not taking the pi**)

You are loyal, you are caring

You put others before you,

You have insight, sensitivity

And you know what’s right to do

You are modest, self-effacing

Well organised and smart

And now you seem much more relaxed

Since someone stole your heart.

So now please raise your glasses

And let’s really celebrate

The wonderful woman that she is

My elder sister Kate

This Ode is to Rachel, Rosie’s mum, for her 50th birthday which was a few months before Rosie died.  It seems a lifetime ago in many ways. A wonderful, very happy  time in the back garden of their home in Coldershaw Road.

I realise these Odes are probably much better if you know the person involved, and also if you can say them in your head to make the clunky rhymes work when they are a bit tenuous! And at their best when you hear them after copious amounts of alcohol…..

I put the ones I have copies of on here as a further personal tribute to the people I wrote them for, and a way of filing them electronically!

Ode on the Occasion of Rachel’s

Musical Birthday Celebrations

And so the time has come at last

To tell of Rachel’s sordid past,

To raise a glass, or nine or ten,

As we celebrate her birth again

A Sarf London girl and proud of it,

She was Brown child number three

The icing on the marital bed for

Joan and her Geoffrey

At 11 she wins a scholarship-

To public school no less,

Where her parents hope she will achieve,

Or at least will do her best

But no. She cannot take it seriously,

She prefers to muck around,

The only work she will put in

Is finding boys in town

But no matter, that is history

And she did study art

At Sheffield polytechnic

A place so close to her heart

We are aware of Rachel’s assets;

Big tits and mile-long legs,

But did you know she bartered them

For Cadbury’s crème Eggs?

Yes there was a price to pay

When flatmates they did score

A pile of luscious chocolate eggs

Was heaped outside the door.

A teacher now of special needs

Of naughty boys a-many

They clambered up the toilet doors

To watch her spend a penny

In Brum she met her one true love

She was completely wowed

A mortgage money lender

That was very well endowed

They moved to London Ealing,

Had Jake and then got wed,

But honeymoon was ruined

Coz John was ill in bed

Then Rosie came then Florence

They’d moved to Coldershaw

And we’d all become firm friends by now

And that’s 20 years or more

She’s always been essential,

The hub of every wheel,

The one who organises everyone

And every single meal

She rallies troops to gatherings

To days out here and there

You don’t fancy playing rounders ? –

Well tough she doesn’t care!

We have great times and laughter

Doing things the Rachel way,

She’s so organised and plans ahead

To make the best of every day

She has always loved our children

And been a huge part of their days,

Of walks, and parks and meals and school

And putting on of plays.

Her picnics they are famous

Gourmet meals inside a hamper

Her catchphrases they are many –

Altogether now- ‘Morning campers!’

She is funny, she is thoughtful

Doesn’t really get the hump

Will preface every photo with

One two three and Jump!

Her social life is legendary

To have coffee- book ahead,

She’s here and there, knows everyone

And this is what they said

She’s fantastic our friend Rachel,

She’s so loud and so much fun,

She’s really great to be with,

She’s really number one

She’s a little on the spectrum,


God help you if you leave some crumbs

On a surface she can see…

She’s giving, she is loving,

She is generous and kind,

She says she doesn’t like attention

But I hope she doesn’t mind

That tonight you are the centre,

The reason we are here

And we want to praise you to the hilt

And raise a glass of cheer.

Rosie on the left with Georgina at Drayton leavers do I think. So aged 18.

Tragically family life was blown apart later that year when Rosie, Rachel and John’s middle child, died very suddenly. She was a wonderful young woman, only just 19 and on the threshold of life when she was snatched.  She is with us always. A website dedicated to her , the charity the family have chosen to support in her name, and an ongoing blog  is at www.rosidwyer.co.uk

 In 2006 we spent a fantastic weekend in Warbleswick to celebrate the Maynards’ birthdays. Another excuse for an Ode! I can’t help myself sometimes. No one asked me to do it, but I insisted. Whether they wanted it or not. To be honest, I’m really not sure that they enjoyed it, but at least it was quite a short one so over in a couple of minutes. The need to know for this one is that one of Ian’s catchphrases as he says goodbye  is “Always a pleasure, never a chore’.

Ode on the occasion of Ian and Christine’s 50th Birthdays

In April 1956

Two storks flew keen and eager

One dropped his load in the far North east

The other in Tredegar.

The Geordie lass worked hard at school

Was sporty and athletic

The Valleys boy was more concerned

His barber was pathetic.

And so he’d go to Cardiff,

For coiffure a la carte

I think that’s where the love of style

And Brand began to start.

A – level stress beset them both,

But both did try their best –  er

And luck would have the two would meet

At campus there in Leicester.

Now student life was gay and fun,

And then came graduation

They both set off  to London town,

The far south of the nation

They had it tough the first few years,

Crap neighbours, not much dough,

Then came the  gifts of boy girl boy

Or Tim, then Hel then O

We’re here to toast your milestone

You’ve reached a golden age,

Where pension books loom large as life

You can’t read a single page

You are perfect party people,

Mixing charm with warmth and wit

With loyalty , integrity and

Taking no bullshit

So here’s to Ian and to Christine,

We couldn’t love them more,

They really are a pleasure,

And never once a chore.

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