Miss Paris tried to make me eat thick custard
in the dinner hut in primary school.
I never liked thick custard or blancmange
and I wasn't too keen on Miss Paris either.
Miss Paris surely had better things to do with her time,
like paint fingernails the colour of a red Hummingbird.
Loud as fuck she'd play Telstar for the dinner ladies
tuning up to twang for her Teddy Boy boyfriend
who could jive better than a grizzly
who didn't look anything like Eddie Cochran
who drove a Ford Zodiac or Ford Constellation
who dipped his head in Brylcreem or lard when desperate
who was a rebel with a bad cough
who wore drainpipe trousers; when it rained
his mum pegged them to the washing line.
Miss Paris could play that Hummingbird better than
any of the dinner ladies.
This was better than custard or the wireless
which was mostly Mantovani and Sing Something Simple.
This was Post World War One meets Post World War Two.
This was a generation gap wider than left and right.
This was before we tuned into Radio Luxembourg,
a country small enough to squeeze
beneath the blanket or pillow.
This was before we tuned in, turned on and dropped out
with Timothy Leary, or thought we did.
This was before The Shangrilas
before Johnny Kidd and the Pirates
before the first air guitarist emerged from the shadows to sign
a record contact for Four Minutes and Thirty Three Seconds,
before memory shuffled it all around the jukebox.
Miss Paris, hummingbird eyes fluttering on Little Dock Lane,
was a footnote in the collected works of the 20th century,
a hundred years thick.
Her after school dinner speeches were pharmaceuticals
for the ear.