The publican’s apostrophe in the picture caught my attention.
Closer inspection suggested that it wasn’t the only problem: my friend wondered what would happen if he turned up with a pizza that had seen better days and ordered them to “make it fresh.”
I was reminded of telling another friend about a poetry competition on the theme “Fresh voices” and her suggestion made that “fresh” ought to be reserved to describe bread, milk, eggs, etc. That discussion might have been pedantic, but it inspired me to write a winning poem.
Hunting around for it in the archives, I am amazed to discover that it was written in the year 2000. It also surprises me that I have never posted it on the blog. Here it is:
There’s a new stall at the market, it’s really quite exciting,
they’ve got everything that’s needed for every type of writing:
there’s prose in all the colours, not just the standard purple,
and poets’ squares and triangles as well as writers’ circles.
Their sonnets and their villanelles are wrapped up in black lace,
the epics are kept out the back – there’s simply not the space.
They told me that their shanties are brought daily from the coast,
they’ve got commas, dashes, colons – choose the ones that you like most –
they’re laid out with the platitudes on cunning ice-lined trays,
with nonce-words and ephemera and esoteric plays.
When you buy two triplets, you get the third one free,
and they’ll do a deal exchanging metaphors for similes.
They sell rhythm by the foot there, and scansion by the metre,
as for presentation guidelines, you’ll never have seen neater.
There’s clichés by the dozen, they’ve got bucketfuls of screamers,
the doggerel’s in couplets and the consciousness on streamers.
If you’re bored with your perspective and you think you ought to change it,
have a word with the consultant: I’m sure he can arrange it.
They show you all the products (they never simply tell)
– the gothic horror section is like a trip to hell!
They’ve got some local colour and some novel twisting tales
and advice about deep breathing for when inspiration fails.
They sell the thread for plot-lines in various metric weights
as well as yarns and anecdotes at reasonable rates.
If you ask for something that they haven’t got in stock
they’ll hack some new ideas from off the writers’ block.
I went there just the other day, I needed a fresh voice,
and now I don’t know what to do: I’m simply spoiled for choice!
(First published in Freelance Market News, December 2000)