'We're off to Never Never Land' by Matthew James is Poem of the Week
The poem ‘We're off to Never never land - Paracetamol, cucumber sandwiches and the lost rent boy Version 2’ by Matthew James is Write Out Loud’s Poem of the Week. Congratulations to Matthew for the longest Poem of the Week title by a country mile! He says he started writing poetry only in March this year, after feeling that he “needed an outlet”. Matthew, a trained illustator/animator, revealed more to Write Out Loud in this Q&A:
How long has poetry been an important part of your life and can you remember why it became so?
I'm actually very new to poetry. I started writing in March this year. I'm an illustrator/ animator by training and so I have always written, but with the intention to illustrate rather than it being about the words. I found myself getting lost in my illustration work, as my writing didn't match the quality of my drawing. I was also going through a difficult time personally and needed an outlet.
Louise Fazackerley had become a friend after a chance encounter the previous year. It was by watching her and other local poets that I was inspired to start writing and performing myself. I love it now. I write all the time for different purposes. Sometimes for myself to process thoughts, sometimes for illustration, sometimes just for fun.
If you could only have one poet’s work to read which one would you choose?
I'm not from a literary background at all. I have no formal training. I don't know who is a "good" poet. There are members of my family who write. My granddad always wrote poems about different things including my Nana. They were very special people to me. My aunt has followed suit and my brother has always written for pleasure. I love Roald Dahl and children's books like 'The Little Prince', 'Gruffalo' and 'Where the Wild Things Are'. To pick one though, it has to be Louise (and Victoria Garbutt) as she was the person who inspired me start writing. Partly through their work but also their support which I am so grateful for.
Do you perform your work and if so, what advice would you give to a young poet just starting out?
Yes. I've done it five or six times now, mainly at open mic nights, but also through the support of A Firm of Poets in Wakefield who provide some fantastic opportunities for aspiring poets. To advise young poets is strange for me because I'm in that situation myself with poetry, in spite of being 36! I've just kind of thrown myself into it. I just think to myself 'what's the worst that could happen' and if I humiliate myself completely I just laugh at myself and do it again. And I have completely humiliated myself. The first time I got up I got really nervous, forgot all the words and at the end I fell off the stage. Then I did it again ... And again ... And again ... To a point where I'm nearly ok at it!
What was the inspiration for this poem's title?
This poem is a genuine, true story of my epic failure of a first night out at a nightclub. It was a total disaster as you can see. In Blackburn there was a club called Never Never Land. It was above another club called C’est La Vie (known as Smelly V's). Both clubs were pretty rough. I eventually went there many times. It holds a strange mix of nostalgia and nightmare in my heart. The title of the poem is basically just a list of the random disasters that beheld me on that fateful night.
WE'RE OFF TO NEVER NEVER LAND - PARACETAMOL, CUCUMBER SANDWICHES AND THE LOST RENT BOY Version 2
by Matthew James
Gav called me up.
Him and Tolly were going out to Never Never Land in Blackburn
3 lost boys off on a curious adventure
Mi mum dropped me off at Gavs 'ouse ont' Shad estate
Gav got us a coke before we caught t' buz in
But 'e sprinkled in some white pewder
"What's this? Pixie dust?"
"It's summat to gi' you Speed" said Tolly
"just drink it!" Said Gav
So I did
"2nd Star t' t' reet and straight on t' t' moornin'!"
But we'd bin sold crushed paracetamol
So we just acted like we were fucked and lied to each other about ow buzzin wi were
But we weren't buzzin
Then we caught buz in
Waitin' for t' affects o' t' artificial amphetamine t' kick in
'N' we got t' Neverland
No mermaids 'ere
No pretty injun girls
There were a few blokes wi dodgy eyes n limps
But no no, no-n-no no, no-n-no no no no there's no pirates!
Just shitty plastic Palm trees
'N' townies in fluorescent nylon shirts
No peacock feathered hats ere
Just steps n curtains n aggressive faces
'N' me wi' a bowl cut and trepidation
Tryin' t' think happy thoughts
Surrounded bi freebooters, piccaroons, Buccaneers, filibusters and Rovers
Wi' their left foot, right foot dancing
And an eye on t' maidens
Sneering in our direction
That 'aven't grown up
I sort o' skirted round edges feelin' scared
Then went to sit at sides on an empty table 'n' hid
On t' next table were a nice lookin' couple o' blokes.
They must o' bin good mates!
They were cuddlin' 'n' touchin' each other a lot.
Anyhow, thi got talking t' mi
Told 'em I'd not bin out before
"Ow old are you lad? 14/15?"
Thi sort o' laughed, dunno why
Then one of 'em offered me a cucumber sandwich
I thought t' mi sel'
"I dunno much about nightclubs but I dunt think folk normally bring cucumber sandwiches!"
But I were 'ungry so I ate it
Then I think 'e thought we were mates coz 'e were touchin mi leg
I 'ad to crow for Gav an' Tolly
They came in like Peter Pan and rescued mi and I set off for 'ome
I went to t' phone box n' called mi mum
Didn't know town reet well
So I waited for 'er outside o' mi old school
There were some scary lookin people on one side o't' road snappin at each other like crocodiles
So I stood under t' lamppost so I were int' leet an' t' cars passin could see mi
Felt safer like that
Tick tock tick tock
T' crocodiles were lurkin
Each time a car passed I stepped out a bit
To look for mi mum
Drivers kept lookin at mi nervously n drivin off
Maybe thi thought I were a crocodile too
N they kept smirking at mi
Then some officers pulled up like privateers in their blue and white flashin galleon
Made us stand again t' wall as I asked for parle
'N' thi searched mi for treasure
Asked us if I pulled into port for rentin
"Rentin' what? I'm Waitin for mi mum."
"Aye cap'n! Hahaha! I'm sure you are! Dressed in tight little hot pants!"
"These aren't 'ot pants, they're chinos?!"
Then mi mum turned up an said "oh aye! This streets t' red light district!"
"Well bugger me!"
Never, never again... Until uni happened