When I’m travelling, at home and abroad, it’s always a pleasure meeting people, young and old; getting to know them and, perhaps, hearing a story or two about where they come from.
Especially, when we discover a shared interest in books and writing, as happened on a recent trip to Tenerife when my wife and I met up with Ken and Rita, a retired couple from Birmingham. Both of them keep busy with other interests when not travelling: Rita with sewing – and, to my surprise, Ken writes poetry.
Ken is 80 years-old, and along with Rita, full of life and very entertaining, particularly after a good meal and a glass of wine when he is quite happy to render a few lines from one of his poems. One thing I cannot do, much to my regret, is recite a verse or two when called upon – I seem to have a memory block on such occasions. But Ken has no such reservations and on one of our last evenings together, he mentioned, shortly after reciting another few verses, that the poem was one of several in a book entitled I Am What I Am published by Anchor Books.
Before we parted, I promised Ken I would reproduce the poem on the website; so here it is:
Thoughts from the Black Country Kid
Trouble and Strife
You’re working hard all through your life
Just to keep a happy wife.
You buy a house and run a car.
Sometimes you think you’ve gone too far.
You have two kids and keep a dog,
Drop into bed, sleep like a log.
Got no money in the bank,
Who do you think you’ve got to thank?
The wife and kids just take the lot.
They must think it’s an endless pot.
It’s diamond rings and fur coats too.
Take the kids off to the zoo.
It’s pay for this and pay for that.
If you don’t pay you’re just a rat.
The wife keeps nagging all the while.
Now and then you’d think she’d smile.
She makes you sandwiches for lunch
So you can sit and have a munch.
The work is hard, the pay is small
The wife and kids still take it all.
Off to the seaside for a break
There’s not a lot of give and take.
When you have a blazing row
It’s back to Mum. Oh Lord and how
You and her, you hardly speak
It’s murder getting through the week.
But after all is said and done
You’re still together. No one’s won.
No looking back. On goes your life
And you’ve still got the trouble and strife.
Think happy thoughts and you’ll be glad
She’s still the best you’ve ever had!
By Ken Batham
Ken tells me has a few more, and an award from The International Library of Poetry for his contribution to their anthology A Lasting Calm.