One of the registers in my vocal repetoire is Scalljah, who morphed out of Sloppy Bob. Sloppy Bob is a comedy poet who came to me after I wrote a piece purely rhyme driven. Bob is Lancastrian and Scalljah scouse, which is the local vernacular term for a Liverpool person.
At the time I wrote him in Feb 2003, I had just filled my first writer's journal and was in the second year of university. When I re read the journal, the previous 18 months of instinctively plodding along through education, not knowing how the accumulation of knowledge would add up, suddenly became clear. I could consciously discern on the page what I was unconscious of when I had been writing it; discern outlines I was unaware of before my study of various modern writers such as Mayakovsky had switched on a light of learning.
The first fruits I retreived from this harvest of deeper understanding were two poems that I got from a trip to Spain documented on the journal's pages. As I re-read I could see little snippets of poetry in the prose, and I culled two lyric poems from them. The first lines of one, named after the campsite
My gaze is drawn to where
mountains cut the pale blue of dusk
with subtle thrusting lines that taper
to horizons edge and melt into the sea.
Twinkiling lights of fishing boats bob
along the middle distance
as the intermittant cry of peacocks
pierce the midnight air......
I can't remember the rest.
It was as if I had stumbled on a hidden code I had written, unaware I was doing so at the time, and although I cannot recollect the exact sequence of events, I ended up deciding to write a poem purely for rhyme.
I had recently been to the annual college poetry night and a poet had said, very self importantly, about being the "Ex-poet in residence" of a local cathedral, which I heard as pure comedy. Ungrasping of the irony when boasting about where he no longer worked. I was at home playing with this conceit of poet in residence, thinking of I am the poet in residence of..the bedroom at the top of the stairs....Moorgate bogs every Tuesday....Hamleys toy shop...the broom cupboard... etc. I eventually settled on the lines
Hello ladies and gentlemen
my name is Sloppy Bob
I'm usually Slippy Bob
but I've been having terrible trouble
with my vowels.
I'm the poet in residence of
and I then lengthened the conceit of phonebox resident
every other Sunday
in the summer months
4 till 5
and then wrote purely for rhyme, looking no further than coming up with a small section, trying to rhyme every syllable as much as possible, in this case with the "box" of phonebox, "Sunday" and "AM."
Block bookings taken
minimum five up to about nine
depending on the weather
So you can see that everything assonates, consonates or rhymes, and this is how I wrote it, with no regard to sense. And as I wrote it a narrative emerged, bit by bit, which more or less steered itself. It was as though I were removed from the process, like when I first re-read the journal and saw an intelligence and movement I was unaware of at the time I was making the entries a year or so previously.
You can also find me
playing darts and pool
in the Blue Sphinx
where they'll put your car keys
behind the bar if you've had too
much to drink
smoke, sniff, or if you're having
a bad trip on a dodgy pill them lads
from the Lipton tower blocks have
been knocking out.
I'm very reliable
when I'm not pissed
or high as a kite on crack or smack
if I'm honest
at the minute's
erm..quite a bit.
I've got special OAP rates,
some great discounts for schoolchildren,
and I do private tuition, in the comfort
of your own home.
I don't smoke,
wash, drive, or perform live in
situations which are non PC,
tolerate discrimination against minorities;
majorities, or, any section of society
who feel threatened by the pernicious influence of,
poets who are shit;
like my ex,-mate,
He's got no grasp of meter,
his line breaks aren't that great,
his rhyme schemes are very weak, and
his central conceits, are crap.
We've not been speaking since he robbed
my midweek spot down the job club,
after the co-ordinator of the poetry workshop and me
had had a falling out,
about, the best way to teach the unemployed
of West Drayton, how to rhyme effectively;
when they're on an interview for a job.
I'd also like to mention, that
my Girlfriend, Sonja,
an asylumn seeker from Eastern Crounjia,
is available for work of any nature,
usually indoors, cash in hand;
though now the ASBO order's nearly over
she can work outdoors in about two weeks.
Ooh, and; I'm nearly forgetting, our Mandy;
Who's a secretary,
and a dancer;
though she is open for negotiation,
if the price is right;
usually fifty quid.
Also, if you need a bloke to be
doing out around your house;
I had a word with our Shane last night
just after he got released
from the custody suite of the high street cop shop.
Now that witness has disappeared,
They've got nothing on him,
so, he's in the clear and actively seeking a bit of work,
He particularly likes helping elderly people,
who are housebound and get confused,
because he's very caring and hands on,
as long as he's getting paid every Friday in cash.
My latest commission is from a multi millionaire businessmen,
who wishes to remain anonymous for reasons I can't divulge.
He wants me to extol the virtues, in rhyme, of a wide range of
quality toilet rolls; washing up liquids,
bleaches and a whole host of other
including toilet ducks.
I first met him through a mate
when I did a gig on a boat.
He wanted me to compose the contents
of a, suicide note
for someone he was in disagreement with.
He offered me sixty quid, cash,
on the spot, no questions asked,
which is not to be sniffed at
when you're a struggling poet
on the lower rate sickness benefit.
He wanted to keep it dignified
so the family wouldn't be getting to upset,
as they learned of his sad demise,
when they fished his body out the river;
so, I obliged and he give us an extra tenner
for a job well done.
The toilet products gig's ongoing at the moment,
so don't feel shy, about offering me,
any work, in rhyme
you might have coming up.