118A Creighton Avenue

This basket of potatoes is an image from the collection at the Old Design Shop.

Behind cardboard boxes,
I’m in the corner.
Leaning on a cushion,
I’m in the dark.
Potatoes are humming
rich smells from the oven.
Getting the girls to bed:
they have to be given a bottle each;
it’s tea and bath before.

When they’ve gone to sleep
The grownups eat
tired potatoes at 9pm.

It’s always a long day.


When I first arrived in North London, I was adopted by a fellow bohemian type, her jovial husband and beautiful daughters. “118A Creighton Avenue” is my voyeuristic take on the joys and chaos of family life.

Some readers have thought the speaker to be everything from the au pair to a homeless person, a soft toy to a spider, fly or insect on the wall. All these speculations about point of view locate the speaker’s voyeurism in disappearance. All of these would be on the side-lines of the scene, out of sight and out of mind.

I did have to ‘disappear’ when that time of the evening came to put the girls to bed. They were so little and found it disruptive to know that the visitor was still in the house. I would then have to hide in the playpen behind the stack of flattened cardboard boxes piled up for the impending move from 118A.

They moved to a new flat in the September of that year.

“118A Creighton Avenue” features in my first book of poetry
Shining in Brightness: Selected Poems, 1999 – 2012
I have produced two additional volumes –
In the Ocean: a year of poetry
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys
Twitter: @BeadedQuill
Facebook: BeadedQuill

I learnt

I learnt
not to throw a tennis ball
That’s how you shatter a ginger jar.

I also learnt one should not
break a violin bow.
Did I snap it 
or cause the hairs to explode?

If your nose is running,
and your mother is pinning
your ballet costume
don’t move.
If she pins you,
don’t move.
Don’t move. If you do

she will hit you with the thing
closest to hand

which may be
a pair of scissors.

Originally the above was titled with the opening,

A Damn Good Hiding
will never go amiss.

Parenting is surely one of the most challenging tasks. This I acknowledge with deep sincerity and appreciate all my parents have done for me. But poetry will have its way.

For more poems about suburbia with its quiet battles and ambiguity, preview my two published books of poetry:
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys
Shining in Brightness

Twitter: @BeadedQuill
Facebook: BeadedQuill