The Haggler

The Devil sat on my shoulder
And offered me all Bentilee
From Willfield right down to Twigg Street
Fenton fields, transmitter, and tree!

Course! He wanted somethin’ for ’em
As anyone would, wouldn’t you?
But He said my sould would do nicely,
Plus a 10p deposit in lieu.

But I knew I could more if I bargained
Cause my father had sired no fool
So I demanded free beer in the pubs
(Plus the girls of Berryhill School).

Well, He relented at once to my hagglin’
Then said in His serpent-y drawl
“You can have all the women you want to
“And hold orgies in Harold Clowes Hall.”

“You can even make St. Paul’s a casino
“And gamble, for money, ’til dawn
“Then settle down with a beer and the telly
“And watch videos of violence and porn!”

Well, I can’t say I wasn’t a bit tempted
But I fought it with all of me might!
(Well, ’til He saaid I could dine out at SIZZLERS
Every lunch-time, tea-time and night!)

Then me will-power just turned into jelly
And I felt myself falling to Hell
So I shouted, “O.K. you can have me…
“…if you just chuck in breakfast as well.”

©John Steele, 1990, 1996, 2008
I wrote this solely to include various local place names into a poem and was subsequently asked to read it out on air when I was invited onto Radio Stoke to speak about the launch of my self-published community magazine, The Bentilean. I still can’t decide whether the last line should read “breakfast” or “Bucknall” (another place name). Incidentally, what I referred to as “Fenton fields” are in fact known as “Berryhill Fields” but I didn’t know that at the time. The reference to “the girls of Berryhill School” was included in small tribute to the favourable attention I seemed to elicit from some of them when, aged 15, I used to take walks down a former railway line that took me past said school grounds — in stark contrast to the complete indifference I seemed to elicit from any of the girls I’d been to school with the past umpteen years. I felt less flattered when I plucked up the courage to speak to a couple of them though and found they thought I was 19 years old because I was tall (and not going to school, I suppose).

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2 Responses to The Haggler

  1. callmeh says:

    you never mentioned oatcakes…lol

  2. John says:

    I was evidently more into chips at the time as SIZZLERS was, if memory serves, the chip shop that used to be adjacent to the now equally defunct Macs Supermarket on Beverley Drive/Ford Hayes Lane, Bentilee. They made very nice fritters.

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