Catherine Graham


I Beg to Apply for the Post

after Jack Common 1903 - 1968


My school was tough:

the teachers weighed in,

tipping the scales with their red pencils,

their toxic, chalk dust.

I beg to apply for the post.


Like you, my father learned shorthand;

attended evening class at the colliery.

A cacophony of skills, don't you think?

Like my mother, singing opera in the scullery.

Beware of the man who wants marriage,

isn't that what you told your readers?

My father taught me to ride a bike

and not depend on stabilizers.

He hated smarmy men the most.

I beg to apply for the post.


No silver spoons in our house.

Our doorstep was donkey-stoned.

We refused to be shoved into snobbery,

refused to give up the ghost

when they refurbished The Dwellings

and named it Millennium Court.

Ashes to ashes, communities to dust.

I beg to apply for the post.


I've never failed to fit in,

never lived in a 'culture vacuum'.

Why, our backlane was a canvas

to the local graffiti artist.

I beg to apply for the post.


Brought up on Dickman's pies

but I never mince my words.

I don't give anything I don't want to.

I don't go about hard-faced.

I'm not fighting any class-war

in silk-lined, kid gloves:

I have a voice, I haven't lost faith.

I'm taking on life bare knuckled,

this kiddar's luck has changed.

I don't believe in the twaddle

I read in most of the papers.

I know when to tell the truth;

when to spout the necessary lie.

I learned all this at my cost -

I beg to apply for the post.


I would supply references

from my previous employer

though, fair to say there was no love lost.

He had ideas above my station;

his wife was all fur coat.

More edge than a broken piss pot.

I beg to apply for the post.


I pride myself on being punctual;

always on the dot.

I don't pretend or hope to be

what I'm definitely not.

I tick all of the boxes -

I call salmon paté, salmon paste.

I know my place but I don't like to boast.

I beg to apply for the post.


Catherine Graham © 2013