403 – The Ballad Of Norman Greysmith

Poem number 403
.
The Ballad Of Norman Greysmith
.
My daddy bought an elephant
And housed it in the shed.
On weekdays it had peanuts
And on Sundays it had bread.
.
He called it Norman Greysmith
And he read to it at night
From the Beano Christmas Annual
And the Usborne Book Of Flight.
.
In the daytime while my daddy worked
Our elephant would roam
Like a guard dog round the cul-de-sac
Protecting every home
.
He sat on several burglars
And he trunk-swiped several more
‘Til the local crooks decided
They’d avoid us evermore
.
So we leave our front doors open
With our tellys on the lawn
And the criminals won’t touch them
‘Cause they’re all afraid of Norm’
.
And that sums up my childood –
Safe, idyllic, slightly strange
And it wasn’t ’til I grew and left
That things began to change
.
Perhaps it was my leaving
Or perhaps there was no link
Perhaps it was coincidence
That Norman turned to drink
.
When Norman took up boozing
My poor daddy bore the load
Of that drunken, grumpy elephant
Rampaging up the road
.
And they argued, how they argued
From the daybreak to the night
From the night time to the day again
Through darkened hours to light.
.
And bit by bit my daddy,
Who had always been on top,
Began to be subserviant
Then simply couldn’t stop
.
Until one day, when visiting
I searched the house in vain
But couldn’t see my daddy
So I went outside again
.
To find him sitting in the shed
A padlock on the door,
A scattering of peanuts
Round about him on the floor.
.
I asked him “Where is Norman?”
And “Who locked you in the shed?”
But he didn’t say a word to me –
Just trumpeted instead
.
A trumpet full of anguish
And a trumpet full of tears
For my dad was now the elephant –
He even had big ears
.
And Norman? We’ll he’d gone to work
Usurped my daddy’s role –
An alcoholic elephant
Needs more than just the dole.
.
He worked all through the daytime
Then at night he sat outside
With a sixpack and a Wilbur Smith
He read while daddy cried.
.
My daddy was an elephant
Just sitting in his shed
On weekdays he got peanuts
And on Sunday he got bread.

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