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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