When I retire, I shall cultivate codgers’ whiskers
With sea-salty eyebrows, flyaway style,
And potter by a towpath with bacon buns and mugs of tea.
I’ll know everyone by sight and quite a few by name,
And spend the daylight hours tinkering with weed hatches and gas mantles
On a narrowboat named ‘Rosie’.
And somewhere south of Tardebigge, or Bingley Five Rise, say,
Where kingfishers quarrel and mayfly swoon,
You’ll find me eventually,
Ensconced a few short hundred yards from a village library,
Paraded by newspapers, stiff-backed in wooden hangers,
Where lean librarians chivvy dishevelled shelves.
You’ll know my ‘Rosie’, for on the roof
I’ll mass a myriad geraniums in red clay pots,
With maybe a bicycle or two for company, or maybe not.
And I’ll lay claim to squatter’s rights in forty feet of towpath,
Perused by rows of runner beans on strings,
Where umpteen times a day I’ll be on first-name terms
With salt-and-pepper lurchers and earnest labradors,
As, back and forth, trailing owners on recoil leads,
They beat their boundaries.
And we shall moor, ‘Rosie’ and I, a modest measure from a minimart;
Within a mile or so, as the vole swims, where a village lass,
Whose pinafore professes that she’s a ‘Rosie’ too,
Checks out my Marmite, marmalade and maatjes,
And by error or intent, occasionally overdoes my dividend
And slips me extra coupons with my change.