Posted in Before the Rain

Executive Decision

Shirley – tea Lady excelsis.
In the age of re-branding –
rubbish collection as waste management
medicine as health care
food service as catering,
she called herself “the tea lady” – endearingly and resolutely.
I’ve been a tea lady 40 something years –
still making tea,
blowed if I’m going to call myself anything else.

Ours was her best staffroom she said,
I love working here, but with the kids gone
and getting my pension … the hours
9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
……….       I’m tied up all day, for half a day’s pay,
but I don’t feel ready to retire, just yet ….
oh listen to me, I should be grateful.

She did listen to herself.
had a friend,
who wouldn’t mind part, part-time either.
They will job share. Two weeks on, two weeks off,
and be each others locum.
A good deal for both. Effective immediately.

They tell the director
he is incensed :
I appoint staff, not the bloody tea lady.
whenever a notice appeared signed by the Director
within a day or two
the title beneath the signature would be crossed out … and replaced with Tea Lady.



Most of my life has been spent on the bench, occasionally called into the game by extravagance or attenuation. Waiting has turned a loner into a recorder - nondescript and inconsequential, more not noticed than overlooked - the non-vantage point of children not yet considered old enough to understand. Orphaned Islands (Un)poetry is a lifetime of picking anecdotes up and not throwing them away. Stories collected like odds and ends placed in a box in the basement, the garage, the garden shed - uncertain as to what their use might be but knowing that one day there might be one.