Sunday, March 15, 2015

This is the Life of Billy's Boots

There was a story called "Billy's Boots",
That ran in comics when I was a youth.
It followed a boy called Billy Dane
Who always shone in a soccer game
But only because of the boots he wore.
They were magic boots, that were owned before
By a famous striker called 'Dead Shot' Keane.
I loved Billy's Boots when I was a teen.

I remember one issue particularly--
It glows and glows in my memory.
One panel, in fact, is all that I mean--
It showed an epicurean scene
Of Billy in sunglasses, somewhere sunny,
(Please note that his family didn't have money)
Lying back in a deck-chair, and soaking in
The rays of the sun, a banana skin
On the ground beside him; I see it plain;
"Ah, this is the life!" said Billy Dane.

"Ah, this is the life!" said Billy Dane.
I'd never heard of the Land of Cockayne
Or El Dorado or any such place.
But I saw it all written on Billy's face;
The dream of pure pleasure, only given
To those who can wish for a simple Heaven;
The schoolboy walking to school in the cold
Or the mother with laundry to press and fold
Or the fellow who queues for the bus every day.
Or all of us, really, in some kind of way.

Adam's curse was more of a blessing;
If life was all deckchairs, how much we'd be missing;
I thank the Lord for the wet and the cold
The dust and the cobwebs, the weeds and the mould,
The bus that breaks down and the map that gets lost
The ice and the rain and the hail and the frost
And all that frustrates us, the world and its wife;
Because Billy Dane could say "This is the life!"
Sprawled out on a deckchair, one sunny day,
It makes it all worth it! All worth it, I say!
Our pains and our pleasures are in cahoots;
I learned that from reading Billy's Boots.


  1. If Sunday wasn't kicked off in great style. . .! Such things definitely count among the pleasures. Kind of doubly on that one, since not only is it good reading, but I find "The dream of pure pleasure only given/ To those who wish for a simple heaven," when it overflows, unconsciously from other people, as from Billy here, one of the dearest and most heartening things in the world.

    Is "the world and its wife" an idiom that never made it to my neck of the woods, or was it freshly invented for meter? Either way, it's a delightful phrase.

    1. "The world and its wife" is a bona fide idiom and one that I was very pleased to fit into the metre! (Although it's more commonly "The world and HIS wife". Glad you liked it. You can popularise it in Sacramento! This was one of my more oddball poems...

  2. Really lovely - trips off the tongue! The last verse taken alone would be good for children, though the nostalgia that sets off the train of thought might not fit that audience so well.

  3. It might and it might not. I remember I was intensely nostalgic as a child, and I read that the horror author Clive Barker described himself as "nostalgic for his childhood even as it was happening." I also remember baby-sitting my niece, aged five or six at the time, and listening to hear sleepily lamenting 'the good old days'-- though she seemed to be thinking about good old days that had predated her own existence. Maybe she thought every time people spoke about the good old days they were talking about the same ones, and she'd missed! So glad you liked the poem.

  4. Haha That was excellent. Quite the plot twist there. (if that's the appropriate term for it)