"Seven bums and fourteen legs,
a brazen ecstasy which begs
the question some of us are asking -
is Peter Goulding multi-tasking?"

Martin Parker, Editor, Lighten Up Online

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The worst present ever

This week Muse Swings from the hopefully ice-free environs of Palm Harbor (just north of Clearwater, Florida) is driving the poetry bus and with things seasonal in mind, she has asked us to come up with the worst present you ever received. Or indeed gave. Check out her blog for further details and to read those passengers trying to break out of the armchair, wine and chocolates scenario.
I'm going to cheat a little on this one. Although Cynthia doubtless has Christmas presents in mind, this is the story of a birthday present I bought for my mother when about nine. I still shudder when I think of it. My excuse was that I hadn't much money and I was fast running out of time and panicked. I will not record her reactions on opening my gift.

The worst present

Time was running out
and my fifty pence piece
cut a groove in my palm.
I scurried about
like a terrier on grease
with increasing alarm.

A birthday gift
for my poor old mum –
sure how could it be hard?
It would give her a lift,
stop her looking glum
at her single card.

But my lack of cash
and the last bus back
brought their own demands.
So in the end, quite rash,
I bought her a pack
of elastic bands.


  1. Peter, who are you talking to? I'm worried about how deep your guilt goes here...

    My toes curled for you, and yet it is all so understandable, especially from a boy child.
    And goodness, what day of the week is it? Bus already!?

  2. Um, I hope your comment is directed at someone other than yourself?

    This is a hilarious poem - & indeed a fascinating gift. I don't think I'll be able to top it, but I'm still trying to remember gifts past.

  3. Sorry Niamh B, your comment actually wouldn't publish but in answer to your question, she died ten years ago so I hope she's not still speaking to me (though I swear I still hear her when I'm about to do something she'd disapprove of!)
    Hi Titus, yes the poem actually helped me confront the incident!!
    Hi Bug, yes, it was another comment that I thought had come through but hadn't!

  4. This IS amusing- and curdling too- I hate the feeling of my back being up against the wall!
    (time and or money) I usually get stuck with Santa's stockings being the last to fill...UGH!

  5. Dear Peter,
    Yes, yes! This is a poem about ambivalence in the face of everything. I love this.

    Thanks for sharing.
    Ann T.

  6. better than a pack of condoms!

  7. A terrible gift,Pete, but so understandable.The poem paints a much bigger picture in a few words.Skillfully done.

    But that was the past,back to the present (sic) so HAPPY NEW YEAR!

  8. Elastic bands - a rather snappy gift -I'd say. Gifts to mothers from children are never bad gifts. They come with innocence and love- whatever the gift -and mothers love them. The poem is wonderful - terrier on grease is a hoot of a visual.

  9. You link all the elastic bands together . . the possibilities stretch as far as your imagination.

  10. If this is true, then I find it a sad poem and I'm sure your mother thought it was the best present ever because it came from YOU!

    If it was meant to be funny, then it was a RIOT!
    (It's hard to maintain strictly to exact rhymes all the time, isn't it?)


  11. OMG - I just saw NanU's comment. Now THAT is funny!

  12. Hey, at least you tried to get her something! Hilarious poem though and I bet she smiled at the memory of that incident as the years passed.

  13. That was stetching it a bit! LOL!

    P.S. I think a return visit HERE might be worth the effort - then while you were at it, maybe you'd sign up to follow the newly combined Ada & Cad, who are good friends of mine! There's nothing like a bit of advertising - they might even start paying me commission...

  14. A favorite gift years ago? You guessed it ~ a bouncy ball hand made from rubber bands! Love your poem.

  15. Come on! You were only nine. I bet Mum thought it was a lovely present.
    It's a well-constructed poem. Thank you.

  16. Hi Izzy, yes, curdling is a good word.
    Hi Ann, ambivalence, eh? Depends how you look at it!
    NanU - yup, look on the bright side!
    TFE - Happy New Year to you and yours.
    MS - I think men and children just never think presents through!
    Dr FTSE - oh, very good!
    Hi Kat - Yes, it's true, sadly. Its not one of my best poems, but I thought I did get the rhymes exact? Pretty basic one-syllable rhymes, I admit.
    Argent - she may have smiled. I tried to blot it out!
    Trellissimo - that's as good as a soap opera!
    Helen - maybe I should have made a bouncy ball for her!!
    Lucy - thanks for your compassion!!

  17. Not to worry, Peter; I only meant in terms of the spelling, not the actual sounds.

  18. There is much to be said for the old, old cliche that it's the thought that counts. Although in this instance only a gift from a son could give it substance!