Poetry, Pigs and People’s Perceptions

MugThis week the baby mug I was given when I was a few weeks old got broken.

It is nearly sixty years old. The plate has been sitting on the shelf for ten months with the two mugs in front of it. I heard the crash a few moments after I had taken something out of a nearby cupboard.

Broken Mug

The mug was handmade by Geofffrey Maund; I know it is just an object, but I am upset that it is broken. However, it started me thinking about Vince, my china money box pig.

Vince the pig is almost as old as the mug; my best friend gave him his name when he was fifteen years old; she thought his eyes resembled one of the boys at youth group.


In 1976, Vince the pig fell from the shelf above the gas fire in my bedsit. I fixed him with superglue which gives me confidence that I can mend my mug. You can see Vince on the second shelf of the cabinet.

This led me to thinking about how life and attitudes have changed in the United Kingdom in the last fifty years.

Today I have been to see ‘The Imitation Game,’ which tells the story of Alan Turing and breaking of the ‘Enigma’ code in the Second World War – an excellent performance by Dominic Cumberbatch.

I had not realised that it was as late as 1967 that the Sexual Offences Act came into force in England and Wales which decriminalized homosexual acts between two men aged over 21 for the first time since the Victorian era.

Round about the same time, a male friend who attended Wilson’s Grammar school in South London was allowed, at the age of fifteen, to practise firing .22 rifles at targets in a closed off part of the playground during lunchtimes without teacher supervision.

These weapons and other .303 Lee Enfield rifles, as well as live ammunition, were only removed from the armory in the school basement in 1971 at the start of the IRA bombings in London.

Thinking about the youth group, I was reminded of this poem I wrote a few years ago. One of the other teenage boys was called Donald Stocking.

Donald Stocking,

Did you know,

years ago,

my brother and his friend

waylaid your dad

by the lifts

in the flats

with replica guns?


Because they thought my mum

would be the one

to come in



Poor Mr. Stocking,

scared because my brother and his friend

were seventeen,

not little boys.


Better if he had

put a stocking on his head

and waylaid them


Some people have been shocked when they have read this poem. Nowadays, teenage boys with replica guns would attract the attention of police marksmen, but in 1969 on the council estate where we lived, many things were different.



2 thoughts on “Poetry, Pigs and People’s Perceptions

  1. Sorry to hear about the Mug – it is the small things that can not be replaced or repaired that cause the most distress.

    I remember those guns – though not the story from the poem. Was I by any chance shielded from this one?

    A bit later on around 1975 we used to play on the street in Forest Hill one of the games was a very like a “capture the flag” scenarios in an online warfare game. The objective was to get to Kenny Palmers front door. The reason this was tricky was that the position was defended by Kenny’s older brother with an air rifle. Mostly pellets but on a couple of occasions he used darts with bright red or yellow bushy fletching. Point to point cover to cover car to car try to move when he has just fired and has to reload.

    I’m pretty sure that I in turn shielded my adults from this particular game.


    • I think we played a lot of games that the adults never got to know about.
      Do you remember Donald Stocking? I thought you knew the story behind the poem?
      If I had Steve C email address I’d send the link to him.
      Don’t think M reads my blog, but I’d be interested to know if my memory of events is correct.
      Think I was hanging around the lifts waiting to see what would happen.


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