Friday, 10 February 2012

Poetry Friday

OK. I'm really going to attempt to get this right this week. The first week I managed a belated link to a YouTube clip without any preamble and completely forgot to either thank Jim Hill or link back to him. Last week I managed the preamble and the thanks but not the link back. I'm not a badly brought up horrid rude girl (most of the time anyway)...just slightly incompetent.

So. This week's Poetry Friday is hosted by Laura here and visit it to find lots of inspirational poems to fill your boots for the weekend. Thank you Laura!

My poetry offering today is 'The Last Steam Train to Margate' by the prolific Ian Whybrow. We were all very familiar with his 'Harry and the Dinosaur' books and his 'Little Wolf' books but I didn't know he wrote poetry too until we came upon this one in the anthology 'Read Me First', which provides a poem for every day of the year. I should point out that strictly speaking this is the poem for July 29th so we're opening our presents a bit early.
I don't suppose he'll mind. And on a day that the London skyline has turned a picturesque white once more it's nice to anticipate the beach and ice cream that will come again eventually.

'The Last Steam Train to Margate

I wissssh
I were
a Bussss!
It's muchhhh
Less work
And muchhhh
Less fussss!
I shhhhhould like that
I shhhhhould like that
I shhhhhould like that
I SHHHHHOULD like that!
Just look at me
'Cos here I come
Faster and faster
Tickerty-boo, what'll I do
Tearing along, terrible fast
Singing a song, sounding a blast.
WHEE! WHEE! Out of the way!
Goodness me, I can't delay!
You can relax, I have to run.
Follow the tracks into the sun.
Pain in my back, aches in my joints
Tickerty tack, here come the points!
Diddly-dee, diddly-dee
Diddly WIDDLY diddly dee!
Far to go? Not very far.
Little black tunnel (Tickerty- WHAAAAAAH!)
Look over there. What can it be?
Lucky old you, clever old me!
Come all this way, never go wrong
Come every day, singing a song
Down to the seaside. Let's have a cheer!
Oh what a train-ride! We're nearly there
We're nearly there, we're nearly there
We're nearly there, we're nearly there
So now I'd better slow right down
In half an hour we reach the town
And then you take your buckets and spades
And dig the sands and watch the parades
And swim and paddle and splash in the sea
And eat ice cream and toffee for tea
With ginger beer and orange squash
Hooray we're here, but gosh
I'm tired, oh GOSH I'm tired

The only other occasion I've found 'gosh' rhyming with 'squash' is in an old family favourite Music Hall song 'Joshua' which we like to sing round the Christmas dinner table once a certain point in the evening has been reached. I wonder if Ian Whybrow knows it too? Here is 'Joshua' on YouTube sung by the great Florrie Forde (you'll like it I guarantee- although it misses the last verse punchline; 'perhaps he preferred her/perhaps lost his head/ but Joshua married the mother instead and May never sings now to Pa...') and a clip of a steam train arriving at Margate too for fun

Lovely poem to read aloud to your train enthusiast child. We've got one of them, although his heart is really with the buses these days. An ode to the W7 next then.

From 'Read Me First; poems for younger readers for every day of the year' chosen by louise bolongaro, pub. Macmillan, isbn 978-0-330-41343-5


  1. Oh, I just wrote about trains a couple of weeks ago. I'll have to add this to my collection of train poems. Even when whimsical, they seem to be from the past, like this from Whybrow. I love all the sound words, & enjoyed your clip of the steam train to Margate. Those ladies hats! Thank you for all!

    1. I thought of you as we read this one! Hats are good...but I could never have managed the perfect white gloves.

  2. What a fun poem. Love the masterful way he forces the reader to go at his chosen speed. Fantastic!

  3. I just HAD to read this of t old, loudly, to get the full experience. Such fun! This poem reminded me of the days when my now 19 year old son used to be train mad, and we'd be on a constant hunt for train songs and train poems to which he could build his maze of tracks.

    1. I'll admit I'm quite glad to only have to have dipped my toe into the full Tyranny of Thomas the Tank, but we do sometimes go on a Busventure which involves a couple of hours of changing onto as many different routes as possible. I have seen many of the bus depots of London.

  4. Like the comments mentioned above, I loved how each word rolled off my tongue quite seamlessly - oh to have my daughter be a few years younger still. Do enjoy your two boys.

    1. I do sometimes think I should have put them into one of those Chinese jars to stop them growing from birth ;)

  5. Reading it is just like riding a train! So fun!
    Welcome to Poetry Friday!

    1. It is a smiley one... thank you for the welcome!

  6. Seconding Laura's comment on the interesting way that the author attempted to (and generally succeeded in) controlling the poem's pace by adding letters/syllables and changing the way that certain words ran together.

    I've had one poem in the works for a long time (unrelated to trains) in which I increase the pace with each stanza, so I'll have to revisit it with this in mind to see if I can get away with slowing down the early parts rather than starting "normal" and then forcing the speed up from there.



    1. I felt this was skillful so I'm glad to have that feeling seconded by a Proper Poet.