I thought of a girlfriend or a young wife and a State Trooper knocking in the middle of the night..."
“I thought of a girlfriend or a young wife and a State Trooper knocking in the middle of the night…” Ok, so I didn’t write it. Want a fight about it?

I wrote this last winter. It was freezing and my car was telling me all kinds of bad things, none of which ever happened. The things that did my car had nothing to say about.



Strap in and turn the key

Check the warning lights,

Sale behind the side impact protection bars,

The crumple zone, the anti-dive seatbelt

The whiplash padding on the head-restraint,

The lights on the dashboard telling me my belt is unfastened,

But I’m reversing as it tells me too.

The mirror’s heating and the black ice warning snowflake

Not showing white on the glass somehow this cold morning

The clamour of the reversing sensor,

Another light to tell me the airbag will work

All of this telling me I won’t get hurt.

All of these coats and gloves and deadlocked doors,

The shatterproof glass, all of this protection

Around me and your empty seat

And still one word from you or

A single glance could rip my heart.

Share Button

All Of Your S**t

"MILF seeks studz #lolI"
“Foxy MILF 28 seeks studz #lols”

This tender, romantic little poem was inspired by an ad I once saw in the Personals, long before there were things like that nobody knows about anyway so I don’t know why I mentioned it really.

The ad went on and on and on, about how this poor woman loved her children more than life itself, how she’d been left on her own with them and how she’d never let anyone get between her and her most precious darlings. This was a Personals ad, don’t forget. Maybe not the best place to do all that. Right at the end after she’d bled all over the page, she cracked the best pay-off line I’ve ever heard:

“I’m looking for a man without any baggage.”

Without any sense of irony too, obviously. I hope she ended-up with the American she was looking for. It stuck in my head, the way things do, until I wrote her ad again.


All Of Your S**t

I’m looking for someone without any baggage

I’m a man/woman/couple looking for

A fun reliable person/partner/soulmate,

Someone tall/short and dark/light

Someone funny/serious and adventurous

Who likes staying at home and going out

Just chilling and doing the same things.

They say opposites attract. LOL.

I love my children, my family, my job, my home, my car

I’d lay down my life for them or never forgive them

Or someone for getting between me and them.

I love my pets and I don’t want any ties right now.

I like walking on beaches in the mountains.

I love going on Citybreaks in the countryside.

I want someone to be there for me when I need them

And I can’t handle anything heavy right now.

I want someone to build a future together.

I love having no responsibilities

And caring and going away whenever I like.

I love staying at home. I’m looking for a life partner,

A serious relationship, a one-night stand.

Who knows? Let’s see. Fun.

I’m married, single, divorced, separated,

Just looking and widowed;

It’s complicated. Delete as appropriate.

Or delete me as inappropriate.

Friend me. Chat. TXT. IM me.

Delete my posts on your timeline,

Block my profile and change your privacy settings

Even as you change mine, forever and ever

Until the next time.

Mark me as flagged until the Xs disappears from your MSGS

And quickly then the TXTS get shorter and less often

Until sooner than you thought

On the screen there’s no reply at all

And quite finally, without appeal and irrevocably

You just unfriend me.

So I’m looking for someone without any baggage.


October 2013
Share Button

Me and Edith Sitwell

It was just a name I’d heard, the way you do. One of The Pancakes turned me on to her, as we used to say, when it didn’t mean that.

“You should hear her stuff on You Tube.  It’s like the stuff you do.”

edith sitwell
“Apparently my stuff’s like Carl Bennett’s.”

Hmm. I’m not sure Still Falls The Rain is anything like the stuff I do, frankly. I can feel the pain in it. I can’t go along with the thing that says ‘my invisible friend says somehow all this is alright.’ Mrs Miniver I can handle. Mrs Masochist not so much.

I thought maybe she had something to do with the Mitfords and all the rest of those semi-mythical people the British idolise primarily because they’re rich, have dysfunctional families and usually have something wrong with them. It’s our national obsession, that and living in the kind of stone house that points to slavery or tobacco. Of course,  if you want the really biggest, most absolutely Yah kind of house, sorry, hise, you have to kill lots of foreigners. Absolutely loads of them if you want something like Blenheim Palace. Apparently the Duke of Marlborough went off to war, his wife built the house (and yes, me too. I’d really, really like to have seen her with a hod full of bricks over her shoulder, or having a sausage sarnie while she read Ye Sunne, wiping the brown sauce off her hands on the leg of her jeans) and he shagged her in his riding boots when he got back. Although why she was wearing his riding boots instead of her own was never made clear.

But anyway, Edith Sitwell ticked all the boxes. Allegedly. A hundred and one years on and we seem to have a lot in common. “Sitwell published poetry, some of it abstract and set to music. With her dramatic style and exotic costumes, she was sometimes labelled a poseur, but her work was also praised.”

My step-sister lived around the corner from where Edith lived, admittedly at a different time, so another tenuous link there, I think you’d have to agree. Apart from the rich thing. I’ve never had the knack. Like all True Brits, nor did Edith Sitwell. She inherited it.  Oldest child and only daughter of a baronet who was fantastically “an expert on genealogy and landscaping,” two of the most irrelevant things you could ever aspire to be an expert in. Her titled mother claimed descent from the Plantagenets, but rather more medieval money seemed to have come with her ladyship than attached itself to  a friend of mine who grew up in Farnborough who equally claims descent from them.

Edith ticked the dysfunctional family box pretty well, being locked into a metal cage to straighten her spine, which she doubted was ever bent in the first place. She could probably knuckle-bump Eminem too, whose mother pretended he had something wrong with him other than just hating her, something any normal male teenager is supposed to do anyway. Unlike Eminem’s mum and rather to his disappointment, obviously, she ended up in a wheelchair with Marfan Syndrome and died of a brain haemorrhage

So me, Edith Sitwell and Eminem. We’ve got a lot in common. Maybe that’s why the comment I hear about my stuff is it’s good. You do know it’s insane, don’t you. But it’s good. And I can live with that. Unlike Poetry Voice.

Share Button

Poetry Voice

It’s always put me off, and not just me. That pompous ‘listen to me, this is Culture,’ schtick that always reminds me of Kenneth Williams playing his best roles, the waspish ageing queen desperately trying to hide everything behind a veneer of respectability, as if being who you are wasn’t respectable; the English tragedy, that if you were gay it wasn’t just not respectable but you were going to jail for it if it frightened the horses.

I wasn’t and am not gay, but I’m old enough to remember teachers and church people who looking back now, had a lot more in common with Kenneth Williams’s pastiches than they ever did with my life. Back then I thought it was – they were – about having more money than we did. But it wasn’t, or not entirely. It was about being afraid, afraid that however much money you had, one word, one accidentally public peck on the cheek, one hand on another’s shoulder a little too long and you were going to the Big House and nobody decent would ever speak to you again.

If we’ve done nothing else (and I won’t even bother saying ‘discuss’) then at least, at the very, very least, we’ve stopped doing that within the span of my lifetime. And that’s got to count for something.

So here it is:


Poetry Voice

All my life I’ve tried to avoid it;

At school, on the radio, standing here doing it,

The sound of ‘listen to me, this is important

And cultural and noble and pure and true

Because I’m doing Poetry Voice.’

Just for you, dear audience. Wherever you are.

They’re all long words, drawn out vowel sounds and pauses

Sometimes in the most

Unlikely places and words like stentorian

And o’er and appeals to the muse.

And maybe it’s me.

I saw an elephant fly and made a rubber band

But I never saw a Muse. Not once.

I’ve walked o’er dale and hill

But I never saw a daffodil except in someone’s garden.

That’s Poetry Voice – it’s about chasing the rhymes and using words

That nobody’s used since the start of time like this and I don’t:

The sea-birds scream’d as they wheel’d round,
And there was joyaunce in their sound.

Joyaunce? Are you absolutely sure that’s what it was?

I walked the field where Coleridge was lost as a boy.

I did this. I went there.

And that’s what it is.  A field. It didn’t fill me with joy somehow.

There’s nothing there. Not even chickens.

The words do it or they don’t.

And the best thing you can do

When you’re standing up here saying these things,

Is cross your fingers and hope your own voice

Doesn’t get in the way, doesn’t put itself

Between the words

And people’s hearts.

You have to assume they have minds.

In fact you don’t. That’s what Poetry Voice is all about,

An appeal to higher senses, tickets on the door,

Volvos in the parking bays, Day-glo vests on the ushers

Guiding you to your aisle, spectral in the gleam of the stage lights

White hair and false teeth flaring in the ultra-violet light.

So if I should die think only this of me

That in some far corner of a foreign bar

I’ll be standing behind a microphone,

Still too lazy to learn my own words,

Still so rocknroll that I have to wear spectacles

To read these songs, trying to right these wrongs

That really, nobody cares about.

Except you’re all here, listening,

So maybe part of that’s wrong.

But I’m still not doing Poetry Voice.

Share Button

A rose by any other

Words don’t mean anything you want them to mean, unless you happen to be Tweedle Dum and/or Dee, (not to be confused with Simon Dee, obviously, or Cyril Henty-Dodd, as he answered to in court. I know. I’m really sorry about that too, but you know, I didn’t do it) and/or Tony Blair or someone like that, the kind of person who says God wanted them to tell lies.

Which isn’t me, really. So on the basis that words do actually matter I’m trying to find a name for the stand-up stuff I do, and a stage name to go with it. Maybe my own name is fine. I don’t know.

Inga Haselmann.
Songs without music. Some people like them.

SoI thought I’d ask the audience, or the proportion of audience that goes on Facebook and the interwebs, anyway.

Click just here to go to my fabulous survey.

I’m on at the Golden Key, Snape tonight, at Steven Lays Open Mic night hosted by the utterly yummy Inga Haselmann.

See you there.




Share Button

Petta Fiesta

This weekend I’m doing something I don’t usually do: I’m going to a festival. Last time I went to a festival was to Stonehenge and it was rubbish. I was 18. I’d just done A Levels. I hitched there and met my mate Phil and listened to a band called Here & Now, who seemed to be the worst bits of Hawkwind and Gong joined together. There was another band we listened to as well, Alternative TV. It was sunny so we sat on the ground and wondered if you’d actually die if you ate anything being cooked there. We’d brought some cider so we drank that and fell sort of asleep for a bit. I woke up staring into a naked woman I’d never met before who wanted to trade an orange for cigarette papers. The snag was I didn’t have any cigarette papers.

We talked to people called things like Maggot who didn’t seem to have quite as many teeth as they ought to and whose conversational abilities appeared limited. We didn’t know or particularly care if that was a temporary thing or not.

We didn’t want to eat anything there, didn’t see where you could get a drink and when we did we didn’t like plastic beakers to drink out of (yeah, like ecological, man) and generally didn’t know what to do there so we went home.

We weren’t the world’s best festie goers. But we didn’t buy cheap tents then leave them there either, which seems to be the ‘alternative’ thing to do these days. Right on. One planet. Don’t spend it all at once.

But anyway. I’m going back to a festival, Petta Fiesta. I’m hoping its going to be different, because I’m on stage with Jan Pulsford, doing a set at 10:30 Saturday night. Just like last time I will be mostly sober, because I’m driving back afterwards. Contrary to my life plans my car doesn’t seem to be noticeably better than the one I wasn’t able to borrow to get to Stonehenge.

If you can’t get to Petta you can hear That Sound, something I might do as part of a set here on Soundcloud. Enjoy.



neither of us

Share Button

Only once a year

Somehow it's not quite me.
Somehow it’s not quite me, is it?

It was a line from a John Otway song. Get ready for the festival, for the festival is only once a year. Raises your glasses in the air and fill the barrels full of beer.

I’ve always liked John Otway and there are more festivals around than there used to be. I know me festies. I went to Stonehenge once, man. It was utter rubbish. A naked woman I’d never met woke me up to ask if I would trade cigarette papers I had for oranges she had, but I didn’t actually want an orange at the time. I still wonder if she got what she was looking for, sometimes.

IMG_2177 - Version 4
A spoken word fan. No, I was quite surprised too, actually.

My first ‘Welcome Back Tour’ date was at the Golden Key at Snape, here in Suffok, a place I’ve grown quite fond of since a gig there in mid-April which changed my life in totally unexpected ways. Some woman on her first post-baby holiday with her husband poured cocktails down me while he got more and more pissed off after my set until an even more so-stunning-there’s-no-way-she’s-interested-in-me woman deftly and literally shut the door on the cocktail buyer. Let’s just say some people really do appreciate spoken word.

So anyway, in what’s turning into being a bit of a year although thankfully not in the way last year did (oh hi, no, I didn’t mean you. You were quite a nice bit of it, mostly, so there’s no need to send someone round to my house again, like last time. Either of you.) odd stuff is happening. The oddest soonest thing is I’m doing some spoken word back up for Jan Pulsford, sharing her set at Petta Fiesta. I’ve stood on a stage in front 200 people who didn’t like what I was saying before, but that was wearing a suit, so this should be fine. It’s just I didn’t, back in January when I did my first ever set at The Anchor in Woodbridge, have it in my head that half a year from then I’d be asked by someone really famous and unarguably brilliant at what they do to do some of my stuff with them. It still comes as a surprise.

So I think I need a stage name. I’ve experimented with Alphonse D’Obermann but it doesn’t seem to stick. I like it but nobody gets the joke, if that’s what it is. I quite like Serious Voice, after I saw a poster for a band called Serious Face. Wonder if that would work? And how are they going to get the helicopter to take me to the gig and back down in the potato field opposite my house with those phone lines in the way?

Somehow I don’t think the organisers are going to quite stretch to a heli. But it’s still a festival. And I don’t have to pay. Come and see me if you’re around next weekend. It’ll be fun. Probably. Bring a mac though. You know, at our age and everything.

Share Button

Bunged up

I haven’t done any open mic nights or any other performance for a couple of weeks. And I’m getting antsy about it.

About three weeks ago, but maybe four, I got what I thought was hayfever. I haven’t had hayfever this bad for years, not just the sneezing (but suspiciously not much of that) and sore throat but eyes full of crud every morning as well as being itchy all day long and that horrible feeling in my legs as if I’ve had a massive electric shock and that never very pleasant pain in the kidneys. And a cough. And a really sore throat. And feeling tired all the time.

I don’t generally get ill, no more than one cold a year, but this was a big one. The net result has been I’ve gone temporarily deaf in one ear, which is ringing out white noise all the time anyway. It means I can’t hear how loud I am and I can’t accurately hear my own voice full stop.

So all in all, it’s not great for performing. I’m a little concerned about it, because I was enjoying doing it and the three-piece band that seem to have assembled behind me were really getting it together and transforming the spoken word stuff I do into something very much better.

That and the police. Last time I went to Woodbridge I got breathalysed. That was fine. I don’t drink and drive, or not over the limit, anyway. But although the breathalyser thing tested nil alcohol, which was odd in itself as I’d had two small glasses of red wine so it should have shown something, there were a lot of odd things about the whole stop, as we road-warrior non-criminals call it. So much so that a friend whose husband was a police officer until he was killed told me ‘it’s not what you think it is. Watch out.’

Back when I lived in Trowbridge a policeman saw a police van parked up at the side of the road so he went over for a chat, tapped on the window and found it wasn’t Gary Robbins’ dad, the PC who usually had the van. It was someone else entirely. Someone not actually in the police. And it wasn’t a police van either. As things got odder and odder at the side of the road I remembered all that happening and wondered if it was the same thing. My friend refusing to say what it was if it wasn’t what I thought it was in a Facebook private message creeped me out a bit too.

So that’s why I haven’t done any spoken word recently. I’m bunged up. But for the moment at least I’m not banged up too.

Share Button

Before the war


You know who they are. Everyone knows who they are. They're you.
You know who they are. They’re you.

Before The War


Before the war in our hearts

We kissed on the platform.

The guard blew his whistle.

Wooden doors slammed shut

Minding our fingers.

My hand on your waist.

Your fingers on my shoulder.

Remembering other times

And our hands and hearts

And when I remember that now

I know it didn’t happen.

There were no steam trains

Long before you were born.

I didn’t wear a hat or a British Warm.

You didn’t wear an A line skirt

And a long woollen coat

And we weren’t afraid of babies.

There were plenty of things

We were afraid of

But not that. And we didn’t talk

About them anyway, so it didn’t matter.

It wasn’t as if they could get in the way.

There were no cheery porters

Carrying our bags for a tanner tip.

‘Blimey, thanks guvnor,

You’re a gent and no mistake.’

It wasn’t ever that way in our lives.

Django Reinhardt didn’t play as our Blue Train

Wheeled down to the Cornish Riviera

We didn’t take the Boat Train to the Continent

Via Harwich, tapping our feet in memory

Of Sidney Bechet on clarinet at the Trocadero

The night before; via all the places

Where once other heroes queued in line

Embarking or demobbed, waiting patiently

For their lives to begin again,

The ones that could.

So why do I remember it this way?

You’re still here. We are, maybe.

Who is it talking to me?

Why do I seem to see a woman’s face as if in fog

Sometimes until I look again

And there’s no-one there?

There never was.

Who is it calling to me, telling me be nice

It doesn’t matter, nothing does?

Only love. Take care.

Make love, take love while it’s there.

Call the ceasefire.

Agree terms, an honourable peace,

Even unconditional surrender

If you mean it. But stop the fighting.

Put up your bright swords

Put down your arms

Put your fingers on each other’s lips

And kiss. Do it now.

While your hearts are still bare.


(c) Carl Bennett 2014


Just to clarify, no, I haven’t had a massive bust-up with anybody. Quite the opposite. This is a poem. It’s a first take, down in one like a Saturday night cocktail. It probably needs a bit of tweaking. But like any fiction, while it might call to you and I hope it does it isn’t real. But as the other Bladerunner said right at the end of the film, then again, what is?





Share Button

That Sound

I was thinking about music, trying to find something I’d like to listen to that I hadn’t heard before but I’d like. The impossible challenge. Impossible until you find it anyway.

That Sound

I was thinking about music, the way you do.

That feeling that you’d really like to hear something different,

Something new but when you do, it really isn’t.

I was thinking about music, the way you do

What is it about that sound?

It’s like buying a car or a guitar

Made before you were even born.

Louis Jordan said it the first time:

You cain’t get that no more.

It’s sort of ok to mourn the past if you’ve lived it

But really, what is it that you’re looking for there?

What is it about machine heads going slack,

Ivory grooves worn by strings you can’t buy anymore

All to get that authentic tone that half the guitarists

Back in the day cursed because you can’t play

That way now and they didn’t plan to then?

You can’t do that. You can’t hear that.

You can’t get that sound on a modern guitar

Because the strings don’t stretch.

Because the pickups are wound on a machine

Because smaller Oriental hands fit inside a hollow body

And yours don’t, or not so well.

Because so many things changed

When they made it in Mexico or Korea or China

And all the time you thought it was about the music

When really it was about the bottom line.

What is it about that sound?

The jangly guitar in Tom Petty songs

That echoes something from the sixties

The decade Tom’s living now. When did that happen? Exactly how?

Remember that boy with the thin face

And a bullet bandolier? singing about how it don’t really matter

If she don’t or if she do?

Long time since Tom’s wallet let that happen, probably.

That sweet whine of Clapton’s SG or Knopfler’s Strat when he sang

About the Sultans of Swing, and Swing that swung back when

There was nobody here but us chickens.

This is what we’ve always done, it’s what we do,

We idolise a past we never knew.

The Stratocaster name came from the stratosphere

Back when they’d just started going there

Back when a guy from Leiston airfield broke the sound barrier.

Hey, give me a major chord, Marketing’s got something here.

So Tom Petty played the ‘60s jangly guitar he grew up with

Or his guitarist did. It wasn’t Tom who played that speed riff

In American Girl. Knopfler had to have a guitar

Built back when blaggers robbed steam trains without a shooter.

Jay Kay played kitsch disco back in ’92, chilling out

To the bump and grind he’d heard in the womb.

But it was mind-filler then, back when Noddy Holder shouted out

‘It’s Christmas’ and every wannabe bad girl copied his spelling,

When cool kids knew the Blue Oyster Cult

Was nothing to do with Greenpeace or Jonestown

Which was nothing to do with

The massacre at Alice’s Restaurant

Or even Greenpeace.


Is this all there is? One big circle

Holding hands like the von Trapp kids?

But maybe better that than saying

If it happened before me

Then it didn’t really happen at all.

So let’s hear it for the Platters and the Ramones,

Mozart and Miller, Abba and Patti Smith,

The Beatles, Bach and Bartok.

Augustus Pablo, Sid and Nancy

Even Jay Zee and Haysi Fantaysi,

And the Mighty Diamonds. Maybe it’s true.

‘This is 1976, we don’t want no more war.’

That one didn’t quite pan out.

But you can’t hear it fresh any more.

Share Button
Follow on Feedly