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Not an Ordinary Love

Okay then. Not the only Valentines number I ever wrote but probably the best.


It isn't hearts and flowers that I remember But the rosehip bridges of September A fading clip and clop of platform clogs The frosty terraced streets and secret snogs Splintered benches where we used meet The windy ginnels, February sleet The bus-rides over hills to drab cafes In market towns on winter Saturdays Taking all account of push and shove Ours was not an ordinary love

And working for a living at sixteen Started young back then, we did, I mean They don't these days – it's not encouraged now

Growing up seemed sooner then, somehow It isn't Valentines though, I remember But foggy evening lanes in late November You in scoop-necks, me in baggy trousers Staring at the rich folk in their houses Plotting Premium Bond-wins, hand-in-glove Ours was not an ordinary love.

– Nor an ordinary time at that Your first driving lesson, my first flat Three floors up, the bath, if you were willing For a one-hour wait and had a shilling 'Seventies – it doesn't seem that long What was that old Paul McCartney song? C-Moon. Close to Christmas d'you recall Arguing outside about it all? Tears. And then the making of it right. A far from ordinary night

And all the words I said , I meant and more. To hang around as woodsmoke at your door Till early spring, a promise on the breeze The hazy green that ghosts across the trees And fields waking up, on days like these Then later, with the outdoor work begun You, on a country station in the sun Waiting on a Friday for the train To bring your dusty boyfriend home again Cheerful, after drinking with the guv Ours was not an ordinary love.

Both of us at work – hard work as such Twenties, you don't think about it much Labourer and waitress of renown Get stuck in, get paid and hit the town Sod the others and their cold ambition Were we not in love? We had a mission: Have a brilliant time before we lost it. Not sit down with abacus to cost it In event of judgment from above. Ours was not an ordinary love

As I said, it wasn't hearts and flowers Rescuing Rapunzels from their towers But an atmosphere of stolen hours Idle shelter from those sudden showers In museums, like paupers at a ball Staring at the grandness of it all Raincoat pockets, ticket stubs and tissues In those carefree days were all our issues Shabby pigeon and his scruffy dove Ours was not an ordinary love

Never big occasions I remember But the skint nights-in around December One bar of a three-bar gas-fire, hissing Lovers on an indoor sunbreak, kissing Kitchen-trips for optional excursions Making tea or switching on immersions Caught by tipsy test card, unawares Squaring to the challenge of the stairs After taking stock of their location Ours was not an average situation

Pop-star posters peeling on the wall That's what I remember most of all In the kitchen. making home-made wine Quite forgot about the valentine You due home in minutes, from your shift Had to knock one up – and rather swift Cardboard, paper, scissors and the glue "Here's a new-wave Valentine for yo-ou!" Blackmail typeface from a velvet glove Ours was not an ordinary love

We never did the jet set stuff – not us We opted for the railway or the bus Over autumn moorlands to the sea Round the ruined castle and some tea Backstreet book-exchanges then a beer Ironstone gorges, waterfall and weir Beaches out-of-season, groynes and dunes Marram grass and sandy afternoons Westerlies to give the clouds a shove Ours was not an ordinary love

Not the trifling trinkets that I bought you But the courage which it took to court you Having saddled up and got that far Was I not your Co-Op Lochinvar? You, my Happy Shopper Queen of Sheba? Hair by Icarus and eyes by Biba Aramis for me, Kiku for you Fragrant then, if nothing else, we two. Wrapped around each other when as supple This was not an ordinary couple

This was not an ordinary caper And it never made the local paper In the pics we never looked our parts: "Can we have you holding up your hearts?" We never had the attitude or look We never made the film or wrote the book We never got our music on the shelves And only ever famous to ourselves, We both became recluses, didn't care We were not an ordinary pair.

Now, if you find crows-feet round your eyes Or some piffling ounces on your thighs And the hint of puckering round your lips God forbid – a pound upon your hips Not to ever notice is my game Telling you, you've always looked the same Or ignoring everything you've said Pleading urgent business in my shed Since I'll only see the things I can Am I not an ordinary man?

Should the winter ambush, with no warning Let me set your grate up in the morning Let me get your breakfast, make your coffee Fetch bad-weather brandy from the offy Be your Greyfriars Bobby who would wait Even if the reaper made you late Challenge him for you, and if I find him Follow down the corridor behind him Raging with the insults I would hurl This was not an ordinary girl!

Time has dragged the sentiment from in me Fear of losing you will underpin me So in lieu of others in the past then Let this be my Valentine at last then Up the wooden hills again and gladly Let them know we didn't do too badly When we went from darkness into light Ours was not an ordinary flight You are not an ordinary dove Ours is not an ordinary love. .................................................


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