Yuke, you learned to play chords
on your dad's ukelele strumming
to George Formby uke and croon,
"I'm leaning on a lamppost
at the corner of the street in case
a certain little lady comes by."
The toothy comic actor leered out
between the first licks you played
in your deaf gran's front parlor
amid antimacassars and aspidistras,
a cracked 78 on the gramophone.
Lancs lad, you graduated from uke
to Stratocaster, robust as a black pud—
a plump blood sausage—sounds sweet
as an Eccles cake, raisins and sugar,
you would peal an archipelago of notes.
Smoky northern clubs; morning stale beer
in city jiggers, ciggies on our lower lips
as under a wet sky, we lugged our gear
home. Lads who might have been us
blinked at us and ignored us,
got back to their scratch footer.
Christopher T. George