Simon Armitage

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This shining star of the British poetry scene recently composed a 1000 line poem in his capacity as Poet for the New Millennium Experience. This significantly shorter piece is based on his General Studies 'A' Level exam and was performed during an edition of Radio 4's Bookshelf in 1992.

'Which of these films was Dirk Bogarde
not in? One hundredweight of bauxite

makes how much aluminium?
how many tales in 'The Decameron'?'

General Studies, the upper sixth, a doddle, a cinch
for anyone with an ounce of common sense

or a calculator
with a memory feature.

Having galloped through but not caring enough
to check or double-check, I was dreaming of

milk-white breasts and nakedness, or more specifically

That term - everybody felt the heat
but the girls were having none of it:

long and cool like cocktails,
out of reach, their buns and pigtails

only let out for older guys with studded jackets
and motor-bikes and spare helmets.

One jot of consolation
was the tall spindly girl riding pillion

on her man's new Honda
who, with the lights at amber,

put down both feet and stood to stretch her limbs,
to lift the visor and push back her fringe

and to smooth her tight jeans.
As he pulled off down the street

she stood there like a wishbone,
high and dry, her legs wide open,

and rumour has it he didn't notice
til he came round in the ambulance

having underbalanced on a tight left-hander.
'A Taste of Honey'. Now I remember.

Copyright: Simon Armitage.