Manly Poems: Timothy Winters

Lawyers, I suppose, were children once.

And the same is true for every man, which is why I’m adding this to my catalogue of manly poems.

The Munro Report on child services in Britain, published yesterday, scorned the amount of bureaucracy in the system which often leads to children’s needs being ignored. Professor Eileen Munro of LSE said: “Too often questions are asked if rules have been met but not whether this has helped children. Everyone in the profession can think of meetings and forms that don’t actually make a child safer. While some regulation is needed, we need to reduce it to a small, manageable size.”

The story reminded me of Timothy Winters, a poem by Charles Causley (the greatest poet laureate Britain never hard) which we read in school.

Timothy Winters

Timothy Winters comes to school
With eyes as wide as a football pool,
Ears like bombs and teeth like splinters:
A blitz of a boy is Timothy Winters.
His belly is white, his neck is dark,
And his hair is an exclamation mark.
His clothes are enough to scare a crow
And through his britches the blue winds blow.
When a teacher talks he won’t hear a word
And he shoots down dead the arithmetic bird,
He licks the patterns off his plate
And he’s not even heard of the Welfare State.
Timothy Winters has bloody feet
And he lives in a house on Suez Street,
He sleeps in a sack on the kitchen floor
And they say there aren’t boys like him any more.
Old man Winters likes his beer
And his missus ran off with a bombardier,
Grandma sits in the grate with a gin
And Timothy’s dosed with an aspirin.
The Welfare Worker lies awake
But the law’s as tricky as a ten-foot snake,
So Timothy Winters drinks his cup
And slowly goes on growing up.
At Morning Prayers the Master helves
For the children less fortunate than ourselves,
And the loudest response in the room is when
Timothy Winters roars “Amen!”
So come one angel, come on ten:
Timothy Winters says “Amen
Amen amen amen amen.”
Timothy Winters, Lord. Amen.

Of the poem, Causley later said: “People always ask me whether this was a real boy. My God, he certainly was. Poor old boy I don’t know where he is now. I was thunderstruck when people though I’d made it up! – he was a real bloke. Poor little devil.”

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Filed under Current Affairs, Manly Poems, Poetry

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