Friday, 15 February 2013


I guess you never meant for it to end the way it did
She couldn’t take it any more, that’s why she ran and hid
You should have left her where she was and gone your own sweet way
But what you did is written in the purple and the grey

So now there’s nothing left for you to do but sit and cry
There’ll be no going back to say “I’m sorry” one more time
She’s gone where you can’t touch her… you know that’s where she’ll stay
For what you did is written in the purple and the grey

The awful price she had to pay for injuring your pride
It wasn’t nat’ral causes and it wasn’t suicide
And no amount of posturing can make it all okay
For what you did is written in the purple and the grey

You should have learned to keep it in while you were still at school
You think you’re such a tough guy but you’re not a man at all
And no one gives a shit for any words you have to say
So don’t you try to justify the purple and the grey

Friday, 17 December 2010


Bring out the meat, the pudding and the beer
You're so excited, even as you groan
This Christmas business happens every year

When shelves of bread and milk all disappear
Make sure the empty larder's not your own
Bring out the meat, the pudding and the beer

To absent friends we drink and shed a tear
The number grows who went their way alone
This Christmas business happens every year

With vision blurred and feeling rather queer
From unaccustomed richness overblown
Bring out the meat, the pudding and the beer

They stumble as the train is drawing near
Or cry for words of comfort on the phone
This Christmas business happens every year

The angels told the shepherds, "Have no fear!"
We substitute a message of our own
Bring out the meat, the pudding and the beer
This Christmas business happens every year.

Will Hames
December 2010

Monday, 20 September 2010

Embarrassing Confessions

As a result of several close encounters with the medical profession, I am proud to announce that I am now a man it's impossible to embarrass.
Almost impossible, anyway. There are one or two situations where even I still cringe, such as the moment in the supermarket when you stand there with your trolley piled high with goodies, only to be told that your card won't cover it. They never make it easy on you, do they? They ring for the attention of a key-holding harridan and project waves of frost at you while you wait. It doesn't matter how much you apologise, they never say, "Ah well, these things happen." You just get a stare, past your shoulder and off into the middle distance, as if they're fighting the urge to lunge at you with a rubber glove and a jar of industrial-strength mustard before the supervisor can come between you and break it up. And when Mrs Authority does arrive, it's amazing how much sub-text she can put into the simple act of turning a key on the till. "I was saving this key for a special occasion: it was going to be a surprise for my 90-year-old mother as a way of saying thank you for seeing me through some particularly difficult times. And now I'm having to waste it on you, you of all people. Trash."
But for me, the most embarrassing time I can remember was when I was at a trade union conference in Aberdeen. I'd never been to Scotland before, and I was there as interpreter for a small group of German conference guests.
We'd done the serious business for the day, and the Scottish trade unions had laid on some hospitality for the evening. It started with a reception, where we all stood around sipping sherry and eating canapes - you know, those little pieces of bread with a slight trace of exotic stuff on top, like open sandwiches for Oompah-Loompahs. You try to make one of them last for three or four bites, despite the fact that you're bloody starving and could easily see off a couple of dozen of them, just to help the sherry go down. The idea is that you nibble them daintily whilst mingling and making small talk with the very people you've just spent the entire day talking to.
It was not easy interpreting at this event, because people had run out of things to say to each other hours previously, and now they were asking me to translate things that no resident of Planet Earth wanted to hear at all, just to keep the conversation going. And being in Scotland added a whole extra stratum of difficulty, because the locals were not very good at making language concessions for foreigners.
"Ja, tell me now, vot iss diss veekurit timrus beastie zey keep talking off?" I was asked. Either that or somebody would collar me in passing and say, "Ah'm tryin' teh explain teh oor pal here, what's German for See You Jimmie?"
In a situation like this, I think you'll agree that copious amounts of single or double malt anaesthetic are called for, and I was comfortably up to my ankles in the sea of oblivion when there was a sudden hush in the room. Then it started.
From the next room, a lone piper sounded one mournful note that went on for no more than a second or two before another note was added to it, then a third, really high and eldritch, floating on top. And suddenly a dozen more pipers joined in to make the bass drone fill the air, and the hair on the back of my neck stood up. I felt immersed in a kind of eerie magic, and when the pipers in full Highland dress slow-marched into the room and gently broke into "Amazing Grace"... well, I was hooked. It was just plain bloody glorious, and if you think the bagpipes are nothing more than a device for giving your enemies the willies on a dark and foggy hillside, all I can say is that you had to be there. I'm filling up right now, just thinking about it. Choked up doesn't cover it. So I got drunk.
And then we had something to eat and I sobered up a bit, and then the dance music started.
I'm a sucker for country-dance music. I can't sit still and listen to it. At the very least, I have to tap my foot, and once that starts, it's only a matter of time before I'm jigging around, a slave to the beat. I don't actually know any dances, but I do have a pretty good sense of rhythm and, once my thirst has overcome my inhibitions, lots of energy. Some might say, too much. My children for instance. My eldest daughter once described my dancing as "like a frog trying to get out of a hot bucket".
The band took a break, so we all filled up our glasses, then emptied them, then filled them again... and we kept on doing that until an announcement came over the PA, something to the effect of "Sninny wada hootnoot bolla granshit noo!" and people clapped. Then the band started up again, with one of my favourite pieces of Scottish diddly-diddly music, and I got up to dance.
It seemed as if most of the other people were rather tired by this time, because there were only a few of us dancing. As I've said, I don't know any proper dances, but the people around me were really good. They were forming fours and twirling around and coming together in two rows and taking it in turns to dance down the middle and link hands over the top... and I looked around and saw that the rest of the people were just sitting there!
And I thought, 'How can you do that? What's wrong with you lot all of a sudden?" And I went up to one of the tables where a friend of mine was sitting, and I tried to get her up onto her feet, but she wouldn't budge.
So I thought, 'Screw you, then,' and went back to dancing, only now I was giving it the full Travolta, because I was going to enjoy myself, even if all those other miserable a*holes were too shy to let their hair down. And all of a sudden, one of the women who were doing it really well said something to me as she danced by.
And I said, "Pardon?" but she was already gone, in among the other dancers. So I chased after her to find out what she'd said, except that of course I chased after her in the spirit of the dance, in time with the music. And every time I got near her, somebody would grab her and whirl her away, so I had to chase her right up the other end of the line, calling "Hey, I didn't hear you... what did you say to me just then?" And finally I got right up next to her and she hissed at me, "Sit down, you pillock! This is an exhibition dance!"
And everybody else in the room - even those who didn't speak any English - had realised this, except for me.
The interpreter.
The one who was supposed to be a pro at knowing what was going on.
And my table was twenty miles away, right at the other end of the room, and I made my way back to it through a sea of faces that refused to look me in the eye. And when I got back to my seat, I stayed there for the rest of the evening, drinking.
And the next morning, I told everybody that the last thing I remembered from the previous evening was that magic moment when the pipers broke into "Amazing Grace".
That was my story and I stuck to it. Until now.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

To Visit You Some Time

I'd like to visit you some time
And see the light of welcome in your eyes
As I walk through the door, the look that speaks of joy
For every second that we spend together
I'd like to visit you some time
To sit a while and listen as you tell me how your life has been
How it is now, and how you'd expected it to be
Back in the days when it was your job
To dream of greatness, because you were a kid
I'd like to visit you some time
To tend your wounded spirits, your sad flesh
Then smile as you thank me for my thoughtfulness
And tell me how much you look forward to my visits
I'd like to visit you some time
Knowing that the hour or two I gladly give you from my busy day
Is solid proof of my worth as a selfless human being
With a huge, compassionate heart
I'd like to visit you some time
And lift you out of your depression
By talking of the funny things I've seen
The silly conversations overheard on buses
I'd like to visit you some time
And as I leave, tell you and mean it
That I really, really wish I could stay longer
And that I'd be counting the hours until the next time
I'd like to visit you some time
And do us both a power of good
Celebrating a friendship that makes mere love
Seem pale and feeble by comparison
I'd like to visit you some time
Instead of spending twenty four hours of every day
Right here at your service, grudgingly doing the barest minimum
To keep us both going, while you lie there and wish I could do more
Care more, say the right things, wear the right expression
Fill you with enthusiasm from a boundless store of positivity
That drives away your misery without for a single moment
Seeming to trivialise your burdens
I want to run away right now
And build myself a life worth living
And when that is done
I'd really like to visit you some time.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009


On Monday through to Saturday
I often make the time to pray
I speak my worries and give voice
To all my little hopes and joys
And in despair or misery
My first words are, “Dear God, help me!”
I concentrate with all my might
To feel Him there, just out of sight
My trembling faith, now bright, now dim
Is just between myself and Him
The Trinity, the creed and such
Don’t seem to matter very much
And if the Bible on my shelf
Appears to contradict itself
As Dawkins and his ilk all say
Well, I don’t read it anyway
Not Monday through to Saturday

I feel a presence, whole and pure
And even though I can’t be sure
Exactly what its name may be
No matter, for it seems to me
That something powerful and great
Is there, concerned about my fate
So many times I could have died
But someone must be on my side
Because, although I often think
My ship of life is bound to sink
For all the times I’ve erred and sinned
Some kindly current, helpful wind
In guise of fluke or happenstance
Provides me with a fighting chance

So Monday through to Saturday
I do my best, but by the way
Enjoy such company as mocks
The bells and incense, candles, frocks
And scandals that we read about
Concerning folk who, though devout
Appear to be as flawed as those
Who never hear a church door close
Behind them, and then kneel in prayer
To something powerful out there

And yet, when Sunday comes around
Unfailingly I will be found
With humble heart and bended knee
Inside my local C. of E.
I sing the hymns and read the Book
And force myself to overlook
Whatever doubts I may recall…
On Sundays I believe it all

Will Hames
January 2009

Monday, 24 November 2008


Last night, I prayed for rescue, for an answer to my pain
It wasn't fair, I told Him, all this trouble, all this strain
I cried I couldn't manage, I was weak and I was lost
I couldn't face the future and I couldn't meet the cost

I visualised a mighty hand that plucked me from the storm
And set me down upon a beach, where all was safe and warm
But then there boomed an awesome voice, I knew it came from Him:
"Get back into the water, son, you're learning how to swim!"

Will Hames, November 2008

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Busy Man

He clearly is no thinker
Barely educated, little sense of humour
No way with words, no fine artistic skills
And yet he has his busyness, doing what he can
He wastes no time in dwelling on his limitations
Too absorbed in getting on with all the life he has
And who am I to look down on him
When my own mind and heart are filled
With all the things I cannot do?

Will Hames, November 2008