Dave to Sheila

(after Horace, Epode XVII, Iam iam efficaces)

‘Right, I’m at your mercy Sheila, I give in.
For hell’s sake, you must stop it; enough’s enough.
It feels like you’re tearing me limb from limb.
Scratch my name out of your little black book;
I don’t want my whole world crashing round my ears.
Please Sheila, leave it, stop bearing these grudges
If I could wind the clock back, I would; honestly!

You feel as if I stuck the knife in; OK, let’s meet;
possibly I could stitch things up between us.
You’re forever hectoring me.
Why do you go on dragging my name through the mud?
I’m trying to offer you the hand of friendship here;
I’m appealing to your better nature; can you not forgive me,
or at least go out for a meal for old times sake?
Good God Sheila, not even Prince Street Aggie
threw her Billy to the wolves.
Despite his Chapel Street Bike,
they’re getting on again; happy as pigs in shit.

Darling of the Maison and the last waltz
don’t you reckon you’ve punished me enough?
We’re not kids any more, either of us;
look at me; I have found a grey hair,
thanks to you and your bloody threats to make me pay.
Every waking hour of every day
I can still hear you, promising to get the last laugh.

So I give in; I take back everything I’ve ever said.
You warned me that you’d make me sorry and you have.
My head’s ringing with your talk of my faults.
What more do you want? You’ve totally broken me.
I feel as if I’m burning up;
as though something’s eating away at me.
I’m hotter than Lanzarote Beach in August.
In fact, I’m wondering if you’ve spiked my drinks;
whether that’s what’s making me feel so blown away all the time.
I haven’t a clue where all this is going to end,
maybe I’m heading towards a nervous breakdown.
You could at least give me the chance to put things right;
let me explain; surely you owe me that –
you, who are so perfect and have never dumped anyone –
you, who would help punish your own cousin to save a friend.

You were furious when I believed what Kenny said,
but that doesn’t mean you should take it out on me.
You’re blinded by anger and I can’t sleep for worrying
about what you might do next; and I’m losing weight.
The upset’s driving me mad; you didn’t really bring shame
on yourself or any member of you family.
I truly believe you’re whiter than white –
and that there’s a much softer side to you!
That bairn in the pram was yours not Mrs. Swallwell’s,
I see that now; he’s the image of you.
It’s just that you never looked fat enough to be pregnant.’

‘Save your breath; I’m not listening.
Your pleas are falling on deaf ears, I’m afraid, Dave.
I’ll teach you for calling my friends and me.
What’s wrong with a bit of skinny-dipping?
a few midnight orgies veiled by the dark?
You know-all! Shielding your holier-than-thou bloody self!
All of Thornaby is laughing at me.
I hope you don’t think you’re getting away with that!
You’re too late – I’m putting the poison in,
but it won’t be quick; I’ll feed it drip by slow drip
until you wish for all your life you’d kept quiet.
You’re going to regret the day you ever crossed me, pet!

Just think about this, Dave; I’m going to tantalise you.
You’re going to see me every day; I’ll make sure of that.
What’s more, I’m going to watch while you drown in your own guilt.
You made me, and all my friends a laughing stock.
We let you in and you ridiculed us.
You will be the rolling stone that gathers no moss.
Pretty soon Dave, you’re going to wish that you were dead.
You’ll think about taking an overdose,
or climbing the balustrade of Victoria Bridge
with you mam’s best washing line tied around your neck.
When I see you crumble like the Clevo Flour Mill,
only then will I have got my own back on you.

You’ve seen what I can do, love – when I put my mind to it.
You’ve seen me, and my little coterie of friends.
You’ve watched how we work together,
how we bring a big boy to his knees.
And now you’ve seen just how much of a headache I can be.
Do you honestly think I’ll let you off this lightly?’

Notes: (1) The Maison-de-Danse was a dance hall in nearby Stockton
(2) The Cleveland Flour Mills (known as Clevo Flour Mill), used to stand
on the banks of the River Tees and was demolished in 1970.

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