John Osborne was an English playwright, screenwriter, actor and critic of the Establishment. The success of his 1956 play Look Back in Anger transformed English theatre.
In a productive life of more than 40 years, Osborne explored many themes and genres, writing for stage, film and TV. His personal life was extravagant and iconoclastic. He was notorious for the ornate violence of his language, not only on behalf of the political causes he supported but also against his own family, including his wives and children.
Osborne was one of the first writers to address Britain’s purpose in the post-imperial age. He was the first to question the point of the monarchy on a prominent public stage. During his peak (1956–1966), he helped make contempt an acceptable and now even cliched onstage emotion, argued for the cleansing wisdom of bad behaviour and bad taste, and combined unsparing truthfulness with devastating wit.
My father lived a simple life
But he was a man apart
With gentle ways and humble mind
And an understanding heart
He loved and cared for people
Helping those in need.
He strove to make folk happy
For kindness was his creed.
He never aimed for dizzy heights
Of luxury or fame
But where he walked and where he talked
With love he carved his name.
He was like a rock to lean upon
Each problem he would share.
He found his strength in his belief
And in kneeling down in prayer.
He loved his home and lived his life
With fullness to the end
He taught me much I owe him much
A father and a friend.
Death was peace and joy to him
It was no fearful thing,
His faith was simple and sincere
And God alone his king.
SEPTEMBER IS THE LOVELIEST MONTH
September is the loveliest month.
The sky is on permanent fire
The trees painted many colours
Burnished, it seems, with pure desire
In the park, ducks glide silently by
And the always busy seagulls
Coming in to land from on high
Whilst near the dozing oak tree
The squirrels nutmeg each other
Each acorn hoarded
For the soon-to-come cold weather.
Your arm in mine
We stroll down the park
Heading towards the sunset
Home before dark.
LOOKING FOR GOOGLE
Oops! mind that blind…
Oh, what the Dickens!
The lingua franca
In Google we trust,
In God if we must.
Look, no hands!
It’s not a boast
It’s a statement of fact,
I don’t drive, it’s all an act.
The phone on my table
Speaks in eighteen different languages if tasked
And can answer questions
(Sometimes before they are asked).
Now they have sent ten thousand
Helium balloons into the stratosphere
Seeking all the disconnected;
Wi-Fi for all – and soon
They could – in theory – I guess
Set up shop nowadays on the moon
This is their ‘toothbrush’ test;
“Focus on the user and all else follows”
Culture and success go hand in hand;
If you don’t believe your own slogan
You’re already in no-mans land.
The sun also rises over concrete
Over this puff-adder sky
And the pricked-up chimneys
Looking like piss-horns in the stark morning
There are no shadows yet
On this marbled plain
So tender in years
But so sparing with love
I shiver at the bus stop
Admiring this proliferation of granite;
So cold, so hard,
So like you….
SEX, CHOCOLATE AND STATINS
Want to lower your risk of heart disease and stroke?
The answer is to have more sex,
At least two orgasms a week.
This will reduce your risk of a cardiovascular event,
But only if you are a man.
For women – well, you have to take your chances!
Eating chocolate can also reduce your risk
As does listening to music
Though Nessum Dorma might be more beneficial than Taylor Swift.
Moving out of the city, living with others, having a good boss
But men with a high orgasmic frequency do best of all.
So forget about Statins;
Chocolates, Vivaldi, and bashing the bishop
Are much more beneficial
And a lot more enjoyable.
Wormwood isn’t here
The sign said, rather waspishly.
It wasn’t the Wormwood I remembered;
Scrubs Lane on a wet Sunday
The outback in West London
No buses, no cars, no people
Just limp grass, acres of the stuff
And, oh yes, the finest redbrick edifice
Victoria’s henchmen could construct.
No rotting bodies in here, my friend.
Not Newgate, not by a long shot
Though debts must still be paid
And some may still get laid
Lord Alfred Douglas lay here,
As did Charles Bronson,
Keith Richards, Leslie Grantham.
And George Blake
Scurrying along in his traitor’s gait
Till the day he pole-vaulted to freedom
More or less
Before waving goodbye
To his English life,
His liberty and his wife
And all those Wormwood scrubbers
I saw Christ nailed to a tree
In an East London churchyard
Weather-beaten from looking,
While the adjacent graveyard
Played host to a thousand
Sloping stone soldiers.
There, daffodils bunched together
And it made me wonder
Why the graveyard should display
Such a profusion of yellow
When the churchyard itself
Was barren of colour