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1 May 2024

The NS Poem: Fast Music

A new poem by Hugo Williams.

By Hugo Williams

The faster the better perhaps,
but not always for the best.
When “Tico Tico” came on the radio
      in 1944
I ran round the room on the furniture,
I took off in a Spitfire.
The music stopped suddenly
and I crashed to earth,
shot down by an invisible enemy.
I must have tripped on the wire.
I was trying to push it back
when a flash of electricity
soldered my fingers together.
My tipsy grandmother 
was babysitting asleep upstairs.

I came home from hospital
wearing a solid glove
made of plaster-of-paris, 
inscribed “to a soldier in the wars”.
A wind-up gramophone
was waiting in my room
playing “Tico Tico” by Ethel Smith.
I wanted to dance on the turntable,
the faster the better.
I was never so happy 
as when my grandmother wound me up
and bounced me over the moon 
on a lap of honour.
Black bakelite planets spun me to

Hugo Williams’s new collection “Fast Music” is published by Faber & Faber

[See also: The NS Poem: Birthday – by Simon Armitage]

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This article appears in the 01 May 2024 issue of the New Statesman, Labour’s Forward March