Now when you get to sixty-five, your memory starts to slip,
But when you get to seventy, you have to get a grip.
It’s best if you can write things down to put your mind at ease,
To stop you losing mobile phones, remote controls and keys.

He headed for the village hall which lay just down the street.
Then walked into the crowded room and settled in his seat.
He sat next to a lady fair, her charms, they did beguile.
She said her name was Valery; she had a lovely smile.

It’s then he started shaking as he broke into a sweat.
The lady sitting to his right was visibly upset.
He spoke to her with trembling voice, “I’m oh so sorry dear.
I don’t know why I came today; I don’t know why I’m here.”

She said, “I feel the same as you: this ticket here I’ve got,
I know that it’s for something, but I can’t remember what.
I need to take a walk outside and have another think.”
So they gathered their possessions and went out to get a drink.

They headed for the nearest bar, a cosy one at that,
And settled in a corner seat, so they could have a chat.
He said, “Now what’s your poison?” She said, “Wine, and make it red.”
But as he placed the order, he’d forgotten what she’d said.

He brought her back a jug of beer, which caused her to concur,
This fellow has a memory, a darned sight worse than hers.
Then as they left this busy bar, beneath the twinkling stars,
They couldn’t quite remember where the hell they’d left their cars.

And so, at last they headed home, the hour was getting late,
And pledged that they would meet again to fix themselves a date
To go out for a special meal and share the Champagne cup.
They said they’d meet next evening, but neither one turned up.



Jeff Eardley lives in the heart of England near to the Peak District National Park and is a local musician playing guitar, mandolin and piano steeped in the music of America, including the likes of Ry Cooder, Paul Simon and particularly Hank Williams.

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35 Responses

  1. Lawrence Fray

    A good ballad that should be set to music! It reminds me of the lilting songs tht we sang in Ireland some years (actually, decades) ago. Thank you, Jeff.

    • Jeff Eardley

      Lawrence, I never thought of setting this to music, but thank you for the idea. I am somewhat of an Irish musician (guitar/mandolin) and I am working on it already. It reminds me of that lovely “Paddy stole the rope” which still creases me up to this day.

  2. Cynthia Erlandson

    I think the poem could be better if you fixed the sentence fragments; there are several places that deserve a comma or semicolon, or maybe a hyphen, rather than a period.

    • Jeff Eardley

      Cynthia, thank you so much for the observations. Punctuation was never my strong point. “Room for improvement” was on many of my school reports.
      I will try harder, I promise.

      • Cynthia Erlandson

        Well, Jeff, if punctuation is not your strong point, graciousness is. Thank you for kindly considering my suggestion. I certainly have “room for improvement” in many ways, myself. I did enjoy the poem, by the way. It was a fun read!

    • The Society

      Thank you, Cynthia. We have gone over it again and hopefully it is improved.

  3. Sarban Bhattacharya

    The poem provoked me into visualising an imaginary situation where Biden, under a similar cognitive decline, goes for a tryst with a lady, and makes similar gaffes! Jokes apart, Jeff’s poem is witty and humorous, like a breath of fresh air amidst such widespread angst and tension these days.

    • Jeff Eardley

      Sarban, thanks for your kind comments which are much appreciated. We observe all the angst and tension from over here, but believe me, we have plenty of our own at the moment. Best wishes.

  4. Sally Cook

    The ability to laugh in the face of human frailty is a great gift. I recall my father and his friend Glen, the local priest, pretending they couldn’t climb the three steps of our house without each other’s assistance, allk the while laughing and shouting out they were old now. It’s a nice memory – thanks for bringing it back for me.

    • Jeff Eardley

      Sally, thank you for your lovely comment, but sadly, this may come to us all one day. It’s difficult to find humour in forgetfulness but I recall famous Jazz musician George Melly, in the final stage of Alzheimers, saying that the one good thing about this condition is that every day he made new friends. God bless him.

  5. C.B. Anderson

    It’s fun making fun of us oldsters, isn’t it, Jeff, because we can only fight back with tired words. I’m just kidding, really. I make fun of myself nearly every day, and every day I get older, but little wiser. This was a clever poem, but I wonder what the “lady fair” in it felt at the end of the day. Ah, to be young again. Who was it that said, “Youth is wasted on the young”?

    • Jeff Eardley

      The answer to that one is “Oscar, James and George in the company of Bertie” Youtube.
      Many thanks C B and let’s all keep laughing at ourselves.

  6. Peter Hartley

    Jeff – This Is brilliantly written, genuinely funny and composed with impeccable meter. I wish I had written it: I wouldn’t have been so hard on myself but I wouldn’t have been as truthful. It comes to us all I suppose, and that’s if we’re lucky. Well done!

  7. Jeff Eardley

    Peter, hello again and thank you for your most generous comments. The characters in this are real with just a dash of mischief on my part. I look forward to your next contribution and hope you are well in these darkening days. Best wishes to you.

  8. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Jeff, what a delightful smile of poem that romps along with aplomb. As Peter pointed out the meter is, indeed, “impeccable”. The poem unfolds like a marvellous scenario in a sit-com. Just one small niggle. I’m a sucker for a happy ending. I wanted the quirky couple to meet again, not recognize each other, arrange another date… and go on like that until the end of their forgetful years.

    • Jeff Eardley

      Susan, a friend of mine who was a subscriber to, recently went on a date with a lady. They chatted away for an hour or so until they both realised that they had done the same thing about 18 months previously. Your happy ending is playing out over here. On a completely different tack, I was sad to read that legendary Texan songwriter Jerry Jeff Walker passed away this week. His great song was “Mr Bojangles”
      Thanks for your kind comments which always make me smile and for increasing my vocabulary yet again. I will be using “aplomb” a lot more from now on.

      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        Jeff, I’m heartened to hear of the happy ending across the pond. The pair are obviously meant to be together.

        Mike and I were listening to Nina Simone’s cover of “Mr. Bojangles” recently, and had no idea that Jerry Jeff Walker had written that beautiful song. May he float amid notes of heavenly music forevermore. I’m just discovering the wonder of bluegrass music over here and I love it! I’ve also discovered a Texan group called “Shinyribs” who sing strangely titled songs such as “Lime Juice and Despair” – what a far cry from my musical roots!

  9. Mike Bryant

    Jeff, these are the lyrics to lime juice and despair… if you’re curious you can hear it on YouTube.

    Diamond rings and petticoats,
    Burlap bags and billygoats,
    Creamy corn and sausage and gravy,
    Aluminum cans and wild weeds,
    Women waiting for the thieves
    Dirty digging ’round the devil’s door…
    Listening to the ditches riches roar.

    Pure-D shifters pleasures will
    Land the capsule on the hill.
    Silver star tracks the drunkard’s doom.
    Lonesome whistle rides the rings.
    Tomorrow night the bluebird sings
    A song of lime juice and despair,
    Glad rags ’round her Yankee auburn hair.

    False knight standing weary worn
    On the battlefield of the new war torn,
    Twenty foot of sugarcane in his hand.
    Raccoon sleeping in a box
    Holds a picture of the Silverfox.
    The sun is falling in the western sky,
    Wrinkle in the twinkle of his eye.

    Time is a cigarette burning down
    Off paint of the jaw of a dying clown
    Perfume passage to the rites of age
    Rituals lost in radios
    Like cowboys leaving rodeos.
    The sun is falling in the western sky
    Wrinkle in the twinkle of his eye.
    The sun is falling in the western sky
    Wrinkle in the twinkle of his eye,
    Wrinkle in the twinkle of his eye.

    • Jeff Eardley

      Mike, wow, I am reaching for YouTube as I type this. I wonder if you recall the George Strait Song, “All my exes live in Texas” certainly worth research. I used to be, many years ago, a bluegrass banjo player, inspired by Flatt and Scruggs. We have a very healthy Americana scene where we live here in the small town of Leek. We English can sometimes come up with better band names than you guys. Check out the “Slippery Hill Boys” our best, but now defunct bluegrass band. I love the words to “Lime juice and despair” that third verse could be Biden’s battle cry. Best wishes to you both.

      • Mike Bryant

        Jeff, Strait was a phenom… he was a Texan, of course, born about six months after I was. One of the best country singers of all time…

  10. Jeff Eardley

    Mike, what about Lyle Lovett, the sound of Texas for me. Not sure about Shinyribs. A bit too weird for my conservative tastes.

    • Mike Bryant

      Jeff… I love Lyle and all our Texas singers but I gotta say, ain’t nobody can outsing Aaron Neville.

  11. Jeff Eardley

    Thanks Mike, yes Aaron is very well known here. My favourite female is Reba McEntire, what a star she is.
    Well done with the Uranus answer. These riddles of Evan’s would test the code breakers of Bletchley park

  12. David Watt

    Jeff, your lighthearted ballad on the subject of ageing is a ‘ripper’!
    It’s often better to see the humour in life rather than focus on its imperfections.

    • Jeff Eardley

      David, thank you for your kind words. I think we are all looking for a bit of humour these days.

  13. BDW

    “The Memory Starts to Slip” shows Mr. Eardley’s expert handling of the ballad, which could have importance for the future of English poetry. His skillful narrative technique and humour are reminiscent more of O. Henry [William Sidney Porter (1862-1910)] than Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936). Such sure command of tone and technique is difficult to attain.

    What I have mentioned here @ SCP earlier in greater detail, is the admirable quality of the ballad, its natural, folk quality, inviting reader participation. In even an excellent line, like “But when you get to seventy you have to get a grip.” I could not help but alter a couple of words. What this does is it makes it more user-friendly, as a verse form, while at the same time, allowing for a greater richness to evolve.

  14. Jeff Eardley

    BDW, thank you so much for your kind words. I try to keep it simple. Verses like these, of which I have many, normally start with an occurrence or event from friend or family, onto which I sprinkle a bit of mischief. I love the ballad form, particularly folk song and even more particularly, the many tales from Ireland. I was brought up on the scintillating monologues of Marriott Edgar, the wordplay of the late Jake Thakeray and England’s extremely popular Pam Ayers. Human frailty offers rich poetic pickings for me. I love Kipling and I must read some of O Henry’s work, and I admire the brilliance of Tom Lehrer, back in the news and rightly so.

  15. Tonia Kalouria

    What a dear amusing, poignant poem. And yes, it would be a great song, too!
    Ohio, USA

    • Jeff Eardley

      Tonia, thank you for your kind words. I have written a few songs but never really considered setting a tune to this. You have got me thinking now. Best wishes.


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