This ode concerns a wealthy gent,
To London Town, one day he went.
He’d paid to see an Opera,
But got more than he bargained for.

For as he reached the City wall,
He stopped to take a cell phone call,
Whilst crawling gently to the curb,
So residents, he’d not disturb.

Now as he sat, pre-occupied,
His tailgate clicked and opened wide.
Then as he turned around, he saw,
A girl who wasn’t there before.

Illumined by the dashboard light,
This busty lass in fishnet tights,
Suggested when his call was done,
That maybe they could have some fun.

“A man like you must have a stash,
For girls like me who need the cash,
So, don’t be shy and make a bid,
I’ll start you off at thirty quid.”

He sat there shocked and mortified,
“You’ll have to leave my car” he cried,
“Your lewd and filthy talk must cease,
Or I will call the town police.”

Now small Toyotas have a lack
Of lengthy leg-room in the back.
And so, she cried, “What rotten luck,
For in your car, I’m truly stuck.”

He had to call the Fire Brigade,
Who quickly there, the scene surveyed.
They laughed, “We’ve brought some cutting gear,
But still can’t get her out of here.”

“You’ll have to leave her to her fate,
And starve her till she loses weight;
A week or two and then you’ll see,
She’ll shed some pounds and then be free.”

And so, he drove her home that night,
And parked his car way out of sight.
He threw a blanket on her head,
Then locked the door and went to bed.

His mind was in a dreadful whirl,
With thoughts about this awful girl,
Until he wakened with a scream,
The whole affair had been a dream.

The lesson from this tale of woe,
Is, “Please be careful where you go,
But if you stray where hookers are,
Then don’t forget to lock your car!”



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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48 Responses

  1. Peter Hartley

    I wondered where we were going with this one till right at the end. As fabulous as Aesop, story-telling as masterly as Ovid. It might be wise though to mention that where I live hookers often gain entry and egress via the sun roof so you mustn’t forget to keep it unlocked. And if you don’t have a sun roof it’s a good idea to get one fitted as soon as possible.

    • Jeff Eardley

      Peter, I had a notion to hacksaw a three foot hole in the car-roof and head your way after reading this. Can I assume that these ladies carry their own step-ladders? I wonder if they were lucky enough to have received, from the much-admired Megan Markle, a message of hope written on a banana, as happened to their counterparts in Bristol. With the current lockdown, I may have to stay local for the time being, or, to quote the great Bob Monkhouse, “Sex at 70 is brilliant, especially if you live at number 72.”
      Best wishes and hopefully a happier New Year to you and yours.

      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        Jeff and Peter, your comments should come with a warning… my sides are splitting! Peter, I’d heard that the Northern ladies of the night were charmed into cars with sonorous tones from a Tyrolese bugle. Is this true? 😉

      • Peter Hartley

        Jeff and Susan- I was fortunate enough to have a Ford Sierra for sixteen years which had its own sun roof fitted as standard. This saved my having to fork out on a tin-opener job in order to importune the ladies. Oddly enough there was never any need for a ladder – they would simply take a running jump as soon as they recognised my car, and dive in head first. Observing this performance on one occasion I was surprised to spot two of the said ladies from diametrically opposite angles to the car simultaneously take a run at it only to become wedged tête-bêche, as it were, in the aperture. (The whole sorry affair was witnessed by my ugly niece, that stupid woman who lives at number 34 and a short bus queue).
        Susan – Apart from the three on my mantel I have never owned a bugle, I know nothing about bugles, I didn’t even know they have a cylindrical bore, and for present purposes I find the lack of valves severely restricts performance, although I must say last night it .
        Thank you both for your very kind remarks on my ekphrasis.

      • Peter Hartley

        Jeff and Susan – I’m afraid in a bit of mental aberration I’ve put my responses to your two kind comments on “Faithful unto Death” after Jeff’s “Warning from the Red Light Zone”. I think, or have I?

    • Jeff Eardley

      Peter, I once observed, in Spain, a lady of the night, stretched out on top of a shopping trolley, resulting in a friend back home asking, “Do you get your pound back when you’ve finished?” Thank you too for “Ekphrasis,” a word I was unfamiliar with until today.

  2. Monty

    I trust you never wrote your piece from personal experience, Jeff.. thus I applaud your imagination.

    In your second stanza, and in relation to the narrative of your piece . . was it by design or by coincidence that you used the words “crawler” and “curb” in line three (given the British meaning of the term ‘kerb-crawling’)? If it was the former, that was a real capture.

    In your penultimate stanza, I feel that it requires more than a comma after ‘scream’ in line three. Up to and including that third line, the narrative flows consistently in one direction; but the fourth line entails a major shift in direction . . and I feel that the two lines could be separated by something stronger, such as a semi-colon or (my choice) an ellipsis:
    Until he wakened with a scream . .
    The whole affair had been a dream.
    (I’m aware that ellipseses generally contain three dots, but I personally feel that two dots can be just as effective, and serve the purpose of indicating a slightly smaller pause in text than that indicated by three dots)

    I find myself wondering if you’ve ever come across any of Ry Cooder’s collaborations with African musicians, especially in the country of Mali, where he made an acclaimed album in the 90’s with the legendary Ali Farka Touré.. called Talkin’ Timbuktu.

    • Jeff Eardley

      Monty, thanks for your kind comments. The “kerb/curb” thing was purely a spelling mistake on my part, but thanks to your observation, I will now be claiming it as part of the design.
      I must admit, the ellipsis never figured in my education so thank you for your eloquent explanation of this useful grammatical device.
      This incident, by the way, did not happen to me, but it certainly happened to a close friend of mine in the city of Nottingham. ( He should have called the Sheriff instead of the Fire Department)
      Ry Cooder has been a great inspiration to me since the year dot (or is it dot dot dot) and for me, he is one of the great American Artists of all time, particularly his soundtrack to “Southern Comfort” and the recent “Prodigal Son” album. I was not familiar with the album you mentioned but I will be later this evening. Thanks again.

      • Monty

        Don’t worry, I somehow knew that the ‘incident’ hadn’t happened to you personally. The first line of my previous comment was written for no other reason than that I simply wanted to begin my missive with that sentence.. solely in the name of humour.

        You’ve misunderstood me, Jeff: I wasn’t referring to the misspelling of ‘kerb’. I’m sure you’re aware that ‘kerb-crawling’ is a decades-old British slang-term used for the act of driving one’s car slowly along a street in which prozzies are plying their trade. Thus, when you introduced a prozzy to the narrative in the fourth stanza, I immediately thought back to the words ‘crawling’ and ‘curb’ in the second stanza, and I thought: “Has he cleverly inserted those words on purpose, to see if any readers make the connection? Or did they just happen to be the words he used, unconscious of said connection?” That’s why I asked the question: “Was it by design or coincidence?”. I can see now that it was the latter.

        On another note: The reason that the words ‘crawling’ and ‘curb’ were still on my mind when I reached the succeeding stanza is because . . . when I initially encountered the word ‘crawling’, I had to stop reading for a moment to consider whether the chap might be crawling on his hands and knees, ‘coz you hadn’t yet told us he was in car. This ambiguity might cause other readers to stumble, and I thought it might be an idea to introduce the car to the narrative BEFORE the ‘crawling’:
        ‘He slowed the car to take a call,
        And then crawled gently to the curb’
        I realise this omits the words ‘cell-phone’, but once readers know he’s in a car, they’ll know it’s a cell-phone. And also, once they know he’s in a car, they’ll naturally know how to interpret the word ‘crawling’.

        Ellipsises didn’t figure in MY education, either.. ‘coz I never had one! I’ve been naturally using two or three dots in that way for decades now; but it was only about two years ago that I learnt of the word ‘ellipsis’ – on these very pages! It was one of those “Ah, so THAT’S what they’re called” moments.

        I should tell you that the fact you’re a Cooder aficionado won’t automatically endear you to Talkin’ Timbuktu. It’s quite different: the music’s quite unorthodox: and the vocals (in Malian) sound more like chanting than singing. It’s the sort of album which the majority of the public would tolerate for thirty seconds before switching it off . . which is usually a good sign of specialist music!
        But it’s really sophisticated stuff; and if you DO listen to it, you’ll begin to notice how Cooder adds a subtle Bluesy undertone to the whole thing.

  3. Scharlie Meeuws

    Brilliant tale, could not stop reading and wondered where it was leading to…you picked London as a dangerous place, and that is, it seems, not only a dream nowadays…I like it how you tackled the theme of obesity,
    “He threw a blanket on her head,
    Then locked the door and went to bed.”
    Fabulous! And great fun!

    • Jeff Eardley

      Thanks Scharlie, is that your real name or is there some anagrammatisation going on here? Glad you enjoyed. If only it were true…well it could be.

      • Scharlie Meeuws

        Yes, my real name, no mistake.
        Just google me, a fellow poet

  4. Joseph S. Salemi

    A cute little poem! It reminds me of a squib by Derek Burgoyne:

    When you’re prowling in Times Square
    The girls are cool, their prices fair.

    In Paris, near the Moulin Rouge,
    Les filles don’t tolerate a Scrooge.

    But when you’re strolling Piccadilly,
    Birds come up and grab your willy.

    • Jeff Eardley

      Joseph, not many willy-grabbing birds in Piccadilly at the moment, it’s far too cold for that sort of thing.

      • Monty

        . . . “not at the moment”, as you say: and not ever. Of course there are numerous districts in London where one driving slowly will see an abundance of such “birds” plying with impunity . . but Piccadilly ain’t one of ‘em! As if the powers-that-be would allow such trade to be openly conducted in the heart of theatre-land. Such nocturnal activities occur far from the bright lights.

  5. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Jeff, this highly entertaining poem romps along with gusto to a conclusion that has me sniggering… a rare thing in these bleak times, so a big THANK YOU for that! And then, Joe S. comes up with a closing couplet about a Piccadilly I have strolled around many a time and never witnessed such fondlesome frolics. Hilarious!

    • Jeff Eardley

      Susan, I feel quite honoured to have made you snigger. In fact, knowing that made me so happy, I started guffawing. And then I should never have read the final line from Joe S with a mouthful of coffee. Oh well, the living room needed painting anyway.
      “Fondlesome Frolics” is wonderful. Thank you.

    • Joseph S. Salemi

      You have to walk Piccadilly between 3 and 6 A.M. That’s when competition for punters becomes intense, and the desperate girls use high-pressure sales techniques.

      • Jeff Eardley

        Mr. S. I wonder if you are speaking from personal experience here? Monty seems to have a lot more knowledge of the Piccadilly area where these activities are never seen. Either way, I wonder if either of you have spotted Mr. Hartley, cruising up and down in his old Sierra with a step-ladder protruding from the sunroof?

      • Joseph S. Salemi

        I know what I saw and experienced in Piccadilly as a graduate student back in 1980. Prostitution takes place everywhere in a large city, even in areas that the police would prefer to keep free of such solicitation. It’s just that some areas (or “strolls,” as the girls say) are better known that others, or more frequented at different time periods.

        In the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, the interior of St. Paul’s Cathedral was famous as a gathering place and haunt for high-priced harlots.

      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        Just to say, in the early nineties, when I was in my twenties, I was dressed in my finery and meeting girlfriends for a drink in the area you’re speaking of – I had a rather dubious character approach me to ask me how much I charged for my services. I had no idea what he was suggesting and assumed he had read some of my poetry and told him to name his price.

        The second half is my humour – the first half is the absolute truth. I think Piccadilly was and is definitely a zone for prostitution… with the benefit of hindsight, a close call and wisdom.

      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        BTW, I think I saw Mr. Hartley, cruising up and down in his old Sierra with a step-ladder protruding from the sunroof. He was the inspiration for a poem… and Evan has sadly rejected it.

      • Monty

        I didn’t actually ‘spot’ Mr Hartley, Jeff, but I did see his photo in the paper (along with said Sierra and ladder) after his conviction for importuning. The ladder was apparently used as an exhibit in court.

        Further to the Piccadilly thing . . I was referring to red-light districts, given that that’s the term you used in the title of your poem. As you and Mr Hartley will both be aware, a red-light district is an area (or more commonly just one long road) where an abundance of individual prozzies – generally in obvious attire such as mini-skirts, fish-net stockings, boots, etc – are brazenly stood around plying their trade . . and a constant stream of cars are crawling along the road (hence kerb-crawling) with one window open, looking at different girls, asking them their price, etc. Does that sound like something which could ever have happened in Piccadilly? A road teeming all through the night with tourists: clubbers: theatre-goers: night-people: and heavy traffic, with no space for cars to be ‘crawling’? Of course not! Indeed, it could never’ve happened anywhere in the bright lights of the West End, given that most roads are so thin that one can just about drive down them if there are cars parked on each side of the road.

        In the 70’s and 80’s, nearly all sizeable cities in Britain had a red-light district, and they were always well away from the city-centre in one of the poorer, run-down districts of the city, in which local residents would generally be earthy types with a live-and-let-live attitude: hence not bothered by such things. Provided things never got out of hand and there was no trouble, the police generally turned a blind eye to such districts. It was accepted by all.

        London was no different at the time. There were many such districts dotted around the capital, nearly all of which would’ve been at least five miles in any direction from the touristy areas (the West End). The closest one to the West End – and the most (in)famous of such districts – was Kings Cross, about four miles away in a shabby, almost derelict ex-industrial area behind the train-station. It was the Oxford Street of prostitution, a mile-long road lined, at any given time, with hundreds of girls and hundreds of cars ‘crawling’, all interspersed with hundreds of homeless people who dwelt there permanently in squats or under bridges, etc. (And why would I have been down such a road, one may ask? Well, there were also many derelict factories and warehouses, and given that it was a no-go zone for the police, many such buildings were used for illegal parties – big parties, often with at least a thousand people – which sometimes went on all weekend; thus one had to drive through the area to find the party.) These days, the whole area has regrettably been developed and gentrified beyond all recognition, but back then it was known as freetown by the people. I sometimes still yearn for such times.

        So, the name Piccadilly in the above poem was used for no other reason than that it’s a universally known road in the centre of London which rhymes with ‘willy’.. and why not? It’s a harmless, humorous poem, obviously written for a bit of a giggle; and it’s only right that the author should’ve been afforded the ‘licence’ to use that name. But in reality, a working-girl could never earn any bread in Piccadilly. Even before cctv, the whole area was always abundant with undercover-coppers on the prowl for drug-dealers, muggers, thieves, etc; and if a scantily-clad girl – even just one – was stood around on the same spot, she’d be noticed and collared within an hour. And if she decided to dress ‘normal’ so as to blend in with the crowd, then no one would notice her anyway; she’d be invisible in the throng. Which’d be no good for business.

        And as for the above commenter claiming to’ve once been propositioned there; well, I dare say it’s possible that such a thing could’ve happened, purely because it could’ve happened literally anywhere, to anyone, in any city.. hence it doesn’t bear an ounce of relevance to this thread. It was probably just some drunken tourist from outside London or outside Britain, who assumed that the West End was the place to find prozzies.

        Incidentally, the area around Piccadilly Circus (at the beginning of Piccadilly) did become known for prostitution in the late-80’s . . but of the male kind! Known as rent-boys, many young gay men used to hang around the circus hoping to be picked-up by wealthy gay men and taken to their hotel, etc. But because they were young men, they could stand around in the same spot for a length of time without attracting the attention of the police, or cctv.

      • Joseph S. Salemi

        Oh please, Monty — do you have to write a thousand-word disquisition about every minor point on which you disagree with someone? Its pathetically defensive.

        I’ve seen prostitutes in Piccadilly, and was propositioned by several in a very gross manner back in 1980. Susan Bryant was approached by someone in Piccadilly. You say it never happened? Well, OK — you can live in your world of denial if it comforts you.

        Theater districts and tourist areas are not immune to prostitution — in fact, they invite it. Times Square is a major theater and tourist district in New York, and it is crawling with whores. So is the area near the Moulin Rouge in Paris.

      • Monty

        If any reader is in doubt about my above words – the words of one whose knowledge of all aspects of London life in the 80’s is as extensive as can be – then they need only punch the following words into google: Feminism and the Politics of Prostitution in King’s Cross in the 1980’s . . which’ll lead them to an article telling any doubter all they need to know.

        But if one’s willing to take my word for it that the following sentence has been extracted – word for word – from said article, then there’s no need to even google it: ‘King’s Cross was the epicentre of street prostitution in London, and the destination for hundreds of women from the north of England migrating to the metropolis to sell sex’.

        Could it be made any clearer?

      • Joseph S. Salemi

        And what exactly does that sentence prove, Monty? That there was no prostitution in Piccadilly?

        Be logical. will you? If I say “Vermont is the maple syrup center of the United States,” does that mean one can’t get any maple syrup elsewhere? Jeez — give it up!

  6. David Watt

    Jeff, you built this tale up to a fitting conclusion particularly well. The sun roof on our car only attracts birds of the feathered kind… so far.

    • Jeff Eardley

      Thanks David, and Happy New Year to you and yours. Perhaps a slight widening of the sun roof is required to accommodate the girth of present day street ladies.

      • Peter Hartley

        12″ x 24″ to accommodate two at a time in my friend’s experience.

  7. Jeff Eardley

    Could I thank you all for the fun on this one. Perhaps, one day, Meghan will acquire the banana franchise in Piccadilly and Mr. Hartley will replace that old Sierra, preferably for something minus a sunroof.

    • Mike Bryant

      Jeff, the comments on your great poem are going viral! I am loving the great comments almost as much as the poem… Nahhh… the poem wins hands down! I can hardly wait for the song.

    • Peter Hartley

      According to my friend you don’t need his Sierra. Even if they exhibit pudgy gluts you can usually shoe-horn four or five into a double-fronted wardrobe provided you remove any ostrich plumes and bend the legs back first.

      • Jeff Eardley

        Peter, would the wardrobe be one of the much-loved MFI brand which always came with bits missing and dodgy instructions. I recall, at the time, the comparison with Randy politician, Cecil Parkinson, in that, “One bad screw and you can destroy the Cabinet.” However, “pudgy gluts” has me snookered.

      • Joseph S. Salemi

        Speaking of Cabinet members being destroyed by “one bad screw,” does anyone recall how John Profumo wrecked his own career and brought down a government because of his hanky-panky with Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice-Davies? It was back in ’62, I believe.

        What’s hard to fathom is why Profumo (who was married to the drop-dead gorgeous Valerie Hobson) would have gone around sniffing after a couple of cheap East-End scrubbers like those two birds.

  8. Peter Hartley

    Jeff – Sooner or later you were bound to come across pudgy gluts on this site even if only through the dribbling of a psychopath with echolalia. It is a neologism felicitously coined by the most prolific, I should like to say most talented, contributor to this site, but do not want to invite odious comparisons. It was invented in the early twenty-first century (vide ODQ) to describe, quite adequately I think, the rolling layers of adipose tissue that augment the mass of many of us around the onset of middle age. It is not to be confused with puppy fat which is exactly the same but back to front. And it IS IKEA to which I refer but any publicity is good publicity so I don’t want to give them any because it would all be bad publicity which would be good for them, wouldn’t it?

    • Jeff Eardley

      Peter, I would put my money on the prolific SJB but I may be wrong. Thanks for encouraging my morning exercise, that is, reaching for the dictionary (again), although this may not be enough to eradicate the pudgy glut. I would never go through the door of an IKEA in case I meet someone who knows me.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Peter and Jeff, my pudgy gluts are rising to the status of infamy… I thank you for any future censorship my poetry may receive as a result of your comments – it will make my meagre offerings all the more popular. My biggest thank you is for the laughter you’ve brought to my household this weekend. I believe in the healing powers of a good guffaw, and I am well on the way to smiling again after all the worldwide mayhem.

  9. Jeff Eardley

    Mr Salemi, the Profumo affair, like the Great Train Robbery, has become part of our national story. I think history was a little unkind to him, in that he was a D-day veteran, and after his fall from grace, went on to work, unpaid, for Toynbee Hall, an east end charitable organisation, until his death.
    I recall, in the 70’s, a folk song about his period as minister of war and architect of the four-minute warning of impending nuclear attack. The implication in the song was that the uneducated masses would not know how best to use their final four minutes, thus rendering the project a waste of public funds. The chorus was something like…
    It just isn’t worth it at all John Profumo
    It just isn’t worth it at all
    We’d spend our time boozing
    Or betting, or snoozing
    So it just isn’t worth it at all John Profumo
    It just isn’t worth it at all.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Jeff, thanks for this comment. I remember the Pet Shop Boys and other 80s bands focusing on the Profumo affair in their lyrics. I also saw the film “Scandal” and can only now appreciate that it probably had a one sided view. Oh, how tame that all seems compared to today’s frequent and dreadful scandals.

      • Jeff Eardley

        Susan, thank you for your kind words in these dark days for all of us. I hope myself and Peter don’t come across as the new Morecambe and Wise, that is, all the right words, but not necessarily in the right order. I love pudgy gluts and look forward to a much needed volume or two of your spellbinding work sitting on my bookshelf. The Profumo affair was serialised in an excellent production from 2018 called “A very English Scandal” which may be available online. Thanks again and a g’night to you and Mike.

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