Old? Hell No!

in a thick British accent

__It’s bin three years an’ a day,
__Since the Mrs. passed away,
I still see ‘er face afore me smilin’ kindly.
__For a while I wasn’t right,
__I’d awake most every night,
From a dream where I was searchin’ for ‘er blindly.

__Gotten used ta bein’ alone,
__Grass ‘n beard got overgrown.
Family fussin’ an’ a frettin’ I’m not ‘ealthy.
__Tell ‘em that I’m doin’ fine,
__Got me smokes an’ glass o’ wine.
Can’t buy ‘appiness, not even if ya wealthy.

__Ninety years ago created,
__Just a touch debilitated,
Nothin’ wrong wi’ me except me fingers tremble.
__But they says they’ve ‘ad enough,
__Things is gettin’ awful tough,
Now I’m here where the obsolete assemble.

__They’re an ugly lookin’ bunch,
__Just might put me off me lunch,
Not a smilin’ face amongst the sorry lot.
__Take a look at ‘ow they sneer,
__It’s no wonder they’re in ‘ere,
It’ll serve ‘em bloody right if they’re forgot.

__Sure they’re not the crème-de-crème,
__But I’ll not end up like them,
I’ve still got me pride an’ that’ll see me through.
__Though I’m feelin’ kinda low,
__Now me family ‘as ta go,
I’ll not sulk… I’ll smile an’ wish ‘em toodle-oo.

__I’ll not let ‘em see me cry,
__As they leave ta say goodbye.
I shall smile an’ ‘old meself up strong an’ steady.
__When the grim one comes ta reap,
__I’ll pretend that I’m asleep,
‘E’ll not carry me away afore I’m ready.

__I may be wrinkled up an’ bald,
__May not answer when I’m called,
An’ I can’t make out the letters on the chart.
__Cripes! I cannot find me teeth,
__Above me tongue or underneath,
An’ me limousine is called the ‘andydart.*

__Undervalued… underfed,
__But it sure beats bein’ dead,
That’s as far as I can tell… not ‘avin’ bin there.
__Which ‘as kinda got me thinkin’,
__Since I’m very fond o’ drinkin’,
If I’ll be allowed ta ‘ave a little gin there.

__This ol’ nursin’ ‘ome’s depressin’,
__So I’m countin’ it a blessin’,
That there’s grass an’ trees an’ flowers all around it.
__An’ at three o’clock each day,
__Nurse’ll let me out ta play,
So me family says we’s lucky that we found it.

__‘Twould be nicer… that’s a gimme,
__If the Mrs., could be wi’ me,
Sure would brighten up me days until the end.
__Jus’ ta ‘ave ‘er ‘ere ta guide me,
__Day by day ta sit beside me,
But she’s gone, an’ so I’ll ‘ave ta just pretend.

__I ‘ave been ‘ere just a week,
__An’ it’s lookin’ rather bleak,
Not allowed ta swear or dally with the nurses.
__Since I’m really not that sick,
__An’ I’m full o’ rhetoric,
I shall get it off me chest within these verses.

__I detest this stinkin’ ward,
__But it’s all’s we can afford,
An’ I ‘ate these cranky ol’ folks with a passion.
__Ed’s a screamin’ kidney stone,
__Arthur’s ‘appy just ta groan,
An’ the farty fella’s face is lookin’ ashen.

__There’s a lady down the ‘all,
__An’ I swear she’s six feet tall,
An’ she barks ‘er orders like a sergeant major.
__There’s three others in ‘er room,
__An’ their faces look like doom,
You can bet they ‘ate her guts, on this I’ll wager.

__Wish I ‘ad a bit more freedom,
__Supervisors… we don’t need ‘em,
‘Spied a lady one floor down who’s cute an’ spiffy.
__Groanin’ Arthur dropped a clue,
__That she kinda likes me too,
If I finds me teeth, I’ll be there in a jiffy.

__I ‘ave trouble eatin’ plums,
__Try ta mash ‘em with me gums,
An’ I dribbles an’ I drools all down me shirt.
__An’ I cannot compre’end,
__This ‘ole world’s gone round the bend,
Do I wear a pair o’ trousers or a skirt?

__I’m confused so I’ve been told,
__But ta Hell… I’m still not old,
I love dancin’ an’ romance… an’ plenny of it.
__With their borin’ routine drills,
__And their bloody sleepin’ pills,
Nurse can take her condescendin’ tone an’ shove it!

__An’ I’m really not deservin’,
__All this crap that they bin servin’,
Every day its jus’ the same ol’ mish’n’mash.
__Though me pearly-whites are fake,
__They can still attack a steak,
Time ta throw this wussy food into the trash.

__Will these young’uns never learn?
__One day it’ll be their turn,
Don’t they see ahead with dread ta things that daunt ‘em?
__What they’re dishin’ out today,
__From this plastic food café,
Will come back afore they know it just ta haunt ‘em.

__They’ve bin servin’ me thin gruel,
__I am tellin’ ya… they’re cruel,
An’ aroun’ me neck they tie a baby’s bib.
__Next they’ll diaper me down south,
__Shove a dummy in me mouth
Ta shut me up, and throw me back into a crib!

__But until the day I croak,
__I shall flirt an’ laugh an’ joke,
If ya needin’ pointers… gim’me ‘alf a mo.
__‘Cause on me bed or underneath,
__I ‘ave got ta find me teeth,
Can’t be lookin’ old an’ ugly… Hell no!


*HandyDART is an accessible transit service that uses vans or small buses to transport disabled or elderly passengers who cannot use the normal transit system. This service provides door-to-door service and is available in all of British Columbia’s larger centres, as well as in many smaller communities.



Norma Pain was born in Liverpool, England and now lives in Parksville, British Columbia, Canada. Thirty of Norma’s poems were published by Dana Literary Society, between 2004 and 2007 and she was twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize by that same on-line poetry site. She self-published a book of rhyme in 2000 called Bulging Assets.

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25 Responses

  1. Julian D. Woodruff

    Ms Paine,
    This is great! Send it to Michael Caine, or Rowan Atkinson. This should be all over youtube!

  2. Paul Freeman

    Great stuff, Norma. Just the right amount of poignance to amplify the humour.

    Thanks for the read. Hell, yes!

  3. Sally Cook

    Dear Norma –
    Quite a feat ! I love the independence and am dismayed at the nursing homes.
    Thanks for pointing out what we are all looking forward to.

    • Norma Pain

      Well, I am happy to say that I am not yet writing from experience, purely fictional at this point. Thank you for comments Sally.

  4. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Norma, I love this poem! I love the rhyme, rhythm, rollicking rapture,
    humour, and sentiment of it. But… most of all… I loved reading it to my Texan husband in my thick British accent… twice!! Thank you!

    • Norma Pain

      Thank you so much Susan. I am so glad that you enjoyed reading it… twice even! Now I cannot wipe the smile off my face.

  5. D.G. Rowe

    Always great rollicking fun to see, and read, verse written in the vernacular.


  6. Jan Darling

    Bet ya was a sloppy kisser, and it’s cheek ta say ya miss ‘er, yer jist waiting for a chance to start all over. By the time ya hit the pedal yul be pinnin’ a new medal jist before yer get to pushin’ up the clover.
    Ain’t nuffink wrong wif gettin’ old.
    Loved it!
    PS – ya teef’s prob’ly still in ya norf and sarf.

    • Norma Pain

      Thank you Jan. I really appreciate your humorous response and the “Ain’t nuffink wrong wif gettin’ old”, except perhaps… missing teeth!

  7. jd

    Very clever and, having once written a very short
    poem in the vernacular myself, I believe it must have
    been time consuming. Thank you. I enjoyed reading.

  8. Tonia Kalouria

    Norma, How fun and yet poignant! Loved the vernacular first-person style.
    That really makes it “hit home.”

  9. Norma Pain

    No matter how you spell it, I can sometimes be a bit of a pain!
    Thank you for your comment Julian.

    • Peter Hartley

      Norma – vastly amusing this, and so depressing all at the same time. I read it in a Liverpudlian accent (I couldn’t help myself) and it knocks Pam Ayres and her false teeth into a cocked hat.

      • Norma Pain

        To be compared to Pam Ayres even slightly, is a huge compliment in my eyes. Her performances on stage are amazing to watch.
        Thank you so much Peter.

  10. Jeff Eardley

    Norma, wasn’t sure if you meant that the accent should be thick, or the British people reading it, in which case, any of my friends are up to the job. By ‘eck, you certainly know how to make us laugh over here.
    A good rollicky piece on something we can all look forward to.

    • Norma Pain

      The suggested “accent” comment was Evan’s idea and a good one it seems. Humor is infectious and I appreciate yours. Thank you Jeff for your wonderful comments.

  11. C.B. Anderson

    This was a joy to read, Norma, and it had me checking to see whether all my body parts were still where they should be.

  12. David Watt

    Norma, you must have had a great deal of enjoyment writing this humorous take on defying decrepitude, and readers are at least equally entertained.

    • Norma Pain

      Thank you so much for your comments David. I really did enjoy writing this poem, as you can tell from the length of it.


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