Wendy Cope, Serious Concerns

The other night I was bemoaning my lack of light reading before bedtime. My girlfriend suggested I read the copy of Wendy Cope’s Serious Concerns she gave me. I complied, and here’s a selection of my favourites from the collection.

‘Defining the Problem’

I can’t forgive you. Even if I could,
You wouldn’t pardon me for seeing through you.
And yet I cannot cure myself of love
For what I thought you were before I knew you.

‘Another Unfortunate Choice’

I think I am in love with A. E Housman,
Which puts me in a worse-than-usual-fix.
No woman ever stood a chance with Housman
And he’s been dead since 1936.

‘Men and Their Boring Arguments’

One man on his own can be quite good fun
But don’t go drinking with two-
They’ll probably have an argument
And take no notice of you.

What makes men so tedious
Is the need to show off and compete.
They’ll bore you to death for hours and hours
Before they’ll admit defeat.

It often happens at dinner-parties
Where brother disputes with brother
And we can’t even talk among ourselves
Because we’re not next to each other.

Some men like to argue with women —
Don’t give them a chance to begin.
You won’t be allowed to change the subject
Until you have given in.

A man with the bit between his teeth
Will keep you up half the night
And the only way to get some sleep
Is to say, ‘I expect you’re right.’

I expect you’re right, my dearest love.
I expect you’re right, my friend.
These boring arguments make no difference
To anything in the end.


She left two Premium Bonds
And what remained of that week’s pension,
Her clothes, photographs, and china ornaments
We’d given her as children.

Also the crotcheted mats
She made as wedding presents,
Babies shawls, the suit
My teddy bear still wears,
And fifty pairs of woolly socks
In drawers all over England.

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