Poems for driftwood lovers and corporate thieves | Matt Harvey | TEDxExeter

Translator: Monica Ronchi
Reviewer: Ellen Maloney Thank you very much. I should just say,
this is my entourage really. This is Tilly and this is Cliff. And they’re mainly just here
for moral support for me. And I’m going to do a poem
about them, it is my third poem. They’re made by Lal Hitchcock
entirely from flotsam and jetsam washed up on the high tide line
on the Jurassic Coast, not so very far from here. I’ll get back to them,
it’s just nice to have them. Whoops, sorry, excuse me. I’ll leave that there, I’ll crack on. We’ll get to Tilly and Cliff in a bit. When I was a kid I dreamed about what I’d be when I was big.
and I was grown up. And I was given a rhyme. You know the rhyme about
what you’ll be when you grow up? Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor,
rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief. You know that? It’s OK to say yes! Does anyone know how it goes on? Rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief… (Audience) Doctor, lawyer, Yeah, you can say it out loud, it’s OK! (Audience) Doctor, lawyer, Indian chief. Doctor, lawyer, Indian chief.
Some of you didn’t know that did you? That’s why you don’t have better jobs. (Laughter) Your expectations were constrained. You were limited by the rhymes
you were given. OK? It’s really important. ‘Doctor, lawyer’, opens up
the possibilities of the professions. ‘Indian chief’ suggests a management role. (Laughter) Or if, like me, you’re
from the Totnes area, perhaps a shamanic path. (Laughter) (Applause) Thank you, I have updated it
to allow more possibilities. I’ve updated it for the 21st century, and I’ve called it,
‘The Prunestone Oracle’. As a kid, we did it with prune stones,
with apricot stones. I still do it, but these days
I use olive stones. (Laughter) ‘The Prunestone Oracle’ Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor
Affluent, effluent, banker man, brief Drinker, abstainer, personal trainer
Rich man, pure man, beauty, beast Actor, voyeur, pagan priest Starlet stylist, pilot, harlot Bright spark, damp squid,
Top dog, dipstick Washer up, usherette, husher-up, shrink
Chiropractor, astronaut, pimp (Laughter) (Applause) Ball girl, cold caller,
wide boy, curbcrawler High flyer, fall guy
Poor cow, small fry Bricklayer, soothsayer
Darts player, social worker Statistician, dietician, fat controller (Laughter) Somebody, nobody, nobody, somebody
Pen pusher, wage slave Cannon fodder, dogsbody, magistrate
Agitator, High Street prestidigitator Conjurer, registrar, hedge fund manager (Laughter) Farmer, palmist, media whore Elvis impersonator, Ofsted inspector
Elvis impersonator, Ofsted inspector (Laughter) Off-white van man, funeral director
busker, wrestler, condom tester (Laughter) Dowser, rustler, behaviourist, geek Jogger, Jihadist, digital artist,
Analyst, activist, offshore exorcist Anabolic sports star, bar staff, fraudster Butler bouncer, burglar, minder
Monkey trainer, organ grinder Chicken plucker, puffer-upper
Pillow fluffer, bloodsucker (Laughter) Chicken plucker, puffer upper,
pillow fluffer, bloodsucker. Compère, umpire, au pair, vampire Shadow spokesman (Laughter) Identity thief Doctor, lawyer, Indian chief (Applause) Thank you. (Applause) So that was a little
swatch of possibilities, a kind of seed, a packet of seed dreams. That’s how I think of it,
and I’d be grateful if you could learn it off by heart,
and teach it to your kids. So, that’s a pledge then. OK, the thing is people,
we grow up, we get these jobs, and often when we go
into the world of work, there is a gap between our dreams and the reality we find
in a place of work. Sometimes it’s a gap,
sometimes it’s a chasm. It works differently for different people. And we try to plug this gap, with the perks that come
with whatever job we had. This next poem it’s kind of as close
to gritty reality as I get. This poem is called ‘Works Perks’, and it’s for anyone
and everyone in the room, who has at some point
in their working life, has taken something home from work,
and there were lots of these things around no one was going to miss it,
you felt entitled to it, and in a way, you kind of were… (Laughter) But you never brought it back, did you? And from a very strict legal perspective,
perhaps, it could be construed as theft. (Laughter) So let’s just have a quick show of hands
for people of whom that’s true. (Laughter) It’s quite an ethical audience. Ah, no, thank you. A Mexican wave of honesty. Thank you, I think that’s most of us here. ‘Works Perks’ It’s just a little thing,
I wouldn’t call it pilfering Or petty theft, I took one, yes
But look – there are so many left I’m in on time. I smile, work hard
Why should my conscience twitch or flinch? Each working week you take a yard,
So why begrudge me my half-inch? You take the best hours of my day
What do you give me? Take-home pay I’m so tired I can hardly speak
You take the best days of my week You take the best weeks of my month I take some paper, this hole-punch (Laughter) You take the best months of my year I take this swivel-chair oh dear (Laughter) You take the best years of my life… … a laminator for the wife (Laughter) So now please look the other way
I need my little takeaway, To give myself a token raise
To supplement my take-home praise Some get to meet celebrities
Or go on junkets overseas I’m simply taking some of these
Some paper clips, some folder files Pritt-Stick, stapler, carpet tiles (Laughter) Some Tipp-ex, a waste paper bin
This thing, for putting thingies in This ream… OK, this box of reams (Laughter) This laptop Well, you took my dreams How did it ever come to this? My perky chirpy perquisites
Have been turned into exhibits – These trinkets I gave house-room to:
Exhibits ‘A’ to ‘W’ Don’t ask what reason or what rhyme
Drove pretty me to petty crime Nobody’s perfect
I guess it built up over time Because I’m worth it (Sighs) Thank you. (Applause) If we were actually in Totnes right now, we would go around the room,
and the people that have their hands up would say their name,
and then maybe their star sign, (Laughter) and tell us what they
had taken home from work, and we’d all understand and not judge,
and it would be lovely, but we haven’t got time
I’ve got to crack on. (Laughter) And I promised to do the love poem,
it’s a love poem between Tilly and Cliff. Now, Lal Hitchcock made them, it was for a Jurassic Journey Project
with Ben Osborn and Sammy Hurden. We went out for a photo shoot
with Tilly and Cliff. and everybody wanted to talk to us, everybody wanted to have
their picture taken with them, and they wanted to know the story,
everyone had affection for them both, even when they knew they were
immigrants and refugees, they really had affection for them. It wasn’t the horrible
media stuff you get, it was lovely affectionate people,
and people said to me, ‘You’re the poet,
you’ve got to write their story’. But what I found was everybody wanted
to make up the story themselves. I said what I want to do
is write their love song, because whatever they’ve come through, and if you take their DNA sample, they are the produce
of more than one country, I tell you. (Laughter) Whatever they’ve been through, whatever
the gaps between their dreams and reality, they’ve loved each other,
so they represent us all Most of us can relate
to being made of flotsam and jetsam. I’ll take that as a yes. (Laughter) You’re made out of odds,
I’m made out of ends We’re cast-off bits and bobs
but we are more than just friends We have so much in common,
we both know how very odd it is to be composed of offcuts
and extraneous commodities. Your various paths all add up
to a wonderful sum They’re all fit for purpose
just not their original one You’re more than a sum of your parts
You know what a man wants You stepped out of the sea
like a Bond girl But not all at once. (Laughter) You’re the woman I want
You’re the man I adore I’m so glad you washed up on my shore I liked your beach-combed back hair
and your broom brush bristles To kiss you is like
being tickled with thistles I like your fishnet fullness
and your frontal bumps protuberance Although their made of plastic,
they’ve a natural exuberance When you come into view
I can’t help but go ‘Phwoar’ I’m so glad you washed up on my shore You’re my Mr Right
You’re my Ms Even-righter My high-five high-tide,
My love at first sighter You’re more, I adore you
You’re my Mr Rightest You’re made of debris
and I’m made of detritus (Laughter) Our parts may wear out
but our love will endure I’m so glad you washed up on my shore You’re winningly winsome
you’re handsome and then some Are there finer men out there?
Because I’ve never met them You can keep your fine fellows
from Topsham and Epsom I prefer my men from flotsam and jetsam (Laughter) You’re the coastal charisma
that I can’t ignore And I’ll say it again
as I’ve said it before At the risk of appearing a terrible bore I’m so glad you washed up on my shore (Applause) Tilly and Cliff. (Applause) Thank you, see you later. (Applause)

2 thoughts on “Poems for driftwood lovers and corporate thieves | Matt Harvey | TEDxExeter

  1. Possibly the most entertaining talk at the recent TedxExeter event – almost worth the price of admission alone

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