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Poem of the Week - Pam Ayres

It isn’t ‘cool’ to say you like the work of Pam Ayres. She’s not rock ‘n’ roll like John

Cooper Clarke or as laced with high brow metaphor as Carol Ann Duffy. She doesn’t write in fancy pants poetical forms and you’ll rarely find her a cussing and a swearing for dramatic effect on stage.

Yet since I was very young I have always loved listening to her work. It’s exactly my kind of thing as (I don’t know if you’d noticed or not) I’m not a cool kid.

I think I first heard Dolly on the Dustcart when I was in Junior school and it has stayed with me ever since. I love the imagery of a delicate child’s plaything thrust into the unapologetic world of rubbish collection team. Dirty, mucky, broken, yet still filled with humour. Every time I see a soft toy strapped to a truck I think of this poem which I think is amazing bearing in mind how long ago I first heard it.

Being able to have that power even after thirty years to make someone else smile?

Now THAT’S cool.


I'm the dolly on the dustcart,

I can see you're not impressed,

I'm fixed above the driver's cab,

With wire across me chest,

The dustman see, he noticed me,

Going in the grinder,

And he fixed me on the lorry,

I dunno if that was kinder.

This used to be a lovely dress,

In pink and pretty shades,

But it's torn now, being on the cart,

And black as the ace of spades,

There's dirt all round me face,

And all across me rosy cheeks,

Well, I've had me head thrown back,

But we ain't had no rain for weeks.

I used to be a 'Mama' doll,

Tipped forward, I'd say, 'Mum'

But the rain got in me squeaker,

And now I been struck dumb,

I had two lovely blue eyes,

But out in the wind and weather,

One's sunk back in me head like,

And one's gone altogether.

I'm not a soft, flesh coloured dolly,

Modern children like so much,

I'm one of those hard old dollies,

What are very cold to touch,

Modern dolly's underwear,

Leaves me a bit nonplussed,

I haven't got a bra,

But then I haven't got a bust!

But I was happy in that doll's house,

I was happy as a Queen,

I never knew that Tiny Tears,

Was coming on the scene,

I heard of dolls with hair that grew,

And I was quite enthralled,

Until I realised my head

Was hard and pink... and bald.

So I travel with the rubbish,

Out of fashion, out of style,

Out of me environment,

For mile after mile,

No longer prized... dustbinised!

Unfeminine, Untidy,

I'm the dolly on the dustcart,

And there's no collection Friday.

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