This is one of my earliest poems from the 1960s. I was reminded of it at a recent poetry reading I gave when someone in the audience requested it – thank you Howard!

The poem was written after visiting a colleague’s home in Sidcup, Kent. Afterwards, someone said, “I wonder why they chose to live in Sidcup.”

I often used to get inspiration travelling to and from work on the tube. I’d look at the people around me and imagine their lives and loves.


They chose to live in Sidcup

Semi-detached – even in bed

They chose the rhythm method

and bred two bilious children

A well spaced boy and girl

After church on Sundays

they chose to watch

the Eamonn Andrews Show

from the pseudo leather sofa

where they nearly

conceived a third child

out of boredom

They chose to plant

rose bushes in the garden

Got more pleasure from the flower

than they did the marital bed

They chose to drink Nescafe

but roasted coffee beans

under the grill

to deceive the Women’s Guild

Tuesday coffee mornings

They chose to die in bed

Staking their claim

to a plot side by side

in the local cemetery

A birthday present to each other

But death chose them

one Monday morning

when their family size Sedan

with the tiger in its tank

and vote Tory on the windscreen

wrapped itself around

the shared drive lamp post

they had always meant to move

They chose to go to heaven.

  • The rhythm method – a popular form of birth control before the advent of the pill!
  • The Eamonn Andrews Show – a popular TV chat show in the 1960s
  • “Put a Tiger in your Tank” was a successful advertising campaign slogan for Esso petrol.
  • Shared drive – two houses sharing the same driveway to their garages – a recipe for disaster!

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

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