John Hoggett

I want to be normal

There was a voice
That rolled over my tongue
And out of my mouth.
And it said 'I want to be normal'
And now I realise that I am.
For it is normal
To do strange concoctions of strong
Mind-bending drugs and normal,
To wear such strange clothes that people
stare at you in the street.
It is normal to lie in bed screaming in rage and terror,
Two seconds out of every thirty,
Night after night half hours at a time.
It is normal, and indeed natural,
To have cock eyed relationships with cock eyed men
Who are as cock eyed as you are.
Where terror and confusion and betrayal and countermove,
Intermix with humiliation and threat
And small movements of love.
And normal to have done things
That I choose not to tell you.
Not today, maybe not ever.
For I have my secrets.
And I choose who I tell them to.
For I still have shame.
And that indeed is normal.
And confusion and hypocrisy
And love
And that, and that too of course is normal.


Teasing Memories

Yeah, double-glazing salesmen:
No one really likes them, do they?
Except this woman I knew,
She asked one in, with her housemates.
You know, just being friendly,
And they had a bottle of wine or two,
Invited him in for dinner,
Laughed, joked, had a fabulous time.
One of the best evenings ever,
Just her, her housemates, and a double-glazing salesman,
But then, it was the eighties,
And she was a community worker,
And that's what they do.
Throw parties, invite loads of people, get them to
talk to one another.
Have a really great time:
Community workers, in the eighties.
And have friends with cuts all up their arms.
Self inflicted, self-harm,
Always joking, always smiling,
with scars on her arms.
And her friend, the community worker,
Befriending her, propping her up,
Staunching the despair,
The despair that never showed,
Just the scars on her arms.
She was always there,
Encouraging, friendly, a right laugh.
Said, she was giving her friend a couple of years,
Like she was giving up herself for a couple of years
With the cuts, the scars, the self, self harm.
But that's what it was like,
Knowing community workers,
Who were such good fun,
In the eighties.


In May 2010 John compered the 'Warning: May Contain Nuts' event at South Street Arts Centre in Reading and also read his own work.