Paddy can’t wait to leave school.
They can’t teach me owt, he sneers.
Paddy’s going to do an apprenticeship.
He spends his spare time
with dad down the garage
he can clean a set of spark plugs
change the oil in a Fiesta
can drive, Dad taught him
except it’s illegal
so he rides an off-road bike
down the back lanes.
Mam thinks it’s stupid
Dad turns a blind eye.

Frank brings his report form home
Mam doesn’t really understand
lights a tab and stares
says: Micky, what der ye think?
He’s eating a bag of crisps
watching Deal or No Deal –
Frankie says: Miss Thoroughgood thinks that English
is my strongest subject.
Dad rolls his eyes:
Swimming, spelling, poetry
isn’t there anything useful
ye can choose?
Later Frank overhears Dad talking to Mam:
There’s nowt wrong with a physical skill
a trade sets you up for life:
plumber, electrician, mechanic,
they’ll always be needed
hard work, good rewards –
yer can even be yer own boss
if yer canny –
but swimming?
Any bugger can de that.
What can yer de with swimming ?

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