Paul Collier


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Was everybody scared?

Mum was, certainly.

Slip-clinging hold, respectability.

World-lost, he didn’t care,

Or didn’t cotton on.


He once broke out, performing memorably:

Reckless, and with aplomb.

Mistiming exquisite;

Turning their stomachs;

Master-class for me in how to flummox

Guests: it was The Visit.

Scented and Sunday-clad,

Teacups four-high, stacked,

And then paraded like a circus act –

Mother pronounced him mad.

Kitchen philosophy,

The moment passed.

The next time tumbled everything amassed;

Her judgment, prophecy.