Portrait of an actor between engagements, Tottenham, 1958

Your dream remains one of distance,
away from shoddy parents,
this lukewarm suburb,
its limp bus service.
You take on any part —
cad, butler, toady.

In rehearsals,
you hone timing, gestures.
Volume, even.
Remember to stride across the boards,
your performance directed towards
rows of church hall chairs.

Regarding praise — you try
to float on your back
amongst the heave and ebb
of egos cast adrift,
aspiring, each, to be the cause
of a FULL HOUSE notice
in a West End theatre foyer.

But the one you fancy for the spotlight of your bed
remains unswayed by your lines off-stage,
their delivery,
your silken cravat.

The kitchen fridge
contains one bottle of HP sauce.
You sing ‘Wouldn’t It Be Loverly?’
until interrupted by the landlord
pounding on the door.