Brian Bilston

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the poet

Brian Bilston, author of the Costa-shortlisted novel Diary of a Somebody, has been dubbed both the ‘Banksy of poetry’ and ‘Twitter’s unofficial Poet Laureate’. His first book, You Took the Last Bus Home featured poems he'd shared on Twitter. His poem Refugees was adapted into a picture book for children, and his new collection of poetry, Alexa, what is there to know about love? was published in early 2021.

the poems

How to Avoid
Mixing Your Metaphors

00:00 / 00:50

It’s not rocket surgery.

First, get all your ducks on the same page.

After all, you can’t make an omelette

without breaking stride.


Be sure to watch what you write

with a fine-tuned comb.

Check and re-check until the cows turn blue.

It’s as easy as falling off a piece of cake.


Don’t worry about opening up

a whole hill of beans:

you can always burn that bridge when you come to it,

if you follow where I’m coming from.


Concentrate! Keep your door closed

and your enemies closer.

Finally, don’t take the moral high horse:

if the metaphor fits, walk a mile in it.

She'd Dance

00:00 / 00:50

She’d dance like no one was watching

although she liked to think he was.

The kitchen was her grand ballroom;

her partner was a mop.


She’d foxtrot among the pots and pans,

she’d paso doble to the sink,

and as she swept across the floor,

her mind danced, too. She’d think


of how he’d held her in his arms

at the Locarno and the Ritz -

whirling, waltzing, a world apart -

in the years before the kids,


and longer still before the shadow

the doctor spotted on his lungs.

How dazzlingly they had danced!

How dizzyingly she had spun!


Her neighbours saw her sometimes,

shuffling bent-backed to the shops.

But at home, she’d dance like no one was watching

although she liked to think he was.

How Much I Dislike
The Daily Mail

00:00 / 01:01

I would rather

eat Quavers that are six weeks’ stale,

tie up the man-bun of Gareth Bale,

listen to the songs of Jimmy Nail,

than read one page of the Daily Mail.


If I were bored

in a waiting room in Perivale,

on a twelve-hour trip on Network Rail,

halfway through a circumnavigational sail,

I would not read the Daily Mail.


I would happily read

the complete works of Peter Mayle,

the autobiography of Dan Quayle,

selected scripts from Emmerdale,

if it meant I didn’t have to read the Daily Mail.


Far better to

stand outside in a storm of hail,

be blown out to sea in a powerful gale

then swallowed by a humpback whale

than have to read the Daily Mail.


If I were blind,

and it was the only thing in Braille,

I still would not read the Daily Mail.

Publishing credits

How to Avoid Mixing Your Metaphors:

  Diary of a Somebody (Picador)

She’d Dance:

  Alexa, what is there to know about love? (Picador)

How Much I Dislike the Daily Mail: 

  You Took the Last Bus Home (Unbound)

© original authors 2021

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