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Saturday, 22 May 2010

'Don’t Take A Fence' by Paul Curtis.

Don’t Take A Fence

My uncle John the fence died

When I heard I felt quite sorry

It was poetic justice though

As he fell off the back of a lorry
Copyright © Paul Curtis. All Rights Reserved

This lovely little poem needs some explaining for non-English readers. In Wales 'John the fence' would be a man who erected fences; in England and elsewhere it would be a man who received stolen goods.
And in British English (I'm not sure about elsewhere - please let me know), something that 'fell off the back of lorry' means it was stolen so I can sell it to you cheaply!

9 comments:

Alicia said...

What a charming little poem -- and I didn't need your explanation to understand it. Her in the U.S., we say something "fell off the back of a truck" -- no difference.

bazza said...

Ah! Thanks for the feedback Alicia. I thought that might be the case.
I have become acutely aware when writing posts that meanings can vary!

Bob said...

You must move in different circles to me as I didn't know that John the Fence meant what it does.

I don't approve of people accepting stolen goods....but it seems that poetic justice is even harsher than the legal system!

bazza said...

Bob; One tries not to move in circles - you never get anywhere.
Blimey, Im sounding like Sir Tom!
Naturally I don't approve of 'receiving' stolen goods (one should pinch one's own!)

Mr. Stupid said...

This was a fun poem. I liked it as it has different meanings. The explanation helped. Though, I did know fall of the truck meant stolen. Great post. Toodles!:)

klahanie said...

Hi bazza,
I can confirm that in Canada, they also use the expression, 'fell of the back of a truck'.
The act of stealing and passing it on at a somewhat reduced price, has also been known as '5 finger discount'.
Kind regards, Gary

bazza said...

Mr Stupid: It's not easy to write a very short but effective poem like this one. Glad you liked it, thanks for the feedback.

Gary: I like 'five finger discount'! We also have 'knocked off' (I know, I know), 'lifted' and 'liberated'.

Kelly said...

I kinda knew about the "fence" part. I didn't know what a lorry was, though I've heard that word before from some British movies and so on. I looked it up in my dictionary and it says... Chiefly British: A motor truck.

bazza said...

Hi Kelly. If the poet had written 'fell off the back of a motor truck' he would have had to find a whole new rhyming scheme!
I am endlessly fascinated by the difference in English all over the world. The first time I went to the States it took a few days to be understood - they thought I was French!