The glory of failure.

It’s just shit with sugar on

Jam and cream without the scone.

Because when I’m begging out in the street

And my eyes happen to meet those eyes that look down

To me on the ground, and you put a coin in my cup,

Just remember you’re looking down I’m the one looking up.


And for those who pass by while shedding a tear

Don’t worry yourself none I’ve made enough for my gear

And more than enough for a couple of beers.

I know what you’ll say

You’ll say, I waste life away

Like I’ve wasted this day.

But I’ll say, I made enough to pay for my addiction.

The seduction which leads me to say

That’s the glory of failure.


I saw an advert for a job and this job was paying quite a few bob.

But I wouldn’t have got it…no sugar just shit.

So I didn’t bother trying

I went back to lying on my bed

I went back to getting out of my head.

When all’s done and said I’m just a no hoper

A drug fiendish doper.

That’s the glory of failure.


If I could have a chance, a second chance, a last chance

To get my brain round to thinking

To think I’ll stop drinking.

I could get off the gear, I could get off my rear.

I could send my C.V to employers

Those employers who are known as the unemployment destroyers.

I could have a meaning instead of this leaning I have,

Towards self destruction.

I could get a job on a site become involved in construction.

So many things on the doorstep right here

But really

I much rather prefer getting stoned on the gear.

Oh yes that’s the glory of failure.


I should get myself well move out from this hell

But what the doctors have said is, in six months I’ll be dead

So I’m going to make tracks.

No,not those made by the needle

I’m going to wheedle

My way into a hospice which could be quite nice.

I think that’s the glory of failure


But what the hey I’m a guardian reader

But unlike other guardian readers those centre right bleeders

I’m totally anarchist, often totally tanked up and pissed.

But in reading the guardian I just cannot lose

It makes such wonderful padding for the holes in the soles of my shoes.

And I’ve had plenty of dates with several girlfriends of mates

But when they’re looking down there and they see nothing stir.

That may be the glory of failure.


Perhaps when I’m old and I’m ready to die

I might cast my mind back and I might wonder why,

Every time I have failed the boat seems to have just sailed.

But I was never a sailor.

I was just a participant in

The Glory Of Failure.


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. PoetJanstie
    May 25, 2011 @ 07:41:55

    “Just remember you’re looking down I’m the one looking up.”.. great line
    “No.not those made by the needle”… comma rather than full stop?
    “It makes such wonderful padding for the holes in the soles of my shoes.” … another great line.
    I lived in London and went to college in the East End and I’ve direct ancestors from the Old Nichol; I’ve also been close to someone who could so nearly have been here, so I’ve developed a strong emotional feel for this human condition. This poem resonates. It really is good.


    • John Smallshaw
      May 25, 2011 @ 09:17:28

      Hi poetjanstie,

      Thanks for your comments.I went to college on the riverbanks and canalways of Lancashire so my education is somewhat lacking in the grammar department so I really do appreciate being corrected.

      Regards j.


  2. Poetjanstie
    May 26, 2011 @ 07:53:16

    My son fell into bad company in his late teens and, but for the most amazing support from the local Crisis team and all their resources, may well have been worse off than even you were. My hat’s off to you, John. I spoke elsewhere recently of my own memories of the three stages of teenage angst, the three R’s – Romance, Reality, Reckoning – there but for fortune… in my case, it went well into my early twenties before I managed to come close to the reckoning – or perhaps I should say Reconciliation; what an indelible mark those years leave in the consciousness! You made it to reckoning and beyond, John, and we’re grateful for that.


    • John Smallshaw
      May 26, 2011 @ 08:28:54

      Hi there,

      Yes falling is easy it’s the climbing back out that is the hard part.Unfortunately (maybe?) it took me nearly 4 decades to finally recognise the dead end I was locked into.It is so easy to blame others for the choices made but the reality is there is no one to blame but oneself.A piece of work I wrote about this is called “Upset or not it’s what I do got” on

      Thanks for your comments,

      Regards j.


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