Categories
Honesty Performing poetry Uncategorized

Why I Need a Wife

A few years ago I sat down and wrote a poem that reflected the frustration I was feeling with combining a career with parenthood. Before I share it with you, I should state that Mr Kent does his fair share of heavy lifting when it comes to family life – I definitely don’t have to go it alone.

But….but. There are just some things that seem to fall to a woman to do. And I’ll be honest, there are some things that I quite like to do. When it suits me. Having worked as a cleaner between the ages of 14 and 16, there are times when I love a bit of hoovering or scrubbing the grouting on our floor tiles. However, show me a toilet seat that has piss on it for the fifteenth time that week (par for the course with a boy in the house) and I am going to get very angry indeed.

And given that I’m self-employed, and work from home, it makes sense that I am the one who is there when the children are ill. Part of my reason for leaving corporate life was to be more available for the kids but it doesn’t mean that I always want to do it. When the children were much younger, it seemed like they were ill every other week – our nursery seemed to have a policy of checking the children’s temperature at the door. How I longed for the slap-dash parenting approach of my childhood where digital thermometers didn’t exist.

There was also the small matter of nursery and school assuming that everything should come to me first – why do I get top billing? Then there’s organising play dates which in my experience is almost exclusively a mum-to-mum conversation. Same goes for taking them to parties (oh the horror of having to hang around in a hot soft play), completing permission slips and sewing on badges.

It’s small stuff, I know, but bloody hell it’s wearing. Parenting is relentless, marriage is compromise and maintaining a sense of yourself without being a selfish arsehole can be a tricky tightrope to walk.

So I wrote the poem. And it opened up doors for me. It led to the publication of my book and dozens of paid stand up performances. My initial print run of 500 copies is almost sold out and the tally of people I’ve performed to now runs into the thousands. Not bad for something that was designed to help me let off steam.

You’ll find the poem below. If you want to book me to speak, perform or would like to buy a copy of the book, drop me a line at toni@tonikent.co.uk

I Need a Wife

I need a wife

Someone to organise my life

To do the shopping, pay the bills too

Someone to clean around the loo


Someone who remembers when term ends

When homework’s due. Someone who sends

Completed forms, and makes dates to play

Who never forgets an inset day


Someone who remembers all the clubs

Gymnastics….beavers…..judo….cubs

Who does the washing, the drying, the washing again

Who sorts darks from delicates, whites and then


Someone who can magically find

The one sock that got left behind


Someone to stem the tide of mess

Sew on badges, hem a dress

Insure the house and tax the car

Someone who knows where my bloody keys are


I look around my life and see

It’s chaos if you’re married to me

The kids’ shoes are missing

Disorder is rife

I’ve just got to face it

I need a wife

Review of I Need a Wife by June Sarpong
Categories
Family Honesty poetry

What every woman wants for Christmas

Darling, don’t buy me a Dyson

When you’re out Christmas shopping this year

There’s something else I’ve got my eyes on

But it seems that my hints are not clear


Sweetie, do not buy me saucepans

I don’t care how special they are

And I would think twice, if you think it is nice

To buy anything that’s “for the car”


Lover, do not buy me lingerie

That is tacky, or lacking in taste

Yes to knickers of silk, or a similar ilk

But not with holes “strategically placed”


Honey, if you buy me bathroom scales

You may find them wrapped round your head

I don’t want to measure the price of food pleasure

I’d like something special instead


Something that’s unique and fabulous

Something to take my breath away

Something that’s killer, as my stocking filler

To give me the best Christmas Day


But don’t expect me just to tell you

What I want, or which shop to go

If you want the surprise to light up in my eyes

I expect you to simply just know.


Like this? I regularly perform stand up and poetry for a wide range of audiences. To book me, email toni@tonikent.co.uk

Categories
Giving back poetry Stand up Storytelling

Comedy and Palliative Care

“What we’re going to do”, said Bel, “is put the FUN in fundraising!” Corny, yet memorable words from a friend who coupled living with an incurable form of cancer with raising money for the charities that were caring for her. It is something I have never forgotten and her legacy lives on not just in the smile of her son and her husband’s stories, but also in the way her attitude to life impacted everyone who met her.

She prompted people not to shy away from what is most painful and to face difficult circumstances head on. She encouraged me to make the leap from corporate life (and to sing a Rod Stewart number in public, but that’s another story). She also made me think differently about fundraising; as I have no business going near a mountain or a triathlon, I instead put on comedy & curry nights and an indie disco which led to fantastic results without the need for Lycra or medical attention.

And so, it is in that spirit that I am going to perform a stand-up & poetry set for staff and patients at the Sue Ryder Day Hospice in Newbury’s Rosemary Unit on October 15th. Part of the Duchess of Kent Hospice family, it offers people living with cancer the opportunity to remain in their home for longer by providing specialist services on an outpatient basis. This extends to a wide variety of complementary therapies, as well as emotional and practical support. If you live in or around the #Newbury, #Reading or #Wokingham area, chances are someone you know has benefitted from the services of the Sue Ryder team.

But where’s the fundraising in all this? Well, that’s where you can help. Typically, the cost of a ticket to a comedy show is in the region of £15 (I’m talking Jongleurs here, not Jimmy Carr 😉) so if you support the idea of taking a comedy performance to a place of palliative care, why not make a donation of around that size to the fantastic Sue Ryder team. Like Bel said, let’s put a little ‘fun’ into fundraising – simply head to https://www.sueryder.org/donate, decide how much you want to donate and select ‘Duchess of Kent Hospice’.

Donation page for Duchess of Kent
Categories
poetry Stand up

What your recycling bin is actually called

One of the things I get great pleasure out of when performing is to ask the audience how their recycling gets done. You may not be surprised to know that in Henley, the recycling bins have lids so that you can discretely hide your alcohol intake or cover up the fact that you have not washed your coleslaw packets. Some areas let you chuck it all in one big wheelie, others make you meticulously sort things into a whole variety of boxes and bags.

The West Berkshire Way

In West Berkshire (where I live) there is the following system:

  • A plastic box for glass
  • A plastic box for paper / cardboard
  • A bag to put your plastic and cans in (but only certain plastic, and if it’s not the right plastic, someone may post on the village Facebook page that they “couldn’t help but notice…..” which could be viewed as petty but makes a change from the usual tirades about dog poo)
  • A green bin with the sole purpose of making people apoplectic with rage that they have to pay to put their garden waste in it.

A Judging Opportunity

Collection dates and time vary too – with some areas enjoying a weekly pick up of their waste and others having to wait for a fortnight. In my village, the collection is fortnightly and crucially it takes place after the school run. Which provides an excellent opportunity for the nosey among us to have a good old look. I’d love to pretend I’ve never done this, but that would be a lie. And it is reciprocated too – one friend asked me if I’d started drinking wine ‘from a box’ because she didn’t see enough empties in my bin.

At Christmas, it almost becomes a competition. People seek out additional receptacles to showcase their wild abandon and some even go in for a “Look what I got from Santa” – placing enormous boxes next to the bins telling everyone that they got a 55inch TV, a bread maker or an abdominal cruncher – and signalling to burglars that their house is ripe for the picking.

What to do…

Some people don’t like the whole ‘putting your empties on display’ culture of roadside recycling and prefer to take their empties to a bottle bank. Some people drink their Fosters in the morning and deposit the cans in an alleyway next to the local shop. Some people put bottles on the bottom and jars on the top. Me? Well I put a picture on LinkedIn of mine for all the world to see – and I wrote a poem about it too. You can read it below and watch me perform it for the wonderful ladies of Charlton WI in Wantage.

https://youtu.be/zx7vm9dof1I
Categories
poetry Stand up Uncategorized

Showing the Love for Local Radio

Thanks to BBC Radio Berkshire I had the very exciting experience that was performing on stage at the After Dark Club in Reading (previously graced by the likes of Supergrass and Manic Street Preachers and leapt off by me in a bout of drunken excitement decades before). The event was the War of the Words competition – part of the Reading Fringe Festival and open to poets, rappers, spoken word artists and comedians.

The brief? Three minutes to impress the assembled crowd and judges on the topic of ‘My Environment’.

The prize? A GOLDEN MICROPHONE THAT ACTUALLY WORKED!

The judges. Smiley, not scary!

Three minute life stories

I used my three minutes to take the audience on a whistle-stop tour of my life from sitting at the breakfast table with a copy of The Sun open at Page 3, to the death of my father which prompted some pretty off-the-rails behaviour and the eventual settling into what is essentially a rural bubble. This I topped off with a shortened performance of Middle Class Gangsta. If you want to watch the full performance, it’s below!

Others used their three minutes to talk of life in a hostel, the threat to our environment, marginalised communities and how Wokingham really isn’t “going to the dogs” when compared with life in Syria.

TK and Bill Buckley

My destiny wasn’t to win (that was for the excellent Sarah Smith) but what I have received the benefit of is a concerted effort by BBC Radio Berks to support local performers. Some of us have been invited to perform by phone-in and in the studio which gave me the pleasure of reciting some poems for Bill Buckley’s listeners. Serendipitously the studio is less than a mile from the Microsoft building where I used to work – it was good to return to Thames Valley Park for creative rather than commercial reasons.

Bank Holiday Special

But that’s not all – oh no! There’s been plenty of support on social media and today I learned that on Bank Holiday Monday, BBC Radio Berks will be broadcasting a special on the event including extracts from all of the performances – something that will be a real boost for everyone who participated. One of the big challenges that performers face is capturing their work – having BBC-quality audio and production is a big deal when what you’re used to is mobile phone captures.

Turn on, tune in

So thank you to the entire BBC Radio Berkshire team – and everyone at the Reading Fringe Festival who made the event happen – I love what they’re doing for local performers. If you want to listen in to the special, it will be broadcast on Monday 25th August at 9am and available here shortly afterwards: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p07jz9l4

Want to find out more about my upcoming performances? Click here.

Categories
poetry Storytelling

Before

Before testosterone takes hold

And stubble grows upon your cheek
Before your voice descends an octave
Could I forever hold this week

Before the scent of little boy
Slips away like grains of sand
Before your chest and shoulders broaden
Could I forever hold your hand

Before your sleepy tousled hair
Is tamed into a grown-up style
Before your giggle turns to rumble
Could I read to you for awhile

Before your little body’s shadow
Lengthens to a full grown man
Before you’re big enough to hold me
I will hold you, if I can