Pete Atkin sings
The Hypertension Kid

by Clive James and Pete Atkin,
from A King At Nightfall

[Much more at]


Last night I met the Hypertension Kid
Grimly chasing shorts with halves of bitter
In a Mayfair club they call the Early Quitter
He met my eyes and hit me for a quid

"I spend fortunes in this rat-trap" said the Kid
"But the plush and flock soak up the brain's kerfuffle
And I like to see a servile barman shuffle
If sympathy's your need let's hear your bid"

"It's my lousy memory" I told the Kid
"What other men forget I still remember
The flies are still alive inside the amber
It's a garbage can with rubbish for a lid"

"Your metaphors are murder" said the Kid
"I know the mood -- give in to it a little
The man who shatters is the man who's brittle
Lay off the brakes and steer into the skid"

"Strained virtue warps the soul" announced the Kid
"Those forced attempts at cleanliness that linger
Like soap between your wedding ring and finger
They're residues of which you're better rid"

"For evil" said the Hypertension Kid
"Is better contemplated in the deeds of others
Mass-murderers and men who knife their mothers
Be glad that what you've done is all you did"

"With me the problem's women" said the Kid
"Befuddled, fondled under separate covers
One and all they've gone to other lovers
As I powered down to zero from the grid"

"But I love the little darlings" sighed the Kid
"The slide from grace is really more like gliding
And I've found the trick is not to stop the sliding
But to find a graceful way of staying slid"

"As for the dreadful memories" said the Kid
"The waste and poison in the spirit's river
Relax your hands and let the bastards quiver
They tremble more the more you keep it hid"

We turned to leave the bar, me and the Kid
I with lightened head and lessened terror
Towards the street, and he into the mirror:
My second self, the Hypertension Kid