wordsout by godfrey rust
< family >

Image result for depressed man sitting on bench

The counselled husband calypso

for Tessa and co-attendees at the end of a counselling course in 1988  

Well I see you sittin’ wonderin’

     and you’re thinkin’ Who is he?

You thought you knew everybody on the course,

     but I know you don’t know me.

Well I’m not exactly on the inside,

     but I’m not exactly out

and my life has been changed by counselling,

     of that there is no doubt.


You see I’m only here in spirit,

     and I soon will be recalled:

I’ve come here from the future

     with a warning for you all.

Like that famous book by Dickens

     that you surely must have read

I’m the Ghost of Counselling Yet To Come

     come to tell you what’s ahead.


Well my wife and I were married,

     (that’s the way things usually are)

with a nice suburban lifestyle

     and a mortgage and a budgie and a car,

and I’d come home in the evening,

     she’d put my slippers by the grate

and if I said I’m feeling a little low

     she’d say It’s probably just something you ate.


But this gentle way of living

     was rudely overturned

and I’ve come back to explain to you

     the lessons that I’ve learned.

I used to have a sense of identity,

     now I don’t know who I am

and it started when a package came through the door

      from St John’s in Nottingham.


     It’s the counselled husband calypso

          and it’s such a shame

     but I’m going to shoot from the hip so

          you know what’s to blame

     Now I’ve got answers to so many problems

         that I didn’t know I even had

     Oh the counselled husband calypso

          I’ve got it bad.


Well I found her reading a big pink book

     with a strange look in her eyes:

She said I’ve found a new vocation

     that I’d like to realise.

She said I want to be a counsellor

     which I thought was rather strange,

I said OK, but when you get on the council

     Just make sure they look after the drains.


I could tell by the way her forehead

     creased into a frown

that my brief attempt at whimsy

     had got the big thumbs’ down

So I read the book from cover to cover

     and I found it pretty strong-

and I said So that’s the long and short of it?

     She said No that’s the short Ann Long.


Oh it started fairly harmlessly

    with something she thought I’d like

it was called the dynamic cycle

     but I don’t ride a motorbike.

I said How can you ask me to accept that?

     How can the argument be sustained?

How can it have any significance?

     What achievement can be gained?


     The counselled husband calypso

          began turning blue

     when I told her that the cycle

          had a puncture or two.

     She took her Gary Collins book

          to hit me over the head

     but then she thought it more fitting

          to use Jay Adams instead.


Well I came home one evening,

     I was feeling pretty tired.

I said I had a bad day at work

     She said You had a bad day at work?

I said The boss was in a bad mood,

     she said The boss was in a bad mood?

So I thought I’d keep quiet for a minute or two

     and sat down to eat my food.


Then after some reflection I said

     Darling, is something wrong?

She said You think there’s something wrong?

     I said Yes, I think there’s something wrong.

She said You think there’s something wrong?

    I said Hold it, this has got to stop!

I didn’t marry an echo!

     She said You didn’t marry an echo?


She said I need some help with listening

     I said Sorry, what did you say?

She said I want you to sit down and tell me

     everything you did today.

So I told her all kinds of interesting things

     about Liverpool and West Ham

and how any fool could see that Sebastian Coe

     was going to beat Steve Cram.


She was sitting there and nodding

     with a smile like a Cheshire cat

saying Yes indeed mmm good I see

     and other things like that.

I talked until four in the morning

     then said It’s really time for bed

but she’d been concentrating so hard on listening

     she hadn’t heard a word I’d said.


And I said to her one morning

     I hope you don’t feel cross

but I must ask you to help me

     because I have a sense of loss.

She took me to the sofa

     and she sat me gently down

and said I think we ought to get to the bottom of this

    before you go off into town.


I agreed that was essential

     and the question began to come

She asked me all kinds of amazing things

     about my uncles, aunties, daddy and mum,

and in the end she was exhausted

     and said I don’t know what makes you grieve!

I said That’s easy, I’ve lost my car keys

     and I must find them before I leave.


But then one day over breakfast

     I told her Things must change,

You’ve been treating me like a client

     and it’s time to re-arrange.

We have to reassess our relationship,

     and we have to do it soon.

She said I’ll fit you in for half an hour

     on Wednesday afternoon.


     The counselled husband calypso

          had me on the rack

     it’s enough to make you

          a dipsomaniac.

     She wrote in her assignments

          everything that came into her head

     and now her tutor up in Sheffield

          knows how I cut my toenails in bed.


Well her course was nearly over

     and I was mighty glad of that

I knew things were getting serious when I came home

     and found her counselling next-door’s cat.

So she packed her books and pencils

     and went off to Nottingham

and left me to hold the baby

     like the proud father than I am.


And I couldn’t help reflecting

     as she went of in a dream

and I took the little girl to playgroup

     just how alike mum and daughter seem.

The little girl went off to play

     with beanbags and playdough and pens

while her mum was a hundred miles away

     with beanbags and playdough and pens.


And when the week was over

    she was transformed completely

and now we spend our evenings talking

     and have Gestalt and pepper with our tea.

She does transactional analysis in Tesco

     every time she buys a tin of beans

and spends her days in loose relaxed clothing

     and meets Russ Parker in her dreams.


     The counselled husband calypso

          has now got me on the hook

     She’s going to be a tutor,

          she’s going to write a book.

     The adult, child and parent

          are itching now to roam

     O won’t you go home, Bill Bazely,

         Bill Bazely won’t you please go home!

Played to Tessa's group when I went to collect her at the end of a counselling course at St John's College, Nottingham. Written sometime in 1988 (from the length of it, possibly the whole of 1988). The typescript was found in a box of old papers in the loft in 2020. The persons mentioned are all authors on the subject. There was an alternative last four lines: "The adult,child and parent/are running round like Mr Men/and Doreen Slater/is on the phone again" but I'm not sure which was used.