A LIFE IN THE DAY #4

By Edward Wilkinson Latham

ROGER LLOYD-RAVIES, 57, was a Harley Street colorectal surgeon for over thirty years. He once famously operated on John Wayne on a table in the Savoy and was awarded the Golden Glove of Achievement for his life’s work. He now resides in Shepton Mallet where he writes poetry. In 2006 he won the Depends Award for Prose.

“I always get up at 6am, rain or shine. If it’s doing both then I stay in bed till it decides which one it’s doing. I never married, just the way my life’s gone I suppose. I was devoted to colons and rectums for over four decades and they were my love. It’s hard to find someone to share your life with when all you can talk about is arteriovenous malformation and intestinal obstruction. Every morning I make myself a good breakfast of sausage, kidney and liver, and that settles me till mid morning when I have a pepperoni to chew on while I’m writing. Moving out of London was hard at first, since I always disliked the countryside, but I’ve got used to its funny people and odd pagan rituals. I bought this house in an auction and the rooms were stacked with all manner of boxes and bags of things when I moved in. I’ve always thought of myself as rather poetic and this house was what inspired me to put pen to paper. Since then I’ve been published hundreds, if not thousands of times. I was penning a new one just this morning actually.

Six pairs of Oswald Bailey,

Olive green waders,

Size large,

Slightly damaged box,

£5.00 each o.n.o.

My work has been very well received. I’m lucky that I’ve developed some great working relationships with the editors of some of the finest publications in Britain, such as Exchange & Mart and Loot. They have really helped me with getting my voice heard and if it wasn’t for that I don’t think I would have ever had the courage to enter the Depends Award for Poetry. I’ve also had exhibitions and readings of my work at a number of village shops, which has also provided some great feedback.

I usually write from 7.30am until just after one o’clock. I then go rooting around the house, climbing over crates and boxes. Yesterday I found five-dozen inflatable sheep and four boxes of plastic grapes, so I’m really looking forward to write about that. At five o’clock the alarm goes off, but it’s buried somewhere in a box in the back corner of the conservatory under a kayak, but I use it to remind me to go to the village shop to get supplies. I’ve known the owners, Dick and Babs since moving in. They’re Canadian and Dick flew with the RAF in the Second World War, while Babs entertained prisoners of war, one or sometimes two at a time. Dick always has a gin and tonic ready for me when I go over, but I don’t drink gin and tonic, so he always drinks it for me. It’s a very well stocked village shop with some of the finest tube meats and taramosalata this side of the M5. Everyday at 5:30pm, Dick starts shaking cocktails and Babs arranges some tapas in time for the evening rush. It’s the social hub of the village.

Last week I organized a garden party and recital as I have done every year since moving here. It’s a great way of reaching out to a large amount of people in the flesh as it were. Most people buy a poem or two and they get the item that inspired it for free. Babs does the catering and Dick manages the bar. I must hand it to them, they are very creative and I don’t mind the competition at all. This year Babs found a grass skirt and a pair of coconuts in the down stairs lavatory and masterminded a Hawaiian theme. After a few glasses of Malibu, Dick took to the lawn and performed a fertility dance he learnt from the tribesmen of Burma during the war. He even had Lady Warboise dancing, but at one point his sarong came down and that raised a few eyebrows I must say.

In the evenings I may venture down to our village pub, The Strap and Talc. They pour a great pint and do a fabulous pickled egg. They also let me pin some of my poems to the notice board and I’ve had some good response, especially for ‘Five Complete Volumes of Readers Wives’ and ‘Two Shotguns Going Cheap’. I like mixing with the locals when I’m in the mood, but I’ve learned to keep my past quiet. You tell everyone that you were a world-class colorectal surgeon who probed the rectal cavities of countless film stars and politicians, and before you know it, everyone’s asking you to take a look. Sure Barry, the pub landlord knows, (as does Dick and Babs and Mohammed the gamekeeper), who can call me can whenever they have a case of the quots, but I’m retired now and the fingers don’t work like they used to.

Before lights out I like to read, mostly trashy airport stuff like Keats or Baudelaire. It helps my creative mind switch off from constantly thinking about well-crafted prose. I usually nod off looking at my award for poetry that stands beside my bed, wondering if I should have a pee now or perhaps wait till later.”

EWL©2006