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A Man of a Few More Words - by Swan Morrison

The Actress (Poem)

I had dreamed of becoming an actress
Since playing in many a scene
At school and in amateur drama.
I longed for the cinema screen.

So I strove to attend drama college
And passed all exams from the start.
I graduated with distinction
Then started to search for a part.

Imagine my joy when my agent
Found my very first role on TV:
In Morse with the spires of Oxford -
In the opening scene I would be.

My joy turned to some disappointment
When I learned I would not make a sound,
But simply float face down in water
In the Thames - as a victim who drowned.

That role, though, then led to another:
In The Bill – yet another cop show:
My foot now appeared in a mortuary scene
With a label tied round my big toe.

I worried about being typecast,
But the payments I could not forego
As the corpse in the library Miss Marple would find
Or a body exhumed by Poirot.

I finally spoke to my agent:
‘You must find a new genre,’ I said.
‘I will never break into the Hollywood scene
If I only play people who’re dead.’

He found a new part, though not speaking
In an advert to be on TV
To promote the effects of a haemorrhoid cream -
Portraying relief would be me!

Regretfully, similar followed:
Diarrhoea, a thrush remedy,
Constipation, verrucas and unwanted hair,
Gonorrhoea then warts and acne.

Once I had dreamed of the public
Recognising my face in the street.
Now I dreaded the eagle-eyed fan who would say:
‘You’re the one with the clap and bad feet!’

It was then that repeats of the cop shows
Brought a regular income from fees.
And the wart ad - it took off in China
Producing its own royalties.

I’d just earned enough to retire
When a script arrived for me to see.
My agent said it was the part of a lifetime
That could have been written for me.

The heroine’s many conditions
I’d portrayed in my advert heyday,
And right at the start of the opening scene
She keeled over - and then passed away.

My career, it had led to that moment.
It was also my first speaking part:
Just prior to tumbling down to the ground
I screamed ‘Ahh’ and then clutched at my heart.

I regret now my lack of an Oscar,
But a great consolation to me
Is that death and unsocial diseases
Were portrayed with extreme quality.

I live now in Spain in a villa.
‘An actress,’ I say, when enquired.
If asked of the parts I have played, I reply:
‘I don’t talk of that, now – I’m retired.’