The Tennant Canal Wanderer

~ for my youngest son Glyn ‘Little Tex’ Tristram ~

Nana (Margret Rose Wilson) and Glyn ‘Big Tex’ Roberts

My boy, I wanna tell you a little story
about the ‘Greatest Man’ I ever met.
A Giant in Stature and Reputation
… a Daydreamer, an Outsider…
who unlike the Notorious Tristram
Family who fought tooth and nail
against the Law, Society, Rules
and anything else standing in their
Outlaw way… often watched from
the Edges with a Philosopher’s smile
… he was a ‘Brawler’ not a Criminal.
Once, after babysitting for three of us
he drank a 24 can crate of Colt 45
… awoken early in the morning by
a knocking Milkman, he opened
the front door and collapsed on him.
My Father (the Bastard Hell-Raiser)
told me once “When I was a teenager
we had a 6 Man Crew (all ex Borstal)
and we were in this pub (It’s not
there anymore) longest bar in Neath
… and we were looking for Trouble.
Anyway, your Grampa walked in…
all 6ft odd of him, built like a Brick
Fucking Outhouse… and he ordered
a whisky, drank it down in one…
then slammed the glass upside down
on the bar… which means ‘I’ll fight
any and everyone in the building’…
we watched… not one man accepted.”
Him and Nana (Your Great Grandma)
were the best looking Couple outta
Skewen’s Caewathan Council Estate.
I remember her telling me “Aye boy,
hell of a man… him and his good-for
-nothing mates used to cowing walk
all the way to Swansea, over 2 hours,
just to go on ‘The Lash’ and ‘Scrap’.
After causing so much ‘Carnage’
down in Neath, they’d need to switch
things up for a while… it was either
that or lay low (And they weren’t
gonna do that). No Magistrates Court
in them days, they used to nick ‘em,
bang ‘em up overnight, then march
‘em upstairs to receive their ‘Fines’
in the morning, those who couldn’t
pay would get a fortnight in Prison
… but, they always kept enough
money in their socks ready for it, see.
Then, they’d start their long walk
back home to us girls left waiting…
like conquering, black-eyed heroes.”
Fortunately, you’ve got his blood
(And some of ‘em fucking Tristrams)
running through your young veins
and I even named you after him…
he was called Glyn ‘Big Tex’ Roberts.

Paul Tristram is a widely published Welsh writer who deals in the Lowlife, Outsider, and Outlaw genres.  He wrote his first poem as a teenager following his release from the (Infamous) Borstal ‘HMP Portland’, and he has been creating Literary Terrorism ever since. Read other articles by Paul, or visit Paul's website.