Sport 41: 2013
Harry Ricketts — Noddy
(in mem Richard Gilmore, 1952–2010)
Noddy: that was what we used to call you
because all that scary first term,
skipping lectures and half-falling in love,
you nearly drove us mad, telling that joke.
One morning bright and early in Toyland
Noddy woke up, got out of bed,
looked out the window and said ‘Hello, Sun’
and the Sun said ‘Hello, Little Noddy.’
Your fair hair was always carefully brushed.
You wore ties, pink shirts, hush puppies
(I might have invented the hush puppies),
had a raspberries-and-cream complexion.
Then Noddy got dressed, put on his blue hat
with the tinkly bell at the tip
and thought he would go and see his best friend
Big-Ears; so he walked out of his front door.
Once over dinner in the Taj Mahal,
Turl Street—now also gone—you said
what a good housemaster I’d make. I sulked.
I had long hair, beads, played Pink Floyd, read Oz.
And whom should Noddy meet but Mr Plod
the Policeman and Mr Plod
said ‘Hello, Little Noddy’ and Noddy
said ‘Hello, Mr Plod’ and he walked on.
page 75 That first summer vac we met up in Rome,
wandered around the Piazza
Navona, got drunk, made plans, laughed a lot,
never mentioned that quick flick of your eyes.
And whom should Noddy meet next but Mr
Golly and Mr Golly said
‘Hello, Little Noddy’ and Noddy said
‘Hello, Mr Golly’ and he walked on.
By this point in the joke you’d usually
be spluttering. I wish I’d known
the ‘Mad Man’ you, still more the later you
who helped in drug and alcohol centres.
And when Noddy reached Big-Ears’ toadstool house,
he knocked on the door and Big-Ears
opened the door and Noddy said ‘Hello,
Big-Ears’ and Big-Ears said ‘Fuck off, Noddy!’
I like to think of you best as Thisbe
in that Midsummer Night’s Dream in Keble
College Gardens we did after Finals.
Every night the audience would crack up
when you squeaked ‘These lily lips,/This cherry
nose,/These yellow cowslip cheeks’, burr-
ing dead Pyramus’s lips with a finger.
By the end we were all corpsing, holding back the tears.