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Poem: Discretion is the better part of Valerie

Ian 08 Apr 99 - 07:49 AM
AlistairUK 08 Apr 99 - 09:34 AM
AndyG 08 Apr 99 - 09:46 AM
AlistairUK 08 Apr 99 - 09:53 AM
Ian 09 Apr 99 - 09:43 AM
McGonigal 15 Apr 99 - 07:13 AM
Dale Rose 15 Apr 99 - 11:22 AM
McGonigal 27 Apr 99 - 08:48 AM
IanC 08 Sep 99 - 08:43 AM
Hawkeye 09 Sep 99 - 07:22 AM
AndyG 09 Sep 99 - 08:05 AM
GUEST,Lynda 29 Jun 05 - 01:43 PM
GUEST,sasha drummond 20 Sep 05 - 12:58 PM
Morticia 20 Sep 05 - 01:25 PM
GUEST,Wisesarah 09 Nov 10 - 10:34 AM
GUEST 27 Nov 10 - 04:47 AM
GUEST,Friend. 28 May 14 - 09:05 AM
GUEST 28 May 14 - 09:32 AM
GUEST,Jenny 28 May 14 - 07:13 PM
GUEST 29 May 14 - 07:48 AM
GUEST,John White 25 Nov 15 - 09:50 PM
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Subject: Poem:Discretion is the better part of Valerie
From: Ian
Date: 08 Apr 99 - 07:49 AM

Does anybody know this one? I want it for a recitation and I have it on tape (somewhere). I think it's by John Betjeman or Roger McGough but I haven't been able to find it in any of their published works. I tried an INFOSEEK search for "discretion" and "Valerie" but, guess what, got some VERY interesting results.

Thanks!


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Subject: RE: Poem:Discretion is the better part of Valerie
From: AlistairUK
Date: 08 Apr 99 - 09:34 AM

I think that you'll find that it's a Les Barker creation and he would be thrilled if he saw you compared him to Betjeman or McGough. Though I suspect a reference to a train might please him more.


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Subject: RE: Poem:Discretion is the better part of Valerie
From: AndyG
Date: 08 Apr 99 - 09:46 AM

Sorry, but if Mr Barker wrote it it wasn't under the given title 'cos I just searched his poem index.

AndyG


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Subject: RE: Poem:Discretion is the better part of Valerie
From: AlistairUK
Date: 08 Apr 99 - 09:53 AM

I'm sure I heard him do a poem with that name at the club I used to run...my memory must be playing tricks...only 33 and already senile *sigh*


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Subject: RE: Poem:Discretion is the better part of Valerie
From: Ian
Date: 09 Apr 99 - 09:43 AM

Thanks, I'm pretty sure it wasn't written by Les Barker. Anoyone else got any ideas?


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Subject: RE: Poem:Discretion is the better part of Valerie
From: McGonigal
Date: 15 Apr 99 - 07:13 AM

Is that

Discretion is the better part of Valerie/Though all of her is nice?

Don't know any more, I'm sorry!


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Subject: RE: Poem:Discretion is the better part of Valerie
From: Dale Rose
Date: 15 Apr 99 - 11:22 AM

I found the phrase on this page

http://www2.prestel.co.uk/lwtcdi/all/3mnov86.htm

though the way it is used is in an offhand sort of way. Perhaps the person who wrote the page knows where he got the phrase from. There is an address there to communicate with the page author.


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Subject: RE: Poem:Discretion is the better part of Valerie
From: McGonigal
Date: 27 Apr 99 - 08:48 AM

Another line to this one

"Not for her potatoes, or puddings made of rice"

Sorry, I can't think where it's from.


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Subject: RE: Poem:Discretion is the better part of Valerie
From: IanC
Date: 08 Sep 99 - 08:43 AM

Finally found it!!!

It's by Roger McGough and was published in "Watchwords" (1969).

Discretion is the better part of Valerie
(though all of her is nice)
lips as warm as strawberries
eyes as cold as ice
...


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Subject: RE: Poem:Discretion is the better part of Valerie
From: Hawkeye
Date: 09 Sep 99 - 07:22 AM

Discretion is the better part of Valerie
Though all of her is nice
Lips as warm as strawberries and eyes as cold as ice
You can tell by her demeanour that she keeps her love on ice
But you've lost your heart on her, now you'll have to pay the price
Not for her potatoes or puddings made of rice

Not for her potatoes or puddings made of rice
She takes carbohydrates like God takes advice
A surface(?) of ambition is her particular vice
Valerie fondles lovers like a mousetrap fondles mice

And though in the morning she may whisper 'It was nice.'


This is totally from memory so is probably not that accurate. I can remember another verse of which the first line was:

'Valerie is corruptible but known to be discreet'

and the last:

'Valerie rides a silver cloud where once she walked the street.'


It is definitely from 'Watchwords' by Roger McGough and I first heard it on a 1969 album called L the P by the Scaffold (Parlophone label, M.C. Esher's 'Ascent and Descent on the cover).

Hope I've at least provided clues or jogged some memories. Let me know.


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Subject: RE: Poem:Discretion is the better part of Valerie
From: AndyG
Date: 09 Sep 99 - 08:05 AM

Full details of The Scaffold album Lily the Pink are available here.

AndyG


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Subject: ADD Poem: Discretion (Roger McGough, 1968)
From: GUEST,Lynda
Date: 29 Jun 05 - 01:43 PM

Hey! It was so great to see someone else was fascinated enough to be looking for this one. Partly thanks to you, I've found it, after frequent episodes of wishing I could get my hands on it. It came up on my very first day of first-year English at Wits University in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1982. I never kept those notes, but often wished I had, just because they contained this poem! I found the full text at:

www.haileybury.herts.sch.uk/english/Schemes%20of%20Work%20Removes/ Anthologies/collated%20all%20sections.doc.

Here it is, for those who are still interested:

Discretion - Roger McGough (1968)


DISCRETION
(Roger McGough)

            Discretion is the better part of Valerie
            (though all of her is nice)
            lips warm as strawberries
            eyes as cold as ice
            the very best of everything
            only will suffice
            not for her potatoes
            and puddings made of rice
            Not for her potatoes
                        and puddings made of rice
            she takes carbohydrates
            like God takes advice
            a surfeit of ambition
            is her particular vice
            Valerie fondles lovers
            like a mousetrap fondles mice
            And though in the morning
            she may whisper: "it was nice"
            you can tell by her demeanour
            that she keeps her love on ice
            but now you've lost your hardearned heart
            now you'll have to pay the price
            for she'll kiss you on the memory
            and vanish in a trice
            Valerie is corruptible
            But known to be discreet
            Valerie rides a silver cloud
            Where once she walked the street.


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Subject: RE: Poem:Discretion is the better part of Valerie
From: GUEST,sasha drummond
Date: 20 Sep 05 - 12:58 PM

ye it is by roger mcgough as i am dooing coursework on the poem i was wondering if anyone could give me info on how this poem stands out!?


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Subject: RE: Poem:Discretion is the better part of Valerie
From: Morticia
Date: 20 Sep 05 - 01:25 PM

Do you mean stands out from other McGough poems, Sasha? From other Liverpudlian poets of his time? He's a bit of a favourite of mine so if you are more precise in your questioning, I'll do what I can to help.


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Subject: RE: Poem:Discretion is the better part of Valerie
From: GUEST,Wisesarah
Date: 09 Nov 10 - 10:34 AM

So great to see this poem! I just googled the first line and this forum came up. I studied this poem for A level English and was talking about it today. Couldn't remember the author and thought it might have been Betjemin.


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Subject: RE: Poem:Discretion is the better part of Valerie
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Nov 10 - 04:47 AM

Thanks for that, Read in 1971. Never forgotten.along with the one where they "waited for poppy sellers to appear on her streets"


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Subject: RE: Poem:Discretion is the better part of Valerie
From: GUEST,Friend.
Date: 28 May 14 - 09:05 AM

Vallerie (prefers being called Val) only remembered the first few lines so when I was told Roger McGough had written a poem for her, I had to come on line and have a look for it. Val met Roger McGough at some music do where she was collecting glasses for free entry. They then went up to the quauntaux? Is this spelled correctly? in Taunton. The barbecue was on and music playing, people having a few drinks and everyone there having a good time. Even today, Val is known to throw a good barbecue. She hasn't changed much. Still sharp as ever and an amazing woman full of wit. I'm in danger of waffling on. Thanks for posting the Vallerie poem. I can write it down now and give it to her tomorrow.


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Subject: RE: Poem:Discretion is the better part of Valerie
From: GUEST
Date: 28 May 14 - 09:32 AM

Quantocks. Mind you Rog would pee himself at your spelling. Oh, the problems of old age.

Which offers a new rendering, Digression is the better half of Valerie..


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Subject: RE: Poem:Discretion is the better part of Valerie
From: GUEST,Jenny
Date: 28 May 14 - 07:13 PM

Roger McGough was very fond of his puns, and that's what this poem essentially riffed off, I think.


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Subject: RE: Poem:Discretion is the better part of Valerie
From: GUEST
Date: 29 May 14 - 07:48 AM

Puns? Rock cakes. Digestion is the better part of valour.


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Subject: RE: Poem: Discretion is the better part of Valerie
From: GUEST,John White
Date: 25 Nov 15 - 09:50 PM

Today in an email to a colleague I referred to someone else's work a "valiant". It's not a word that comes up very often when you work in I.T. and are discussing people's programming skills, so it was fun moment for me. At any rate, later on I was considering whether I should have used "valorous" instead, and that put me in mind of the proverb (used, I've just learned, by Falstaff in Henry IV Part 1) which of course brought me to this wonderful opening line, which was quoted by a prof of mine over 30 years ago but which I've never forgotten. I'd never know its source or author, so googling it today brought me to this thread which has been running now, remarkably, for over 16 years.

I don't have much to contribute other than my shared pleasure in finally seeing the full text and learning about Roger McGough for the first time. But here's a link to a collection of McGough's poem on Google Books:
https://books.google.ca/books?id=0M_BrM8Y54wC&printsec=titlepage

Also, it occurs to me that "silver cloud" in the second last line might have been capitalized, if it refers to the model of car that Rolls Royce produced in the 50's and 60's. In the published work it's not capitalized, so I guess McGough wanted it to work with the multiple meanings.


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