Vera Duckworth (1/9/83 – 18/1/08)

Here’s a poem from my collection What You Will See ( about Liz Dawn who played Vera Duckworth who has just been written out of the long-running soap opera Coronation Street.


Queen of the Minimus

An episode of the longest running soap finishes.

There’s a deadly one-liner from the queen of the minimus.

With that look she snakes off,

Slams a door with a bang and a cough.


A dreadful tune plays over credits.

They roll off the tongue like the names of the dead. It’s

A tea-brewers’ signal to threaten the grid.

There’s a story behind it that no one will give.


It was tough out there for the nation’s favourite star.

She struggled in a town in a snow-blocked car,

Hoiking a suitcase from the back of a Zephyr,

Rushing to audition in a social club mecca.


She dropped that wig with her dress tucked in her knickers,

A mophead in the slush, she was on with the strippers.

Miss Harp Lager, nineteen sixty-two,

A courtroom drama, a standby screw.


She made the murderess in episode four

Rigid as a gibbet and they asked for more,

Extra episodes in the nation’s favourite soap,

Factory girl, picket, barmaid with the most.


Finally bricked-in as the redoubtable landlady,

The fireplace smile said she’d really made it.

On set her lines were as faultless as veneer.

The combustible temper hid the fear.


The doors were slammed with a plasterboard thump.

When she ignited, the sound men jumped.

Some remembered when she answered to Kiddo.

In sad moments thought of going early, a widow.


She bit on the capsule with impeccable timing,

Back next year with a facelift, smiling,

Pictured in the paper on a pile bricks,

Wielding a sledge-hammer, signing books at six.


And who really cares that her knickers were seen?

That her mother swore and her corsets went green?

When viewing figures showed her popularity slipping,

The headlines reminded her she was queen of the minimus.