'It suits you, your dad's cap.'

Tony Harrison | Poet


by Tony Harrison



I thought it made me look more 'working class'
(as if a bit of chequered cloth could bridge that gap!) 
I did a turn in it before the glass.
My mother said: It suits you, your dad's cap.
(She preferred me to wear suits and part my hair: 
You're every bit as good as that lot are!)

All the pension queue came out to stare.
Dad was sprawled beside the postbox (still VR), 
his cap turned inside up beside his head, 
smudged H A H in purple Indian ink
and Brylcreem slicks displayed so folks might think
he wanted charity for dropping dead.

He never begged. For nowt! Death's reticence
crowns his life's, and me, I'm opening my trap
to busk the class that broke him for the pence
that splash like brackish tears into our cap.

by Tony Harrison

’Turns' by Tony Harrison. Taken from ‘Selected Poems’. (Penguin; 3rd Revised ed. edition, 7 Feb. 2013)


Poem as Friend to Maxine

Turnsby Tony Harrison

In this episode, you will hear Maxine Peake talking about the poem that has been a friend to her: ’Turns' by Tony Harrison.

Maxine visited The Poetry Exchange at John Rylands Library. We’re very grateful to John Rylands Library for hosting The Poetry Exchange. Thank you also to Tony Harrison and Faber & Faber Publishers for kindly granting permission for us to use this poem. Do visit them for further inspiration:


Maxine is in conversation with The Poetry Exchange team members, Fiona Bennett and Michael Schaeffer.

’Turns' is read by Michael Schaeffer.


We talk to people about the poem that has been a friend to them.

In exchange we create a gift for them, a bespoke reading of their chosen poem inspired by the conversation. Our award-winning podcast shares these unique and powerful stories of connection with people across the world. 


We set up an intimate environment for these conversations at festivals, in arts, cultural and public spaces across the country. We also hold exchanges ‘long distance’. Our visitors come from all walks of life and we also feature well-known personalities such as Andrew Scott, Maxine Peake, Roy McFarlane and Paterson Joseph.