You May Turn Over and Begin

by Simon Armitage

'Which of these films was Dirk Bogarde
not in? One hundredweight of bauxite

makes how much aluminium?
how many tales in 'The Decameron'?'

General Studies, the upper sixth, a doddle, a cinch
for anyone with an ounce of common sense

or a calculator
with a memory feature.

Having galloped through but not caring enough
to check or double-check, I was dreaming of

milk-white breasts and nakedness, or more specifically

That term - everybody felt the heat
but the girls were having none of it:

long and cool like cocktails,
out of reach, their buns and pigtails

only let out for older guys with studded jackets
and motor-bikes and spare helmets.

One jot of consolation
was the tall spindly girl riding pillion

on her man's new Honda
who, with the lights at amber,

put down both feet and stood to stretch her limbs,
to lift the visor and push back her fringe

and to smooth her tight jeans.
As he pulled off down the street

she stood there like a wishbone,
high and dry, her legs wide open,

and rumour has it he didn't notice
til he came round in the ambulance

having underbalanced on a tight left-hander.
'A Taste of Honey'. Now I remember.

Meaning of the Poem

This poem is one of the most known poem of Armitage. It talks about sitting the General Studies A-Level exam. But the poem is also about sexual desire, teenagers and adolescence. It is one of the most read poet's texts.

Last updated May 12, 2019